Wishing everyone good health and much happiness in 2009!
TORMENTED -- Ellora's Cave (MUST-READ from Dark Angel Reviews)
ROUGHRIDER -- Ellora's Cave Exotika
HELLE IN HEELS -- Ellora's Cave Exotika
Sorry I've been AWOL. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas or Hannukah or other holiday and that the New Year holds amazing things for all of you! I've been promising an excerpt from my new time travel romance, HIGHLAND REBEL, which will be out in March 2009 -- but can be pre-ordered now, don't forget! And I'm finally making good on that promise! Here's the actual first paragraphs of the book, which is the second in my Timeless Highlanders Series from Berkley Books. Hope you love Ian as much as Ellie does! Would love to hear from any and all!
By Tess Mallory (copyright 2009)
Celtic music sensation Ian MacGregor flashed his now-famous smile at the thousand or more fans cheering as he took his place center stage at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. He wore a traditional MacGregor kilt, knee-high suede leather boots, and nothing else, except a burnished gold band around his upper arm, skimming the lower edge of his Trinity tattoo.
As he grabbed the wireless mike from its stand and welcomed the suddenly hushed crowd, offstage Ellie Graham tossed her dyed black hair back from her shoulders and narrowed her eyes.
Oh, sure, he was Mr. Hunky Hunk, but take away that tousled blonde hair, the sky blue eyes, his bare, muscular chest, the awesome tattoo and devil-may care smile, and what was left?
Just his ruggedly handsome face, amazing voice, and awesome musical ability.
His bare chest gleamed beneath the bagpipes strapped around his torso, and his ragged hair grazed the top of his broad shoulders as his eyes twinkled, promising pleasure to all who dared to meet them.
The pipes’ leather “halter” was Ian’s own creation, fashioned to leave his hands free for grabbing the microphone—or any willing woman who might fling herself in his direction. And there were a lot of willing women in Ian’s life. He was the epitome of a Highland Bad Boy, a Celtic Casanova, a Scottish Scoundrel, a—
Oh stop, a little voice inside her head ordered. You know that Ian is one of the nicest, humblest guys you’ve ever met. It’s not his fault that he’s gorgeous and, well, a man.
Ellie folded her arms across her chest. It was true. Ian was darn near perfect. Then her mouth went dry and her brain functions faltered as Ian took center stage. Dazed again by the sight of him in action, she watched as he raised both fists into the air and gave the sea of adoring fans what they’d all been waiting for with baited breath.
“Ard Cholle!” he shouted.
The crowd went wild. Hundreds of women rushed the stage, screaming like banshees. Ellie shivered. She couldn’t deny that she still got goosebumps when she heard Ian give the MacGregor war cry. His rough, rich voice resonated across the vast hall and she took a deep, steadying breath.
Ian grinned widely as his backup band, “Outlaw”, launched into a rock and roll version of “Donald, Where’s Your Trousers?” Ellie couldn’t help but smile. The song was an old one, written as a slur against Scotsmen, but Ian had taken it and made it the national anthem of sexy men in kilts. It had become an instant hit in the UK.
With a loud whoop, he danced across the wide platform, his kilt whirling above his knees, exposing lean, hard thighs. He sang into the microphone, his deep, rich voice seducing every woman in the hall. He moved his trim, muscular body like a man possessed, working the crowd into its usual frenzy, and Ellie knew, with a sinking heart, that she had made the right choice.
There was no way around it. As soon as this last show on the UK tour was over, she had to dump Ian. Until then, she had no choice but to watch the man she loved do his best to give a thousand other women musical orgasms.
Ian sang. Women screamed. Ian shouted. Men shouted back. Ian rocked the crowd, enticing every person there, daring them to dance, to sing, to lose every inhibition they’d ever had. And as he did, the walls of the auditorium seemed to tremble with an intense, frantic energy, with Ian at the center of the maelstrom, inviting everyone to join him, love him, embrace him, as he reached the last verse of the song.
“The lassies love me every one
But they must catch me if they can,
Ye canna put breeks on a Highland man, saying,
“Donald, where's your trousers?”
Ellie closed her eyes at the thought of Ian without his trousers. The crowd whistled and cheered as Ian took a bow and gestured to his band; then the mood changed as the music shifted into something soft and mellow.
She opened her eyes, her throat tight, knowing what came next. She steeled her heart not to feel, not to share the stark emotions that slid across Ian’s face as he raised the microphone to his lips once again. It was one of his own songs, and one that filled Ellie—and probably every other woman in the hall—with an indescribable longing. He called it, “Lass O’ My Heart.”
“Ah, bonny lass, I dinna know yer name,” he sang, “but someday I will find ye…Ye are my heart, though we have never met… my love forevermore…”
The words swept over Ellie painfully, and when he reached the end of the second verse and slid the mouthpiece of the pipes between his lips like a lover’s tongue, her heart beat faster and she ran her own tongue across her lips. What would it be like, to be the woman of Ian’s dreams? What would it take to capture his heart so completely?
A hush fell over the audience as the haunting melody shuddered through the air, bringing first sighs, and then tears to those who watched and listened.
Leave Ian. She’d have to be crazy.
Just six months ago Ellie’s visa had expired and she’d started packing her bags to leave Scotland, when her sister Maggie told her Ian was looking for an assistant for his upcoming tour. She’d ignored the idea until Ian had shown up on her doorstep, irresistibly adorable, and she’d found herself agreeing to take the job.
The prospect of touring the UK with the hottest Celtic band on the planet—a combination of bagpipes, bodhran, tin whistle, drums, electric fiddle, and electric guitar, not to mention Ian MacGregor—had seemed like a dream come true. And it had been, for a while. For the first few weeks, Ellie thought she’d died and gone to heaven, if she believed in such things.
Ellie had been a natural at her new job, her ability to shut out any and all emotion turning out to be really helpful in the day-to-day machinations of booking the popular band across the UK. It had been a thrill to watch the Scottish lads dazzle their fans and know that she had a large part in making it happen. With Ian as the charismatic lead singer, he and the band had taken the UK and Europe by storm, and now there was talk of a U.S. tour. Ellie would be a fool to turn down the opportunity.
That was the problem. She was a fool.
About a week into the tour she had fallen, flat-out, facedown, slam-bang in love with Ian. She’d hid her mounting frustration, along with her growing love, as best she could, cloaking it with an aloof negativity that generally kept Ian at arm’s length. Before each show they met to go over the details of the gig, but that was thankfully the extent of any personal time she spent with Ian.
Oh, they had traveled together in the tour bus, Ellie hidden behind her book, seemingly oblivious to the playful banter around her; they ate together sometimes, and went to after parties held in his honor. But she was always careful to keep everything professional between them, never personal. Which was hard, because Ian had such an easygoing, flirty, likeable nature. He had made her smile more in the last six months than she had in the last six years.
He was dangerous.
Ellie took a deep breath and tried to slow the pounding of her heart. On the other side of the stage, his current girlfriend – Tiffany? Brittany? Something with a “ee” sound – stood, looking bored and impatient.
One thing about Ian, he had a knack for picking the most vapid, selfish, shallow women for his arm candy, which had helped Ellie harden her heart toward him as the tour continued. The sight of Ian with his arms slung around two European models, or groupies, or actresses, had made her realize, again and again, that her crush on the piper was absolutely ridiculous.
Then, to her horror, Ian had actually turned his attention to her, teasing and flirting with her, insisting on talking to her into the wee hours after a gig, alone in his or her hotel room. He’d even taken her hand at times and kissed it. She’d almost fainted.
Terrified that she would succumb to his charm, Ellie knew she had to switch gears and move from being standoffish to becoming completely cold. Once she’d overheard one of the musicians in the band call her the Ice Queen. At the ripe old age of twenty-four she’d been easing out of the ‘Goth’ persona that had protected her from the world since she was twelve. She’d kept her hair dyed black, if only to keep her separate from her twin, but had mostly given up the layers of black she’d worn through high school and college, and toned down the harsh makeup. But as soon as there was a chance her heart might be in danger, Ellie ran back to the shelter of that disguise as fast as she could.
It was easy to revert. Even easier to send Ian careening for the nearest super model. Clad in her favorite black clothing, black boots, wearing lipstick so dark it looked black, with her dyed black hair and heavily outlined eyes, Ellie knew she looked fairly formidable. Not that Ian knew a war was going on. He’d just shaken his head at her ‘new’ style, and, as she had intended, retreated from the fray. Oh, he was still sweet to her, but the flirting had stopped . . . just in time.
Ian began to sing again and glanced offstage, his face brightening at the sight of her. Then he tossed her that rakish grin she had come to both love and fear, and her face grew warm as she fought to keep from smiling back.
Her fingers tightened in the pocket of the overly large black sweater she wore. A Paper crackled. Her resignation letter was short and concise. It didn’t give away even one little bit of her true feelings. If she let down her walls for one instant, Ian would use that amazing smile and those burning eyes to convince her to stay. She would give in and go on loving him from afar, a little bit of her heart shattering daily like the last note of a faulty pipe. Better to fake disdain than to take such a risk.
The lush, poignant notes skirled from Ian’s pipes as if they had a life of their own, and Ellie clasped her hands together, caught in the magic only Ian could create. Tears threatened to fill her eyes and she took a deep breath and willed them away.
She didn’t cry. She hadn’t cried when her parents died, so she sure wasn’t going to cry over a song, even if this was the last time she would ever see Ian like this -- eyes closed, face radiant, caught in the throes of the love that meant more to him than any woman probably ever could.
Then he opened his eyes and Ellie’s throat tightened. He was looking at her again, his gaze tender as he sang the last lines of the song directly to her.
“And when the lass o’ my heart I find…in the heather soft, in yer arms entwined…I will love ye, lass, ‘till the end of time…”
He held the note, his liquid voice hovering in the air above a dazzled audience as Ellie held her breath, the ache in her chest almost unbearable. Then he turned away, and she felt the loss down to the core of her soul as he sang again to his audience.
“Och, my bonny lass, my bonny lass…oh, the bonny lass o’ my heart…”
The final note filled the auditorium like the swelling breath of an angel, and she drew in another sharp breath as the crowd went crazy and roar filled the auditorium. Ian spread his arms and faced his fans, his eyes closed, as if he would take them all into his arms, if only he could.
Ellie took a step back, feeling stunned. She’d made the right decision. She had to get out while she was still alive.
But everybody has to die sometime, right?
If you were writing a romance, which of the following men would you cast as your hero and why? I’ve chosen my favorite and will reveal his identity in next week’s blog post. Well, ladies? Which man wins your heroine’s hand and heart?
Wishing you all many happy reading moments,
TORMENTED -- Ellora's Cave (MUST-READ from Dark Angel Reviews)
ROUGHRIDER -- Ellora's Cave Exotika
HELLE IN HEELS -- Ellora's Cave Exotika
by Marie-Claude Bourque
A few people have asked me whether I got upset by one of the judge comment in the latest round of American Title (read it here if you haven’t had a chance yet: http://www.romantictimes.com/news_amtitle3.php).
The truth is, no. In fact, I thought she was quite funny and I was quite happy that she found my hero gripping. I love tortured heroes. In fact the whole world I built for ANCIENT WHISPERS is based on tragic lovers of old, on heroes with tragic past. They are tortured, hence tough, mysterious, with nothing to lose. Their misery just begs for the right heroine to give them back happiness.
Why do we love tortured heroes? Why am I swept by Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunters, most of them with background of slavery or betrayal? Why do I find J.R. Ward brothers so compelling? In real life, her vampires would be extremely scary, but what is it that makes me want their happiness, is it their tortured side? The glimpse that they may be redeemed with the love of one brave heroine? Even Julia Quinn has her share of tortured heroes. One with a stutter so bad his father wouldn’t acknowledge him and one tortured by the memory of an unfaithful first wife. In paranormal romance, they are the vampire, the werewolf, or even the demon. In regency, they are the devilish rake and rogue who hide his tragic past by creating scandals among the ton and charming the young misses.
The tortured hero is the highlander who lost his family to the English empire (I say BraveHeart and my heart beat faster!). He is the pirate who was captured as boy to be sold in slavery and is now taking his revenge.
Christopher’s Vogler in the Writer’s Journey even has a name for this hero, he is not new. He is the “Wounded Anti-Hero”… a hero played often by Bogart or James Dean on the screen. To quote Vogler: “We love these characters because they are rebels, thumbing their noses at society as we would all like to do.”
They belong to the edge of society, they are dangerous and we just loved them. Edward Cullen in Twilight, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine (isn’t the upcoming X-Men movie all about his tortured past) and another of my favorite, Jason Staham as the Transporter. Don’t we all die to be the woman who will make them happy? Isn’t it so much more of a challenge for us when they are already so far lost?
Now tell me? Who is your favorite tortured hero?
American Title Finalist
Wishing you all good health and much happiness,
TORMENTED -- Available now at Ellora's Cave
ROUGHRIDER -- Ellora's Cave
HELLE IN HEELS -- Ellora's Cave
Nicole: Welcome Natasha! Please tell us about your story Up to No Good in Red Sage Secrets Volume 25, Wicked Delights.
Natasha: I love this story. The characters were so much fun to write, and I was able to add a lot of humor to the story. Here’s the blurb: Former syndicated columnist Simon “Mac” Mackenzie hides a tragic secret. When freelance writer Alison Chandler seeks an exclusive interview, she threatens not only his carefully constructed lifestyle, but his longstanding ideas about love. Is their passion a distraction or the key to surviving their war of wills?
Nicole: Sounds wonderful! What is your favorite thing about this story and what inspired you to write it?
Natasha: I love sexy banter between two characters – from the very first scene these two were trading barbs and I never knew what was going to come out of their mouths next. It was so much fun! As for what inspired me…hmm, I honestly can’t remember, but the idea started as a man with a secret and woman who doesn’t take no for an answer.
Nicole: Which element of this story was the hardest for you and why?
Natasha: Coming up with a title! This story had gone through several incarnations and several titles. When it was requested by a Red Sage editor through a contest, the title was Simon Says. Well, there was already a Secrets novella (an excellent Secrets novella) with that title and so I was struggling to think of a new title. Finally, I was on my way to work one day and the car radio started playing Sugarland’s “Down the Mississippi and Up to No Good.” That stuck with me all day and as soon as I got home I pulled up my manuscript. The first line read, “Mac could tell she was trouble the minute she walked through the door.” I simply changed that line to read, “Mac could tell she was up to no good the minute she walked through the door.” Perfect! Now I LOVE this title.
Nicole: Wow that's inspired! I love it when things come together like that. Please tell us about your other new releases.
Natasha: I had a novella from Ellora’s Cave, Smoke and Mirrors, that was released Nov 21st. The hero is an illusionist and I loved writing this story. Here’s a blurb:
Love is nothing but an illusion. Heiress Gabriella Winslow learned that lesson years ago when her magician boyfriend abandoned her, sick and alone, hundreds of miles from home. In the years that followed, she’s tried to forget him and the erotic bondage games they used to play. But the life she’s made for herself since then still leaves her restless and yearning for something more.
Now a successful illusionist, Alexander Black has returned to settle an old score. And to seduce Gabriella. With a blindfold and handcuffs and blood red roses, he entices his former lover and magician’s assistant back to his Las Vegas penthouse. Alex is an expert at smoke and mirrors. If all goes according to plan, she’ll never even know she’s his prisoner.
I also have an e-book, Dark Angel, coming out with Red Sage in January (yes, I had a triple play with releases in Nov, Dec, and Jan!) This story has a bit of a gothic atmosphere. Here’s the blurb:
Disfigured in an accident that killed his wife, reclusive photographer, Rafael D’Angelo wants to be left alone amid rumors the car crash was no accident. Julie Brightman has been secretly in love with her sister’s husband for years. When a violent thunderstorm strands her at his secluded house, she discovers the man in the mask is not the Rafe she remembers. Trapped together, their happiness is threatened by the past that haunts them and the secrets they keep from each other. Dark Angel will be released on January 1st. Happy New Year!
Nicole: Those sound steamy! Congratulations on all the releases! And what awesome covers you have. Do you have a couple of reviews you could share with us?
Natasha: I’d love to!
“I really enjoyed this novella – it’s a very strong story. It has great characterisation with lots of sexual tension as Allie and Mac banter and lock horns over the interview. It’s the most realistic story in the anthology, with very believable characters. 5 Flutes.” – Cocktail Reviews
“Until this anthology, I had never read Natasha Moore, but she is an author I will definitely be reading more of soon! I was very impressed with her novella, UP TO NO GOOD. The title itself intrigued me, and the story was just wonderful…The banter between Allie and Mac is fantastic – I couldn’t get enough of it. This pair will certainly keep each other on their toes for the rest of their lives… UP TO NO GOOD is a fun little romance whose lightness compliments the real depth of the story. I would bet that Natasha Moore finds herself with quite a few new fans after this gem releases.” - Wild On Books
Nicole: Those are fantastic! Do you have any advice for new writers of erotic romance?
Natasha: Turn off your internal editor! Really. That’s what I had to do and it was remarkably freeing. Just go for it with that first draft! You’ll have plenty of time to revise later.
Nicole: Excellent! Would you like to ask blog readers a question?
Natasha: Mac is now a bartender and Allie orders a number of drinks with sexually explicit names, like Screaming Orgasm and Slippery Nipple. Have you ever ordered a drink with a naughty name? What was it? And be honest….was it any good????
Nicole: Hmm... sexy and intriguing question! ;-) Thank you, Natasha, for being our guest today! It's always a pleasure! Everyone, please visit Natasha's website at: http://www.natashamoore.com/
A fresh snow blankets the ground. You and your special guy engage in a snowball battle and take turns combing the melting remnants from each other’s hair and coats. His playful swat finds you two chasing around the yard and steering around bushes and trees whose boughs are fat with snow. You turn the corner and make a break for the backyard, skirt a stout hedge and duck for cover. All remains silent. Success! He won’t find your hiding place. But as this thought crosses your mind, strong arms bundle you from behind and draw your teetering body closer to his. You wiggle free but not before a bit more snuggling—after all, winter clothes can only stave off so much of winter’s chill. His embrace holds an extra benefit—it also warms your heart. As a result of your morning yard run the snow lay heaped, and you’re inspired to build the season’s first snowman. The same gloved hands that earlier held yours while you and he navigated a slippery driveway are now sculpting a snow buddy beside which you’ll soon pose for some silly photographs. Once the camera is placed out of harm’s way, you and he fashion a few snow angels as your laughter lofts toward the cloudless sky.
He helps you to your feet and whispers a few romantic words. In a mad dash you head for the house. Once inside you shed your snow gear in the mud room or foyer and cut a path for the kitchen where a carafe of your favorite coffee or hot chocolate awaits you. You clink mug rims with him and sip some of the soothing beverage, but he has other plans. He places your mug beside his on the counter, takes you in his arms and carries you to the living room where a cozy fire crackles beyond the brick hearth. There’s nothing quite like the deliciousness of his warm lips skimming your cheek and chin and making contact with your mouth. His chest heaves beneath your hand. The embrace deepens, his next kiss leaves you breathless and silver bells peal. You gaze up at him, and his wink ignites you from head to heels. His nuzzles your neck. "Merry Christmas, Baby. Be mine forever." What a wonderful guy. Despite winter’s wrath and freezing temperatures, who needs a fire when you have love in your heart and romance in your life?
Wishing you all good health and much happiness for the holidays and beyond,
TORMENTED -- Available now at Ellora's Cave
ROUGHRIDER -- Ellora's Cave Exotika
HELLE IN HEELS -- Ellora' s Cave Exotika
What a wonderful Christmas present!!
of those buff "santas" to the right for Christmas,
although the one with the... Just kidding! I'm going to be boring because all I want for Christmas this year is time! I suppose much of my lack of time is due to some procrastination. No, I haven't bought or wrapped many gifts yet, and we just got around to putting up our tree and decorating it. (Actually, we got it a few days ago and it's been sitting in our house naked until tonight when we finally decorated it.) But procrastination is just half the story. There are just so many activities at this time of year, it's hard to find time to do simple things like errands, never mind the Christmas shopping.
This week alone, I attended two Christmas concerts for the kids - one at night and one during the day, a luncheon at work, a dinner for the AYSO board - and it's only Thursday. Last weekend it was two parties, one for my husband's Aikido dojo and one for my son's soccer team - both potlucks, one requiring a white elephant gift.
Don't get me wrong, I love the parties, concerts, and social events, there's just not enough time to enjoy them all. Throw in selling a property (just opened escrow last week), revisions on a Red Sage Presents story and a final proof for another RS Presents story, and you're left with one harried mom, wife, worker, and writer!
I'm looking forward to Christmas day, which is probably the most relaxing day of the whole holiday season. I don't cook (did that for Thanksgiving) and we don't have family around (thankfully, I don't have to worry about keeping the house clean on top of everything else), so we open presents in the morning; maybe take the dog for a walk; if it's a nice day, we'll take a walk on the beach; then we go out to dinner; and we might catch a movie after. We usually end up playing some board games or maybe watching a Christmas movie on TV. In other words, it's a relaxing, enjoyable day after a hectic few weeks.
So a few more days of shopping, a few days of wrapping gifts at lunchtime when the kids are still at school, no more parties, no more cooking, no more "events" and then I get my ahhhh time. I can't wait for Christmas!
Here's a blurb of Kilted Lover: When kilted caber-tosser Scott MacPherson tosses Leslie Livingston over his shoulder to rescue her from two armed thieves trying to steal her priceless amulet, they are thrust into a deadly but sexy adventure. Though Leslie already has a lukewarm, uninterested boyfriend, her attraction to Scott is white-hot and undeniable. She wants to lick this tall, muscular alpha male all over and explore the depths of eroticism with him. But will he want anything more than one night once the danger is behind them?
If you haven't been to Highland Games you may not know what 'tossing the caber' means, so I have some video clips below.
How not to toss a caber!
In other news, I've just finished making corrections to the galley of Devil in a Kilt which will be part of the Red Sage anthology Secrets Volume 27, out July 09. Woohoo! Yes, I enjoyed it. How twisted is that? :-)
But fewer and fewer raindrops are falling this time of year. More likely snowflakes are flying as a chilly wind kisses our cheeks. Tis the season for lots of good cheer and wonderful times spent with friends and family. We celebrate and reflect upon the true reason for our joyous season. There’s activity everywhere. Shoppers fill the parking lots and aisles as they search for the perfect Christmas gifts. In many windows, festive trees gleam and proudly display their decorated boughs. Folks are singing along with seasonal tunes. The aromas of baking cakes and cookies fill the air inside our homes and tempt us to indulge in their goodness.
Recently I received my first holiday present—a present meaning more to me than words can ever convey. After a busy workday I came home, brewed a mug of my favorite coffee and took a few moments to check my emails. If any of my neighbors happened to be outside, or if anyone walked past, they probably heard my shouts of joy. Ellora’s Cave is contracting more of Hellé Hawthorn’s adventures.TO HELLE AND BACK AGAIN pits the Devil’s daughter against two more villains—one who controls much of Sin City’s development, the other who proves as powerful as Satan.
This past year has given me much to mull and equally as much for which to give thanks. No matter how many times life wanted to deal me defeat, I refused to surrender. After all, good things come to those who wait. Those are the words comprising one of the philosophies in which I most firmly believe.
Before I share my favorites, Hellé wants to share hers –
“Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says, “Oh, no, she’s awake!!”
Click here for more information
Or click here for more information
Here are some of the other philosophies I’ll share with you all today –
Wishing you all much happiness, good health and endless chocolate,
TORMENTED -- Available now at Ellora's Cave
ROUGHRIDER -- Ellora's Cave
HELLE IN HEELS -- Ellora's Cave
He’s a pack leader tormented by memories...
bewitched, and when someone attempts to silence her, he realizes that protecting the beautiful stranger
might be the only way to protect his pack…and himself…
Praise for Terry Spear’s Heart of the Wolf:
“The vulpine couple’s chemistry crackles off the page.”—Publisher’s Weekly
“Centers on pack problems in a refreshingly straight forward way. The characters are well drawn and believable, which makes the contemporary plotline of love and life among the lupus garou seem, well, realistic.”—The Romantic Times“
A sensual, action-packed read that you won’t want to miss.”—Shape Shifter Romance
“Full of action, adventure, suspense, and romance…one of the best werewolf stories I’ve read!” --Fallen Angels Reviews
Destiny of the Wolf coming Mar 1!!
Heart of the Wolf, Publishers Weekly's "BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR"
And don't forget, you can preorder your copy of HIGHLAND REBEL now on amazon or at any bookstore!
Nicole: Welcome Juliet! Thanks for being here to answer questions today. Congratulations on your latest release! Please tell us about The Spy's Surrender in Red Sage Secrets Volume 26, Bound By Passion. Beautiful cover by the way!
Juliet: THE SPY’S SURRENDER –my first novella for Red Sage Secrets is an erotic romance about a British spy fighting Napoleon who is captured, and the beautiful courtesan who is enlisted to save him.
After years of surviving on her wit and beauty, the famous courtesan Eva Werner is the perfect double agent, England’s secret weapon against Napoleon. Her orders are to attend a sadistic marquis' depraved house party and rescue a British spy being held prisoner. But when she’s forced to make the spy her slave for the Marquis’ pleasure, her hardened heart melts in the fiery arms of the handsome officer. Will she sacrifice her secret identity and surrender to a spy?
Major Ambrose Delacourt was captured behind enemy lines. Now he’s a prisoner of the Marquis de Séréville, Napoleon’s Master Spy. In order to determine if a stunning blond courtesan is his rescuer or a treasonous double agent, Ambrose must become her love slave. But as the weekend orgy continues, mistress becomes slave and slave becomes master. Will they both end as pawns in a mad man’s treacherous war game?
Nicole: That sounds exciting and hot! What inspired you to write this story?
Nicole: Cool! Since you also write contemporary romance, do you find you have a different process or tone of voice in your historical stories?
Juliet: The tone of voice is completely different. With Historicals, the language is more lush and…well, British or--in the case of my pirate story--Scots/Irish. With my contemporaries, the language is pure American and a lot of military slang had to be researched.
Historical stories seem to come easier for me, despite the extensive research. Historical Romance is my first love for pleasure reading and, to me; the restraints of the times lend themselves to conflicts more easily.
But the process in how I develop the story is the same for both. Being plot-driven, I already have a very basic idea for a plot in my head. I interview my characters, develop their goals, motivations and conflicts, brainstorm turning points and black moments with my critique partners, and then make a brief chapter outline that eventually expands into a synopsis.
Nicole: That's interesting! Do you have a review you could share with us?
Juliet: I sure do!
Cocktail Reviews has given THE SPY’S SURRENDER 4.5 (Champagne) Flutes!
“This is an enjoyable, exciting and action-packed historical romp with two sympathetic characters. I really liked Ambrose – he’s sexy and honourable – and Eva is sharp-witted and courageous. The first sex scene has Eva as a dominatrix, which was both a pleasant surprise and also a great way of establishing their characters. The dirty versions of Shakespeare plays are an inspired touch, too. A great read – 4 and a half flutes.”
Read the review here.
Nicole: That's a fantastic review! What was hardest for you in writing this story and why?
Juliet: Motivating the villain. There is a fine line between a sadistic sociopath and an over the top caricature of the wicked bad guy twirling his mustache and cackling wildly while tying the damsel to a train track.
Nicole: LOL That's true. What is your favorite thing about this story and why?
Nicole: So do I! Do you have any advice for unpublished authors?
Juliet: I have a list of my top ten things to do to get published on my website, but probably the most important thing for me has been to keep writing, every day if possible. Even if you think you’re writing crap. You can’t learn to play a violin well without practicing everyday, and the same is true with writing. There’s always something new to learn about how you write.
And don’t give up.
Nicole: Wonderful advice! Would you like to ask blog readers a question?
Juliet: Yes! Do you love a strong heroine who can save the day? Or do you prefer the hero to sweep in and save the heroine? And…Once you read THE SPY’S SURRENDER, what is your favorite thing about the story?
Nicole: Thanks again for being our guest here today, Juliet! It's been fun!
The Christmas cards are ready for mailing, the cookie recipes are chosen, the gifts are purchased and wrapped and I've sung my way through many Christmas carols. While I'm not wiping flour off my cheek, a couple tears have taken its place for the time being. Here, my blog-reading friends, are a half dozen of my favorite memories from Christmases past.
1. My last Christmas spent with my beloved mother is my most precious Christmas memory. I videotaped a good part of that day and conducted some special spotlights with her. Despite her cancer’s advanced stage, she enjoyed her lunch and opening presents. Seeing her able to thrive for those moments made me even more thankful for my gift of fabulous parents. Nothing and no one could ever top them for me.
2. Dad putting together my fiery red Schwinn bike. No more training wheels—I was a big girl! His patience despite my eagerness to try out my newest toy was admirable. How glad I am that I didn’t grow up during a time when electronics and computer games were all the rage. Real toys were much more fun and provided many more adventures with my friends.
3. The first Christmas of my marriage. Murphy’s Law insinuated itself from the time we perked the Christmas coffee to the time we kissed goodnight LOL Light strands wouldn’t stay lit. Bulbs tumbled off the tree boughs. One extension cord remained elusive until well past sunset. While gathering ingredients for the holiday meal, I dropped an egg on the kitchen floor. But one thing overrode the frustrations – love reigned supreme that day.
4. At the age of eight, sledding was one of my passions. If I asked mom and dad once, I probably asked twenty times exactly when the snow was deep enough for sledding. This particular Christmas Day, the hill near our home saw little traffic (those were truly the wonderful days). He got my sled down from the rafters and we set out for some winter fun. I made many trips down the snow-covered slope before a car approached. By this time Dad was likely tired of hauling my sled back up the hill, and we were due to depart for my grandmother’s home for Christmas lunch and a get-together with family members and friends we hadn’t seen in quite some time. Of course, mom awaited our return at home and had drawn me a bubble bath. I’d love to know how I really managed to catch a breath between the talking, singing, enjoying my family’s excellent cooking and sledding.
5. Although I don’t have memories of this particular Christmas, my first Christmas must have been one gala celebration. I’ve seen pictures of myself wearing an adorable Little Miss Santa suit complete with furry trim and a perky hat any young diva would adore. Propped up in my highchair, I grinned for the camera and played the cover baby LOL Oh, and I’m later posed with a giant panda bear (my “Pandy”). Mom often laughed and recounted how, at only four-and-a-half- months of age, I did my share of baby-talking that holiday LOL
6. The Christmas following my engagement, I enclosed a letter with my Christmas cards that extolled the virtues of love and how love made a difference in my life. Never kept a draft copy, but I still remember most of what I said on those two red pages.
I’m truly looking forward to more Happy Christmas memories. Life is too short to delay expending every effort at making special memories and cherished connections with those we love. Friends and family are our greatest gifts. Without them our lives would be far less rich and rewarding. In short, our lives would be rather empty.
Here’s wishing you all good health, much happiness and countless loving moments.
Blessings and all the holiday best,
TORMENTED -- Available now at Ellora's Cave
ROUGHRIDER -- Ellora's Cave
HELLE IN HEELS -- Ellora's Cave
Heart of the Wolf, 3 more Wolf Tales coming 2009
Winning the Highlander's Heart, The Accidental Highland Hero coming soon
The Vampire...In My Dreams, Deidre's Secret (April '09)
I knew I was going to have a child on this cover because my editor asked for a specific description of the child in the book for the cover. Usually I'm not thrilled with children on romance book covers, although I know Harlequin uses them a lot. BUT - the girl on the cover is adorable and she's a perfect match for the story. Also, despite the little girl on the cover, I think the cover does a good job of conveying a sense of danger or apprehension - the placement and mood of the characters and the shadows and background. Since the story takes place in the Colorado Rockies, I think that's a cave wall behind them.
I think four out of the six Intrigue covers for Feb. feature cowboys, but I'm not complaining! The only thing better than a cowboy on the cover is a shirtless cowboy, or a shirtless cowboy in tight jeans, or a shirtless cowboy with tight jeans and the top button of his fly undone or a shirtless cowboy...OK, you get the picture. This is Intrigue, not Blaze!
Anyway, I love my cover. What are some of your favorite covers?
Liane also writes hot stories for Red Sage. I'm excited that Liane and I will both have novellas in the upcoming Secrets Volume 27, out next July! But today we're going to talk about another of her books.
Nicole: Liane, Welcome! Thanks for being here! Please tell us about Believe, your December release from Red Sage.
Liane: Believe is a light hearted holiday erotic fantasy loosely based on the Christmas classic, Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus.
Nicole: Very cool! And I love the cover! Please tell us about your favorite character in the book.
Liane: The hero, Nikolai, captured my heart from page one. The story's opening finds him standing on the gallows, getting ready to meet his maker. Nikolai has been a naughty boy, and now he's paying the price for his Robin Hood meets Don Juan DeMarco lifestyle. By the time our lusty Nikolai meets Virginia, my slightly jaded, contemporary heroine, he's gone seven hundred and fifty years without getting it on and his wooing skills have grown a bit rusty. To say that he comes off as an overly ardent suitor is a bit of an understatement, and the initial sparks that fly between he and Virginia are both hilarious and volatile.
Nicole: Sounds fantastic! Which element of story creation is your favorite?
Liane: This story was literally a gift. The bones of it poured out of me in two weeks time. What was hard for me was revising, breathing life into the the erotic discovery between Virginia and Nikolai without coming off as too flowery. When I started editing the love scenes, I wanted my readers to experience them as vividly as the characters did. Because Nikolai and Viginia's relationship was so miraculous, I agonized over each and every word until the scenes stirred me in the way a fine piece of music might. I wanted the rhythm of the language to elevate the erotic elements into something that was as reverant as it was hot. I tried very hard to infuse those moments with as much beauty as I was capable. It was exhausting. It was also a wonderful feeling when it finally came out right. :)
Nicole: Sounds like the end result will be beautiful. Which element of this story was the hardest for you?
Liane: I partially answered this above. :) The parts of my stories I end up loving the most are inevitably the ones that give me the most grief--the love scenes. I truly agonize over them. I feel that making love is a form of worship between lovers, and I want my love scenes to transcend the physical act to become something larger than just mechanics. After all, isn't that what true love is all about?
Nicole: Absolutely. Do you have any advice for unpublished authors?
Liane: My best advice to new writers is also the hardest piece I ever had to swallow. Worse, I heard it from someone I thought had no right to say it to me--my husband. I was having a hissy fit about having no time to write between taking care of the kids and battling my sons schools for appropriate services (my boys have autism). One day, my husband settled his hands on my shoulders, forced me to look at him and said, "Liane, if you aren't writing, it's because you don't want to write. Quit blaming us."
Ouch. Those words settled over me like ice water. How dare him say that to me! But after I got over my hissy fit, I realized they were true. I was burying my dream beneath my responsibilities. I was at that horrific midpoint in a story that was struggling to come to life, but would't cooperate. My husband knew I wanted to quit. He also knew I was angling for an excuse to do just that. Because of what he said, I didn't. What I did do was get mad enough to grind my way to the end. Thank God, he called me on it, because that novella, Heart Storm, will be published in Red Sage, Publishing's Secrets, Volume 27.
So here's the advice. :) Writers write. There's no substitute, no short cut. We all waste time. If you don't believe me, then take a few days to list the amount of time you spent watching tv, reading a book, or waiting for your kids to finish soccer practice. Trust me, it adds up. If you are a writer who isn't writing, it's because either you're scared, you're stuck, or you haven't reached the stage in your dream where you're willing to lay all excuses aside and just grind your way to the finish line.
We only have this one life. This. One. Life. Do you really want to look back at the end of yours and say "I wish I'd finished that story?" I didn't think so. :)
Nicole: Wow! Wonderful advice! Would you like to ask blog readers a question?
Liane: I'm finding myself craving stories that aren't so brooding as what I've read previously. With all the bad news whirling around, I'm craving lighter fare. Are these hard economic times impacting the books you read? If so why and how?
Nicole: Great question! I love those uplifting happily-ever-afters. Everyone, please visit Liane's website at http://lianeskye.com/ Thank you, Liane, for being here with us today! It's been a pleasure!
Hi, please check out this auction to help author Jo Leigh with some huge medical bills. Please click here to learn the reasons for this auction .
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