Today I'm so pleased to share with you a good friend and wonderful author, Sharon Cullen's latest book... His Saving Grace. I hope you will make her welcome and share some love!
His Saving Grace by Sharon Cullen
Perfect for fans of Mary Balogh, Sharon Cullen’s captivating novel tells the deeply emotional tale of two devoted lovers facing the ravages of war.
For months now, Lady Grace Ashworth has mourned the death of her beloved husband—until the day a very-much-alive Michael arrives at her front door. It’s nothing less than a miracle. However, Grace soon realizes that this Michael isn’t the same man who left for the Crimean War. She’s stunned to learn that he has suffered a devastating head injury. Putting all her own desires aside, Grace resolves to devote herself to Michael’s recovery and to love him no matter what troubles may come.
Convinced that his wife is wasting her time on a broken man, Michael attempts to shield Grace from a life of inconvenience by driving her away. But Grace will have none of that. Despite every obstacle Michael throws in her path, she stubbornly soldiers on, fighting not only for their marriage but for the love they once shared. In the end, will her determination alone be enough to save Michael from the darkness that threatens to consume him?
“I damaged my brain, Grace.” He let the words fall between them, knowing they would change things forever. Hating himself. Hating his injury. Hating war. Hating everything at the moment. Every moment of every day, he wished this hadn’t happened to him. He wished he could go back to that day and do something different, anything that would have changed the course of his life, even if that act had ended his life.
Praise for His Saving Grace
“Cullen writes an emotional and unique story about a couple’s journey to salvation. . . . Recommended for historical romance readers who appreciate feel-good, emotionally substantial, ‘love conquers all’ tales.”--Library Journal
“Cullen has marked herself as an author to watch.”--Publishers Weekly
“Heart-wrenching and full of real emotion, proving that love is always the answer, His Saving Grace is the best book I’ve read this year!”--USA Today bestselling author Bronwen Evans
Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00LKJHTMC?ie=UTF8&tag=randohouseinc-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B00LKJHTMC
Barnes and Noble - http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?ISBSRC=Y&ISBN=9780553391572&cm_mmc=Random%20House-_-His+Saving+Grace-RandomHouse-9780553391572-_-His+Saving+Grace-RandomHouse-9780553391572-_-His+Saving+Grace-RandomHouse-9780553391572
iBooks - https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/isbn9780553391572?at=11l3IH&ct=His+Saving+Grace-RandomHouse-9780553391572
Sharon Cullen is the author of The Notorious Lady Anne, Loving the Earl and Pleasing the Pirate. She’s also published in romantic suspense, paranormal romance and contemporary romance.
Her other job descriptions include chauffer, laundress, cook and mediator to her three very busy kids, her husband and two dogs. She lives in southwest Ohio with her brood although her dream is to someday retire to St. Maarten and live on the beach.
If you’d like to find out more about Sharon and her books, you can visit her website. She’s addicted to social networking so you can find her onFacebook and Twitter. Friend her! Like her! Follow her! She’d love to hang out with you and talk about her passion--books.
Sharon’s Social Media Links
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/SharonCullenAuthor
Twitter - @SharonCullen
Website – http://sharoncullen.net
Today is Christmas Eve and I'm thinking a lot about my hometown- Amherst, Ohio- and growing up! The holidays are very different now that I've grown up. Even more so since my children are now adults. Presents are mostly cash and gift cards. They have their own lives and commitments. Trying to juggle all their different visits and still getting in time together takes a master planner!
This brings me back to the past... When I was younger, we would have waited by the front window for Dad to get home from Christmas Eve Mass, then piled into the van to head to Grandma and Grandpa Watling's house. Grandma and Grandpa always had a spread for sandwiches and the most delicious Christmas cookies. Grandma had made her famous Sauerkraut Soup (which I never tried...just too scared). We sang songs and opened presents. Driving home in the dark, we "oohhed" and "awwwed" over the Christmas lights on the homes.
When I was older, we would go to our church for a midnight candlelight service. I have so many fond memories of St. John's Church. I grew up there. My family has donated items and their names are on books and pews. There's a display case of my Great Grandfather's World War 1 service. I'd even spent the night in the church with the youth group. The candlelight service is always beautiful and moving. But the Christmas morning service was one for the children. I remember going up on the "stage" to perform skits and sing songs. I remember decorating the giant tree. I even remember then many after funeral lunches we had there, each time a family member passed. Those church members were like a second family and always went all out.
You can see why I have such fond memories of my younger years. They were magical. These days, my holidays are bittersweet. My mom passed away sixteen years ago two days before Christmas. That changed my Christmas. We no longer head down to Ohio for Christmas Eve. We celebrate here instead. It's a much quieter time, especially with the children grown. I'm sure it will change again when grandkids come around.
What are your holiday traditions? What parts do you miss from your childhood? I wish you all the best!
Layer by layer, Talia peeled away his resistance.
Sean has spent five years cleaning up his life. He’s shoved his past behind him and built a profitable business in the town’s most popular dance club. Falling in love with a college sophomore wasn’t in his plans. But, from the moment he rescued Talia, she brings out his every protective instinct. He tries to resist getting involved on a personal level. Talia’s persistence, however, is stronger than his will.
Despite just ending an abusive relationship, Talia finds an instant connection with a man unlike any she’s dated before. Older, tattooed, and totally inappropriate for her, Talia couldn’t keep Sean off her mind, especially once he calls her “sweetheart” in that deep drawl of his.
When Talia is in danger, they discover just how strong their relationship is. Can Sean and his sweetheart make things last when horrors from their pasts come back to haunt them and family seems determined to keep them apart?
With his hand on the small of her back as a guide, he directed her out the back door to the service alley. He led her over to a big black Harley and held a helmet out to her.
“Uh…” A motorcycle? Why couldn’t he have a sports car or a truck? Of course a tattooed bartender would drive a motorcycle.
The smug look on his face made her want to prove his assumptions wrong. Prove to him she wasn’t a goody-goody, scared shitless to climb on top of a motor with wheels and fly down the road under someone else’s control.
“It’s this or you call someone.”
She snatched the helmet from his hand. Talia gave him the address and fiddled with the strap, trying to figure out how to adjust it. His hands came up to tighten it for her and their fingers brushed. She sucked in a deep breath at his touch. His low chuckle took that spark of anger and kindled it into a blaze of desire. With the street lamps behind him, she couldn’t read his expression. His hand closed over hers for a brief second before he jerked it away. He straddled the bike and pulled his own helmet on.
She climbed on behind him and he started the motor. Talia jumped at the sudden roar of the engine and clung tight to his broad back. His chest shook with laughter beneath her hands. Talia relaxed a bit as the bike moved and they didn’t crash. She slid her arms around his waist and started to enjoy the ride, to enjoy the feel of holding a man.
She’d never been on a motorcycle before. Had never wrapped her arms around a complete stranger like this, either. She didn’t know his name, but she knew the strength in his muscles and the rhythm of his breathing. When she hugged him tighter, her fingers slipped through the button placket on his shirt. Instead of removing her hand, she combed through the tangle of hair on his chest, surprising herself with her boldness. His hand dropped back to squeeze hers for a moment, but he didn’t pull her hand away.
The ride ended too soon when he rolled the bike to a stop in front of her house. She stumbled getting off the bike, but he caught her before she face-planted on the sidewalk. He even walked her up to the door and waited behind her on the porch while she tried to unlock it. Her trembling hand dropped the keys and he bent to grab them before she could react.
“My name’s Sean, by the way.” He unlocked the door for her and handed her keys back.
“Sean. That’s a very nice name. It fits you. I’m Talia.” Did he expect to come in? They had just met and she still had a boyfriend, at least until she could find the nerve to dump the jerk. She’d never been the cheating type.
He leaned one broad shoulder against the wall next to the door and stared down at her. Shadows hid part of his face from her, but his eyes glittered in the dim light.
Sean’s chest rumbled with a deep chuckle. “Would you’ve said the same thing if I’d told you that my name was Bruno?”
A giggle snuck out. Bruno? Not a chance Bruno would fit him.
Sean let Talia clasp his hand in her small soft one as she led him across the parking lot. He shouldn’t encourage her like this, but he couldn’t bear to dim her eyes with disappointment whenever he pulled his hand away. Her brother and father stood looking over the loaded pickup. They caught the tail end of an argument between Zane and his dad as they walked up.
Her father grunted. “That couch is damn heavy and once we go up and down those stairs twenty times with all those little boxes, we’re gonna be too tired to carry that couch upstairs. I swear the darn thing is made of lead.”
Releasing his hand, Talia wrapped her arms around her dad from behind in greeting. “Would it make you feel better if I said I brought someone to help with the heavy lifting, Daddy?”
The older man glared in response as Sean shook hands with Zane. He reminded the older man of his name and stuck his hand out in greeting. Her dad’s eyebrow rose, but didn’t offer his own hand in return. Well, alrighty then. Would it kill him to be polite?
The older man scowled at him and said simply, “Sam Richmond.” The overprotective father crap was getting old.
Zane broke the tension. “Okay, Dad, we will do it your way. Sean, you think you can handle one end of the couch while Dad and I get the other? It’s really heavy. I didn’t realize how heavy, until Dad and I were loading it by ourselves. I, for one, am glad you are here.”
He nodded and the three of them pulled the couch off the truck. Talia tried to help, but Sean told her to just grab a box, he didn’t need her underfoot when they went up the stairs. Zane snickered at the glare on her face, but didn’t comment on it until Talia stomped up the stairs ahead of them.
“You are a brave man, Sean. Brave, I say. You haven’t seen her temper yet, have you? She acts all sweet and shy, but she’s a little hellion when you piss her off. And I think you may have done just that.”
Sam chuckled at Zane’s words, but didn’t say anything as they carried the weighty couch up, pausing at each landing to angle it around the support posts in the breezeway.
Once they got it to the landing of the third floor, Sean could see Talia standing with her arms crossed outside the locked door of her brother’s apartment. She looked angry. Crap, Zane was right. He was in trouble. Where’d that spirit go when she was dating that asshat?
They eased the couch down next to the door and Zane dug the keys out of his pocket to unlock the door. Shoving past her brother, Talia snatched up her box and stomped inside. Sam laughed out loud. “Yup, she’s mad.”
Sean sighed and shook his head. Well, at least he’d made her dad laugh even if it was because he’d pissed Talia off. The heavy couch put up a hell of a fight going through the door. They finally battled it through and had to take a minute to catch their breath. The crashes and bangs coming from the kitchen made Sam and Zane both snicker.
Zane elbowed Sean, mock-whispering, “Good luck.”
When the other men started back down the stairs to get more boxes, Sean followed the noise to Talia. With her back to him, he watched as she slammed the cabinet door with such force it rattled.
“Hey, I didn’t mean to upset you out there,” he murmured. As he laid his hand on the small of her back, she tensed at his touch.
“You said I was in your way. Do I look like a child? Or maybe you think I am too stupid to get out of the way?” Her eyes flashed in anger as she spun to face him.
“Now, I never said that. I just didn’t want you to get hurt, that’s all.”
“I thought you were different, Sean. Caleb always treated me like I was too stupid to breathe on my own, and I won’t go through that again. I can’t.”
“I really didn’t mean it like that. I should have phrased it differently, I can see that now. I’m sorry.” He didn’t get how he’d called her stupid, but he enjoyed seeing this side of her. He’d have to piss her off more often if she’d look at him like that. It was a heck of a turn-on for her to be confident enough to stand up to him. He liked his women to have some spunk. Damn, she’s gorgeous when all worked up. He wondered if her eyes filled with such fire when she made love.
He moved closer and she retreated in response until she bumped into the counter. Tilting forward and placing his hands on the granite next to her hips, he surrounded Talia with his arms. He whispered low in her ear, “Anyone ever tell you how stunning you are when you are mad? Your eyes are sparkling and so damn expressive. Sweetheart, you’re really making me forget that we need to be just friends.”
He nuzzled her throat, inhaling her sweet scent. Her hands reached up to fiddle with the button placket on his shirt. When she leaned toward him, he knew she’d forgiven him. She shuddered and he pulled back to look at her. When she licked her lips, he couldn’t take it anymore. Fuck being just friends. He needed to taste her again. Groaning, he bent his head toward hers. A mere second before his lips touched hers Zane kicked the door open and walked in with another box.
Biggest cock-block ever.
As a busy mother of five, Allie sneaks time to write between breakfast and tickles. Always a Kentucky girl at heart, she currently makes her home near Nashville.
Karen Schroeder made the choice to be a politician. Her local success has caught the eyes of her party and sheâs suddenly thrust into the national stage. She knows how to play the game and exactly who she needs to be, even if itâs not who she really is.
Sarah Lindstrom has never questioned her feelings, even when they made her believe her girlfriend would say yes to her proposal instead of breaking up with her. When she sees Karen Schroeder campaigning the rush of attraction is undeniable. Sarah knows sheâs been wrong before, but her feelings for Karen overwhelm any apprehension for this woman whoâs trapped in the closet.
As the relationship grows Sarah learns love can be the painful when the one you love can only be herself with the door is closed. More importantly her love of Karen could cost her everything sheâs worked for. Can love bloom when hidden in the dark?
Karenâs heart pumped hard as she heard the woman explain her business, the plans, the hard work it must have been. Her blue eyes, though tired when Karen first arrived, were now alive and surrounded by blonde lashes and sun kissed skin.
âIâm Karen by the way,â she said as she extended her hand. âI donât think we were properly introduced.â
âYou mean your first name isnât Representative?â the woman smiled and gently held Karenâs hand. There was no firm Iâm-sure-of-myself squeeze or awkward sweaty palm. It was soft, inviting, and had Karen stepping closer. âIâm Sarah, Sarah Lindstrom.â
âItâs very nice to meet you, Sarah. I hope you have a lot of success with your school.â Karen didnât want to break the connection. She couldnât. Her hand stayed nestled in Sarahâs as her lips began to tingle.
Sarah nervously wet her lips and Karen leaned closer, then remembered her surroundings.
âIâm sorry,â she said as she pulled away and moved to the other side of the table.
âYou areâ¦ arenât you?â Sarah asked as her hands rested on the table in front of her.
âAre what?â Karenâs breath quickened and the fear of outing herself came back. The gut ache between her want and need to take Sarah in her arms and explore every inch, and throwing away everything sheâd worked hard to construct.
âA closeted Republican.â
Karen looked around to see if anyone was hearing their conversation. Sweat beaded on her forehead and the heat of the day finally hit her as her head swum.
âIâve never heard it put that way,â she finally replied when sheâd convinced herself no one was listening. âCan I please sit in that chair?â she asked.
âYes,â Sarah said as she dug in a cooler under the table and fished out a cold bottle of water. âYou okay?â
âIâll be fine,â Karen assured as she took a drink from the bottle and felt the cold rush through her system. Fuck, fuck, fuck.
âI didnât mean to knock you off balance. It wasâ¦ Mandy justâ¦ Mandy said I wasnât allowed to daydream about a straight Republican. I guess now Iâll be allowed to have my fantasies.â
The words rolled from Sarahâs lips and sparked Karen into her own fantasies, her own desires. The ones she had to keep hidden from the world. Only a few women had touched her and those had been ones with something to lose too. She dreamed of the day she could hold the woman she loved in public. Everyday going to work during the protests on the capitol steps, she caught herself looking longingly at the couples proud together. Then Ashton would take her hand and guide her to her office. Alone in there sheâd cry until she needed to have a brave face again.
âWhoâs the man candy you have protecting you?â
âI canât talk about thisâ¦here.â She didnât know why she hesitated, but she wanted to tell Sarah more. She wanted to have Sarah in her life. It was a rush sheâd never felt before, even with the other women.
âIâve got twenty minutes before they close the doors and I can lock up.â Sarah looked at her watch and let out a light laugh. âI know it sounds bad, butâ¦ will you meet me behind the barn at nine?â
Sarah was so sure of herself and who she was. Openly discussing a girlfriend without vetting Karen to make sure her secret wasnât going to hit the front page. A warmth tingled through Karenâs core at the strength of self Sarah had to have and how that would translate in other areas.
âIâ¦ umâ¦ itâs justââ
âYou canât come out and play. I gotcha.â
âItâs not that. Anyone Iâm with has to understand my belief system on ninety-nine percent of the platform is Republican. I need this to go no further than you and I.â
âYou havenât said anything, I have, and youâve neither confirmed or denied my accusations. Very good, Representative Schroeder.â Sarah sat back and locked her eyes on Karenâs. âBut you caught my eye across a field where there were mini-doughnuts, cheese curds and funnel cake. Thatâs saying something. And we both know a few minutes ago you were less than an inch from kissing me. That says something too.â
Sarah flipped her phone between her fingers as if that would make it ding with a voicemail or text message. Stalking wasnât her favorite past time, and Karen had warned her this week sheâd be a bit out of touch, but it had been two days since the softball game. With a loud sigh she let the phone drop to the table and began spinning it like a top.
âYou ready to go?â Mandy asked as she pulled her long dark hair into a misshapen bun that still had hair unclaimed in the binder.
âHuh?â Sarah replied, knocked from her deep thoughts.
âOur supplies are all in. You know weâre supposed to spend our days off and the weekends to set up our classrooms.â
âYeah, I know.â
Mandy took the seat across from Sarah at the table.
âNot even a K to my last text.â
âThat reporter must have really spooked her.â
âI guess.â Sarah rested her head on her hand with her elbow bent on the table. âItâs justâ¦ I donât get it.â
âWhat was that?â Mandy asked as she looked around the room and behind her back. âCan you hear it?â
âHear what?â Sarah strained as she attempted to hear the strange sound.
âThe âtold ya soâ fairy. Sheâs sprinkling told ya so dust everywhere.â
âI hate youâ¦ I really, really hate you.â
âI know, but umâ¦ told ya so.â She then reached across the table and brushed her finger on Sarahâs nose and Sarah slapped her away. âYou had a little on your nose.â
âI am dating a Republican which means I now have my permit to carry,â Sarah growled in warning.
âI call bullshit, but that was a good one.â Mandy got up and poured the last of the coffee into a travel mug, then turned and leaned against the counter. âSo, I assume a shower is out, but could you get out of your jammies?â
A half hour later Sarah was unpacking polynomial squares and bead chains. Arranging each item in its place, she tried to let the dayâs work distract her. Itâs not like she didnât have tons to do also. She was busy and it was good that Karen wasnât clingy and in need of her constant attention and approval. Steeling her emotions away, Sarah tried to come to grips with the first major hiccup in the relationship. Not the first. Signs had been there all along, but sheâd been blind to them. Just like always.
Even now she craved Karen. She needed her arms to keep her warm. It was as bad as Lisa leaving. The person she wanted to hold her was the one who broke her heart. What was wrong with her?
Luke rushed into the room and jumped on her back.
âHey Auntie Sarah,â he cooed. âI can call you that when there isnât school right?â
âYes sweetie.â She patted his little arms around her neck.
Behind him Mary Beth carried a fruit tray from a local supermarket and a pint of pistachio ice cream.
âIâm not that bad off.â Sarah passed Luke a thousand and hundred cube so he could place them on their shelf.
âNot what Iâve heard.â Mary Beth passed the ice cream and spoon to her. âI heard youâve been unpacking the same box for the past hour.â
âHave you ever put together the bead case?â
âNo, but honey youâre dating a very busy person. There will be times when you canât see her for weeks at a time.â
âThat doesnât make me feel better.â Sarah lay back on the floor and stared at the ceiling. âWeeks?â
âYou met her in the calm before the storm.â
âIf that was the calm Iâm not going to handle the storm.â Sarah looked at her friend right as her head got pulled into her Mary Bethâs lap. âA few times a week, and half the time she was on the phone or computer.â
Mary Beth ran her fingers through Sarahâs hair to soothe her. When Sarah closed her eyes she felt a tear escape. A hard lump formed in her throat as she turned and curled against Mary Bethâs leg. She never cried for Lisa. Sheâd been shocked, but a part of her was relieved. Their relationship had come to a point where they needed to move it forward or end it. She chose the path sheâd been raised to take. Her parents had had struggles, but always came through stronger than before. She had been raised to not give up on someone, but maybe this time sheâd need to let go.
Michel Prince is an author who graduated with a bachelor degree in History and Political Science. Michel writes new adult and adult paranormal romance as well as contemporary romance.
With characters yelling "It's my turn damn it!!!" She tries to explain to them that alas, she can only type a hundred and twenty words a minute and they will have wait their turn. She knows eventually they find their way out of her head and to her fingertips and she looks forward to sharing them with you.
When Michel can suppress the voices in her head she can be found at a scouting event or cheering for her son in a variety of sports. She would like to thank her family for always being in her corner and especially her husband for supporting her every dream and never letting her give up.
Michel has been awarded Elite Status with Rebel Ink Press in 2013, the service award for her local RWA chapter Midwest Fiction Writers and is a Pro member of RWA. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband, son, cat and new puppy.
Website-Michel Prince Books
Choice Affairs (Book #2-Southern Heat Series)
Choice Affairs - Blurb
Political intrigue, new marriage, dark secrets.
How will Apolo and Caitlyn face the Washington fishbowl?
How far can Apolo push his bride in the sensual arena?
Encore! - Excerpt
"Apolo, who are you calling?" I inquired, as though I didn't know.
"Your mother! I've been more than patient with the woman. I've overlooked things she has said or done that ordinarily I wouldn't. She was the entire reason we waited to start preparations. So that she would be safely back in Ireland. Now, less than a week out, she decides to ignore everything we implored upon her not to do. She's selfish, Caitlyn. The woman thinks of no one but herself, and it stops now."
I bit my lip, trying desperately not to smile. That wouldn't be a good thing to do right now. Apolo Choice did not tolerate anyone, not even family, doing as my mother just had.
He caught my amusement anyway. "What?" he bellowed, his eyes dark and menacing.
"Are you done ranting?"
"No! I'm just getting started. She has to be taught a lesson, and I know the perfect way to get her attention. While I'm doing that, I want you to get Izzie and Eloise on the line. The four of us have some meddling-mother-of-the-bride counter attacks to plan out."
"What are you up to, Apolo?" I gazed warily at him as he found my mother's number and let the games begin.
That's what I was afraid ofâApolo Choice and my mother, Susan Pickett White, having a blow up mere days before our wedding. I sat, grimacing, waiting for her to pick up. Or would she? As savvy as my mother was, she was probably screening her calls, anticipating Apolo's response.
"Susan," he bellowed into the phone. "What in the name of hell were you thinking this morning? Going on some gossip show and telling the world every detail of our wedding. How dare you! Now, Iâve called to tell you that the ceremony is off. Thanks to you, the one day we asked for privacy has been ruined."
He stood, facing me, listening to my mother pleading. He was obviously having great fun toying with her.
"No, you may not speak to Caitlyn. Your daughter is too distraught by your selfishness to talk to anyone at the moment. I merely thought I'd let you know first-hand that the wedding has been cancelled. But you know, come to think of it, perhaps I should have gone on one of those shows you seem to relish and announced it to the entire world. Now, if you'll excuse me."
He hung up on my mother. Not many live to tell about doing that.
"So, can you tell me about the suits? What's going on?"
"I'll leave that to Apolo to share."
The smell of pizza and a deep voice, invaded our space. "Let Apolo share what?"
"Apolo, you sly devil. You steal Caitlyn and bring her to the land of dirty bedfellows. Shame on you!" Izzie loved to tease him, had since they first met. Thank goodness, he didn't mind.
He brought the box over and placed it on the coffee table. He glanced at us both, leaning over and kissing me first. "Pizza? I thought you went out to get things to cook?"
"I did. Izzie wanted pizza so that we could talk instead."
He sighed, shaking his head. He removed his suit jacket and laid it over one of the chairs while he walked over and poured himself a glass of whiskey. I knew what he was thinking. If Iz and I had discussed it before she left, I wouldn't have had to go out. Thus, no accosting by brothers. "Have you brought Izzie up to speed on what's been going on around here?" he asked taking a sip of his drink.
"Only about my mother. I thought I'd leave the rest to you to tell."
"Yeah," Izzie chimed in. "What's with all the suits, Apolo? I know you're a big cheese now Jacob was obviously speaking with FBI or something."
Apolo sat down across from us and took a long pull off his whiskey, almost downing the glass. He told Izzie pretty much everything that had happened to me with Tom and Anthony. I could see the look of concern on his face. We hadn't had any time together since it'd happened.
Izzie's eyes grew wide in disbelief. "This is some stuff. I knew Tom has always been shady. We've all known it. But Anthony?"
"Yes, I'm afraid so. I've been having him watched for a while now. Something about when he opened his restaurant never smelled right, if you'll forgive the pun. The people he was hanging out with. His answers never added up."
Just then Jacob and two men appeared off the elevator. Apolo rose and, taking his drink, went to meet them. "Ladies, if you'll excuse me. I need to speak with these gentlemen. We'll use my office. Enjoy your pizza."
Izzie and I watched the foursome disappear from sight.
"Damn, Caiti. This is like all James Bond-y."
"Welcome to the world of Senator Apolo Choice, Izzie."
Writing romance stories with passion and sass, Jamie Salisbury has seen several of her books soar to #1 on Amazon. Her novella, Tudor Rubato was a finalist in the 2012 RONE (Reward of Novel Excellence) awards. The cover won for Best Contemporary Cover. Now in 2014, her novel, Life and Lies was nominated for a RONE in the Erotica category. Her books are both self published and now include several published through Secret Cravings Publishing.
Music, traveling and history are among her passions when not writing. Her previous career in public relations in and around the entertainment field has afforded her with a treasure trove of endless story ideas.
NORTY OR NICE
What happens when Santa’s ‘nice daughter’ Natalie decides she’s had enough of mucking out reindeer stalls and attempts living life on the ‘norty’ side?
Answer…her guardian Rudy decides, once and for all, to take Natalie Claus in his more than capable—hands. To show her that she can be the naughty girl she desires to be, but only with him. When she discovers the beast inside of him, will she run away or harness him to her?
With a tinkling of bells and plenty of snogging under the mistletoe, Rudy unleashes a side to Natalie that she has never felt before. Join this couple on the ride of their life as the good girl finally finds her naughty side.
Love and laughter await Natalie on the sleigh ride of romance, but is everyone who they appear to be?
“I wish just for one Christmas, I could be the naughty one and get away with it like my sister does!”
As she said her wish out loud, a shooting star crossed the sky, landing with a whoosh and hiss in the cold snow. Natalie pulled up her long red dress and trudged through the deep piles to where a small crater had melted a well through the snow. Using her rarely-used power of frost, she cooled the piece of metal lying there with her breath and watched as her magic turned it from something grey and unformed into a glittering frost necklace, interspersed with red jewels. Natalie picked it up and placed it around her neck. A feeling of recklessness surged through her. With a click of her fingers, Natalie Claus disappeared.
Natalie was single-minded as she attempted a confident walk over to where the object of her planned seduction stood. She smiled to herself, wondering if anyone there realized that the virginal daughter of Father Christmas was walking amongst them, let alone that the bad one was. Natalie looked back at where her sister had been.
“She’s gone again,” Natalie whispered under her breath. Pulling herself together, she wobbled slightly on the high heels and concentrated on putting one foot in front of another without falling over. Heel, toe. Heel, toe...Hello? Natalie’s head snapped back and she looked up, up and up. He towered over her, the hint of a smile on his full lips as his amber gaze met her green sparkling one.
“Can I help you?” His voice was deep and rough. The sound of it sent jolts of excitement through Natalie’s untried body.
“Yes, you can,” she said in a breathy soft tone. The man leaned down so he could hear her speak. As he did, Natalie seized her chance. She reached up on tip-toe and placed her lips on his. At his lack of response, Natalie pulled away. She turned on her heel. Rather wobbly and mortified, she fled as fast as her short legs would let her, grabbing the bottle of champagne from the bar.
“Look at me, Nat, look at me!”
Her head snapped back. His eyes were dark brown, hinting at suppressed anger.
“I am not a thing,” he told her. “I am your lover and your mate. You and I have been destined to be together since you were born.”
“That’s rot,” Natalie spat back, trying to get out of his arms.
“Really? Look at this, then.” Pulling her to a mirror, he pointed out a small red heart shape above her breast. On Rudy’s chest, there was an identical mark. “This only happens when two mates become one. Which you and I did just now.”
“Impossible. It’s wrong on so many levels. You aren’t human,” Natalie cried.
“I am human. I am your protector, your lover. The other half of you,” Rudy insisted. “I take the form of a reindeer to protect you. The heart that beats here…” He took her hand, pressing it against his chest. “…It’s human, like yours is. I just come with something extra.” When he loosened his grip on her, Natalie stole her chance.
“And I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life mucking out your stable?”
Clicking her fingers, Natalie Claus disappeared in a glimmer of snowflakes.
Amanda Ward lives in Bedfordshire, England with her husband, three children and two insane cats. The expression ‘What you see is what you get’, sums her up perfectly.
She is the author of the novel Without Saying A Word with Books To Go Now and The MisAdventures of Pann Haggerty with Secret Cravings Publishing. She is a member of the Romance Novelists Association (RNA). There is always some moment waiting around the corner to be written into a novel.
Her interests include a passion for history, romance novels, cooking, and science fiction. Of course not forgetting the great and wonderful Doris Day musicals.
A perfect afternoon for Amanda would be a pot of tea, plenty of biscuits with a Doris Day film on the telly. Shared with great friends and her amazingly tolerant mother in law.
Find out more about Amanda and her manic life at www.amandajward.weebly.com
Hello Karen and thank you for visiting today. Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a New York Timesand USA Today bestselling author, a former college English instructor (The Ohio State University) and high school literature and writing teacher. Lifelong Ohioans, my husband Don and I divide our time between the midwest and the southeast, both locations I have used in my books. Besides my American settings, I love the British Isles, where my Scottish and English roots run deep, and where I have set many of my historical Tudor-era mysteries and my historical novels about real and dynamic British women. My books have been published in many foreign languages and I won the Mary Higgins Clark Award for 2005. I have given numerous talks to readers and writers across the county.
Thanks! Yea! Go Buckeyes! I was born in Ohio and have been living in Michigan for the last 20 years...It's dangerous to be a Buckeye fan in Wolverine territory! It sounds like you have an interesting life. Now on to some personal questions.
1. If you could go back in time to when you were seven years old, what wisdom or advice would you pass on to yourself?
When I was seven, my family moved and I went to a new school in a new town. I can’t say I was unhappy, but it was hard at first, so I would tell seven-year-old Karen to just hang in there, make new friends, give the new place time. I was blessed to have both sets of grandparents where we moved, though. I was close to both my grandmothers and that helped to tide me over during the transition of friends, homes and schools.
2. For what are you grateful?
I am grateful for so many things, I could write an entire book on that. Although I love foreign travel, I’m blessed to live in America. Of course, I treasure my family and friends, church and faith. And I’m ever grateful I’ve had two great careers, teaching English and then writing fiction. If I ever wrote an autobiography, I’d call it BLESSED or SIGNED WITH LOVE.
3. If a zombie virus took over the world, how many days do you think you could last before you were infected? And what would you do to postpone the inevitable?
I’d hide out and write! And pray! I am not a zombie fan, and the word virus has such frightening meaning today. Who ever imagined something like ebola?
4. What’s your favorite thing to do to relax?
I grow African violets, although I haven’t yet entered them in any shows. During growing seasons in Ohio, I help my husband with our veggie garden—tomatoes, peppers and herbs, mostly. My 93-year-old mother lives nearby, and I spend as much time as I can with her. She loves to read and can still handle regular-sized print!
Let’s find out a little bit about you as an author.
5. Did you always want to be an author?
I wanted to be a music teacher until junior high, when my love of reading and writing took over. Of course at that stage of my life, I never thought I could write books—however much I loved to read—so I decided to be an English teacher. I did that for 15 years at the high school level and 2 years at the university level (Ohio State University) but began to write, then switched to writing full time.
6. What authors had an impact on you growing up and as an adult?
Charlotte Bronte, since I love her characters in JANE EYRE. Shakespeare since I taught his plays for years and since I wrote a book about the love of his life (not his wife!) in MISTRESS SHAKESPEARE. And King David from the BIBLE because I love the beautiful, inspiring poetry inThe Book of Psalms. No matter what I write about, it seems there’s always a quote from Psalmsthat perfectly ties in to the good or evil I write about in my rom/sus novels.
7. Do you have any “must haves” with you while you’re writing?
I do like to have it quiet. I have writer friends who have to have a certain kind of music, but especially if I can hear music I know the words to, I can’t write. My desk does face a blank wall, though the other walls of my office have book covers and family photos. I do try to move around every half hour of so to avoid stiff neck or back problems, but time seems to fly when I’m “in a book.”
8. What have you learned the most from being in the writing business?
I like the wording of this question, because I have learned writing (at least to be published) is a business! Authors can’t just be in their ivory towers, but they need to promote and reach out to readers—which I love. I like doing meet-and-greet events and enjoy blogging like this. I have a new facebook page I’m getting familiar with, so please drop in atwww.facebook.com/KarenHarperAuthor or visit my website at www.KarenHarperAuthor.com
9. Tell us about your latest release: (blurb, excerpt, cover)
I’ve had such fun (and some sleepless nights) writing THE COLD CREEK TRILOGY: SHATTERED SECRETS, FORBIDDEN GROUND and BROKEN BONDS. Three very different sisters are the heroines who each “star” in one of the books. I think the novels are a good blend of romance and suspense—those two genres go well together, because it can be dangerous to fall in love and trust someone else. I do promise a happy ending, but getting there is scary and sexy.
10. How did you decide on your story plot?
I can’t really explain how plot ideas evolve for me. They grow out of character and setting. The backstory and career of the heroine dictates a lot, the same for the hero. Although I have a general idea of the story I share with my editor before I write, a lot of the story actually occurs to me as I write. I have taken plots from real events at times, but the plots seem more to just grow as I go.
11. How did you choose your characters names and location for your story?
I love the area the book is set in—the edge of Appalachia. I spent four years near this area in my first four years of college. The area is beautiful but dangerous, perfect for a romantic suspense story. Also, I love small towns, and Cold Creek is one with tensions and secrets—and a fascinating hero who finally meets his match in Charlene Lockwood. I must admit I created Cold Creek, but based it on a town in the area I know well. I find it easier to put fictional people in a fictional town.
12. Do you have a favorite scene? Why?
I am a sucker for reunion or happily-ever-after scenes, especially after much danger and desire. I must admit my favorite scene, especially in BROKEN BONDS, is the last scene.
Let our readers know how they can get a hold of you… See my answer to question #8. I love to hear from readers!
Is there anything else that you want to share…feel free!!
Just that I love my work and feel blessed to be able to say that. I’ve been making up stories in my head and closely observing people’s lives for as long as I can remember.
Once a reader asked me and another author (The other writer was very elderly—she had even known Margaret Mitchell when she worked for The Atlanta Constitution!) “Where do you writers get your ideas?” I was going to give my school teacher type answer that I get ideas off the page (reading for fun or research) or off the wall (meaning anywhere I stumble on them.)
But the other writer said very loudly, “Honey, you’re either born with ideas or you’re not!” And she was right. People have different talents and gifts. For fiction writers, it’s always having a story or character or dialogue or place or plot idea knocking around in your mind to get out. I hope I used that well in the trials and triumphs of the three Lockwood sisters and the men they love in THE COLD CREEK TRILOGY.
Three very different sisters…
Three desirable, dangerous men…
Three endangered lives…
THE COLD CREEK TRILOGY is set in Appalachia in a small town where the enemy is us.
Haunted by the past…
Cold Creek is a place with a dark history, especially for the Lockwoods. Now adults, the three Lockwood sisters are still recovering from the events that led to the destruction of their family when they were children. Determined to move forward, Tess and Kate are making fresh starts, ready to put bad—even deadly—memories to rest and settle happily in the small but booming town. And they're hoping their older sister, Charlene, can do the same.
Char is back in town seeking comfort as she figures out her next move. A social worker used to difficult situations, she soon runs afoul of some locals who think she's sticking her nose where it doesn't belong. She's certain something sinister is being covered up, and when she witnesses Matt Rowan being run off the road, she knows she's right.
Working together, Matt and Char figure uncovering the truth will be dangerous, but living in Cold Creek won't be safe for any of them until its secrets are revealed.
For More Information
“Harper, a master of suspense, keeps readers guessing about crime and love until the very end.” --Booklist, starred review on Fall from Pride.
Publication date: 8/26/2014
Series: Cold Creek Series , #1
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shattered-secrets-karen-harper/1117716201?ean=9780778316473
“Masterfully drawing the reader in, Harper has delivered the best, once again.” --Suspense Magazine on Upon a Winter’s Night.
Publication date: 10/28/2014
Series: Cold Creek Series , #2
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/forbidden-ground-karen-harper/1118656156?ean=9780778316701
As she made the next sharp turn, Char gasped. A white truck with Lake Azure, Inc. painted on its side was tipped nearly off the cliff, right where the school bus stopped for the kids who lived above. She’d heard a horn honk long and loud a few minutes earlier. Maybe the truck missed the last turn and spun out, since its rear, not its front, was dangling over the edge, propped up by two trees. No other vehicle was nearby to help.
She put her emergency blinkers on and pulled as close to the cliff face as she could. She jumped down from her truck and ran across the road toward the truck. A man was inside!
“What should I do?” she shouted, her voice shrill. It sounded like a stupid question. She had to get the man out of his truck before it crashed over the edge.
The bitter, strong wind ripped at her hair and jacket. What if a blast of air tipped him off? Or maybe even if he moved. She’d swear the two tree trunks that held his truck were shaking as hard as she was.
She could hear the engine was still running. The driver opened an automatic window.
“A guy in a truck shoved me off,” he shouted. “Meant to. I don’t have any traction. I’m afraid if I shift my weight or open a door to jump out, I’ll send it over.”
The fact someone had done this on purpose stunned her. What was going on? If her cell phone worked up here, she’d call her brother-in-law, the county sheriff, for help, but she was on her own. It wouldn’t help to go back up for help from Elinor and Penny.
“Don’t move until I get something you can hang on to if the truck goes. I have some jump ropes I can tie together. Those trees are shaky.”
“I’m shaky. Hurry!”
She ran to her truck and knotted together the three jump ropes she had, tying square knots because she knew they would hold. But she’d never be able to balance the man’s weight if the truck went over the edge.
“I’ve got ropes here, but I’ll have to tie the end to a tree. I don’t dare drive close enough to you to tie it to my truck. It would never stretch that far.”
She knotted it around the trunk of a pine tree that looked sturdy enough, though that almost took the length of one rope. This wasn’t going to work.
A grinding sound, then a crunch reverberated as the truck seemed to jerk once then settled closer to the cliff edge.
“Now or never!” he shouted and opened his door fast.
Karen Harper is giving away 10 SETS OF THE COLD CREEK TRILOGY!a Rafflecopter giveaway
An Almost Perfect Christmas
Is love enough to make their Christmas perfect?
As Pam Kimball and her computer geek boyfriend, Roger Ware, prepare to celebrate their first Christmas together, Pam is having doubts about their relationship. Roger can barely stop working at his new software business long enough to join her under the tree. And when he does, her present to him backfires, bringing their lovemaking plans to a crashing halt. So when Roger announces his plans to leave after Christmas to visit his family have changed and he won’t be back for New Year’s Eve, Pam fears the worst. Does the man she loves really care for her, or might a break-up be her present this Christmas Eve? Will there be enough magic in the air to turn this disastrous Christmas into a perfect one?
Pam Kimball sat in front of their small but full Christmas tree, mashing down the tape on the festive green and red holly wrapping paper, finishing the final present, thank God. She grabbed the last bow, bright blue that didn’t go with the paper, but the only one left in the bag. The thought counted, not the wrapping, right? She placed the gift under the tree on top of the small mountain of presents she had gotten her boyfriend.
“Come on, Roger. Christmas Eve is almost over and we haven’t opened our gifts yet.” She checked the clock on the wall beside the front door. Eleven thirty-five. Still enough time. She leaned forward and dug through the pile, searching for the right box.
“Be there in a second, babe.” The hushed, absent-minded tone carried from the dining room where her boyfriend sat at his computer, eyes glued to the screen as they had been all night.
“That’s what you said an hour ago,” she mumbled, then seized the big square package she had been looking for and carefully pulled it from the bottom of the heap. “Now, Roger Ware. Or you’re going to be sorry!” She added a playful lilt to the last word. This was their first Christmas as a couple and she was determined it would be perfect.
She had helped decorate his small apartment by putting up the tree, draping woodland garland around the living room, lighting a scented candle with a balsam fragrance, and even putting electric candles in the two windows. Now the room glowed with a romantic aura, lit by the candles and the twinkling white lights of the Christmas tree. The local cable company had even cooperated by playing White Christmas starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. Her absolute favorite Christmas movie. She breathed deeply, waiting for magic to happen.
“I’m here. I’m here. Where’s the fire?” Roger plopped his tall frame down next to her. Dressed in an old dark blue flannel shirt and jeans he looked good enough to eat.
“Right here.” She grabbed his face, pulling his lips onto hers. Tingles shot down her arms—always did every time he kissed her. He settled his arms around her and drew her closer. His tongue thrust into her mouth, probing her with bold sweeps. Pam moaned and clutched him, pressing against his chest until he toppled backward onto the carpet with her on top.
He disengaged their mouths long enough to say, “We should have started this in the bedroom.”
“Oh, we’re heading there.” In the two months that they’d been dating, most of their evenings had ended with them making love. One of her favorite things to do was to get him all hot and bothered. Like now. She ground her hips against his and was rewarded with a groan from above and hardness from below. “But you need to open a present first.”
“But it’s not Christmas yet.” He ran his hands down her sides, under her jeans to cup her butt. “Can I open this one?”
Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical and contemporary romance. She has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager. A romantic herself, she has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise. She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories. She lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets. When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director. She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage.
Jenna is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America as well as President of Chesapeake Romance Writers, her local chapter of RWA. Her debut novel, Only Scandal Will Do, is the first in her House of Pleasure series, set in Georgian London. Only Marriage Will Do, the second book in the series, is set to release in 2015 from Kensington. Her medieval serial novel, Time Enough to Love: Betrothal, Betrayal, and Beleaguered, is a Romeo & Juliet-esque tale, set at the time of the Black Death.
She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.
Musings from Michigan