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Friday, March 27, 2015

Weather Witch by Janice Seagraves

One of the themes for this month is castles. I only have one story with a castle in it, Weather Witch. It's part of Persephone's Song Anthology. 



Blurb: Janice Seagraves takes us to Regency England where Lord Godfrey negotiates for a wife in "Weather Witch." When Meredith, the weather witch, storms in she provides Godfrey with interesting possibilities, but will she embrace a chance to let go of her past and find happiness for her future?

Excerpt (after Lord Godfrey helps Meredith save her son from kidnappers):


"Thank you." Meredith glanced sidelong at him. "For helping me."
.
"I think we make a great team." Lord Godfrey walked beside her. "After we wed, I think we should retrieve the bow of your father's ship. I have an alcove in my garden where we can place it. Then, when we go for our evening stroll, you can place flowers in front of it."
.
"That's very thoughtful, but I didn't agree to marry you." She strode faster, but kept her face turned away from him.
.
He trotted to keep up. He wasn't sure, but he thought she hid a smile. "There's a lovely beach beside my castle that can be reached by way of the secret passageway I told you about. The other way to get there is a bit of a walk, but worth it. I keep a sculpture of Poseidon there."
.
"You do?" She glanced at him.
.
"Yes, complete with trident. I thought he'd see it as a kindness and not send any rough winter storms to tear down my castle."
.
She snorted. "You're a fool."
.
He arched an eyebrow. "Now is that a nice way to address your betrothed?"
.
"I didn't say I was marrying you." She shook her head. "And my mother-in-law already told me she didn't agree to it either."

"That's not a no." He smirked. 
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Find Weather Witch and the other wonderful stories in Persephone's Song Anthology on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Persephones-Anthology-Sweet-Spicy-Romance-ebook/dp/B00ER6X66S/
Janice Seagraves's website: janiceseagraves.org

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Castle Intrigue...Palace Passion by Sam Cheever


I love castles. I mean...what's not to love about a castle, right? Okay, they're cold and drafty. The floors are hard and gritty. The windows don't have screens. They'd be a nightmare to heat and impossible to keep clean.

But look how dang cool they are!

There's nothing more romantic than blazing walk-in-sized fireplaces and fur rugs on the floor. Who hasn't dreamed of romance before a raging fire, nestled in a dense, silky bear rug? The explosion of sensual

And then there are the secret passageways...  sigh... The kid in me is obsessed by secret passageways. Narrow, winding passages with uneven floors and slimy walls, stinky oil lamps belching black smoke and flickering light along the way. Footsteps echoing in the distance, threatening discovery...

Sometimes castles aren't about romance at all. Sometimes, as in the excerpt below of my action-packed post-apocalyptic romp, Tall, Dark & Apocalyptic, they're about danger and intrigue. Nothing embodies the rough and dangerous Medieval times better than a castle built of rough stone and perched on the side of a craggy bluff. Think boiling oil and flaming arrows shot from parapets. Shudder.

And if you combine romance and danger, you have a heart pounding, pulse spiking seat of the pants winner! Maybe that's why I write castles into my stories whenever possible. Or maybe I just like the idea of no bathrooms to clean, or dealing with dirty floors by just flinging straw on them.

Yeah, now that I think on it...that's probably what it is. *grin*


Apart they are pain and death...apocalyptic. Together they are fire and magic...destiny.


He’s a warrior, a bounty hunter in a world turned upside down. She’s his latest bounty...a creature of dark power. As everything in their world implodes, they must work together to set it right, while the fire burning between them threatens to consume everything in its path.

~~*~~

"Sam Cheever manages to make zombies cool and not so…Night of the Living Dead. Cheever’s writing was great. It flowed well and kept me entertained throughout. I had to know what would happen next for Audie and Yeira.

This was a great standalone book and I recommend it. There’s heat, heart and lots of action."

~~*~~

A fireball crashed through the far wall, whistling past Yeira’s head and embedding itself into the stone floor with a concussive force that belched dust and pieces of rock into the smoky air.

She covered her head with her arms and ducked as debris rained over her.

The battle between Edwige’s forces and the Sorceri Bounty Hunters continued unabated beyond the castle walls. Yeira looked around the battered remains of the castle lair, wondering how the Sorceri had found them again. She and her fellow Reborn had chosen that place with care, figuring an abandoned castle in ancient Scotland was far enough removed from the Sorceri to be safe. It seemed they had a traitor in their midst, someone who had a foot in both camps.

Yeira was pretty sure she knew who it was. She only had to figure out what to do about it.

A husky bellow sounded beyond the heavy wood door and Yeira twitched in surprise.

Kord! Her nemesis. The man had played cat to her mouse for months, stalking her through time and space, always seeming to be right on her heels. She’d managed to avoid the sharp edge of his blade up to that point. Sometimes fleeing ahead of him on a razor’s edge. But Yeira was afraid her luck might have just run out.

Like many of the Sorceri Bounty Hunters, Audie Kord was a single-minded ass whose view of the world was black and white, good or evil. Yeira didn’t quite fit within those exacting parameters so she had to die. In fact, Kord seemed to have made it his personal quest to remove her head from her body.

Like she was no better than those gooey, rotting husks that shambled mindlessly, easily controlled and disposable.

Yeira was no zombie.

Though many of the Sorceri saw no difference in the Reborn and the moldering dead, their equal opportunity hatred had long ago ceased to bother her.

At least that’s what she told herself.

Another explosion…closer than the last…spurred Yeira into action. She’d fled to the dilapidated castle after a Sorceri’s guide magics had lasered through her, ripping a hole in her middle the size of her fist. The death magics that had made her what she was were able to contain the worst of the damage, but she was still dying. She wasn’t immortal after all. Just a little harder to kill than most. Yeira had to get to her bag and her bluestone. If she didn’t get to the healer soon—

The walls shook and debris crumbled down on her head as another blast of Sorceri magics hit the already weakened exterior. She only wished she had something left to fight them with, aside from her acerbic wit and scalding disgust—not very effective weapons against Sorceri swords and magics.

Yeira continued to claw her way across the floor, her limbs locking and clamping as horrific pain wracked her slim frame. A fresh blade of agony speared through her as she struggled to crawl just another sliver of space. The pain jolted her to a stop as she sucked in a breath, sending her into a coughing spasm. Blood sprayed the floor as she crawled. Her dazed, blue gaze stared down at the bright droplets arrayed before her over the oily stone and she knew a stark moment of pure fear.
What if she didn’t make it in time?

Beyond the crumbling, stone walls of her hideaway, the sound of explosions and chaos were a constant drone, an unrelenting impetus pushing her ever forward.

With a monumental effort of will, Yeira gritted her teeth and dug her fingers into the rough surface beneath them, dragging herself another inch.

She barely noticed the spark of pain as her soft, exposed belly was ripped open by shards of debris on the battle-ravaged floor. Her goal was a mere five inches away.

She thought she could make it.

She had to.

Yeira closed her eyes as agony washed through her again and lunged another inch. Her fingertips stretched…strained…mere inches from the leather strap of her bag.

The world beyond the door exploded and Yeira’s head snapped around. The blast had sounded close. Too close. Panic made her heart pound. “No!” Tears filled her eyes as something heavy hit the door.

He’d found her.

With a cry of desperation, Yeira dug her toes into the stone and shoved. The pain erupted in a burst that made her vision gray. She screamed as agony gripped her gut with icy needles, tearing and dislodging the ordered cells of her flesh.

Yeira fell onto her back, her fingers clenching against the torment. Warm, thick blood drenched her lips, dripping down her chin.

The door blasted inward, sending smoke and shrapnel through the room and driving the razor-sharp projectiles into her flesh.

On some level, Yeira felt the pain of the tiny missiles piercing her skin. But she was in the grip of a misery so complete that her mind could barely form a thought. All she could do was scream, her fingers closing convulsively around the thin strap of leather she’d been fighting to reach.

Yeira’s gaze slid to the large shape framed in the door. He was nothing more than a gray haze behind the smoke. A vision of massive male, whose form all but filled the ragged hole that had once been the door.

A fine vision.

Yeira shook her head, offended by the thought even in her tortured state. No! The man was there to kill her. She couldn’t lose sight…

The enormous figure shimmered and she realized he was moving closer. On some level Yeira knew she needed to move. But the pain had finally receded as her body gave out. It felt good not to be consumed by it. For just a moment she longed to lie there, enjoying the numbness, and let her life slip away.

Death.

Her fingers moved along the leather strip in her hand. Oblivion would be bliss. Yeira slipped her hand inside the bag, feeling for a smooth, oblong shape.

The sound of his footsteps across the littered floor was like a series of canon blasts, and she winced under every one. His massive arms arched from his sides as he walked, the huge hands loosely fisted. He held a long knife in one hand. Thick, muscular legs stuck out from underneath a bloody and tattered kilt, the burgundy and black pattern barely visible under the filth of an extended battle.
Yeira noted the blade in his hand, knowing it was meant for her.

He stopped a foot away, his intense, dark-blue gaze sweeping over her. “My god, woman. You look like hell.”


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Interview of Author Kathleen Rice Adams

Today I'd like to present an interview of romance author Kathleen Rice Adams.

Latest Book: Prodigal Gun
Buy Link: http://amzn.com/B00PJEEKCG

BIO:
A Texan to the bone, Kathleen Rice Adams spends her days chasing news stories and her nights and weekends shooting it out with Wild West desperados. Leave the upstanding, law-abiding heroes to other folks. In Kathleen’s stories, even the good guys wear black hats.

Q: What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?
A: I get up at 5 a.m. every weekday and write for a couple of hours before the day job interrupts. Depending on when I finish with the day job, I also try to write a few hours in the evening, assuming I’m not mentally exhausted.

I don’t strive for a certain word count. Instead, I work at a scene or chapter until it’s as good as I think I can make it at that moment. The process is a byproduct of spending so many years as a journalist. Reporters don’t have the luxury of endless revisions—they must get copy right the first time. Old habits are difficult to break.

Q: How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?
A: Probably more than I’d like to admit, although building characters who are me in disguise is never my intention. Most authors can’t avoid incorporating their own perspective, personality, values, and experiences into the characters they create.

Q: How do you choose names for your characters?
A: I realize this is cliché, but characters usually provide either their first or last name; sometimes both. I do, however, keep a list of potential characters names and their meanings, just in case someone in the Character Protection Program prefers to remain anonymous.

Q: Covers. Ever get one you wish you could change?
A: I’m lucky in that regard: Livia Washburn Reasoner, who creates all the covers for Prairie Rose, does and exceptional job. All of us who are published by Prairie Rose and its various imprints have an uncommon amount of input into our covers. You cannot imagine what a blessing that is.

Q: Give one advice tip to an aspiring author.
A: Listen to critical feedback—positive and negative—but never ignore your own heart. You know your story, your intentions, and your writer “voice” better than anyone else. Only if your work satisfies you will it satisfy readers.

Q: If you could give a younger version of yourself advice, what would it be?
A: Quit threatening to write fiction “someday.” Do it now. Nobody lives forever.

Q: What genre would you like to try writing that you haven’t yet tried?
A: Alternate history with elements of steampunk. A story has been percolating in the back of my mind for some time now, so I may try that genre soon.

Q: Any part of a book that drives you crazy as you write: beginning, middle, or end?
A: Usually the ending. No matter how much I think I know where a story is going, it surprises me every time. Generally, I believe I know the beginning and ending of a story before I start writing, but somewhere in the middle things dart off in an unexpected direction.

Q: Out of your entire backlist, which book has the best opening line? What's the line?
A: I’m quite fond of the opening line from the short story “Peaches”: The bare limbs of the peach trees reached for the sky as if someone held the small orchard at gunpoint.

Q: How many stories are swirling around in your head? Do you keep a mental list, a computer file, or a spiral notebook filled with the ideas?
A: As soon as a story begins swirling in my head, I start a computer file for it. Right now nearly two dozen story ideas inhabit their own sub-folders in a much larger folder called “books.” Some sub-folders contain nothing more than sketchy thoughts; others contain elaborate outlines or copious notes. Some of them are already on a tentative mental schedule for short stories, novellas, or novels.

Fun Stuff:
Q: What is your favorite holiday and why?
A: Any holiday that gives me a day off from the day job is a good one. If I had to pick a favorite, I’d choose Thanksgiving. I love to cook, and Thanksgiving provides the perfect excuse to go wild in the kitchen.

Q: What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
A: Although I’m a “genetic Texan” (my family has been ranching, teaching, and preaching in Texas for many, many generations), my immediate family moved twenty-one times before I graduated from high school.

I’m a disabled veteran. Like my father, I served in the U.S. Air Force. He served thirty-five years; an injury cashiered me at the ripe old age of twenty-one.

Q: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: In addition to writing fiction, I dreamed of becoming an actress. As a young adult, I actually won several awards as a member of community theater troupes. Acting wasn’t a “respectable profession” when I was a kid, though, so I opted to find another career.

Q: Favorite food.
A: Anything Tex-Mex.

Q: Favorite happy memory.
A: I harbor too many of those to pick just one. The one that made the biggest impression, I think, was a family trip to the Grand Canyon when I was a young teen. I was awestruck…and amused by a sign posted at the edge of a sheer cliff that plunged several thousand feet to the bottom of a gorge: “No parking beyond this sign.”

Q: Favorite drink.
A: I’m a Texan. The national beverage of Texas is iced tea.

Q: Hot summer days or chilly winter nights?
A: Hot summer days. I’ve seen enough snow, sleet, and ice to last several lifetimes.

Q: What is the top thing on your bucket list?
A: Finish as many novels as I can. I should have started this odyssey when I was much younger.

Q: If you could have a super power, what would it be?
A: The ability to converse with plants, animals, and inanimate objects. Everything has a voice. Most of us just can’t interpret the language.

Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all!
Website: http://kathleenriceadams.com/
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kathleen-Rice-Adams/e/B00GAI0L2I/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kathleen.riceadams
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DisorderlyWords
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/disorderlywords/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/117922543855471819468/
Publisher’s website: http://prairierosepublications.com/
Group blogs:
Petticoats and Pistols: http://petticoatsandpistols.com/
Prairie Rose Publications: http://prairierosepublications.blogspot.com/
Sweethearts of the West: http://sweetheartsofthewest.blogspot.com/
Western Fictioneers: http://westernfictioneers.blogspot.com/

BLURB:
Widowed rancher Jessie Caine buried her heart with the childhood sweetheart Yankees killed on a distant battlefield. Sixteen years later, as a Texas range war looms and hired guns arrive to pursue a wealthy carpetbagger’s agenda, Jessie discovers the only man she ever loved isn’t dead.

At least not yet.

Embittered by a brother’s betrayal, notorious gunman Calhoun is a dangerous man, come home to do an unsavory job. A bushwhacker’s bullet nearly takes his life on Jessie’s land, trapping him in a standoff between the past he tried to bury and the infamy he never will. One taste of the only woman he ever loved puts more than his life and her ranch in the crossfire.

With a price on his head, a debt to a wealthy employer around his neck, and a defiant woman tugging at his heart, Calhoun’s guns may not be enough to keep him from the grave. Caught between his enemies and hers, Jessie faces an agonizing choice: Which of her dreams will die?

EXCERPT:
Wrapping an arm around an upright beam, Jessie scanned the dark windows, imagined a mourning wreath on the door. The Eights had seen too many losses, yet she loved this old place. For more than half of her thirty-one years, the house had been her sanctuary—especially in times of death and misfortune. Shoving away from the beam, she clicked the latch and stepped inside.

She had barely cleared the jamb when an arm cinched her waist and yanked her backward into a wall of solid muscle. Her hat tumbled to the floor, and Jessie’s throat seized around an audible gasp. A choked grunt escaped whoever held her as a leather-gloved palm clamped over her mouth.

A bristly jaw scraped her temple. “Not a sound.” The stranger’s raspy whisper bore traces of whiskey and tobacco; they overrode the sweat and trail dust clinging to the rest of him. Another scent lay beneath—sharper, metallic. Blood?

The rasp came again. “Lose the gun. Now.”

Heart pounding a hole through her ribs, Jessie nodded. With slow, careful movements, she unbuckled her belt and lowered the Remington to the floor.

The man relaxed his grip enough for her to squirm. When her elbow dug into his side, a breath hissed between his teeth and he turned her loose. Fool. She was no helpless waif or half-grown boy.

Jessie whirled to face a broad expanse of chest; tipped back her head, then farther, seeking features within the shadows of a hat pulled low to hide the stranger’s eyes.

He kicked the door shut and backed against the wall. With a halfhearted flick of his fingers, he knocked up the black hat’s wide brim...

...and Jessie stared into the face of a ghost.

Her heart skidded to a stop.

“Hello, Jess.”

That wasn’t the voice of a ghost. Deeper than she remembered, the whiskey-smooth tone rolled over her like fog.

Her knees nearly buckled. Disbelief vaulted from her lungs in a single, incredulous breath. “Mason?”

He didn’t answer—just watched her without a shred of emotion. How could he be so composed, so distant? Sixteen years, and he could manage only two words?

She shut her mouth and returned his unflinching gaze. Deep grooves marked the outer corners of haunted eyes and echoed matching trenches between the dark slashes of his brows. A grayish cast infused the depths of weathered skin beneath days-old stubble and the wave of warm-molasses hair pasted to his forehead by a thin veneer of sweat.

Her gaze inched down the tall, lean frame, scraping the sharp line of his jaw, shoulders wider than she remembered, and a deep chest that didn’t belong to the boy she had known. Her meandering stopped where one arm crossed his body and his hand disappeared inside the open front of a dusty range coat.

Jessie’s gaze swept back to his face.

Some brief sensation flirted with his angular features but never claimed them. Pain. He drew a ragged breath before he spoke again. “Where’s Will?”

The voice sounded thinner this time, less sure, but her husband’s name darted through Jessie on a hot stab. Three years hadn’t dimmed her memories of an extraordinary man...or the guilt.

And neither had sixteen. Mason.

The longcase clock at the foot of the stairs ticked once for every three of Jessie’s heartbeats, but neither rhythm marked the passage of minutes as Mason matched her stare. Funny how time came to a standstill when truth intersected a lie. A monumental lie.

“Jess?”

The mantel clock chimed. Jessie jumped on the first note. By the eighth, she remembered how to speak. “You’re...dead.”


Anything else you’d like to add?
The dedication to Prodigal Gun reads “For Lee, my most steadfast supporter and best friend. I wish you could have stayed.” My other half of twenty-three years died a few months before the novel was published. That’s why 100 percent of royalties earned by the book are donated in his name to charities benefiting animals and the hungry. The donations will continue as long as the book exists. It’s one small way to honor his memory.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Aquamarines, Castles & Daffodils

Aquamarines, Castles & Daffodils





It’s March. St. Patrick’s Day, wearing of the Green, partying. I’ve had my share of fun on that day and I’m not even Irish. For our blog this month, we had the choice to write about castles, for St. Paddy; aquamarines, March’s birthstone; or daffodils, for spring. I decided to write about all three.

The only castle I’ve seen up close and personal is Windsor Castle on a trip to London some years ago. Below at left is a picture of me in front of the castle. What I remember most about Windsor Castle is the “castle cat.” On the grounds was a beautiful and friendly housecat. We tourists stopped to pet the cat and take pictures. I know. You’re rolling your eyes. But it was a very pretty cat. I loved London and want to go back. Scotland, Wales, and Ireland are on my bucket list. I’d love to see the castles there. Maybe they have “castle cats” too.



Below right is a picture of a tower that is all that’s left of a medieval castle in Italy in the town where my family is from, Ripa Teatina, in Abruzzo. I visited there in 2006. Because my family were peasants, there’s a good chance they were serfs under the castle lords.



Castles are romantic and cool. I love looking at them. But the Middle Ages, when the castles were spread throughout Europe, was a particularly brutal time. The lords and ladies who lived in the castles had all the rights and privileges of class. The peasants and workers not so much. People rarely bathed in those days. I don’t read a lot of medieval romances because I don’t like that period of history, and I can’t get past the fact that everyone smelled. However, there are several books I love that are set at that time. Here are my favorite medieval romances set in castles: Outlander by Diana Galbadon; A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux; Green Darkness by Anya Seton, my favorite book; The Nonsuch Lure by Mary Luke. I highly recommend each one. Green Darkness and The Nonsuch Lure were published in the 70’s so may be hard to find. I just bought a used copy of The Nonsuch Lure online.

All of the above are time-travels in which the time-travelers saw the castles when they were new, and in the current age when they are crumbling. I love the idea of going back in time and seeing a castle when it was new and bustling, then looking at what’s left now. In my shifter romance, Cursed Mates, my hero, Nick, former Duke of Radford is 500 years old and a werewolf. He’s brought the ancient Radford Manor from England and assembled it, gargoyles and turrets included, stone-by-stone, on a seaside cliff in Maine. My werewolf hunting heroine, Kyla, gets shivers whenever she looks at Radford Manor, especially when she has visions of it as new. 

Aquamarine, in addition to being the birthstone for March, is the birthstone for the Zodiac sign Scorpio. Aquamarine is a member of the beryl family. Colors range from very pale blue to blue-green, or teal. The most desired color is the deep-blue aqua. Aquamarines are said to have healing properties and endow the wearers with foresight, courage, happiness, and intelligence. During the Middle Ages it was thought the aquamarine would reduce the effect of poison.



Daffodils, also called Narcissus, are predominantly a spring perennial plant in the amaryllis family. The flowers are generally white or yellow (orange or pink in garden varieties). They are native to meadows and woods in southwest Europe and North Africa with a center of diversity in the Western Mediterranean, particularly the Iberian Peninsula. Both wild and cultivated plants have naturalized widely and were introduced into the Far East prior to the tenth century. Historical accounts suggest narcissi have been cultivated from earliest times, but became increasingly popular in Europe after the sixteenth century, and by the late nineteenth century were an important commercial crop centered primarily in the Netherlands. (Wikipedia)



Below is the scene from Cursed Mates where Kyla sees Radford Manor for the first time. Kyla and her business partner/best friend Todd, are in Maine supposedly to do research for their next video game. In reality, Kyla is there to kill the creature who has been terrorizing the village. (Hint: Nick isn’t the only supernatural who lives in the strange little town).

As Todd turned toward the car, his gaze swept upward. “Holy shit. A wolf’s lair if I ever saw one.”
“Wolf’s lair?” Kyla asked.
“Radford Manor,” he whispered in reverent tones. “Eerily authentic.” He pointed to the gothic mansion clinging to the cliff above them. “That’s the setting for our next game.”
“Radford Manor.” She followed his gaze and froze. “You know that place?”
“I’m a computer geek. I do my research. Why do you think our games are so kick-ass popular?”
Kyla strained her eyes to take in the grandeur of the dark stone monstrosity high above them. Turrets speared into the blue-black sky. Rugged and ominous, a menacing sentinel, the house seemed to command everything around it. Her whole being trembled as cloudy memories surrounded her.
The hairs on her neck bristled against her sweater. She had seen this mansion before. Those turrets were familiar. She knew gruesome gargoyles, hidden by the darkness, stared from the rooftop. Thirty-four cracked, uneven steps led up to the parapets of the cliff house. The only thing she didn’t know was how she knew all those details. She stiffened against the knot of panic that formed in her chest. 
“They brought that stone by stone from England,” Todd said. “It’s positively ancient.”
Pain, sudden and intense, pounded in her temples. For the second time that day she saw the empty grave. Instead of the shadowed man in her first vision, the face of the handsome stranger from the restaurant flashed before her. The vision disappeared.
Struggling for air, she lifted her eyes to the stone building. One small light flickered in a high window. Wind gusted around her, a forewarning of unknown forces gathering, waiting, in the dense woods?




  
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Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Daisy is just perfect for April

The daisy, the flower of April, is a lovely, sweet, delicate flower, simplifying the innocence of youth and simplicity. Daisy Kerr is still youthful and enjoys the simplicities of life. Until her trusting nature blows her life apart.

Blurb:
Daisy Kerr’s life has reached the edge of the cliff and fallen off. Her so-called fiancé Craig Myers has embezzled millions from the investment firm where they both work and left her holding the bag. The FBI thinks she’s somehow involved, she’s been fired from her job and the condo she lives in belongs to Craig. Heartsick and depressed, she decides to use the tickets Craig had bought for their trip to Mardi Gras and see if she can “Let eh good times roll” in New Orleans. For a few days she can party and forget about her troubles. Maybe even meet a sexy Cajun man to take her mind of her troubles. A fling sounds really good to her right about now
Leaving the airport she meets Marc Doucet, a Louisiana native now living in New York. He tells her he’s in town on business but he’d love to show her the ropes of Mardi Gras. And a whole lot more. It’s not long before he’s really putting some Cajun spice in her life and then some. Sex had never been so good or made her feel so special. Maybe they might even see each other back in New York if she can straighten out the mess her life is.
But what Daisy doesn’t know is Marc is an FBI agent sent to ferret out any knowledge she might have of Craig’s scheme. His plan was to romance her, until romance landed in their laps for real. When Daisy overhears him in a phone conversation with his boss she feels betrayed once again and can’t get out of town fast enough. It will take a grand gesture on Marc’s part to get past the new walls around her heart and convince her what they have is real.

Excerpt:

First order of business, however, was to cab to the hotel, change into something comfortable and wander through the French Quarter. The curb was jammed with people there to celebrate Mardi Gras. Daisy managed to squeeze herself into a space and waited for the next taxi in line to roll up to her.
“Royal Orleans Hotel,” she told the driver as he got out to grab her suitcase.
“Mind if we share the ride, chere?” The voice behind her was deep and hot, rolling over her like warm melted chocolate.
Daisy turned to see who it was and there he was, as if she’d conjured him up. Her spicy Cajun male. Sexy for sure, he was tall and lean, with a thick shock of black hair and startling blue eyes. She couldn’t stop staring at him.
“Uh, excuse me, chere. Do you still want the cab?”
“What? Oh!” She realized she was standing there like an idiot. “Oh, yes.”
“Well, I heard you say you were goin’ to the Montmartre Hotel. So happens I’m goin’ there myself. Think we can share a ride?”
Maybe this was just what she needed, a ride with a man who oozed sex appeal and could take her mind off her troubles for a while. She wished for him, right? No sensed letting Craig ruin any more of her life, at least as far as this trip went.
She gave herself a mental shake. “I’d love to share a cab with you.”
“Great. Great.” He held the cab door for her, waited for her to slide in and settled himself beside her.
God, he smelled so good. She took a surreptitious sniff. Pachouli! Wow. She hadn’t smelled that in a very long time. Nerve endings blunted by the shock of her situation suddenly snapped and sizzled to life. She took a deep breath, the fragrance of Pachouli teasing her senses even more, and did her best to compose herself.
“Don’t usually see beautiful ladies heading for Mardi Gras alone.” The smooth-as-bourbon voice slid over her and snagged her attention.
She glanced over at him, which was nearly her undoing. The look in those deep blue eyes nearly melted her panties.
“Excuse me?”
He grinned, a twist of his lips that was almost lethal. “I was just remarkin’ I’m surprised that someone as gorgeous as you is hitting Mardi Gras by yourself.”
Should she tell him? Why not? She’d never seen him again. And she didn’t have to give him Craig’s name. It was already in all the media but thankfully, without hers being linked to it.
“I, um, had a fiancé who was supposed to go with me but he’s in the wind.” She lifted her shoulders in what she hoped was a casual shrug.
He cocked an eyebrow. “I can hardly believe any man in his right man would walk out on you.”
“Yeah, well, it happened. That and a lot more.” She forced a smile. “Anyway, hasn’t anyone ever told you that pickup line is pretty outdated?”
He laughed, a deep. Sensual sound. “I guess it is, but in this case I mean it.” She could feel his gaze raking over her. “Did he run off with another woman?” Marc shook his head. “I find that even harder to believe.”
“Worse than that. I discovered—Never mind. I really don’t want to talk about it. I decided to enjoy the holiday anyway. I’m sure I can find plenty of people to celebrate with.”
Pretty bold there, Daisy girl.
Maybe it was time for some bold on her part. She’d allowed herself to be Craig’s shadow for too long and look where that had gotten her.
 “I’m sure you won’t have any trouble. This your first Mardi Gras?”
“It is, and I’m going to do my best to enjoy every minute of it.”
“Well, then, let me give you a little rundown on what to expect and how to enjoy it the most.”
His voice was musical and soothing, rubbing smooth the raw edges of her anger. She was startled by the instant connection that zapped between them and wondered if he felt it, too. She kept glancing over at his very sexy face, rewarded each time with a smile that jumped her thermostat. At thirty-five she’d meet a lot of very interesting men, been involved with a few, but none of them had ever zapped her this way. Was it just a reaction of Craig’s betrayal, or—
No. She wouldn’t go there.  Anyway, maybe he was just being polite. Still, a girl could hope. As they chatted he shifted slightly on the seat and his thigh came into contact with hers. Blazing heat surged through her body from the point of contact, making her more acutely aware of the man sitting next to her.
“By the way,” he went on, “my name’s Marc. Marc Doucet.” He held out his hand.
When Daisy took it she felt the same surge of heat as when his thigh touched hers. The way Marc’s eyes widened just a bit she could tell he felt it, too.
Ohmigod!
“Daisy Karr,” she told him, moistening her lips. “Um, is Doucet Cajun? Are you from here?”
He winked at her. “Guar-on-tee it. Born and bred.”
“But you don’t live around here now?” she asked.
“No, sorry to say. I had to relocate for work.”
“Oh.” She paused. “What kind of work to do you?”
“Nothing that would interest you. I promise. Dull business stuff.”
Okay, then. She didn’t want to hear about it. She didn’t want to think about the business world at all for the next few days.
 “Are you meeting someone here for Mardi Gras?” Damn! Did that just come out of her mouth? It was none of her business. Except, lordy, he was so freakin’ hot.
“Not really. I have a little bit of business to attend to so I thought I’d combine it with some celebratin’.”
“Oh. That’s nice.” He probably had some hot sexy woman waiting for him. Men like him never lacked for female companionship. Daisy had seen enough of them in her life.



I love being the world’s oldest living active erotic romance author and excited that 
USA Today referred to me as “the Nora Roberts of erotic romance.” I have more than 160 titles released in multiple subgenres, everything from paranormal to action/adventure to contemporary romance. But they all have one thing in common: five-alarm heat.
I have drawn on my background in the music industry for such stories as Downstroke, Having It All, Joy Ride and Aftershock. My BDSM research has produced books such as Beyond Addiction, Schooled By a Master and Double Entry. But they almost all have one thing in common—the hot cowboys for which I’m known.
I was a three-time finalist for an EPIC E-Book Award (and a winner in 2014 for Collision Course), a nominee for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, winner of the first 5 Heart Sweetheart of the Year Award at The Romance Studio as well as twice a CAPA Award for best BDSM book of the year, winner of the Holt Medallion, multiple winner of the Whipped Cream Book of the Week Award, the Love Romances Café Readers choice Award and is published by five different houses.
I have been lucky enough to be featured on CBS Sunday Morning and in The Village Voice, The Daily Beast, USA Today, The London Daily Mail and numerous other national and international publications.

Learn more about me and my stories here:
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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Daffodils - Did You Know That...

Marianne Stephens:
(I tried to find photos of castles with Daffodils!)

1) The Daffodil is the flower for the month of March?

2) The Daffodil means rebirth/new beginning and beauty?

3) The botanic name for Daffodil is Narcissus? And here's a Greek tale how it got the name Narcissus:
A man name Narcissus loved to look at himself. One day when he was looking at himself in a pool of water, he fell in and drown. From his grave, a flower grew and it was a Narcissus..or Daffodil, a more common name. 

4) There's an American Daffodil Society? http://daffodilusa.org/

5) In China, the blooming of Daffodils is celebrated as a symbol o f wealth/good fortune?

6) The Daffodil is a symbol of cancer research?
 
7) For romantics, the Daffodil means rekindling an old love?

8) The Daffodil is the 10th wedding anniversary flower?

9) William Wordsworth wrote the following poem about Daffodils in 1804?

I wandered lonely as a cloud
  That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
  A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
  And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
  Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.




The waves beside them danced; but they
  Outdid the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
  In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
  In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
  Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

And, I'm happy to mention that MY Daffodils are blooming, bright yellow in color and adorn my front yard!


photos:Flickr: Karen Roe, Jack Pease, Duncan,  LauraBittner's photostreams

http://www.mariannestephens.net
http://naughtyliterati.com
Two NL short story anthologies available - visit NL website for blurbs/excerpts/buy links for:
Naughty List
Naughty Hearts
Releasing in May: Naughty Flings


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