Blade of the Wolf review

I wanted to share this fantabulous review from Tanya at Among the Muses for my erotic paranormal romance Blade of the Wolf. (Thank you, Tanya!)

Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Heat Rating: 5/5

Holy HOT! Nicole North delivers one scorchin' romance between two forbidden people: an immortal Scottish werewolf protector who is sworn to protect one powerful clairvoyant woman living in a small, southern US town, unknown to herself that she was held in highest regard by the Sgian Dubh Guardians as a Protected One.

The blurb does a great job at giving the overall idea of the story, so instead I'm going to just focus on the literary aspects of Blade of the Wolf.

Blade of the Wolf is a darker, edgier paranormal romance, making it different than what Nicole has previously written. And she did a great job at creating it. Right from the beginning, there's intrigue, mystery, and action. With each passing page I was left in suspense and seriously hating the villain even more than I did in the beginning. With that being said, I have to additionally comment on the depth of the characters that Nicole creates.

Heroine, Syrena, is unique in her own right. She's not the "typical" size 2 heroine that we often see, but a size 12, which I found refreshing. And I loved the fact that Ronan, a sexy alpha, found her to be the most beautiful thing he'd seen in centuries. The chemistry between the two was obvious and heart-felt at times. Even though their coming together was against the rules of the Sgian Dubh Guardians, and carried heavy -- and sometimes deadly -- consequences, their love was worth the risk for each of them.

The heat is scorching hot in Blade of the Wolf! You can only imagine that denying attraction between two people can be a firework just waiting to go off, and in this story that's exactly what happens. And then again and again. *g* Be prepared for lots of explicitly graphic lovin', especially since it's needed to help lure in the utterly evil, villainous incubus hell bent on stealing the powerful psychic energies hidden deep within Syrena.

The paranormal and magical elements of Blade of the Wolf were almost complex in nature, which always kept me on my toes and completely engaged in the differing dynamics. The hero was a member of the Sgian Dubh Guardians, their immortal Were lives dedicated to protecting psychics against ancient evil. The inclusion of a very villainous incubus added a different paranormal twist as well. But what really stuck out to me was the fact that Nicole also takes her magical elements to a whole 'nother plane of existence-- literally! The ability for both good and evil to have the ability to exist and travel between planes for their own personal use added an air of chilliness and unusual twist.

Additionally, I enjoyed that Nicole brought the immortal highlander to a small town in the southern US. Although, being the Scotland highlander kind of girl that I am, I hope we get to learn more about the secret Guardian stronghold in the highlands in future reads. And speaking of future reads, I really can't wait to get fellow hotty Guardian Caerk's story in the future. This immortal highlander is sure to have a hot and edgy book, primarily for the fact that he is the only Guardian that is both were and vampire! Did I also mention that he was yummy? :)

Overall, I really enjoyed this story!! Nicole has a way with building suspense, unraveling plot lines and creating characters. The paranormal and magical kind of elements created for an engaging read where I was always wondering what Nicole would give me next. With Blade of the Wolf I appreciated the dark, edginess that she brought to the story, but also added a fabulous dose of very sexy romance and sexin'. Did I mention there's sex on the ceiling in this story? :) Yep, be prepared to be all sorts of warm while reading!!
Tanya, Among the Muses

Blade of the Wolf:
Ronan, immortal werewolf and Scottish Sgian Dubh Guardian, faces his most challenging, yet enticing, mission in centuries. He must protect sexy clairvoyant medium Syrena Ellis from an evil incubus intent on stealing her powerful life force. She awakens a raging arousal in Ronan, but if he gives in to temptation, he will be punished.

Dark and edgy, Ronan captivates Syrena. He is hot, hard and in control, yet his scorching glances and sinful kisses tell her he yearns for her. Even though she's only a job, she finds a way past his iron-willed resistance. She's determined to explore the depths of erotic passion with him. They're unaware that their explosive sexual encounters are providing the enemy incubus with heightened energy, making him almost impossible to defeat.

Syrena's forbidden desire and scorching lust for Ronan could destroy them both.

Available at Amazon, Ellora's Cave, and other online bookstores.

You Look Beautiful Today!

I like compliments, don't you? Actually, I love them. I love it when someone says something nice about me or something I've done. Now don't worry, I'm not fishing for a compliment (although if you have a spare one, you can send it my way), I'm just mentioning this because I paid a compliment to someone Monday and got a big smile in return. It was nice. Very, very nice.

What kind of compliments do you like? My favorites are listed below:
1. Those from my husband
2. Those from random strangers
3. Those that I give others

There's nothing better than my DH, unprompted, paying me a compliment. I say unprompted because I have a terrible habit of sort of forcing them out of him (by forcing I mean standing in his line of vision until he notices and says something nice about my outfit or my butt). So when he offers sweet words unbidden, well, that's extra special. The other day he made me feel super duper when he, out of the blue, said I had Michelle Obama arms. If you've not heard, Michelle Obama is supposed to have great upper arms. Very toned and no flab. I think her arms are lovely and even though I don't happen to agree with DH's assessment of my biceps, I mightily appreciate that he noticed they don't hang down to my waist. Yet. So if his misguided interpretation translates that into Michelle Obama arms, who am I to correct him?

I also like it when random strangers make a point to say something nice about me, especially when they don't seem to be trying to sell me something. I wore a special dress out the other night, and it was kind of a risky style for me. However, in the restaurant a waitress who was not even waiting on our table made a point to stop and tell me how much she liked it. It may be that we both have the same bad taste in dresses, but it still made me feel good.

As for giving compliments to others, that's how this whole post started. There's a knack to paying someone a compliment. You have to be sincere, and it can't be what we call a back-handed, or left-handed, compliment. A back-handed compliment is an expressed sentiment that is supposed to seem nice but is ultimately an insult in disguise. For example, if someone says to you,"Those pants look so good on you! Your butt doesn't look nearly as big as it usually does," that's a back-handed compliment. Another example is "That hairstyle is fabulous! It hides that big mole on your forehead." I would avoid those unless you really mean them (hey, we all have our despicable days, don't we? lol).

Now that I see the power of a kind word, I don't hesitate to dole out affirmations when the occasion arises. I used to have another terrible habit--have a lot of those, don't I?--and that was noticing something but never saying anything. I'd notice a friend's new haircut and how it enhanced her appearance, but I'd just never verbalize it. Funny for a person who plays with words for money, but I guess writing nice things is more natural than actually saying them.

I know I've posted on this topic before, but as we head into autumn, when the beauty of summer is transitioning into the bleakness of winter and the oncoming rush of the holidays, I thought a little compliment talk might brighten the dreary day here. I probably should have done a post on how to fish for compliments, as that's an art form I have down pat, but maybe next time.

Until then, what kind of compliments do you like to get? To give? To see given? Do share!

A Letter to Beckett and Elena.

***Spoiler Alert***

Dear Beckett,

You’ve gone stupid. How is it even possible for you to pretend that you don’t remember Castle declaring his love for you? Why couldn’t you have really forgotten? I could get that. But to actually remember and pretend not to? Look at this man.

<---Really? You can say no to this?

<-----Just in case I didn’t get my point across. Really?

Do you know that millions of women would happily take him off your hands for you?

But it wouldn’t matter. The man is completely head-of-heels in love with you. I get you have some unresolved dark chewiness lurking in your past. Get over it, already! I want to see some hot Castle/Beckett action. And not chasing after a superhero type action. Though I will admit Castle was adorable in that episode. I want some more lip-lock action.

<-----Look at this kiss. Yeah, yeah. Whatever. It’s wasn’t to mislead the perps. That’s chemistry, my dear.

You’re a fool for pretending not to remember it.


A Concerned Fan.

Dear Elena,

You’re the second woman to have gone stupid this week. It’s frustrating. Forget Stephan, embrace Damon.

<-----Damon with the breathtaking blue eyes.

<-----Damon who will do anything to make you happy even if it means finding the man you love and bringing him back.

<-----Damon who is so bad but wants to be so good—for you.

Idiot woman. You’ve picked the wrong brother. Stefan is a good guy. I can see that. But wake up! He’s not going to rock your world the way Damon can. And if you don’t want him, can you please send him my way?


Tired of Idiot Women

Strong Heroines & A Wonderful Review!

I was thrilled to receive this five star review (below) for My Fierce Highlander at Amazon from a Coffee Beans and Love Scenes reviewer. It caused me to start thinking about heroines in historical romance. We see all types from innocent, spoiled girls straight from the classroom, to seemingly mature women even though they may not be very old. Regardless of their age, I prefer to write heroines who are strong, intelligent survivors. They have been shaped by the hardships in their pasts. Maybe they've experienced something difficult or painful and lived to not only overcome it but to also grow and become even more resilient. Alasdair thinks of Gwyneth as a willow tree, strong but flexible. He admires this about her, as well as many other things. Despite her strength and the ability to take care of herself, he hopes she will trust him enough to rely on him at times.

Reviewed at: CBLS Reviews
Reviewed by: Toni

What a refreshing change from the norm!

Gwyneth Carswell is one of the most independent historical women I have ever read about. She was fierce in her own right. Due to an unfortunate scandal, she is sent to the Scotland Highlands by her father. She was born and breed as a lady, but she blossomed into an amazing strong, protective and productive woman. Gwyneth takes her responsibility as a mother seriously and refuses to become a dithering love struck lass. She is a modern woman in 1618, a true gem.

Laird Alasdair MacGrath is pure heaven. When I sit back and fantasize what MY highlander looks like, I see Alasdair. Dark haired, tall and a body built from battle. That's not all though, he is confident, smart, witty, charming, protective, kind and extremely passionate. He is a dream come true, but an unrealistic dream that Gwyneth believes she can never have.

My Fierce Highlander is a story that grabs you and won't let go. It draws you in, pulling you up a hill of sexual tension and building suspense, then cresting the peak for a beautiful descent into the world of love and passion.

Gwyneth and Alasdair is a perfectly matched couple. The couple's troubles, obstacles and victories all seemed real and ideal. Ms. Sinclair did a fabulous job writing a well balanced and enjoyable book. The story had just enough descriptions of the land and its people to enhance the story without bogging down the storyline. The action was intense and the love scenes were sultry.

The other characters truly enhanced the enjoyment of the story. Rory, Gwyneth's son, was adorable and such a wonderful addition to the story. He kept the plot grounded and real. I absolutely adored Alasdair's brother, Lachlan. He kept me chuckling and shaking my head at him throughout the book. He is a perfect scoundrel. He will be a great story to read about in the next book. I can't wait.

This is superb historical romance that will keep you up late and engaged. My Fierce Highlander will be a keeper on my shelf.
My Fierce Highlander is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online booksellers.

Whoo Hoo for Wine Fest!

One fall festival I make sure to go to every years is the North East Wine Festival in North East, Pennsylvania. We always go with another couple, and this year our son and daughter and their girlfriend/husband came too. After a weather forecast of rain and cold temperatures, it ended up being a beautiful day.

The wine tasting was held in the tent in the background. Eight wineries were on hand, showing off their most popular wines.

WE started out with $20 worth of tokens. A $1 token gave us a 1oz taste. I don't know how many more tokens we went through, but it was fun to try a 1 oz taste of some wines we've never had before. And a few of us might have surrendered several tokens for a glass of a wine we loved.

After we had a good wine buzz, and a list of wines we wanted to buy to take home, we headed over to the food vendors. Everyone was starving and came back to our table with a variety of foods from chili cheese dogs to gyros to blooming onions to chicken fingers.

Behind all the picnic tables you can see a pavilion where live bands played all day long. We even might have been heard singing along with a few oldies. And the rest of the park was filled with craft booths. We didn't buy anything at the craft booths, but did come home with a few bottles of our favorite wines. And some more good memories of a good day out with family and friends.

FLAUNT IT - Available now
RISK IT - Coming Nov 15th

It's less than a week away...

The best convention of the year, that is. Yep, Ellora's Cave's RomanitCon is happening next week! 

The fun begins Thursday, Sept 29th with a Meet & Greet party, and continues on until the whole shebang wraps up on Sunday night with a game (or more) of pajama bingo. In between times are some great workshops, a sexy, ahem, Sexporium -- which includes an author book signing, performances by the Cavemen and even a few burlesque and pole dancers -- all topped of with some of the best nighttime parties you'll find anywhere. 

And I'm getting in on the action, too! Mari Freeman, Samantha Kane and I are hosting the Games for Grown-Up Girls workshop on Sunday morning from 10-11. And yes, this is just what it sounds like. Take a few of your favorite childhood games, sexify them, and what have you got? You've got: Pin the C@ck on the Cover Model (hold on girls, not a REAL cover model!), Shake That Thang! (think c@ck fighting, with a twist), and Blow for a Book (balloon animals like you've never quite seen before). They'll be hot little prizes, maybe even one or two hot BIG prizes :). Come (again, ahem, LOL) join in on the fun!!

This year's Cavemen... 
I honestly can't wait for the fun we're all going to have, to see the great friends I've made in the previous years, and to just hang out with other lovers of erotic romance. Look for blog posts coming soon -- I'll be posting pictures (and maybe a few stories) from next weekend!


I Need Series 101

I love series books. There’s something about reoccurring characters that really have me looking forward to the next book. I’ve spent years trying to come up with an idea for a series. For some reason, I’ve struggled with this--until recently. I finally had an idea for a series hit me.

Here are the things I’ve learned so far:

1) The book I thought was going to be the first book was NOT the first book. I had to backtrack one character and make HIM the hero of the first book. The bonus to this is I do have half of the second book complete. Now to finish the first. Almost there, just lots and lots of editing.

2) Writing a series is hard. Maybe this is because I’m a pantser. I've tried plotting, I really have. It's just not for me. However, I’ve had to start jotting down plot points for the future books to make sure I don’t forget about them. Unfortunately for me, plot points for the secondary characters seem to come out of nowhere, lol. I’m just writing along and then bam, a secondary character does something important I have to remember.

3) Writing a series about a group of guy friends has me using their names a lot more than I ever had in any other story I’ve written. We’ve always been told not to repeat their names a lot in a scene, and this made sense when it’s a scene with a man and woman. It’s pretty easy to distinguish between who is talking with just saying he and she. But when you have three guys in a room and no women, getting across who is saying or doing what becomes terribly difficult without saying Paul did this. Sam did that. BUT THEN, the writing feels stilted.

4) Trying to weave in the current situation for the other future male heroes is tricky. It’s not that I haven’t done subplots. Defying Convention has a great subplot with Emma’s brother and his ex-fiancée. However, this type of subplot is way different because there won’t be a resolution to it until we get to that secondary characters book. So I constantly worry I’m being a tease instead of building anticipation for the characters story. Doubt sucks. It really, really does.

Do I regret starting the series? Not at all. If I can get it where I want it, I’m going to love the series, and possibly make way for even more stories. (Yes, more plot ideas have hit me since I started writing for new characters).

Is this a learning lesson? Absolutely. I bow to series writers.

So do any experienced series writers have any tips for a newbie one?


What is it About Those Reformed Rakes?

I received a review for My Wild Highlander which made me wonder why some readers love reformed rake heroes and others don't. I've heard the saying: reformed rakes make the best husbands. But I have no clue why this might be the case. Do you? I mean, a rake is known for his sexual exploits. He's been in many women's beds. One thing we know for sure, he must be fantastic between the sheets or he wouldn't see so much action. He must be a very sensual and charming male. Is this what makes him good husband material? Hmm... well, it would certainly keep life in the castle interesting.

One huge thing that concerns many women (and the heroine of my story) is... can he be faithful? He's used to so much variety, surely he will tire of one woman pretty soon. But to this I say... not if she is the right woman for him. A woman who holds his interest, his attention, and eventually his heart. Yes, even rakes can fall in love. Thank goodness, because... well, you know... they make the best heroes. :)

Here is the review for My Wild Highlander which inspired this blog post:

Lady Angelique Drummagan, a half-Scottish, half-French countess, has suffered much pain and betrayal in her past. She wants nothing to do with the sensual Scottish warrior that the king has ordered her to marry because the rogue could never be a faithful husband, but she has little choice in the matter. Dangerous, greedy enemies threaten her from all sides and she’s in dire need of his protection.

Sir Lachlan MacGrath, known as Seducer of the Highlands, possesses a charming wickedness and canny wit which has earned him much popularity. After the king decrees that he wed the fiery hellion, Lachlan discovers there is one woman who can resist him—Angelique. Can he break through her icy façade and melt her heart, or will the dark secrets lurking in her past not only cost them their future together, but their very lives?

"Vonda does it again with an excellent fast pace story. I was really hesitant in reading this one because as most of you know I don’t get along with historical heroes that are in every woman’s skirt, but… this story was nothing like I though it would be and it wasn’t long before I fell for Lachlan and all of his charm, he is a true highlander hero. This is a story with twist and turns and a great romance between two that are nothing alike.

"People can change from their ways, right? Well, you have to read this one and find out how one lady name Angelique changed a rakes ways. The catch is who really changed who. Yep, there is somewhat of a twist to this story if you read the fine lines.

"The romance between Lachlan and Angelique is stressful at times and at times it’s so hot your fanning yourself. I loved seeing them grow together as the story grew.

"I recommend this story for any historical highlander romance reader to try."
Laurie at Bitten By Paranormal Romance

What about you? Do you like or dislike sensual rake heroes? Do you give them the opportunity to change?

My Wild Highlander is available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

I'm also at Under the Covers today with an interview and book giveaway!


Guest, Kerri Nelson: How to Make a Momwitch + Giveaway!

Recipe for making a Momwitch:  Mix one jilted wife with twenty years of nearly forgotten magic and a spread on a passion for vengeance topped with one bad hubby and you’ve got the makings of a Momwitch!

Mom’s have it rough.  There’s no doubt about that.  Day in and day out we do countless tasks, most for which we are never thanked.  We work hard.  As the mother of 4, I know this for a fact.

So, what would it take for you to give in to your dark side?

A cheating spouse?

Road rage?

Or…maybe just one more dirty dish?

Well, in Courting Demons, you’ll meet a mom named Paisley who became a teenage witch when her only high school friend taught her the ways of the dark side.  But when something tragic happens as a result, Paisley turns her back on magic and subsequently becomes just a regular mom with two adorable children and a house in the suburbs.

That is…until one fateful day when she turns back to magic in a fit of rage and then the darkness takes over her life.  Only, she’s still a mom with kids to protect and meals to cook and dishes to wash.  And now she must babysit a whole new bevy of little demons—when she’s sentenced to punishment for her improper witchy ways.

I think there are times when we could all become a little bit “mom witch”.  So, if you had the choice of one supernatural power that you could use when needed, what would it be?  Would you turn an ex into a rodent (like Paisley)?  Would you stop time?  Move objects with your mind?  Become invisible?

What kind of momwitch would you make?

Tell me all about your mom witchy desires and be entered to win a custom designed “Make a Momwitch” Bread Bag Clip.  It will come in handy for all those days when a sandwich will just have to do for dinner.  After all, us moms need a break from time to time.

Paisley Barton was already having a bad day before she turned her husband into a rat.

First, she was fired by her boss and then came home to find hubby in the shower with a naked blonde chick. They say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned but this break-up may just unleash hell on Earth when Paisley casts a spell of vengeance against her philandering husband.

After her spell casting inadvertently opens a portal between dimensions, Paisley finds her family home transformed into a nightly courtroom for settling disputes between demons of the underworld and she’s the judge! If that’s not enough, she’s got to deal with a charming, ancient demon named Camden who wants to be her personal bodyguard while trying to explain her husband’s sudden, mysterious disappearance to sexy police Detective Dalton Briggs.

But Paisley will show them all that an everyday working mom is better equipped than most to deal with the mystical mayhem…and with a tempting demon hottie and a flirtatious young detective vying for her affection, she soon learns that being single again isn’t so bad after all.

“When a wronged wife turns her cheating husband into a rat, you know you have to keep reading! Kerri Nelson offers up a lot of fun and wild magic in Courting Demons!” --Bestselling author Linda Wisdom, Demons are a Girl’s Best Friend

Available 9/15 wherever books are sold but here’s the publisher link—free gift available with purchase of print copy—while supplies last:

Author Bio:
Kerri Nelson discovered her love of writing at an early age and soon became a columnist for her local newspaper winning the Outstanding Young Journalist of the Year Award for her efforts.

After a fifteen year career in the legal field, Kerri fulfilled her lifelong dream of publication and is now an award winning multi-published author of nearly every genre under the sun (and moon) and also writes young adult fiction under the penname K.G. Summers. 

A true southern belle, she comes complete with a dashing southern gentleman and three adorable children for whom she often bakes many homemade treats. 

Kerri is an active member of Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America as well as numerous chapters including Futuristic Fantasy & Paranormal Writers and her Presidency of Celtic Hearts Romance Writers.

Read more about Kerri’s books at her website:
Follow her on Twitter here:
Visit her industry blog here:

Giveaway for the day:
Leave a question or comment to be entered to win today’s prize: a custom designed “Make a Momwitch” Bread Bag Clip!

Then, enter to win my book tour Grand Prize Kindle by following me on tour and e-mailing me the answers to each question of the day at the end of tour.  The more questions you answer, the more entries you gain.
Question of the Day: 
What is the name of Paisley’s sexy demon bodyguard?
Click here for details on how to enter to win the GRAND PRIZE Kindle at the end of my “Dark Days of Demons Tour.”

©  Kerri Nelson 2011

Amazing Reader Review for My Fierce Highlander

I was thrilled to receive an email and amazingly fabulous review on Amazon from a reader. Thanks so much, Kathryn from CA!!!


My fierce response to a new romance writer on the scene, September 14, 2011  By Kathryn (Beverly Hills, CA, United States)

I'm a huge fan of Highlander-type stories and I was amazed to find Vonda Sinclair's MY FIERCE HIGHLANDER was on a par with Julie Garwood and Judith McNaught. I was even more amazed to discover that Vonda Sinclair didn't have a big-time publisher promoting her books.

The story takes place 1618 Scotland where the heroine has been sent away by her father, an English earl, to a Scottish cousin's territory. When her father discovered Gwyneth pregnant by an English Marquis who then refused to be forced into marriage he banished her from the family. She married one of her Scottish cousin's men in order to give her bastard son a name and is now a widow. Gwyneth's strict Protestant upbringing makes her believe she's unworthy of love and it takes a good portion of the story for her to accept that she deserves happiness. Laird Alasdair MacGrath spends his time wooing and protecting her and her son from her murderous cousin and the English Marquis who has now decided he wants his son at any cost which includes killing Gwyneth.

It was so refreshing to read a story where the heroine is intelligent, passionate and brave without the silliness of a "misunderstanding" or "too-stupid-to-live" actions and reactions. The hero, Alasdair continues to woo her and doesn't initially know or care about her aristocratic upbringing. When he discovers she's the daughter of the earl it only makes his wooing more difficult. He's a good man made only a better man by his love for her.

Another great element of this story is how the romance and the plot of the evil cousin and English Marquis are woven into the story. It's seamless and organic to the progress of the romance. MY FIERCE HIGHLANDER has the perfect balance of romance, love scenes and plot and smoothly sets up a sequel with Alasdair's brother.

I haven't read MY WILD HIGHLANDER yet, but honestly folks, it's next on my buy list but I have to wait for the weekend because otherwise I'll be up all night reading it.

Do yourself a favor and read Vonda Sinclair and if there are any publishers out there reading this review you should grab this writer fast because her level of competence in writing romance is far superior to what I've been reading over the last several years. Thank goodness that Amazon Kindle allows authors to get their work out into the marketplace.

5 Gold Crowns for My Fierce Highlander

I was thrilled with this review from The Readers Roundtable for My Fierce Highlander!

Who doesn’t love a saucy highlander romance? It doesn’t get better than My Fierce Highlander when you’re looking for a handsome highland warrior with sex appeal out the ying-yang!

When a battle breaks out on her cousin’s land, Gwyneth saves Alasdair, a laird from a rival clan. She hides him and heals him in secret, knowing he’s come with a peace treaty. When Alasdair wakes up, he’s surprised Gwyneth is taking care of him and doesn’t quite trust her. He must go back to his clan, but knows he’ll always protect Gwyneth for saving his life.

This story is well written, reads easily and quickly and there isn’t a moment you won’t be deep into the storyline, totally involved with the characters. Before the sex, Gwyneth and Alasdair are already emotionally involved, which doesn’t always happen these days and it’s so nice to read that today. The sex is sensual and romantic with highly emotional, tender moments. It’s heartfelt and will give you the warm-and-fuzzies on many occasions.

Alasdair is a handsome, highland warrior who knows how to take care of his woman and I wholeheartedly recommend it to those of you who love a good highland romance! It’s absolutely yummy!

Rated 5 Gold Crowns and a Recommended Read by Beth!

Ardvreck Castle

Ardvreck Castle is a ruin which sits on a promontory in Loch Assynt, Sutherland, Scotland. This is one of the most hauntingly beautiful areas of Scotland. The castle was built by the MacLeod Clan in the 1590s. The MacLeods had control of this area from the late 14th Century. The most famous tale relating to this castle involves James Graham, Marquis of Montrose. He was captured and imprisoned here in 1650 then later taken to Edinburgh and executed. He was a Royalist fighting on the side of Charles I against the Covenanters. Having lost a battle nearby, he sought refuge with the MacLeods. Neil MacLeod was away and apparently his wife Christine had Montrose imprisoned.

Ardvreck was attacked and taken by the MacKenzie Clan in 1672. They also took all the Assynt lands. They lived here at the castle until 1726 when they built a manor house nearby, Calda House, which also now stands in ruins after a fire in 1737.
 The walk to the castle was a mini adventure in itself. Water from the loch had flooded the walkway a slight bit. Before we left the rain came, chasing us back to the car.

The whole Assynt area is truly breathtaking, especially with the mist lurking about the mountains. Before reaching Ardvreck, we stopped at a lookout hoping to see Ben More Assynt (which means "big mountain of Assynt" in Gaelic) in the distance. The mountain is 3274 feet high and is the tallest mountain in Sutherland. But it is actually hidden from the road we traveled by other mountains in the foreground. We enjoyed seeing the red deer roaming the area, but didn't enjoy the midges, which seemed more aggressive and plentiful here than anywhere we'd been.

 Another gorgeous view on the way to Ardvreck.
 The mountains were hidden by the mist.

The gorse was in full bloom.
Although I wasn't able to get any pics of the red deer at Assynt, here are some other Sutherland deer from further north.

Thanks for checking out my pics!


Birthday Fantasy Contest

Today is my birthday. My gift to myself is a day home from the evil day job, spending my time reading and writing. If the weather cooperates, maybe I can take a walk down to the lake with my hubby. My birthday gift from him was a beautiful handtooled leather Kindle cover from Oberon Design. If you haven't heard of them, be sure to check them out. Their work is amazing and the cover is even more beautiful in person.

I'm still celebrating the release of Flaunt It and the beginning of my Paolo's Playhouse series from Samhain. All four of the playhouse stories deal with sexual fantasies. Flaunt It plays with exhibitionism, Risk It with voyeurism, Birthday Girl plays with menage and some BDSM. Birthday Girl delves deeper into BDSM. And Paolo's Playhouse has the playrooms that make it all possible.

We all have our own fantasies. We close our eyes and let our imagination run wild, and when we do, our minds and bodies respond. Most of us will never live out our sexual fantasies, but we can embrace them. We don't need to apologize or be ashamed of them. A fantasy, by definition, is a safe way to explore those arousing scenarios we'd most likely never want to try out in real life.

My strongest fantasies play with bondage and/or exhibitionism. (As if my readers can't tell that from the stories I write!) I love to play around with fantasies in my erotic romances. So here's where the contest comes in.

Since it's my birthday, I'm giving a gift to one Fierce Romance reader to celebrate. I'll choose a commenter at random from today's post and send them a $10 Amazon gift card. You can use it to buy some of my current releases...or my backlist...or of course, enjoy other fabulous writers out there as well.

So start those comments coming in. If you'd like to, I'd love to hear what your fantasies are so I can make sure to play with them in my upcoming stories. But if you don't feel comfortable doing that, tell us what your favorite birthday gift was. I could use some ideas for next year! Then check back tomorrow morning for the winner of my Birthday Fantasy Contest.

FLAUNT IT - Available now
RISK IT - Coming Nov 15th

I'm walking. Are you?

It's September, folks. For a lot of us that means back to school, the end of hot summer days as the first signs of fall start to appear, and , let's face it, getting ourselves in the mindset of winter arriving along with the upcoming holidays.

But for me, September means even more. September, you see, is World Alzheimer's Month.

I've talked before about my mom, and how she's afflicted with this horrible disease. What I've probably never mentioned before is that her mother had it as well, as did my grandfather on my dad's side.

I'm not going to lie, the fact that so many in my family have suffered through this scares me to death. Is it hereditary? Yes, it can be. Will I get it? Will my kids? I have no clue.

We talk about this quite a bit in my family--honestly, with something like this, you have to. But I'm doing even more. Not only is September World Alzheimer's Month, but here in Chicago, it's also our month to host the Walk to End Alzheimer's.

Bradley Cooper in his purple Alzheimer's shirt.

I have my own team this year, in honor of my mother and my grandparents. Next Sunday, come rain or shine, I'll be down at Montrose Harbor, ready to walk my little heart out. So many of my family and friends -- even some writing friends whom I've never met -- have donated to my walk. My heart has has been touched so many times. It's hard for me to express how much everyone's support means to me. I've cried happy, yet sad, tears more than once through this experience.

So, as I gear up for the Walk, remember you can help, too. Awareness is critical. Let's all GO PURPLE on Sept 21st!!

And let's also hope that very, very soon, scientists will find a cure for his terrible disease!


The Hunger Games

So today is one of those days I have absolutely no idea what to write about. I have a killer head/chest cold and it making brainstorming topics impossible. So I’m going to talk about something I read this week.

Anyone read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins?

I feel like I’m late to the party with this book series. I've heard people talk about it off and on since the first book came out in 2008, but really never paid it any mind. I do love Young Adult books, but I’m really not a post-apocalyptic sort of girl. However, over the last few months, the way The Hunger Games kept popping up became almost comical. I’d be on a forum and see someone talk about it. I'd be out in public and overhear someone say something about it. Everywhere I seemed to turn, I was hearing someone talk about this book.

The final straw was a week ago when I was sitting in my living room and saw it pop up again online. I asked my roommate, “Have you heard of the book called The Hunger Games?”

She gave me a strange look. “Funny you should ask, I had a woman come into work today and see that I was reading Harry Potter and she asked me if I’d read The Hunger Games. What is it about?”

At that moment I decided I was going to read it. I couldn’t ignore the way it kept coming up. Having a Kindle is a curse and a blessing. I had the book within seconds—the blessing. But spent money I shouldn’t have—the curse. Kindle just makes it so easy, lol.

Anyway I started the book the next day. I really don’t know what my preconceived notion was about this book, but what I was reading was not what I was expecting. It was dark, it was twisted and honestly, a few times, made me even wonder how it was a young adult book—Harry Potter fan here, where yes things get dark and twisted but there is a lightheartedness to the books (well except the last one) where Harry Potter is also a teen dealing with teen things.

Guys, The Hunger Games is not that way. It reminded me a lot of Lord of The Flies, where the writing becomes feral at times. Savage. And by the time I was finished, I was cursing myself for waiting as long as I did to read it.

So tell me, has a book you normally wouldn’t read kept popping up in the oddest places and made you decide to read it?

All I can say is I’m so glad I read The Hunger Games. Now I have to finish the rest of the series.


What is a Werewolf?

To some, a werewolf is a giant hairy monster, a cross between a wolf and a T-Rex. Even one of my good friends thought this was the type of werewolf I was creating when I wrote my book. These monsters may come from legend, but that's not the type of werewolves I write about. My werewolves shape-shift from (yummy, sexy) men to normal-sized wolves. They are immortal Sgian Dubh Guardians from Scotland who have vowed to protect humanity from evil. Not an easy job. In fact, they risk their lives everyday in defense of Protected Ones--humans with special powers and great destinies who are often the target of evil entities. Protected Ones usually help many people or do a lot of good in the world.

Ronan Graeme is a warrior and a Sgian Dubh Guardian who takes his job very seriously, especially this time. Not for 600 years has so much been at stake. Because he's part wolf, his senses are much sharper than a normal human's, especially his sense of smell and hearing. Plus he can see well in near darkness. Since they have to battle evil entities so often, it's a good thing Sgian Dubh Guardians heal ten times faster than humans. Another ability in their arsenal is anti-gravity. They can crawl up walls or walk on the ceiling. This also helps slow their descent if they want to jump off something extremely high. (I must add here that this book contains a love scene which happens on the ceiling. :) )

One of the Guardians' most interesting skills is controlling the minds of the humans around them. Ronan only does this when absolutely necessary, usually in life or death situations, or to prevent mass hysteria.

Sgian Dubh Guardians, being part human and part wild animal, have a stronger than normal sex drive, but they control their urges well. The full moon increases their need to find a willing lass for a tumble between the sheets. But they're not allowed to touch Protected Ones. Too bad Syrena, the heroine, is a Protected One.

I have some wonderful new reviews for this book that I'd like to share.

Blade of the Wolf by Nicole North is hot! The novel starts out explaining how Syrena has psychic powers that an incubus wants to obtain, which ultimately puts her at risk and even at death. So Ronan, a werewolf, is assigned to keep Syrena safe by watching over her constantly. Syrena has no idea what Ronan is, but she has an undeniable attraction to the Scottish beauty. Ronan is not supposed to engage in pleasure with Syrena, but pretty soon the attraction is too much to handle for both of them.

I really enjoyed this novel. The story is well written and the plot kept me turning pages. Ronan is a great character, and not because he has a sexy Scottish accent (which didn’t hurt). He is so kind and protective over Syrena which will make any reader fall in love with him. Syrena is more self conscious of her body, but she’s kind and tries to do whats best. But her sister is annoying, at best, offering a blow job to Ronan, when she knows Syrena likes him. Other than the self absorbed sister, I loved this book. I recommend it to werewolf fans and fans of paranormal romance. Nicole North has created a wonderful story and I’ll be purchasing her other novels very soon. Romancing the Book

Rating: 5 Cups

Ronan is on a mission for which he takes an oath to protect the innocent even from himself. The temptation of one mere human woman could be his very downfall.

Syrena is a psychic with the eerie ability to see the dead. Capable of so much more, she has always denied her powers and turned her back on them long ago. Every encounter with Ronan brings her powers screaming back and makes her even stronger.

Their love is forbidden but impossible to ignore. The past and present, full of regrets for both lovers, meet in an epic battle between good and evil where the victor is never guaranteed.

Blade of the Wolf is the epitome of romance novels. Nicole North gives the reader passion, sacrifice, love and strength in both the hero and the heroine. The evil is the unimaginable kind and strikes fear in the hearts of the reader. I absolutely loved the story, which flowed smoothly from one chapter in the lives of two characters whose love progresses at warp speed. An absolutely outstanding fast-paced novel meant to sweep the reader along on the tide of love and lust and succeeds in providing all the pleasures of reading a truly outstanding story.
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance and More


If you are looking for some amazing paranormal erotic romance then look no further, Blade of the Wolf by Nicole North is the book you want to read. With a delicious hero, immortal werewolf and Scottish Sgian Dubh Guardian, who cannot read this story? North takes us on a magical journey where love can appear when you least expect it and boy does it when Ronan meets the woman he is sworn to protect. But our hero has a dark past that may interfere with the psychic Syrena. Readers will love the dynamic between Ronan and Syrena, the hot romance between the two is enough to scorch the reader you’re reading it on. Who can resist a magical journey, lovable characters, witty dialogue and of course an evil incubus. I hope to see a series come out of this because I can see it turning into one. North’s romance stories are always ones to enjoy so if you like this one, be sure to look up her others.
The Pen & Muse

Do you enjoy werewolf romance or shape-shifter romance? Why or why not? What do you think about love scenes in unusual places, such as on a ceiling?


Summer's Last Hurrah - Guest: Stephanie Haefner

In many areas of the country, the kids have already gone back to school. But not here. We have always gone back after Labor Day. The holiday weekend makes for one last hurrah before school starts. One last weekend of fun to say goodbye to lazy days. But it also gives some formality to the end of one phase and the beginning of another...a way to transition from summer mode to school mode.

As a kid, my family spent many summers camping at a local family-oriented campground. We were seasonal campers and went there every weekend between May and October. But the holiday weekends were always the best. The place was packed and there was always some kind of entertainment, usually a deejay and dance. I got to see all my camp friends one last time before school started and most of the families stopped camping.

These days, I'm a mom with a child going back to school. One who can't wait! She's had about all she can take of her little brother's pestering! LOL! But as this last weekend of summer vacation approached, I did wonder how we would celebrate it. Every year, as Labor day weekend comes, I feel as if the summer has just flown by. Had I really taken enough advantage of it? Did we play enough? Did we relax enough? Did we soak up enough of the freedom? Sadly, I never feel like we have. So this weekend becomes a time to really squish in some last minute bonding before schedules and activities take over our lives.

So for Labor Day Weekend 2011, Friday was a day at a local amusement park with my family- fun, sun, water rides, and roller coasters! Saturday, me and hubby took in the National Buffalo Wing Festival- a yummy date night! Sunday was a BBQ with old friends we always promise to see more often, but somehow never do. And today...the very last day before the chaos of hectic mornings rushing to get to the bus stop on time, homework, dance classes, school functions...we will probably just sit home and enjoy each other. :) And get ready for the next day!

So if you're transitioning from summer mode to school/fall mode like me, and need a sweet romance to curl up with, check out my latest release, Soap Dreams! It's set in the fall, about a woman who's never found closure for her past and has suddenly been thrust back into it. Here's a little sneak peek!

Robyn grabbed another cosmo and found a seat at a corner table, perfect for people-watching. And what she saw reminded her of high school. She shook her head as the same girls fawned over Derek. The coaches patted him on the back and shook his hand. His mother basked in the light of her son’s glory. The only thing missing was her on Derek’s arm.

“Robyn, there you are!” Penny stepped in her line of vision. “Why aren’t you mingling with everyone? Our whole class is here! It’s like a reunion!”

“I’m fine right here.”

“Oh, come on! You’re the captain of the cheerleading squad--you can’t be antisocial!” She pulled Robyn out of her seat.

“Penny, I’m good…really.”

Too late. Penny had her halfway to the dance floor, where the crowd had congregated. The drinks were obviously starting to take their effect and party guests began dancing. Robyn caught Derek’s gaze and downed the rest of her drink. She didn’t normally have more than one and this was number two--a strong one at that. Her core immediately warmed.

“Hey, I thought you left.”

“No. My ride’s still here.”

“Oh.” He looked to the floor, then back at her. “Well, I’m glad you didn’t leave.”

“Why?” The drink had given her a bit of courage. “I told you no. There’s no point in me even being here.”

“I didn’t like how we left things yesterday afternoon. I wanted to see you…maybe talk to you. Like old times.”

“Old times are over. I don’t get why no one else in this room gets that but me. The past is just that--the past.”

He gave no response as the band transitioned from an upbeat party song to a slower, sultry melody. One she knew far too well. And so did Derek. Their eyes met as the middle-aged lead singer began crooning the lyrics to Wonderful Tonight, words that had been permanently engraved on both their brains.

“Did you plan this?” Robyn snarled. “Did you ask them to play our song?”

“No, I swear.”

She turned toward the door.

“Please. Don’t leave. Not like this.” He grabbed her hand. “Dance with me.”

“You are out of your mind.” She yanked her hand away and stumbled backward in her four-inch heels.

Derek reached for her and as the room began a gentle spin, her eyes locked on his. His arms were around her waist, his chest pressed so closely to hers she could feel it rising and falling with every breath.

“Okay. Maybe just one dance.”

Robyn told herself the dance was purely to keep her from falling flat on her ass. Damn that second martini! Otherwise, she would have been out to the parking lot by now, not caring where Derek’s arms were. She wouldn’t care one bit about the smile glimmering down at her as they swayed to the same song they had a million times as teens, or the intoxicating smell of his skin.

Like a dee jay scratching a record and jolting it to a stop, her brain sent her body an urgent What the hell are you doing? message. She was a married woman. It wasn’t proper to be in another man’s arms, and especially not this close, not this man.

“I gotta go.”

He didn’t say a word as she walked away, trying her best not to look as drunk as she was.
Don’t look back. Don’t do it.

Apparently her body operated without her brain’s consent. Derek stood there--couples embraced and swaying around him--but his eyes stayed right on hers.

Thanks so much for having me today!!! Hope you all have had a fabulous Labor Day Weekend, and gave summer 2011 it's well-deserved goodbye kiss!


Hurricane Irene: Gone but Not Forgotten

I live in Massachusetts. We spent last weekend girding for Hurricane Irene. Mostly, my efforts were focused on trying to get my father off Cape Cod, which was forecast to receive a direct hit from the hurricane. Was I thinking about my home in Vermont? Not at all.  (Cape Cod was fine.)

Sunday evening, my friend from Vermont called. Her voice was shaking. She said she'd driven over to our house and we had 15-20 feet of water in our back yard. What? I couldn't believe her. My house, which had been two blocks from the lake was suddenly a waterfront property? She sent me a picture. I was convinced. She said the covered bridge a different two blocks from my house was flooded. She couldn't get there because all the roads around my house were closed due to flooding. We concluded she was mistaken because the bridge is at least 40 feet from the river. Teens jump off as a dangerous dare.

You can see in the top picture the river as it forms a waterfall and flows under the bridge. The building is the Simon Pearce Restaurant, a gourmet destination restaurant and also the home of the Simon Pearce glassworks. (Though the restaurant was spared, the glassworks was completely flooded.)
Here are two pictures of the bridge, one on either side, now:

Yes, it was flooded. As was the other historic covered bridge one town over. See those white tanks in the picture? Hundreds of propane tanks (from a supplier 15 miles upriver) were floating down the river, along with trucks and trees and refrigerators. This bridge was the route I used to take for a ten minute walk into town.

My daughter got on her phone. She had friends who said they were marooned in their homes. This turned out to be true. In the past week, some Vermont towns had to have supplies airlifted to them when all the roads were flooded and people couldn't get in or out. (Vermont, a relatively unpopulated state, does not have a large number of roads.)

Sadly, 3 or 4 people in this one small state did lose their lives in the storm. So I'm not going to say this video is the saddest thing.
But it is eerie. The covered bridges are a unique historical treasure in Vermont.

Brattleboro was flooded badly. It took the national news a couple days to realize what had happened in Vermont. All of the best pictures are from amateurs.

And here is the golf course that used to border my house. This picture is a day after the flood. The course was destroyed.

I'm not going to say anything, because if I do...

I'm pretty sure I jinxed myself this week. Everything was going along great -- the kids are back in school, I had the house to myself, ideas were flowing and my fingers were flying on the keyboard. Monday and Tuesday totally rocked. Then, on Tuesday night, feeling all uppity about myself, I posted on Facebook: So this whole everyone back to school thing has done wonders for my word count totals :)

Innocent enough, right? I was just so thrilled that I'd had 2 really good writing days -- in a freaking row. 

Aaaaand -- wait for it -- here comes the jinx part. 

I never should've said anything. Even as I typed that happy little innocent post, I said to myself, Now watch, this is going to blow the rest of the week. 

And yeah. It pretty much did. So far, anyway. 

In all fairness, the scene I've been working on since Wednesday morning has been a touchy one. A confession scene, and not just a one-sided one. Both the hero and heroine have something to get off their chests. But, oh dear writing gods: Come on!

I'm not really a superstitious person. Not like, say, my grandmother was. She'd see a chair rocking with no one in it and FREAK. (Side story: One time, my mother walked into their house carrying a garden hoe -- why? I honestly have no idea, lol -- My grandmother made her walk out of the house backwards so she would take all the bad "whatever" back out with her the way she came. Weird, right?) So why is it that every time I say I'm going to write such-and-such amount of words today, that I end up struggling to get even 10? That if I post on FB or Twitter that Today I'm going to finish this chapter, scene, whatever, that that's a sure-fire indication there's no way in HELL that will ever happen? 

I want to talk about my writing, I really do. But man, maybe I just shouldn't. Not until after the fact. Anyone else feel this way? Or am I alone in my semi-superstitious nuttiness? 

Anyway, here's me, off to do... Well, maybe something today. Maybe not. We'll just have to wait and see, right?

Have a great Labor Day weekend, everyone!!