Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Excerpt: Passion Storm by Diane Escalera + Giveaway

If you are dreaming of sunshine and sandy beaches and can't wait for the warmer weather to finally be here (or just winter to be over), read Diane Escalera's new book Passion Storm, taking place in the hot Bahamas! Nothing like a sizzling romance to make you forget about the chilly weather outside. (And if you are lucky to be flying off for an impromptu spring break to some place sunny and warm, then take this book, perfect for some lazy beach reading in the sun ;-)

A looming hurricane has nothing on the storm raging inside...

Karina Valdez loves a good adventure, but jetting off to the Bahamas with a complete stranger is taking it to the extreme. She can’t believe her meddling best friend entered her in a radio dating contest. Even more shocking? Karina won! A tropical getaway she can do. Making a love connection with a hot local bachelor, not so much. Especially when she’s not looking for a man.

Meteorologist Andrew Romano is psyched over winning the radio contest. He’s ready to settle down and get married, prove once and for all that he’s not a player. The contest will surely help his chances—he’s been matched with his perfect woman. Too bad she doesn’t want him. To make matters worse, an erratic storm has shifted direction and is whirling toward them. Andy will do whatever it takes to win over the elusive beauty and keep her safe. He can handle a hurricane. But what about the other storm waiting to be unleashed?


Andy had never felt happier. He couldn’t believe his good fortune. Karina in the Bahamas, and staying right next door. It hadn’t been easy getting her here, but he wouldn’t dwell on the past when the present offered way more excitement. Just him and her. No tricks. No games. A man and a woman with a weeklong vacation to get to know each other. He’d let things evolve naturally. If his suspicions were true, that’s all he would have to do. Karina would come around. She’d learn what he already knew. Overly optimistic? Maybe. But he’d always been a positive guy.

Early evening now, he figured she had to be hungry for dinner. He took the initiative and made all the arrangements. “Want some company?” he called out to Karina, who sat on her deck sipping a cocktail. She watched as he climbed the wooden stairs. “Food?” He stepped onto the patio and flashed his biggest smile. With a bottle of wine and a picnic basket in hand, he said, “You can’t say no this time.”

“Actually, I can.”

He looked at her pretty lips. “Yeah. But you won’t.”

Instead of tossing his ass down the stairs, she laughed. “I’ll let you stay this time.” She took the wine from him.

Without saying a word, he popped open his basket and began to extract all kinds of goodies. First he draped a white cloth over the table. Then he lit a lavender candle. He fished out two crystal goblets and set them down. Next he laid a foil-covered plate in the center. When he removed the aluminum, a tangy aroma engulfed the deck.

“What is that?” She set down the wine and hovered over the scent.

“That’s Bahamian maki rolls with conch, and this is mango and cucumber with pickled ginger.”

Karina studied the plate. “Smells good.”

“Last time we ate together we couldn’t see.” Chuckling, he slid out a colorful chair. “Have a seat.”

“No thanks. I’d rather stand.”

“Okay. I’ll stand with you.”

“Fine, I’ll sit,” she said, dropping into the chair.

He uncorked the wine and filled their glasses. “We couldn’t find our mouths,” he said, handing her a drink.

“We still managed.”

“We did, didn’t we?” He analyzed her more carefully. Her hair looked different tonight. Long bangs that were usually swept to one side were clipped back. It emphasized the shape of her oval face and made her striking eyes stand out even more.

“What is this again?”

He lifted a roll and brought it to her mouth. “Here. Taste it.”

She gave him a look. “We’re not wearing blindfolds. I think I can feed myself.”

“Right,” he said, and stuffed the piece into his own mouth. He let out a pleasurable moan. “Good stuff. You’re missing out.”

She picked up a roll and tore off a hearty bite. “Am not.”

Unlike the blind date, this time they watched each other intently. For every bite he took, she took two. 

First she polished off her cocktail. Then she killed the glass of wine. Without taking his eyes off her, he refilled her glass. They played their little food game until every crumb had been eaten.

“What is it with us and food?” He liked their form of foreplay. At least, that’s how it felt to him.

She shrugged her shoulders. “This is an awesome place. The radio station got one thing right.”

“They got more than one thing right.” Angling his face, his eyes met hers and he winked. “No regrets here.”

“Well, I have one or two.”

He laughed at her bold spirit, her fight. A captivating mouth turned him serious again. She had the most amazing lips. How long would it take to kiss her again? Not long, if he had any say in the matter.

Born and raised in the Bronx, NY, Diane Escalera makes her home in coastal North Carolina. The sultry surroundings are a steady source of inspiration for her hot love stories. Diane is married, has two children and a super cute dachshund she can’t get enough of. She writes contemporary romance and is published with Kensington Publishing and Lyrical Press.

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


Diane has generously offered one ebook copy of Passion Storm to a lucky reader!

To be entered simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 23 April 2016!

Good luck!

Monday, 11 April 2016

Guest post by Jennifer Savalli + Giveaway

I don't know about you, but I looove my romances to have some chuckle out loud humour in them. It can be a funny character, a hilarious situation or just a spark of a line that makes me smile/chuckle/laugh out loud. I've noticed that those stories, which make me laugh are more memorable and stand out from all the books I read. And talking of witty and humourous stories, just reading Jennifer Savalli's post about what inspired her novels I'd bet her Must Love Ghosts series is plenty entertaining! So read on to get a first taste and if you answer Jennifer's question you'll be entered to win yourself a copy of The Exorcist Who Loved Me :-)

People often ask me how I come up with story ideas. I love this question because one of my favorite things about writing is that magical moment of inspiration. And inspiration comes from everywhere around you.

The idea for MUST LOVE GHOSTS, the first in the series, came one day when my mother-in-law told me how, every day, she talks to the urn holding the ashes of her mother. Much to my surprise, my scientifically-minded father-in-law chimed in that he too talks to the urns containing the ashes of his relatives. I’d always been a bit weirded out that my in-laws kept the ashes of all their nearest relatives and their pet dogs, but in that moment a spark of creativity ignited in my brain and I wondered, “What if a woman inherited the urns of her family members … and the spirits in the urns talked back?”

As usually happens, the idea for that story morphed and grew and became something different by the time I’d finished. But the kernel of that moment with my in-laws remained.

When I sent the first chapter of MUST LOVE GHOSTS to my critique partners, one of them marked a line where I’d written about how the heroine believed the hero had conned one of her patients. My awesome CP wondered in the margin if I could give a quick hit of juicy details, like the patient was a widow with two young children. Bam, the idea for THE EXORCIST WHO LOVED ME exploded in my brain.

I’d write a story about a widowed single mom who’s possessed by a ghost and the sexy exorcist who falls in love with her. As usual, the story changed as I teased it out in my mind. Who’s possessing her? The husband seemed to be the obvious choice, but I didn’t want obvious and having her dead husband watch over her courtship would be too creepy, even though I knew by then she’d been very unhappily married. What if she were possessed by her husband’s mistress? That sounded like a fun story (yeah, I’ve got a warped sense of humor), but why would her husband and his mistress both be dead? Because her no-good husband was involved in high-stakes fraud, that’s why, and it had gotten him killed.

That is where my story ideas come from: chance comments combining with the wackiness in my brain.

I hope you have as much fun reading THE EXORCIST WHO LOVED ME as I had writing it. And I had a lot of fun writing Holly’s and Lawe’s story, possibly because Lawe became my favorite book boyfriend as I wrote.

Speaking of fun, I’m giving away an e-copy of THE EXORCIST WHO LOVED ME to one lucky winner. Just leave a comment below and tell me who’s your book boyfriend.

The Exorcist Who Loved Me by Jennifer Savalli

Book #2 in the Must Love Ghosts series

Digging up the truth could lead them to their graves.

Hiring an exorcist is not something widowed single mom Holly Archer ever thought she’d do. But the blackouts she’s been having mean someone—or something—is hijacking her body and she wants it stopped, like yesterday.

The hottie who shows up at her door is the first man who’s sparked her interest since her awful marriage. It’s no hardship to give herself over to his skills, and in short order the spirit is ejected—and Holly comes face to face with Celia, the ghost of her dead husband’s mistress.

Lawe Callahan figured this would be an easy case, and by morning he’d be headed for another town, leaving Holly and her witchy amber eyes behind. Until she agrees to help the ghost, who refuses to budge until her killer is brought to justice.

As the investigation heats up, so does Lawe and Holly’s attraction. But their differences not only threaten any chance of something real, their quest for the truth could drive a killer to tie up all loose ends—permanently.

Warning: Contains a footloose exorcist who doesn’t let grave dirt stick to his feet for long, and a woman who isn’t in a hurry to commune with the dead. A little sleuthing, a little more gettin’ nekkid, and a lotta angst.

Buy at Amazon - B&N - Samhain


The man on her doorstep didn’t look like any priest Holly Archer had ever seen.

He was about her age, late twenties, and wore a black cowboy hat over curly brown hair. The fading red and orange sunlight glinted off his silver glasses. They were like some kind of steampunk accessory, round with dark lenses. Under an open jacket, his gray T-shirt stretched across a muscular chest unfairly wasted on a man of the cloth. She kept her eyes on the two necklaces he wore—one a silver cross and the other some kind of small leather pouch—to stop her gaze from roaming lower. She was already headed to the special corner of hell reserved for women who ogled holy men. Given the reason she’d called him, she’d get the upgrade to a direct flight, no stops, no waiting.

“You look more like a guitarist than a priest,” she said.

An awkward silence stretched out, broken only by the rustling of dead leaves falling from the trees.

“Yeah, I get that all the time,” he said at last. “I’m not a priest.”

“Oh, thank God. I mean, that’s a relief. I mean, that’s not what I mean.” Her fingers clenched on the doorframe, and she imagined banging her head into it. Stupid, stupid. She sounded like a teenager tongue-tied over a cute boy instead of an exhausted widow with toddler twins and absolutely no interest in men. One awful marriage had been enough.

His words caught up with her short-circuiting brain. “Wait, what do you mean you’re not a priest? I have a situation here that needs to be resolved, like, yesterday.”

Now he smiled, if you could call that slight shift of his lips a smile. “This isn’t the movies. We don’t need an old priest, a young priest, a goat, or the blood of a virgin. Or the blood of a non-virgin, for that matter.” He hitched the strap of his black duffel bag higher on his shoulder and held out a hand. “I’m Lawe Callahan. Exorcist.”

His skin wasn’t soft and manicured like her husband’s had been. What roughened an exorcist’s hands? Best not to think about it. Besides, he felt warm and comforting, and she was in desperate need of warmth and comfort.

“You really aren’t a priest? And you’ll still be able to get rid of...” Her voice trailed off and she swallowed. “You can get rid of my problem?”

He hadn’t let go of her hand, and now he gave it a squeeze. “Trust me. I’m good at what I do.”

He’d been recommended by someone she trusted. Okay, the paranormal investigator who’d done the preliminary work on her case had been recommended by someone she trusted. That guy had said she needed an exorcist and put her in touch with Lawe. It wasn’t like she had a lot of options. Googling “exorcist for hire” had produced a freakshow of possibilities. This guy seemed sane. Strange, but definitely sane.

She stepped back from the door. “Come on in.”

Buy at Amazon - B&N - Samhain

Jennifer Savalli loves all things paranormal, chocolate and Whedon. Her writing career began in the third grade when her teacher asked for one sentence on each of six pictures in a series, and she turned in a multi-page detective story. Now she spends her days writing about the magic and mayhem of falling in love.

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


Jennifer has generously offered one ebook copy of The Exorcist Who Loved Me to a lucky reader!

To be entered just leave a comment answering Jennifer's question: who’s your book boyfriend?

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 23 April 2016!

Good luck!

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Guest post by Theresa Rizzo + Giveaway

Please give a warm welcome to Theresa Rizzo, who is here to tell you about how she went about to write her latest release Silent Sentry and how deep she went to research it! There is also a giveaway waiting for you at the end. ;-)

Thanks for featuring me on you blog, Stella.

With each book I write, I like to give myself a challenge, whether it be the subject matter or the genre. For Silent Sentry, my challenge was to write a totally fresh story that wasn’t cliché—that didn’t feature a navy seal, a damaged war vet, or a cynical, burned out cop/detective. I wanted an unlikely hero like Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. So my hero was going to be a surgeon.

At the time, the advice was to write what you know. Well, I knew Grosse Pointe, I had a bachelor’s degree in nursing and grew up in a medical family, I’m married to an engineer, and I know big Italian families. So I thought of a plot to tie it all together.

Silent Sentry, is a complicated romantic suspense. I researched the complex problem of Detroit’s decline. I was fascinated to learn the history of the mafia in both Detroit and Grosse Pointe and how it exerts control still—even though the Grosse Pointe Officer I interviewed initially denied their existence. I studied gangs in Detroit. I researched local settings used in the story, ie hotels, restaurants like the historic Whitney where the climax takes place and local stores like Ahee Jewelers.

My dad was a general surgeon before he retired and Dad’s partner was a very early adopter of laparoscopic surgery, so I consulted with him about that part of the story. For the computer aspects, my husband is an electrical engineer who architects integrated circuit computer chips. So he was my main resource for Prometheus and Gianna’s computer work.

I used the internet to research, I email experts and interview them, I interview them in person, I went on “field trips” into bad neighborhoods of Detroit to plan Gianna’s neighborhood, take pictures and get a solid “feel” for the environment. I interviewed Grosse Pointe police about the current mafia; I consulted with Macomb county Sherriff to fact check the entire book. I read many books on the mafia and various subjects, watched documentaries, kept computer files and binders of pictures, articles, and book plot and character sketches.

I also like to include contemporary issues in my stories to give them a bit more texture and depth. In Silent Sentry I explored Detroit’s deterioration before it’s bankruptcy. So I put a lot of work outside of writing into my books.

I like to dig in deep and give my readers a little more than just an entertaining read. What about you? Is an entertaining story good enough or do you like a little more depth to your books?

Theresa Rizzo is an award-winning author who writes emotional stories that explore the complexity of relationships and families through real-life trials. 

Born and raised in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, she currently lives outside of Boulder, Colorado with her husband of thirty years. She’s raised four wonderful children who are now scattered across the country.

Find Theresa on the web at her website - Twitter - Facebook - Goodreads

Award-winning author Theresa Rizzo delivers a thrilling crime novel packed with suspense, romance, and redemption.

The Scarfilis and Donnatellis love deeply and protect fiercely. “Family takes care of family” is the code they live by.

So when a hacker threatens Gianna Donnatelli’s life, Dr. Joe Scarfili is determined to keep her safe, only he has no police or tech experience, and Gianna’s penchant for aiding Detroit’s underprivileged is the same kind of altruism that got his wife killed. Gianna protects Joe with the same unyielding resolve.

Gianna pushes all his insecurity buttons. Joe tries her patience like no other. But together they’ll fight to save each other and their love… Or die trying.


Theresa has generously offered an ebook copy of Silent Sentry to a lucky commenter!

To be entered just leave a comment and answer Theresa's question: What about you? Is an entertaining story good enough or do you like a little more depth to your books?

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 20 April 2016!

Good luck!

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