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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.

Guest Promotion–A Woman Of Love by Marlow Kelly

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Blurb

When her dissolute husband insists that Lady Annabel Peters bed one of his villainous cohorts to repay a gambling debt, she is scandalized. But she is forced to agree because he controls every aspect of her life.

A physically and emotionally crippled war hero, James Drake has retreated from society. At the request of his brother, he manipulates events so he can interrogate Annabel, a woman he thinks may be part of a ring of thieves.

Neither of them count on an instant and overwhelming attraction. James may now believe Annabel but she suspects her husband plans to kill her. As one of her husband’s friends, James is not to be trusted.

Yet how can she escape a man who has the ability to control her with a gentle kiss?

BUY LINKS

Amazon

iTunes/iBooks

The Wild Rose Press

EXCERPT

Maneuvering Peters into having his wife pay his debts had been easy. He had counted on the bastard to care more about money than his personal relationships. Of course, James had no intention of compromising her. He only wanted her alone for questioning. Hopefully, she would be forthcoming, and he wouldn’t have to resort to intimidation.

He led her to the library. Three of the four walls were lined with shelves, crammed with books. It smelled of old, musty paper, but it was the only room in the house, other than the bedroom, that contained furniture.

“Take a seat.” He pointed to his old, leather couch, then carried the oil lamp from the stone mantelpiece and put it on the small table next to her. She clamped her arms around her body. Her large, oval eyes stared at the light, mesmerized by the small dancing flame. She reminded him of the refugees he’d seen when he served in the Crimea, giving the impression of a woman whose world had collapsed around her. Something in his chest twisted. He wondered if she was more a victim than he had assumed.

In the flicker of lamplight her eyes looked dark, but every now and then he caught a glimpse of a lighter shade. Were they blue or green? Wisps of hair, the colour of honey, escaped their pins and trailed down her neck beckoning him to trace the strands with his lips.

Damn, he might have become an animal, but there were limits to his depravity. He would not coerce a woman into his bed, wouldn’t touch her, kiss her, and he certainly wouldn’t make love to her. He needed her cooperation and honesty and couldn’t be distracted by a pretty face with sad eyes.

MarlowKellyAfter being thrown out of England for refusing to drink tea, Marlow Kelly made her way to Canada where she discovered her love of storytelling. Encouraged by her husband, she put her ideas to paper. Her need to write about strong women in crisis drives her stories.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Rafflecopter giveaway for a $10 gift card— runs from 4th March until 31st March

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RELEASE DAY–COWBOY KISSES

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What could be better on a cold Valentine’s Day than to sit down with a book chock full of stories about special cowboys and their ladies? COWBOY KISSES has just what you’re looking for! Eight stories by some fabulous authors who share with you their love stories of the old west!

In Lorrie Farrelly’s tale of love and fate, a tattered old diary sends a young woman into the arms of a long-ago Texas Ranger for A Kiss in Time.

Linda Carroll-Bradd’s When My Heart Knew is the story of young Maisie Treadwell, who has never been in love before, and handsome Dylan MacInnes, who might or might not be the one.

A Westward Adventure by Kristy McCaffrey is a story of aspiring novelist Amelia Mercer, who travels to Colorado, determined to find her own adventure to write about. When Bounty hunter Ned Waymire comes to her aid, the true adventure begins!

Valentine Angel by Gail L. Jenner is a poignant story of a determined young woman who rescues a wounded lawman and then must help him fight off his nemesis.

In Gil McDonald’s story, Hearts and Red Ribbons, a feisty young woman who dresses in men’s clothes and a drifter looking for—something—are thrown together by Fate on a wet February day.

Hunter’s Gamble, by C. Marie Bowen, is a gripping tale of lost love and determination. Life is a gamble, and Hunter knows he can’t always win. With true love in the mix, the odds are stacked in Hunter’s favor!

Her Thief of Hearts by Tanya Hanson is the tale of an outlaw, an orphan, and a socialite—is this a recipe for disaster or true love?

Beverly Wells will steal your heart in her story, Hopes and Dreams. A woman on the run, a sheriff sworn to uphold the law, and one little girl’s pleas to Mr. Cupid for a new daddy!

Settle in for some mighty fine Valentine’s Day reading from your favorite western romance authors!

From today through January 28th at 11:59PM, enter the rafflecopter giveaway below for a chance to win an electronic copy of this anthology. 2nd place winner chooses a title from my backlist.

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Or enter the giveaway through this link

Guest Release–End of Lonely Street by Alicia Dean

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Blurb:

Can she let go of the past, before it destroys her future?

All Toby Lawson wanted was to go to college to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher and to be free of her alcoholic mother and the painful memories of finding her and the guy Toby loved kissing. But when her mother nearly burns the house down, Toby must put her dreams on hold and return home to care for her. The only time she isn’t lonely and miserable is when she’s listening to her heartthrob, Elvis Presley. His music takes her away, helps her escape from everything wrong in her life.

Noah Rivers has always loved Toby, but no matter what he says, and even though she knows her mother initiated the kiss, and that he didn’t kiss her back, she can‘t seem to get past what happened. He soon realizes that the true problem lies in Toby’s belief that she’s not good enough for him and in her fear that she will be just like her mother.

What will it take to prove to her that she deserves to be happy, and that he would give anything to be the man to make her dreams come true?

Excerpt:

Chapter One

Mapleton, Tennessee, November, 1957

Toby Lawson closed her eyes and shut out all sounds of the diner, except for Elvis Presley’s voice. He was crooning about how she was the only one for him…no matter where he went or what he did… he’d spend his whole life loving her…

Rough hands landed on her waist and shattered the fantasy. She caught a whiff of hair tonic and too much cologne, and she snapped her eyes open. Wes Markham’s hateful face replaced the image of Elvis’ beautiful, crooked smile and smoldering blue eyes.

“Let me go.” She gritted her teeth, keeping her voice low. If her boss, Mr. Winstead, knew there was trouble on account of her, he’d explode. He’d barely let her have the job in the first place. Everyone in Mapleton knew the Lawson women were trouble.

Toby gripped his right wrist with one hand, tightening her hold on the utensils she held in the other. “I said let me go. Now!”

She shoved against him, but he didn’t budge.

He pulled her tighter. “Your momma’s a whole lot friendlier than you are. They say the apple don’t fall far from the tree, so how’s about you cut the pretense and we go someplace quiet? Winstead won’t miss you for a few minutes.”

Her cheeks heated. She didn’t dare look around. No doubt the customers were watching, listening. Elvis had stopped singing and everyone in the place could hear what he’d said about her mother. It wasn’t like they didn’t all know, though. Constance Lawson hadn’t exactly kept her escapades a secret.

Toby clenched her teeth and brandished the utensils. She spoke loud enough for everyone to hear. “Release me this instant, or I swear, you’ll be pulling this steak knife out of your eyeball.”

He held her gaze for a split second, then gave a laugh that was somewhere between nervous and furious. “Sure, sure. Okay.” He released her and stepped back. “I was just foolin’ around anyway. I got better things to do with my time than waste it on a used up chick like you.”

Muffled laughter rose around her. Oh God, she could crawl into a hole.

“How about you apologize to the lady, then beat it?”

Toby whirled at the male voice. Noah Rivers stood behind her, looking handsome and sharp in his police uniform—even with his dark hair in the military buzz cut. Her knees weakened, and tingles swept over her skin. She swallowed against the sudden dryness in her throat. She’d heard he was back, but hadn’t seen him until now. And what a time to have a reunion.

*** 10% of all of Alicia Dean’s net royalties for End of Lonely Street will go to The Elvis Presley Charitable Foundation http://www.graceland.com/epcf/ ***

 

BUY LINK:

Amazon

Alicia Dean

Alicia Dean lives in Edmond, Oklahoma. She has three grown children and a huge network of supportive friends and family. She writes mostly contemporary suspense and paranormal, but has also written in other genres, including a few vintage historicals.

Other than reading and writing, her passions are Elvis Presley, MLB, NFL (she usually works in a mention of one or all three into her stories) and watching her favorite televisions shows like Vampire Diaries, Justified, Sons of Anarchy, Haven, The Mindy Project, and Dexter (even though it has sadly ended, she will forever be a fan). Some of her favorite authors are Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, Lee Child, Lisa Gardner, Sharon Sala, Jordan Dane, Ridley Pearson, Joseph Finder, and Jonathan Kellerman…to name a few.

GIVEAWAY: – Entries accepted from January 8, 2015 through noon on January 22, 2015

Three prizes –

Elvis Gift Basket including DVD, CD, plus more

$25 Amazon Gift Card

$10 Amazon Gift Card

First place winner has first choice, second place winner has second choice, third place winner receives remaining prize.

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Candlelight Reads Trim The Tree Blog Hop

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At this time of the year, many of us are rushing around–decorating, baking and shopping for the holiday season.  I have to remind myself to take a moment and reflect on what makes the holidays special, or what I am most sentimental about.

For me, the week-long visit with my granddaughters and family members who live 400 miles away is so very important.  Moments of quiet conversation and sharing new experiences are often the most previous gifts we can give one another. Making cookies or wrapping presents are great for easy-going chats. Or working a puzzle together or playing a card game. These are the times we remember, often more than a physical gift bestowed.

That’s the feeling I hoped to create in my latest story, Clari’s Hero, included in the Present For A Cowboy anthology from Prairie Rose Publications.  Clari is new to the West, sent to live with an aunt and uncle in hopes of curing her asthma. Now healthy, she wants to have the experiences she was previously denied and spies adventure in  a cowboy’s rescue of first a small child in town and then herself from a runaway horse.

The tagline  is: Can a starry-eyed dreamer’s search for adventure overcome a taciturn man’s belief he has nothing to offer? You’ll have to read the story to learn how Clari translates her first encounter  with the quiet cowboy Trevor into a lasting present.

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pad & penEnter the rafflecopter contest below for a chance at winning either an e-copy of Present For A Cowboy or a glittery notepad & pen set (US,CA address only).

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Then hop over to participating author blogs to learn their thoughts on what’s special about the holidays and their giveaways.

 

1.

Bonnie Blythe’s Pure Romance

2.Living the Dream 3.Aileen Fish, Love as Old as Time
4.Emerald Barnes’ Dreaming Awake Blog 5.Nona King’s Angel Breath Books 6.Musings About the Writing Life
7.Jo Grafford, Author 8.Heather Gray, Writer of Inspirational Romance 9.Jo Grafford, Romance Author
10.Krysten Lindsay Hager, Author 11.Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia 12.Makai Queen Going Deeper
13.Author Franky A. Brown 14.Monica’s Blog 15.Christian Romance Author Laura J. Marshall
16.Dragons of Dragondor Blog 17.Christmas by the sea in Pajaro Bay