Tag Archives: The Wild Rose Press

Release Day for Hauntings In The Garden, Vol. II

An anthology of Halloween-themed stories published by The Wild Rose Press

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Unlocked Treasure by Linda Carroll-Bradd

Aleen MacRae resists the lure of the sea. But when her interest is caught by a man she sees both in person and in a dream, she is afraid that her future is tied to the sea.

Braden Williams hunt for buried treasure brings him to Aleen. Collaboration on genealogy research draws them closer, and Braden steers her toward his true passion—sailing.

Will Aleen play things safe or accept what this free-spirited man offers?

Love Her Like the Devil by Stacy Dawn

A chance meeting in a honky tonk on Halloween finds Luke in the arms of a brown-haired beauty. But if the stories he overhears are true, she may be far more than she seems…and he’s more than ready to find out.

Caper Magic by Veronica Lynch

P.I. Nick Forrester has tracked a woman on the run to Cape Brendan. Within days he is confronted by Annunciata Doyle, a vivid reminder of a pain-filled past.

On the shores of Lake Ontario, Nunie Doyle has earned the love and respect of new friends and neighbors—and put her talent for helping women to good use.

Together again, Nicke and Nunie discover a side of each other that has them considering drastic changes for the rest of their lives. Is it madness or Caper Magic?

ShriekWeek by Anne Knol

Two problems threaten Maggie Ballater’s new career as Island events organizer. One is the inexplicable murder of the lead actor in her Halloween pageant. The other is a dangerously attractive guitarist, Bram Jenkins, who brings back memories she’d rather forget. Is his interest in her real, or is he stalking her with a more sinister motive?

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For a chance to win a copy of this ebook, leave a comment about your favorite aspect of the Halloween holiday, past or present.

Guest Release–Grandma Must Die by Maureen L. Bonatch

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She’s a witch hunting a spell. He’s hunting witches and falling for her.

Carman has worn out more towns and last names than impractical shoes protecting the secret of her magic blood. But when a friend goes missing, and another is infected with a deadly spell, Carman must choose. Expose her magic blood by curing the spell—or stop the infection from spreading by killing the source…the grandmother.

Magic bounty hunter Dylan has scoured libraries of banned magic paraphernalia seeking a method to distinguish genuine witches from impersonators. He suspects unorthodox librarian Carman might hold this information tighter than the hair he’s dying to unleash from her bun. With a past as hidden as his sleeve of tattoos, Dylan discovers he’s been used to gain Carman’s trust and their passion risks more than mixing mortals and magic.

BUY LINKS

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EXCERPT

…once she’d started Carman couldn’t stop,

the book beckoned. Pressing its spine against her palm, begging her to search within the pages to find the answers she’d unconsciously sought her entire life. As she lifted the book, her scalp tingled and her hair elevated like a halo.

“Whoa.” Dylan shielded himself with his hands. “Put it back, slowly, because this is reminding me too much of the incident with the chest. Having my apartment blown up from magic isn’t covered in my rent.”

The plastic evaporated in a puff of smoke in Carman’s hands and the book unsealed with a sigh. She smiled, the welcoming warmth emanating from within its pages against her palms. Why had Mother kept her from this? This is what she’d been waiting for.

As curiosity overtook his common sense, she detected Dylan’s cautious approach. He stood close enough to peer over her shoulder into her book, but far enough away to avoid touching her.

After the shockwave the last time their skin met, he probably worried he’d ruin another pair of pants. Carman closed her eyes, absorbing the power from the book. The delicious feeling evoked a sensation like melting chocolate, sweet and satisfying.

“I remember hearing about her, Esmeralda Wrath. I wonder if this was her book?” Dylan’s warm breath caressed her shoulder.

Carman opened her eyes and examined the page. To stare right at a photo of the most powerful witch of all time…her grandmother.

maureenbonatch

Envisioning magic and mayhem within the everyday, and long walks in the beautiful state of Pennsylvania spawned Maureen’s love of writing. She pens stories boasting laughter, light suspense and something magical in the hope of sharing her love of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary world.

WEB CONTACTS

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Maureen-L.-Bonatch/e/B00KHY1KK8/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mbonatch

Blog: http://www.maureenbonatch.com/blog/

Website: http://www.maureenbonatch.com

Newsletter:  http://eepurl.com/1AV4L

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/maureenbonatch/

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3103486.Maureen_L_Bonatch

Romancing The 8–Voting Round for Readers’ Choice Award

On this month’s post for the Romancing the 8 blog hop with other TransCanada Romance Authors, I’m announcing my entry in a contest.

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My Halloween-set novella, Unlocked Treasure, passed the nomination round for the Readers’ Choice Award sponsored by The Romance Reviews. From now until October 31st, voting continues and I’d love to have a good showing. Click here to be taken to the listing which appears in the Contemporary Romance category. A simple sign-in must be done.

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Aleen MacRae blames the lure of the sea for breaking apart first her family then her engagement. When her interest is caught by a man she sees both in person and in a dream, she resists—afraid to believe in her aunt’s prediction that her future is tied to the sea.

Braden Williams is on the hunt for treasure buried centuries earlier by Rhode Island pirates. His search brings him to the property where Aleen lives. Collaboration on genealogy research draws them closer, and Braden steers her toward his true passion–sailing.

Attending a party with Braden’s family lets her glimpse what she’s been missing. An unexpected discovery before her date with Braden forces a decision. Will Aleen play things safe or accept what this free-spirited man offers?

QUESTION

My research revealed an unique event that takes place  at Brown University in Providence, RI at midnight on Halloween night.  Attendees enter a darkened Sayles Hall with flashlights and get comfortable. A spotlight highlights the balcony and an organ recital begins. Does your city have a one-of-a-kind event to celebrate the holiday?

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Other participating authors

Gini Rifkin

Character Interview from First Impressions by Peggy Jaeger

How about you introduce yourself by providing the basics?

My name is Padric Cleary, but everyone just calls me Pat. I’m a veterinarian in the town of Carvan Ct. and I’m in practice with my dad Seamus, my best friend Quentin Stapleton ( who’s also my bro-in-law) and Q’s father David.

Where were you raised?

Born and bred here in Carvan.

Family members?

My twin sister, Moira, who’s 4 minutes older than me and never lets me forget it. Next is Dennis, or Denny as we all call him, who’s 21 and last but not least, Alastair who’s 17. Everyone in my family calls him “Steps.” Long story – and he’s not fond of the nickname at all.

Did you always want to be a (a veterinarian)?

Yup. Even though it’s the family business, I really can’t see myself doing anything else. When we were kids, Moira and I always accompanied my dad on his farm visits and when we were old enough, we each took turns working in the clinic caring for the boarded animals, cleaning up, stuff like that.  I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life. My sister accuses me of being a vet just so I can play with animals all day long, but if you know anything about veterinary medicine, we don’t get to play too often with our charges.

What do you like most about (your profession)?

Animals are natures’ purest-hearted creatures. They will never harm you unless they perceive a threat and their love is unconditional. Who wouldn’t love being a veterinarian knowing that? And really, is there anything more enjoyable than seeing a new litter of puppies romping around?

Are you a pet person?

The answer to that one better be yes, don’t you think? Ha ha.

Do you have any hobbies?

I guess you can all it a hobby, but to me it’s really the best way for me to unwind and relax, and that’s horseback riding. We all rode as kids and had our own horses. I still have mine and whenever I can grab an hour or more I set off on a long, thoughtful ride. I let my horse have his head and he knows exactly where to take me. Being atop such a magnificent animal is one of life’s true pleasures.

What attracts you first to a woman?

Well, if I’m being shallow, looks are always the first thing I see. But what really makes me want to be with a woman after I get over her looks is her sense of self and self-worth. Confidence is very big on my list of attributes for the perfect woman.  You can spot a confident woman from a mile away, but you can also get a sense of her self-assurance in the way she treats you, responds to you, and to others. Kindness goes hand in hand with that. I could never be with a sarcastic or cutting girl or a mean one.

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Family Practice Doctor Clarissa Rogers’ first impression of Padric Cleary is biased and based on gossip. The handsome, charming veterinarian is considered a serial dater and commitment-phobic by his family and most of the town. Relationship shy, Clarissa refuses to lose her heart to a man who can’t pledge himself to her forever.

Pat Cleary, despite his reputation, is actually looking for “The One.” When he does give his heart away, he wants it to be for life. With his parent’s marriage as his guidebook, he wants a woman who will be his equal and soul mate in every way.

Can Pat convince everyone – including Clarissa – she’s the only woman for him?

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EXCERPT

“Have you ever been friends with a girl before?” she finally asked. “Friends?”

“Yes. Friends.”

“Have a beer and shoot some pool friends? Or the kind with benefits?”

She laughed out loud, shook her head and grinned. “Have you ever been friends with a girl without having sex mixed into the equation?”

“Not since I was sixteen,” he admitted and then felt his neck heat. “Why?”

She cocked her head again. “It’s no secret I’m attracted to you, too. I think my reaction to the way you kissed me proves it.”

“Why am I hearing a ‘but’?”

Her lips twitched at the corners. “But I don’t jump into bed with a man because I’m attracted to him.”

“I never thought you did.”

“Good to know.”
He cocked his head. “So, what’s being friends gotto do with anything?”

Clarissa sighed and settled back against the doorframe. “Can I be honest?”

“I would hope so.”

“I’ve been hearing about your reputation with women since I moved here, and I’m not looking to be the flavor of the week.”

He stared at her for a second as hurt washed through him. “When you say honest, you don’t pull any punches.”

P Jaeger
Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance author who writes about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them. In 2013, she placed first in two categories in the Dixie Kane Memorial Contest: Single Title Contemporary Romance and Short/Long Contemporary Romance. A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, she is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.

Her current titles, available now, include SKATER’S WALTZ and THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME, and FIRST IMPRESSIONS books 1 through 3 in her 6-book The MacQuire Women Series, published by The Wild Rose Press. Tying into her love of families, her children’s book, THE KINDNESS TALES, was illustrated by her artist mother-in-law, also a Peggy Jaeger!

WEB CONTACTS

Visit her at: http://peggyjaeger.com/

Tweet her at: https://twitter.com/peggy_jaeger

Friend her at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Peggy-Jaeger-Author/825914814095072?ref=bookmarks

Pin her at: https://www.pinterest.com/peggyjaeger/

Instagram her at: mmj122687  ( peggy jaeger

Read her at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13478796.Peggy_Jaeger

Guest Release–Asylum Harbor by Isla Grey

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Trouble is the last thing Devon Brown needs when she heads to Shell Island.  As the Salty Dog’s new bartender, she finds herself drawn to Kerr, the Shell Island harbormaster.  But happily-ever-after is fleeting when dealing with an obnoxious bootlegger and a jealous coworker.

A standoffish loner with damaged emotions, Kerr avoids relationships like the plague.  Things change when Devon arrives.  When a simple flirtation grows serious, the coworker and bootlegger become obstacles to any future Kerr and Devon may have together.  As the situation worsens, Devon realizes the still waters of Asylum Harbor are no refuge during a storm.

BUY LINKS for Book 1 of The Salty Dog series

Amazon

The Wild Rose Press

islagrey

Isla Grey is from Central Virginia and still lives in the same small town she grew up in. She developed a love of writing at an early age and over the years has tried her hand at penning poetry (some good, some not so good), screenwriting, newspaper articles and historical stories. She’s “old school” when it comes to writing and is a hoarder of more pens, post-it notes and writing journals than she’ll ever need. Isla likes to write different types of stories from romance to mystery and anything in between and loves a “happy for now but there could be some bad things coming” feel.

WEB CONTACTS

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Guest Promotion–Landlocked by Marilyn Baron

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Amelia Rushing is an inexperienced South Florida realtor with weather issues, and a loser in love. Her grandmother asks her to sell some property on an isolated North Carolina mountaintop, and upon investigation, Amelia finds the tract is landlocked. Determined to make her first sale and right the injustice to her grandmother, Amelia travels to the town of Confrontation and enlists the help of local real estate attorney, Alec Brady, who thwarts her at every turn.

Sparks fly when Amelia announces her plans to move into her grandmother’s cabin until she can sell the property. It is Alec’s current home, and he’s not giving it up. When Amelia discovers that thirty years ago a prominent landscape artist disappeared in the town of Confrontation, she is anxious to solve the decades-old mystery, but there’s a serial killer on the loose, one nobody wants to turn in, despite the number of people missing. What is the community hiding, and does Alec know where the bodies are buried?

BUY LINKS

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The Wild Rose Press

EXCERPT

He was too freaking gorgeous with his chiseled movie-star face and a buff body to match. He extended his hand, and she stood up to shake it. But for a  moment, he’d rendered her incoherent.

“Welcome to our little part of—”

“I’ve already had the ‘little part of heaven,’ speech from your receptionist,” Amelia said when she rediscovered her voice.

Alec skewered her with a piercing look from his fathomless blue eyes.

“You think I’m a hillbilly.” His deadpan delivery indicated it was more of a statement than a question.

“You must be a mind reader.”

“Don’t have to be. It’s written all over your face.”

“Okay, I have to ask. What’s a Duke grad doing in a backwater town like Confrontation? And I use the term town loosely.”

Practicing law,” Alec answered dryly.

“I’ve already contacted a local broker/realtor named Barry Brady, and he referred me to you. He said he’d looked at the papers I faxed over and that we couldn’t proceed with the sale. That’s when he recommended I see you. Your secretary’s named Brady, too. Is everyone in this town related?”

Alec’s face flashed a barely disguised smile. Must be an inside joke.

“Pretty much, ma’am.”

“I’m glad I could amuse you. Do you all intermarry up here in Confrontation?”

“I’m not married.”

“No cousins available?”

“Is that a serious question?”

IMG_1172 (2)MarilynBaronMarilyn Baron is a corporate communications consultant in Atlanta. She’s a member of RWA and Georgia Romance Writers (GRW), recipient of the GRW 2009 Chapter Service Award and winner or finalist in writing awards in single title, suspense romance, novel with strong romantic elements and paranormal romance.  Landlocked is her 10th book with The Wild Rose Press.

WEB CONTACTS

Website:  www.marilynbaron.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Marilyn-Baron/286807714666748

Blog:  Marilyn blogs with Savvy Authors on the 22nd of every month at  http://savvyauthors.com/blog/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/MarilynBaron

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4722647.Marilyn_Baron

Romancing The Eight Blog Hop

 

Story Inspiration for Stepping Out Of LineSteppingoutofLine_med

 

The dozen years I lived in San Antonio, Texas sparked a love of the cowboy myth and an appreciation for rodeo as a sport/lifestyle. Sure, many of the competitors at the local and regional rodeos work weekdays herding cattle, fixing fences, managing stud services, and worrying over the latest beef prices. But come Friday and Saturday nights, they transform into the heroes of the rodeo arena. They become the football quarterbacks (another Texas passion) who drive hard for the goal—be it roping a calf in the fastest time, or staying upright for the longest period on the back of a bucking bronc or bull.

Dev Laredo has lost track of how many bones he’s broken as a saddle bronc rider. Like Kevin Coster in Bull Durham (one of my favorites movies), Dev’s too old for this shit, he’s too old for the buckle bunnies. But he’s determined to finish out this season to earn money for his younger brother’s college tuition—he’ll fight through his latest injury to do it

Roxie Starr is an ex-Vegas showgirl who dismisses rodeo performers as being the same as Vegas guys—all flash and show, and no commitment. Since returning to Wayback, she’s refused to date anyone associated with the rodeo. She wants a real cowboy—solid, down to earth, one who will be there when the going gets tough.

Can two bruised souls overlook their differences and give love a fighting chance? Stepping Out Of Line, a contemporary western romance, is published by The Wild Rose Press.

BUY LINKS

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GIVEAWAY

Anyone signing up for the soon-to-be-compiled inaugural issue of my quarterly newsletter is eligible for a drawing of an ebook of this title.

Click here to sign up.

Please visit the other authors participating in the Romancing The Eight Blog Hop follow:

Darlene Fredette – http://www.findingthewritewords.blogspot.ca/

Denyse Bridger – www.fantasypages.ca

Gini Rifkin – http://ginirifkin.blogspot.com/

Author Interview–Karilyn Bentley

Here with me today is an author friend from The Wild Rose Press, Karilyn Bentley, who writes paranormal romance. Let’s chat…

What’s the logline that describes your writing?

Fantasy with a touch of funny

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

I like to garden and I used to enjoy painting, but have not done that for awhile. Does reading count as a hobby? <g>

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

It’s a little bit of both. I start with an idea for a story and included in the idea are the characters. Then I have to figure out where I want the story to end and how the characters need to grow by then.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

For the most part, freestyle. Which is completely opposite of everything else I do in my life. But every time I try to plan a book, it zaps all the creative energy and I no longer want to write the story. I do come up with the beginning of the story and where I want it to end, but everything else is an adventure as I’m writing.

In what genre do you read?

Romance, mystery, fantasy and the occasional thriller. I love paranormal romances and historical romances.

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

Most definitely! The Hubster and I share our home with two dogs (one very old Hell Hound and a just out of puppyhood The Kraken) and a handful of salt water fish. Dogs are great! I’ve always had a dog around.

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As a Halfling with little magic, Jamie is barely considered a Draconi, his sole talent finding jewels and lost people. But when he dreams of a human female in trouble, he has no choice but to save her, even if it means crossing dimensions into a different realm. Unfairly accused and placed on administrative leave, Detective Ruby Parker is determined to regain her position on the Denver police force. When an attempt to kidnap her fails, she must learn to trust the stranger who appears from nowhere to help her. Unlike in Draconia, Jamie’s powers work in Parker’s world, his longing to wield magic finally fulfilled. But is working magic worth leaving his family and friends? When Parker realizes she loves Jamie, she must make a choice, follow her heart to a different world, or remain alone and attempt to regain her beloved job. What happens when the one you love lives in another dimension?

BUY LINKS:

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The Wild Rose Press

EXCERPT:

The squeak of hinges snapped Parker’s attention to the door. Hottie stood in the doorway, one hand on the frame, the other on the handle, a look of determination plastered on his face. A look she was familiar with. A look she saw reflected in her mirror on a daily basis. A look mirrored on her coworkers’ faces when working a case.

A look she never thought to see directed her way.

Which was a bit unnerving, but not nearly as unnerving as the realization he’d followed her. He stood in the doorway like he owned the place. Or owned her.

Her limbs shuddered like a car without shocks. He. Followed. Her. Was he stalking her? Was he with the ones who tried to kidnap her? What was he doing here? More to the point, how did she get rid of him? Her muscles might be coming out of a deep freeze, but that didn’t mean she could hop off the bed and toss him out the door.

Where was the damn call button?

Parker patted the mattress. Hottie took a step closer. Then another. No button. Her heart shook an uneven rhythm, the beat a warning drum in her veins. Her hand moved faster against the mattress, searching, seeking, not finding.

Damn it.

“Be of ease. I mean no harm.”

She stilled, her hand paused mid-pat as if his words flipped her off switch. Deep and soothing, his voice stroked across frazzled nerves, slowing her racing heart. If he could bottle that sound, women would fall at his feet.

KarilynBentley

Karilyn Bentley’s love of reading stories and preference of sitting in front of a computer at home instead of in a cube, drove her to pen her own works, blending fantasy and romance mixed with a touch of funny.

Her paranormal romance novella, Werewolves in London, placed in the Got Wolf contest and started her writing career as an author of sexy heroes and lush fantasy worlds.

Karilyn lives in North Texas with her own hunky hero, a psycho dog nicknamed Hell Hound, a crazy puppy, and a handful of colorful saltwater fish.

AUTHOR LINKS:

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Guest Promotion–Heavenly Desire by J.L. Sheppard

Heavenly Desire

Tagline:

Will he sacrifice his wings for a woman he loves but can never keep?

Blurb:

Jade Ashley has a past she’d like to forget and a destiny she isn’t aware of. A stranger, Clyde, saves her from an attack and demonstrates extraordinary abilities she believed only she possessed. She soon realizes he’s her guardian angel sent to reunite her with her long lost sisters, who like her are part of a new breed of immortals, Elementals, prophesied to determine the outcome of the upcoming war.

Clyde, an angel, battles the one thing he believes will lead to his fall from heaven—his new found emotions, forbidden among his kind. Nonetheless, the Angel Lords promise to promote him to warrior when he completes his last assignment—to find Jade. When he does, emotions he never knew possible arise. For the first time in two thousand years, he cursed his existence. Knowing she can never be his, will he sacrifice his wings for a woman he loves but can’t keep?

BUY LINKS

TWRP: http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=195&products_id=5800

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Heavenly-Desire-Elemental-Sisters-Series-ebook/dp/B00N26EWG2

B&N:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/heavenly-desire-j-l-sheppard/1120325495?ean=2940150739291

Kobo:

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/books/Heavenly-Desire/piDMp0Ld1UGfCsvPPlLOeg?MixID=piDMp0Ld1UGfCsvPPlLOeg&PageNumber=1

Excerpt:

He bent toward her, wrapped one arm around her waist, the other around her back, then buried his face in the crook of her neck and inhaled.

Relishing the feel of her body melded against his, he forgot the worries consuming him. She soothed his ache with a mere touch, with a mere embrace.

Exactly what he’d wanted, exactly what he needed.

She then pressed her full lips against his cheek, kissing him lightly.

An innocent kiss. There was no passion behind it, but an unconscious consuming need, one he’d never felt, swelled inside him—desire. It was exciting, overwhelming and terrifying, blocking logic and reason.

All he wanted now was a single kiss. All he could think about was how her soft lips would feel pressed against his.

Marvelous, he concluded.

It was absurd to want what he did and feel what he felt, for he was an angel. Carnal desires even as insignificant as kisses were for others, for all others except his breed, and yet he felt it so deeply it seared him.

The desire that gripped him didn’t release him even after she unhooked her arms from around his neck, and the warmth of her body melted away.

There he stood, immobile, battling the desire she’d sparked. He didn’t want to leave yet knew he had to before he’d acted out his longing.

He willed his body to move. Finally, he placed one foot behind the other, stepped back and strode away praying the yearning he had no right to feel for a woman who would never be his would soon subside.

HD-13

Reviews:

“The author brings the story to life with well written scenes that capture the imagination while the suspense and drama draw the reader into the story and the characters are strong, bewitching and ensnare the readers from the very beginning.”

Night Owl Reviews, 5 Stars

“…Love this series… [Heavenly Desire] is full of romance, surprises and secrets… If you love paranormal romance, do not miss this series.”

Paranormal Romance Guild, 5 Stars

BIO:

J.L. Sheppard was born and raised in Miami, Florida where she still lives with her husband and son.

As a child, her greatest aspiration was to become a writer. She read often, kept a journal and wrote countless poems. She attended Florida International University and graduated in 2008 with a Bachelors in Communications. During her senior year, she interned at NBC Miami, WTVJ. Following the internship, she was hired and worked in the News Department for three years.

It wasn’t until 2011 that she set her heart and mind into writing her first completed novel, Demon King’s Desire, which was published in January of 2013.

Besides reading and writing, she enjoys traveling and spending quality time with family and friends.

 

Other Works:

Demon King’s Desire, Elemental Sisters I: January 2013

Burdened by Desire, Elemental Sisters II: January 2014

Awaiting Fate, Fated Immortals I: March 2015

 

Contact:

www.JLSheppard.com
www.facebook.com/JLSheppardAuthor

https://twitter.com/JL_Sheppard

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6894176.J_L_Sheppard

http://pinterest.com/jlsheppard5/

Romancing The 8–Dreams of Gold

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Here are eight paragraphs from the opening scene of my western historical novella set in 1870s Wyoming, Dreams Of Gold:

‘“Hey, driver.” He shot a glance at the top seat. What the hell? A slender, yellow feather bobbed above the driver’s seat. He set a boot on the wheel hub and levered himself up for a better look. On the near side of the seat slumped the stage’s regular driver, Pete McGinnis, blood staining the right side of his shirt. Quinn stretched to lay a hand on the young man’s chest. Relief shot through him when he felt a shallow rise with each labored breath. Alive, but struggling.

Twisting to his left, he scanned the nearby storefronts and spotted a young boy scratching a stick in the dirt. “Hey, Billy. Run and fetch the doctor.” From a vest pocket, he pulled out a coin and flipped it at the boy’s feet. “Hurry now.”

As soon as the boy started off, Quinn turned back to the coach. “Ma’am?” The female now leaned against the back of the seat—head still down, stiff arms extended. “Miss?” He reached a hand over her fists and pulled on the reins. Under his touch, her arms trembled, but her fists remained clenched. Was the woman deaf? He hopped down and jogged around the back of the coach, glancing through the window at empty bench seats.

With a hand braced on the side of the coach, he set the brake. “Miss, release the reins.” He gently pried open the young woman’s gloved fists so he could tie off the reins. Under the hat brim, her eyes were squeezed shut, and he feared she might be injured, too.

“Are you hurt, ma’am?” He glanced over her slim figure clothed in a dark green jacket and skirt. Lean legs outlined by the dusty skirt and a rounded bosom moving in quick rhythm woke heat in his gut. At the inexplicable reaction, he clenched his jaw. Assessing possible injuries was part of his duty, but ogling a defenseless lady was not.

Had she fainted? He slid a finger under her chin and lifted. Her skin was as smooth as silk. Light brown lashes lay against creamy cheeks dusted with freckles. “Ma’am?”

She moaned, and her eyelids fluttered and then opened. “Are we safe? Did I drive us to a town?”

Hers were the greenest eyes he’d ever seen. Jade…that was the color. The intensity of her gaze hit him like a roundhouse punch straight to his chest. “You’re in Bull City, ma’am. I’m Sheriff Riley. Can you tell me what happened?”

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