Grab your favorite beverage, relax, and let me tell you a story…

After Midnight - Black Phoenix #1

Re-edited, revised edition October 2013

Join my Street Team!

Help me promote my books and get the word out about upcoming appearances and releases

Dangerously Sexy Suspense

October 30, 2010

NaNoWriMo & Excuses

Some of you may be asking 'What is NaNoWriMo?' NaNoWriMo, aka NaNo, is National Novel Writing Month. Simply put it's: write a 50,000 word novel from scratch in a month. Yup, thirty days from Chapter One to The End.

I first heard about NaNo a few years back and I'll tell you my first reaction was no freakin' way can I do that! Earlier this year I thought about it again. Really thought about it, and figured I not only can, I will.


Step One: Stop with the excuses. We've all used them.

"I don't have time."
"November isn't a good month for me what with the holiday and family get-togethers."

Heck, I bet you've even used or heard a fellow author say:

"I have too much housework to write today."  or
"I'll write after I do the laundry."

You get the idea. As mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, friends, & writers we're full of reasons  why we don't get enough words on the page. I should know, I'm the reigning queen of excuses.

The heck with that. I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year.

Sort of.

As I stated above, NaNo is about writing a 50,000 word novel from scratch in a month's time. I have about 30,000 words of MIDNIGHT HEAT completed. So my NaNo goal? Get the other 50,000 on the page. Words on the page are words on the page, right?

So this is my goal. My very own kick in the pants to get my WIP done. I will write 50,000 new words in the month of November.

*big gulp*

To try to stay on task and as motivation, I've posted a counter on the top of the blog to keep track of my word count. (I will only keep track of the new words, not what has already been written.) As more motivation, I've designed myself a cover, which I will post in a couple of days along with the back cover blurb I've done for the book.

Wish me luck! I'll need it.

October 29, 2010

A Place of Their Own

After the disastrous end of another dead-end relationship, all Jessica Hart wants is solitude and time to heal at her grandfather's mountain retreat. Instead she finds Zach Rawlings.

Zach has made himself at home at the cabin. He's house-sitting while the owner is away, and the temporary nature of the job suits him perfectly. For Jessica, Zach is everything she wants to escape.

As she gets to know him better, she realizes there's more to him than meets the eye. His patience and tender concern begin to heal something deep inside of her. But can she trust her heart to a man like Zach?

Today's blog is by Debra St. John. Debra is with me at the keyboard today celebrating her new release, THIS CAN'T BE LOVE, available at
The Wild Rose Press.  Welcome, Debra.

A Place of Their Own 
Setting is extremely important in a book. It plays a much deeper role than simply being the backdrop for the action of a story to play out. Often it takes on a personality of its own, deepening the conflict or heightening the tension between the hero and the heroine.

In my latest release, This Can’t Be Love, the setting is based on a place we visit every year with our good friends. The first time I took in the rushing creek, the cozy cabin, and the acres and acres of land, I knew it would be the perfect spot for a story. At the time, I didn’t have a story to set there, but in the back of my mind, I always knew someday there would be.

This book is a spin-off of my first, This Time for Always. The hero, Zach, is a secondary character in Always, but from the start I recognized he deserved to be the hero in a story of his own. Although the story is a continuation of sorts, it also has to stand on its own. And that meant it had to have a setting all its own. Zach and Jessica deserved a unique place of their own to fall in love.

It actually didn’t dawn on me right away, but after another visit to our vacation spot, it hit me: Why not set Love there? Having Zach there in the first place is a source of conflict, and of course living in such close quarters helps to build the sexual tension.

For the book I took the liberty of “moving” our Missouri vacation spot to Big Sky Country. I’ve never given an exact setting for these books, but there are mountains and cowboys and country music, so out west seemed to be the place to be! But those familiar with the original place will recognize many of the places Zach and Jessica explore as they discover their love for one another.

Here’s a taste of Zach and Jessica’s story:

“I’ll finish up here.” Zach ran water in the sink.

He glanced over his shoulder. “What are your plans for the day?”

“My plans for the day?”

“Yeah, what are you going to do?”

“I want you to tell me what needs to be done around here.”

Zach rinsed the pan, then shut the water off. He turned, then leaned his hips against the counter and crossed one bare foot over the other. “Oh, yeah. Why’s that?”

“So, when you leave,” she said pointedly, “I’ll know what needs to be done.”

“I thought we settled this last night. I’m not going anywhere.”

“And I thought I made myself perfectly clear.” She straightened to her full height. “We don’t need your services anymore. So, like I said, if you tell me what needs to be done, I’ll take care of it.”

His gaze roved from the top of her head to the tips of her toes. “Really?” His mouth twitched as if trying to hide a smile.


“Fine. Today the side field needs to be brush hogged, the thistles need to be cut down in the upper field, the ATV tanks need to be filled, and the garden needs to be weeded.” He folded his arms across his chest, a smug look on his face.

She bit her lip. She was pretty confident about filling the gas tanks on the ATVs. And she could probably handle weeding the garden. But that’s all she was sure about. She didn’t know a thistle from an eggplant, and as for brush hogging, she had no idea. Since Pops didn’t own any animals, she was pretty sure it didn’t have anything to do with actual hogs, but beyond that, she didn’t have a clue as to what Zach meant.


She’d have to Google it.

She glanced at Zach. He still wore that infuriating expression. Worst of all, he was right. She had no idea how to do the things he’d said.

Double damn.

She put her hands on her hips and jutted out her chin. “That doesn’t sound too bad.” She’d figure it out. She had to. Zach couldn’t stay. And she’d cut off her right arm before she asked for his help before he left.

He had the audacity to laugh. “Okay, then, have it your way. Since you won’t be needing me, I’ll be down at the creek.” 

He strode from the room, whistling.

A big heartfelt thanks to Bob and Barb for letting me ‘borrow’ their cabin for Zach and Jessica’s story, and thanks so much to Sarah for having me today. Readers can find me at http://www.debrastjohnromance.com/. I’m also the Sunday blogger at The Acme Authors Link and the Thursday blogger at Heroines with Hearts.

I’d love to have you visit!

October 27, 2010

Contest Prize Poll

I woke up this morning in the mood for a blog contest. An easy one because, hey, I'm all about easy contests. With a smile on my face I began jotting down the multiple ways you, my readers, could enter. Then I got to the prize. What would I offer? What would be the most popular prize? Hmmm...

I came up with a few different ideas, then decided to go to the source. So here's your chance to tell me what YOU want.

I'll keep the poll open for at least a week and then post a contest in November.  Thanks for sharing. I look forward to learning what all of you prefer.

October 26, 2010

10 Things You Don't Know About Rie McGaha

Hello, today I'm pleased to have Rie McGaha at the keyboard. Rie is here celebrating her new release, Closure. Make sure you help Rie feel welcome by leaving her a comment. As a thank you, Rie is giving away a Rie McGaha Writing Tablet to one randomly drawn commenter from her blog tour. In fact, follow Rie on her tour and better your chances of winning. Just click the above banner for a list of her stops.

This is supposed to be a blog about ten things you don't know about me. I'm a pretty simple person with a pretty simple life. There's not much about me that's really interesting enough to blog about but I'm going to give it a shot.

10. I live in Oklahoma but I'm a Native Californian.

9. I used to work in an all male prison on a unit with 120 men, where I was the only female.

8. I have 9 dogs and 3 cats.

7. I collect Native American baby dolls and Irish Santas.

6. I believe Santa is the perfect man because he gives me whatever I want and only shows up once a year.

5. I ride motorcycles, and my husband and I love to just take off and ride wherever the road leads.

4. I used to drive semi-trucks cross country.

3. I have 33 grandchildren.

2. I have 12 kids.

And the number one thing you don't know about me is:

1. I am armed all the time. Yep, I carry a Taurus Judge loaded with .45 long Colts and .410 shotgun shells.

Closure by Rie McGaha
available at Champagne Books

High in the hills above Albuquerque, New Mexico Detective Zachariah Ellison arrives at the scene of a murder, and not just any murder, but one that definitely falls into the “gruesome” category even for a seasoned cop like Zach. When another body is found murdered in much the same fashion, Zach knows he’s got a serial killer on his hands, and to top it off he’s got an assistant district attorney hounding him about the case. As Zach tries to investigate the crimes while sidestepping nosey Amy Logan, a third body is found and Zach hasn’t a clue as to whom the perpetrator might be.

Amy Logan has worked hard to put herself through school and pay for law school on her own and now that she’s secured a position as assistant district attorney in Albuquerque, she’s determined to do everything she can to be the best prosecutor this office has ever seen. And as if luck was following her, she’s been assigned to the biggest homicide case the city has ever seen. The only problem she’s having is the homicide detective who’s leading the investigation—Zach Ellison.


"Zach, the body just arrived down here. Thought you'd want to be here for the autopsy," Pete said when Zach answered.

"On my way." He put the phone on the base, and then picked it up again. If Amy wanted information on the case, he'd just give it to her. He dialed the number from the card she'd left him, waited for the automated service, then punched in the extension.

“Amy? Zach here. The body just came in to the morgue. I'm going down—want to join me?” He looked at the phone in his hand and grinned. Amy hadn't even bothered to hang up on her end before he'd heard the door of her office slam.

Taking the elevator down, he pushed open the double doors that led to the morgue, and entered the autopsy room where he put on a face shield and paper apron. Ron was standing by the table with Pete, already wearing the protective gear.

"What do we have here?" Zach asked, putting on latex gloves.

"Just about to start, but I have to tell you, Zach, I've never seen anything like this. Damn, this is morbid—even for me," Pete said, shaking his head.

Ron nodded. "I've been in homicide for ten years,

Zach. I can't believe this one."

"Yeah, let's get on with it," Zach said and took a breath. He hated autopsies as well, but they were a vital part of finding evidence, and at this point he needed all he could get.

The doors opened again as Amy walked in, still out of breath, and all three men looked up. Zach thought she must have run the entire three blocks from her office.

“This is Amy Logan, D.A.'s office,” Zach said and made introductions. “There's an apron and a face shield on the shelf,” he told her and pointed. “Put them on.”

She nodded and when she was wearing the protective gear, she made her way to Zach's side and stood staring wide-eyed at the body on the table.

Pete took photos of the body—the penis in its mouth,

a close-up of the face, and of particular areas like the leather band around the throat. He removed the penis from the mouth, and photographed the teeth. Moving over the body, he photographed the bruises and burn marks on the upper torso, and the ligature marks on the ankles and wrists. The body was on its side because of the baseball bat protruding from the rectum, and he photographed that as well.

"Okay. I'm going to pull this out first, so I can turn the body,” he said at length. “It's not going to be pretty."

Pete grasped the handle of the bat with one hand and placed a gloved hand on the corpse's hip and pulled. The bat didn't budge. He grasped the bat with both hands and twisted it to the right, then braced a hand against the hip again and pulled harder, but it still wouldn't budge.

He looked up at Zach. “Want to give me a hand here?”

Zach blew out a breath and walked around the table while pulling on a second pair of gloves. No, he thought, I definitely do not want to help on this one.

He held the body in place while Pete twisted the bat back and forth a few times and then pulled slowly. It made a loud sucking noise and when the bat finally came out, blood, water, feces, and pieces of intestines gushed out after it, splattering onto Pete and Zach both, and then splashed noisily onto the floor at their feet.

"All righty then," Pete commented, and held up the sawed off bat, looking at Zach, then showed it to Amy and Ron.

Amy made a sound that wasn't quite a scream as she turned and ran to the sink, and heaved her lunch into it.

Zach took a deep breath and shrugged as he looked at Ron and Pete. He went to Amy, pulled paper towels out of the container, wet them and handed them to her, and left the water running in the sink so she could clean herself up.

October 22, 2010


Today I am at three different places. Yeah, you just know I'm going to mess up my posts somehow. VBG

TRS Spookapalooza  http://www.theromancestudio.com/party/

Fallen Angel Reviews Chatter  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FallenAngelReviewChatters

Love Romances Cafe  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LoveRomancesCafe

Stop by if you can. I'd love to chat with you.

October 21, 2010

My muse is sleeping

I feel the need to write.

My muse doesn't. The fickle beyotch just wants to sleep.

That's her, on the arm of the chair. Wake up!

October 20, 2010


I wanted to share with you a wonderful quote Desiree Holt provided me with for my next book, AFTER MIDNIGHT. Check it out:

"Just as music seduces you with soft but exciting notes until you reach the crescendo, so does After Midnight, which is all about music. You will fall in love with Isabeau and Noah and share their angst as they fight their way to love. A great read." - Desiree Holt

Thank you Desiree!

October 15, 2010

Spotlight On... Laura Browning

Please help me in welcoming author Laura Browning to the keyboard. Welcome, Laura, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Thanks for having me. First, I have to admit I’m a procrastinator. I finished my first (awful) romance when I was sixteen and living as an exchange student in a little attic room in Switzerland. I wrote it in a spiral notebook and gave it to my mom for Christmas. She’s been after me ever since to “publish something.” I don’t think she envisioned waiting more than thirty years for that to happen.

In the meantime, I worked in television news for more than twenty years before starting another career as an English teacher.

My husband was the one who finally gave me the proverbial kick in my procrastinating rear end when he looked at me and said, “You’re like a woodcutter who chops down trees, stacks the wood, and then lets it rot. Either send something to a publisher or quit hogging the computer.”

Isn’t love grand?

I love it! Tell us about THE SILKIE’S CALL and where we can find it.

The roots of this story actually lie in a ballad and a poem. Years ago, I heard Joan Baez sing a sad song about a Silkie – a man on land and a seal on the sea. It ends badly. The poem that inspired me is Poe’s “Annabel Lee”, which also ends badly. Since I’m all about HEA, I started melding some of the concepts and came up with the idea of a romance between a Silkie boy and a human girl. Their childhood romance ends in tragedy, and THE SILKIE’S CALL is the story of their chance to get it right. One of the things that makes this story unique is the heroine is partially paralyzed.

The book is available both in print and digital format from The Wild Rose Press.

Read an Excerpt

Describe your writing in three words.

Strong, sexy, caring

How did you start writing?

Well, I mentioned the bad gothic in the spiral notebook, but really and truly it started when I was four or five. I would make up my own bedtime stories after lights out. Usually, I inserted myself into some fairy tale. Sometimes I was the heroine rescued by the handsome prince, but just as often I was a warrior goddess who came in and smashed all the bad guys.

Why did you choose your genre?

Cough…genre? THE SILKIE’S CALL is considered paranormal, and I like the fun of being able to create a world and stretch believability, but in my woodpile, I’ve got a few contemporaries, several vampires, and a couple of historicals still waiting to get out. The seals just swam to the top first.

Do you ever become attached to your characters and have a hard time letting them go?

Yes. I do. By the time I finish a manuscript, I feel like those characters are personal friends. If they don’t feel that way to me, then I know I’m not done. Something’s not right. I’ll give you a for instance. The villain in THE SILKIE’S CALL wouldn’t turn loose. I don’t think he was happy about being the bad guy, so I ended up giving him his own story. The Wild Rose Press has also picked up THE SILKIE’S SALVATION which will come out next year.

Congratulations. Do you have any 'must haves' with you while you're writing?

Coffee and noise. Too many years working in a newsroom I guess. I can even write while carrying on a conversation. It drives my family crazy.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you began your writing career?

I wish I’d met my husband earlier so he could kick me in the butt sooner. I wish I’d been smart enough to hook up with my wonderful Heart of Carolina Romance Writers RWA Chapter sooner. I wish I’d known how much fun I would have!

Where can we find you on the web?

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Laura-Browning-Romance-Author/104008212970079?ref=sgm

My website (still under construction):  http://www.laurabrowningbooks.com/

My blog:  http://www.laurabrowningbooks.blogspot.com/

Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?

Is the interest in vampires still out there? I have some really hunky guys lurking around in the dark.

Thanks for visiting with me today, Laura.

The Silkie's Call by Laura Browning

The Silkie's Call by Laura Browning
Available from The Wild Rose Press

He’s hot, he’s sexy, and he’s a seal!

For seven years, Cayden Clifton’s had to stay away from the woman he can’t forget. But now his banishment is over and he’s returning to claim Annabel Barton, if she’ll accept him for what he is… a Silkie.

Annabel has returned to Long Island Sound to close up her father’s home. The place holds nothing but bitter memories of a summer that changed her life forever. She lost the boy she loved and the use of her legs. The last person she wants or expects to see is Cayden. He walked away from her when he found out she was paralyzed, so what could he want with her now?


She fumbled in the dark to find her crutches.

Slowly, carefully, she negotiated the slope down to the dock. It had always been the place she came to whenever her heart was heaviest. She had come here when she was seven and her mother had just died. She had come here again when she was fourteen. Now she was back, seven years later. As she stared down into the water lapping at her toes, her gaze went to her legs. Taylor was right. You couldn’t tell, just looking at her, that her legs were next to useless.

Annabel dragged her hand across her eyes with sudden decision. Without bothering to remove the t-shirt she slept in, she dove off the end of the dock and swam out and away. At least here she felt at home, felt normal.

“A little late for a swim, isn’t it, Annabel?”

The deep voice startled her. Cay! She floundered. Unable to effectively use her legs to tread water, she frantically scissored her arms to regain her equilibrium. Hard fingers closed around her upper arms. He grabbed her, holding her pressed against him while he stood, his feet firmly planted on the bottom of the bay.

“Leave me alone, Cayden!” she protested, arching away from him and pushing at him with her hands. Even as her mind panicked her body reacted to him. No, not again! At that moment she hated her body even more. Even in the darkness, she saw his nostrils flare as the scent of her arousal rose up to him. She didn’t want this; it was too painful. He was in her past and he should stay there, not see her like she was, not see her as a cripple! “Go away!”

October 13, 2010

Spotlight On... Liz Flaherty

Author Liz Flaherty joins us at the keyboard today. Welcome, Liz, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Thank you for having me here, Sarah. I do love to visit, and I promise not to leave the guest room a mess!

I’m a country girl, married to my true-life hero, mother to three and grandmother to seven. I sew—not well, by any means, but a lot! I write a newspaper column called “Window Over the Sink” for our local paper. Oh, and books. I write books, too.

Tell us about HOME TO SINGING TREES and where we can find it.

HOME TO SINGING TREES is my fourth book and my first historical romance. It’s a second-chance love story that takes place on the farm that’s been in my family since way back when. It will be released electronically from The Wild Rose Press on 10/15 and is already available in print from either the publisher or Amazon.

Escaping her painful past, Sarah Williamson finds a new life for her loved ones when she takes a position as housekeeper with Liam McKissick at Singing Trees Farm, an idyllic place considering the horrors she’s faced. Sarah, her daughter, and young sister-in-law feel at home as her heart warms to Liam, but then her daughter is kidnapped and danger again threatens her serenity. The need to flee and protect her family battles her growing love for Liam.

Widower Liam McKissick endured a loveless marriage. Unwilling to take another chance at love, he devotes his time to work and family. Despite his efforts to keep to himself, his passion grows for Sarah who brings life and love to his home. Notwithstanding her past and the trouble it may cause, he proposes. Can he risk his heart and family to make her stay?


How did you start writing?

It seems as though I always did, but I do remember typing on my aunt’s old Royal portable and instead of copying things or writing letters, I wrote truly terrible stories—single-spaced with lots of typos.

Why did you choose your genre?

Happy endings and empowerment of women, both things that are integral portions of romantic fiction.

What writers have influenced you the most?

Oh, my. Louisa May Alcott started it all—I literally read the covers off LITTLE WOMEN. But since then, Kathleen Gilles Seidel, Lavyrle Spencer, Pam Morsi—the influences (and the pleasure I get) are fairly endless. Lately, I discovered Kristan Higgins and added her to the list.

What are you passionate about?

My family. My faith. Writing. Living every single day because life is just the ultimate gift.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

I’ve been a postal worker for 30 years. I’ll be retiring in February, but I’ve been so lucky to have had a day job I truly liked for all this time.

What’s next for you?

I’m not sure. I’m finishing up a Baby Boomer romance right now that I just love, but I realize it’s not a particularly popular concept, that people over 40 not only can but do love with great passion and huge commitment.

When I finish that, I think I’m going to try to write another historical. HOME TO SINGING TREES was such fun, I’d like to do it again!

Where can we find you on the web?

My website is at  http://www.lizflaherty.com/

If anyone has additional questions for me, I can be reached at lizkflaherty@yahoo.com

Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?

I’d love to know how they feel about older protagonists. I’d also like to thank them for stopping by.

Thank you, Liz, for visiting with us today.

Home to Singing Trees by Liz Flaherty

Home to Singing Trees by Liz Flaherty
Available from The Wild Rose Press

Escaping her painful past, Sarah Williamson finds a new life for her loved ones when she takes a position as housekeeper with Liam McKissick at Singing Trees Farm, an idyllic place considering the horrors she’s faced. Sarah, her daughter, and young sister-in-law feel at home as her heart warms to Liam, but then her daughter is kidnapped and danger again threatens her serenity. The need to flee and protect her family battles her growing love for Liam.

Widower Liam McKissick endured a loveless marriage. Unwilling to take another chance at love, he devotes his time to work and family. Despite his efforts to keep to himself, his passion grows for Sarah who brings life and love to his home. Notwithstanding her past and the trouble it may cause, he proposes. Can he risk his heart and family to make her stay?


She was in the tree.

“Sarah!” Liam bellowed, taking the three steps off the porch in one and striding toward the tree. “Good morning, Jess. Good morning, Emily. Mrs. Williamson, come down here right now!”

“I can’t do that, sir. I have another swing to hang after this one. I got the nicest boards at the sawmill yesterday, and the sawyer didn’t even charge for them, and I begged the rope from Davis.” She peered down at him from what seemed a very long way up, and the skin around her green eyes looked bruised, as though last night’s conversation had disturbed her as much as it had him. “I think children need swings to play on, don’t you?”

“Bribed Davis is what she did,” Gavin mumbled from his stance on the porch. “We’re having chicken and dumplings and chocolate cake for supper. Personally, I don’t see a daggone thing wrong with a little bribery here and there. Keeps a man” –he stopped and chuckled— “well-fed.”

“Swings are all well and good, Sarah, but you don’t need to hang them. Davis or I will be glad to. Now, come down from there.” Ignoring Gavin’s glee, Liam hitched his coat back out of his way and placed impatient hands on the hips of his trousers.

“I will in a minute.” She shinnied further out the branch, looked down at her legs hanging down on either side of it, and turned fiery red. “Would you turn your back, please, Liam?”

He could see the stockings that covered those splendid legs were darned and shabby, her shoes had holes in their soles, and the petticoats that swung below her hideous brown skirt had been sewn from flour sacks. The thick bun of copper-tinted brown hair, pulled tight when he’d left this morning, had loosened considerably, and soft tendrils blew about her face.

She looked magnificent.

He turned his back.

But he didn’t want to.

He waited five minutes, while Gavin yelled instructions and Sarah called back rejoinders that didn’t sound in the least servile, while the girls played Ring-Around-the-Rosy around his legs until they fell into a tangle at his feet.

“Are you ready to come down now?” he asked after the five minutes were up.

“Well, I would be, except—” She stopped.

“Except what?”

“Except I seem to be stuck to something, and I can’t figure out where I’m stuck or what I’m stuck to.”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake.” Impatient now, wanting her safely on the ground, Liam pulled off his coat and handed it to Jessie. “Hold this while I rescue Mrs. Sarah.”

“Mrs. Mama,” Jessie corrected him over her shoulder as she carried the coat to lay it neatly over the porch rail.

Liam looked from his daughter to the woman in the tree. “Mrs. Mama?” he said mildly.

“I’m sorry. They came up with it this morning, and I didn’t know how to dissuade them.” Sarah looked slightly sheepish, and Liam had a feeling she didn’t really mind the new title.

“And I should warn you,” she went on, “they’ve decided that from now on, Emily is to call you Dr. Papa. I couldn’t talk them out of that, either.”

“Actually—” Liam swung himself into the tree with a grunt of effort “—I prefer it to Dr. Kamissick.”

He moved onto the branch on which Sarah was sitting. “I guess we’re going to check the strength of this limb before the girls swing from it, right Mrs. Mama?”

“Looks that way,” she mumbled, blushing again, and he stopped moving for a moment, totally captivated.

Sue Anne Klein didn’t blush, he remembered suddenly. She simpered. If Emily’s conception and birth were the result of something sordid, something less than honorable, would her mother still blush at every whipstitch?

“Your skirt’s hooked,” he said, his voice remarkably like that of a boy still waiting for his first shave; he was surprised it didn’t crack halfway through the sentence. He was pretty sure he was blushing, too. Oh, Lord.

He sat so close to her he felt the heat from her skin and smelled the faint scent of roses that always seemed to surround her. Her head was bowed as she tried to see where her skirt was caught, exposing the pale skin of the back of her neck to his interested perusal.

He could almost feel that sensitive skin against his lips, the warmth of her body beneath his hands. He had a natural physical reaction to those thoughts and was hard put not to groan aloud.

“I’ll try not to rip your skirt.” He leaned sideways to reach where the skirt was caught and could see the way her full breasts pushed against the material of her waist and whatever she wore under it.

Oh, dear, sweet Lord.

Liam tugged at the thin fabric of her skirt, frowning when it tore and exposed Sarah’s petticoat.

Good God, the woman embroidered flour sacks before she made them into underwear.

“Sorry,” he said. For what? Ripping her skirt or ogling her underwear? “I think you’re loose now. I’m going to back up and go down first, all right?”

She nodded without turning her head, and he could see the telltale red creeping around her neck. “You’re entirely decent,” he whispered, “although I wouldn’t mind a bit seeing the rest of that petticoat.”

“Dr. McKissick!” she hissed, her voice a fine cross of indignation and embarrassment. “In case you forgot, there are children waiting right at the bottom of this tree.”

He grinned. “I think they’ve probably seen your petticoats. They aren’t nearly as interested as I am.”

She turned her head, and even though her cheeks still bloomed pink and she tried her best to frown, laughter brimmed in the mossy eyes.

If he stayed up this tree, Liam knew he would kiss his housekeeper, regardless of who waited below.

Reluctantly, he climbed down.

Certain she’d set a record for how many times a person could blush in one day, Sarah inched backward to the fork in the tree, swung one leg over as modestly as possible, and stepped to the lower branch.

Liam looked up at her.

“Please turn around,” she begged. “You, too, Judge,” she called to the man on the porch. “I don’t descend all that elegantly.”

Liam held up his arms. “Jump.”

“Oh, no, Liam. I’m too big. I’ll knock the wind right out of you.”

He frowned the scowl that had intimidated her that first couple of days, before the night they’d worked together to bring a new baby into the world. “I’ll take that chance,” he said, a glint of determination in his eyes.

Sarah sighed. “All right, but I warned you.”

He caught her against what was surely the hardest chest in the state of Indiana, held firmly by what were definitely the strongest arms, and allowed to slide slowly to the ground against what was without doubt the most arousing body.

Arousing? What am I doing even thinking a word like arousing? Dr. Papa or no, he’s your employer, Sarah Mary, and don’t you be forgetting it.

When Liam didn’t release her immediately, she raised her hands to his shoulders to push him gently away and caught sight of her work-roughened fingers against his immaculate shirt—a cruel, but effective comparison. Liam McKissick was among the cream of the area’s social crop. He had money, influence, and unparalleled good looks.

Sarah Mary Williamson was a housekeeper, the mother of an illegitimate child and the guardian of a sister-in-law who had been pursued against her will by the father of that child.

Like spotless white shirts and rough red hands, the two didn’t belong together.

October 5, 2010

Writing from across the pond

Today's guest blogger is multi-published author Rachel Brimble.

Don't forget to check out her website for more information on her and her books.

I have just come back from my local Romantic Novelists Association (British RWA equivalent) chapter meeting and as usual had a wonderful time talking books, writing, publishers and every other writing topic you can think of. And then I was asked why I write for American publishers when I live (and always have) in the UK.

Great topic for my latest blog post – thinks me!

The reason I write for the American market is simple – after failing to get as much as a short story published for years in the UK, an online friend (American) told me to give the US market a try. I was dubious. I couldn’t help thinking if my own country didn’t like my voice, why would a foreign one? What if the crux of it is, I just can’t write? Doubts swarmed around my head, my self-confidence plummeted. But when I told my husband I was giving my writing up, he told me no way (he’d just paid £200 for a writers course!).

So I thought, OK, America, here I come! I logged onto Google and started looking at US publishers for my very first novel, which was written, and languishing in a living room drawer like a dirty secret. The first one that caught my eye was The Wild Rose Press – I liked the name, it was fairly new, the covers were amazing and after emailing several of their authors I knew they were wonderful to work with.

So, I pulled out the manuscript, gave it a damn good polish and sent it off – within six weeks, I had been offered a contract! I was in heaven – I cried, I laughed and then cried some more. Searching For Sophie was published in 2007 and I’ve not looked back since. I now have three novels with Wild Rose, another with Eternal Press and another due for release in January 2011 with Lyrical Press – all US publishers. God bless America!

The great thing about this is I only know England and worried that sooner or later one of the publishers would want me to only write American characters. How would I make the characters authentic if I was British?? But the good news is, my concern was unfounded and I have had four years of writing for the American market with British characters telling my stories.

Until now.

My latest release is a mix of American and British – yay! Transatlantic Loving is my offering to The Wild Rose Press series, Class of ’85. The story is the journey of American school soccer coach, sexy Aaron Taylor and visiting Brit, Lisa Cavendish. Here’s the blurb:

In a desperate bid to escape the bitter reality of her children accepting her ex-husband’s new – and younger – fiancĂ©e, Lisa Cavendish travels from the UK to accompany her friend to a high school reunion. Forced to dress as Madonna in her hey day, the last thing she expects is to fall in love with the school’s coach, who seems to hold as much regard for his child as her ex did when he walked out…

Aaron Taylor can’t believe his eyes or ears when he is introduced to Lisa – sexy and funny, she has no idea how her accent enhances the heartbreaking wait he endures waiting for his daughter to call him back to the UK. But after spending just three short weeks with Lisa, he sees the answer to his pain in the eyes of the most phenomenal British lady he has ever met…

I LOVED writing this story (my very first novella) – mixing British and American against 1980’s music and memories background, fabulous! Lisa is feisty, secretly insecure but with a great sense of humor. As for Aaron? All I can say is YUM!!!!!

I’ll leave you with an excerpt and buy link – enjoy!

Once they arrived at Sips, Aaron felt grateful to be alone with her again. He gestured her along the small path leading to a grassy area with small tables and chairs that overlooked the water. As he sat, he unconsciously swept at his dirty knees, feeling like a teenager trying to impress his date. She looked immaculate and he resembled a down and dirty jock trying to court an upper-class lady. Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley came to mind.

“Lisa? I’m sorry.”

She turned, her forehead crinkled in a frown. “What for?”

He gestured toward his clothes. “Maybe I should have followed the boys into the showers.”

She took one of his hands and brought it to the table. “Can I give you a bit of advice?”

It was his turn to frown. “Sure.”

“You really shouldn’t say things like that in public, people might get the wrong idea and before you know it, you’ll be strung up by your boy bits outside the town hall.”

Boy Bits? It took a second before a bubble of laughter shook his diaphragm before bursting from his mouth. “That’s not funny, you know.”

She grinned. “I’m only teasing. You look fine.” She paused, then winked. “I don’t mind slumming it every now and then.”

His groin twitched and his gaze fell to her lips. God, what he’d give to lean toward her right there and then and

A shadow fell across the table and Lisa snatched her hand from his as though she’d been stung. Aaron cursed inwardly and turned to look up into the beaming face of Sips owner, Maggie LaMonica.

Thanks so much for having me here today, Sarah – really looking forward to talking to your readers!

Thanks for visiting today, Rachel. 

Check out more of Rachel's books at her
Purchase your very own copy of her book,
Transatlantic Loving.

October 2, 2010

whisper your fantasy to me, baby

Today's blog is by author Becca Dale.  Make sure to leave a comment here and well as at her blog for your change to win.

Whisper Your Fantasy to Me, Baby: The value of secret dreams.

The heroine in my latest release, Surrender at Sea, confronts a bit of forbidden fruit that ultimately represents everything she secretly desires—joy, love, and respect. In her case, as is often the situation in romance, physical desire ultimately fulfills unspoken dreams. Such fantasies are frequently too precious or painful or even embarrassing to be consciously acknowledged, but they guide our choices and our hopes all the same.

Growing up, I longed for a considerate partner who would put the seat down so I did not need to shower at three AM, share in the daily chores such as dishes, and show affection both in public or private. [Sorry, Daddy.] This is a simplistic example of the value of secret dreams. My father did not feel the need to help with the housework, or put the seat down for that matter, partly because of the generation and environment in which he was raised and partly because of the nature of his job that kept him long hours in the field. However, my mother usually worked those fields beside him. It always seemed to me that he had a responsibility to her as well to the farm.

In his defense, Dad provided the fodder for my perfect husband fantasy by offering both good and bad examples of male behavior. It was his chivalrous habit of walking on the outside of the sidewalk to protect my mother from vehicle splash; his hand at her waist or on her arm as they spoke; and the way he sought her out the moment a waltz played, even if they had to dance in the alleyway of the milking parlor, that made me long for such tacit affection. This unspoken dream hovered in my head and tinted my view of the male population.

Today, my husband is literally the man of my dreams and so much more. I am lucky. This I understand without doubt. However, other fantasies, many voiced only to myself, continue to guide me in countless ways. Unspoken and sometimes even unacknowledged desires drive us forward or hold us back from true fulfillment. They can deal with simple things, like those mentioned above, or explore far more intimate issues that could potentially place a person in a position of ridicule. Romantic literature allows writers and readers to explore such things without fear of repercussions because it is, after all, fiction. Before you ask, no I do not secretly yearn for a boy toy like Jess in Surrender does, but an escape to the Bahamas would be lovely if someone has a spare ticket to share.

So what hidden dreams and desires make you shiver in the night? What do you secretly yearn for? Now that you think about it, has such a dream been fulfilled? Share your fantasy and read or comment on those that others share. Make me laugh, cry, or just say aw and you could win a copy of Surrender at Sea and a secret bonus just for playing along. Remember, I may need to find you when the contest is over so mention where you heard about this blog or simply check back to see who won. [NOTE: Off the Keyboard is not labeled as an adult page so keep your responses PG13 or cleaner, please. ;-D]

If you would like to explore this topic in a more intimate setting, pop over to Becca’s Retreat and share away. You must comment here as well though if you want to be in on the contest. (comments are at the top of the post) Thanks for visiting and thank you, Sarah, for allowing me to drop by. I hope all of you have your very best secrets fantasies come true.

Check out Becca's new release, Surrender at Sea.  Now available at The Wilder Rose Press.


October 1, 2010

Beloved Captive by Melanie Atkins

Beloved Captive by Melanie Atkins
Available now at Desert Breeze


Detective Kevin Jacobs believes integrity is the most important trait a cop can possess, until a beautiful doctor accuses him of murder and he’s forced to take her hostage in order to clear his name. Rebecca Daniels cooperates with Kevin, and soon finds herself in a fight for her very life — and also for her heart.


He gritted his teeth. “We’re going to get up together and you won’t make a sound. Got that?”

She didn’t answer. Didn’t move, didn’t breathe. Silence filled the space around them so completely Kevin forgot to breathe, too. When he did, he drew in the bitter tang of blood. The coppery scent caught in his throat.

He gripped the back of her neck and squeezed, careful to keep his fingernails from digging into her tender skin. “You hear me?”

She nodded slowly, and a lone tear dripped down her cheek. Her pulse skittered wildly beneath his hand.

He tamped down the urge to be gentle with her slender, quivering body. He needed her to fear him so she wouldn’t cause a commotion as they left the courthouse. How he’d get away without leaving a trail of blood, he didn’t know. But he had to try, and she was his best hope.

“Get up.” He rose and pulled her with him.

She held herself rigid. He turned her around. The light hit her face and he reeled from the animosity written there. Her eyes were the color of a clear summer sky. They snapped with rage.

“You killed Judge Boykin.” Her sharp words made him blanch.

He tightened his grip on her arm. “It wasn’t me.”

“Oh, no? I saw you.” Her accusing gaze slid down his black-clad body and he suddenly realized he and Fowler could be mistaken for twins — except for the blood now soaking his clothes.

She tried to wriggle free, but he held her fast.

“I can’t let you go. I need your help.”

“Are you crazy?” She gaped at him.

He fought off a wave of dizziness. “I have to get out of here. I’m losing blood fast.”

She looked at his side and her eyes widened. “Oh, my God.”

“He stabbed me.”

“Who did?” Her gaze jerked to his. “The judge?”

“No.” There wasn’t time to explain further. He eyed the window.

“There’s no way out,” she said “except the door.”

“We’ll see about that.” He lifted the Glock to her head. “Walk over to the window. Now.”

“Surely you’re not planning to–”

He looked at her.

“You are.” The blood drained from her face.

Sounds fantastic, doesn't it?  Purchase your very own copy HERE