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Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Passionate Meal by Sam Cheever

Passion takes many forms. Each form may heat and pleasure your life for a brief moment, creating memories and feelings of happiness. It's particularly enchanting when passions are blended, the pleasure even richer for the melding. 

Food is one such passion. It has long been a key inspiration for romance...a precursor to romantic adventure...a postscript to a well-spent night. It's even played a more central part in sexual gymnastics. Whipped cream sweetens lips and other body parts. Champagne fills natural dips in the body, creates delicious opportunities for licking and sucking. Oil turns sensual rubbing into a deeply pleasurable massage. Strawberries and other bite-sized tidbits, when fed to a lover, create an atmosphere of nurture and a feeling of being cherished. Bananas become phallic. Oysters supercharge the libido. Chocolate...well...chocolate is the quintessence of creamy indulgence...a natural for a sensual event. 

So what would my perfect, romantic meal look like? 

Well it would start with Oysters Rockefeller and a plate with tiny cubes of cheese, olives and thin slices of succulent meats for mutual feeding. The main course would be a thick, juicy tenderloin, lying in a puddle of balsamic glaze. The side dishes would include potatoes, mashed with a variety of creamy cheeses, a small nest of glazed baby carrots and an array of thin baby asparagus, perfectly roasted. Dessert would be fat, sweet strawberries with creamy milk chocolate and rich whipped cream for dipping. Followed by a decadent chocolate brownie with a small scoop of french vanilla ice cream on top, covered in hot fudge. The entire meal would be accompanied by a sweet, bubbly champagne, lots of it!

That would be MY perfect romantic meal. What would you do differently? I'd love to hear. 

Bon appétit!


decaden

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USA Today Bestselling Author Sam Cheever writes romantic paranormal/fantasy and mystery/suspense, creating stories that celebrate the joy of love in all its forms. Known for writing great characters, snappy dialogue, and unique and exhilarating stories, Sam is the award-winning author of 50+ books and has been writing for over a decade under several noms de plume.

If you haven't already connected, Sam would love it if you Liked/Followed her wherever you enjoy hanging out online. Here are her online haunts:


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Guest Blog: Lynn Rae: A Romantic Dinner on Another Planet

Ben and Cara star in my latest Sci-fi romance, Desire Disguised. They reside on Gamaliel, a mucky jungle planet with no sophisticated restaurants, so an especially romantic meal would resemble one served on Earth, with some significant differences. Spices, seeds, and seasonings would be imported from home, but other foodstuffs are bulky and therefore expensive to transport across the light years of space. Settlers on this planet have to make the most of native species and grow whatever Earth vegetables and fruits will thrive under an alien sun.

Since there aren’t any places to go out, our couple would be dining at home. Luckily for Ben, Cara is an accomplished home cook and like most who excel in that activity, preparing a meal is a way for her to show her love and care for another person. Ben, for his part, is simply happy to be with Cara, so anything she serves will taste delicious.

Cara would start with a platter of finger foods like fresh vegetables, a pureed bean dip seasoned with fresh herbs, and crispy crackers made with cheese courtesy of one of the settlement’s milking goats. For her main entrée, she would attempt to impress Ben by preparing one of the planet’s native creatures; lingon, which are long strands of single celled organisms which grow in the sink holes littering the jungle floor. They have a chewy consistency and are full of protein, so if you can get past the origin, most cooks treat it like pasta. Cara will make a spicy stir-fry with hers and be sure to include lots of vegetables and tofu. At this point, Ben is finally relaxed from the stresses of his job as security chief for the settlement and is ready for something indulgent. Cara has likely spent much of her free time for several days conceiving of an impressive dessert to pamper him. He has a sweet tooth, so she’ll create a layered confection of cream, sponge cake, and fresh fruit.

There are two dishes they won’t be having since neither one is especially romantic. Gamaliel has several edible native species, but they aren’t especially appetizing. One such organism is known as sharple, a gelatinous, translucent fungus that can be found in rotting trees and possesses a sharp, chemical reek. It’s an acquired taste. The other is orphillian, a tubular animal resembling a sea cucumber, though this one lives on land. It has a sticky, greenish outer membrane and the inner flesh is lavender colored. By all reports, it tastes like chicken.

BIO:
Lynn Rae makes her home in land-locked central Ohio after time spent in the former Great Black Swamp, beside the Ohio River, and along the Miami and Erie Canal. With professional experience in fields ranging from contract archaeology to librarianship along with making donuts and teaching museum studies, Lynn enjoys incorporating her quirky sense of humor and real-life adventures into her writing (except the naughty bits). She writes sci-fi, contemporary, and historical romances. You can find her posting frequently on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lynnraewrites or at her webpage http://www.lynnraewrites.com/

BLURB:
Cara Belasco has been on the run from assassins since childhood. Living in the shadows with her younger brother and one elderly guardian, her luck nearly runs out when the smuggler’s ship carrying them crashes into a soggy jungle planet.

Ben Zashi, the stalwart head of security who rescued her from the wreckage, is very curious about her cover story, and Cara has to fend off his inquires as well as her escalating attraction for him. Will the secrets she’s been hiding come between them, or can Cara allow herself to find passion with the one man who longs to protect her?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Catered Romance





February is the month of love. And chocolate. And romantic dinners. Many couples go out for a romantic dinner on Valentine's Day. For some couples, cooking a meal together is romantic. My husband helps me in the kitchen, and, with a small kitchen, there are times he gets in the way, but most times, cooking side-by-side gives me a warm feeling, like a rich chocolate cake just out of the oven.

Below is an excerpt from my foodie romance, A Catered Romance. Under the title A Catered Affair, this was my first published book, a hardback from Avalon Books. Because my heroine Mary Beth is a caterer, this sensuous romance is filled with food references. Tom was Mary Beth's high school crush and the man who broke her heart. Now, years later, he's her new boss, and she finds she still has feelings for him. In this scene he helps her prepare a meal. I hope you like it. A Catered Romance is included in the set, Sweet Temptations Boxed Set, a collection of three foodie romances, including the Valentine's Day short story, Sweet Temptations, and the short story, A Taste f Romance.
Sweet Temptations and A Taste of Romance are available separately.



***

Breaking the connection, she glanced at the clock. “If I don't hurry and finish, there won't be a meal.” She grabbed her knife and began cutting the mushrooms she had set aside earlier.
“Where's Gail?” he asked.
“At Joey's school for a class party. She should be back soon. Gail usually acts as my sous-chef.”
“Give me an apron and tell me what to do.”
Widening her eyes, she looked at him. “You? Cook?”
He laughed. “Hey, give me credit for not being a complete slacker.”
She couldn't help smiling.
“You should smile often,” he said softly. “You look even more beautiful, if that's possible.”
Her face felt hot as the oven. “I'll get you an apron.” She went to the closet and pulled out a crisp chef's apron.
He donned the garment and rubbed his hands together. “I'm ready. What do you need done?”
She swallowed and stared at him. No man had the right to look that virile wearing a large white apron.
He frowned. “What do you need, Mary Beth?”
“Potatoes,” she said, fumbling in a drawer for a paring knife. “I need potatoes.”
“Okay,” he said. “That's a start.”
“Here.” She thrust the knife at him. “Can you peel those potatoes in that bowl over there?”
“Sure. I'm a whiz at peeling.”
Mary Beth turned back to chopping the mushrooms, needing the methodical, familiar task to help unravel her tangled emotions.
“You need all of these peeled?” he asked.
“Yes, please, unless you're not up to the job.”
“I think I can handle this,” he said, chuckling.
They worked in silence. The sound of her rhythmic cutting was broken by the occasional plop of a potato into the bowl.
She'd worked in countless kitchens with a multitude of partners, but never had such ordinary tasks like chopping and peeling been coated with the sensuality that crackled between her and Tom.
Mary Beth absorbed the heady warmth like exotic spices dropped in simmering broth. For just a little while she'd give in to the deep yearnings she'd long suppressed.
Oldies played on the radio and sunlight warmed the bright room. If she closed her eyes, she would be transported back in time. To chem lab, working as partners with Tom. He made her laugh so hard once they were both thrown out of class. She smiled. It was the only time she'd ever gotten into trouble in school.
Then there was junior year English. She shook her head at the memory. She had taken her job as tutor so seriously. Tom just wanted to have fun. That was the young Tom...fun, parties, laughter. He gave her a silver bracelet in thanks. She'd worn it every day.
He had been her friend, had always treated her with respect. Unlike the others, who snickered at her cheaply made clothes and called her cruel names. At the end, Tom had proven to be just like them. She had run home, her heart broken, and thrown the bracelet in her jewelry box, never to wear it again.
Too bad she couldn't have discarded her heart as easily. But Tom's betrayal had strengthened her, made her more determined to protect herself, to control her own destiny.
“I’m done peeling,” he said. “What else can I do?”
She shoved old memories aside. Tom was her boss now, nothing more. And someday he wouldn't even be that.
“Let me have the potatoes,” she said, turning to him. “I need to cut them up.”
He hugged the bowl. “I won't let you kill these like you did the celery.”
She couldn't help laughing. He could always make her laugh.
“Just give me the bowl.” She glanced at the clock. “We're running out of time. I wish Gail would get back.”
“What am I…chopped liver? I said I'd help.” He handed her the bowl. “You're the boss in the kitchen.”
The timer on the oven shrilled. She handed him two potholders. “You can take the roast out.”
“Sure, Chef,” he said, saluting.
Mary Beth rolled her eyes at him and grabbed a potato.
“You do nice work,” she said, holding up a perfectly peeled, white orb.
“I aim to please.” He set the roast on the stove top. “Smells great,” he said, inhaling deeply. “How about if I take a little chunk.” He looked at her, his hand poised over the meat.
“Don't you dare.” Mary Beth batted his hand away.
He laughed, making her smile.
“I got another smile out of you,” he said. “That's good.” His intense gaze weakened her defenses.
“I have to cut these potatoes,” she said in a shaky voice. She groped the counter for her knife.
“What's for dessert?” he asked.
“Lemon pound cake. It's in the refrigerator.”
He opened the refrigerator and peered in. “Wow! It's a work of art. Hanging around here could be dangerous.”
Not as dangerous as being around you. The thought leapt into Mary Beth's mind. She dropped the potato. It rolled on the floor. She bent to retrieve it.
“I'll get it,” Tom said.
Their heads collided. Mary Beth rocked back on her heels and rubbed her forehead. Tom crouched in front of her, concern in his eyes. He reached out and gently stroked her temple.
She swayed toward him, as if her body had a will of its own.
Tom's eyes darkened. “Mary Beth,” he whispered.
Fear filled her heart—fear of losing herself, of weakening. She jumped up.
“I'll-I'll wash this off,” she stammered, clutching the vegetable as if it could save her from her response to him.
She hurried to the sink and turned the faucet on full force. The power of the water almost knocked the potato from her hand.
Tom cleared his throat. “What else do you need?”
She needed him to leave so she could be in charge of her kitchen again and not be such a bumbling idiot. What she really needed was to take charge of her emotions.
“You can fill that with water,” she said, nodding toward the stockpot that rested on the counter.
She sidled away from the double sink to give him room, not trusting herself so close to him.
The muscles of his forearms flexed as he held the large pot under the faucet. A hard stream of water splashed into the heavy metal. Seeing him cradle the pot in his strong arms made Mary Beth ache with longing. She wanted Tom's arms around her, holding her. She leaned against the counter and closed her eyes, fighting for control.
The spicy scent of his cologne, so like his high school scent, but more subtle and expensive, teased her, provoking memories, and regret.
“Is this enough water?” Tom asked.
She gazed into his blue eyes and nodded, not trusting herself to speak.
A bemused expression crossed Tom’s features. He held the pot up. “Where do you want this?”
“Put it on the right back burner and turn the gas on high.” Her voice sounded thin.
Tom positioned the pot and turned on the heat. Flames licked the bottom of the ironclad pan.
“What next?” He stood directly in front of her.
His beautiful mouth was so close. She could just reach out a finger and…
“You have water on your face,” he whispered huskily. He smoothed his thumb gently along her cheekbone. The warmth of his touch melted her resistance. Need and longing wrapped themselves around her heart.
Part of her screamed to back away, to protect herself. But Tom's masculinity reeled her slowly into his net.
He bent his head toward hers.
“Hey, you two, what's cooking?” Gail's voice boomed from the doorway.
Mary Beth and Tom jumped apart. Mary Beth dropped the potato. It bounced along the floor, landing at Gail's feet.











 
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IAR5MHG/?tag=carmaraut-20

www.caramarsi.com

Monday, February 23, 2015

Interview of Author Ellen Gragg

Today it's my pleasure to introduce author Ellen Gragg.

Latest Book: What Was I Thinking?
Buy Link: http://amzn.com/B00K5AFPE6

BIO:
Ellen Gragg began her writing career as a journalist, writing features and theater reviews for newspapers and national magazines. While attending college at Washington University in St. Louis she first became interested in the rich history of the city, particularly the period surrounding the famous 1904 World's Fair. While working as a consultant in the agricultural and pharmaceutical industries and writing about everything from crop dusting to FDA regulatory compliance, Ellen began writing novels in her spare time. After flipping channels on TV and watching a romantic comedy heroine choose to cast off her modern life in favor of her beau's for all the wrong reasons, the seeds of What Was I Thinking? began to take root.

Ellen resides in the Midwest with her husband, two cats, and the occasional stray dog.

Q: What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?
A: I try to force myself to write a minimum of 100 words every day, no matter how busy or unmotivated I am. I know that doesn’t seem like a lot, but that’s the beauty of it. When I’m just too busy, or exhausted, or soooo not in the mood, I can tell myself “Just write 100 words. It will hardly take any time at all. Just do it.” And usually I’ll sit down and write. Nearly always, I get into the flow by 50 words or so, and blow way past the 100 mark without noticing. But if I set a huge goal, it turns into a mountain that I can’t face.

I like to write first thing in the morning, but my current assignment at work means I have to leave home very early, and it’s just not practical to try to get up early enough to write before heading out. For the time being, I’m slipping in my writing after work, while my husband cooks dinner. (I do the dishes.)

Q: What is the most important thing you do for your career now, as compared to when you first started writing?
A: When I first started writing, the most important thing was getting published at all, in any form. It felt for years as if getting a publishing contract would be like winning the lottery – extremely unlikely, and life-changing if it did happen.

Now that I’ve had the reality of publishing, the most important thing is to polish my craft, and to deliver a story that readers can sink into, and forget they’re reading.

Q: How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?
A: Well, two of my heroines – including Addie, in What Was I Thinking? – are bitter about having spent a fortune on a degree from Washington University that they didn’t end up using in their careers. That’s straight from my life. I don’t regret going to Wash U – I met my husband there, and had a very happy time in college – but for a very long time I regretted what I spent on a degree I wasn’t using.

Other than that, my heroines tend to have little pieces of me, especially the striving for independence and career respect, but I work hard to make them new and different. For one thing, I’ve been happily married for many years, so it would be hard to put my own life in a romance novel. I hit happily-ever-after a long time ago.

Q: If you could change something about your first book, what would it be?
A: I would re-edit it to cut out some slow passages in the beginning. I let myself fall in love with some long sections that the story doesn’t need. I hope Romance Books 4 Us readers will read it anyway! But I promise the next book will have a faster pace.

Q: Do you eat comfort food/listen to music when writing?
A: I don’t listen to music while I write. I used to, but over the years I developed a rule of no distractions, and that includes music. It also includes no Internet access. I keep a spiral notebook and pencil handy, and if I come up with something I need to research, I make a note of it for later. I’ve learned that taking just a moment to look something up – or to sing along with the radio – can kill my momentum.

I don’t often eat while I’m working, but I do drink Diet Coke. Very rarely I’ll have a small snack with me. I do find that I tend to forget about both food and drink after a paragraph or so.

Q: How do you choose names for your characters?
A: I find names to be the hardest things of all. I tend to use placeholder names early in the draft and let ideas come to me. Then I do a search-and-replace to put the final name in. For some reason, I tend to name men Sam and give women names that start with J. But that changes before submission. My detective book – my current work in progress – started with a name, though. I once worked for an editor who didn’t use a first name. She just went by “N.J.” I imagined that maybe she was named Norma Jean and hated it. From that, I started thinking of detective stories where the name is a big part of the first chapter, like V.I. Warshawski’s refusal to tell anyone what V.I. stands for, and I developed a book around a struggling detective whose mother named her Norma Jean, and who got called Jeanie a lot. Her struggle to be taken seriously is partly played out in trying to force people to call her N.J.

Q: If you could give a younger version of yourself advice, what would it be?
A: Don’t give up. Don’t be embarrassed to try. Write every day, no matter what.

Q: Have you ever used an incident from your real life into one of your books?
A: Real-life incidents sometimes go into first drafts, but they get edited out. They ring false in fiction.

Q: Any part of a book that drives you crazy as you write: beginning, middle, or end?
A: I get impatient in the middle. The Fun & Games part of the book feels like the most work, which isn’t right. I want to work on that impatience, because I really want to deliver the fun to the readers. Beginnings just flow, partly because I’m excited to move towards the fun & games, and endings seem easy, but the middles are work.

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: I have three novels and one novella in my current WIP rotation. Two are very active in my head, and the other two are filed under “that’s a cool idea, and I need to get back to it.” They’re on a thumb drive, each in its own folder. The most active ones also have paper file folders full of source material and notes, and binders with marked-up printouts.

And I carry one notebook to scribble ideas whenever they hit me, for all projects as well as marketing. I flag pages with sticky notes to remember to transfer to the computer when I get home form work.

Fun Stuff:
Q: What is your favorite holiday and why?
A: Christmas. I love decorating the house, baking, having relatives come to visit, and filling up the house with people and good smells.

Q: What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
A: For my day job, I’m a quality consultant in the life sciences industries. I help pharmaceutical and medical device companies make sure their computer programs are in line with FDA regulations.

I was a competitive figure skater for a few years, as a young mother. My husband was very supportive of my offbeat hobby, and he and the children always came and cheered for me.

Q: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: Anything other than a writer. My parents were both college English professors, and my form of rebellion was to fight against the push to be a writer. It was hopeless. It was in the blood. One of my sisters is a well-known travel writer (different last name) and my cousin (another last name) is a very successful science writer.

I took ballet lessons first grade through ninth, and really thought I was going to make a career of it. But reality raised its ugly head, and I realized dancing wasn’t my talent.

Q: Favorite food.
A: General Tso’s Chicken from the Taiwan Teahouse in Indianapolis. They make everything fresh, with no preservatives, and it tastes amazing. It’s the only place I can eat at a restaurant and feel happy about it afterward.

Q: Favorite happy memory.
A: My last trip to Clearwater Beach with my husband. Walking hand-in-hand along the beach, with the water lapping at our ankles, holding my big floppy hat against the wind, and letting my long skirt flow.

Q: Favorite drink.
A: Diet Coke. But I’m ashamed of it. I’ve been trying to quit for years.

Q: Hot summer days or chilly winter nights?
A: Can I have both? Hot summer days walking ankle-deep in the water, followed by chilly winter nights in front of a roaring fire? If I have to pick, I’ll take the hot summer days.

Q: What is the top thing on your bucket list?
A: Publishing the next novel.

Q: If you could have a super power, what would it be?
A: I’d like to be able to slow time down. That way the special moments could last longer, and maybe I wouldn’t be late to meetings so often!

Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all! Website & blog: http://www.ellengragg.com/
Follow me on Twitter @EllenGragg
https://www.facebook.com/ellen.gragg#!21/WhatWasIThinkingBook
http://www.sweetcravingspublishing.com/

BLURB:
Mired in a stagnant career and the lonely, faceless slog of modern life, at first Addie Hull doesn't quite know what to make of handsome, chivalrous Bert Roland and his oddly old-fashioned mannerisms. Deciding to be reckless in her life for once, Addie lets herself be swept off her feet. But mere weeks into their romance, Bert announces that he must return home to St. Louis... in 1904.

What's a little thing like time travel in the face of true love? Addie jumps at the chance to follow Bert and leave her modern life behind, but 1904 is no time for a modern woman, and once at home Bert starts seeming like much less of a modern man. Even the electrifying magic of the World's Fair seems to be hiding unpleasant surprises at every turn. As much as Addie loves Bert she has to wonder...What was I thinking?


EXCERPT:
Bert explained his whole theory to me, complete with abstruse detail and equations on whiteboards. To the extent that I followed it, it made good sense. Naturally, he left me in the dust somewhere in the last hour. Otherwise, I could have come up with the theory myself. Still, I thought I got the gist.

“So, you’re sure time travel for humans is possible, and that it can be engineered to be safe, and controllable?”

“Yes. Absolutely. You do need a sort of motorcar, though. To contain the instruments and protect yourself from random objects in the time-wave, of course.”

“Have you built a model? Could I see?”

“Indeed. I have a working model, right over here.”

He opened a door into another room, and there, bathed in fluorescent light, was a genuine Victorian monstrosity. Well, possibly the love child of a Victorian monstrosity and a Model T. It looked something like an antique car, and something like a horse-drawn carriage, and had all sorts of curlicues and flourishes. I couldn’t tell which details were functional, and which were merely decorative. The one thing I could tell was that it was under renovation. It seemed to have once had metal walls with tiny portholes—they were now lying damaged around the floor—but the contraption now had Plexiglas for one wall and there were additional Plexiglas panels leaning against the tool bench.

“It’s wonderful. What do you call it?”
“I’m not sure yet. Mother suggested the Roland Steamer, as Mr. Ferris named his wheel after himself, but I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. I just call it ‘It’ to myself.” He stopped and stared lovingly at It.

“Your mother knows about it?” This was the first I’d heard of her, though of course I’d known there must be such a creature.

“Yes. She’s the only one—until you—who didn’t laugh when I tried to explain.”

Ooh. I suddenly realized I was in a basement lair with an unmarried weird guy who confided in his mother. How long until he told me what level of World of Warcraft he had mastered?

I leaned into It, being very careful not to touch anything, while getting a good look at the controls. “This is really something. And you said you have proof it works? You’ve actually tried it?”

I turned to look at him, and found he had moved closer. “Yes,” he said, “I’ve taken a short hop myself.”

“Really? Really?” I lost the capacity to think with the thrill of it.

“You believe me?” he asked, looking deep into my eyes. “You truly do?”

I nodded. He kissed me. It was some kiss. This guy definitely hadn’t wasted his youth on World of Warcraft. We broke apart, and I felt an amazing connection between us. It was as if we were still touching.

“You’re so beautiful,” he breathed, looking at me as if overcome. I stepped closer, and pulled him back to me, initiating the kiss myself this time. He responded, clutching me against him, and I reached for the curl at the back of the neck that I’d been wanting to touch ever since we’d met.

I don’t know how long we stood there, just kissing with the most innocent of touches, but it felt like eternity and it felt like less than a second. It seemed more intimate than some sex I’d had. I was burning and I knew he was, too.

He pulled back abruptly. “I’m terribly sorry,” He said stiffly. “That was completely inappropriate. I’ll see you home.”


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Sunday, February 22, 2015

On Valentine's Day he wants to take her for an Eight Second Ride

Note: Be sure to leave a comment. I will pick one lucky winner to win an RB4Y tote bag. Check it out: 

But first he takes her for a romantic dinner, so this sexy bull rider

In honor of Valentine's Day I bring you this sexy intimate dinner scene.

Jessie Wade is a tough as nails sheriff until bull rider Kyle Mitchell ends up in her jail. With his bone-melting good looks and seductive voice, he knocks Jessie's defenses down one by one and awakens the sensuous woman she's hidden beneath her uniform. But Jessie can't afford to be soft. Or allow herself to fall for a cowboy who's never in one town longer than it takes to ride a bull. 

Kyle never backs down from a challenge, but after a passionate night with Jessie, he realizes there's a hell of a woman behind the handcuffs and badge. Can Kyle convince Jessie he can take her for more than an eight-second ride?


She was surprised when they ended up in a small restaurant at the far north end of San Antonio, less than half an hour from Watson’s Creek. It was a place her friends had told her about, but she’d never been there. It more than met the rave reviews she’d heard.
Thick carpeting on the floor muffled footsteps and dark wood formed rich paneling on the walls. The only light in the room came from chandeliers set on dim and candles shimmering on the tables. They were seated in a corner at the curve of the room, by a window that looked out over a pond decorated with patio lights. When she looked across the table at Kyle, that same look simmered in his eyes. The ambience alone was enough to seduce her. 
“I thought a first-class lady deserved a first-class place,” he told her.
“Have you come here before?” Brought other women here? She wanted to smack herself for that errant thought. It was none of her business. She didn’t want it to be her business.
But he shook his head. “The wife of one of my buddies told me it was a great place to bring a lady. I just haven’t had one I wanted to do it with before tonight.”
She shifted in her chair. “Listen, Kyle…”He reached across the table and touched her lips with one finger. She was shocked at the heat it generated and the acceleration of her pulse.
“No objections, okay? Let’s enjoy dinner and let me show you I can really be a fine gentleman.”
Oh, god, how will I get through this? I don’t want to feel anything from him but he’s worse than a drug. I never should have agreed to this.
He ordered a bottle of wine, asking her what kind she preferred and checking with the waiter to see what was recommended. When she protested that she didn’t want anything stronger than water, he just grinned at her.

“One little taste, okay?” he said. “Then, if you don’t want any more, I’ll finish the bottle myself.”
“And drive home?”
“I think I can handle the wine.” His slow smile nearly curled her toes.
The waiter brought them a bottle of Sister Creek Muscat Canelli, a light white from a Texas winery and one of her favorites. When their glasses were full he touched his to hers, the ping of crystal resonating in the air.
“To a pleasant evening,” he said.
“A pleasant evening.”
The backs of his fingers just brushed hers and that same sizzle raced through her. Oh, yeah, she was in trouble here. And the worst part was, she seemed helpless to resist it. When he licked a drop of wine from his lips she wanted to replace his tongue with her own. When he gave her a slow smile, as if he knew exactly what she was thinking, she squirmed in her chair, feeling moisture seep into her crotch. God, this man was lethal.
She only meant to take a little sip of the wine, but somehow her glass was suddenly empty and Kyle refilled it, teasing her that a tough sheriff like her should be able to hold a little alcohol. The problem was the wine was delicious and took the edge off her nerves that snapped and crackled with Kyle Mitchell just across the table from her.
He kept up a conversation throughout the meal, his voice low and soothing, his interest in her obviously more than just polite. When she finished her salad, he leaned across the table and brushed his thumb across her bottom lip.
“A touch of salad dressing, darlin’.” Then he slowly and deliberately licked his thumb.
Jessie squeezed her thighs together.
When he chewed and swallowed, she couldn’t stop looking at the movement of his jaw and the muscles in his throat. Whenever he refilled her wine glass, he managed to caress her fingers with his own, touch her skin lightly. She was unwillingly mesmerized, hating herself for it but unable to drag her eyes away from him.
They ordered a slice of Decadent Chocolate Surprise for dessert.
“To share,” he said, and told the waiter, “Two forks, please.”
“Oh, I think I’m too full for dessert,” she protested. She was buzzed from the wine and not exactly in possession of all her faculties. Getting home before she got into trouble was an urgent priority.
“Just a few bites,” he insisted, and flashed that killer grin. “You know what they say. Chocolate can be better than sex.”
Sex. Not a word she could afford to associate with Kyle Mitchell.
When the plate arrived, Kyle handed her one of the forks, his fingers brushing her hand. She was sure a lightning bolt had shot through her arm and directly to her cunt. Holy shit!
But if touching was bad, eating the dessert was positively lethal. When she didn’t immediately dig her fork into what was really a decadent dessert, Kyle broke off a piece with his fork and reached across the table, sliding it into her astonished mouth. He took a bite himself, then slowly and deliberately licked a speck from his lower lip.
Jessie was having trouble with her breathing and her pulse was beating in every erogenous zone in her body. But she knew Kyle wasn’t as detached as he pretended. The dark flush on his cheeks and the glitter in his eyes told her exactly how aroused he was.
“You know what I’d like to do to you, Sheriff Jessie?”
She wasn’t sure she wanted to hear it. His low, smoky drawl was an aphrodisiac itself, making liquid heat rush through her.
“I think I have an idea,” she heard herself say, the tone of her voice unfamiliar to her.
“Oh, darlin’, I don’t think so.” That very wicked grin tilted his lips. “You’d be shocked at the thoughts running through my mind.”
“Maybe I wouldn’t be shocked at all,” she teased. Oh, god, what am I turning into?

Tell me your idea of a sexy Valentine's dinner. Four people will win a copy of this book.





Saturday, February 21, 2015

When A Hero Saves The Day...Even When It's Just To Provide A Much Needed Meal

Today, I'm sharing an excerpt from my contemporary romance, THE START OF SOMETHING GOOD, where the hero and heroine are having an impromptu dinner together because she just passed out on him due to her low blood sugar.

Most people know I write sexy, memorable Viking romance. But this series is completely different—quirky and funny with a smidgen of spunk. I hope you enjoy it!

THE START OF SOMETHING GOOD
Jamett & Joseph Series, Book 1

My eyes fluttered open, and Joseph’s beautiful face stared at me. He looked concerned, if my frazzled brain was registering correctly, and I wondered what had happened.

I could feel something soft beneath me, as if I were lying down. But with the shock of opening my eyes to the sexiest man in the world only inches from me, I had no idea where I was. I tore my eyes from his gaze and checked my surroundings. The familiarity of my living room comforted me to some extent, but knowing Joseph had probably carried me in his arms and laid me on my couch unsettled me. I had no recollection of it, and I could kick myself. It wasn’t every day that a woman found herself in the arms of a desirable man.

“Are you all right?” he asked, brushing back a strand of my hair.

I blinked away the fuzziness of my thoughts and shook my head. “What happened? Did I just pass out?”

“Yeah, you did,” he replied softly. “I caught you before you hit the floor, but I admit I wasn’t prepared for it.” He tilted his head to the side, observing me closely. “I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume you have low blood sugar?”

I clenched my tingling hands into tight balls, my mind still a bit sluggish. I hated this feeling when it came on. “How did you know?”

“My friend Greg has the same problem. He usually warns me before he drops to the floor though.”

I closed my eyes, feeling exhausted. After a bout of my sugar crashing, I was practically useless. I tried to muster some energy, but none was available to me.

“Jamie,” I heard him call to me.

“Mm-hmm…”

“Open your eyes and look at me.”

I obeyed him, even though all I wanted to do was sleep.

“You need to eat something.”

“I’m not hungry.”

“Tough,” he said, taking me by the arms and lifting me to a sitting position. He pulled me closer to him on the couch and steadied me. “I hope you don’t mind, but I took the liberty of rummaging through your kitchen for food. Here.” He tore open the wrapper of a chocolate covered granola bar and shoved it in my hand. “While looking for this, I also found about five take-out menus from Thai joints. I assume that means you like Thai, so I ordered us some. It should be here soon. In the meantime, drink some orange juice. Again, I’m taking a stab here, but is that what I chased all those oranges for?”

“Yeah.” A sudden smile pierced my lips as I remembered Joseph’s hot pursuit down the hall. “Oranges help to maintain sugar levels once they’re back up.”

Joseph laughed. “Oh, now you decide to be all smart and doctor-like. Where was this woman who should’ve remembered this while drinking tons of coffee with nothing to eat all day?”

That woman was totally preoccupied, I thought inwardly, recalling the immense fun I had in his company. I made the decision not to give him an answer and save face. I drank the entire glass of the freshly-squeezed juice and glanced at him over the rim. I noticed he was still watching me closely.


“I’m fine,” I insisted. “You don’t have to keep doing that.”

“Doing what?”

“Monitoring me like I’m some helpless child you need to keep an eye on.”

“Maybe I like keeping an eye on you.”

I rolled my eyes. His statement would have sounded so much better to my ears had I not made a spectacle of myself beforehand.

The buzzer erupted through the apartment, splitting my head in two.

“That was fast,” Joseph said, standing. He gave me a quick once-over. “Will you be all right while I’m gone?”

I crowded my brows in confusion.

“Thai’s here,” he said pointing toward the door. “I gotta go let the guy in the building and pay him. You all right?”

My memory came back to me. Right. Joseph ordered take-out. I nodded my head and took another bite of the granola bar.

He backed out of the living room and pointed at me, his boyish grin tickling my insides. “Don’t go anywhere.”

I feigned a smile on the outside, but inside I was darn near humiliated. Why did this man have to see me in my most vulnerable state, and why in the world was he sticking around?

During his absence, those questions continued to roll through my mind, especially after knowing his childhood sweetheart decided to give up on their friendship. I didn’t know that much about Joseph, but I assumed he wasn’t as strong as he was acting. If someone had done that to me, I would have been devastated. From the look on his face when I had opened the door and found him about to knock, he looked quite upset by the turn of events.

I then recalled what he’d said to me thereafter. I was going to tell you something, but I completely forgot what it was. You do that to me, you know? Make me lose my head.

I couldn’t help but feel special. I’d made this guy lose his train of thought. He didn’t appear to be a man who’d let anyone get into his head on such a profound level, no matter who they were. He had too much self-assurance to be that weak.

Yet, he admitted to being wounded. Seeing you…helps.

Again, I felt exceptionally special to have alleviated whatever strife he was going through, even if I had no clue what he really meant by the statement. Realizing the mammoth smile on my face, I quickly took another bite of the granola bar. The last thing I wanted to do was have him catch me in the act of enjoying his downfall.

Thank goodness I took control of my emotions when I did, for he walked in unannounced, a large white sack in one hand, keys in the other, and a small bag hanging from his teeth. He smiled the minute he saw me and kicked the door shut.

“Dinner is served,” he muttered, still clenching the bag between his lips.

He sat beside me, and I reached for it. “What’s this?”

“Extra fortune cookies,” he winked. “I figured there’s nothing wrong with stocking up on a little more luck.”

“More luck?”

“Yeah,” he said, tearing into the take-out bag. “I lost one friend and gained another all in the same day. How many times does that happen to a person?”

I knew the question was purely rhetorical, but I silently agreed with him. If anyone was lucky this weekend, it was me. When it came to good fortune, most times it would pass me right by. Someone must have slipped Mr. Sandman a missive. Either that or he tripped and spilled his magic dust all over me by accident.

“Don’t worry,” he interrupted my thoughts. “I’ll share with you.”

“You think I need some added luck in my life?”

“I know you do,” he concluded. “You’re contending with me in your life, all of a sudden, and I doubt it was something you planned. If that isn’t bad luck, I don’t know what is.”

I opened the Styrofoam container and regarded Joseph’s choice of words. “I wouldn’t call it ‘contending.’”

I watched as Joseph helped himself to a set of chopsticks and deftly lifted his first bite to his mouth. He proved to be skilled with the utensils and a sense of wonder overtook me. I, on the other hand, had never gotten the hang of them despite my many futile attempts.

“So, what would you call it?” he asked.

I speculated whether to try the chopsticks in front of him or just concede to using the fork provided for me by the sympathetic owners of the Thai restaurant. I chickened out. I ripped open the sheer plastic covering on the fork and dove in. “I call it opening a door for a friend in need.”

Joseph nodded, but he seemed lost in thought, toying with his rice and vegetables.

“You don’t believe me?” I asked.

His eyes landed on mine in a way that froze every muscle in my body.

“No, I believe you, Jamie. But I can’t help but think if you hadn’t known about Caroline walking out on me yesterday morning, you wouldn’t have opened that door at all. You wouldn’t have picked me up off the hallway floor and put me into my bed after my drunken binge. And I doubt you would have invited me in for coffee the next morning.”

“You think I did all that out of pity?”

“Honestly, I don’t know why you did it.”

I took a deep breath and prepared my response in my head. Truth be told, I couldn’t say I had a logical explanation for why I helped him in so many ways. Sure, assisting a beautiful man like Joseph had its perks, especially for a single woman looking to score a new man, but that was not me. I didn’t lend a hand to him because I aimed to cut forward in line of all the other women in his life. Just thinking that had me cringing.

“Well?” he encouraged.

I straightened my back and looked him square in the eye. “I did it because that is how I’m made. I don’t turn my back on those in need.” I stuck my fork deep into the pile of spicy goodness, on the verge of saying more. I bit my lip, hesitating to open the dam of my convoluted mind. I had so much in my head he didn’t need to hear, but I decided to at least unplug a small portion of it. “I don’t know if you’ve figured it out yet, but I’m not like Caroline.”

As soon as I said it, I regretted the words. I couldn’t look at him anymore and, frankly I wondered where in the world that daring side of me came from. I certainly hoped I hadn’t insulted him. Caroline was someone he cared for, and, by attacking her dignity, I might have overstepped my bounds. Then again, I wasn’t the insensitive wench who had attacked his heart with no concern for his feelings.

While two wrongs shouldn’t make a right, I wanted him to realize that not all women were heartless and self-absorbed.

“No, you’re nothing like Caroline,” he admitted. “In fact, you’re nothing like any of the women I’ve known.”

I was not aware of the exact number of females he had encountered, but with Joseph’s striking good looks and charming personality, I assumed they could at least fill a small stadium. “Coming from you, I’ll take that as a compliment.”

“Contrary to what you might think, I know enough about women being the only male amongst three sisters. Probably more than a man should know.”

“Somehow, I don’t think that was your only means of knowing the female mind.”

He looked at me askance, a half-cocked grin lighting up his face. “Should I take that as a compliment as well?”

“You should. You’re a very thoughtful, charismatic, handsome man. I can’t imagine you having any trouble meeting women or keeping their interest, with or without your sisters’ help.”

His hearty laughter filled the room, which made me want to laugh with him, though I didn’t find much humor in my flattering remark. I meant it. Joseph was every girl’s dream, including mine had I been searching for a perfect mate.

“You need to eat more, Jamie,” he said, gently elbowing my arm. “That sugar of yours is still too low, and you’re talking out of your head again.”

I giggled and picked up the small bag of fortune cookies. “Let’s see what Confucius has to say about it.” I dug into the bag and pulled out the first one. “You know how to read these, don’t you?”

“There’s a wrong way to read a fortune cookie?”

“Not a wrong way,” I corrected. “Just a better way. It adds more spunk to the average philosophical crap they write on these things.”

“Oh, yeah?” His face lit up as he swiveled his body in my direction. “How do we do that?”

I enjoyed how he assumed this would be a partnership in order to enhance the general, ambiguous predictions of a crunchy vanilla treat. I broke my cookie open and pulled out the slip of paper. “It’s really quite simple. You just add ‘in bed’ at the end of the fortune.”

“In bed,” he repeated skeptically.

“Here, just listen to mine.” I read it silently to see if it worked. Some fortunes didn’t make sense with the addition, but most times it added a whole new take on the prophecy. Mine worked perfectly.

He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still…in bed.

Joseph almost choked on his food. His reaction was priceless as he beat his chest, trying to clear his airway so he could continue laughing.

“See, I told you it made them better.”

“You weren’t lying,” he concurred. Excitedly, he reached for his fortune cookie and cracked it open. I watched him glance over it, reading it ahead of time with the additional word choice. His brow lifted and a devilish grin took shape. I sat transfixed in his gaze. “Oh, this is a good one. I think it might even be better than yours.”

“Let’s hear it.”

He cleared his throat as if he were about to give a presidential address.

Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better…in bed.

Had I not been battling hypoglycemia, my reaction would have been a bit more spirited. He was definitely correct…his was better than mine, and I think he worried that I would’ve been embarrassed with his insinuative fortune. Maybe in time he’d realize I was not a prude, like I envisioned his Caroline to be.

“Guess you’ll never look at a fortune cookie the same again, will you?” I resumed eating while he continued to smirk at the tiny paper. 

“You got that right.” He tucked the fortune in the front pocket of his jeans and watched me as I chewed. “Is it good? Did I order the right meal?”

Remembering my manners, I didn’t want to talk with my mouth full. I simply nodded and hid my massive chews behind my hand. Before I could fork another hearty portion, he handed me the other set of chopsticks.

“Try eating with these. It tastes so much better.”

I took a few seconds to finish chewing and swallowed. “I’ve tried a thousand times and can’t figure them out.”

“That’s because you never had me show you. Here.” He took hold of my hand in his, and placed my fingers properly on the sticks while giving me tips on how one stick stays stationery in my grasp. I tried to listen to his expert advice, but all I focused on was the feel of his warm hands on mine. His touch felt exquisite against my skin, and I couldn’t keep myself from enjoying its effect on the rest of my body.

“You’re trembling,” he noticed. “You cold?”

“No,” I dismissed too quickly, wishing I would have conceded with his observation.

“What’s wrong?” he badgered sweetly, his eyes gazing into mine.

I had to look away. Normally, I could stare into Joseph’s eyes forever, but this time he had my insides in complete turmoil. “It’s my sugar, I think,” I fibbed.

He seemed to believe me and gave me back the fork. “I’ll let it slide this once because you need to eat. But the next time we have Thai, you’re using chopsticks. Got it?”

Next time? There’s going to be a next time?


My heart did a summersault triggered by the exuberant fluttering of butterflies in my stomach. I passed over his offer as though it were a normal, everyday proposal and included one of my own. “Fine. I’ll use chopsticks from now on, if you promise to let me ruin your coffee the next time you’re in my shop.”

He extended his right hand immediately without hesitation. “Deal.”

I accepted his hand, and we shook on it, his grip strong and compelling. Somehow, I felt as if we were shaking hands on a different pact all together. In securing two ‘next times,’ he seemed to welcome whatever the future might hold for us. 

Or was that just my overactive imagination kicking in?


Blurb:
Who knew Mr. Right lived right next door?

Jamie Sutherland, coffee shop owner and serial ruined-relationship survivor, moves into a beautiful loft apartment for a change of scenery. What she doesn’t plan on getting is an eye-full of her handsome next-door neighbor—in nothing but a towel—arguing with his significant other in the hallway.

Joseph Scarbrough's world crashes down on him one cruel morning when his childhood sweetheart rips his heart out of his chest and walks away. His humiliation isn't complete until he turns around to pick up the pieces and sees a beautiful brunette who just witnessed his Dear John moment.

Caught in an awkward situation, the two backpedal into their separate worlds. But fate seems determined to make their worlds collide on a regular basis. Is it destiny just being clumsy when it comes to the two unlikely neighbors or is it the start of something good?

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