Photos from Lake Placid
While on our recent trip to Florida, my parents drove us through Lake Placid, Florida to see some of beautiful murals that have been painted on the sides of buildings. Their website says there are 47 murals in the town. I'm sure we didn't get a chance to see them all, but it was fun to walk around and drive around and see what we could see.


This is only a part of the amazing mural which decorated the end of the Winn Dixie supermarket, complete with outdoor speakers giving us the sounds of a round-up.


This mural was a beautiful backdrop to a memory garden, complete with fish pond.


My hubby, the train buff, took pictures of a couple murals that had trains in them. The first one was on the front wall of the school.



I wish we'd taken more pictures. If it had just been my husband and me, we would have spent the day here, searching out all 47 murals, stopping into many of the shops along the streets, and taking many more pictures. But we were with my elderly parents and that wasn't an option while we were there. I hope we can stop by again and take our time there.

I think part of the fun of vacation is discovering new places, places we want to return to another time. What about you?

Natasha
www.natashamoore.com
Guest Blogger: Annie Nicholas
Fierce Romance welcomes guest blogger Annie Nicholas today! So, without further ado, here's Annie!


Hottie or Naughty

Not all heroes need to be chest thumping alphas. If all males were created equal then they’d be boring. Sometimes a woman needs to root for the underdog. The pansies of the paranormal to get the girl, fight the bad guy, and keep his heartburn under control.

My series, The Vanguards, explores the different types of omegas in wolf shifter society.  Geeks of the underworld unity! They’re pushed to be more and do their best to save the day.  In my new release, Robert is the antisocial computer nerd. His best friend is the pack’s alpha, who sees the potential in this smart and serious omega. He sets Robert as his beta, second in command, and leaves him charge of the pack for a few days.

THE BETA

Three days of hell, in charge, and running out of antacids.

As the pack’s Beta, Robert needs to watch over the Vasi werewolf pack for a few days. He hates the responsibility, but his job is to dissolve any problems while his alpha honeymoons. Nevertheless, trouble comes to town and her name is Esther. She's beguiling, beautiful and picks his pocket. Although Robert doesn’t trust her, he still wants to possess her.

Esther arrived in Chicago with the intention of slaying a vampire named Daedalus. While trailing her quarry, she encounters Robert who unhinges her world. He doesn’t know her trade, and she doesn’t know his connection to the vampire. Disturbed by her attraction to this unusual werewolf, she can’t decide which prey to hunt. The one who’s stolen her heart or the one who’ll fill her bank account.

Hot graphic werewolf sex, growing body parts, and one pissed off Nosferatu.


Excerpt:

“We pulled Talon off the kid before he hurt him, but the dude’s out of control. He said something about us betraying him, that he didn’t recognize your unauthorized challenge last night.” Simon chuckled. “Said you beat him.”

“Well, it wasn’t an unauthorized challenge. It was a warning, which is why he’s still breathing. I’m starting to regret that part.”

The smile on Simon’s face transformed to surprise. “You beat him by yourself?”

Nice, even his pack thought him a trophy beta. Robert nodded, not trusting his mouth to be diplomatic.

Excited glances and pointing passed through the gathering as the news spread.

“Do you know where Talon’s headed?” Robert needed to get his claws on that beast and shake some sense into him. Even if he lost a challenge to that idiot, Eric would never accept Talon as beta. Maybe the dude had a death wish? If he kept acting like this it would leave Robert no choice. God, he’d never killed anyone before and didn’t want to ever start.

“He didn’t say, but he likes to hang out at a biker’s bar over by the Ukrainian village. The Twisted Tire or something? It’s off I-Ninety.” Two other males gathered by Simon. “Do you want us to come with you?”

Robert could hear both Daedalus and Eric in his head encouraging him to say yes. It would be a good bonding experience for him and the pack. A social event for males, get to know your beta night and watch him kick ass. “Not yet. I need to track him first, and I’ll move faster on my own.” For social animals, he and his beast didn’t fit in. They preferred solitude, and that’s why they’d become omega in the first place.

The Vasi had their share of omegas, just like any other pack, but they were nurtured instead of abused. Like little Aaron sitting at the table nursing his beer. The pack didn’t cast him out when Talon jumped him, they rallied around him. Robert really admired Eric’s work with the Vasi and hoped other packs would follow his example.

When Simon and his companions appeared disappointed at his refusal, Robert sighed and dug deep. “If I need back-up, you’ll be the first I call.”

They grinned and nodded.

He turned to leave and faced a wall of humans. Pushing through that mass of flesh flared his proximity alarms, and his beast strained at the yoke to thrash at the people who dared come too close. An exit sign glowed above the crowd, and he released the breath he’d been holding. Skirting along the wall, he shoved the door open when he reached it.

It brought him out to a narrow alley on the side of the building. The cool air was a relief, then he caught a whiff of a familiar scent. Something sharp and clean he’d recently had his face buried in.

Esther.

The door closed behind him with a thunk and took what little light it gave. She stood with her legs apart in the center of the alley, silhouetted by the distant street lights.

“Are you following me, Esther?” The muscles in his back tensed as he smelled gun powder. She held a gun again. Damn it. He glanced over his shoulder for cover if she got trigger happy.

“I’m trying to figure out what kind of sick game you’re playing, Rob.” She stepped closer, and he could see the outline of her weapon pointed at his head. “I hate being played for a fool, but you did a great job making me feel like one.”



Annie Nicholas
Coupon

Sorry for the delay in my blog post today. Been some chaos this morning, which will also make this blog post short since my mind is still trying to wrap around what has happened and I can’t seem to focus on anything else. All will be well though.

Anyway, I wanted to talk about couponing. Yes, I know a far stretch from writing, but I’ve recently started watching Extreme Couponing on TLC and let me tell you, I finally get it. I’ve never totally grasped the couponing thing. I knew the basics: you buy a product, use a coupon and save a dollar. However, I never understood how some couponers got things for next to nothing and how they got such mass quantities of it.

Man, do I get it now. I don’t plan to be like some of the couponers on Extreme Couponing. One, I don’t have the room and two, I don’t have the time, but seriously? Why in the heck have I not been stocking up on my favorite items for next to nothing when I had the chance? I’m actually angry at myself for not grasping this sooner. The money I could have saved. The MEAT I could have bought. All these years.

Either way, I’m aware now and never plan to go back to shopping the way I was, especially with the way food prices have skyrocketed over the last year. I’ll save that extra money to buy Rib-eyes and roasts (can you tell I’m a meat eater, lol). I’ve already had some luck. The other day I bought $11 worth of stuff I needed (this wasn’t just buying stuff because I could, I needed butter, rice and tea bags) for $3.13. You’d think I was offered a new contract for a story, I was so excited.

Anyone else diving into the extreme couponing realm?

Esme

www.esmereldabishop.com

Gorgeous new cover for Blade of the Wolf!!
Recently I sold an erotic romance novel to Ellora's Cave entitled Blade of the Wolf! And I've already received the cover! I'm soooo excited and thrilled with this cover!!! It's Sam Bond! Sigh. I love everything about it. It's perfect! What do you think?

Lessons from the Road

I'm home again after a two week vacation to Florida. Hubby and I pull a 33 foot travel trailer and that in itself can make a road trip challenging. It's nice to carry your own bathroom and kitchen with you when you need a rest stop, but manuvering that sucker in traffic and finding a large enough gas station can be a trick. So after 15 days on the road, here are a few words of wisdom.


Lesson #1 - Don't wear a sundress when you climb the 203 steps to the top of the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse! And if you do, make sure you're hubby is behind you when the wind blows your skirt up over your butt!



Lesson #2 - Don't ignore that hot smell as you drive down the road. We burned up a wheel bearing on the trailer and lost 5 hours while we got it fixed.

Lesson #3 - Be Prepared. We had a total of 3 flat tires on our way home from Florida, wo of them on the side of I-77 outside Charlotte at 5pm rush hour. Always have spares! Know how to change trailer tires AND truck tires. Or have a hubby who knows how. And say a few prayers while you watch said hubby changing the tires with the traffic whizzing by.



Lesson #4 - Expect the unexpected. After 3 breakdowns in 3 days, we were almost home. New tires all the way around. We hopped into the truck Saturday morning to get gas and breakfast before hooking up and driving home. The brake pedal went straight to the floor! We'd broken a brake line. We felt a little like we were cursed, but at least it happened in the campground and not out on the road.

Lesson #5 - Keep your sense of humor. Hubby and I went through a lot of stress in the past few days. If we hadn't laughed, we probably would have cried and what's the use of tears?


Lesson #6. Enjoy each day to the fullest! When all is said and done, we had a wonderful trip to Florida, enjoyed hot, dry weather while the folks back home were cold and wet. We visited friends and family, saw the Shuttle lift off and walked the beach.

Our problems didn't start until we were headed home. Maybe that means we should have stayed amid the sun, surf and sand...

Natasha
www.natashamoore.com
Why I Love Vampires
Please welcome our Guest Author Tina Folsom.

Tina: Ever since I can think of, vampires have fascinated me. At first when watching Nosferatu, I was scared out of my skull, but when I saw Dracula (the Gary Oldman version), my feelings were entirely different. So I started to examine what I’m truly drawn to when I think of these preternatural creatures. Is it their strength, their superiority, or even their sexuality? Or is it something much more elemental, something much more at the heart of each human’s existence?

Mortality—I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m scared of dying. The thought that I’ll be gone one day, my thoughts and my mind vanishing into thin air as my body decomposes, has me hoping that soon the scientists will invent something that stops the aging process and has us live longer. I feel like bargaining: just an extra 20 years, please. And then I start thinking about the vampires. And it hits me: what attracts me to them is their immortality.

The attraction that lies within that one word is undeniable: immortality. It gives you the chance to see more than just a tiny slice of history. It allows you to be part of different eras, to experience the shifts that span generations. And to constantly change yourself. You can reinvent yourself with each change in society, live so many different lives, and experience everything that’s on offer. Who could resist?

Even in my relatively short life, I’ve seen the world change. When I grew up, there were no computers, and look at us today. Personally, I can’t imagine not having a computer. Plane travel has become common day. Most young people have never seen a rotary phone or used a typewriter. Imagine the changes a vampire would see: to go from a horse-drawn carriage to an automobile to a plane.

But this intimate look into history as a vampire isn’t all that attracts me to this creature. We probably all remember our first love. Who thought it would last forever? (*raises hand*) Yet, it didn’t last. But then later, we find our one true love and we think how could I have wasted all these years? I met my husband when I was already in my mid-thirties. Now we only have a relatively short time left. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know that we have eternity with our love, with our soul mate? A vampire has that. When he finds his true love he can say “I love you for eternity.” And mean it.

So maybe that’s what our fascination with vampires (or at least mine) is all about: our fear of mortality, and our wish to love and be loved for eternity.

And that’s why I write vampire romances: my characters will live and love forever.

I currently have two vampire series published: Scanguards Vampires (4 books out so far, book 5 coming at Christmas 2011), and Venice Vampyr (3 novellas out so far).

Links for Tina Folsom's books:
 
Yvette's Haven
 
Tina's Website
 
Tina's Romance Website

Please note this wonderful offer: Tina's first book in the Scanguards Vampires series, is currently available for free on Amazon. Check it out here: Samson's Lovely Mortal (Book 1 in Scanguards Vampires series)  This book is also free at the Apple iBook Store. Enjoy!!

And here’s an excerpt of Yvette’s Haven:

Kimberly’s constant chatter provided an easy background noise to drift off to. She couldn’t tell how long she was out, but it couldn’t have been long. Kimberly was still essentially telling the same story, or maybe it was a variation of it, when Yvette’s senses caught something else.

First, a grating noise reached her ears; it sounded like somebody was trying to pry an old door open, the rusted hinges providing the music fitting for a horror movie. The hairs on the back of her neck instantly stood sentry while she tried to get her bearings. Something was wrong about the sound. Disturbing.

Yvette sat up, her spine stiff and alert.

She trained her eyes on the door, but nothing moved there, and no sound came from it.

Crank!

There it was again. It came from the outside; that much was sure now.

Yvette yanked her head toward the window at the same time as a ray of sun burst into the room. She froze just long enough to feel a bite of pain from where the sun touched her arm.

“No!” Haven’s shout jerked her out of her trance as did another cranking sound. She finally realized what was happening: the fucking witch was prying away the plywood planks to let sunlight into the room, making good on her earlier threat!

“Shit!” Yvette yelled and jumped up, nearly colliding with Haven.

Panic struck her like a lightning strike, then she felt Haven’s hand grabbing her.

“Move!” Haven screamed and pulled her with him. She tumbled more than ran with him as he swung the bathroom door open and flung her inside ahead of him, the rays of the sun on their heels. She slammed against the sink before she heard the door close behind them with a loud thud.

Only a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling illuminated the tiny space which wasn’t any bigger than a six-person elevator.

Her heart raced and beat into her throat. Behind her, Haven’s breathing was just as erratic. When Yvette turned toward him, she didn’t even get a chance to thank him for his quick action, because his arms came around her instantly and pulled her tightly to his large chest. One hand on the back of her head, the other around her waist, he squeezed her against him.

“Oh, shit!” he gasped on an exhaled breath. “That bitch!”

Yvette swallowed hard, unable to form any words yet. The shock still sat too deeply in her bones. She’d frozen, even though it had only happened for an instant. She’d never frozen before.

Haven put his hands on her shoulders and pushed her away a few inches. “Are you okay? Did the sun get you anywhere?” His concerned eyes scanned her body, the slight tremble in this voice only underscoring his worry.

Yvette shook off his hands. Having had her face pressed against his naked chest had been temptation enough. She needed to sever her contact with him before it was too late. “I’m fine. Thanks.” She wasn’t, but she would be.

He nodded briefly, then turned to the door. But he didn’t open it. “Wesley?”

“Yeah?” his brother’s reply came instantly.

“Take the blankets from the cots and hang the window with it. Make sure you get the sides as well so no light will filter through.”

“Okay.”

Then Haven turned back to her and crossed the one-foot distance that was between them. There was no getting away from him in the miniscule bathroom. His look was serious when he gazed at her, making her aware again of how much taller and bigger he was. “You can beat the shit out of me later, but right now I have to hold you.”

And just like that, he pulled her back into his embrace.

“What—”

“Shh. Not now, Yvette. I almost had a heart attack thinking you’d die right in front of me.

Her heart made a flipping motion as if somebody had installed a trampoline and was jumping up and down on it. This big, bad vampire slayer was worried about her. The man who’d confessed that he’d killed other vampires to avenge his mother had saved her with his quick thinking by pushing her into the windowless bathroom. And now, he was holding her in the tightest hug she’d ever found herself in as if something bad were to happen if he’d let go. A hairline crack appeared in the door to her heart as her next thought took root.
Haven didn’t hate her.
Guest Interview: Camryn Rhys + Book giveaway!
Camryn Rhys grew up on the border of Canada and the US, and still hasn’t decided which country to call home. She splits her time between the Alberta and Montana Rocky Mountains, with friends and family in both beautiful locations. After running her own restaurant for several years and acquiring advanced degrees in writing, foodie romance seemed the only logical option. When she’s not watching the Food Network, she’s reading a romance novel, or if absolutely necessary, working as a consultant. Someone has to put really excellent food on the table.

Q: Welcome, Camryn! Please tell us about your upcoming release. (By the way, I love your yummy cover!)
A: My first erotic novella, The Barn Dance, releases on June 3rd from Breathless Press. This book is sort of a mash-up of the western/cowboy romance and a foodie erotic romance. The entire story revolves around a young woman who is faced with losing her job as a ranch cook. She makes a deal to save her job, letting Leo into her kitchen, and years of hard romantic history comes with him. Her hard-fought walls start to come down as she and Leo bake together.
Q: Sounds fantastic and fun! What inspired this story?
A: I love to bake and cook. I tend to write some kind of food element into every story I write, and when I heard Breathless was looking for cowboy erotics, I had this idea about a ranch kitchen that I thought would be a great twist on the typical western, without taking away all the accoutrements of a cowboy romance.
Q: That is very creative! What is the story behind the story?
A: My grandma and I used to make this recipe when I was a girl, and I remember being so frustrated with the way my bread turned out. I sat down with her and watched every single move she made in the kitchen one time, and was amazed at how much of her “recipe” wasn’t in the recipe. So I wrote it all down and voila! I could make bread just like her. I thought, what a great opportunity to get individual instruction from someone who’s so talented.
Q: Why do you write foodie erotic romance?
A: I love food. I love baking and cooking. I’ve been a professional chef, run my own kitchen, and cook at home regularly. Most of my life revolves around food in some way. It only made sense to me that my writing would, as well.
Q: What do you enjoy most about writing foodie erotic romance?
A: The research. In every single sense of that word.
Q: Please tell us about your favorite character in the book.
A: My favorite character is definitely Leo, the baker-hero of the book. He just came alive when I wrote him. I loved exploring the idea of having this tough-guy exterior of a ranch worker / cowboy, hiding the interior of a man who loves to get his hands dirty in the kitchen. I very much adored being able to write him instructing Mindy how to activate yeast. Every time I feel the temperature of water, from now on, I will think of Leo Fortiss. J
Q: He sounds hot! What inspires you?
A: New recipes inspire me. Tasting new food and writing about food is very inspiring. I think that the experience of something new always spurs me to think about how I could write or incorporate that food into a story. I’ve got a notebook chock full of new foods and recipes I want to write into my stories.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I’m working on a series of foodie erotics. I really love this genre and I think I’ll stick with it. I’d love to someday become a big name in this genre, so I want to stick around and see if I can make a name for myself. But it’s definitely something I’m passionate about and something that I love, so I’d love to be able to keep doing this for a very long time.
Q: Would you like to ask readers a question?
A: I’d love to know from readers about their favorite foods. What food are you craving right this minute?
Thanks so much for being our guest today, Camryn!
One commenter will win a copy of Camryn's book when it is released on June 3!
Find Camryn online at...
Facebook: Camryn Rhys
Twitter: @camrynrhys 
The Devil's Daughter Dares to Leave Hell
Hellé is damned if she does and damned if she doesn't...leave Hell before another sunrise.

After the ten-thousandth fight with her father, the Devil's daughter is forced to surrender her trident and true love in order to save Earth from devastation of a magnitude it's never known. More than a few pulses are raised when Hellé Hawthorn and her minions hit Sin City on the hottest day of summer and make their business every man's pleasure.

Excerpt from the erotica paranormal romance, HELLE IN HEELS by Shawna Moore --

Naked except for some of my favorite gold jewelry, I took one last look at the hellhole that had served as my private domain since birth. Lavender-blue deposits of ameniorite, a rare gem as yet undiscovered by those aboveground, twinkled where my mirrors weren’t placed. Gorgeous ameniorite, the miracle rock that would seal the success of my elixir—or drop me back down to Hell and a fiery grave. A glance in all directions made my last memory.

Whatever I needed, I would pick up at the chic boutique on Bourbon. On the cedar chest, my favorite Kate Spade satchel lay open. If I were into blessing people, I’d bless the generous clotheshorse that descended here after an untimely death late last week. Who would have thought my pairing her with a wicked fashion designer would gain me such a special gift? She’d perished while still clutching that trendy piece and brought it with her to Hell. What a shame to let that lovely handbag behind. But better here than being reduced to ashes upon my special ascent.

Caminosh would find my goodbye note and claim the spring bag sought by many on Earth. She was a she-beast totally clueless about fashion but a friend to the end. Too bad she wouldn’t part company with her hell-raiser and accompany me to what lay thousands of feet above us. I blew a kiss at the far mirror. As long as she polished these lovelies, I wouldn’t care if she took over my favorite spot in the whole wide underworld.

But if a single fingerprint marred their shiny surfaces, I’d find a way to pay her a visit on Halloween and make her ass-length brunette hair curl like a poodle’s.

I wound my black mane into a knot and fastened it with a fistful of pins. They’d likely all fall out upon my ascent, but at least they’d keep my hair in place until then. Stifling a yawn, I flexed the fingers not covered from bottom knuckle to middle by bands of gold. Once I arrived in New Orleans I’d pay for my shopping spree with a couple of them. The shop owner would be far ahead in the transaction, since I always believed in heavy tipping.

I might be the Devil’s daughter, but I never had to steal anything—even a date to the Devilish Debs dress balls in years past.

And once I hit the jackpot at Harrah’s, my day spa and massaging divas would be on the lips of every male.

I claimed the vial from the champagne satin comforter, pulled out the cork and tossed down the bitter deep-purple contents. My gut roiled but soon got over its snack. Hopefully my body would cooperate once I passed from my world to the real world. Unknown to others, I’d reached the Kellion level several times but my lack of focus and the fact I had the hots for a particularly handsome former rugby player prevented me from breaking through.

Today failure wasn’t an option. If I did, I’d perish in the pit of which so many had spoken in hushed tones. Hell wasn’t home for me anymore, with Satan out to claim more than my soul because of a good argument gone bad after too many rounds and too many centuries.

I smashed the vial against the far cave fall and ground the glass shards into the spaces in the rock flooring.

Without a backward glance I rushed from the room and made my way to the Crystal Chamber. My body was already vibrating, my bones closing upon themselves. I quickened my pace and traveled through the various tunnels and passageways at warp speed.

At reaching the sapphire-inlaid altar, I clutched myself, fingernails digging into the flesh of my triceps. Flames rose from the adjacent fire pits. Smoke curled toward an interminable blackness. The same blackness my body would soon penetrate. A tapping beset my skin. I stared at the stalactites encrusted with rich mineral deposits. Those deposits contained the most powerful energy down here other than that emanating from His Royal Pain-in-the-Ass, my father, the Devil.

I took several steps to the right and poised my right great toe over the rendering of Bacchus and the left over the Pyramids. Egypt and Rome were diametrically opposed cultures, but my research and formulas yielded these were my markers for a journey to New Orleans. My skin pulsed and violent spasms rocked me from my hair roots to my heels. I stretched my arms toward the sky that lay well beyond this world and my imagination. Energy exchanged between my body and the space where the crystals lay. Every pore on my body now seeped the substance providing the elements and energy that would draw me up and away from the world where I no longer belonged.

A peculiar force hauled me from the platform and I closed my eyes. The stench of damp rock. The nipple ring leaving my flesh. Cold fingers of air teasing my exposed body. A din that rendered me deaf except to the voice inside my own head. The voice that willed me to focus. Focus on getting the hell out of Hell.

As the air lightened, I opened my eyes. Swarms of mila bugs, each almost translucent and no bigger than a pin’s head, flitted in front of my face. As my ascent stopped I puffed them away. I’d reached Kellion. Opening my fists, I drew my left middle fingertip over one of the protruding crystals directly above my head. Blood oozed from the wound and I milked out several more droplets. Then, placing my bleeding finger upon my tongue, I closed my mouth and eyes and focused.

“Blood from my body, serve as the final catalyst that allows me to pierce the Kellion and reach my desired portal.” I repeated the words over and over.

My body pulsed, this time as though tossed by the waves of the ocean during a storm. I shot upward, my hair wrenched from the pins and nearly pulled out by the roots. Bile rose in my throat. Tears burned behind my closed lids. Hot and cold air alternated in currents over my damp skin.

Bring it on, Bacchus. Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler. Let those good times roll like never before.


Click here for more information about HELLE IN HEELS

Click here for information about TO HELLE AND BACK AGAIN

Wishing you all many happy reading moments,

Shawna Moore
TO HELLE AND BACK AGAIN -- Ellora's Cave
TORMENTED (Recommended Read) -- Ellora's Cave
ROUGHRIDER -- Ellora's Cave
HELLE IN HEELS -- Ellora's Cave
Dragon Shifting
The hardest part of this week’s blog post is choosing which characters to write about. I never realized that so many of my characters had special abilities until this topic came up and I had to think about it. I tend to write in the fantasy area, so it seems kind of normal for my characters, both men and women (and demons and shifters and vampires, etc.), to be a little abnormal.
My favorite characters with special abilities have to be my dragon shifters. How cool would it be to be able to simply choose to be a dragon one minute and then human the next? My Dragon's Song series is based on a secret about the human/dragon relationship that the dragons know but humans forgot. But wait until those humans remember…oh yeah! Here’s an excerpt from The Dragon's Queen so you can see what I mean.
Emerson was gone.

He considered she’d abandoned him and run to the blue officials, but the idea of it constricted his chest and brought an ache he didn’t care to suffer. He used his legs to push himself up the wall and stumbled to the corner of the passageway. He heard noises, like those in a great battle. One of the loudest sounded familiar. With great care, he leaned around the corner and peeked at the front of the Chinese food-serving place. He didn’t believe the sight greeting him.

A dragon, its glorious scales sporting a flowered print extending from the top of its snout to the tip of its tail, stood tall and majestic as it beat the whey out of the blue officials rushing it with a matching glossy bag. The dragon bellowed, whapping any human within striking distance, but in a very feminine, elegant way. One man she knocked to the ground and continued to pound him until he stopped moving, then she turned on the others.
The Dragon Kind have never forgotten the secret, and they are sworn to protect it. Some of them don't appreciate humans who do not respect the Dragon Kind or their code of honor. In this except from Nioral's Quest, Nioral proves just that.

Nioral woke with a jolt and a snort. The noise in his dreams now interrupted his waking as well. Someone yelling, human words as much as he could make out, shook the leaves above him. One drifted down, floating past his snout, and he watched it mix with the underbrush on the forest floor, which, to his surprise, moved. Nioral blinked, unsure if his drowsiness caused an illusion or if the floor of the forest had just come alive. Fascinating.

“Get it! Those eyes alone will make us rich!”

“The silver skin will make us kings!”
Yes, Nioral thought, definitely humans. From the spiritual etchings in the vocal emanations and their harsh words, he determined they were greedy young ones at that. Nioral harrumphed. He wondered if they realized waking a sleeping dragon couldn’t possibly be in their best interests. He doubted it. They would soon figure it out, though, when they crashed through the trees into the clearing in just about ten seconds. Nioral rose up and shook himself out to his full dragon glory. He didn’t particularly like terrorizing humans, but in this case, it needed to be done. He counted silently in his head: 7, 6, 5…
“Please help me,” came a small whimper, seemingly from nowhere.
Nioral started. His countdown interrupted, he searched the area for source of the feeble plea. The leaf litter at his feet moved slightly, just where he thought he’d seen movement moments before. As he watched, the shiny silver head of an adder appeared, the little bit of sunlight streaming through the forest glimmering off its scaly skin with blinding intensity. Even more unusual were its eyes, the consistency and shape of the finest sapphire gemstones.
Nioral peered into the deep blue stones, and a strange sensation immediately raged through his groin. Stunned, he stumbled back, recoiling at the unfamiliar—dare he call it?—urge.
The snake gasped now. “I-I won’t hurt you Sir Dragon. I just need…need,” it choked on the last couple of words, “…your help.”
Nioral snorted and shook his head. Afraid of an adder? A dragon? Of course not. Adder venom had no effect on dragons, although, if properly mixed, it made fine elixir for tail scrunge. All adders knew this; how could this one not?
He sensed something else: fear. Adders rarely feared anything, but in this one the emotion was strong. Too strong. Nioral’s chest ached in response to it.
“To the gods! Look, Barek, it’s a dragon. We got us a fine catch today,” the voice of one of the greedy lads pulled Nioral’s attention from the odd creature. A pair of idiots stood in front of him.
Obviously lower than peasant folk, the grungy boys appeared to be on the verge of manhood, though Nioral doubted they’d make it much past their teen years if they were so stupid they thought they could take a dragon down. He laughed, shooting a stream of orange flame in their direction.
Both boys stopped abruptly, shaking. However, Nioral’s warning didn’t deter them long. The taller of the two carried a large stick, and now he waved it in Nioral’s face. Nioral tried not to laugh, for as much as a dragon could laugh.
“Be off with you, dragon. We’ll settle for the snake,” he said, the tremor in his voice belying his true level of courage.
Nioral leaned down, tilting his head as he did so. For some reason, this always seemed to mesmerize humans, although he didn’t know why. Entranced, the boys watched him take the stick in his mouth and crack it in two, pulverizing the bits until the dust dripped out of his jaws.
He lifted his front leg and flicked the smaller boy in the forehead with his talon. The action sent him flying a good twenty feet back, the shock of being assaulted by a dragon evident in his wide-eyed expression. The lad’s braver comrade threw himself at Nioral, flailing at him with both arms and legs. Nioral turned just slightly and sent this one sprawling with his tail. Having had enough nonsense, he lifted his snout and shot a burst of fire into the air, sending both lads scrambling in the direction from whence they came.
Nioral coughed and used a talon to pick a piece of wood from his teeth.
Humans, indeed.
See what I mean? To have the ability to switch between a human and dragon form, and to be able to kick ass in either one? Truly a special ability I’d like to have! I guess that's why I enjoy writing about them so much. :)
If you’d like to live vicariously through my dragon shifters from the comfort and safety of your own reading nook, check out the Dragon’s Song series. It starts with Dream of the Dragon’s Song and continues with Nioral's Quest and The Dragon's Queen.
Happy Reading!
Guest Interview: Annabelle Weston + Book Giveaway!
Author of sizzling romance... Annabelle Weston knows how to push boundaries. With duel citizenship in the USA and France, Ms. Weston spends serious air time crossing the pond and is a proud card carrying member of the mile high club.
Q: Welcome Annabelle! What inspired your new book, Hunting Tucker?
A: I was taking a class on writing paranormal shorts—and the story was originally only 5K. It wasn’t a romance, just an odd little story. Then I thought… hmm… Tucker really deserves to find the gal of his dreams, and so I started adding bit by bit, until a novella formed.
Q: That's fantastic! What is the story behind the story?
A: Let me have you read the blurb first:
When sexy detective, Tucker Brown, arrives on the scene of a crime, the last thing he expected was to come face to face with leggy, delectable Bailey. She's a mystery to him, but one he thoroughly enjoys investigating. After a night of mind blowing sexcapades, Tucker decides she may just be the one for him. But Bailey's got a secret... She comes with feathers and she's on the hunt. Will Tucker be her next prey?
Now the story behind the story… Tucker is a hotshot detective, an adventure seeker. He’s always in for a challenge and doesn’t like to say no when one’s given. He comes across a real mind-boggling mystery, with this woman he totally is falling for, and the little odd man with his birds. Let’s just say, what he’s got coming for him, is not what he ever expected.
Q: Sounds hot and very intriguing! :) Please tell us about your favorite character in the book.
A: My favorite character in the book is Tucker. He’s an alpha male, but has his flaws. We enjoy watching him fall for the heroine, but also figure out the mystery behind her.
Q: Which element of story creation is your favorite?
A: Definitely the characters. My stories are character driven, and so I like to create strong characters, with a lot of dynamic. They aren’t going to get off easy here, and will have to work for their happy ending J
Q: Which element of this story was the hardest for you?
A: Doing the story entirely in the male-POV. I’ve never done a story before completely in one POV—I usually have at least 2 sometimes three, and this time was even harder, because I was only doing the male’s and, I’m a female.
Q: That's neat. I love male POV. What inspires you? What motivates you?
A: I am inspired by music, by photos, by real-life situations. As a natural story-teller, I am motivated to share interesting and unique stories with my readers. .
Q: Please tell us about your other books.
A: I have two more books written, one is a contemporary romantic intrigue story, and the other is a historical western. I’m currently in the editing/revising process for those two stories.
Q: Please describe your journey to publication.
A: HUNTING TUCKER is a very unique story.  I submitted it to many, many publishers, and all of them had great feedback, but the problem was, they couldn’t figure out where to put it. The book, according to their terms, was not a straight erotica, nor was it classified as a romance.  I feel differently about that. To me the story is a paranormal erotic romance—although a little different than what some may expect. I wanted to share this story with others, because I think it’s a neat tale, so in the end, I decided self-publishing this story was the best route.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: Editing and revising my two finished stories, and then the submission process begins.  I’m not opposed to self-publishing again, but with self-publishing also comes a whole other host of responsibilities. You then become the editor, copy-editor, cover artist, publicity rep, etc… All the things a publisher does, and that takes away from writing time. As an author, I don’t necessarily like things that take away from my writing time J
Q: Would you like to ask readers a question?
A:  Yes, I would!  What do you consider a happy ending?
Thanks so much for being our guest today, Annabelle! Everyone please visit Annabelle's websites below. And remember, one commenter will win a copy of Annabelle's new book, Hunting Tucker!
The book is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble
A Vanishing Hero?
Duncan, the hero of Laird of Darkness, has a special ability. He can disappear except for a small spot and, after that, fly through the air. That is one cool power that I’d like to have. Imagine what we could do--fly like a bird and visit new places, perhaps even places we're not supposed to be. We could be that proverbial fly on the wall and listen in on conversations we're not supposed to. :) Duncan is able to do these things because he’s half-Fae. The Fae or fairies are a supernatural race known to inhabit Scotland, Ireland and other nearby places. They are actually from Otherworld but are able to cross between dimensions.

Duncan also possesses superhuman strength while he’s invisible. He doesn’t need weapons. He can toss enemy warriors as if they were tiny rag dolls. Horses, naturally, are terrified of him so they flee from him and the battlefield.

Here is an excerpt that shows his special abilities in action:

“I cannot do that,” he murmured in a voice that blended with the night, dusky and deep.
She couldn’t remember what she’d asked him. “Do what?”
His lips quirked, and his knowing eyes stared into hers a moment too long. “Allow you to return to your party.”
A prickle chilled her spine. “What do you mean?”
Two of her mounted guards, MacClaren’s men, burst from the bushes, their horses galloping at full speed, their swords swinging. She ducked.
Duncan released her. His plaid dropped to the ground, and he vanished.
One of the guards flew sideways from his horse as if flung by an invisible force. The second man was tossed forward, over the horse’s head, flipping through the air twice before landing facedown with a groan.
More of her guards, her own clansmen, charged forth, yelling battle cries. Alana froze in place while they galloped all around her, the horses neighing and rearing.
A scarlet spot the size of her fist moved through the twilight, and wherever it darted, her men soared through the air and fell to the ground with a thud, the breath knocked from them.
One man pushed himself to a standing position, gasping for breath, his sword drawn. In the next instant, the red glimmering light intervened, and the guard’s sword flew to the right while he tumbled to the left.
“St. Bride preserve us,” she whispered. What dark magic did Duncan possess?

“Cease! And I shall let you live!” Duncan commanded.
But Lady Alana’s guards didn’t obey. Imbeciles. Didn’t they know he could kill them all in a trice? Not that he wished to kill anyone presently. He merely needed to capture Alana and her people, all unharmed. He couldn’t believe what a prime opportunity he’d been given. At last he had the leverage to bend MacClaren to his will as never before.
The MacClaren men who had been riding with Alana returned for another go at him. Duncan, flying through the air like an invisible arrow, slammed his fist against one’s shoulder. His powerful Fae strength sent the man sprawling from his saddle and his sword hurtling through the air. The wild-eyed horse whinnied and bolted. Duncan dispatched the second man in the same manner.
He scanned the area. Where had Alana gone?
She was escaping. He sailed through the air, giving chase. She glanced back but he knew she could see naught but the glowing crimson mark over his heart. One phenomenal thing about being half Fae was the ability to disappear, except for the Fae mark, and soar with the birds when he wanted. As a child, he had terrified everyone in the clan with this magical gift, and had even angered his father. ’Twas at times like that when he’d vanish, fly away from the castle and not return for days. He’d found friends among the common crofters. Anything to escape his father’s fists. Finally, his father had simply taken to ignoring him.
“You demon! Leave me be.” Alana sprinted toward the loch.
She thought him a demon, did she? Nay, he was no demon, but he would show her he’d use any means to get what he wanted. He reached out, his hand sliding off her shoulder when she changed direction abruptly. She headed straight toward the women of her party and a break in the bushes near the cliff.
“Hurry, m’lady! It is nigh upon you!” her maids screamed.
It? He was no it.
Nay, the cavelike space beneath the bushes couldn’t prevent Duncan from capturing her now. She halted abruptly. He bumped into her back, but slid an invisible arm around her waist and caught her before she could stumble forward.
She twisted and shoved at him, trying to pry herself from his grip, but he was far stronger. Though she thrust her elbow against his torso, it felt like a mere tap. ’Twould do her no good to fight him; she would only injure herself.
“Turn me loose.” She kicked backward, missing his leg by an inch. “Blast!”
Though she struggled, he seized her legs and swung her up into his arms. She weighed less than a thistle flower, and her soft form against him awoke all his primal instincts and urges. He ignored them and carried her from the bush, back along the trail.
“Release me, you blackguard. And show yourself.”
Duncan didn’t appreciate the careless insults she tossed his way. Most people were too terrified to insult him in such a way. He didn’t know whether to laugh or spank her. Mayhap he would do both later.
He made sure her skirts and cloak ensnared her limbs, then made himself visible.
She jumped, glaring up at him. “Bastard! You shall pay for your crimes, I vow.”
He smirked and flicked what he hoped was a disparaging glance down at her. Did she truly think he would heed any of her warnings?
“I demand you take me to MacClaren at once.”
He chuckled. He couldn’t resist, given that she appeared about as frightening as an incensed rabbit. “Do you now?”
“Indeed.”
“’Tis unfortunate then that I’ve never taken orders from lasses, and don’t intend to now.”
“I am Lady Alana Forbes. Sister of Chief Malcolm Forbes.”
“How grand for you.”
“You will have both my brother and my future husband to contend with if you do not release me at once.”
Though her maids kept their distance, huddling near the supplies and campsite, Duncan was certain they were getting an eyeful of his nude body. Her men were a different story. Swords drawn, they limped and stumbled toward him. He couldn’t help but admire their tenacity.
“Close your eyes, lass,” Duncan ordered.
She didn’t.
He vanished and they shot toward the sky.

Published by Carina Press © 2011 by Nicole North
Available at: Carina PressBarnes & Noble and Amazon!


Laird of Darkness received a wonderful review from JBP Reviews.

"From the first page I knew I was going to love this book.  Normally a historical makes me get lost in the accuracy of it all and the author takes away from the story by describing everything to detail but this was not the case.  Nichole wrote just enough description to put you in the character shoes without taking away from the characters actions and personalities.  I drooled over Duncan he was so HAWT!  I loved the half fae element to the whole thing and hope that there is more of these stories to come."
***
And another awesome review from Fresh Fiction!
"Simply sizzling, this is one tale that fairly burns off the pages! This book was magical both in the story and in the spicy scenes. Author Nicole North has captured the mythology of the Fae and tied them into the heart of Scotland. Throw in a whole lotta lust, and this book is sure to light a fire in the mind of any reader."
***
There's still time to bid on lots of goodies!



Thanks!
Nicole

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