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Archive for the ‘Guest Author’ Category

It’s time for Shelli Stevens’s quarterly post! (Yes, aish! Time flies!) And she’s sharing breaking news with us! Whee!!! (And I’m too lazy and sick to add a bunch of Shelli’s covers right now, so you’ll have to forgive me. They’re hot though. Feel free to go check some out.) 

What is it about a bad boy?

What is it about a bad boy that can draw a gal in? Both in a romance novel, and maybe in real life? Is it the hope that we’ll see these guys redeemed? That they’ll be turned around by one woman, when none before have managed to do it? Maybe they drink too much, smoke, swear, bed hop like it’s an Olympic sport, scowl at tiny kittens…hell, they’re just bad boys. And yet some women flock to them. Again and again. Same bad boy, different guy.

I mean in a novel they can seem all exciting and sexy, but in real life…hmm, sometimes you think you’d just slap the jerk. But then…sometimes not. Sometimes you fall for the guy you absolutely should not, could not, see yourself falling for. Even though there’s all these emotional barricades and warning signs along the way. So what IS it about these guys? Why is it a popular trope in romance novels, and why is it that women in general can’t seem to ‘step away from the bad boy’.

And on that bad boy note… I’m excited to break the news here, on Lime’s blog, about my new upcoming series! I just signed a contract for the first book in my series The McLaughlins (it follows a Scottish family who’s moved to America). Book one is called Good Girl Gone Plaid and should be due out early summer 2013.

Let me know your stance on bad boys, do you like them? Maybe you like them only in novels, or maybe in real life as well? Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win a $5 gift certificate to Amazon!

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Everyone please welcome Harlequin author Amy Knupp who is the “October Author” at ALBTALBS! :D This sounds dorky, but I first “met” her on twitter, and then at a few conferences. She’s totally fabulous, and I think she’s the best.

1. Do you collect anything?  Good intentions and calories.

2. What would your ultimate meal consist of? Describe each course and beverage.  I don’t know exactly, but it would definitely include bacon.  And cheese…lots of cheese.

3. What was your first job? Your most interesting one?  I worked at Dairy Queen for a total of about 6 years in high school and college.  I still have dreams about making that perfect curl on the top of the cone (and I’m pretty sure I still could, even though it’s been a LOT of years.)  Most interesting job?  Easily the current one I have as a freelance copyeditor (www.blueotterediting.com).  Not only do I get paid to read, but I get to indulge my punctuation OCD-ness. :)

4. What are five of your biggest pet peeves? What do you think would be fitting punishments for each?  1. Drivers who swing their car out to the right to take a left turn.  2.  People who use the word “irregardless.”  3.  Insurance companies that think they can prescribe what’s best for my health.  4.  Radio stations that ruin really good songs by playing them every twenty minutes.  5.  Wizard of Oz comments when I tell people I used to live in Kansas.  (I hate Wizard of Oz.  Don’t judge me.) [I'm a little surprised Amy doesn't have punishments for them... she seems like she'd be the type. ;X]

5. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?  I’m not very adventurous with food, so it’d probably be some kind of Blizzard combo from back in my Dairy Queen days.  The most disgusting one I remember was Nerds candy and Whoppers…together in vanilla ice cream.

6. If you have to listen to a song 24/7 for four days, which one would you choose?  I would throw the iPod in the lake after about an hour, no matter what song it was.  I love music but need to have a variety.

7. Cowboy boots, Stilettos, or Go Go boots?  The only one I own is stilettos, so if I have to choose one, I’d go with that.  My shoe of choice would be my fur-lined Sketchers.  They’re ugly, comfy and warm, and during the Wisconsin winter, comfy and warm win out.

8. How’d you come up with your author name? Have you ever forgotten your author name/accidentally ignored someone when they called out to you?  My parents gave me the Amy part and my husband gave me the Knupp part, so no, I’ve never forgotten or ignored. :)

9. Who would win in an ultimate death match? A Ninja or a Viking? A ninja.  Vikings are all big and bad-ass, but I’m thinking they’d lack the finesse of a ninja.

10. What was your favorite book as a child?  There was a book in my grade school library called A Letter to Amy.  I checked it out EVERY week just because my name was in the title.  No memory of what it was about, but it just shows how important a title is, right? ;)

11. What did you do with your first royalty check?  What I do with all my royalty checks…pay bills.  Glamorous, yes?

12. What’s your writing process?  Plot and plot and figure and plot and start writing and then figure out my plot sucks and won’t work for my characters.  From there, I pretty much have to wing it.  You’d think skipping the plotting stage would be a good idea for me, but that causes me more anxiety than it’s worth.  That original plotting craziness seems to be a necessary step in order for me to get to the eventual story.

13. What’s the most unique/strange silly skill your possess?  I’m pretty sure I could win a belching contest but I’ve never had the nerve to try one in public.  (I do rule the Knupp house, even though I’m the only female, though.  My mom is so proud.)

14. Which is worst? Hang nail, splinter, or paper cut?  Paper cut!

15. What’s the first type of alcohol you ever tried to drink? What do you prefer to drink now?  Kahlua and cream is the worst because I detest coffee.  I prefer gluten-free beer…or vodka.  I try to avoid having them together because that never ends well.

16. Is there a genre you’d like to write but haven’t? What genre would you personally never try to write?  I plan to try young adult, but probably most of what I write will always have some kind of romance in it.  I would never ever try to write historical because I am a history idiot for the most part.

She’s giving away copies of her upcoming November book After the Storm. Have you ever read a book by Ms. Knupp before? What questions do you have for her? Remember, the more off the wall the better! :D

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Condoms Don’t Like Teeth
By Katie Porter

It really seems like this should be a fairly straight forward concept. Condoms are thin. Super, duper thin, and we all know why—to increase the sexy times fun feelings, of course. Hell, Trojan condoms were sold by the tag line “Feels like nothing is there!” Of course that calls to mind plenty of other…shortcomings? Shall we say?

But we get the point. (Omg. Unintentional pun, I swear.)

Now. What do we need to keep away from condoms? Sharp things. Just like a balloon, condoms are poppable. And what’s at the front of our mouths? Sharp implements designed for cutting bites of meat off your food. Your teeth.

So why in the name of god would you rip open a condom wrapper with your teeth? Do you really want to put a microscopic hole in something that’s protecting your sexual health?

Which brings me to my point: I am SO VERY sick of reading this action in contemporary romance novels. In my head, they get five points for mentioning condoms—and then fifty bajillion points taken away for “ripping the condom open with his teeth.” I would personally rather have no mention of condoms. In that case, I can fill in the blanks just like I fill in heroines stopping to pee and brush their teeth in the morning. Maybe that level doesn’t need to be on the page, that’s fine.

But please God, don’t show me the characters being stupid about it! I get it’s supposed to indicate eagerness. The hero’s really into her, I understand that. I probably also understood it when he was walking about the pages with permanent priapism and when h thinks of naughty things whenever he looks at the heroine, but I liked that part. It’s lusty, not stupid. (Well, maybe a wee bit stupid too. But not all.) I mean, didn’t these characters have ninth grade sex ed? Maybe they were too busy gathering up a tragic back-story to go to boring ole’ sex education.

Now, in closing, I’m going to leave you with a spectacularly cringe inducing example. It’s not from a romance novel (thank the sweet baby jebus) but I’m hoping it’ll…stick around in your head a little while. A what-not-to-do, shall we say?

When he ripped the condom packet open with his slightly snaggled teeth and rolled the latex onto his birthmarked penis.

Leah from Hold ’Em never chews on her condom packets. Nor does she truck with snaggled teeth or imperfect penises.  Of course she whacks Captain Michael Templeton, her hero, with a flogger, a cane and a paddle, but that’s an entirely different blog post. Neither do Ryan nor Jon, the heroes from the first two Vegas Top Guns ever rip a condom open with their teeth, either. (See what I did there? So pluggy. It’s a failing of mine.) No condoms will ever be hurt in the writing of Katie Porter books, this I swear!

***

Up next for Katie Porter, the co-writing team of Carrie Lofty and Lorelie Brown:

Now that the first three of the RT BookReviews 4½ Star Top Pick “Vegas Top Guns” series have been released, readers can anticipate the final two installments, Hard Way and Bare Knuckle, in 2013.

November brings the m/m Christmas-themed Came Upon a Midnight Clear, described as “masterful” by Publishers Weekly. In January, Lead and Follow  will launch the five-part “Club Devant” series of erotic multi-partner romances set in a hot New York City burlesque club.

Where to find us: website, Twitter: @MsKatiePorter, or individually: @carrielofty and @LorelieBrown

We’d like to give away a copy of Double Down, Inside Bet or Hold ‘Em (winner’s choice) in any format. Just answer the question: Did you know it’s a bad thing to nibble on condoms?

Thanks again to Limecello for letting me vent!

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Hi friends! We’ve got author Isobel Carr sharing with us today. I kinda had a lot for her to address (too much), so then told her to ignore me and write what she wanted to. :D (I’m kinda stuck on the “marriageable age” for heroines in historicals. Everyone ” ” says they have to be so young and once they’re 21 they’re “so far on the shelf” but apparently that’s not true – and it’s what spawned this post, one of those conversations with Isobel.

Paranormal authors have to create their worlds from whole cloth. This can be incredibly challenging, but not, in my opinion, as challenging as creating a believable historical world. No one (sane) can come back at you with “facts” countering the supernatural rules of lycanthropy as imagined by you, but if you screw up a title, primogeniture, or some other factual aspect of history, you’re going to get crucified. Harder than solid facts, is getting the “feel” of the period right, especially as each author has an individual vision of that period, created by everything from their favorite novels, mini-series, and the research books they’ve chosen.

I’m an avowed research wonk. This means I have a lot of rather dry non-fiction on my shelves, and that I read—and re-read—a lot of my books. I want to absorb the nuances and ideas they contain so I can synthesize them into my understanding of the period in which I set my books.

I’m drawn to the naughtier, raunchier, wilder people I stumble across in my re-search (as anyone who’s read my books knows, LOL!). So my favorite biographies are books like The Lady in Red (about a great heiress who became an infamous divorcee), Courtesans (featuring the likes of Sophia Baddeley and Elizabeth Armistead), My Lady Scandalous (about a socialite turned royal mistress and eventually spy). But what this means is that *my* vision of late 18th century England might not conform with that of someone who’s main influences are Austen and Heyer and Our Tempestuous Day.

My shelves are also filled with texts like The Family, Sex, and Marriage (fabulous information about everything from the age of marriage among the upper class to general attitudes of sex and behavior),  Alienated Affections (divorce and separation in Scotland), and The Rise of the Egalitarian Family (which contains a study of the development of marrying for love as an ideal).

I know that many of us *believe* that during the late Georgian period women married when the word “girls” still applied and that by twenty-two said woman was “on the shelf”. But the data outlined by Stone in The Family, Sex, and Marriage doesn’t support that. Stone says this: “Daughters married on average at about twenty in the late sixteenth century, rising to about twenty-two to twenty-three in the seventieth and eighteenth.” So if they were making their debuts somewhere between seventeen and nineteen, they weren’t expected to marry in their first (or even their second) season. Stone further states that the date shows that close to twenty-five percent of daughters of the upper class never married (compared to about fifteen percent of sons).

Given these numbers, especially coupled with the high mortality rate of pregnancy, women must have been remarrying in fairly high numbers as around 15% of men were married more than once [thus making up for their bachelor brothers]). I find this especially interesting given the social pressures on both sexes not to remarry (as detailed in The Rise of the Egalitarian Family). Trumbach gives several reasons for this pressure, chief among them concerns about preserving the inheritance rights of the children of the first marriage. But even in cases where the marriage had produced no children, widows were often discouraged from remarrying due to families (both hers and her deceased husband’s) feeling that by doing so she was alienating her natural heirs (who they generally believed to be either her or his immediate relations).

How does this all play into my world building? Well, it helps me come up with plots that I hope are original and surprising, but still historically plausible (even if reviewers don’t always agree!). My upcoming book, Ripe for Seduction, was sparked by the story of Lady Mary Coke and Lord March. March as a young man couldn’t seem to stop himself from making indecent proposals to every pretty girl who crossed his path. When Lady Mary returned to town as a widow, he made one to her. Furious, she determined to teach him a lesson. She promptly presented herself to his parents as his betrothed, knowing full well the only people whose good opinion March cared about were his parents. March did eventually manage to secure his freedom … my hero of course will figure out that freedom is the last thing he wants.

I went by title and linked what I thought they were, so my apologies to Isobel if they’re wrong! I’m curious as to what you thought though. I find this fascinating, and accuracy/realism does affect my reading enjoyment!

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Casting Call & a Giveaway for As You Wish

Thanks, Lime, for having me on your blog!

I’ve recently released my self-published, debut contemporary romance, As You Wish. It has a rock star hero and a florist heroine and is set around Christmas.

Here’s a longer description:

Love doesn’t always follow the sheet music . . .

This Christmas, Portia Jackson needs a miracle to save her family’s generations-old florist shop. What she gets instead is a car that breaks down during a blizzard. Help arrives unexpectedly when the infamous Aubry Riley pulls over. She only expects him to drive her to the gas station . . . she never expects that kiss. But Portia lives in the real world—she knows this is only a holiday fling for Aubry. Except it doesn’t feel so temporary, and the last thing she wants is a broken heart.

Sometimes you have to sing some different notes . . .

Rock star Aubry Riley has no secrets. Thanks to the media, everyone knows about his troubled past. Six years have gone by since his world crashed, and now he’s ready for a comeback. But first he needs to reconcile with his family—starting with his six-year-old daughter. A month-long vacation at a Vermont lake house affords him the perfect opportunity to take a step in the right direction. He doesn’t need any other emotional entanglements, especially not with the bright-eyed florist he can’t stop thinking about. But no matter how hard he tries to resist her, he can’t. Now all he has to do is to convince Portia that there is nothing temporary when it comes to love.

One of the things I like to do when writing is to mentally cast the characters for my story. Now, I know when people read they form their own image of who the character looks like, and there’s always the danger that you could say oh, my hero looks like Tom Cruise and then Tom Cruise jumps the couch.

So, I hope none of the celebs I’ve chosen pull a Tom. ;) And to make sure I don’t get Lime in any trouble with copyright issues, I’m just going to give links to said pics.

Aubry Riley is my jaded rock star hero. He’s described as: “He had long, sun-streaked brown hair to his shoulders, sea-green eyes, and deep slashes of cheekbones that made his face seem harsher in the dimmed light. His skin was a warm golden color from the California sun, and there were tight brackets lining his firm mouth.”

Now, confession, I searched a while for Aubry’s name. His name actually started off as a different one, but we both didn’t like it. I wanted something unusual for his name—something that felt rock starish. I actually got his first name from someone’s last name. I came across this picture of Gabriel Aubry, which just screamed Aubry to me.

http://impatientchick.com/2010/07/02/random-pic-of-gabriel-aubry/

Portia is my florist shop heroine. She’s got long, wavy, golden blonde hair and hazel eyes. She’s on the short side and soft-looking. She’s got a very optimistic attitude and can say things that are . . . unexpected. Her name comes from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. For Portia, I thought that Portia de Rossi (and I swear that this time the similar name is just a coincidence, lol) might be a good fit.

http://www.popcrunch.com/portia-de-rossi-will-play-lily-munster-in-nbcs-mockingbird-lane/
Laura is Portia’s best friend. She’s brown-haired, brown-eyed, and a librarian. For Laura, I picture Ginnifer Goodwin.

http://topnews.in/ginnifer-goodwin-hes-just-not-you-world-premiere-arrivals-2120289

And then there’s Finn, who’s Portia’s oldest brother and a math professor. Finn is very . . . contained. Dark hair with threads of silver and blue eyes, and I had Dermot Mulroney in mind when I wrote Finn.

http://www.celebs101.com/image-197746–3373–Dermot+Mulroney+Picture+Gallery.html

As you can see, I had some fun with this. Such a hard job to look for pics. ;)

Who would you want to play a hot, damaged rock star? I’ll giveaway an ebook copy of As You Wish to one commentor.

About Elyssa Patrick: Elyssa Patrick is a former high school English teacher who left the classroom to write fun, sexy, and emotional contemporary romances. Besides being slightly addicted to chocolate, she loves cupcakes, classic movies, and Shakespeare. She is a member of RWA. Elyssa lives in New York, where she is currently working on her next novel. (Website, Twitter: @elyssapatrick)

Buy links: KindleNookKoboARe

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Hi Lovelies! Today we’ve got Jess Dee visiting with us! And also, Jayne Rylon, and Lorelei James should be stopping by to answer any questions you have. I expect you’ll have something to say, yes? ;-)

Two To Tango

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago (okay, maybe 4 or 5 years ago), a call went out around the kingdom. Samhain had decided to publish a trilogy of books—all three of them ménage romances—and were looking for authors to write those stories.

Authors far and wide scurried to heed the call. Books were written and submitted, and the breathless wait for further announcements began. Weeks passed in nervous anticipation, until finally a statement was issued by Samhain. Three books had been selected for the anthology. Three very different books which all had a common theme: Red-hot, erotic threesome romance.

And so the Menage And More/Three’s Company anthology was born, with authors Lorelei James, Jayne Rylon and Jess Dee at the helm.

 

The anthology released, and the authors had a wonderful time with readers buying and reading their books. Years passed, with the authors moving on to other, different projects. But a restlessness seemed to be growing. A yearning to revisit the times of old. A longing to reopen the pages of the anthology.

And then came the day a message went out. Not around the kingdom. This time, straight to our inboxes. And this is what the message said:

Jess/Lorelei ah, my menage and more buddies.  I remember the days when I was a super newbie and I got thrown into an antho with two big names.  Luckiest day ever for me.  I think Three’s Company has been a smashing success and every time I sign one at a conference I think of you two and smile.  So, why not get the gang together for another run at it?  I know I’ve talked to both of you about the possibility at some point in the past year.

Here’s the deal… Lorelei pitched the idea to Lindsey. Her spin was doing something mainstream, straight m/f and playing off TWO instead of THREE.  She would do a non-cowboy story, I would try to remember how to write straight non-super erotic m/f and Jess… well, this seems right up your alley.  I brainstormed some titles/ideas today in a meeting (don’t judge!) and here are a few concepts I came up with:

Two to Tango
Two of a Kind
Make it Two
Two Strikes (this could be people who have broken up before and are getting back together)
Two Shakes (could be people who fall in love/lust fast)
Two Can Play
Two to Two-Step… ha ha lame.
Two Timers (again could would for a second chance kind of thing)
Two in the Bush (HAHAHAHAHAHA  This could be another menage book!!!)
Two Peas in a Pod
Two’s Company

How about it?  Are we in?

Jayne

Jess laughed at the message. Luckiest day ever for Jayne? Er, hell no. Luckiest day ever for Jess. As for Lorelei, she wasted no time laughing. Quicker than the other two could blink, she’d organized for the trilogy to be published. And thus Two To Tango was born.

Which is why, on the 2nd of October, these three books, which form the Two To Tango anthology, release in e-format at Samhain Publishing.

 

We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed writing them.

:-)

Lorelei, Jayne & Jess

So have you read books from Samhain before? What do you think about menage romances? Or any of these great authors? Come on – I’m curious as to what you have to say. (And I challenge you to throw out some eyebrow raising questions too!) ;-)

*ETA: There are books as prizes up for grabs, in case you needed the incentive! :D

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Hi friends! A brand new guest to ALBTALBS today! I’m very excited about that! :D Yes! We’ve got Alix Rickloff visiting with us! I’d also like to say thanks for sticking with me through the scheduled yet not back to original steady times. (And to Alix as well for her patience with the craziness here.) I hope you all give her a warm welcome! Not to mention she’s very kindly offered a book to one lucky commenter!

Stay Tuned… The Unfinished Series

You’ve found that perfect series. The world building is magical, the characters are compelling, and the plots sing. You read one book, maybe two or three. Then suddenly… inexplicably…the books stop.

It could be that the publisher has decided the series wasn’t as  big a seller as they’d hoped or it could be that the author has decided they want to move in a new direction. Either way,  the series is over. Maybe the loose ends were tied up. Maybe not. But you’re still left wanting.

Sound familiar?

A few years back, I was left stranded midway through Bernard Cornwell’s Starbuck Chronicles. I had devoured the Richard Sharpe books like a woman obsessed and was looking for more. Enter Nate Starbuck who seemed like the answer to a prayer. Unfortunately, four books and half a war later, the series ended. I was left waiting…wondering…waiting… waiting…you get the idea.

I vowed I would never do that to my readers.

And then—I did.

My Bligh family series published by Kensington was set in an alternate Regency universe, one in which the Other, a race of men and women bearing the magical blood of the Fey lived in secret side by side with humans.

The series began with Lost in You in which Conor Bligh, the soldier of the family is the only one who stands between the demon Asher and the destruction he plans for mortal and Fey alike. And the only way to the end that threat is to sacrifice Ellery Reskeen, the woman he’s come to love.

The second book was Dangerous as Sin, the story of Morgan Bligh, the cousin who trades in her needle and thread for a sword and shield. She’s been given the job of locating the stolen sword of the goddess Andraste, a blade capable of creating an un-killable army. Her partner? Cam Sinclair, the assassin who broke her heart once and would do it again if he got the chance.

These two books introduced a cast of characters who all deserved their happy ever afters. They planted seeds for later books and hinted at mysteries not yet solved

And then I moved on, leaving the Blighs and their world behind.

But those characters stayed with me. They clamored for my attention and whispered their stories in my ear. Do Brodie MacKay and Euna Sinclair ever find each other again? Will Jamys Bligh ever be more than a friend to the woman he loves? And what ever happened to Richard Bligh who disappeared without a trace at the age of eight?

The answers are out there, and soon I hope to offer them to readers in new books. The first of these, tentatively titled Lady Immortal, is close to completion and—fingers and toes crossed—will be out by Christmas.

Mariah Penkevil wants nothing more to do with magic…ever again. But then the mysterious Rhyse MacAillse appears on her doorstep claiming she’s the reincarnation of a dark sorceress, and Mariah finds herself dragged back into the dangerous world of the Other whether she likes it or not. Soon she’s on the run with a man who tempts her with his touch but whose secrets could place her in the path of a Fey-born killer.

If things go as planned, I’ll follow this book up with more that will round out the series and perhaps even expand it into un-thought of directions. You never know, but all I can say for certain is stay tuned…there’s always more to come. ☺

Have you ever been faced with a series that’s ended before “The End” or maybe one in which it feels like forever between books? Do you wait until a series is complete before starting it? Or do you plunge in heedlessly and take your chances?

Let me know and be entered for a chance to win Earl of Darkness, the first book in my Heirs Of Kilronan series. (And yes, the series is concluded)

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Hello friends! Today we have the lovely and wonderful Portia Da Costa visiting with us! She’s been a part of the romance community for some time, and knows a lot about the changes, and is one of the star Black Lace authors. And she has stories with numerous other publishers as well. If you’ve never read a book by her before, you’re missing out – but no worries – here’s a chance!

THE STRANGER – Not Your Typical Hero

Portia Da Costa

In a publishing landscape of dominant billionaires, vampire warriors, Navy SEALS and other tough male leads, the eponymous ‘stranger’ in my new release from Black Lace, The Stranger, isn’t a typical hero, at least on first impressions. Paul – the name he later remembers – is something of a little boy lost, despite the fact that he’s a grown man in his twenties, or maybe early thirties. Turning up suddenly in the life of widow, Claudia Marwood, he’s an amnesiac in fancy dress, confused, clearly far from his home and his life, and grateful for shelter and a place to stay. The only things that are familiar to him are his senses and his body.

Claudia is a woman dwelling in loneliness, somewhat lost herself after the death of the older husband she loved, but after a period of mourning, she’s ready to embrace life and its pleasures once again. One look at the handsome stranger, who she first sees bathing naked in the river near her house, and her passion and her desires spring to life again in full flower, and she yearns to offer him solace and reassurance with her touch, and her body.

In this scene Claudia comes to the bedroom where the stranger is sleeping, ostensibly to check on him and make sure he’s not worried by a thunderstorm outside; but really, she’s drawn irresistibly to the sensuality and mysteriousness of the beautiful younger man who’s suddenly wandered into her life. It’s not long before she discovers that despite his amnesia and confusion, the stranger’s physical vigour and his powerful sex drive are still intact!

N.B. Something of a period piece now, The Stranger is a reprint of a title first written in the early 1990s, and thus predates a lot of the familiar technology we take for granted today e.g. mobile phones, high speed internet, GPS etc.

*** *** ***

Once she had got over the initial shock of the young man’s nudity, Claudia allowed herself to breathe properly again…

When Claudia finds a sexy stranger near her home she discovers that he has lost his memory along with his clothes.

Having turned her back on relationships since the death of her husband, Claudia finds herself scandalising her friends by inviting the stranger into her home and into her bed…

‘My name is Claudia Marwood.’ She twisted their fingers into the conventional grip of greeting, and her companion did the honours, shaking her hand.

‘And I’m…’ He grinned and shrugged.

‘The man with no name?’

He smiled again, then scrunched up his face, as if a physical effort might prise free elusive knowledge. ‘Is that from a film?’

Claudia nodded.

‘Well, I’ve just remembered my first fact. Thank you.’ Leaning forward, he suddenly touched his lips to hers.

It was like being hit by the lightning outside. The fleeting contact of his mouth was electric, and filled Claudia with such a wave of passion that she couldn’t breathe for a moment.

This is insane, she thought. She was making a complete idiot of herself. ‘I’d better go now and let you get some rest,’ she said, and made as if to get up from the bed and run for it.

The hold on her hand turned to steel again. A carefully gauged, velvet covered steel, but steel nevertheless.

‘Stay.’ His voice was husky, already changing, ‘Please!’

She should have asked ‘why’, but she knew why. In the dim light, his blue eyes were steely too, almost polished; alive with a message that was unmistakable.

‘Are you sure?’ she asked, then had to smile, knowing that under any other circumstances this was a question the man would ask.

The stranger nodded, answering her smile with a beautiful and very male one of his own. ‘At the moment it’s the one single thing in the whole world I am sure of.’

Claudia was imprisoned by him. At the centre of their stillness, she felt the balance of power tilting on its fulcrum; her lost boy had found his way, and taken command.

‘Let me turn the light out,’ she said faintly.

‘Must you?’ His voice was teasing now: deep and intense, but flirtatious.

‘Yes, I think I must,’ insisted Claudia, fighting not to go under entirely. She drew a deep breath when he released her, then she reached out and flipped off the lamp.

‘I can imagine you,’ he said as she slipped off her robe, feeling glad of the darkness to hide her confusion. It was a long time since she had bared her body for a man, and even longer since she had been naked before a new man, a lover, not her husband.

The stranger lifted the covers, and shaking with nervousness and longing in equal parts, Claudia slid into bed beside him.

‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said, and then she was in his arms, her bare skin against the cotton of his pyjamas, her mouth sought by his for their first true kiss.

Expecting boyish haste, she was astonished when he began to kiss her quite slowly. His lips were gentle and mobile against hers, the pressure they exerted complex. Without thinking, she opened her mouth and his tongue darted forward, accepting her gift, searching and finding her own tongue with its tip. He tasted strongly of spearmint, the toothpaste she had left for him, and she wondered why she had never realised how such a common flavour could seem so exotic.

His hold on her was measured too, hands flexing just enough to keep her against him; no grabbing, no groping, no force. His body was warm and firm through the cotton that covered it, his erection a hot brand against her thigh.

Suddenly, his self-control seemed to rip away the years from her. She became the impatient adolescent, surging against him, anxious to explore his body, to touch and caress it. She scrabbled at the buttons of his pyjama jacket, trying to bare him, wanting to taste him, to devour him.

‘Hush!’ he whispered, reaching between them, taking both her hands in his. ‘There’s no hurry… I’m not going anywhere.’ He gave her fingers a little squeeze, then eased her onto her back and made her lie still, her arms at her sides.

‘You’re very lovely, Claudia,’ he said, letting his long hand settle at last on her breast, ‘So soft and warm. You make me feel so safe to be here.’

His fingers cupped her curves, first one, then the other, as if he were weighing and assessing her, the touch light and infuriatingly playful. Claudia longed for him to squeeze her, to be rough and forceful, to take her breath away, to ravish her. She shifted her thighs, trying to rub herself against him.

The stranger laughed softly. ‘I never realised I was so desirable. Did you want me this much when you were watching me by the river?’

Read more about The Stranger here

*** *** ***

Portia Da Costa is a veteran British author of romance, erotic romance and erotica, who’s been published since the early 1990s. She loves writing about sexy, likeable people in steamy, scandalous situations, and has penned novels, novellas and novelettes for Black Lace, Harlequin, Samhain Publishing, Carina Press and a number of other houses, plus over a hundred short stories for magazines and anthologies. Best known for writing BDSM themed stories with modern settings, she’s also written Victorian erotic romance for HQN. Her contemporary erotic romance IN TOO DEEP was a recent Sunday Times Bestseller.

When Portia isn’t writing or reading she loves to chill out and watch the television, or spend time online, chatting with friends on Twitter, and on message boards and elsewhere.  She lives in the heart of West Yorkshire with her husband and her adorable cat Alice.

TwitterWebsite, Blog

So! As I said – we have two giveaways today! One lucky commenter will win a signed copy of The Stranger as soon as Portia gets her author copies. In the meantime, another lucky person will her/his choice from Ms. Da Costa’s self published books! (You can check them out here.) Whee!

Also – this was supposed to be a GA&AG interview… but you all know how things have been going, so I didn’t get those to her, so I have a challenge for all of you! To enter the drawing – respond to Portia, and also, I want to see what crazy questions you come up with asking her! You know how these zany interviews normally are. The crazier and more off the way the question is, the better! :D

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So, y’all know things have been … unfortunate. And kinda crazy. I’m trying to play catch up, so bear with me please. And I hope you’ll find the content interesting! Thanks for your patience, everyone, and please welome author Eden Bradley!

Eden Bradley Interviews hero Christian Thorne

Eden: We all love a hero, don’t we? A man who knows how to take charge at the right moment, and is equally able to show his tender side. Those are qualities I love in a good Dominant, too. A true Dom doesn’t need to be cruel-he just needs to be wicked.*G* And once he’s spanked you until you cry, he’ll kiss your tears away. Now that’s an extraordinary Dom-my dream Dom. Today I’m here talking to one of my most extraordinary fictional Dominants, Christian Thorne from my BDSM novel The Dark Garden. This book was originally released in 2007, but given all the recent Fifty Shades buzz it’s been re-released in digital format and will be available in print once more with a gorgeous, sleek new cover. Find it in Target and other stores the first week in September!

But let’s talk to Christian, shall we?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Christian: Fictional? Eden…

Eden: *groan* He’s giving me that look. I won’t be able to think straight for an hour.

Christian: Focus, Eden.

Eden: Yes, Sir. (*sigh*). Um…where to start? Why don’t you tell us something about one of the great loves in your life, apart from Rowan, of course- your art.

Christian: My art is almost as important to me as Rowan. Almost. I’ve always been an artist-I was born with the need to paint, and more than anything, to sculpt…to feel my hands working the stone. Until I met Rowan. The woman made me need to draw her, just put the exquisite lines of her body, her face, on paper. Impossible to do her justice, but I had to try.

Eden: I remember that night…Rowan laid out on that antique settee in your studio, naked except for the yards of heavy chain you’d bound her in while you sketched her for hours. It turned out rather well for you, didn’t it?

Christian: It did. And for her. (*winks*)

Eden: Now let’s talk about something else you love: kink. Tell us what it means to you.

Christian: You know it’s something I take very seriously. I play by the Safe, Sane and Consensual credo. I see dominance as a great responsibility. When a woman gives herself over into my hands, her well-being-physical, mental and emotional-is my foremost concern. I will command her and take care of her in equal measures, and that command, every stroke of the flogger or kiss of the whip, is to feed her needs. And in doing so, mine are fed, as well. That’s what a true power exchange should be. It’s the only way I play.

Eden: But you never expected that it would lead to love…

Christian: What can I say? Rowan captivated me from the first minute I laid eyes on her. I knew she’d be a challenge. She didn’t want to submit to me-or anyone. But I saw it in her-that need to let it all go. I knew I could bring that out in her. But love? No, I never thought it would happen to me. Not in a million years. Rowan has a way of making me face myself, whether she means to or not. I needed it. Needed her. Some things are simply…fated.

Eden: *sighing girlishly*

Christian: (arching eyebrow) Is the interview over, Eden? If not, collect yourself.

Eden: What? Sorry…where were we?

Christian: I believe you were sinking into subspace. (*wicked grin*)

Eden: Mmm…yes, I was. Okay, interview….Um…

Christian: (*flicking the side of his boot with his crop*): Do you need a reminder, Eden? The interview?

Eden: Oh, not fair! You brought me down into sub space-the crop thing is not helping.

Christian: I’m waiting, Eden.

Eden: (*yet another sigh*-he does that to me): Okay, okay. Tell me what you look for in a woman.

Christian: She has to be intelligent. If I can’t have a conversation with her then I won’t respect her in the way a woman deserves to be respected by her partner. Someone who knows art is a bonus, but one I appreciate. I like a woman who has some sense of her own personal power. Someone who’s confident, who carries herself with grace. And I’m a sucker for beautiful eyes, a kissable mouth. She can be athletic, or have lush curves-those things aren’t as important as a woman’s eyes, seeing everything she is, everything her life has been, reflected there.

Eden: Careful there-you’re going to make the ladies swoon.

Christian: And that’s a bad thing?

Eden: I rather like it, myself. But I have another question…What’s your idea of a perfect evening?

Christian: I like to start with a walk from my house in the canals to Venice Beach just as the sun is setting, then home again to cook dinner together. I can make a pretty good pasta puttanesca. A glass of wine-no more than one most nights. I like to stay alert for what comes later…(*winks*)

Eden: And what comes later?

Christian: Everyone will have to read The Dark Garden to find out, won’t they? But let’s just close with this: There is something almost sacred in those acts which happen at the extreme end of the sensuality spectrum. Those things that maybe even scare you a little, make you challenge yourself, explore your endurance. And bring you to heights of pleasure you’ve never known before…Come explore that with me. I dare you…

~~~~~~~~~~~

Surrender has its own rewards…

This scintillating erotic debut tells the deliciously potent tale of one woman’s quest for self discovery-in the intriguing underground world of Los Angeles’s club scene…

Rowan Cassidy likes to be in charge—especially in her personal life. As a Mistress at Club Privé, the most exclusive bondage/S&M club on the West Coast, Rowan can live out her dominant fantasies safely, and with complete control—until Christian Thorne walks in. Self-confidant and sophisticated, he’s a natural dominant if Rowan’s ever seen one. Yet she can’t stop thinking about him and imagining his touch.

Christian has returned home from Europe, hoping to break free from his dissatisfaction and malaise—and discovers the cure in Rowan. He’s dying to get his skilled hands on her and watch her surrender, to unlock the mystery of her that captivates him. Determined to be her Master, he makes Rowan a daring proposition: give herself over to him for thirty days.

Rowan finds Christian’s offer terrifying—and impossible to resist. But abandoning herself to Christian’s power might be more than she can handle…Or it might be the realization of her true nature and the dark garden within her. There will be only one way to find out. And once the game has begun, there’s no turning back.

~~~~~~~~~~~

EXCERPT: WARNING-Hot stuff ahead!

He led her to the bed once more, and this time he undressed her with his own hands, carefully, tenderly. He helped her step out of her shoes, then her wool slacks, slipped her crème-colored cashmere sweater over her head, left her in her ivory silk camisole and matching thong.

“We’re going to take things slowly.” He spoke softly, soothingly. “One step at a time. I just want you to get used to my touch first. To being under my hands. You know you can always stop the scene if anything gets to be too much for you. But I want you to try to stretch your boundaries a little.”

“Just being here is a stretch for me.”

“I know that. That’s why I haven’t thrown you over my knee and given you a good, hard spanking.”

His wicked grin was infectious and she couldn’t help but smile.

“Ah, that’s better. Come now, sit here on the end of the bed.”

He pressed down a bit on her shoulder, guiding her. The bed was soft beneath her, as though it had a layer of down ticking on it under the rich brown and gold bedspread. The room was warm enough, but she shivered anyway. It was impossible to hold still.

He moved to the head of the bed and she couldn’t see what he was doing, only heard the slide of a drawer. She felt the mattress sink a little beneath his weight as he sat down behind her. When he touched a fingertip to her bare shoulder she jumped.

“It’s all right, Rowan. It’s just me.” He slid that fingertip down her arm, raising a trail of goose bumps. Down her arm to her wrist, over the back of her hand, then back up. His fingers continued their stroking exploration, over her neck, the line of her jaw. She could feel the heat from his hand on her skin. Incredible, how much heat came off that one finger. What would his whole body feel like pressed against hers?

Before she could banish that thought, her sex gave a squeeze, went liquid. She couldn’t fight it with him still touching her. He continued to stroke her skin, moving down to her collarbone, and her nipples peaked hard as he swept across the swell of one breast, then the other. She closed her eyes and let herself enjoy the sensation.

His hand slid over the outer edge of her bra, down over the curve of her breast and she wanted to arch into that hand, to make him cup her breast, but she didn’t move. She was trembling inside with desire.

His hand made its way over her ribcage, the lines of her abdomen, lower, until he brushed the very top of her panties. Her sex ached. She was sure he could sense the pacing of her breath, the heated flush of her skin. But right now she couldn’t find it within herself to care. She only knew she didn’t want him to stop touching her.

He took his hand away, leaving her skin cold. Then his mouth was next to her ear, whispering, “I’m going to blindfold you now.”

Panic hit her full force. “No!”

“Yes.” It was a tone few would argue with.

“I…I can’t do that.”

“You don’t have to, Rowan. That’s the beauty of this arrangement. I’ll do everything.”

He tucked her hair behind her ears while she sat, shaking and silent. She didn’t know how to fight him.

The blindfold came down over her eyes, shutting the world out. She raised her hands to her face but he quickly pulled them away.

“Still, Rowan.”

How many times had she given that very command to the bottoms she’d played with?

“You know how this is done. I want you to focus. To be aware of only the sensations in your body, your own breathing. Shut out the rest of the world. It’s just the two of us now. Let the rest fall away.”

His voice was soothing, hypnotic, yet her pulse was racing. She understood the purpose of the blindfold: to allow her to draw inward, to concentrate only on what was happening to her in this moment. But she couldn’t shut her mind off. She couldn’t stop telling herself why this whole scenario was all wrong, even as her body responded to his nearness, his hands on her. Even though her sex was soaking wet, her nipples hard and needing to be touched.

Pure agony.

He was touching her again. He lifted her hair from her neck, stroked the skin there, making her shiver.

“You’re very responsive, Rowan. I like that. You’re like a deer; hyper-aware, hyper-sensitive.”

He let her hair fall back into place and continued stroking her skin. His fingertips moved over her face; her cheekbones, her lips, where he lingered just long enough that she knew if she darted her tongue out she could taste him.

Where had that idea come from?

~~~~~~~~~~~

CONTEST!! Tonight I’m giving away a copy of my BDSM novella Sanctuary! Just comment here and tell me what qualities you find most heroic-and especially about your dream Dom. I’ll check back in at the end of the night to announce the winner in the comments section here.

~~~~~~~~~~~

If you’d like to read The Dark Garden for yourself you can find it now in digital formats for your Kindle or Nook. If you like a print book you can hold in your hands, it’s available now-but look for its relaunch with the new cover and bonus content in the back-in stores September 6th! You can also watch for the UK release of The Dark Garden from Black Lace Books September 13th!

~~~~~~~

Best-selling and award-winning author Eden Bradley aka Eve Berlin has published a number of novels and novellas, both print and e-books, with Bantam/Delta, Berkley Heat, Harlequin Spice & HQN, Black Lace Books and Samhain Publishing. Her books have been translated into German, French, Romanian, Portuguese and Japanese. Eden appears regularly on Playboy Radio and conducts workshops on writing craft and writing about sex.

When not writing, you can find her wandering museums, buying shoes, and reading everything she can get her hands on. Eden lives in So. California.

Visit her websites: EdenBradley.com EveBerlin.com or her awesome group blog Smutketeers.com

And just in case you missed it, I’m copying the giveaway info here:

CONTEST!! Tonight I’m giving away a copy of my BDSM novella Sanctuary! Just comment here and tell me what qualities you find most heroic-and especially about your dream Dom. I’ll check back in at the end of the night to announce the winner in the comments section here.

I know Eden did the asking, but I want to know what your thoughts are too! :D

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Friends, in the ALBTALBS world, I like to make things a little fluid. Here, it’s a lot fluid. (In fact, way more fluid than even I’m comfortable.) As in, let’s all agree this post is as dated. Please indulge me – and know that I am very sorry and contrite. 

That being said, let us all welcome the wonderful (and patient) Nico Rosso! Today (ahem! September 30th) is his wife Zoë Archer’s birthday! His post was actually supposed to go live the Thursday before this one but… well you know. Real life hasn’t been my best friend lately. And I thought it’d be super cute that this post went up on Zoë’s birthday. (Somehow it was really underlined thus in my mind.)

Anyway, I think we have a great post here. And also? Please respond, and ask him all the questions you have. Because I can’t imagine Mr. Rosso will be coming back to visit any time soon – all my fault. (Although I do try my best to keep things running here!) So anyway, give him a warm welcome, and please make up for my shortcomings, okay?

Thanks so much for having me on the blog, Limecello.

When I’m writing, I try not to lose sight of the final goal: telling a good story to the reader.  I’ll try to put myself in the reader’s shoes as the book unfolds.  I’ll ask myself questions as I go along: Is everything making sense?  Are the characters compelling?  Am I using the senses so the reader can feel, smell or taste the environment I’m creating?

But writing is also the journey for the writer.  Every day isn’t easy, but there’s always something to be created or learned.  And sometimes it’s more than that.  Life throws a lot of adversity at everyone.  Nowadays, it seems like a heavy rain of trouble has been coming down on a lot of people I know.

Just like reading fiction can be an escape for a reader, the process of writing it has helped me deal with the burdens of the world.  In my latest steampunk Western, Night of Fire, the hero, Tom Knox, and heroine, Rosa Campos, must defend their home town from an evil mining company’s rolling fifty foot rock eating machine.  This device starts out a few miles from town and seems unstoppable through most of the book.  As I was writing it, I was able to centralize my concerns in the world into that one villain.  And I could use my hero and heroine to stand up to that threat.

It isn’t always that simple in life, and I think that’s why reading fiction is important to us.  Hope is a strong salve, no matter if it’s given to us from the so-called “real world” or a book.  Writing it was the same for me, giving me a sense of a clear struggle between good and evil where good always prevails.  At least during the time while I was writing, there was relief from the nebulous troubles of the world.

Life will continue to bring ups and downs.  Through it, we readers and writers can find escape and hope in the romance and adventure narratives that pit our heroes and heroines against great evils, giving them the stage to prove how extraordinary they are, while showing us that the ability to persevere is in all of us – written or real.

So here’s my question for you: Is there a particular book that has helped you through tough times?

One lucky guest will win a free paperback copy of Night of Fire.  Good luck!

Night of Fire can be found at AmazonBarnes and NobleIndie Bound

Nico can be found here: Website, TwitterFacebook

Seriously – this question is almost scarily apt – at least for me: So here’s my question for you: Is there a particular book that has helped you through tough times? 

I’d like to know too. Maybe I can add some keepers to my reading list! (And remember, there’s a prize up for grabs!)

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