Samanthe Beck, Author of EMERGENCY ATTRACTION (Love Emergency #3) Talks About Romantic Grand Gestures

Samanthe Beck is back, and she’s quoting one of my most favoritest (that’s for you, Mom. Yep, I was an English teacher!) grand gestures EVER. Read on!

Hello, and huge THANK YOU to Becky for having me back on her blog. As usual, I have nothing helpful to say about quilts, (other than I could easily spend an entire day wrapped in one), so I’m going to stick to books.

I feel like the meet-cute has gotten a lot of attention lately, and I do loves me a good meet-cute, but I’d like to shine the spotlight on the grand gesture…the grovel…the point just before the happy-ever-after, where someone says and/or does just the right thing to win the other person’s heart. When I write, I aim to make the grand gesture the most satisfying moment in the romance. A simple goal, but trust me, it’s not always easy.  If you’re familiar with ‘80’s movies, I’ll show you what I mean.

Ever encountered a story where the grand gesture comes from the wrong character?  No matter how amazing it is, you can’t get behind it because you’re really thinking, “No fair! Why is she rushing after him, when he’s the one who acted like a jerk and pushed her away? He should be chasing after her!” You’ve seen “Pretty in Pink.” You know what I’m talking about.

Same problem if the gesture just isn’t…grand. They’re together. The right character has made the effort and put herself out there. Sort-of. Sometimes it feels like big issues just poofed away in a magical cloud of I-love-you’s, and you’re like, “Um, did she choose him over her disapproving father, or is he basically the guy she turned to now that dad’s incarcerated? “Say Anything”? Amirite?

But when the author gets everything perfect, that grand gesture will deliver all the feels before it melts your heart into a big puddle of “awwwww.” Go watch “When Harry Met Sally.” Okay, I’ll summarize. He runs into the New Year’s Eve party, kisses her senseless, and tells her he loves her. It might have been too pat. Too easy. Another example of a not grand enough gesture, but she calls him on it, and this is what happens:

***

SALLY: I’m sorry Harry, I know it’s New Year’s Eve, I know you’re feeling lonely, but you just can’t show up here, tell me you love me and expect that to make everything alright. It doesn’t work this way.

HARRY: Well how does it work?

SALLY: I don’t know but not this way.

HARRY: Well how about this way. I love that you get cold when it’s seventy one degrees out, I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich, I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts, I love that after I spend a day with you I can still smell your perfume on my clothes and I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Years Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of the life to start as soon as possible.

***

Daaayum!

In my latest book, Emergency Attraction, my hero and heroine have both made mistakes with each other in the past. My hero, reformed bad-boy Shane, wants a second chance with the girl that got away, but my heroine, Sinclair, is sticking firm to her “Been there, done that, got the scars to prove it” position. She’s not up for risking her heart on him again. Shane’s in win-her-back mode for most of the story, and he’s got his work cut out for him. His grand gesture has to be BIG!

Does he pull it off? You’ll have to be the judge, but all I’m saying is he’s ready to move heaven and earth—or in Sinclair’s case, bricks and boards—to earn her heart, and he makes sure she knows it.  And if yours melts into a puddle at that scene, hey, I warned you!

Do you know where we can get a copy of EMERGENCY ATTRACTION? I hear it’s a must-read! Maybe we could ask that guy hiding over in personal growth…?

Author Bio:

Wine lover, sleep fanatic, and USA Today Bestselling Author of sexy contemporary romance novels, Samanthe Beck lives in Malibu, California, with her long-suffering but extremely adorable husband and their turbo-son. Throw in a furry ninja named Kitty and Bebe the trash talking Chihuahua and you get the whole, chaotic picture.

When not dreaming up fun, fan-your-cheeks sexy ways to get her characters to happily-ever-after, she searches for the perfect cabernet to pair with Ambien.

Website: www.samanthebeck.com
Twitter: @SamantheBeck1
Facebook: www.facebook/samanthebeckwriter/
Instagram: samanthebeck

 I reviewed EMERGENCY ATTRACTION here, in case you missed it 🙂

Synopsis:

Ten years ago when Shane Maguire chose the Marines as his escape from some trouble of his own making, he only regretted one thing—leaving Sinclair Smith behind. Despite his best intentions, she ended up as the one that got away. Now he’s back, determined to reclaim everything he gave up, including Sinclair.

Sinclair is immune to Shane’s charms. She’s immune to stolen kisses behind the gym. And she’s definitely immune to that maneuver he did in the back seat of his car… Okay, maybe her hormones are susceptible, but she has absolutely no desire to risk anything on the bad boy who broke all his promises.

When a little emergency lands her at his mercy, he offers her a deal she can’t refuse. And this time, she’ll show Shane what it means to be left wanting…

Victoria Scott, Author of the Upcoming VIOLET GRENADE, Shares the Top 5 New Releases of 2017 She Can’t Wait For!

Top 5 Upcoming 2017 Releases

While it’s so exciting that Violet Grenade is releasing next month(!!!), there are more outstanding books I’m anticipating that release this year, too. So I thought I’d share a few with you guys!

Zenith by Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings

A cool, fun, badass sci-fi adventure? Sign me up!

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

I NEED at least one cute contemporary to look forward to, and I’ve heard glowing things about this one!

A Court of Wings & Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

I, like a rather large portion of the book community, need this book like I need air.

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

If it’s by Leigh Bardugo, it’s sure to be fantastic — but a collection of stories in the Grisha world based off of fairytales? YES, PLEASE.

The November Girl by Lydia Kang

This book is right up my alley — it looks intense and incredible — and I need it in my hands now.

 

…And there are many more amazing books releasing this year (like If There’s No Tomorrow and The First to Know and The Glass Spare) but I’m going to hold myself to five 😉

What upcoming releases are you excited for?

 

AUTHOR BIO:

Victoria Scott is the acclaimed author of eight books for young adults. Her most recent release, Titans, received two starred reviews, and Fire & Flood is a 2017 Spirit of Texas Reading Program book. Victoria’s novels are sold in fourteen different countries, and she loves receiving reader emails from across the world. You can find her online at VictoriaScott.com.

Violet Grenade Info:

DOMINO: A girl with blue hair and a demon in her mind.

CAIN: A stone giant on the brink of exploding.

MADAM KARINA: A woman who demands obedience.

WILSON: The one who will destroy them all.

When Madam Karina discovers Domino in an alleyway, she offers her a position inside her home for entertainers in secluded West Texas. Left with few alternatives and an agenda of her own, Domino accepts. It isn’t long before she is fighting her way up the ranks to gain the madam’s approval. But after suffering weeks of bullying and unearthing the madam’s secrets, Domino decides to leave. It’ll be harder than she thinks, though, because the madam doesn’t like to lose inventory. But then, Madam Karina doesn’t know about the person living inside Domino’s mind.

Madam Karina doesn’t know about Wilson.

Kieran Scott, Author of PRETTY FIERCE, Talks About Kickbutt Heroines (with a giveaway!)

I reviewed PRETTY FIERCE here, in case you missed it 🙂

One of my favorite things about writing PRETTY FIERCE was trying to figure out what Kaia would do next. I don’t consider myself to be particularly brave—except for the fact that I don’t mind public speaking which is one of those things that keeps people awake at night. But I imagine that if I were ever in a situation like Kaia is in—being pursued by bad guys, hunted down at every turn, forced to try to protect the man I loved—I’d probably end up a ball of blubbering mush in a corner. So when I was writing her, I would try to imagine the exact opposite of what I would do in a given situation, and then write that. More often than not, it ended up being the thing that I wish I would have the guts to do, but really just couldn’t imagine myself doing. And that’s what I think makes a great kick-butt heroine—someone who allows us to see the possibilities of what we could do—what we could be—if we could find that deep well of courage within ourselves.

Here is one of my favorite kick-butt heroines:

Veronica Mars – Veronica Mars:

Veronica’s best kick-butt quality was her ability to slay with her tongue. That girl could cut down a redwood tree with one well-placed and sarcastically delivered barb—no roundhouse kicking or right-hook punching necessary. She was also constantly putting herself in dangerous situations in order to help others, never much caring for her own safety—and then she’d talk her way out of them whenever she was caught. The talent Veronica had was to say the thing you wished you’d said in the moment, but only thought of an hour later. She always had it ready to go.

 

KIERAN SCOTT is the author of several acclaimed young adult novels, including the Non-Blonde Cheerleader trilogy, the He’s So/She’s So trilogy, and Geek Magnet. She also wrote the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Private and Privilege series under the pen name Kate Brian. She is a senior editor at Disney/Hyperion and resides in New Jersey with her family. Visit kieranscott.net.

 

Title: Pretty Fierce
Author: Kieran Scott
Pub Date: April 4, 2017

An action-packed, edge-of-your-seat novel about a teen who, when backed into a corner, fights back, from the author of What Waits in the Woods

Kaia has been on the run her whole life. The daughter of professional assassins, she knows danger—and she’ll do anything to survive. After her parents vanished during a job gone bad, Kaia’s spent the last year in hiding, trying to blend in as an ordinary teenager, and there’s no one who makes her feel more normal, more special, than her boyfriend, Oliver.

But when she’s attacked by someone from her mother’s past and Oliver catches her fighting back, Kaia’s secret is exposed. In a split-second decision, she flees the small town, taking Oliver with her. Stalked at every turn, Oliver and Kaia must protect each other…or die trying.

Excerpt:

KAIA

I turned on the speed, caught up to the van, and jumped off my board. It rolled ahead and bumped to a stop at a sewer drain next to the curb.

“Oliver!” I tried the door, but it didn’t budge. I pounded on it so hard my fists stung. Oliver shouted, but I couldn’t make out the words.

“Let him go!” I screeched. “He has nothing to do with this!”

The light turned green and they were off again. I groaned, grabbed my board, and followed. As I maneuvered Sophia around an ancient manhole cover I memorized the license plate.

Illinois 851 BCG.

Illinois 851 BCG.

Illinois 851 BCG.

My breath was short, and I honestly felt as if my heart was about to overload. I couldn’t keep up this pace much longer. Up ahead, a police car idled in front of a coffee shop. As I rolled closer I could see two men in blue through the plate glass window, sucking on coffee and laughing.

Would they help me? If I got the cops involved, they’d want my ID. And while I had a fake passport on me, I couldn’t risk it being entered in some database and possibly alerting the authorities of my whereabouts. Even more importantly, if the police got Oliver, they’d send him right back to South Carolina, to Robin, to that hell. I couldn’t let that happen. Anonymity was key. We really were in this together.

I pressed as hard as I could, almost biffing on some roadkill and hopping the larger cracks in the road. At each light, I closed the distance between us, and I nearly got close enough to grab the back fender, but then the van took off and changed lanes, and I lost my advantage. Then the kidnappers hooked a left onto a residential street, and I made it across the main drag seconds before the light turned green. A motorcycle zoomed past me, so close I swore the driver’s leather jacket brushed the back of my backpack.

I turned onto the street and didn’t see the van anywhere. It must have pulled into a driveway or a garage. I gave myself ten seconds, gasping for breath as I leaned against a wrought iron fence post, then kept moving.

The street was quiet, aside from dance music playing somewhere in the distance, the repetitive thump of the bass keeping time with my pulse. I hopped off Sophia and ducked down the first driveway on foot, thinking it would be better to stay away from the glare of the streetlights. For a second I crouched next to a busted wood fence and strapped Sophia to my backpack, then cut across a backyard with unkempt grass and a stone barbecue pit at its center.

The garages on the street were all detached and sat at the end of long driveways near the back corner of each property. I paused and took out my Beretta. The steel felt cool against my palm, and I prayed no one would give me a reason to use it. But I would if I had to. I would for Oliver.

At the next house, I peeked inside the foggy garage window and saw nothing but piles of boxes.

The dance music was getting louder. The next garage housed a small car covered by a brown tarp. The third was another mess of storage. At the fourth house, I was close enough to the music to hear the laughter and raised voices that went along with it. I had to scale a fence to get to this garage and when I came down on the other side, I nearly slammed my head against a pile of old kegs. The scent of stale beer hung in the air, and there were cigarette butts everywhere. Lovely.

I brushed myself off and righted my backpack. Cars packed the driveway, and the house was entirely lit up. Two girls hung out on the back porch, smoking and sipping from red cups. Over their heads, propped up on the porch roof, were three illuminated letters. BBΓ. And at the very edge of the driveway, hanging over onto the sidewalk, was a big, white, van.

What the hell?

A chorus of cheers went up inside the house. My eyes narrowed as I shoved my short, sweaty hair behind my ears. Suddenly, I wasn’t in such a huge rush. I pushed the gun into the back waistband of my jeans and made sure my jacket covered it.

Stepping out of the shadows, I cut across the lawn and walked up the steps to the rear porch where the two girls sat. They eyed me as I strode past and opened the back door.

“Ladies,” I said.

One of them scoffed, but neither made a move to stop me. Inside, I found myself in a huge, brightly lit, mostly white kitchen packed with dozens upon dozens of miniskirt-sporting, overly made-up girls with straightened hair. The dance music was deafening. Everyone was drinking, laughing, shrieking. And in the center of it all was my boyfriend, shirtless, leaning his head back while two buxom babes poured alcohol from two bottles directly down his throat.

“Um, Oliver?” I said.

He brought his chin down too fast and spit brown liquid everywhere. A few drops even landed on my cheek.

“Ew!” the girls chorused.

Oliver wiped the back of his hand across his lips and widened his eyes at me. “They made me do it!”

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Kobo | iTunes | Indiebound

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Best Book Boyfriends Ever: ATHLETES! Embrace New Adult Books on Sale (and Giveaway!)

 

This week, I’m helping Entangled Publishing celebrate the heroes of Embrace & New Adult Romance!

Athletes Sale Blitz Banner April 4

Today we’re celebrating athletes! Here’s what Embrace authors have to say about their athletic heroes.

 

Are any of your athlete characters inspired by real life people? If so, who?

Tessa Bailey (author of Unfixable): Shane from Unfixable is a bartender from Dublin (in addition to being a Formula One driver). In real life, I married a bartender from Dublin. He doesn’t race cars, but there is some definite similarities.

Cindi Madsen (author of the Taking Shots series): Beck Davenport was modeled after Gabe Landeskog, Hudson Decker came about after staring at a lot of pictures of Tyler Seguin, & my inspiration for Dane was Chris Letang. Ryder “Ox” Maddox was tricky, & he’s actually more modeled off actor Robbie Amell.

Jennifer Blackwood (author of Foolproof & The Rule Maker): Gus Kenworthy totally helped inspire me to write Ryder Covington 🙂 and Claudio Marchisio was hero inspiration for Ryan from Foolproof.

Shae Ross (author of Rush & Fearless): The heroine athletes in RUSH were partially inspired by my nieces, Samantha and Sydney. Sam played soccer for Florida Gulf Coast and Syd plays for the University of Toledo, Rockets. Some of the scenes in RUSH parallel their experiences as female athletes on and off the soccer field.

Megan Westfield (author of Lessons in Gravity): I was watching a short rock climbing film when I initially had the idea for Lessons in Gravity. The climber in that film was Dean Potter who was one of the greatest rock climbers of this generation. Like Dean Potter, the pro rock climber in Lessons in Gravity, sometimes climbs without a rope—also called free soloing. (Sadly, Dean Potter died two years ago B.A.S.E. jumping in Yosemite National Park.) The most well-known free-solo rock climber is Alex Honnold who is practically a household name after appearing on 60 Minutes, in nationwide TV commercials, and on the cover of National Geographic, to name a few.

Jessica Lee (author of Falling for the Player): No!

 

Besides athletes, about what kind of heroes do you like to read?

Tessa: Blue collar men have always been my favorite. I love men who get dirty and work with their hands. Mechanics, law enforcement, construction workers. They can’t solve problems with money, so they have to be more creative and that’s what I love most.

Cindi: Really I’m a fan of all heroes. I just want to see a guy fall head over heels over the heroine. If they’re funny, bonus points.

Jennifer: Men who like to work with their hands, who don’t mind getting dirty. Maybe a mechanic? Or a cowboy?

Shae: I like to read about heroes in the working world. There’s something oh so appealing about a successful man in a business suit. Don’t you think?

Megan: Aside from heroes that are athletes, I’m currently smitten with rock star heroes like Berkeley from In Bloom by Katie Delahanty and Jack from Mean Girl Apologizes by Stephanie Monahan.

Jessica: I also adore a hero with a tortured soul. A man whose been to hell and back. And the heroine is the only person who can see who he really is behind the pain. She’s the person who can finally help him heal.

 

What sport do you think has the hottest athletes? Why?

Tessa: I have to go with hockey players. It’s not just the fact that they’re massive, muscular, sweaty gods—they fist fight. Normally, I would eye roll two men in a physical fight, but I’ll allow it in the name of sports glory.

Cindi: Well, I have to go with hockey, because I don’t want my hockey players mad at me. LOL. But football would be a close second.

Jennifer: Soccer. The abs. Need I explain more?

Shae: MMA–Mixed Martial Arts.

Megan: Outdoor adventure athletes are the very hottest! I define adventure sports as non-motorized sports out in the wild somewhere. Backcountry skiing, rock climbing, surfing, mountaineering, rafting, mountain biking, etc. These sports are the sexiest because they take athletic ability far beyond what you see in a city-sport, plus the stakes are way higher because chances of rescue are very slim if the athlete gets hurt.

Jessica: Soccer or football. Why? Have you seen those shorts and those tight pants? lol

Playlist:

 

Sales Card Athletes April 4.jpg

Foolproof by Jennifer Blackwood

Drexler University

It’s been a rough semester and Jules Carmichael needs to get her life together. Pronto. Unfortunately, the only available work is at Office Jax, home of horrid 90s music and the biggest jerk on this side of the galaxy. Then Ryan DeShane discovers the “6 Ultimate Steps to the Perfect Summer Fling”—and Jules is his target. But the “steps” work a little too well, because he and Jules are definitely, uh, flinging. And it’s only a matter of time before Ryan’s foolproof plan starts to seriously unravel…

The Rule Maker by Jennifer Blackwood
Rule Breakers #2

Ten Steps to Surviving a New Job: 1. Don’t sleep with the client. It’ll get you fired. (Sounds easy enough.) 2. Don’t blink when new client turns out to be former one-night stand. 3. Don’t call same client a jerk for never texting you back. 6. Ignore accelerated heartbeat every time sexy client walks into room. 8. Don’t let client’s charm wear you down. Be strong. 9. Whatever you do, don’t fall for the client. You’ll lose more than your job—maybe even your heart.

Wilder by Rebecca Yarros
The Renegades #1

He’s Paxton Wilder, five-time X Games medalist and smoking-hot leader of the Renegades. The world is his playground, and for the next nine months Leah Baxter is stuck as his tutor on the Study at Sea program. If she can’t get him to take his academics seriously, she’ll lose her scholarship…if she doesn’t lose her heart first.

 

Nova by Rebecca Yarros
The Renegades #2

He’s Landon Rhodes, four-time X Games medalist and full-time heartbreaker. This tatted-up adrenaline junkie has earned his nickname Casanova, going through girls in an attempt to forget the one who got away. But now she’s back and determined not to let him destroy her again. The problem is, he will stop at nothing to prove to her that they are meant to be together.

 

Fearless by Shae Ross
Pretty Smart Girls #2

Devi Dalton won’t let anyone hold her back. With a shiny new job in Manhattan, she’s finally taking control of her life. Her only obstacle? Ben Winslow, the sexy cage fighter she’s desperately trying to resist, who isn’t about to let her push him away again. They’re more than friends—always have been. But every fighter has a weakness. Ben’s is Devi. And this time, not even Devi’s favorite “ Fearless Red” lipstick will be able to protect her heart..

 

Rush by Shae Ross

Priscilla Winslow has a mouth that spits fiery sarcasm faster than I can throw a touchdown. But I’ve wanted her ever since I saw her in that Bo Peep outfit on Halloween. Yep, I’m a sheep who will follow that little hottie anywhere. There’s one problem…she hates me. Just because we ended up in jail and quite possibly ruined both our futures…

 

Getting Lucky Number Seven by Cindi Madsen
Taking Shots #1

Lyla Wilder is done being the shy, chemistry nerd extraordinaire. So she creates a “College Bucket List”―with item #7 being a night of uninhibited, mind-blowing sex…But she needs some help from her man-whore best friend. With every item she ticks off, Hockey player Beck Davenport finds himself growing seriously hot for his sweet, brainiac best friend. And if he’s not careful, he’ll end up risking their friendship in order to convince Lyla that he might just be her lucky #7…

 

Anatomy of a Player by Cindi Madsen
Taking Shots #2

Whitney Porter is done with men. She’s focusing on her first assignment at the college newspaper: Posing as a sports writer for an exposé on the extra perks jocks receive. But Hudson Decker, the bad boy of the hockey team, is about to test her no-sex rule. With his life spiraling out of control, Hudson is looking for a distraction. When his teammates bet him that he can’t land the gorgeous but prickly new reporter, he accepts, boasting he’ll have her in bed by the end of the semester. But Whitney is so much more than Hudson expected, and soon enough, he’s in too deep.

 

Crazy Pucking Love by Cindi Madsen
Taking Shots #3

I just met the girl of my dreams. Megan Davenport is funny and smart, and she’s as much of an insomniac as I am. She’s also my team captain’s little sister, which I only found out after our passionate kiss. Megan is completely off-limits—her brother makes that very clear—and I know better than to think I can keep a relationship going during hockey season anyway. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be late-night friends, right?

 

Lessons in Gravity by Megan Westfield

Falling for the star of a rock climbing documentary is not a good idea, especially if you’re the filmmaking intern who will be dangling from the side of a three thousand foot cliff with a camera while he climbs Yosemite’s most treacherous spire without a rope.

 

Falling for the Player by Jessica Lee

Bad boy and former NFL running back Patrick Guinness is tired of meaningless sex. Ever since his scorching hot one-night stand three years ago, no one has interested him. So when Max Segreti wanders into his mechanic shop—and his life again—Patrick can’t stop thinking about the totally-out-of-his-league law grad and the possibility of getting him out of his system once and for all…

 

Unfixable by Tessa Bailey

Willa Peet isn’t interested in love. She’s been there, done that, and has the shattered heart to prove it. Ready to shake the breakup, she heads to Dublin, Ireland. But there’s a problem. A dark-haired, blue-eyed problem with a bad attitude that rivals her own. And he’s not doling out friendly Irish welcomes. Shane Claymore is only in Dublin long enough to sell the Claymore Inn and get things in order for his mother and younger sister. Meeting a sarcastic American girl makes him question everything, but will their pasts destroy any hope of a future together?

 

Rafflecopter Giveaway: A grand prize pack of signed print books, ebooks, swag, & specially selected gifts from your favorite Embrace authors!

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A Q&A with Amalie Howard and Angie Morgan, Authors of MY DARLING, MY DISASTER (Lords of Essex–with a giveaway!)

A princess who had it all.
A lord with everything to lose.

 

Describe yourself in five words or less.

AMALIE: Creative, fun-loving, humorous, passionate, free-spirited.

 

ANGIE: Relaxed, creative, inquisitive, cheerful, active

 

 

Tell us a little about your book.

MY DARLING, MY DISASTER is a fun, sexy story about an arrogant young lord who meets his match in a runaway princess disguised as his sister’s lady’s maid. There’s mystery, suspense, action, and buckets of sizzling romantic tension.

 

 

If you had a theme song, what would it be?

AMALIE: Journey’s DON’T STOP BELIEVIN’…seriously, it’s my personal anthem. Also, BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY by Queen when I’m feeling saucy.

 

ANGIE: HAIR UP by Justin Timberlake from the movie TROLLS should play from magical speakers whenever I enter a room.

 

 

Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

AMALIE: My phone. I can work while waiting for my kids at various activities. That, and pants. I never leave home without pants. Because that would be awkward. And maybe scary for some.

 

ANGIE: There is NOTHING I won’t leave home without. Trust me. I’ve left home without my purse, my phone, my CHILD. Just kidding. I usually remember them all. But I do always remember to put a bra on. #goals

 

 

What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

AMALIE: Two recent historical romance books I really enjoyed were THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE by Jennifer Ashley, and WILD WICKED SCOT by Julia London. They’re both very different, but the writing in each is sublime.

 

ANGIE: I loved THE ALIENIST by Caleb Carr and am so excited for the TV series starring Luke Evans coming up soon! I thought PROMISE OF FIRE by Amanda Bouchet was a really fun romantic fantasy. Right now I’m reading BARED TO YOU by Sylvia Day and I’m constantly blushing.

 

 

What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

AMALIE: I’m an obsessive/compulsive reader. Sometimes, on a reading binge of a particular genre, I can read a book a night for weeks at a time. I also like to watch movies. I’m a very visual person, and films are my guilty pleasure. Put it this way, I’ve already seen Beauty and the Beast twice and it only opened two days ago on Friday. I saw Deadpool at least a handful of times in the theaters and bought the Blu-Ray, and let’s not even talk about The Force Awakens. Anything Marvel can take my money. I’m super excited for Ghost in the Shell and Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2. #DIEHARDFANGIRL.

 

ANGIE: I make sure writing happens almost every day, and I’m usually working on more than one project at a time. But on my off-hours, I’m a school volunteer, a chauffeur for my daughters and their friends (unfortunately, there’s no bus transportation for our small school!), my town’s official crazy chicken lady, a freelance editor for Independent authors, a long distance runner, and — whenever I get the chance to sit down — an avid reader.

 

 

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

First of all, don’t be afraid to write what you love, and have confidence in your ideas.  For any new writer, we would encourage reading as many books as you can get your hands on—the more you read (especially books that have been successful in the genre), the more you’ll understand the elements required to pen an equally successful novel of your own. Reading outside of the romance genre will broaden your scope, too. The most important piece of advice though is just to keep writing, keep trying, and keep reading.

 

Amalie Howard’s love of romance developed after she started pilfering her grandmother’s novels in high school when she should have been studying. She has no regrets. A #1 Amazon
bestseller and a national IPPY silver medalist, she is the author of My Rogue, My Ruin, the first in the Lords of Essex historical romance series, as well as several award-winning young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, VOYA, School Library Journal, and Booklist, including WaterfellThe Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Kid’s IndieNext pick. She currently resides in Colorado with her husband and three children. Visit her 
website
 for the latest news and information.
 

 

Angie Morgan lives in New Hampshire with her husband, their three daughters, a menagerie of pets, and an extensive collection of paperback romance novels. She’s the author of MY ROGUE, MY RUIN, the first book in the Lords of Essex historical romance series,
as well as several young adult books, including The Dispossessed series written under the name Page Morgan. Critically acclaimed by Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, School Library Journal, VOYA, and The Bulletin, Angie’s novels have been an IndieNext selection, a Seventeen Magazine Summer Book Club Read, and a #1 Amazon bestseller. Visit her 
website
 for the latest news and information
 

 

MY DARLING, MY DISASTER
Lords of Essex #2
Amalie Howard & Angie Morgan
Releasing March 27, 2017
Entangled Select Historical

 


Lord Graham Findlay, the shamelessly virile Viscount Northridge, has a disgraceful secret, one he’ll do anything to hide. Holding his passions at bay, Gray has sworn off the fairer sex. But when temptation comes in the form of an intriguing woman he cannot easily avoid, Gray’s integrity—and his most depraved desires—are put to the ultimate test.

Self-assured and carefree Princess Svetlanka Volkonsky never dreamed she would one day become a lady’s maid to avoid a dangerous traitor. But danger also comes in many guises, especially in the sinful and devastatingly attractive lord of the manor who introduces her to a world of singular pleasure.

When Lana’s past emerges to threaten the life and the false identity she’s built in England, she and Gray find themselves falling into a tangled web of lies and intrigue…and the last place either of them expected to fall…in love.

 

 

The interior of the coach felt hot, and she could swear that Lord Northridge’s body was closer than it had been moments before. Lana’s pulse spiked, every inch of her skin prickling with bright awareness. She had been courted by suitors before and had been the recipient of hastily stolen embraces in the arbor at Volkonsky Palace. But no man had ever made her feel the way she did now—like a fox in a hunt with nowhere to run. Her short nails dug into her palms even as she feigned continued indifference. It was a talent she’d inherited from her mother: the ability to remain tranquil and unruffled in any situation.

But, lord, the man pushed her to the limits of her skill.

Despite her composed exterior, Lana was acutely conscious of him. With each inhale and exhale, she could scent the spice of his cologne and the bite of whiskey and cigar smoke, see the rise and fall of the pulse in his neck, hear the rustle of his clothing against the plush velvet seat. She could feel his hooded eyes settling upon her as if they were hands pressing against her flesh, boldly pushing past the confines of her cloak.

Undressing her.

Refusing to succumb to his debauchery, she met his eyes with cool hauteur, and they dropped provokingly to her lips. He was trying to shock her, she knew. But Lana held his stare, refusing to be cowed by whatever new perverse game he was playing. She swallowed a biting response that would remind him of his place, and hers—Lord Northridge at the best of times was unpredictable, and after a night on the town with liquor in his blood, she would do well to curb her tongue. Lest he force himself upon her like some lovelorn swain.

No, not lovelorn. Lord Northridge would not allow such a common emotion as love to rule him. The art of his seduction, if at all, would be calculated and ruthless…meant only to serve him and no other. Lovesick females fell at his feet, not the reverse. Lord Northridge’s eyes met hers as if her thoughts had grown transparent, and she flushed when another knowing smirk appeared.

Lord have mercy, he made her want to kick him. Hard.

Flustered, Lana couldn’t quite help herself as the coach finally rolled to a sharp stop in front of the manor. “Like what you see?” she asked in succinct tones.

A reluctant smile tugged at the corner of his lips at her veiled mockery. “Very much.”

Lana went still at the candid admission. He looked as surprised as she did. An arctic flush suffused her chest and climbed her neck as James opened the coach door. She slid forward, taking the footman’s hand and making her escape with every ounce of grace she could manage. “Perhaps you should endeavor to foist your attentions where they will be better welcomed. Good day, Lord Northridge.”

His husky chuckle at what would have been a crushing setdown in any other circumstance followed her all the way to the front door.

Blast the arrogant clodpole to Hades.

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A Little Known Fact (and Giveaway!) About HER TRUE MATCH Paige Tyler (X-OPS #6)

A Little Known Fact from Her True Match . . .

The DCO wants Dreya to work for them, using her unique abilities to help people instead of stealing from them. She’s not so sure about that idea. She’s spent most of her adult life hiding her secret and looking out for number one. She has no interest in being someone’s superhero. But working with Braden is starting to look better and better by the day. The DCO brings him into the fold when they decide it would be good to have a person who understands how Dreya thinks. Braden goes along with the plan. Yeah, he wants to make sure she doesn’t get away from him again, but he also has the craziest urge to keep an eye on her for a whole other reason—to keep her safe. He has no idea where that urge comes from, but maybe Dreya is growing on him?

Title: Her True Match
Author: Paige Tyler
Series: X-Ops, #6
ISBN: 9781492625926
Pubdate: March 7, 2017
Genre: Paranormal

FORCED TOGETHER

When feline shifter Dreya Clark is escorted from the police interrogation by two secret agents, she thinks she’s dodged a bullet. That sexy detective Braden Hayes caught her stealing red-handed. When she finds out what she has to do to stay out of jail, suddenly she’s missing the hot cop with the piercing gaze. She’s being recruited for her shifter abilities by the Department of Covert Operations.

WILL DANGER RIP THEM APART?

Braden has been chasing the smart-mouthed cat burglar for years. But when Dreya’s taken away, he knows their game of cat and mouse has turned deadly-serious. There’s no way he’ll let her go off alone. Fur flies and temperatures flare as Braden realizes Dreya is much more than she appears. Thrown together on a dangerous covert mission, this unlikely pair will have to rely on each other to make it out alive.

 

Excerpt:

“How do you know I wasn’t testing the security system?” Dreya asked, her lips curving into a coy smile.

Braden sat across from the beautiful thief in one of the burglary section’s interrogation rooms, working hard to keep from smiling back at her. Even though he knew her record backward and forward, he was still having a hell of a time maintaining a professional detachment. He was good in the interrogation room, but Dreya was better. She charmed, she flirted, and she controlled where she wanted the conversation to go. Braden had already been forced to toss Mick out of the room. His partner had come damn close to asking their suspect out on a date, even though she was sitting at the table wearing a pair of handcuffs.

Though Braden had to admit she made the cuffs look good. Even now, she was sitting at the table with her long, blond hair cascading around her shoulders, talking animatedly with her hands as if the heavy stainless steel cuffs were a fashion accessory. He wasn’t even sure when she’d gotten her hair out of the braid it had been in before, but he had the crazy urge to run his fingers through it. He resisted—barely. Dreya had been saying since they’d brought her in that this was all a big misunderstanding and that she could straighten this out if she could talk privately with the owner of the art piece they seemed to think she’d stolen. Like that was going to happen. Something told Braden that putting her in the same room with some rich playboy would be an incredibly bad idea. All she had to do was bat those hazel-green eyes at him a few times and tousle her hair with her fingers, and the guy would agree with anything she said. Hell, the guy would probably give her the silly blue balloon dog thing sitting on the table between them as a gift.

“If we’re going to talk about security systems, Dreya, let’s start with how you managed to climb the wall of that apartment on the south side of M Street. Because I gotta tell you, that was damn impressive.”

He expected her to deny it had been her—or beam with pride at the compliment—but her eyes widened in shock. For the first time that night, there was fear on her face.

“You saw that?” She darted a nervous glance at the one-way glass mirror to her left, the one Mick was standing behind.

He nodded. “Sure did. In fact, we have it all on video. The climb, the walk across the cable, the jump you made to the balcony.”

On the other side of the table, her face went pale. Shit, was she starting to hyperventilate?

“How many people have seen the video?” she demanded.

Braden frowned. Why the hell was a second-story thief worried about how many cops had seen her display her talents? That made no sense.

“Just my partner and me,” he assured her. “But while the video is amazing, it doesn’t explain how you were able to scale that wall. Were you using something on your hands to get a grip? I searched your bag but didn’t find anything.”

Dreya swallowed hard. In all of the previous occasions he’d questioned her, she’d been confident and posed, but suddenly it was like she’d been hit by lightning. She seemed off balance…lost.

“You can’t let anyone else see the video,” she said.

He shrugged. “That’s not really up to me.”

She stared at her cuffed wrists, her shoulders slumping in a defeat he hadn’t seen coming. “What if I confess?”

She said it so softly he wasn’t sure he’d heard her correctly. “What?”

Dreya lifted her head to look at him, that usual glimmer missing from her eyes now. “If I confess right now, will you destroy the video?”

Braden hoped to hell his mouth wasn’t hanging open. Being interrogated by the cops could make people say strange stuff, but Dreya had to know that even with the evidence they had on her, a woman with her background and clean record could likely get a case like this whittled down from the standard five to seven to less than two years. Why would she agree to a written confession? What the hell was on that video she was so terrified of letting anyone see?

He knew he needed to be careful, but right then it was hard to think of Dreya as the hardened criminal he’d always believed. He was smart enough to know she wasn’t a saint, but there was something going on here. She was so terrified she was on the verge of tears.

The sudden aura of vulnerability had his heart beating hard and fast. The urge to protect her from whatever was freaking her out was impossible to ignore. Part of the reason he’d become a cop was to help people in trouble, and Dreya definitely seemed to be in trouble.

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About the author:

Paige Tyler is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sexy, romantic fiction. Paige writes books about hunky alpha males and the kick-butt heroines they fall in love with. She lives with her very own military hero (a.k.a. her husband) and their adorable dog on the beautiful Florida coast. Visit www.paigetylertheauthor.com.

Social Networking Links:
Website
Facebook
Twitter: @PaigeTyler
Goodreads

 

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A Note to Readers from Beverly Jenkins, Author of BREATHLESS (with a giveaway!)

Dear Readers,

This is the second book in the Rhine Trilogy and I do hope you enjoy it. With all the issues and heartache Portia carried inside, I knew it would be difficult for her to give her heart to someone, but Kent Randolph proved to be the man for the job, even if I didn’t know he would be her hero when the story began. Hope you’ll enjoy seeing Rhine and Eddy from Forbidden and, yes, they are still very much in love.

The Fontaine Hotel is loosely based on the Mountain View Hotel founded in Oracle, Arizona, in 1895 by Annie Box Neal and her husband William “Curly” Neal, who were both of African- American and Native-American descent. The Mountain View was a combination hotel and spa and catered not only to European royalty but to wealthy visitors from places like Russia, Australia, and China, too. Look them up.

The great Apache chief Geronimo surrendered on September 4, 1886, and was promptly declared a prisoner of war. He and his people eventually wound up in Florida along with the Apache scouts the army employed to hunt him down. He died at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 1909. The Apache warrior Lozen, also captured in 1886, was sent to the barracks at Mount Vernon, Alabama, where she died of tuberculosis in 1887. Although her name has faded from America’s memory, her bravery and fearlessness remains legendary with her people.

I only touched briefly on African-American women and the fight for suffrage but hope to get back to it in depth sometime in the future. Until then, if you’d like to do some research on your own, here are two excellent sources:

African American Women and the Vote: 1837–1965 by Cynthia Neverdon-Morton, et al.

African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote: 1850–1920 by Rosalyn Terborg-Penn

Having the opportunity to create characters and stories that reflect my heritage as a woman of color is priceless. Representation matters.  Thanks again for the support and love. Thanks also for spreading the word about my books to everyone you know. It’s much appreciated.

Until next time, happy reading.

B.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

BEVERLY JENKINS has received numerous awards, including five Waldenbooks/Borders Group Best Sellers Awards, two Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times Magazine, and a Golden Pen Award from the Black Writer’s Guild. Ms Jenkins was named one of the Top Fifty Favorite African-American writers of the 20th Century by AABLC, the nation’s largest on-line African-American book club. She was recently nominated for the NAACP Image Award in Literature. To read more about Beverly, please visit her website at www.beverlyjenkins.net.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

As manager of one of the finest hotels in Arizona Territory, Portia Carmichael has respect and stability-qualities sorely missing from her harsh childhood. She refuses to jeopardize that by hitching herself to the wrong man. Suitors are plentiful, but none of them has ever looked quite as tempting as the family friend who just rode into town…and none have looked at her with such intensity and heat.

Duchess. That’s the nickname Kent Randolph gave Portia when she was a young girl. Now she’s a stunning, intelligent woman-and Kent has learned his share of hard lessons. After drifting through the West, he’s learned the value of a place to settle down, and in Portia’s arms he’s found that and more. But convincing her to trust him with her heart, not just her passion, will be the greatest challenge he’s known-and one he intends to win…

Buy Link

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Jami Gray, Author of MARKED BY OBSESSION, Talks About the 3rd PSY-IV Book

Introducing MARKED BY OBSESSION, a paranormal romantic suspense by Jami Gray!

MARKED BY OBSESSION is the third installment in my PSY-IV Teams series which focuses on a select group of ex-military psychics who use their unique abilities to thwart a mercenary group of psychic determined to undermine the country and line their pockets. Each book focuses on a different member of the teams as they brave personal nightmares to discover a new strength in finding their other half.

As a character driven writer, my characters tend to mold the plot, and when I sat down to begin MARKED BY OBSESSION, I gave myself two challenges: an everyday heroine with no psychic abilities who could be strong without being a warrior, and she couldn’t cuss. Want to know which one was harder to channel? Coming up with curses that aren’t cuss words is much more difficult than you think.

Wolf is my hardened solider, solid and sure of himself and his place, and just happens to be a telepath. He deserved someone who could keep him grounded, someone who couldn’t be manipulated. Enter Meli, who is quite happy curling up with a book and avoiding arguments, or anything she doesn’t want to deal with. Wolf fascinates her, but she’s lost her only family, her brother, and his death leaves her floundering while her normally staid world tilts on it axis. It also means she’s hesitant to reach out for the one man who tempts her dream big. It doesn’t help that she’s managed to become the focus of deranged stalker, who wants not just Meli, but revenge, and is willing to go through Wolf to get it.

In MARKED we get to trail along with Wolf, as he partners with Meli, who doesn’t have a single psychic ability other than her ability to keep Wolf out of her head. His place in her heart is another matter altogether, but since she’s trying to figure out why she’s the target of a stalker, she’s a bit hesitant to take a chance on Wolf. Wolf, on the other hand, has no qualms about shaking up Meli’s world, but before he can claim what’s his, he has to unravel the mess she’s trapped in. Together they must find the answers behind a lethal obsession before it costs more than their willing to pay.

 

About the Author:

Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic

Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. She can be soothed with coffee and chocolate. Surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and two female

labs moonlighting as the Fur Minxes, she escapes by playing with the voices in her head.

Hunt her down at:

www.jamigray.com        Twitter     Facebook     Goodreads

 

MARKED BY OBSESSION
PSY-IV Teams #3

Asking for his help will expose more than her heart…

Meli Dwyer’s ordered life followed a clear-cut path, just the way she preferred until the death of her beloved brother. Rocked by her loss and grappling with the emotional fallout, a series of unexplained events marked by an escalating violence send her world into chaos. Alone and floundering in her harsh new reality, she reaches out for help from the sexy and mysterious warrior who managed to sneak under her guard, Wolf.

But some risks are worth taking…

When Wolf receives an unexpected call from the illusively alluring Meli, the PSY-IV Team’s skilled and lethal telepath doesn’t waste time racing to her side. Months earlier she ignited his protective instincts and her call gives him the perfect opportunity to set siege to her wary heart. Before he can breach the scars of her past, he’s engaged in a dangerous game beside the one woman he can’t read, facing an enemy whose motives and obsessions blur his lines between justice and revenge.

As the stakes rise, Meli must decide if the answers to her personal nightmare are worth uncovering if it costs her the man who captured her battered heart.

Available in paperback or e-book at:

jamigray.com

Or anywhere books are sold!

      

 

 

Lena Diaz, Author of FINAL EXIT, Explains What “EXIT” Is (plus a giveaway!)

 EXIT Inc. – What the Heck is it?

Just what is “EXIT”? The simple answer is that it’s an acronym that stands for “EXtreme International Tours”. EXIT Inc. is a company that matches tour guides and vacation packages with people who want extreme, fun, and dangerous outdoor experiences all over the world. This can range from riding fiver rapids and ziplining across deep canyons to climbing Mount Everest or some other equally exciting but dangerous endeavor. All under the protection of an experienced and capable guide. But is that really what EXIT is about?

Of course not.

The tour company part of EXIT Inc. is just a front, a cover for its real mission as a clandestine government organization. Many of the tour guides at EXIT are really agents, called Enforcers, who take on the dirty jobs that other alphabet agencies can’t, or won’t, tackle—including assassinations. The Enforcers take out the bad guys before the bad guys can hurt more people.

Or, at least, that’s what it’s supposed to be about.

What the heroes in the EXIT books quickly discover is that there is far more to EXIT than even they knew. There’s a conspiracy, that may go all the way to the top. Enforcers are being tricked, used for someone’s personal gain. As a result, some of the people being “taken out” by Enforcers may not be bad guys after all.

Each of the EXIT novels (there are three in all, with FINAL EXIT being the last) focuses on a different Enforcer, and a dilemma each of them has to resolve. Meanwhile, the series itself has an overarching thread through all of the books, showing what happens to EXIT Inc. as its Enforcers begin to realize they are being used. FINAL EXIT is the explosive conclusion when readers finally find out what happens to the company and those who are behind it.

Yes, the books are most enjoyable when read in order as a series. However, each one is also stand-alone, following a specific problem that the hero and heroine have to tackle together while they fall in love. It’s always my goal to make each of my books a fully satisfying read regardless of whether you’ve read any of the others in the series.

The first two books, EXIT Strategy and No EXIT, feature heroes who are Enforcers. In FINAL EXIT, it’s the heroine who’s the Enforcer. How cool is that? I loved writing a super-strong female character who was smart, fierce, and willing to fight to the death for the people she cared about. And who better to pair her with as the love interest than a by-the-book FBI agent who was her polar opposite? Bailey and Kade were a super-fun couple to write. Forced to work together against EXIT, they have to overcome their mutual distrust of each other in order to survive. And along the way, of course (after all, it is a romance), they fall in love. And they live happily ever after!

Originally from Kentucky, romantic suspense author Lena Diaz also lived in California and Louisiana before settling in Northeast Florida with her husband, two children, and a Shetland Sheepdog named Sparky. A Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® finalist, she’s won the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense and has been a finalist for the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award. She loves to watch action movies, garden, and hike in the beautiful Tennessee Smoky Mountains.

 

 

Can they find forever in the wreckage of their lives? 

FINAL EXIT
EXIT Inc. #3
Lena Diaz
Releasing Jan 31st, 2017
Avon Books

Lena Diaz concludes her sexy, suspenseful EXIT Inc. series as an FBI agent teams up with a beautiful assassin to uncover a deadly government conspiracy…

 

After a tragic mistake nearly destroyed his life, Special Agent Kade Quinn will do whatever it takes to save his career. His latest mission? Track and capture the remaining EXIT operatives to determine if they’re still a threat. But his next target—a stunning female assassin—is both elusive and dangerously appealing.

Bailey Stark has outsmarted the FBI so far, but she’s tired of running. Tired of watching her friends ambushed by government agents in tactical gear and never seen again. She suspects they aren’t being evaluated—they’re being exterminated—and she’s determined to convince Agent Quinn his mission is a lie before it’s too late. Bailey doesn’t want to rely on him. She definitely shouldn’t desire him. But she knows teaming up with the skilled, sexy agent may be her only hope.

Kade doesn’t want to believe Bailey’s claims, but he promises to keep her safe. Trusting one another is difficult. Fighting their attraction is harder. And as they uncover the disturbing truth behind his mission . . . staying alive will be nearly impossible.

New Release and Giveaway! HIGHLAND VIXEN by Mary Wine (Highland Weddings #2, with a note from the author)

An Intro from the Author

Hummm….the truth is, I am nerd enough to think history is fun. All the little facts and laws from centuries ago have always fascinated me. My parents were always listening to me expound on some little bit of wonderment…aka…historical fact.

Working these little facts into my work is something I try to do because I believe it’s important to write a book, set in the time it is dated. It was a different time and I think that adds spice to the unfolding romance. Life wasn’t fair then and it isn’t now. There is nothing I love more than to set out to see a couple overcome the odds and live happily ever after.

At least I love it when it’s finished! When I’m in that bottom of the ninth inner point, it’s hair pulling time as I try and work things out. Yes, I know I’m the author and should know these things but honestly, these characters have minds of their own!

I hope you all enjoy Highland Vixen. 2017 holds three titles from my Highland Brides and yes, I make you wait for that moment when it all comes together, but they are all brides after all.

Cheers!

Mary Wine

 

About the Author:

Acclaimed author Mary Wine has written over 30 works of Scottish Highland romance, romantic suspense and erotic romance. An avid history-buff and historical costumer, she and her family enjoy participating in historical reenactments. Mary lives in Yorba Linda, California with her husband and two sons.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook

Title: Highland Vixen
Series: Highland Weddings, #2
Author: Mary Wine
Pub Date: February 7, 2017
ISBN: 9781492602590

 

Fierce Highland war chief seeks comely lass for fun, frolic, and marriage

Marcus MacPherson is every inch the fearsome Highlander. He’s used to men averting their eyes and women cowering before him. He thinks he’ll eventually settle down with a nice, obedient bride. Instead, he gets Helen Grant… Stubborn as the day is long, fearless and dedicated to raising as much hell as possible, Helen is definitely going to challenge Marcus. And challenge him some more. And then some.

It’s anyone’s guess who’ll win this battle of the heart…

Buy Links:

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Excerpt

MacPherson Castle was huge. It needed to be, because there were over three hundred retainers alone. When supper was laid out on the tables, their conversation echoed through the stone corridors. But that didn’t stop a woman’s scream from penetrating the chatter. Men came off their benches, their kilts flipping aside as they started toward the back stairwell where the sound had come from.

What stopped them was their War Chief, Marcus MacPherson, coming through the wide arched passageway. He had a woman with him who wasn’t pleased to be his captive.

“What are ye doing?” Shamus MacPherson demanded from his seat at the high table.

“Uncovering a deception,” Marcus replied to his father and laird. He set the woman in front of the MacPherson laird. “Helen and Brenda are no longer in this keep. Ailis has kept to her chamber to deceive us all into thinking Helen and Brenda were there with her. While this one”—he pointed at the girl—“has made sure no one saw her face to notice the game.”

Shamus dropped his knife and looked at the girl. Her eyes widened. “I did as I was told by me mistress.” She lowered herself awkwardly.

He snorted at her in reprimand. “Allowing her to act foolishly and leave the protection of this stronghold is no’ to be commended, girl. Ye lack the sense to be a personal servant to me daughter-by-marriage.”

The girl paled, shaking like a dried-out leaf in a wind storm.

Shamus grunted and waved her away before turning to his other son. “Best ye go discover what yer wife has been about this last week.”

Bhaic MacPherson was already pushing his chair back. There was a grim set to his jaw as he moved behind the other chairs and down the steps to where his half brother was glowering at him.

“With child or no, that wife of yers needs a reckoning,” Marcus growled.

Bhaic stopped in the passageway, just out of sight of the rest of the clan. “She is with child, so ye’ll manage yer temper or no’ be seeing her.”

Marcus crossed his arms over his chest and grinned at his brother. Bhaic grunted, recognizing the promise in the expression. No one liked a fight better than Marcus, except perhaps Bhaic.

“I mean to have words with her, Brother,” Marcus warned Bhaic. “And they will nae be kind.”

“If ye truly want to frighten Ailis, speak nicely to her.”

Marcus grunted and took to the stairs. Bhaic reached up and pulled him back by the shoulder.

“Helen may well be in the hands of the Gordons, thanks to this deception. Ye killed Lye Rob, and they would take great delight in paying us back in blood.” Marcus shot back at his brother. “Brenda and Helen could no’ have more than half a dozen men with them.”

Bhaic’s face tightened. “I know ye’re right to be angry, Brother.” He passed Marcus and took to the stairs. He offered his wife a single rap on the door of their chamber before he pushed it in and Marcus followed him.

Ailis Robertson was waiting for them. She stood in the center of the receiving room, ready to face them. Damn, but Marcus loved her spirit, even when it was at odds with what he thought she should be doing with all that strength of character.

“Ailis…” Bhaic began.

“I’ve deceived ye,” she stated. “I’ve been pretending to be more ill than I am, so the women could stay with me and no’ be seen.”

“Ye know very well how the Gordons treat their captives.” Marcus pointed at her. “Did ye no’ think of what might happen to Helen and Brenda if they tried to ride across the Highlands with naught but a handful of men?”

She paled. Bhaic reached forward and gripped her forearm, but she sucked in a breath and steadied herself.

Marcus snorted at her. “How long have they been gone?”

“Four days.”

Marcus was gripping his sleeves so tightly his knuckles popped. “Where did they go?”

“To court, to seek shelter from Brenda’s kin.”

“Court.” Marcus spat the word out like a curse. “Right into the hands of the Earl of Morton. Ye might recall how that man treats women he thinks can be of use.”

Ailis stiffened. “I do.”

Marcus grunted at her before he purposefully turned on his heel and left the chamber, the longer pleats of his kilt flaring out behind him.

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