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Spotlight on Masked Hearts from Roane Publishing

Masked Hearts cover

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Affinity by Dana Wright

Behind the shadows lies the truth…

A magic mirror and a houseful of ghosts await Kristen when fate leads her to Wanderly House. Secrets and spirits consume her days, but one look in the magic mirror and her heart falls fast. A mask, a cloak, and a key leading her to an enchanted evening in the faery garden might be Kristen’s end as all that glitters may well have sharp teeth.

Magic mirror on the wall…

Connor is trapped in Faery. With only a view through a bewitched mirror to the real world, his attention is nabbed by a curious cat shifter with a ghostly following. Can he find a way to break the spell that binds him so he can reach the girl that haunts his dreams?

When the forces of Faery and Wanderly House collide, will Kristen and Connor’s love be enough to save them?

Water Woman by Claire Davon

Sparks fly when a Spanish water woman, and an African two-horned horse shifter meet at a masquerade. Kimoni has gone to ask Isidora to use her skills to aid him with his ailing grandfather. When strangers claiming to be Isidora’s relatives try to force her to share her powers, the pair is plunged into danger. Isidora and Kimoni look for a way to fight the ruthless intruders, while also saving his grandfather.

Using their combined powers, they meet the challenge, all the while conscious of the growing attraction between them. It has been a long time since Isidora has met a man who calls to her as Kimoni does. The strong, handsome horse shifter sings to her senses, and she sees a matching spark in his eyes. Can love between them blossom? Can a water woman and a horse shifter find happiness together?

Dragon Law by Nemma Wollenfang

The kingdom of Baelin is under attack. A terrifying dragon rains fire down on the capital city, burning all in his path. The people’s one hope lies with the Princess Draxa, who – in accordance with an ancient rite – must willingly sacrifice her future to sate the beast’s wrath.

For her kingdom, Draxa will do it. She will leave Andre, the fierce soldier she loves with all of her heart, don her red cloak, and make the treacherous trip into the heart of the mountain, to face the monstrous Lord Siouxlian in his lair.  

Feather Fall by Sheryl Winters

Brooke Adair’s autism has turned the world into a constant puzzle, especially when it comes to men. When she meets fellow swan shifter Blake Landen in a dream, though, Brooke feels a potential connection to someone who could understand her. If she lets him.

But trusting in Blake takes a whole lot more courage than Brooke has. After all, if she doesn’t take this leap, Brooke might miss out on meeting the one man she could actually learn to understand.

Duty or Desire by Sharon Hughson

Alyona Wyrden dwells contentedly in her elven realm, but when her brother disappears, she travels to Earth to bring him home.

Camden Kerr hunts down magical artifacts, keeping them out of the wrong hands. The amulet that draws Alyona to her brother is just the sort of object Cam’s after. The way his flesh responds to the lithe, blonde necklace wearer is a different matter altogether. When their paths keep crossing, Camden decides they can work together-until he discovers her elven heritage.

Can their attraction defeat prejudice? Which will rule—duty or desire?

BUY LINKS

Roane Publishing: http://www.roanepublishing.com/category-s/203.htm

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01FZPTST8

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01FZPTST8

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/masked-hearts-dana-wright/1123833081?ean=2940158509322

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/638075

Bookstrand: http://www.bookstrand.com/masked-hearts-0

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-maskedhearts-2044722-166.html
To add title to your Want To Read Goodreads List:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29538410-masked-hearts

Enter for a chance at a $10 Roane Publishing gift card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Guest Interview—Hywela Lyn

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I was born and lived most of my life in Rural Wales, although I have lived in a small English village, since my marriage. I love the outdoors and animals, and enjoyed many happy hours riding in the hills in my native Wales, the beautiful landscapes and colourful myths and legends inspired much of my writing. I have always loved the stars, and although I started out writing Western historicals, I became fascinated by the idea of travelling in space, and exploring distant worlds and began writing Science Fiction Romance – I always say ‘Space Opera’ which is how I would categorize my writing, is really a ‘Western’ in space with starships instead of horses and aliens instead of Native Americans.

What’s the logline that describes your writing?

Romance that’s ‘Out Of This World’ (although a few of my stories are set on this world but in a distant time either far back in the past, or in the future.)

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

Reading (of course.) As I said earlier, I love the outdoors, walking with my dog and caring for my two horses. Although I learnt to ride ‘English’ style, when Western Riding became more popular in the UK, I bought a Western saddle (from an endurance rider) and changed disciplines. Western riding is so comfortable and relaxed, and my horses converted to it very easily. I completed several endurance rides myself, using Western tack, and even bought a specially reinforced ‘Stetson’ as my mare, T’pau, although sweet, is very spooky an we’ve parted company a few times. At one time I used to sketch and paint, but don’t have time for that any more, unfortunately.

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

Usually the characters come to me first, then the setting and the plot sort of evolves around them. I always think the characters tell me the story as we go along.

Do you use visual aids (storyboards, Pinterest, collages) when plotting or writing?

I usually like to find a picture of my hero and heroine and keep it in front of me as I write.  I don’t find a suitable picture I will make a quick sketch, it just helps to flesh out the character in my mind. In ‘Beloved Enemy’ I had already found the male model I wanted for my cover ‘Jimmy Thomas’. The picture I found conveyed exactly the right image for my ‘tortured hero.’ The female model was a little harder to find, but the one I found suited the main character perfectly. I was lucky in that my cover artist used both the  pictures I chose and incorporated them into the cover.

In what genre do you read?

I love reading Science Fiction naturally, but I also enjoy historical Westerns, Romantic suspense, and adventures stories. I will actually read almost anything if it has good characters and holds my attention.

Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?

I couldn’t be without an animal or two. I have two horses, Harri and T’pau.  Harry is a black Welsh Cob and T’pau is a chestnut and white ‘Paint/American Quarterhorse. ‘Dusty’ the stable cat, does the ‘mousework and vermin control.   I also have a rather manic ‘rescue’ terrier called Choccy. He is the sweetest, most affectionate little dog, but unfortunately was kept locked up for the first two years of his life, and as a consequence was never ‘socialised’ with other dogs. It’s taken over a year and a lot of patience, but he’s now reached the stage where he will see another dog and approach it happily, instead of barking furiously and spinning in circles. He’s very clever and learns quickly, and when I’m not out with the horses, I take him for long walks in the woods or across the fields, and he just loves to chase a ball and play ‘fetch’.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I would love to think that readers would enjoy reading about my characters, and be left with a feeling of hope for the future, and the triumph of good over evil, and that they will feel the same sense of satisfaction when the main characters finally get their ‘happy ever after’ as I did writing it.

BelovedEnemy_w9992_750

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Cat Kincaid is obsessed with killing the man she believes is responsible for the torture and death of her sister, but when she eventually catches up with him, survival becomes a greater priority than revenge.

Kerry Marchant, haunted by memories, regret and self-blame, shields himself from the pain of the past by committing himself totally to the starship, Destiny, of which he is part owner. However, the beautiful, red haired woman who reminds him of his lost love, and who he suspects is working for a corrupt regime, represents a possible threat not only to the ship, but to his heart.

Marooned on an inhospitable planet, they need to work together to stay alive, fighting not only unknown assailants, but their growing attraction. But how can they learn to trust each other when he has vowed never to get close to a woman again, and she made a solemn pledge to destroy him?

BUY LINKS

Amazon

Amazon UK

The Wild Rose Press

Giveaway

Thank you so much for having me here today – I wonder how many readers think we will one day explore the stars?  I’m looking forward to your views and will give a $6.00 Wild Rose Press Certificate to the most interesting answer.

EXCERPT

Before she could activate the weapon, Kerry let off another barrage of plasma bolts into the river. He leapt toward her and ripped the severed tentacle from her leg. It flapped around on the wet grass. She scrambled to her knees, still slightly winded, and fired at the hideous thing. The foliage around it flared briefly with an eerie green flame, and the tentacle shrivelled into a slimy black mass, emitting a pungent odour and causing her to gag.

“It seems I was mistaken about the creature being dead.” Kerry prodded the smouldering mass with his boot and looked across over the water. “It is now.” He leaned down and grasped her wrist to haul her to her feet. “Are you hurt?”

“No, I don’t think so.” Her shoulder was sore and probably bruised but she’d live.

She tried to control her shivering. The incident affected her more than she wanted to admit. Kerry’s proximity—naked to the waist, his lithe body shining from the water droplets that still clung to his skin, and his legs swathed in tight black leather—did nothing to help. The last thing she wanted was for him to realize how scared she’d been when she thought a snake attacked her.

“Thanks. That was close. It would have been a bit ironic if I’d been killed by the same creature I saved you from.”

She realized he still grasped her wrist. She tried to move away, but he pulled her back, obliging her to turn to him.

“You’re trembling.”

“I’m fine.”

“No,” he said. “You’re not.” He pulled her closer and his eyes softened, his gaze holding her mesmerized. She opened her mouth to try to speak, but in the same instant, he put his hand under her chin and his lips closed over hers.

Snippet from 5 Start Review – Books By Beverly

“Cat comes to Kerry and his party’s rescue. If anyone is going to kill him it will be her.

I haven’t read the first two in the series but Beloved Enemy is a stand alone. A good one!”

Hywela Lyn

Hywela Lyn lives in a small village in England, with her long-suffering husband Dave, although her heart remains in her native rural Wales. Although most her writing tends to be futuristic, the worlds she creates are usually untainted by crowded cities and technology, embracing the beauty and wildness of nature.

WEBSITE  –     http://www.hywelalyn.co.uk

BLOG  –            http://www.hywelalyn.blogspot.com

FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/HywelaLynAuthor?ref=hl

                  https://www.facebook.com/HywelaLyn

TWITTER –        https://twitter.com/Hywela_Lyn

GOODREADS –  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1422651.Hywela_Lyn

 

Her first novel, Starquest, a futuristic romance released by The Wild Rose Press was followed by a sequel Children Of The Mist. Her recently released third novel Beloved Enemy, continues what has now become a series known as ‘The Destiny Trilogy’.

 

She is a member of The Romance Novelists’ Association (UK)  and Chiltern Writers, her local writing group. A keen animal lover, when she is not writing, she can usually be found enjoying the outdoors with the horses and dog – or just  eating chocolate!

Guest Interview—Caroline Clemmons

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I’ve been writing romantic fiction full time since 1994 but only sold my first novel in 1998, a contemporary western titled Be My Guest to Kensington. Since then, I’ve written numerous contemporary and historical western romances. Since 2011, I’ve been a self-published author and love the control (plus I make far more money on my own than I did with a publisher).

What’s the logline that describes your writing?

Heartwarming romance and adventure.

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

First I see characters, which are engaged in some scene in the story—usually the inciting incident. The plot comes from there.

If you use music while writing, name your favorite types.

I write with classical music. I do email with light rock, swing, or jazz—depending on my mood at the time.

What is the starting point for research—story concept or when you get stuck while writing?

I prefer to do my research first and save it to the book’s folder. That helps me plan the plot. If something else crops up, I research at the time.

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

Most. My latest two are set in Montana and Washington state, and I’ve never been either place. I relied on extensive research and advice from people who have been there. Most of my books are set in Texas, which is where I live. I’ve been to all of the settings in those books.

Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?

I have written several contemporary western romances and will have more releasing in 2016. I’ve written a couple of mysteries but probably won’t do more.

What’s your dream vacation destination?

A month in Ireland. After two trips there, my husband and I decided that IF we return, we’ll rent a cottage and spend a month touring at our leisure. We also enjoy England, Scotland, Switzerland, and southern Germany, but our favorite is Ireland.

Do you use visual aids (storyboards, Pinterest, collages) when plotting or writing?

I use a storyboard. Years ago my plotting group heard Laura Baker and Robin Perini present their “Story Magic” plotting method. I imagine there was a light bulb flashing on over my head during the workshop. The method made so much sense to me and helped me overcome many of my plotting problems. Yet, a few who heard that presentation didn’t find it helpful. We’re all different, aren’t we?

In what genre do you read?

Telling you what I don’t read is easier. I never read true crime, horror,  zombies, or much sci-fi. I especially enjoy western historical and western contemporary, women’s fiction, and WWII mysteries such as those by Leeann Harris and Susan Elia Macneal, and British mysteries and Regency.

What resources do you use for picking character names?

If writing a historical, I use names from my family genealogy. If writing contemporary, I Google names popular twenty-five to thirty years ago. Names are important and require the right sound. For instance, hard consonants make a hero sound stronger. For a historical heroine, I prefer an unusual name or after someone in my family or both—as in Parmelia in Long Way Home. Sometimes a heroine’s name can be a contrast to her personality.

Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?

My husband and I have one dog and three cats, all rescues. Our little Shih Tzu is almost blind and is hard of hearing now, so he is not adventurous and doesn’t play as he used to do. Our cats are each very different. Sebastian is a huge tuxedo who lets only me pet him and usually sleeps beside me. Max is a Manx and always into mischief. Jasmine is a rag doll that is a shy, sweet, cuddly cat.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I hope they reach the end of the book with a happy sigh for the pleasant experience, a temporary escape from their problems, and entertainment.

AMANDA'S RANCHER FOR LINDA

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One desperate young woman.

A chance meeting.

A life-changing outcome.

Growing up in a brothel, Mara O’Sullivan battled public disdain and contempt, but always remained kind-hearted and gracious. After testifying against vicious bank robbers, her life is threatened and Mara must find sanctuary far from everything she knows.

One train ride changes her life as she fatefully meets a half-sister and a niece she never knew existed. But when circumstances end her sister’s life, Mara makes a promise that she’ll raise her niece as her own and take her sister’s place as Preston Kincaid’s mail-order-bride. As Mara and Preston grow closer, their marriage no longer seems like a ruse, but a relationship of love, passion, and desire.

Mara’s past comes back to haunt her and she finds herself in danger—will her new husband forgive Mara’s deceit and protect her as his own?

BUY LINK

Amazon

EXCERPT

They reached the church and Preston jumped down from the wagon and came around to help her alight. With a smile, he lifted Iris high over his head before he set her on the ground. Her giggle brought tears to Amanda’s eyes.

That was the first time she’d ever heard her daughter make the girlish sound. Iris had smiled, spoken, but never laughed until she met Preston Kincaid. For that alone, Amanda would be the best wife she knew how to be.

Inside the church, Mrs. Norton handed Amanda a bouquet of daisies secured with a white ribbon. The interior was plain with wooden benches and an altar raised one step above the rest of the floor. Although there were several windows, none had stained-glass as did the churches she’d seen in Georgia.

The minister was waiting at the front of the church and wore a black frock coat and matching string tie. His brown hair and beard were thickly streaked with gray. He stood at a simple lectern with what looked like a Bible in one hand while he conversed with another man.

Amanda was surprised only one other person besides Reverend and Mrs. Norton were in the sanctuary. She’d supposed Preston had many friends in the area and thought at least his ranch hands would attend. The second man turned and proved to be an older version of her groom who came forward to greet her.

Preston cupped her elbow. “Amanda and Iris, this is my father. Most folks call him Tom, but I call him Papa.”

Amanda smiled at the handsome man who must be around fifty. He was tall, but maybe an inch shorter than his son. Silver sprinkled the same dark hair. “May I call you Papa, too?”

He beamed his pleasure and his blue eyes crinkled at the corners. “I’d be honored. And in the absence of your father, may I walk you down the aisle?”

“Would you? I’d be ever so grateful.” She laid her hand on his arm. Nerves had set in and she needed his support or her knees might give way.

Preston said, “Iris, why don’t you stand with me while my papa walks Mama to meet us?”

Iris shook her head. “Mommy, not my old mama?”

Preston frowned. “Old mama?”

Panic sent bile into her throat that threatened to choke her. Don’t throw up on your wedding dress. “Perhaps you remember my mother recently died.”

Sympathy shone from his blue eyes. “Of course.” He took Iris’ hand in his and strode to the front.

Mrs. Norton began playing the piano. She nodded toward Amanda. Papa Kincaid gently led her up the aisle.

Walking toward her husband, Amanda was conscious of Preston’s stare, as if he could see into her mind and knew her for an impostor. Although he held Iris’ hand, the intensity of his blue gaze unnerved her. She wondered if he was disappointed or if he were as numb as she.

Thankful for the presence of her future father-in-law beside her, she tightened her hold on Mr. Kincaid’s arm.

In response, he patted her hand her where it laid on his sleeve. Without looking at her, he whispered. “Steady as you go. We’re almost there.”

Iris gave a tiny wave and Amanda couldn’t resist smiling at the child. The little girl truly was a blessing. Focusing on Iris gave Amanda a target she could face.

When they reached the front, Mrs. Norton ceased playing. Preston took the bouquet from Amanda’s hands. “Iris, would you hold this for Mommy so she and I can be married?”

Iris looked at him adoringly and reached to receive the flowers. Reverend Norton opened his Bible and began the ceremony. Preston took Amanda’s hands in his. She was conscious of his calluses, but also of the size and strength of his palms dwarfing hers.

When the minister indicated, Preston slipped a ring onto her finger. This new one belongs to me, even if my groom doesn’t know my true name.

After the ceremony, Preston brushed his lips gently against hers.

Iris clapped a hand across her mouth in surprise then said, “Mommy? That man kissed you.”

Preston knelt eye-to-eye with her. “I’m your new Daddy, remember? Mommy and I were just married and now I can kiss her whenever she says it’s okay. Do you think you can call me Daddy?”

Iris nodded. “Are you gonna kiss me too?”

He smiled broadly. “I certainly am.” He leaned forward and gave her a loud smack on the cheek.

The child giggled. Twice in one day this kind man had made Iris happy. Amanda owed Preston all her wifely devotion.

Giveaway

Caroline is gifting an ebook of the winner’s choice.Name to be selected from those who leave a comment.

Snippet from a 5-star review

“When I first started reading this book, I thought that it was going to go a different route than it did. The way that it turned out was fantastic. Loved the characters, and I would like to have more stories about Vern and Ben, they need their own books. Thank you for writing such a great story about Ranching and Farming.”

BIO

Caroline Clemmons is an Amazon bestselling and award winning author of historical and contemporary western romances. A frequent speaker at conferences and seminars, she has taught workshops on characterization, point of view, and layering a novel.

Caroline and her husband live in the heart of Texas cowboy country with their menagerie of rescued pets. When she’s not indulging her passion for writing, Caroline enjoys family, reading, travel, antiquing, genealogy, and getting together with friends. Find her on her blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, WattPad, Shelfari, and Pinterest. Subscribe to her newsletter here to receive a FREE novella of Happy Is The Bride.

Guest Release–HUNTED By Marissa Garner

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Hot agents on explosive cases in the FBI Heat series: For San Diego’s elite FBI agents, risking their lives is standard procedure when it comes to capturing the city’s most dangerous criminals—but falling in love is the greatest risk of all.  

Catching bad guys in San Diego’s underworld isn’t just FBI Special Agent Ben Alfren’s job, it’s his life. He doesn’t have time for a serious relationship, doesn’t want one either. So when he meets his sexy new neighbor, Amber Jollett, he has nothing more in mind than unwinding with a glass of wine, a romantic walk on the beach…and maybe a hot fling.

But Amber is more than he bargained for. Hunted by an obsessed ex-boyfriend, the fiercely independent nurse chooses fight over flight for the chance at a future with her hot, blue-eyed neighbor. When she gets caught up in Ben’s plans to rescue five kidnapped women, their lives get entangled and their attraction flares into passion. But they’ll learn that in this dangerous game of cat and mouse, real love can save—or doom—them . . .

BUY LINKS:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1PjQLGK

B&N: http://bit.ly/1OnacNA

iTunes: http://apple.co/1SpIDSJ

Kobo: http://bit.ly/21m7Zao

EXCERPT:

The man in the gray hoodie was watching her. Amber Jollett couldn’t see his face, but he was the right height and build. Even from the opposite street corner, the intensity of his stare bored into her. She shivered despite the sunny morning.

Her focus never wavered as she slid behind two people. The man’s head turned with her movement.

The traffic light changed, and the crowd surged forward. Amber’s hand dug into her purse until it gripped reassuring metal. Weaving between bodies, she moved to the outside edge to put as much distance as possible between her and the man before the other pedestrians passed on the street. With each step, her heart beat faster.

Halfway across, the man reached up, pulled back the hood…and smiled. Straight black hair. Almond-shaped eyes. Asian features.

Not him.

Amber’s knees went weak with relief.

Not him. Not this time.

A car horn blared. She jumped and spun around to find a taxi idling a few feet away, its driver gesturing impatiently for her to get out of the way. Waving an apology, she scurried across the street. She found a spot out of the pedestrian flow next to the corner of a building. She needed a moment to quiet her nerves.

She braced her hands on the knees of her pastel pink nurse’s scrubs, inhaled deep breaths, and released them slowly. Fear began to fade as calm returned.

Damn you, Jeremy Nelson. I want my life back.

Amber grimaced and closed her eyes. It was starting all over again. Two years had passed since she’d broken up with her obsessed boyfriend, but he continued to stalk her. Restraining orders and calls to law enforcement had proved useless. Now she alone was responsible for her safety. She’d lived in Coronado, across the bay from San Diego, for only two months. But two or three months was the amount of time it normally took for Jeremy to find her. From now on, she would have to be on constant alert. The worst part was imagining him wearing every hoodie, hiding in every shadow, or following in every vehicle. Usually, she didn’t wait for an actual sighting—that would be too late. No, she couldn’t hesitate. Once her instincts told her he was closing in, she had to move on. She cringed. How much longer will I be hunted?

Small FBI Heat graphic

BIO:

Marissa is a wife, writer, chocoholic, and animal lover, not necessarily in that order. As a little girl, she cut pictures of people out of magazines and turned them into characters in her stories. Now she writes edgy romantic thrillers and steamy contemporary romance. She lives in SoCal with her husband, but enjoys traveling from Athens to Anchorage and many locations in between.

WEB CONTACTS:

Newsletter:  http://bit.ly/1NTfT19

Website:  www.marissagarner.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/MarissaGarnerAuthor

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/M_Garner_Author

Pinterest:  https://pinterest.com/garner1819/

GIVEAWAY:  Visit Facebook or website to enter $25 Amazon e-Gift Card giveaway

What Two Elements Do You Include In a Romantic Scene?

Summer's Sweet Embrace

Summertime love is always the sweetest. These eight sweet tales of summer romance are the perfect companion for a day at the lake or the beach.

I asked the authors from the Summer’s Sweet Embrace anthology released by Roane Publishing this question:  what two elements do you like to include in a romantic scene? Sit back and read their answers.

 Michelle Ziegler, author of Truly Paradise:

I love anticipation. The knowing they will kiss, or whatever, but having to wait for it for several sentences and letting the excitement build. I don’t like to drag it out, but I love the subtle and meaning foreplay to make a romantic scene last.

Romance. Is that a duh moment?  No really. If I am going to have my characters be in a romantic scene, I want believable romance.  In real life, stolen kisses are rarely anything to make someone else swoon. So adding details that no one in real life would normally notice, like gazing into someone’s eyes or your breath hitching at each touch makes a scene more romantic for me.

Laurie Treacy, author of Ocean Dust:

Oh, I like this question! I like to include what I consider the ‘little things’ like touches and looks. And the other element I like to include are kisses. Tiny to full-blown lip locks.

Christa MacDonald, author of The Beach Rose:

Dramatic tension, definitely. As a reader there is nothing more boring than the perfectly happy couple having a perfect date ending with a perfect kiss.  Snore…  I love characters that clash despite their attraction and scenes that challenge them.  Not that they should be debating politics while free-climbing a cliff or something, but there has to be an element of tension that moves the scene, that keeps you reading.

Vulnerability.  I like to show that for the characters, this is real.  They have real hearts they’re worried about breaking, real insecurities to fight, and scars from old wounds to deal with.  A romantic moment is an emotionally vulnerable one and I think a good scene shows that.

Jaylee Austin, author of Love’s Nectar:

I enjoy writing the love/sex scene, building up to the moment when they’re connected in their relationship.

It’s fun listening to the characters internal talk when they have doubts about the other person.

Niki Mitchell, author of Love’s High Tide:

In a romantic scene, I include a catalyst and a personal reveal or insight to bring the couple closer.

Melissa J. Crispin, author of Linger:

One element I always try to include is the main character’s emotional state. As things are happening, each action should evoke a meaningful reaction and cause the couple to feel more drawn to each other. I do my best to capture that.

The second element would be the main character’s heightened senses. I feel that this helps to add a deeper dimension to the scene. Whether it’s the smell of the hero’s cologne, a meaningful song that’s playing in the background, or the taste of a kiss, I want to give the readers a strong image of what’s unfolding, with enough detail that it can be pictured like a movie playing in their minds.

Sheryl Winters, author of Above Reproach:

Understanding and tension. The first element is definitely understanding. Without understanding a character, has no depth of feeling and no reader will ever get into the scene. A reader has no reason to care about them. Tension must also be present, either from anger or from sexual tension but without tension even the lightest scene will fall flat.

BUY LINKS

Amazon

Amazon UK

Roane Publishing

Smashwords

Link for Summer’s Sweet Embrace on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25999205-summer-s-sweet-embrace
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Books That Make Your Heart Flutter Blog Hop

Books That Make Your Heart Flutter

As someone who has read thousands of books over her lifetime, I can think of two aspects of a story that make my heart flutter.

First, I can get swept away and be unable to put down a book that has a driving plotline. One action leads into the next and both put the protagonist in even worse danger to the point that the reader can’t imagine anything possibly getting worse…and then it does. A couple of books come to mind here.

One is The Hunt For Red October by Tom Clancy with the basic plot being a Russian submarine commander wants to defect to the free world. The format of the novel was that action occurred on three primary stages (settings)–US government, Russian government and the sub itself. Each scene flipped to a different setting and the reader knew the ultimate showdown had huge consequences. I remember reading part of the novel aloud on a long drive the length of California. (before audio books, folks)  Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton was another that hooked me. Other authors who write similar compelling works are Lee Child, Michael Connelly,  Camilla Lackberg, John Grisham.

Recently, I read Zoo by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge, which has been turned into a TV series. Partially because of the extremely short chapter length (1-4 pages each) but also the almost non-stop action of incidents and events that propel the protagonist forward.

The second type of book that makes my heart flutter is a well-written romance that really digs into the characters. Especially stories that start out with flawed characters who think they have done something that makes them unlovable. Like The Wives of Bodie Stone by Maggie Osborne or Portraits by Stef Ann Holm–both historical novels have heroes who were in prison.

Strong characterization and deep point of view go a long way to guarantee my reading pleasure. I strive for those two elements in the stories I create. In my latest release, Forged By Fire (part of the anthology, A Cowboy Celebration from Prairie Rose Publications), I created a hero, Berg, who thought an event that happened in his past made him undesirable and therefore, he shies away from people.  One simple act of kindness makes Ivey, the cook of the boarding house, to look at him in a different way.

Forged By Fire is just one of four historical stories included in Prairie Rose anthologies set in a Texas town.

Leave a comment about a book that made your heart flutter and the reason why for a chance to win your choice of a print copy of :

Cowboys,Creatures,andCalico_thCowboys, Creatures and Calico, Vol 1. (Halloween setting) with other stories by Lorrie Farrelly, Tanya Hanson, Sarah J. McNeal, Shayna Matthews and Cher’ley Grogg

 

 

_Present for a Cowboy_tnPresent For A Cowboy (Christmas setting) with other stories by Gail L. Jenner, Lorrie Farrelly, Sarah J. McNeal and Livia J. Washburn

 

 

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Cowboy Kisses (Valentine’s Day theme) with other stories by Lorrie Farrelly, Kristy McCaffrey, Gail L. Jenner, Gil McDonald, C. Marie Bowen, Tanya Hanson, Beverly Wells

 

 

Double your chances of winning by signing up for the inaugural Fall issue of my quarterly newsletter.

http://eepurl.com/bjKueH

To be eligible for the giveaway, comments must be made by 11:59PM PDT on Monday, August 17th. (Newsletter sign ups always accepted)

Then visit others who are participating in this blog hop.

Summer Begins Blog Hop

Summer Begins blog hop

Seasons are a bit behind the norm because of where I live at 6,800 feet in the southern California mountains. Just a couple of weeks ago, we had two inches of snowfall! I forced myself to haul my T-shirts and lightweight pants from the under-the-stairs closet because I looked at the calendar and saw May. But on overcast days like today, I’m eyeballing my sweat pants and wondering why they are not on my body.

We have evidence of spring, wildflowers in the meadow and new growth on the evergreens, plus the ground squirrels and chipmunks are scampering around. But the temperatures still dip into the 30s every night.

But, when the warm weather does occur and settles in, I look forward to week-long camps at the camp and conference center where I live (hubby does the maintenance on the 10 buildings and 1 lodge on the 17-acre site in a US national forest). With the coming of summer camps, I only have to cook from Saturday lunch through Sunday lunch. All the other meals we eat with the campers.  Imagine that!

After our move here 3 years ago, I quickly appreciated all the free time I had because of this great benefit. More time for writing, editing, researching BUT also for reading. I look forward to early afternoons when I come back to the cabin after lunch and sit on the front deck, reading amidst the chirping of birds, the buzz of insects, and the laughter of kids barely heard from the swimming pool.

Now, if only the weather would soon cooperate!

Leave a comment here about what you’re looking forward to with summer and/or enter the rafflecopter below for a chance at print copies (US only; int’l winner receives ebook) of Present For A Cowboy or Cowboy Kisses or an ebook from my backlist.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Then hop over to other authors and see what they have to say about the coming warm weather. Or start here at the sponsoring site for this blog hop, Candlelight Reads.

 


Author Interview–Denyse Bridger

Today I’m interviewing a chapter buddy from the TransCanada Romance Writers, Denyse Bridger. Be sure to read through to the end for the details on the giveaway being offered.

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I’m from East Coast Canada, and one of these days I just might set a book in this part of the world. I’ve been writing pretty much since I was able to put words on page, and been involved in professional writing for the past 11 years. I can’t think of anything I love more than creating a story that makes people smile.

What’s the logline that describes your writing?

Romance and Fantasy for the discerning reader…

 What are your hobbies away from the computer?

Walking in the park, research, baking, reading… depends on the season which one gets the most time. J

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

Most often it’s the plot that emerges first, and then the people who populate the new world introduce themselves and tell me how they’re related–or  not–to each other within the story. Sometimes it’s simply a somewhat vague idea that begins to nag at me and slowly take shape. It is rarely a character who jumps out first.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

I have to plan and plot, I’ve tried writing on the fly and it doesn’t work for me, it ends up just meandering all over the place and I feel like there’s no sense of direction or purpose. I usually end up scrapping stories that start out that way, even if I’ve gotten as high as 20K written. I have friends who gasp when I dump that many words, but to me they’re useless so it’s no loss.

Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?

I write in many genres, contemporary seems to be the one I’m in at the moment, but that can change the moment a new plot presents itself in another genre. I’ve got a new Romantic Suspense series in the works, but also a paranormal world story I’m building, and an historical Western. I also want desperately to write a cozy mystery, and that’s developing, too, so I’m all over the place. I am pretty much leaving erotic romance behind entirely and going back to sensual and mainstream books.

What’s your dream vacation destination?

Italy and Romania – it’s a toss up because I love both countries and would LOVE to see them!

Do you use visual aids (storyboards, Pintrest, collages) when plotting or writing?

I have three boards on my Pinterest that are the visual boards for works in progress, Grande Amore is for my Italian romance, The BlackHawk Agency is for my Romantic Suspense series, and New Beginnings is for a novel featuring an older couple finding love just a little bit later in their lives.

In what genre do you read?

At the moment, I’m reading a lot of romantic suspense books, and cozy mysteries. I love to read Fantasy, as well.

What resources do you use for picking character names?

Mostly I use the Character Sourcebook for Naming Characters, because it’s a great way to keep flipping around and jotting things down, seeing meanings for names, etc. I love the fact that you can select the names offered by origin/nationality, because sometimes you want specifically an Irish name, or an Italian one, and this makes it easy to find them immediately.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I’ve always said that writing is an entertainment art, and while it can and does educate, for me personally it’s about crafting a story that makes people smile and feel good, or gets them thinking and feeling on a gut level. If you affect your reader, you’ve done your job well, I believe.

BellaSignorina_MED (200 x 296)

Set in Rome, Bella Signorina is a sweet, romantic story of two people who meet in a trendy caffè, and through the magic of dance and music discover they have many things in common. Bianca comes to Caffè Rosati every week, and for many weeks she’s been watching a special man, a handsome, charming stranger who dances, flirts, and leaves alone each week. Bianca is a woman who enjoys her freedom, and has been hurt before, so she’s not anxious to fall in love again. Something about the enigmatic Stefano has captivated her heart, though, and she is drawn to him in spite of herself. When she finally gathers her courage to approach him, and ask him to dance, little does she know that her entire world is about to change.

Stefano Esposito is a man whose past relationships have not left him much in the way of ideals about women. Many have claimed to love him, none have understood him. Stefano is a rare breed in today’s world of fast-paced life and love. He is a gentleman, a man who many consider a little out of step with the times. For Stefano, falling in love is the completion of a soul, not the consummation of a sexual itch. He wants the woman in his life to respect, understand, and adore him, as he will her. When he meets Bianca, he wonders if he’s finally found the one he’s waited a lifetime for? She understands his internal conflicts, his desires, and his dreams, after only hours together.

When their attraction to each other flares too quickly and too intently, Stefano pulls back. Confused and uncertain, Bianca flees his beautiful home and business, and goes back to her busy life. But, once the dance has begun, is there a way to go back to what you knew before, or is it just a matter of time before the music lures you back to your dreams and, perhaps, makes them reality?

BUY LINKS

Amazon

Amazon AUDIO

Audible

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

EXCERPT

Stefano kept a close eye on the pretty dancer even as he walked to the small caffè. She was lovely, and he’d seen her many times, always enchanted by her presence, but never inclined to find out if the outward beauty was all there was to her. If she was another vain and brainless girl, he didn’t want his illusion shattered. The romanticism of the thought made him smile. He wasn’t as jaded as he pretended to be if he was still protecting his heart with illusions.

Less than fifteen minutes after he’d left her, he rejoined her and handed her a steaming cup of coffee.

“It’s so different here at night,” Bianca noted, her eyes scanning the area. In a matter of hours, thousands of people would begin their daily movements, passing over the steps, not noticing anything but the need to be wherever they were headed. “There’s peace here now.”

“Is that why you dance, to find peace?”

She sipped her coffee and considered an answer. When it came, it surprised him.

“The music is freedom, and the motion is passion. Sometimes the only passion that matters.”

“All passion matters, bella,” he commented. “It’s what gives us life.”

“Or burns it out of us.”

He turned on the steps, faced her fully. Then he touched her chin and made her look at him.

“Who abused your love so fully that you can believe that?”

“People destroy each other for love,” she replied after a lengthy pause.

Stefano shook his head. “Love is the only gift there is worth having, Signorina. It’s what men live and die for.”

“Who are you, Signor?”

He was startled again, twice in less than five minutes.

“Would you like to walk?”

She laughed in the growing darkness, and Stefano felt it ripple the length of his spine, as though cool, flawless silk had glided over him.

“Where are we to go, Stefano?”

“I think you’ll like the place,” he observed, with a hint of irony texturing the subtle undertone of his voice.

She eyed him for a few timeless moments, then nodded and rose.

He smiled when she offered her hand, and he curled his fingers around hers in a loose, but firm grip.

“So, is there a wife hidden somewhere?”

He laughed. “No. What about you? A husband who will come looking for me before dawn?”

She shook her head and sipped her coffee. “How does a man with so much passion not have the woman of his dreams in his arms every night?”

“I could ask you the same question,” he pointed out. “Why are you alone?”

Her laughter washed over him again and she stopped walking to look up at him. “No one I’ve met has inspired the things I need to feel.” She shrugged. “I’ve been too honest with too many, and it scares them away.”

For a moment he said nothing, weighing her surprising confession. “What do you need?”

“To be respected for who I am, what makes me unique.” She tilted her head to one side and held his level gaze. “I need to be given all the things I’m expected to provide, and that seems to be something quite beyond many men. Real men, who understand the value of a smart woman, also see that her beauty is in her wisdom, and her spirit.”

“And her ability to be all things without effort, because she is all things naturally,” he concluded, genuinely pleased at the startled flicker of surprise his words lit in her eyes. “We’re here,” he announced, indicating the building they’d reached.

She looked up, and her smile was radiant in the soft glow of the nearby streetlight. “La Galleria d’arte di Idillio,” she murmured. “I love this place.”

“It’s mine,” he told her as he dug out the key that would unlock the doors to the small gallery.

“Yours?”

There was enough real shock in her voice to make him stop as he held the door for her to go inside. “Why does that surprise you so much?”

“I’ve come here a number of times, and I’ve never seen you,” she replied, once he’d locked the doors and turned on the lights.

“I’ve never seen you,” he noted. “Except at the caffè.”

“I’ve always felt this place was a tribute to love, and romance.”

“It is. My father began the collection for my mother.”

“Your father was a romantic?”

“My father was a gentleman, in the truest sense of that word,” Stefano said with a familiar sense of loneliness and pride combined. “He lived la dolce vita,” he smiled, “with the passion of a man who loved all life had to offer him, good and bad.”

“He’s gone?”

A curt nod was all he could offer without revealing how deeply the loss still affected him. He set his coffee on the reception desk, hung his jacket on a rack then did the same with Bianca’s things. Then he took her arm and led her to a small area that had been his work for the past year.

“This is my latest addition to the collection.”

Bianca wandered the area, studying the beautiful collection of photographs. Each one was in a different area of Italy, and the women smiling and lovely, but each one as unique as her surroundings.

“What do you see?”

“Beauty. Romance.” Bianca stared at the photographs for a few moments longer, considering them with serious thought, then turned to face him. “In every photograph, they are not looking at you, but at the camera. They’re seeing the opportunity, but not your reason for wanting them.”

Something fluttered against Stefano’s chest from the inside, an excitement he hadn’t felt in a very long time. He let his gaze drift, cataloguing the woman in front of him. Standing next to him the top her head was at his chin. She had long, waving hair, dark brown with a distinct tint that caught the glow from the lights and turned her thick mane into a mass of warm, burnished auburn. She had eyes that resembled Chinese jade, and a wide, full mouth that curved upward, as though a secret hid behind her smile. She was curvaceous and feminine, effortlessly graceful, and with minimal makeup, appeared very much without artifice of any kind.

“What is my reason for wanting them?” He forced his tone to calm and curious, sincerely interested in her reply, but also caught in the spell she was exerting. Part of his mind was still watching her, measuring the emotion and internal workings of her mind as she analyzed his photographs with real interest. Her teal-colored dress was simple in design, flared skirt unevenly cut at the hem, swirling around her shapely legs as she walked, pausing often to peer intently at the images on the walls. The upper half of the dress clung to luscious contours, and the silver crucifix, her only jewelry, drew his eyes to the shadow between her breasts. He wanted very much to touch her, and instead stuffed his hands into his pockets and went to join her as she stopped at one of the last photos, then looked at him over her shoulder.

“She loved you.”

“So she said.”

“You didn’t love her?”

“Not the way she thought I should.”

“You wanted love from every woman here, yet not one of them saw who you really are,” she observed softly, sadness evident in her tone.

His eyebrow rose. “Who do you think I am, bella?”

“How honest do you think I should be?”

“I admire honesty, Signorina,” he told her. “I respect the courage it takes to offer it to anyone.”

“But do you respect it if the object of discussion is you?”

“Now you’re beginning to worry me,” he teased with a smile. He was fascinated by her intelligence and her insight. She looked past his appearance and his presence to probe his secrets, and whatever she was seeing made her even more alluring to him.

Want to know more? The dance is only beginning for Bianca and Stefano, drop by Eirelander Publishing and indulge the fantasy more…

GIVEAWAY

Densye is giving away an audio copy of Bella Signorina to a person leaving a comment on this blog by Monday, May 4, chosen at random.

logo_Denyse

 

Canadian born and bred, and a lifelong dreamer, I began writing at an early age and can’t recall a time when I wasn’t creating in some artistic form. My life has had several on-going love affairs that shape much of what I write.  In the past half dozen years, I’ve released books in all lengths and genres, and it’s something I hope to continue to do for many more years. A visit to my websites will show the diversity of what is currently available, as well as other surprises and extras!

 

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Guest Promo–Twist of Faith by Darlene Fredette

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Tagline:

One twist of Faith can change everything.

Blurb:

Katrina has one goal—follow through on her late-grandmother’s last request, to oversee the renovation of Katrina’s childhood home. The handsome contractor is distracting, but she refuses to be swayed by his deep brown eyes and broad shoulders. A summer romance is not part of the plan. When the truth is discovered about her family’s past, Katrina fears her own future is in jeopardy. She doesn’t have faith, but the twists that lie ahead may just change her mind.

Nick refuses to accept help from anyone, until Katrina gives him an ultimatum—one he can’t refuse. Her renovation project will save his business, but puts his heart on the line. Can he convince Katrina to stay or will a promise to her late-grandmother pull her away? With a little twist of Faith, the odds may be in his favor.

BUY LINKS:

The Wild Rose Press

Amazon

Excerpt:

The man shifted his weight.

Suddenly, the air cooled around her. For the first time since she spied him in her home, Katrina stared face-to-face at her intruder. Past the pain, she saw a strong jaw line and a chin framed by the shadow of a goatee, or as they say in Paris, a French beard. A perfect set of lips held a thin moustache and his brown layered hair fell just above his chin. Dark brown eyes kept her gaze captivated. Johnny Depp has broken into my house.

His face didn’t belong to someone who made a living from breaking-and-entering. This face belonged to a refined and hard-working man. She could tell there was more to the story behind those eyes, but the instant she stared at his lips, her thoughts turned to mush.

He stumbled to stand, leaning on the wall for support. Johnny Depp kicked the wood, sending it rolling to the other side of the room.

Katrina, now believing he meant no harm, accepted the hand he offered to help her from the floor. She ignored the tingling sensation running up her arm, knowing the fuss couldn’t be from the strong hand holding hers.

He inhaled a deep breath and opened his mouth to speak, but shook his head instead. Frowning, he pointed a finger toward the card on the floor and limped to the exit, slamming the door behind him.

She bent to pick up the card, which read, Donaldson and Porter, Architecture and Contracting, Nick Porter. Her shoulders dropped. “Damn!”

Katrina now had less than twenty-four hours to master the art of groveling.

BIO:

An avid reader since childhood, Darlene loved to put a pencil to paper and plot out stories of her own. She writes heartwarming contemporary romances with a focus on plot-driven page-turners. When Darlene isn’t writing, editing, or reading, she enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, and Yellow Lab.

Contact links:

Web Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Giveaway:

Commenters here and other spots on the book release blog tour are eligible for ecopy of Twist of Faith or $5 Amazon GC or pair of earrings.

TOF Giveaway

Guest Interview–Carol Burnside

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I’m a mother, wife, sister and aunt. I’m also a native Texan and lived there until the age of fourteen, the longest I’ve lived anywhere to date. Arkansas is my home now, but between my teens and today, I’ve resided in Oklahoma, Mississippi, Texas (again), Arkansas (twice) Virginia, Colorado, Hawaii, Georgia, and Maryland. My creative side has always been alive and well with interests in music, art, interior design, cooking and needlework.

What’s the logline that describes your writing?

Sizzling romance with heart and humor.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

Reading, cooking and crocheting.

If you use music while writing, name your favorite types.

I rarely write to music unless it’s instrumental only.

What is the starting point for research—story concept or when you get stuck while writing?

That depends on the story and the plot. If the plot involves something a medical condition that I have to build around, then the research needs to come first. Otherwise, I usually research as I go.

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

Definitely. Pretty much all my settings I’ve visited or I’ve lived there. I enjoy discovering new places, taking photos of the scenery and jotting down my impressions of the area for future use as a setting.

What was your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?

I remember the first time I’d made a note to add something to a scene, only to discover I’d already included it as I read further. Also, reading through the manuscript and discovering I’d written a more cohesive story than I believed. That’s always a welcome surprise!

Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).

Disjointed is the best descriptor I can think of. I have a short attention span and Hubby works from home (semi-retired). So, between him, the three dogs, housework, cooking, laundry and other writing obligations, I grab writing moments whenever I can. Luckily, I have a laptop and a tablet/laptop so I can burrow into a comfy chair in a bedroom and hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, if needed.

What’s your dream vacation destination?

Almost anywhere that has a beach and waves lapping at the shore.

Do you use visual aids (storyboards, Pinterest, collages) when plotting or writing?

Yes. I need visual aids and learn easier when they’re utilized. I usually have photos of at least my lead characters and sometimes a house or landmark or something else to help me immerse in their world.

In what genre do you read?

I’m all over the map within the romance genre with contemporary, historical, some paranormals, YA, NA, cozy mysteries, rom-coms and romantic suspense. On occasion, I’ve also been known to read biographies, gritty suspense, straight memoirs and non-fiction for research.

Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?

Very much so. I’ve rarely had a time in my life without a pet or multiple pets. Dogs and cats, though I was partial to cats for many years. These days, Hubby and I have three dogs: a Pudelpointer, an English Setter and a Cockalier (Cocker/King Charles Spaniel mix).

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

A sense of renewed hope that true love is out there for everyone if we keep our hearts open.

CarolBurnside_ASuitableWife200

BLURB:

This book is the first in the Sweetwater Springs series of stand-alone books.

Sam Moreland is desperate to keep his daughter out of the clutches of her abusive mother seeking custody. He resists legal advice to provide the court with a complete family unit because past relationships have soured him on love.

Though she yearns for children, Rosie Baxter knows a failed pregnancy has likely left her barren. She remains single rather than bring her problems into a marriage and concentrates on her business with its financial woes.

A temporary marriage pact means Rosie provides Sam with the illusion of family in return for an influx of cash into her store. But kisses for show become all too real. When outside threats shake their growing bond, each must trust the other with their darkest secret or lose their best chance for love and happiness.

Warning: This book contains a heated tryst in the kitchen, a cricket choir, conniving exes, and big family gatherings. Do not read if you are allergic to tall, dark and handsome men with sweet baby girls or determined red-haired women with strong maternal feelings. The author makes no guarantees against sudden urges in the reader to move to a small southern town.

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Also in the series:

Book 2: Her Unexpected Family (Claire and Travis)

Book 3: His Small Town Princess (J.T. and Cass), 2015

BUY LINKS:

AllRomance 

Amazon 

B & N

GooglePlay

iBook

Kobo http://tinyurl.com/Kobo-ASW

Smashwords

EXCERPT:

“Okay, Mr. Big-Shot Writer, spin me a tale of romance.” Rosie leaned back and crossed her arms under her breasts. After his earlier remarks about not believing in love, this she had to hear.

“All right. Give me a minute.” He got to his feet and paced, his brow furrowed with concentration. Then he slowly clapped his hands together. “I’ve got it. The best thing to do is stick as close to actual facts and events as possible. That way, there’s less chance of us getting tripped up.”

Rosie faked an exaggerated yawn to show him what she thought of that idea.

“Don’t go all skeptical on me yet. We talked by phone and exchanged e-mails over the last four months, right? So we build on that. A few e-mails turned into dozens flying back and forth. At first we reminisced, then we caught up on each other’s lives and started talking almost every evening. This time it was different. Our friendship took on a new dimension. When we saw each other again—”

“Sam.” Rosie interrupted his fantasy story before he got to the real-life part about them staring at each other in her shop. What had that been all about? “That’s not very original. The e-mails, the meet? That’s a variation of my favorite movie, You’ve Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.”

“Exactly!” He said in a smug, ah-ha voice. “It’s life imitating art.”

Except that it wasn’t. They weren’t. Not at all.

“With a little convincing, they’ll believe it, because they’ve seen it happen on the big screen.”

“And we’re going to accomplish this how?” Rosie was suspicious, having long ago learned not to rise too quickly to the bait when her brothers suggested something risky.

“Relax. I’m not suggesting we scandalize the blue-haired ladies of Sweetwater Springs by French kissing in public.” Sam looked affronted. “I’m just saying a little hand-holding here, an arm around you there, maybe take in a family movie and voilá!—we’re a couple.”

Rosie experienced a little thrill at his last words. She’d been dating casually for so long, being part of a couple—even a pretend one—would be a nice change. With Sam playing her love interest, the problem would be remembering it was all for show.

The PDA didn’t sound too over the top, but it involved more than casual touching. What if she liked it too much?

* * *

Sam watched the play of emotions across Rosie’s face. At the moment, she looked ready to bolt. A distraction was needed and quick.

Before he could talk himself out of it, he swung over to sit facing her on the edge of her chaise. She flinched as he braced himself on either side of her shoulders and leaned in.

“Whoa.” Rosie slapped a hand to his chest, her gaze darting to where their outer thighs touched. “What are you doing?”

“What does it look like?”

“I don’t . . .  are you . . .  you’re not . . . ” Her eyes widened, her gaze dropping to her hand, where he was sure she could feel the accelerated bump of his heart.

“Practice,” he explained. “This has to look natural when we’re in public.”

Her tongue darted out, wetting her bottom lip before dragging her teeth across it. He’d seen her perform that nervous habit and every time it got to him. Damn. Much more of this and he’d lose his focus.

“Give me your hand.”

Her breath puffed forth with an ego-bruising relief hard to ignore. She lifted her right hand off his chest and turned it palm up. Sam flipped it over and threaded their fingers together, noting how fair and delicate hers looked next to his. He dragged his gaze back to her face. Her eyes, darkened to a deep aquamarine, regarded him steadily.

“Are you okay with this?” he asked, to break the tension.

One shoulder jerked and her lashes lowered. “It’s just hand-holding.”

“Good. Ready for the next step? Let’s go for a hug.”

Rosie tugged her hand free and eased forward. Though she slid her arms around him in a loose embrace and rested her cheek on his shoulder, she was about as relaxed as a taut rubber band.

He tightened his hold, urging her closer, closing his eyes against a sudden stab of desire as her breasts smashed softly against his chest.

“Not bad,” he said, trying to keep his breathing even. “It has to look like it’s second nature when we hug or kiss, or we’ll never fool anybody.”

Rosie straightened, breaking his hold and stared. His hands dropped to her waist and her lips parted. “You didn’t say anything about kissing. Do we have to kiss in public?”

Have to? Now that deserved a little payback. Sam hid his bruised ego behind a smile and skimmed his fingertips over her shoulder and neck. Her skin felt like warm velvet. “I’m your fiancé now. We’ll be expected to kiss occasionally.”

“I guess you’re right. I hadn’t thought of it like that.”

He tilted her chin a smidge with his thumb, caressing her jawline. Her tongue darted across her bottom lip again, and he bit back a groan. Damn. Payback for her. Torture for him.

Need rose in him, sharp enough that his position became damn uncomfortable. He stopped caring about why they were doing this and concentrated on her lips, so close, begging him to taste them.

“We don’t have to, um, practice everything tonigh—”

He covered her mouth with his, making her point moot. For a few seconds, neither of them moved. Sam eased back, trembling with the effort it took to keep himself in check. He changed the angle and closed the gap, needing to taste her, unable to resist flicking the tip of his tongue across her mouth.

Rosie’s lips parted in surprise, and he deepened the kiss, taking it from a gentle experiment to a thorough claiming. The tension left her body and she melted against him like a lone pat of butter on a stack of fresh hotcakes. The sensation set off alarms, and he stilled. What was he doing, kissing her like there was no tomorrow? Rosie wasn’t his to claim. Sam eased away from the kiss, though he didn’t want it to end.

She swayed toward him before her eyes flew open. He only caught a glimpse of blue before she turned away, breathing harder than normal.

Yeah. He knew the feeling. Kissing Rosie had surpassed anything he’d imagined it to be. He’d been celibate too long if kissing a friend did this to him.

He cast about for something witty to break the awkward silence, but came up empty. The last thing he wanted to do was rehash what had happened. He cleared his throat and stood. “That’ll do for tonight.”

REVIEW COMMENTS:

5 stars! “a well thought out story that gets you involved and keeps you turning pages until the end”—Amazon review

5 stars! “What a great story, with wonderful character’s that you fall in love with. You’ll laugh and cry, you won’t want to stop reading.” – Willow, Amazon review

5 stars! “Author Carol Burnside’s beautifully written love story had my heart strings working overtime.” – Stephanie Lasley, The Kindle Book Review

Carol Burnside

Carol Burnside is an award-winning author of the Sweetwater Springs series of “sizzling romance with heart and humor.” Her personal second-chance-at-love story resulted in a marriage to her high school sweetheart of thirty-plus years. Also published in short stories, Carol’s novel length manuscripts have placed in numerous contests and won five, including the prestigious Maggie Award for Excellence.

Writing as Annie Rayburn, she produces soft sci-fi and lite paranormal erotic romances which have been favorably received. Enjoy excerpts, review snippets, and more about her sizzling stories at http://CarolBurnside.com.

Connect with Carol via: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Newsletter / Goodreads / Pinterest / Google+

GIVEAWAY:

A gifted e-copy of A Suitable Wife to one randomly chosen commenter.