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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tagging Along

If you’re a writer, you know what a tag is. It’s that little statement at the end of dialogue that indicates who is speaking. For instance, in this snippet of dialogue, “I am going for a walk,” she said, she said is the tag. Most believe that using said for the majority of tags is the best word, because readers skip over the phrase without consciously noting it’s there, unlike other words such as answered or told or responded.
Writers can also get in bad habits by adding a bunch of action to the tag. An example would be:
“Don’t you ever come back,” she screamed as she threw a hair brush at him and missed, hitting the wall. It’s much better to separate the two, and in this case, get rid of the tag altogether. “Don’t you ever come back.” She threw her hair brush at him and grimaced as it missed and hit the wall.
If you have three or more characters in a scene, you will need to use occasional tags and use the names of the characters more often instead of the pronouns he and she to identify which he or she is speaking. Here is a short example from Coming to Climax, my suspense novel coming in September:
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Carroll.” Margaret walked forward to shake his hand. She handed a small brown bag to her friend. “Here’s your vanilla, Cindy.”
“Thanks.” Cindy took the bag. “Actually, he’s Doctor Carroll.”
“Nice to meet you, Ms. Palmer.” The man shook hands with her, a solemn expression on his face.
“Are you the local Family Practitioner?”
“I am if I’m helping your pet.”
Cindy laughed. “He’s a vet. Chris and I were just talking about a young guy who got shot.”
“You’re the vet who patched up Andy and Carolina? Thanks so very much.” She shivered. Maybe one more valium was a good idea . . .
“I knew it was Carolina,” Cindy said. “Just didn’t want to blurt it out in case you hadn’t seen her yet.”
“It’s okay. I just left her. All the time I kept thinking the person who shot Andy and nicked Carolina’s ear might be the same guy who killed those men.” Margaret sat down in a chair. “It makes me positively weak-kneed just thinking about it.”
“I hope they reported it to the sheriff. Please tell your niece I don’t think that was a stray bullet from a hunter.” He glanced back at Cindy. “Well, got to go. Kate says I have a Beagle with diarrhea and a Lab puppy who ate part of a garden hose waiting on me.”

Though the conversation changed back and forth ten times, only one tag was used.
If there are only two people in a scene, you know by your paragraph breaks who is speaking. Tags can be minimal or not there at all if you replace them with action by the character. Here’s an example from my latest Briny Bay mystery, The Marriage Murders, with tags and then without them.
With the tags:
“I hear you,” Trixie said. “Just how much extra-curricular activity have you done anyway?”
“As in sex?” Roxie asked.
Trixie sighed. “No, I meant Scrabble,” she said. “Of course I meant sex, you ditz.”
Roxie’s eyes narrowed and said, “Don’t demean me.”
“Stop the temper tantrum,” Trixie said. “I got tired of that when you were six. Spill. Have you two been to bed?”
“The time just hasn’t been right,” Roxie said.
“Bingo!” Trixie exclaimed. “Men’s minds wander at date six or earlier. Mark my words, he’s off shopping the catalogues, not admiring the old purchase.”
“Between you and Greg, I’m starting to feel like I’m ready for the glue factory,” Roxie said.
Trixie leaned down and stared into her sister’s eyes. “What’s with you?” she asked. “You’re the one who made whoopee with a California foreigner in a shed and Greg who is the obvious recipient of your pitty-pats doesn’t get as much as a bounce on the bed?”
“It’s because I admire him a lot,” she said.
“Admire is something you do to a president or a Mother Theresa or a Nelson Mandela, but it sure ain’t what you want to do to your sweetheart,” Trixie told her. “Not unless you’re laid back in a euphoric fog , smiling at how much you admire his motion of the ocean.”
“Motion of the ocean?” she asked.
Trixie shrugged and said, “You know it’s not the size of the wave, but the…”
“Right, got it,” Roxie said. “You are such a nag. You know how I am. It’s just like how I was about Christmas when I was a little girl. You’d already sneaked and opened all your presents and wrapped them back up, but I wanted to open one at a time during the day. ”
“I shoulda’ caught on you were brain-damaged then,” Trixie told her. “Get the car in gear sugar, or your sweetie will be trading you in on a new model.”

Removing the tags:
“I hear you.” Trixie placed one hand on her sister’s shoulder. “I suggest you get his mind off kids. Just how much extra-curricular activity have you done anyway?”
“As in sex?”
Trixie sighed. “No, I meant Scrabble. Of course I meant sex, you ditz.”
Roxie’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t demean me.”
“Stop the temper tantrum. I got tired of that when you were six. Spill. Have you two been to bed?”
Roxie stared at the floor. “The time just hasn’t been right.”
Trixie slapped the counter. “Bingo! Men’s minds wander at date six or earlier. Mark my words, he’s off shopping the catalogues, not admiring the old purchase.”
“Between you and Greg, I’m starting to feel like I’m ready for the glue factory.”
Trixie leaned down and stared into her sister’s eyes. “What’s with you? You’re the one who made whoopee with a California foreigner in a shed and Greg who is the obvious recipient of your pitty-pats doesn’t get as much as a bounce on the bed?”
Roxie bit her lip. “It’s because I admire him a lot.”
“Admire is something you do to a president or a Mother Theresa or a Nelson Mandela, but it sure ain’t what you want to do to your sweetheart. Not unless you’re laid back in a euphoric fog , smiling at how much you admire his motion of the ocean.”
Roxie looked up. “Motion of the ocean?”
Trixie shrugged. “You know it’s not the size of the wave, but the…”
“Right, got it.” Roxie exhaled. “You are such a nag. You know how I am. It’s just like how I was about Christmas when I was a little girl. You’d already sneaked and opened all your presents and wrapped them back up, but I wanted to open one at a time during the day. ”
“I shoulda’ caught on you were brain-damaged then. Get the car in gear sugar, or your sweetie will be trading you in on a new model.”

I hope this helps any beginning writers out there and would love to hear from readers as well.
Bobbye Terry writes mystery/suspense, romance, fantasies and dystopian fiction. Her most recent release is Honey Blood and the Collector, written as Daryn Cross, Turquoise Morning Press.  Walk Right Back, also written as Daryn Cross, is soon to release from L&L Dreamspell. For more about Bobbye, visit her at and .

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Is Point of View Difficult For You?

When I first started writing, point of view (pov) was pounded into me, but I still didn't get it.  Even though pov was explained to me, and I understood I still wanted to head hop all over the place.  Once in a while, I still do pov change in the middle of a scene or a paragraph.

Here's my theory of why so many have trouble with pov:  When you have two or three characters together in a scene you want to go into their heads immediately to tell the reader what they are thinking.  We want to tell our reader everything; we want them to understand how each character feels at that exact moment.

Once I learned about action/reaction I knew the best way to handle point of view is to show each individuals reactions to what is being said but just stay in one person's head at a time.  This way the reader has one pov but knows by the actions/reactions of the other people in the scene what they are thinking. 

Did you have trouble with point of view, and if so what helped you keep from head hopping?

Have a great weekend.

Sandra K. Marshall, author of The Odyssey Mysteries
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Guest Blog: Cathryn Cade: So Hard to Leave That Vacation in Paradise

I don't know about you, but when I'm on vacation it's so hard to come back home.

I love the Pacific NW. But this time of year, when I'm ready to start screaming and smashing holes in the walls if it rains. one. more. freaking. time ... Well, it's nice to have Hawaii to look forward to. And I know that once I'm on the Big Island with my DH, enjoying the warm sun, gentle breezes, warm humid nights, the balmy ocean and most of all the scenery, both in the water and out of it ... I'm going to have a really, really hard time getting my buns back on the plane to fly home again.

Ah, Kona. The mountains formed of Pele's fire towering overhead, palm trees swaying gently in the breeze against the blue, blue sky. The white fringe of surf lapping on the shore, edging the turquoise sea. Afternoons spent wandering through the funky shops in old Kona Town, and stopping to eat at little open air cafes on the sidewalks.

Snorkeling in clear, lava rimmed bays, among swirling ribbons of brightly colored fish and gentle honu, sea turtles. Swimming with the nai'a, spinner dolphins at Honaunau Bay--one of the sublime experiences of my land-locked life.

The scenery, the climate and the people of Hawaii truly exemplify the famed 'Aloha spirit'. When they smile, you cannot help but smile back. Their laid back attitude and colorful customs of hula and luau charm millions of us haole tourists every year.

So, being a writer, of course I thought ... what if my heroine didn't have to go home? What if a young woman comes to Hawaii--alone, because her jerk of a boyfriend found someone else right before their dream vacation. And what if ...

Well, needless to say, with me in charge my heroine is soon embroiled in danger from which only one man can save her--the one man she can't resist. Aloha! Let the fun begin. Thus began Walking in Fire available for pre-order NOW from Samhain Publishing.

Walking in Fire:  Hawaiian Heroes, Book 1

Born to defend his people, he will sacrifice everything—for her.

Nawea Bay, a remote Hawaiian paradise, is just the haven Melia Carson needs to escape the chill of heartache. Instead, she finds herself swept up in a tropical heat wave, fueled by her unexpected attraction to a handsome native she meets on a snorkel tour.

He’s big, powerful, hot enough to melt her defenses—and he’s not all he seems. How else could he survive an injury that should have killed him…and why does she dream of him garbed in ancient native dress and wreathed in flames?

David “Malu” Ho’omalu is on the Big Island to find and destroy a cache of dangerous designer drugs before they can be sold to his people. Fending off amorous female tourists is part of the job, but one look in Melia’s blue eyes, and his instincts scream that she is his.

As Melia surrenders to the desire burning between them, she discovers more than a fiery heritage that defies modern logic. She discovers a man who would descend into the molten depths of the volcano to protect his island. And her…if she can find the strength to trust her heart to him.

Product Warnings: Hot, hot Hawaiian hero with volcanic passion on his mind. Better pack a heat-proof bikini for this island paradise.

I live in western Washington with my husband, a golden retriever and a head full of colorful characters who want out--now. I've been reading all my life, and writing almost as long. This is lots more fun now that I'm grown up and can add real romance to my characters' stories. A librarian by day, and a writer by night, I'm surrounded by stories. And the best part? I get to take you along. Hang on, and hope you enjoy the ride.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Interview with the Characters from Windswept Shores

Interview with the Hero and Heroine from Windswept Shores

Hello everyone. My name is Janice Seagraves. I’m the author of Windswept Shores.

I’ve always had a fascination with people stuck on a deserted island, using only their wits to survive.

As a child I was hooked on Gilligan’s island, later in Jr. High I read Robinson Caruso and wrote as part of my homework assignment, but I loved it. When I was older I watched the Survivor Shows, but only liked the ones where they were on an island. Then I saw the movie Castaway, and more recently the series Lost, but became lost.

So I had the idea of a couple struggling to survive on a deserted island, but it would also be a wonderful back drop for a romance.
But then I had to decide where the island was . . .

After countless google searches and looking at maps, I finally decided on the Bahamas. It’s another country but close to the U.S. just sixty miles off the Florida coast with it three hundred odd island and cays, with only eighty of which are inhabited, so I decided would be an easy place to get lost in.
With the wild weather they sometimes have there it, the island and the weather itself became almost a secondary character.

Actually the title of my book comes from my musing about the weather: they must have some awful windswept shores over there.

Windswept Shores? Hmm, I like that.

I already had the heroine, Megan’s personality down. I’m a California girl so she is one too, except she’s from Anaheim. I had her figured out before I even started writing. She’s forty-two, suffering from the after effects of a bad marriage and not ready to trust a new man. Even though she had been a housewife most of her married life, Megan had taken classes that helped her to figure out how to survive on the island.

The hero, Seth, was a little harder. I knew I wanted him to be almost a polar opposite to the heroine. But warm, caring and fun. What better than a handsome Aussie surfer? Once I got his accent down, his personality popped into existence.

“Say hello to the nice people, Megan and Seth,” I said, turning to my living room where Seth sat on my tan couch alongside Megan, who was working on something.

“G’day,” Seth says with a thick Aussie accent. He’s six foot, one. His arm and chest muscles strain against his Hawaiian shirt as he shifts position on the seat cushions.

As Megan looks up, light bounces off her bright red hair. “Oh, have we started already?”

“Yes we have. What are you making there?” I point to the wicker held tightly in her hands, as she carefully weaves a reed through.

“I’m making you a basket.”

“You are?”

“Yes, I noticed you have quite a collection on your coffee table. I thought I’d make you something to hold it all.” Megan’s sea green eyes are bright with amusement.

I glanced at my messy coffee table with its assorted junk, feeling my cheeks heat. “Yeah, maybe I should have cleaned up a bit more before I had you two come over.”

“Aw Jan, don’t mind Megz. She would have made ya a basket anyway. She’s just got to keep her hands busy.”

“True,” Megan admitted, pulling another loop through.

“Oh, um, thank you.” I glance at Megan then back to Seth. “So tell us how you both ended up on the island.”

“I reckon Megz, should go first.” Seth nodded toward the woman next to him. “She got there before I did, after all.”

Megan looks up from her basketry. “Well, where shall I start?”
“At the beginning?” I suggested.

“No.” She chuckled. “That would take too long.” Megan looks off for a moment her gaze haunted. “The plane I and my husband were on had flown into a storm. Saint Elmo’s fire danced along the plane’s wings and set the motors on fire. The plane went down. We crashed into the ocean.” Glancing at the unfinished basket in her hand, she paused a moment, blinking rapidly. “I’m the only one who made it out.”

“Then what happened?” I asked gently.

“I spent three days and two nights on a raft going up then down like a giant elevator.” She sighed. “Long-long days and nights passed with no food and barely any drinking water, except what I could capture in a mouthwash bottle in the bottom of the boat from the rain. Finally I drifted ashore on a little island. I used the raft at night like a bed and then for shelter when it rained. One day I woke up and it was flat. But by then I had started picking up the luggage that came in on the surf, finding things to make my life more tolerable.  I also took on the heartrending job of burying my fellow passenger when they washed up from the plane wreck.”

She smiled at the man beside her. “That’s where I first meet Seth. I thought he was another dead body, until he coughed and rolled over.”

Seth chuckled. “Her scream woke me up.”

I glanced at Seth. “How did you get there?”

Seth leaned forward, elbows on knees, his dove gray eyes clouding over. “Oy, me mate Bill and I were on his boat, the Dinki-Di, during a big squall that’s when she hit a reef. I got thrown overboard and had to tread water until dawn. When I could see, I lit out fer shore.”

“It was a big storm,” Megan added. “A lot of stuff got washed on the beach next day.”

Seth hooked a thumb pointing at his big chest. “Including yours truly.”

“He’s lucky he passed out after he got to the beach. Any sooner and well . . .” she trailed off with a shrug.

Seth’s glance went to hers. “When I first lit eyes on Megz, I knew I wanted her.”

Megan ducks her head, but I could see a smile.

“Maybe now would be a good time to tell about your book?” I suggested.

“Orright.” Seth grinned until his cheeks dimpled. “This time of the year most folks want to go on holiday, so they can have a bit of fun in the sun.”

Megan added, “Unfortunately that’s what Megan thought too.”

Blurb: The sole survivor of a plane crash, Megan is alone on a deserted island in the Bahamas until she finds a nearly-drowned man washed up on shore. Another survivor, this time from a boat wreck. With only meager survival skills between them, will they survive and can they find love?

Breathing hard, she flicked a glance at the teal-colored sea. She'd thought a vacation to the Bahamas would be the perfect getaway, would be a solution to the problems she and Jonathan had faced. She'd been wrong—dead wrong. Tears of grief filled her eyes. The never-ending crash of the waves on the beach and the cries of the seagulls seemed to mock her with the reminder she was utterly alone.

She'd felt like a tiny speck of sand last night when a violent storm had swept across the island. It had made a mess of her meager campsite, which had taken all morning to fix, and had demolished her seaweed SOS sign. She'll have to recreate her SOS. Sighing, Megan trudged toward a pile of kelp. As she got closer, she saw a figure wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt. Her stomach lurched.

Oh, God, it’s another body washed up from the plane wreck. That would be number twelve. As always, she couldn't help but wonder if the next one would be Jonathan. He hadn’t been wearing jeans on the plane, so she knew she’d been spared seeing his corpse this time. Thank God. She approached the body with dread. Tightening her resolve, she knelt. Suddenly the "dead body" coughed and rolled over. With a scream, Megan jumped back. She clutched her chest and pressed a shaking hand to her mouth.

He’s alive!

Biting her lip, she stared down at the still-breathing man. His drenched t-shirt molded against his broad shoulders and well developed upper body. Short, golden brown hair stuck out in all directions.

Megan, get control of yourself. Don’t wet your pants the first time you finally see a living person. She got on her knees, plucked the seaweed from him and wiped the sand from his face. His day-old whiskers scratched her palm. Reddened skin stretched across both cheekbones and over the bridge of his nose. Her thumb caressed his parched full bottom lip.

She patted the side of his face. “Hey, are you okay?” That’s a dumb question. 
He isn’t okay.

“Hmm?” Gray eyes fluttered open. He stared at her a long moment, frowning slightly. “G’day.”

“Hello there.” She hated the sound of her voice. It sounded rusty, unused.

Abruptly he rolled away from her to heave onto the sand, making a loud, ugly retching noise.

He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, then looked at her. “Sorry, mate, I swallowed too much sea.” His gaze went over her shoulder in the direction of the bonfire which crackled and popped not far from them. “Mite big for a barbie.”

Sitting back on her heels with her hands folded in her lap, Megan followed his gaze, then back to him. “My signal fire.”

“Signal for what?”


His accent intrigued her. Was he English or Australian?

“G’darn,” he looked around, “where the bloody hell am I?”

“Don’t know. There’s no one here to ask.” Megan shrugged helplessly, but couldn’t contain her curiosity. “Are you from England?”

“Naw,” he rubbed his eyes, “I hail from Sydney, but my port of call these days is Fort Lauderdale.” He blinked up at her. “You?”

Ah, he’s an Aussie. “I’m Megan Lorry, from Anaheim, California,” she said, barely loud enough to be heard above the sounds of the surf and the roar from the fire. “Are you a survivor of Air Bahamas flight 227, too?”

Janice Seagraves' website:
Janice Seagraves' main blog:

Or Find Windswept Shores for the kindle:

Monday, March 26, 2012

Interview of Author Lori Foster

Today I’m pleased to present an interview of Romance Writers of America Honor Roll member, New York Times/Publishers Weekly/USA Today Best Selling author, Lori Foster. With over 80 books published, she’s a very prolific author for a number of different publishers.

Lori…welcome to our blog! We’ll ask some traditional questions, and then surprise you with some you may not have been asked before!

Upcoming April Release: "A Perfect Storm" (Book Four
in the series "Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor".)

Buy Links:  
 Books A Million

GIVEAWAY ALERT: Leave a comment for a chance to win a Lori Foster book (winner’s choice of a book title Lori has on hand) and t-shirt! Comments must be posted by midnight EST, 28 March. Please put your email address in with comment. USA addresses only.

Q: Tell us about the first book you published: how long did it take for you to write, sell, see it published.
A: Holy cow, that’s going back. My first book published was “Impetuous.” I don’t remember specifically how long it took me to write it, but I know I’d been writing for over 5 years and had completed over 10 manuscripts before I finally got sold.

I do remember that the publisher looked at that particular book and liked it, but wanted MAJOR revisions – to the tune of removing as much male POV as I could.

Since I didn’t yet have a computer, rewrites were a major pain, but I did it. Then that editor left and the revised manuscript was in limbo.

Finally, nearly a year later, a new editor picked it up. And guess what? She said it needed a lot more male POV. :-/

I revised it again.

Then she wanted me to move the first sex scene from chapter 4 as close to chapter 1 as I could. That took a lot more revising, but I bumped it up and had to retype the entire book again in the process. Eventually it sold. How long that all took, I can’t say exactly, but I know I felt like I was hanging over a cliff by my toe nails, and when I finally got “the call,” I was so exhausted from it all, instead of being elated, I only felt relief. :-)

Q: Now, tell us about the first book you wrote…is it the same as the first one you sold? If so, that’s fantastic! If not, what happened to it?
A: Oy, no. There is something like 7 unpublished books sitting in my closet upstairs. That’s probably where they’ll stay. I don’t have the heart to throw them away, and I don’t have the energy to reread them, put them into the computer, and revise them. I think of them as a valuable learning tool. I taught myself to write by writing. Amen.

Q: Every author has a routine/ritual/quirks they utilize for their writing. What are yours?
A: I’m an extremely motivated person. It doesn’t really take a lot to get me to work on my stories. But when everything is as I prefer it, I’m either at my desk in my office, which faces our pond so I can see the deer visiting, or the geese and duck landing. Or (in milder weather) I’m at the lake house, facing the lake, watching the boats go by or seeing the fish jump. I’m very much a water person.

I like to listen to my playlist, and burn scented candles.

Q: Where do your story ideas come from? Has any special place/thing/person/event inspire your books?
A: I can’t say where the ideas come from – everywhere I guess. Writers have ideas. ::shrug::: That’s how it works.

But most anyone who’s read me knows I like water. :-)

As a kid I spent every summer on a lake. We’d swim or water ski the day away. Boating, sunning ourselves, lazing around. Long walks. A LOT of my settings feature a lake.

Q: Tell us about your first book signing. We love details!
A: Oh, it was hilarious! It was at this little strip mall at a small, privately owned bookstore with this lovely Asian woman who treated us like royalty. So many people from my local RWA chapter showed up in support, and the bookstore owner was overwhelmed. But then... the crowd waned. Those twenty people who knew me finished up and left, and the owner started to fret.

She came over to me and said, “You sell more book.” It was like an order and a question both, and she was incredibly adorable and sweet.

Now, to this day, whenever I do a booksigning, my husband will order, “You sell more book.” :-)

I will always remember that woman with great fondness. Like a high school boy on prom night, we always remember our first. ;-)

Q: Lori Foster’s “Reader and Author” Weekend. Please tell us all about this annual event!
A: Dianne Castell aka Duffy Brown and I do the event.Our good friend Linda Keller, a retired CRM from BN, handles the massive bookfair for us.

Dianne and I came up with the idea years ago (2012 is our 8th event!) as a way to say “thank you” to the writing and reading community. She and I both greatly appreciate all the wonderful support of readers and other writers. We figured the event could be a way to get book enthusiasts together; new authors have an opportunity to meet editors, agents, publishers and other industry professionals without breaking the bank. Readers have an opportunity to sit with their favorite authors, talk books, take photos, get autographs, and just plain have fun!

It’s the truth, some conferences can get very expensive. If an author hasn’t yet sold, or has only sold a few books, it’s hard on the finances. And for readers, we prefer they keep their money for books!

So Dianne and I work hard to keep the cost of the entire weekend at an affordable $50. Yup, $50 – 8 years running!

There’s plenty for busy-bees to do, but there’s also constant “sit down and talk” time available for those (like me) who prefer a more laidback atmosphere. You can grab a like-minded reader, or a favorite author, and just kick back.

Our raffles are amazing. Authors and publishers provide the baskets, and we donate all our proceeds to a local charity. And our volunteers! Oh my gosh, Dianne and I could NOT do this without our incredible volunteers. This is as much their event as it is ours.

For the first time ever, we maxed out our space this year, so registration is closed. Sorry! Still, the booksigning is open to the public, and there’s always 2013. ;-)

Q: Advice time! Tell us one piece of advice you have for anyone looking to publish a romance book. AND, tell us one piece of advice what NOT to do.
A: What to do: Trust your voice. Forget what’s selling and write only what you love to write. Jump in with both feet. Make the book the way you envision it, not what you think will sell or what you think will be comfortable to the market.
What not to do: Critique groups. Contests. Critique groups will destroy your voice and voice is the only unique thing you have to offer. It is YOUR book, not book by committee. What a critique thinks is wrong might be exactly what an editor thinks is right. Don’t show that book to anyone who can’t buy it, unless the person is only looking for typos.

Contests give you that premature sense of validation. But it’s not a sale. I’ve seen new authors who write amazing first chapters to enter into contests, but never write the rest of the book. If that’s what you’re looking for, have fun! But if you want to publish a book, just write the book and send it to an editor – then if you want, enter a chapter. But get started on the 2nd book. Then the 3rd. It takes a long time to hear back from a publisher and you shouldn’t waste that time by merely waiting.

Q: Finish this sentence: Romance is…
A: Satisfaction. Only romance guarantees you a resolution to problems, a happy ending, a sense of triumph. No matter what happens in the book, we go into it trusting that it’ll all be okay in the end. There’s something very, very satisfying about that.

Q: Which one of your books is your favorite…the “book of your heart”? Why?
A: I only write books of my heart. :-)  I love them all. Not saying they’re my “babies,” because they’re not. They’re just my books. But I wouldn’t write a book that I didn’t love.

Favorites include my Servant series written as L.L. Foster. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Gaby and Luther. Still. Always.

But out of straight romance, a few favorites are: Sam, from “My House, My Rules,” was just so macho and funny. Mick, from “Caught in the Act,” was so wounded and sexy. Axel, from “Playing Doctor,” cracked me up.

Thinking of single titles, I really like Trace, from “Trace of Fever.” But readers apparently liked Jackson the best, from “Savor the Danger.” Readers and I rarely agree on favorites. LOL

Q: What’s the difference between L.L. Foster and Lori Foster books?
A: Blood, gore, violence. I mean, there’s violence in my romances, with the heroes kicking some serious butt.

But as L. L. I let the villains do really violent things too.

Q: If you could meet with any author (dead or alive) who wrote any type of book, who would it be? What would you talk about?
A: I’ve met most of my heroes! Stella Cameron, Jayne Ann Krentz, Elizabeth Lowell, Catherine Coulter, Linda Howard... I think they’re absolutely amazing.

I guess the only fangirl moments I haven’t had would be with Johanna Lindsey and Julie Garwood. One day I’d love to meet them. If the conversation is up to me, I assume I’d just gush. LOL. But I’m always happy just to talk about live and what makes up a writer’s day.

Q: Tell us about your next release coming in April: "A Perfect Storm".
A: “A Perfect Storm” features Arizona and Spencer, characters introduced in “Savor The Danger.” They’re both edgy, capable, deadly when necessary, and out for vengeance. But when Spencer looks at Arizona, he only sees her youth, her vulnerability, and her sex appeal. It surprised that two such wounded characters could still be so amusing.

Where to find Lori Foster:!/lorilfoster

He never saw her coming…

Spencer Lark already knows too many secrets about Arizona Storm, including the nightmare she survived and her resulting trust issues. But in order to expose a smuggling ring—and continue avenging his own tragic past—the bounty hunter reluctantly agrees to make Arizona a decoy. Yet nothing has equipped him for her hypnotic blend of fragility and bravery, or for the protective instincts she stirs in him.

Arizona wants to reclaim her life, which means acting as bait to lure the enemy into a trap. Sure it's dangerous, especially with a partner as distractingly appealing as Spencer. But as their plan—and their chemistry—shifts into high gear, Arizona may discover there's an even greater risk in surrendering her heart to a hero….

Arizona Storm sat quietly on the overstuffed chair, her chin resting on her drawn-up knees, her fingers laced together around her shins.


In the quiet, shadowed room, she breathed in the unique aroma of aftershave and gun oil, and the headier scent of warm male. On the back of the chair behind her he’d tossed his jeans and a rumpled T-shirt. Close at hand on the nightstand, he’d placed his freshly cleaned gun and his deadly switchblade.

His discarded boxers lay on the floor.

He fascinated her.

After breaking into his house, she’d removed her sneakers and put them next to his boots by the front door. The air conditioning, set on high, left her toes cold, but he’d covered himself with no more than a thin sheet.

Again and again, her gaze tracked over him, from one big foot sticking out over the side of the bed, up and over his flat, solid abs covered by the snowy white sheet, to his chest – not covered by anything except enticing body hair.

With one arm behind his head, she saw his underarm and the dark tuft of hair there. Seeing that almost made him look vulnerable – except that, despite his relaxed pose, the positioning of his long arm made a thick biceps bulge.

At nearly six and a half feet tall, solidly built and finely sculpted, Spencer Lark was one of the biggest, strongest, most impressive men she’d ever met.

And she knew some really prime specimens.

His long lashes shadowed his high cheekbones, but that didn’t detract from the bruising beneath one eye. A recent fight? She smiled while picturing it, sure that Spencer had come out ahead. His skill at fighting intrigued her even more than his big bod.

Amazing, but even his slightly crooked nose held her rapt. When and how had he broken it?

She inhaled a deep breath and let it out in a quiet sigh that, given the silence in his home and Spencer’s acute instincts, disturbed his slumber.
Arizona admitted to herself that maybe she’d wanted to wake him. After all, she’d been watching him – and waiting – for awhile now.

His head turned on the pillow, his legs shifted.

Holding herself perfectly still, she waited to see if he’d awaken, what he’d do, what he’d say. She didn’t know him all that well, and yet… she did.

Sort of.

They’d met nearly a month ago while they were both on a sting. Immediately, they’d butted heads, and he’d infuriated her by interfering with her life.

But worse, he’d robbed her of the revenge she desperately craved.

Sure, he had his own need for revenge, so she understood his motives. She didn’t forgive him. Not yet, anyway.

But she did understand.

At least, she thought she did. Once they talked it over, then she’d decide for sure.

He made a soft, gravelly sound as he stretched that long, strong body. His chin tucked in. Muscles flexed.

The sheet tented.

Eyes widening, Arizona stared, not really alarmed, but no longer so at ease, either. She had a very dark history with aroused men, so she doubted she’d ever be unaffected by them. But she didn’t let it get in her way, not when she wanted something, not when she had a goal in mind.

She knew she should have taken Spencer’s gun, at the very least moved it out of his reach. But instead she’d found him in the bed, and before she’d even thought it through, she’d taken the empty seat and settled in to study him while he slept.

Since that fateful day when her destiny had been stolen from her, she’d seen him only a handful of times. She tried to stay away. She tried to forget about him.

She hadn’t been successful.

Stretching, he brought his hand out from behind his head, around to rub over his hair, across his face, down his chest.

As he gave a sleepy, growling groan of waking, that hand disappeared under the sheet.

Arizona’s lips parted and her heartbeat tripped up. She cleared her throat.


Freezing, without moving any other body part, he opened his eyes and met her gaze.

She frowned at him.

He didn’t look super-startled, and he said nothing. He just stared at her.

With his hand still under there.

“Yeah…” Semi-satisfied with his frozen reaction, she nodded at his lap. “You weren’t going for a little tug, were you? Because, as your spectator, I’d just as soon not see it.”

He brought his hand out and put it back behind his head, still silent, still watching her. Almost… relaxed.

His gaze was so dark, so compelling, she felt like squirming, damn it. “I mean, I guess I could wait in the other room if it’s really necessary. That is, if you don’t take too long.”

He disappointed her by not reacting. As if he often woke with an uninvited woman playing voyeur in his bedroom, he looked her over, from her bare toes up to her long, wind-tangled hair.

“Been here long?”

“Maybe half an hour or so.” Curiosity prompted her to ask, “Were you going to… you know?” She nodded at his lap.

“Most men say hi to the boys first thing.”

“Say hi?”

With no sign of discomfort, he shrugged one shoulder. “You broke in.”

A statement, not a question. She did her own casual shrug. “Since you’re not dumb enough to leave the place unlocked, yeah, I had to.”

He turned his head, but not to check on the time. He saw the gun still on the nightstand where he’d left it, and brought his gaze back to hers again. “You know how to make coffee?”

One eyebrow lifted high. “Trying to get me out of the room so you can leave the bed? I’m not squeamish, you know. I mean, with my background, I’ve seen plenty of –”

He threw off the sheet and sat up, effectively shutting down her snide retort.

Ho boy.

“If you don’t know how to make coffee, just say so.” Spencer stretched again, harder, longer this time. Sitting on the side of the bed, he snagged up his boxers and stepped into them. As he stood, he pulled them up.

They fit like a glove.

He still had a tent going.

And she still stared.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: I’m always accessible to readers. I visit my FB every day, off and on all day, and I answer all my emails myself.
I often have fun goodies to give away. If you want some, send me an SASE (Self Addressed Stamped Envelope) that I can fill with stuff and drop off at the P.O. to return to you. Send the envelope to me at: Lori Foster, P. O. Box 854 Ross, OH 45061.
Thank you!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Interview of Author BonSue Brandvik

Today I'm pleased to present an interview of romance author BonSue Brandvik.

Latest Book: Pearls: Spirits of the Belleview Biltmore, Book One
Buy Link: For paperback and Kindle:

The e-book version is also available from:
Smashwords, Barnes & Nobel Nook, Apple iPad/iPhone, Kobo Reader, Sony Reader.

When I left my home in St. Louis MO to become a wife and mom at the age of seventeen, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about life.

Five years later, following my divorce, I decided a little more education couldn’t hurt. While working at a string of “interesting” jobs (ranging from selling cookware door to door, to cocktail waitressing in a strip club) I managed to earn my college degree, marry the true love of my life, and raise a fine daughter. In time, I developed a lucrative career in the field of Human Resources.

Then I quit my job and became a writer.

My next education began shortly after I mailed the rough draft of a partially-completed novel manuscript to several agents in New York. At the time, I thought the agent of my choosing would assign an editor to work by my side as I finished writing the story. Then she would proofread the manuscript, publish my novel, and schedule my television interviews and book signings. Ah, yes...

So here I am a few years later, having learned how to plot, edit (over and over again), critique and publish my novel. Now I’m learning how to market my work, while also trying to save a historic hotel from demolition. No kidding.

The setting for my series is the historic and haunted Belleview Biltmore Resort, in Belleair, Florida. It was built in 1896, and is the largest wooden hotel in the world (820,000 square feet.) While I was busy writing Pearls: Spirits of the Belleview Biltmore, the resort was closed and gutted, in preparation for a complete renovation. It was scheduled to reopen in 2012, just in time for my book launching. But then the real estate market collapsed, the owners defaulted on their mortgage, and the property was sold in lieu of foreclosure. Developers purchased the property in 2011 with the intention of demolishing the hotel and building180 town homes in its place. Along with preservationists and worldwide fans of the hotel, I am fighting to stop the demolition, while searching for investors to complete the planned hotel renovation.

When I’m not busy with preservation/activist projects or marketing activities, I can be found working on the second book in my series, Ripples: Spirits of the Belleview Biltmore, tending to our flower and vegetable gardens, caring for our koi pond, taking pictures, running around in my little Fiat named ‘Button’, or reading a book.

Q: What part of the book is the easiest for you to write? Why?
A: World building. Maybe it’s because, as a Leo, I like making all the rules. Seriously, it’s a blast to let my imagination run wild and then write as if I know the answers to mysteries, like “What really happens when you die?” or “What if the walls really could talk?”

Q: What part of the book is the hardest for you?Why?
A: Sex scenes. I tend to worry about what my friends and relatives will think of me when they read my bodice-ripping segments. It doesn’t stop me from writing them, though (wink, wink!)

Q: Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
A: Margaret Plant, one of the two spirits that connects with my heroine, Honor. She always seems to know the dirty little secrets people are trying to hide, and she uses her influence to help other women improve their lives.

Q: If one of your books became a movie, which celebrity would you like to star as one of your heroines? Tell us about your heroine.
A: Amy Acker or Jennifer Love Hewitt. Honor Macklin is pretty and smart, but has lost her self-confidence after years of being married to guy who tells her she’s neither. She lost her father in a car accident when she was a child and the story begins shortly after she loses her mother the same way. When she begins interacting with the spirits at the Belleview Biltmore, it’s fun to watch her reevaluate her life and begin to take risks to get what she wants.

Q: If one of your books became a movie, which celebrity would you like to star as one of your heroes? Tell us about your hero.
A: Ben Affleck. Josh Lancing is a great guy who is not living the life he once imagined, but he’s trying to be a good father to his four-year-old son. He is smitten with Honor right away, but neither of them lives in Florida, and he’s positive long-distance relationships never work out.

Q: Do all your heroes and all heroines look the same in your mind as you “head write”?
A: Heavens no! But they do all look amazingly like people I know and/or movie stars.

Q: Do you eat comfort food when writing?
A: I try not to, but sometimes jelly beans and/or pumpkin seeds are just plain necessary.

Q: What hobby do you enjoy when not writing?
A: Photography. There’s just something about capturing a moment in time that no one will ever experience in the exact same way as I am at the moment I press the shutter button.

Q: What is your favorite romance book that you’ve read?
A: An oldie (1970s), but goodie: “Time and Again” by Jack Finney, a time travel romance, which was later the basis for the screenplay and movie, “Somewhere in Time”, staring Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour.

Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all!
Publisher’s page:
Facebook: BonSue Brandvik, Author
Twitter: BonSueB

Software developer Honor Macklin believes she’s equal business partners with her philandering ex-husband, but when family responsibilities take her to Florida, she discovers her ex may have cheated her in more ways than one. Spirits at the Belleview Biltmore hotel try to help Honor by invading her dreams to share memories from the life of Darcy Loughman, a young Victorian woman with big problems of her own. When the two worlds collide, Honor and her new lover, Josh, along with his clairvoyant four-year-old son, try to figure out how Honor can use lessons from the past to change her destiny.

The setting for this novel is the famous and currently endangered historic Belleview Biltmore Resort in Belleair, FL. The hotel was built in 1896 by one of Florida’s founding fathers, Henry B. Plant. The author is working with preservationists, hoping to find investors willing to save the wonderful, 820,000 sq. ft. hotel from demolition. For additional information, please visit: and/or

[Previous: After overhearing her ex-husband/business partner discuss her lack of bedroom prowess with one of their clients, Honor Macklin made a hasty decision to fly to Florida, to complete her responsibilities as executor for her late mother’s estate. She is staying at the Belleview Biltmore hotel while sorting out the remainder of her mother’s possessions. At the bottom of a deep cabinet in her mother’s kitchen, Honor found an old journal, which she brought back to the hotel.]

Chapter 4
...As she began to drift off to sleep, Honor became aware of a chill in the air and she heard voices coming from… coming from where? The hallway? Her suite? She tried to focus on the conversation.

“She has the journal. It’s time for her to know everything,” a woman’s voice said.

Honor rose from her bed to investigate and was amazed to find two women sitting in her parlor, clothed in full Victorian dress. Then it slowly began to sink in. They weren’t exactly what you would call solid.

Chapter 5
“Who… what…” stammered Honor, startled almost beyond words.

“Good evening, darlin’,” the larger of the two women greeted her. “I’m Margaret and this is…well, this is Darcy. We see you’ve found her journal, gone from sight these many years.”

Margaret turned to face the thin, older woman. “It’s time, Darcy. You know it’s the right thing to do.”

“But what if she doesn’t understand?” The older woman looked worried. Her anguished eyes locked on Honor.

“She comes from good stock. She’ll understand,” the plump
woman replied.

Suddenly, Honor found herself inexplicably fading from her hotel room, into a fog. She floated through the mist, enjoying the sensation. When the fog lifted, she was sitting at a cast-iron garden table with a cool breeze caressing her face.

She felt dizzy and a bit sick to her stomach, as if she had just stepped off a roller coaster. Desperately, she tried to orient herself to her new situation by focusing on a pink hibiscus bush nearby. She heard someone call out from a nearby path.

“A grand afternoon to you, Madam Darcy.”

Honor turned toward the voice and saw the heavyset woman who had called herself Margaret, waving at Darcy, who was seated across from Honor at the garden table.
Honor’s mouth hung open as she gazed beyond the courtyard to the original Belleview Hotel. She felt Darcy’s eyes upon her, pulling her attention back across the table. Darcy spoke as though they were still in Honor’s hotel room, seemingly unaware their location had changed, or that she appeared to be several decades younger than she had been only moments ago.

Darcy offered no explanation for the changes. “You must understand. I grew up in a world very different than the one I found when my husband brought me to this place,” she said, waving her hand in the general direction of the garden. “My father was an honorable man, but he was not blessed with a keen business sense and his dire financial situation caused his health to fail.” Darcy took deep breath, as if the words revived painful memories.

“My mother bore no sons to help support our family, so by the time I reached womanhood, my family’s name had become its most valued asset. I was forced to put away any thoughts I may have possessed about spending a glorious debut season in New York and face the reality that my marital prospects were quite poor. With no dowry, I was no longer viewed as a suitable match for young gentlemen of good breeding and wealth.”

After another long pause, Darcy continued, her voice a flat monotone. “And so I was given in marriage to Reginald Loughman in my fourteenth year. Reginald was thirty five years my senior.”

Darcy flinched, as if remembering the feel of the old man’s wrinkled touch on her tender, young body. After a moment, she lifted her chin. “My parents tried their best to secure my future, but…” She shook her head.

“I was Reginald’s third wife, he having been sorrowfully widowed twice before. He had already sired and raised his heirs; so thankfully, he didn’t come to my bed very often. My wifely duties were mostly confined to providing my husband with social companionship and running his household,” she murmured.

Without warning, the fog returned and Honor fell away from the garden.

"After reading Pearls, the heartwarming debut of the Spirits of Belleview Biltmore series, I can't wait for the second book. BonSue Brandvik deftly spins a tale that is part historical romance and part ghost story, which ultimately teaches a very compelling lesson about the strength of love and sisterhood."-- Cara Lockwood, USA Today bestselling author of I Do (But I Don't).

Anything else you’d like to add?
Yes. If anyone is interested in helping save the historic Belleview Biltmore Resort from demolition, please consider forwarding my website and a bit about our mission to anyone you believe is like-minded. And of course, buying a copy of my book would be appreciated, too!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

One Writer's Long, Arduous Journey Home

My latest book, “A Catered Romance,” was released February 23 and is available exclusively at Amazon Kindle. It’s actually a revised, re-titled, sensuous version of my first published book from Avalon Books.

Here’s the blurb:

There's more than business brewing between two old high school flames...Stubbornly self-reliant Mary Beth Kendrick needs financial backing to keep her catering business cooking. A looming corporate buyout forces her to accept help from Tom Sackett, the man who broke her heart and left her distrustful of men. Unable to forget Mary Beth, Tom sets out to win her forgiveness. As he gets to know her again through their shared business interests, he realizes he wants more than forgiveness from her. He wants her in his life.Grateful for Tom's support but unwilling to trust him, Mary Beth vows to keep their relationship strictly business. But his attentiveness, culminating in a night of passion, starts to melt her icy resolve and shows her the caring, sensitive man Tom has become. Can Mary Beth learn to love and trust again? Will she and Tom open their hearts to a second chance at love?

You may be wondering what the title of this blog has to do with my book. I want to tell you about my long, tough journey to publication and why I had to come home to find success.

I’ve loved to read since I learned how and I’ve always been a sucker for a good love story. Since I was a young teen I’d dreamed of being a published author but life got in the way. Some years back when a friend and I were sharing Harlequin romances, we looked at each other one day and said, “We could write these.” Hah! Were we in for a rude awakening. Writing a romance filled with emotion is a lot harder than it looks when you’re reading one of the wonderful, seamless romance novels out there.

It took me ten long, hard years to sell my first book. That book was the second book I’d written. The very first book I ever wrote (never published) was a sensuous contemporary romance set on a ranch in Wyoming. You know the old adage to write what you know. I didn’t pay attention to those words of wisdom when I wrote that book. I’m an East Coast girl, born and bred. I love the West, and I’ve spent lots of time in the Southwest, but I’d only gone through Wyoming once by train when I was thirteen. I did my research on Wyoming, but I’ve never been on a ranch. I didn’t have a clue what I was writing about. I love my hero in that book. Still do. His name is Alec and he’s half Cherokee, tall, with long black hair tied in a ponytail. Yum. That book went nowhere. One editor liked my writing but hated Alec. Said he was self-serving and arrogant. Contest judges were even meaner. Seems everyone but me hated Alec.

So after crying over yet another rejection, I took a deep breath and decided to write what I know. What I know is my home state of Delaware, a really boring place except for the beach (more about that later). I escaped Delaware twice (once to live in Toronto, Canada, and once to live in Pennsylvania) but they found me and brought me back. The original title of my first published book was “A Catered Affair,” set in my home city of Wilmington. A little tidbit - the heroine and her friend are named after my two best friends growing up, Mary Beth and Gail. The hero, Tom, is named after a boy I was crazy about through grade school and high school. The real Tom once said something very hurtful about me in seventh grade, something that stayed with me for years. I took my hurtful feelings and used them for my heroine Mary Beth. Writing “A Catered Affair” was cathartic. That book flowed. It was so much easier to write about a place I had intimate knowledge of. I wrote the book sensual and targeted Silhouette Desire. Imagine my joy when a Sil editor asked for the full after I’d sent her a partial. I was sure Sil would buy my book. Imagine my depression when I got the rejection from them.

Someone suggested I query Avalon Books. Avalon publishes hardcovers and they’ve been in business over sixty years. Their romances are sweet - no sex, not much sensuality, no cursing, very little, if any, alcohol consumption. I didn’t think I could write “sweet,” but I was willing to give it a shot. I pitched Catered to the Avalon editor at a conference. By this time I’d felt as if I’d been through a war with all my rejections. I wasn’t about to change my book to sweet unless the editor asked to see a full of the book. She asked, and I changed it - took out the sex, the cursing and the alcohol. I was shocked at how many curse words I’d used. Changing this book from sensuous to sweet taught me two valuable lessons: one, you really should write what you know; and two, when I couldn’t rely on the sex to bring the couple together, I had to increase the emotion between them. I ended up with a stronger story.

I have the digital rights to my book and have published it on Amazon under the new title, “A Catered Romance.” I added back a few curse words, added some wine drinking and one love scene, but I kept the book close to the Avalon version. I like my new cover better though.

Most of my books and all of my short stories (I’ve published a dozen short romance stories in women’s magazines) are set in places I know: Delaware, Philadelphia, the Delaware beaches, the New Jersey shore. My paranormal, “Cursed Mates,” from Noble Romance Publishing, is set in Maine. I visited Maine once and loved it. The Maine coast lends itself to scary stories. We all know Stephen King lives there. My romantic suspense, “Murder, Mi Amore,” from The Wild Rose Press, is set almost entirely in Italy. I’ve visited Italy twice and have relatives there. Every location in “Murder, Mi Amore” is authentic. The story ends in Las Vegas, where my son lives. I’ve been to Vegas many times. I’ve had success when I’ve written about places I know so maybe the old adage is correct.

I’m not saying authors should write only about places they have intimate knowledge of. Most authors do an excellent job of adding veracity to places they’ve never been. When I wrote that first book set in Wyoming, I didn’t have the skill to pull it off. The setting felt forced.

I don’t know if I’ll set another story in a place I’ve never visited. I’ve been writing long enough now that I believe I could make a Wyoming setting real. I want to rewrite that first book because I love Alec and my heroine Sabrina so much. They deserve a story. I’ll be sure Alec’s not so arrogant this time. Maybe I’ll set the story in the mean streets of Philadelphia where Alec can be a fish out of water, so to speak, rather than Sabrina, a New York decorator, being a fish out of water in Wyoming.

Here’s a fun fact. We refer to the beach area of Delaware as “the beach.” If you’re in northern Delaware, where I live, eighty miles from “the beach,” you’ll say, “I’m going to the beach.” But if you’re going to the New Jersey shore, no matter where you are, you say, “I’m going down the shore.” In New Jersey you only use the word beach when you are actually at the beach looking at the sand and ocean. A very clear distinction that we who live in the Philadelphia-Delaware region know.

I hope you enjoyed my little writing journey from Wyoming to Delaware. Please visit my website for information on my other books.

I’m on Facebook at:
On Twitter:!/CaraMarsi

“A Catered Romance” is sold exclusively at Amazon Kindle:

Below is an excerpt. Enjoy!

“Nice place you have here.”
Mary Beth jumped at the sound of the deep male voice behind her. Water from the pot she was filling sloshed onto the floor. She dropped the pot into the sink and jerked the faucet shut, then gripped the counter edge.
His voice. Richer, mellowed, smooth as the finest wine. Warming her with old memories, old yearnings. She was eighteen again. In love. Dreaming of a life by his side. Until he betrayed her.
Anger, like boiling water spilled on her lap, jolted her. Biting on her lip, she turned slowly to face Tom Sackett.
He filled the doorway, his masculine power reaching out, drawing her in as it always had. Despite his aristocratic breeding and elegantly tailored suit, he still had the look of the renegade about him. His thick black hair curled around his ears and trailed down his neck, a trifle too long. The hot, deep blue of his eyes scorched her.
Lifting her chin, she willed starch into her spine. “You're early,” she said, glancing at the clock. “The meeting isn't for another half hour. My partner's not here yet.”
He arched an eyebrow. “Hello to you too. That's not much of a greeting after twelve years.”
She placed a hand on her hip. “As I recall, our last meeting was less than cordial.”
His jaw tightened. “People change, Mary Beth.”
“Do they?”
“Believe it.” The determined set of his rugged features stopped any further argument. “Do you want to talk about it?”
“No.” She tugged on her braid, trying to gain control of her emotions. For the sake of her company, she wouldn't let her feelings interfere. “We have a business deal to negotiate. Nothing more.”
Tom's harsh features softened. He scanned her face, making her wonder if her tension showed. “You're more beautiful than I remember.”
Awareness and a flash of anger shot through her. She dug her nails into her palms. “Saving my company is my primary concern.”
“Mine too,” he said. “A businessman expects a return on his investment.” He strode into the kitchen with the confidence born of inherited wealth and family standing.
Squaring her shoulders, Mary Beth fought the onslaught of old hurts. She'd grown up in the years since he'd humiliated her. Her family might not have his social connections, but her poverty-stricken upbringing had made her strong. Strong enough to fight for her professional life and keep her pride -- and her heart - - intact.
“Coffee smells good. May I have a cup?” Tom straddled one of the high stools surrounding the white-tiled center counter.
Glad to do something to distract her from past memories and Tom's disturbing presence, she grabbed a heavy white mug from the cabinet and poured a steaming cup of vanilla almond coffee. “Just cream, right?”
“You remembered,” he said.
“A lucky guess.” She handed him the mug. His fingers grazed hers as he took it, sending heat racing up her arm.
She escaped to the opposite side of the kitchen and leaned against the counter edge. The citrus scent of his cologne lingered in her nostrils, stirring up the unwanted memory of their kiss at the formal. But the sweet kiss that had promised love and dreams fulfilled had been tainted with betrayal.

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