Coming Soon


Yes, somehow this is the last day of September, and October 2013, that for so long seemed so far away, will be here in a blink of an eye. Almost two years ago, my son and his fiancée set a date of October 12,2013 for their wedding. Plans that were made months ago, years ago, are finally all coming together. The bride is getting a little stressed out as she strives to make sure everything runs according to plan, but I've told her that no matter what happens, at the end of the day they'll still be married. It will be an outdoor wedding in the middle of October in western New York and while the leaves should be in brilliant color, the temperature is unpredictable, so I'd appreciate any good thoughts you can send our way. And look forward to pictures.

The other event I've been looking forward to in October is the release of my first royalty romance, Her Royal Masquerade. The release date is October 21st. If you enjoy classic romances like Harlequin Presents or Desire, or any emotional romance with a hot-blooded hero and a heroine who gets in over her head, I hope you'll give it a try.

Time is running out for Prince Vittorio. His father’s health is failing and he must find a royal bride. Fast. He’s never forgotten his glimpse of a beautiful Scandinavian princess and lures her to his Mediterranean country with an invitation to his father’s birthday ball. He’d planned to propose a marriage agreement as cold as her icy reputation, but then he discovers she's as colorful and warm as a summer sunset. The heat between them flares red-hot and when she allows him to seduce her, Vittorio sees his future unfolding just as he had planned. But what he doesn’t know is that the woman in his bed is not a princess at all.

The last thing schoolteacher Mia Holmberg expects when she masquerades as her royal cousin is to be swept off her feet by a charming prince. The incredible night in Vittorio’s arms is like a fairy tale come true, but she’d never want the life of a real princess, with all its pomp and politics. Knowing they can never have a future together, she slips out of his bed and back to reality, where she belongs.

But Vittorio discovers the deception and kidnaps Mia back to his palace, demanding she be his mistress until the real princess appears. Despite her attempts to stay aloof, Mia soon learns there’s more to the prince than arrogance and attitude, but now she’s in danger of falling in love with a man she can never have.

I'm writing book #2 in the Her Royal Romance series, titled Her Royal Bodyguard. You can look for that in 2014. I'll keep you updated when I have the release date. And book #3, Her Royal Mistake, will follow later in 2014.

And speaking of keeping updated on any upcoming releases and other news. You can sign up for my mailing list. I promise I won't clog your inbox. I'll only send you info on my releases. And it's possible I may have a mailing-list-only contest from time to time.

So what do you have going on in October?

Voluptuous - available now
Her Royal Masquerade - coming Oct 21
Silken Canvas - coming in print Nov 5, e-book available now
Playing for Real - coming Feb 4

Morals, Bedtime Stories and Crime…Oh My!

Today we have best-selling mystery and suspense author Kathy Bennett guest blogging with us. Kathy spent twenty-one years as a police officer with the LAPD, and draws on her career experience to write her ‘arresting’ stories. Her latest book, A Deadly Justice, was released in September 2013. Welcome, Kathy!

Thanks, Leigh, and thanks to everyone here at Fierce Romance!

At bedtime when I was a little girl, my mother would read me a story from a book of fairy tales, or relate a story she'd been told by her parents as a little girl. Who could forget The Boy Who Cried Wolf, The Little Red Hen, or the Emperor's New Clothes? Every story had a purpose or a lesson.

That fact would be summarized at the end of the story when my mother would say, "The End." Then she'd pause, look at me intently and say, "And the MORAL of the story is…" and then I'd be expected to tell her the lesson I'd learned from the tale she'd just read. Usually I was successful in reciting what I'd learned. 

So now, as someone who makes up her own stories, it doesn't come as a big surprise to me that there are little lessons or things to be learned in my books. I'm not talking about the police jargon or procedures I sprinkle into my stories, and I'm not talking about research I've done about a particular location or profession.

No, I'm talking about the predicaments my characters face. I try to make those circumstances as authentic as I can. Usually, the situations are crime-related, and I hope that my readers will put themselves in the character's positions. That way, the reader can think about what they'd do if they experienced the same dilemmas. 

In my second book, A Deadly Blessing, I had a sixteen-year-old girl get drugged and kidnapped from an unsupervised party. In a review of the book, one reader stated she'd used the events in my book to open a discussion with her teenage children about the dangers they might face when out with their friends.

In my most recent release, A Deadly Justice, I have a teenage female character struggle with what to do about a boss who is sexually harassing her. Additionally, in the same book, there is a subtle message for parents: Don't be so busy with your own lives that you only go through the motions with your children, while you have no clue what your kids are doing. 
I don't intentionally put these examples or warnings in my book. They just grow from the plot. Of course, it's my hope that my characters and the situations they face permeate the reader's mind and get them thinking about the consequences of their actions…or inaction. 

Is it my duty to subtly educate my readers? No. Is it necessary to my stories that I try to enlighten the people who buy my books? No. So why does my subconscious seem to turn my tales into learning adventures? Maybe because I suspect most parents today aren't telling bedtimes stories to their children – and I believe they should. What do you think? 

Oh, and the moral of this story is…once you've been a cop for over twenty years, it's hard to break the habit of trying to protect people from the evil in the world. 

Kathy Bennett

Positively Toxic

I've had an early autumn epiphany, quite by accident. This has been an interesting year career-wise, and I don’t just mean writing. No, my day job has been a ride and a half, and I didn’t even know it until last month. Funny, but until then I’d grown to accept everything as normal, when, in fact, it wasn’t. It was a bad situation I’d gotten used to, just like the heroine of a chick lit novel who tolerates her louse of a boyfriend until she meets The One. I didn’t realize it until I accidentally landed somewhere else and saw how other people work together without driving each other bonkers.
A couple of years ago, my now ex-boss decided to re-group staff and re-organize the organizational chart, for whatever reason. I went along with it assuming he knew what he was doing. I mean, he had over two decades in the business after all. So, for the last two years I’ve been working with one guy who is completely incompetent but apparently immune to being fired and with another who—even worse—is so positive all the time that he makes a smiley face look depressed.
I never realized what an effect this had on me until I got transferred to another department due to a company-wide reorganization that my ex-boss had no control over, otherwise I think he would have kept me where I was forever. I’ve been in this new department for a little over a month, and…wow! What is so different? Most people would think I’d be glad to get rid of the goober who screwed up every project he did and expected me to pick up the pieces, which is true. That was a relief. However, the real relief surprised me.
The guy I worked with most closely, Mr. Smiley, drove me crazy with his ultra-positive attitude. I’m not a negative person by any means, but his constant “look on the bright side” philosophy went overboard. The biggest problem was it only extended as far as his needs. If I needed to discuss product issues or a problem we needed to address, I got a wall of “Negativity is not accepted here! Just be positive and a solution will present itself.” However, when he had an issue with a colleague, I heard all about it in technicolor. What?
So, I learned how to positively report that our sales were poor or that our employees were mounting a revolt in such a way as to offset his initial response of “Be positive!” and actually get something done. Ever have to justify everything you do to someone who believes in his/her heart that you are coming from a mindset that you aren’t coming from? He always thought I was a negative, a Polly Party-pooper, if I brought an objection to one of his ridiculous ideas, even just playing Devil’s Advocate. That was what this working relationship had devolved into, and it was maddening. I couldn’t just go in and say there was a problem; I had to justify why my positive attitude hadn’t dealt with the problem before we could discuss solutions that didn’t involve me getting sensitivity training or signing up to confer with a guru about how to make success come to me just by wishing.
In my new position, my boss asks me for the “bad news” so we can figure out what’s going on before our sales fall so low they become non-existent. He wants to know the negative so he can turn it around before it becomes a problem. No longer do I feel like I’m the harbinger of doom, peeing on everyone's delusional parade. Instead, I feel like a professional doing a job, and it feels really good.
So the short of it is that I’m in a much better place. I didn’t realize what a bad place I was in until the first time my new boss asked my best educated opinion about an production issue and expected, well, my best educated opinion, despite whether it was positive or negative. No more fake smiles or coating everything with an insincere attempt at glee, and it's so great.
I hope this September has brought you unexpected joys, too. Please feel free to share if it has, or even if it hasn't. Next time I post it will be October, and I am looking forward to a lovely autumn. See you then!

McCaig's Tower – Oban

View of MacCaig's Tower from Oban
Toward the beginning of our trip to Scotland in July, we stayed in a cottage near Oban. This is one of our favorite places to stay. We had seen McCaig's Tower in the distance on the hill over Oban on previous trips. You can't miss it because it dominates the skyline. One day we walked through town and up the steep hill (Battery Hill) to McCaig's Tower. This is a landmark that's easily seen from almost anywhere in Oban and it resembles a Roman coliseum.

McCaig's Tower
Even though streets lead up to it, we decided to walk instead of drive for a few reasons. We enjoy walking. The streets are narrow, one lane, very steep, and difficult to navigate because many of them are two way, and people park on the street. Also I wasn't sure if there would be parking at the top. Following the signs, we walked along the streets and up a very long set of steps. Once we'd climbed what seemed like a million steps, we came out onto another street. There are streets and homes all over this large hill. They have a great view out over Oban Bay.

The steps leading up toward the tower.

The cliff next to the steps.

View of Oban Bay from a seating area off the steps.

Beautiful historic homes and gardens.

McCaig's Tower from the street below it.

Beautiful, unusual flowers.

Two way street.

Entrance to McCaig's Tower
 John Stuart McCaig, a local banker, had McCaig's Tower built in 1897 as a way to provide work for local stonemasons during the winter, and to create a lasting monument to his family. Some call it a folly because it's built to look much older than it is. McCaig was a fan of Greek and Roman architecture, and he was the architect of this tower. He had planned for the tower to be much more elaborate with statues of himself and his family, an art gallery, and a museum inside, but he died before all these plans could be carried out. Only the outer walls were completed.

 McCaig's Tower is around 656 feet in circumference. It has 94 lancet arch windows, 44 on the bottom and 50 on top. At the time, it cost 5000 British pounds sterling to build. That translates to over 500,000 pounds in today's money. It is open all the time and there's no charge to enter.

Click to enlarge. View of Oban Bay

Boats in the harbor

 McCaig's Tower is much larger than I'd thought, and the interior is filled with a beautiful garden. There are many shrubs, trees, roses and other flowering plants. There are also pathways and grassy areas. Locals, especially teens, like to lie in here and enjoy the sun (when it is sunny) and read. The walls block out most of the wind, so it's very peaceful, still and warm.

The day started out cloudy, but by the time we reached the tower, the sun had come out and it was warm enough for short sleeves.

I love the very Scottish look of this lovely house.
 The walk back down the hill was interesting too, because we decided to take a different route along the streets instead of the long steps. We saw lots of beautiful homes and gardens along the way.

Roses and butterfly bushes.

I love this creative house number.
Thanks so much for taking this walk with me! :) Hope you enjoyed it.

The first book in my Highland Adventure Series, My Fierce Highlander, is on sale for .99 cents for a limited time at Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

Gwyneth Carswell, an English lady banished by her father to the harsh Scottish Highlands, wants nothing more than to take her young son away from the violence of two fighting clans--her own distant kin, the MacIrwins, and their enemies, the MacGraths. She risks everything to rescue the fierce MacGrath warrior from the battlefield where he’s left for dead by her clan. She only knows she is inexplicably drawn to him and he wants peace as she does. When her clan learns of her betrayal, they seek vengeance. Dare she trust the enemy more than her own family?

Laird Alasdair MacGrath is driven to end two-hundred years of feuding with the MacIrwins. But by taking in and protecting Lady Gwyneth and her son, he provokes more attacks from his mortal enemy. As the danger and conflict surrounding them escalate, Alasdair and Gwyneth discover an explosive passion neither of them expected. With the arrival of a powerful man from her past, a horrible decision confronts her--give up her son or the man she loves.


Louder Than Love by Jessica Topper - Recommended

I rarely write reviews. I may be a writer, but the craft of reviewing is a totally different animal than writing a book. I salute reviewers who can sum up a story in a few succinct words. All I can say is that I loved this book! In the spirit of full disclosure, I will say that I know Jess Topper, but I had not read this book until it finally appeared on my Kindle after pre-ordering it months ago.


In this powerful debut novel, a young librarian grieves the loss of her husband...and discovers a love that defies classification.

It's been over three years since a train accident made a widow of Katrina Lewis, sending her and her young daughter Abbey back to the suburban town of her youth...the only place that still makes sense. Lauder Lake is the perfect place to hide and heal.

Recluse rocker Adrian "Digger" Graves survived the implosion of his music career, but his muse has long lain dormant. Until Kat hires him to play at her library—not on the basis of his hard rock credentials but rather, because of the obscure kids' TV jingle he wrote years ago. In a case of mistaken identity, Adrian stumbles into the lives of Kat and her comically lovable daughter.

Using tattoos as a timeline, Adrian unfurls his life for Kat. But as the courtship intensifies, it's unclear whose past looms larger: the widow's or the rocker's. Will their demons ever rest, or will they break these soul mates apart?

I can't express how much I loved this book. (I'm not a reviewer, remember?) But I can say that the characters were so real I felt like I knew them and their story touched me on a deep level. I loved going along on their journey as they rebuilt their lives and fell in love. Along the way, I was also treated to an intimate view of New York City and a peek at the world of heavy metal rock and roll.

My words don't do this book justice, but believe me when I say, in the words of British rocker Adrian Graves, it's "brilliant." And I recommend this book to anyone who loves emotional romances about second chances.

Here's the link to Louder than Love.

Voluptuous - available now
My Royal Masquerade - coming Oct 21st
Playing for Real - coming Feb 4th

Cape Cod Dreaming

Provincetown beach
You can dream away an entire summer on Cape Cod. Sun, sea, salty air and all the charm you could want.

The Cape is actually a long, narrow island. You're never too far from water, not only the Atlantic Ocean, but also many ponds, bays, and marshes. Provincetown, shown on the left, is at the easternmost tip of the Cape.

What used to be a fishing village is now a tourist mecca, with a particular appeal to gays. The streets are narrow, the shops souvenir-ish, but the overall ambiance is fun.

Look at what's important to the residents of town - the library! Isn't that just a perfect library?
Provincetown library

Another town we visited is Wellfleet, also on the "outer Cape" meaning the easternmost part, which is less built up and less visited than the areas closer to Boston and New York. The outer Cape is also the home of the Cape Cod National Seashore, a long stretch of public beaches saved from commercial development by President John F. Kennedy.

All coastal towns in New England were originally working hubs for fishermen. Wellfleet still is, although it also attracts artists now as well. Here's the Wellfleet harbor, with a typical Cape mix of sand, rocks, boats, and gray-shingled houses.
Wellfleet Harbor

A Cape Cod house often looks like this one, with the unpainted boards or shingles (the salty beach air is hard on paint) and lots of flowers and low-lying plants.
Wellfleet house
 I wanted to add a few pictures for fun. Who knows what Cape Cod is known for?
This is just the cutest store (in Provincetown). The signs say: "Best Store Ever" and "Love and Happiness". Who could resist?

I have more pictures of Cape Cod on my Pinterest account.

Sunset Tryst Cover Reveal

I'm so excited to reveal the cover for Sunset Tryst here on Fierce Romance! This was such a steamy, sexy and fun book to write. Look for it coming soon from Ellora's Cave.


Sun, sand, surf…and sex.

Riley Watson is looking to kick off her vacation a little early as the medical convention she’s attending in a gorgeous Florida beach town winds down. When two sexy men offer her an unforgettable night of heat and passion, the last thing she expects is to get tangled up in a maelstrom of searing emotions. Together, Garrett and Evan are her most vivid erotic fantasy—and her most heartbreaking reality—all rolled into one. As red-hot desire and aching intimacy escalates, Riley is forced to pack a lifetime of ecstasy into mere days. But after nature takes a bite out of her unexpected affair, will their gut-wrenching goodbye be all they have left as a reminder of their sunset tryst?


Garrett held on tighter and danced them in a loop to face the bar. Evan was standing there with his arms folded over his wide chest, leaning against the center island, just staring at them. He held his jaw firm and his chest rose slow and even with each breath, but nothing could mask the undeniable want in his eyes.

Garrett worked his fingertips against the silkiness of her blouse and hooked the thumb of his opposite hand under Riley's belt. Her nipples tightened even more, as did every cell centered around her core.

“Looks like our friend over there isn’t too shy about what he wants,” Garrett mused at the edge of her ear. “Can’t say as I blame him, though. Seems to be a lot of that going on here.”

Never in her life had she felt so free. Wild, even. She covered Garrett’s hand with one of her own and worked her fingers between his to hold it there while lifting her other to that silky place along the nape of his neck. She gripped those short curls and reveled in the quiet growl he let loose when she tightened and tugged a little.

“Ah, baby. You’re some wicked sexy, you know that?”

She had to smile. “You’re the first person to ever call me that.”

“What? Sexy? I highly doubt that.”

She shook her head ever so slightly. “No. Wicked. I’ve never been called wicked before.”

More heat centered in her core when he pressed his lips against her temple. “Then I’m the first person to see who you really are,” he whispered.

As revelations went this one floored her, simply because she couldn’t help but think that, in this moment, he might be right.

They stayed like that for a few beats, gyrating together, mimicking a slow, rhythmic f***ing, all the while being watched intently by Evan. Her breath came quicker and her knees started to feel like jelly.

“You want him,” Garrett continued at the shell of her ear. “Don’t you?”

Her throat constricted, but whether it was from nerves or excitement, she couldn’t be sure. Gripping him tighter was the only answer she could give.

“I watched you today. Whenever you stopped in here, you’d flash these looks at him.”

“Did I?” she managed.

His chuckle rumbled in his chest and penetrated through her back. “Yeah, you did.”


“You’re not denying it, are you?”

The devil in her just kept staring into Evan’s eyes. She remained silent.

“I know you’re thinking it,” Garrett kept going. “My hands all over you. His hands. Our mouths.” He pushed against her ass again. “Among other things.”

God, he was reading her mind. “And you’re calling me wicked?”

“Come on, Riley,” he nearly growled. “Let me hear you say it. Let me hear you say how much you want him. How much you want us.”

She peered over her shoulder and caught his gaze. Lust, desire, need—all were heady emotions in and of themselves. But weaved together in the depths of Garrett’s near-black eyes... She found herself lost and grounded all at the same time as an easy truth spilled past her lips.

“Yes, Garrett. I want you. And I want him. I want you both, and I want you together.”

Have a sexy weekend, y'all!


A Fashion Public Service Announcement

By now you know that I’m a bit of a wannabe fashionista, whether anyone cares or not. I’ve been fashion-challenged all my life, but somehow, in my middle years, I’ve suddenly decided that I’m some kind of fashion guru because I’ve worn the worst of the worst and am now somehow better for it. A couple of posts ago, I blogged about visible bra straps with no purpose. Today I tackle the topic of short skirts and big bags, which by themselves do not cause problems. However, together they can be very, um, revealing.

My job puts me in the way of hundreds of people a day, so I have plenty of time to observe what the general population is wearing. Lately, I’ve noticed on several occasions a phenomenon that I think I need to mention, if only to inform the public at large about the potentially toxic mix of short skirts and big, bulky bags.

I don’t mind short skirts. I’ve worn enough of them over the years that I’ve developed the attitude that if you want to wear something that shows your thighs, no matter how sightly or unsightly, you should. Doesn’t matter to me. Short skirts serve a number of purposes, especially on hot days. But here’s what you need to remember…

If you carry an over-the-shoulder bag that rests against your body, it might catch on the fabric of your skirt and cause it to hike up and show everyone your panties.

It’s true. I’ve seen it, in some cases unfortunately. Young women will totter off down the street completely unaware that their undies are showing in the back because their tote bags, as they rest against their hips, have captured their skirts and are holding them in place while the rest of their body moves forward, thus exposing their underwear, and, in some cases, butt cheek.

I’d never thought of this before, but now I’m super aware of where my purse touches my body in case it catches on my clothing. I’m also hyper-sensitive to red skin caused by purse straps, such as when you wear a tank top and your purse strap rubs your skin red where it touches. I used to vainly think that people were scoping my Michelle Obama arms, but then when I looked in the mirror I saw red splotches where my purse strap had been. This also happens when you wear a tank top and lean back in a chair—red skin everywhere.

I realize that as far as public service announcements go, this is pretty lame. However, from the grateful response I got from the young lady who wasn’t wearing panties with her tiny skirt and large tote bag ensemble, I think it could be pretty important. It might help someone out there who’s been wondering why all those people stare as she walks by. Is it her figure? Her cute blouse? Her jaunty step? Or her Wonder Woman boy shorts showing?

What about you? Is there something you see happening fashion-wise that people aren't aware of? You can help a tremendous number of folks by pointing it out here. Not as many probably as were impacted by learning that you're supposed to push in on the ends of the foil box to hold the spindle in place, but a large number nevertheless, so please do share. :)