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Hi friends! I hadn’t mentioned this here before because I’d hoped you’d followed me over to TartSweet which is my new home on the web. Same thing – different domain.

Anyway, Social Media for Social Good is back and it ends tomorrow and there are a TON of giveaways. See? All the giveaways. So many giveaways. And guess what? Odds are GREAT for winning. Comment pledges are over… but you know, that’s ok.

And – if you could find it in your heart to donate – even $1.00, that would be AMAZING. And you know what else? It’s a charitable contribution and thus tax deductible. Win! You can use your credit card, paypal, or a check. It even lets you donate anonymously! Http://www.mycharitywater.org/albtalbs

Thank you! I hope this catches some of you! <3 For those of you who have lost contact – I miss you!!!

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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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Hi friends! We’ve got author Christine Bell today sharing an exclusive excerpt of her book Wife for Hire, which is her newest release. (It came out in the middle of August.) Yay for Teaser Tuesday!

He needs a wife for three weeks…

Owen Phipps is out for revenge. His mission? To expose the man who stole his sister’s money and dignity. All he needs is a “wife” who can play along. Too bad his last best hope is an actress who tries to mace him with perfume when he offers her the role of a lifetime.

Lindy Knight is a real sap. She loves too hard, feels too deep, and often finds herself saying yes when she should be saying “Let me think about it.” She can’t believe her good fortune when Owen offers her more than enough money to hold off foreclosure until she can find a job. Three weeks at a resort, money she desperately needs, and she gets to help bring a criminal to justice? Score.

It seems easy enough until a couples bonding game turns intimate, and they realize how dangerous their mutual attraction could be. Can they keep their hands to themselves long enough to find the evidence Owen needs? Or are the close quarters more temptation than they can handle?

The blood buzzed in Lindy’s ears, and she stared at him, aghast. What did he think, people just went around buying up three-week sex buddies à la Richard Gere in Pretty Woman? She held his gaze and slowly slid her hand to her purse, mentally crossing her fingers that she came up with something more threatening than gum this time.

“Listen, Mr. Phipps. I’m not sure exactly what that’s supposed to mean, but I know one thing. I’m definitely not the girl for that kind of job. I want you to leave right now, please.”

His brow wrinkled and he reached into his briefcase. “No, no.  That’s not what I—”

“Don’t take anything else out of your briefcase!” she shouted, her heart thumping wildly in her chest. Now that she’d refused his salacious request, he was going to chloroform her or something. She was sure of it.

He ignored her and continued rifling through his case. She reached blindly into her bag and yanked out the first thing she could get her hands on. A bottle of body spray. Not ideal, but it would have to do.

“I’m warning you. Get your stuff and go, right now!” The puppies had risen and were barking like mad, adding to the chaos.

Owen looked up and frowned. “What are you—”

He didn’t get to finish his sentence because she sprayed him right in the mouth. She’d aimed for his eyes, but at least it was something. Sputtering, he bolted to the sink. As he turned on the faucet, she rushed at him from behind, pummeling his muscular back with her fists. She couldn’t run away and leave the puppies behind to face his impending psychotic rage, but it seemed like he didn’t even feel her blows.

“What the hell?” he growled, turning to capture her hands in his, hauling her into his chest. He scowled down at her, dark brows collapsing into an even darker frown and she stared at him in abject terror. Water sluiced down his chin, icy droplets landing on her neck. “Have you lost your fucking mind?”

His cucumber-melon scented breath washed over her face, and her fear melted under the heat of her fury. “N-no. Have you?” she said, raising her chin defiantly. Might as well brazen it out now. She wasn’t getting away. His body was like a wall of granite, the hold on her wrists like two iron manacles. Not too tight, but entirely unyielding.

“I’m not the one spraying people in the face with perfume.”

“Yeah, well I’m not the one coming into a woman’s house, tossing around lewd propositions, and not leaving when asked.”

His frown deepened for a moment, then faded. “If you’d let me finish, you would have known my proposition was anything but lewd. The contract specifically states that, if you did get the job, we would definitely not be having sex. Now, can I let you go or are you going to keep trying to hit me?” His gaze was wary, but his grip was already loosening. “I only want to talk to you.”

She hesitated.

“Lindy, if I wanted to hurt you, I could have done it any time. Even now.”

“Is that supposed to make me feel better?” she asked. But for some reason, it did. She drew her hands away from his and stepped back, suddenly aware of their proximity in a whole other way.

“I don’t know what will make you feel better, but I can promise you this. I’m not going to hurt you.”

His stormy gray eyes were sincere, his expression earnest, and she blew out a sigh. “Okay, okay. Sorry for the whole spraying your mouth thing. I’ve been a little on edge since you got here, and I think my imagination got the best of me.”

“It’s fine. I should’ve gone about explaining it differently. Can we start again?”

“Sure,” she said with a nod. He still put her on edge, but it was different now. Not fear, but an awareness that was almost as terrifying.

Owen rinsed his mouth out a few more times and they settled back into their seats.

“All right, now for some background information. About six months ago my sister was conned out of her life’s savings by a man named Nico Stephanopoulos. Since she basically handed over the money, no charges were ever filed.” His jaw clenched and he continued. “But her money wasn’t enough. He’s now doing business in Colorado running a married couple’s retreat. I believe it’s a scam, but I need to get proof so he can pay for what he’s done to people.”

She nodded, the puzzle pieces falling into place. “So you need someone to go there with you and pretend to be your wife.”

“That’s the plan. As I said, I don’t expect…anything from you in the way of wifely duties. We would, however, need to keep up appearances in public and participate in various retreat activities that require a level of intimacy.” He held up a hand at her suspicious glare. “We don’t have to fawn all over each other, and I promise to be as respectful as possible, but there are sure to be embarrassing moments for both of us. I like to think an all-expense paid trip to Telluride and the twenty grand would take the sting away for you. Needless to say, getting justice for my sister is worth any amount of embarrassment for me.”

His gray eyes grew steely and she realized that, although he’d seemed unflappable in the face of the world’s strangest interview, he was not a man you wanted to cross. In spite of her distaste for charlatans, she felt a twinge of pity for Nico Stephanopoulos. Then another thought occurred to her. “What does your sister think of this idea?”

“She doesn’t know. No one knows. That’s why I had to resort to all this cloak and dagger nonsense. Normally, I wouldn’t be interviewing candidates for a job myself, nor would I place an ad in Craigslist. This has to be kept as far away from my usual circles as possible.”

She thought of her own brothers and how she might react in the same circumstance. “Do you think it’s a good idea to hide this from her, though? She might not appreciate you interfering. Maybe she needs to lick her wounds and put it in the past. Forget it ever happened.”

“Frankly, I don’t give a rip whether she appreciates it or not. She’s family, and I won’t allow his misdeeds to go unpunished. It’s more than that, though. He started off as a petty card shark, and his crimes have only escalated. If three quarters of a million was his last scheme, what’s next? Now that he’s had a taste of the good life, I’m guessing he’ll go to any lengths to keep it. If I let him walk away scot free, what’s to say the next victim won’t end up with something far worse than a broken heart and a crippled bank account? He needs to be stopped. Tell me you agree with that much, at least?”

The man was a criminal, and it really would be a shame to see more people hurt by him. Especially if Owen was right, and his behavior was escalating. Still…

“You could get a really nice couch with twenty grand,” he said.

Her head was reeling. Between the rush of adrenaline and the subsequent overwhelming relief at not having been serial murdered, she felt shaky and out of sorts. Not a recipe for good decision-making.

“What’s your time frame?” she asked.

“We’d need to leave ten days from today. The sessions are three weeks long, but if I get what I need sooner, then we would naturally cut the trip short. Should that happen, you’d still be paid the full, agreed upon amount.”

“Boy, you’re cutting it kind of close, no?”

“I began the interview process a couple weeks ago. If I don’t find someone this week, I’ll have to cancel and find some other way. You’re my best shot.” His expression was unreadable, but there was a hint of desperation in his voice that seemed out of character for such a confident, aloof man. Like he really needed her. Her heart squeezed.

Crud.

When was the last time she’d walked away from someone in need? Here was a man willing to put his life on hold in order to try and make this right for his sister, spend tens of thousands of dollars and saddle himself with a stranger for three weeks. She knew about that kind of love. That’s how she felt about Mal and Nate. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for her brothers.

“It’s not about the money he took,” Owen said. “I’m fortunate enough to have been able to assist her in that respect. He stole something far more precious. She was a sweet and rare soul. Believed in true love, silly as that notion is, and thought she had it. Always saw the best in people. That’s gone now, and he’s going to pay for taking it from her.”

The last was spoken with a grim determination. Not a statement, but a vow.

The words were out before she could stop them.

“I’m in.”

So what’d you think? Do you like the premise? (And you know, what you read?) As incentive – and just because Christine is totally awesome, she’s offering one lucky commenter a $10 gift card to either Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

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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 friends! We’re back with a special reader guest post! Yes! Can you believe it’s the third Saturday of the month?! Eek! I can’t! I always tell people I have the best blog readers – and I firmly believe that. Pam sometimes visits here, and she is definitely a great example. I’d love to feature more of you! Anyway, here’s Pam! (And, I’m going to be a massive jerk and hijack her post for a minute – I’ve actually been on hiatus-ish since the beginning of August. I’ve gotten thousands of emails, and have still over 1,000 unread right now. I know I owe a lot of people responses, and more importantly prizes – and I’m doing my best to get on that. Please continue to be patient, and accept my apologies!)

… And now I must apologize to Pam for being all “me me me” – luckily, she like the rest of you, is awesome, and I’m sure she understands. So without further ado, meet an awesome member of the romance community! A reader! <3

Hello everyone! First let me just say thank you to Lime for taking a chance on me and giving me this opportunity to write a post for her blog.

My name is Pam, although I tend to go by the username VanillaOrchids online. Until sometime in 2009, I didn’t like reading. I rarely ever read a book just for the fun of it. That was until I read the Twilight Saga series by Stephenie Meyer. You see, two of my sisters and two of my nephews and I went to see the movie Twilight when it was released. The movie was okay, nothing spectacular. I enjoyed it for what it was. While the credits were rolling, my sister Linda proceeded to tell me that the movie is based off of a book and the book is way better. Then she offered to give me all four of the books in the series to read.

Fast forward about six months. The power went out because of a storm so I thought I’d give one of the books Linda gave me a try. Well, she had given me two books from the Vampire Diaries series as well, and since those books were smaller reads than the Twilight books, I started with one of those first. I probably didn’t get five pages into it before I said forget it! It’s been so long since then, but from what I remember, I felt that the Vampire Diaries book was written for little kids. I found it childish. Because of that, I gave all of the books (including the Twilight books) to my sister Patty in case she wanted to read them. Patty couldn’t go the Vampire Diaries books either but she did start on Twilight. So then one day while she was still working on Twilight she tells me that it isn’t like the Vampire Diaries books and that she thought I’d like Twilight. When she was finished with it, she gave it back to me. I had it done in two days and wanted book 2 … like now! LOL Patty gave me book two though she wasn’t finished reading it, but she knew that I’d have it read quick enough. I had all four books read in a week.

I didn’t know what to do with myself then. I wanted more to read but didn’t have anything. Eventually I started buying books on eBay or in stores. There probably hasn’t been a day that’s gone by since then that I’ve not been reading. Then late last year I had created a blog, more for myself really, to keep track of books that I wanted to read or have read, my favorite authors, etc. Then when I started to write book reviews, I decided to use the blog for that instead. That’s also about the time that I paid attention to other people’s reviews of books that I was interested in reading.

Recently I started reading a series of historical romances. After I finished the second book in the series, I went to Goodreads to mark the book as finished. While there I saw a one star review for the book that I’d just read. Here I was thinking the book was good. One of things that the person mentioned was the historical inaccuracies within the book. I’m sure the author did plenty of research and knows a lot about the time period, but in my opinion, it’s a work on fiction, it doesn’t have to be so strict with the historical details. But that’s just my opinion. And the primary complaint was that in that time a woman would not be without a chaperone. That might be true but can you really write an interesting love story when the two main characters never have a moment alone to be steal a kiss or a touch? Ah well, what do I know, I’m not a writer. :)

So anyway, I’m just happy that I now have a love of reading. And maybe with time I’ll get better at reviewing books. As for the whole blogging thing, I doubt that my book blog will ever really take off, and I’m fine with that. It’s a place for me to post reviews or graphics (which is another hobby of mine) or whatever I feel like. I don’t ever want it to feel like a job. I’ve known all too well what that’s like since I’ve had a website online for nearly 15 years now.

One last thing while I’m here. Awhile back on my blog I asked people for book recommendations. Not one person posted any. LOL So if Lime doesn’t mind, I’d like to ask the visitors here what book(s) you recommend? In return, I’m offering one winner an ebook of their choice (up to $5) from Amazon.

Thanks again to Lime for allowing me to ramble on for a bit. :)

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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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Today we’ve got as you see Marquita Valentine sharing an exclusive excerpt with us. She’s also very generously offering a giveaway today, so be sure to tell us what you think!

Not even Holland Springs’ Most Notorious Resident can stop this Love Spell.

Customers come to Rose Holland’s apothecary shop for three things: to hear her uncanny matchmaking advice, to buy the “magical” hair and skin products she sells, and to accuse her of trying to steal their men. For years Rose has been entirely innocent and almost content with that status quo. But that was before sexy, smooth-talking Sasha Romanov came to town and made her want to use her love potions on him… until he broke her heart. Now corrupt town officials want to seize her land and sell it to an industrial giant, and her only hope for help looks like the one man she can’t trust—or stop herself from falling under his spell.

Alexander “Sasha” Romanov seems like every woman’s dream: charming, handsome and fabulously rich. But while the people of Holland Springs think he’s in town to generously invest in their economy (and possibly one of their daughters), Sasha struggles to save his sick mother from his vicious uncle’s plans by doing everything the greedy businessman wants. And Vlad Romanov wants Rose Holland’s land—at any cost.

Despite Sasha’s vow to get the job done and keep his hands (and everything else!) off Rose, the blue-eyed witch enchants him. But his mother’s life remains in the balance. Sasha must find a way to protect his mother, sabotage his uncle’s plans, and win the woman who’s captured his heart without destroying everything she loves.

Thank you Limecello for hosting me today and letting me give your readers an exclusive excerpt of the second novel in my Holland Springs Series, Third Time’s a Charm.

Exclusive Excerpt:

Silently they walked to the kitchen. He followed her to the back porch. On the way out, she grabbed Ivy’s baby monitor and clipped it to her pocket. After scooping up the basket she always kept by the back door, she walked to the chicken coop to gather eggs.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

Turning to look at him, she swung the basket from side to side. “Getting eggs for the last time.”

He nodded at the chickens pecking at the ground. “Tonight’s dinner?”

She opened the chicken coop and began to gather the eggs. “No, I sold them.”

“Do you usually sell your chickens?”

No, she loved all the animals that lived at Strawberry Grove. Even the stinking chickens. She could see his very nice, very expensive boots as he paced. Her own Wal-Mart specials were faded and scuffed.“The Johnsons made it worthwhile,” she said, sidestepping his question.

“They have a farm?” he asked, unwilling it seemed to just let it go.

“Yes. It was their field I found you in that time.” The euphoria from having a well-deserved nap was wearing away. The reality that she was selling everything she owned just in case she couldn’t keep her home and land replacing it faster than she liked.

“One more question.”

Couldn’t he leave her the hell alone? “What?” she snapped, then immediately regretted it. She needed to be cool Rose. Reasonable Rose.

Silence greeted her and she stood up, searching for him. Maybe he’d left.  Her shoe brushed against something soft and one of the chickens began to squawk. “Sorry, Colonel Sanders,” she said.

“Behind you.”

She spun around and found him leaning with one hip against the door.

“I need to go into town. Can I borrow your Jeep since Ivy’s asleep?”

Taking the Jeep would leave her stranded. The only other vehicle on the property was an old Chevy truck parked in the barn. It had quit working ten years ago when Skye had poured grease in the gas tank in an attempt to make it environmentally friendly.

“I’m not sure…”

“I promise to return it.”

Something in his tone made her reconsider saying no. “Just replace the gas you use.”

He regarded her thoughtfully. The wind brushed at his hair, lifting the burnished gold strands.

“Please,” she added, slipping past him and making her way back to the house.

A hand on her arm almost made her drop the basket, but then his hand moved to cover hers and kept the basket from falling.

“Is there any way I can help you, Rosebud?”

She couldn’t take her eyes off of his mouth. Or the small freckle at one corner that she wanted to lick. He also had some on his nose, light in color, but if one was close enough…If a woman was able to get past his very kissable mouth, she could find them. Count them. Tease him about them, before kissing each one.

Heat pooled in places she’d prayed were dormant when it came to him. Her body vibrated, throbbed. The woman that she’d buried deep inside of her wanted a man’s touch, a man’s kiss and demanded to be let out. No, not a man’s touch. Sasha’s. And that woman could think of a dozen ways he could help her. Although none of them were sane and some of them probably weren’t legal in North Carolina.

She licked her dry lips. “Paying me rent in advance is enough.” But it wasn’t. And she couldn’t ask him to loan her a hundred thousand dollars, could she?

“Have it your way, but if you need something, all you have to do is ask. I won’t think less of you.”

He sounded so sincere that she couldn’t stop herself from blurting, “Cheesecake.”

His brows drew together and his chin dropped. “Cheesecake?”

She almost told him to forget it, but the woman who wanted him also wanted a decadent dessert that she hadn’t been able to eat in what seemed like forever. “I would like some cheesecake.”  She dug the keys out of her pocket and placed them in his free hand.

“Then cheesecake you shall have.”

They stood there, hand in hand, not moving, and yet Rose could feel gravity slipping away.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment to enter, and I’ll give away two copies of Third Time’s a Charm (e-book only) to randomly chosen winners!

Marquita Valentine writes small town romances that are anything but small. Lisa Kleypas, Carly Phillips and Rachel Gibson are among her favorite contemporary authors. Marquita met her husband aka Hot Builder at Sonic when they were in high school. She suggests this location to all of her single friends in search of a good man — and if that doesn’t work, they can console themselves with cheesy tatertots. She lives in North Carolina in a very, very small town with Hot Builder and their two children.
You can find Marquita all over the internet: Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Website, Blog

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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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Hi Everyone – I know I’m behind and I know I desperately need to announce winners. [Um ... anyone wanna take over that task?] But – today we have Kira Brady visiting with us! Yay! [Sorry for not more enthusiasm and intro - I'm kinda tapped out. Kira is adorable and pretty awesome though.]

Some like it wet.

In Seattle, we joke that Alaskans have forty words for snow, but we have forty words for rain. Read the weather forecast and you just might believe it: cloudy with rain, mostly cloudy with showers, rain tapering to showers, clouds limiting sun with frequent showers, periods of rain showers, heavy rain, light rain with afternoon sunbreaks. What’s a “sunbreak” you ask? It’s that brief moment of glory when the clouds part and a shaft of glimmering, golden sunlight spills through to light our world. Seattleittes live in hope of those sunbreaks. Day after gloomy day, we wait in perpetual faith that we will get that one moment of zen. And when it hits, illuminating the surrounding mountains, shimmering off the water, and casting the world in lighter shade of pale, it makes all the time spent in the gloom worth it.

August, alone, is a month of sunbreaks. It’s like a hot love affair after a long, lonely drought. We have sunny day after sunny day. For the other eleven rainy months, all we have is hope. We live in faith that August will come, just as we know that somewhere behind that thick wall of clouds, the sun still shines.

Seattle weather is a great romance: It starts off in the doldrums; the heroine and hero are in a Bad Place. They meet. Things go from bad to worse. There are sparks (sunbreaks!). May or June tease with the possibility that they might carry summer on their winds, but the clouds and the bad guys close in. Toward the end of July, it seems like all hope is lost for our hero and heroine. They start to believe they’ve been transported to Ray Bradbury’s Venus, where the sun is only seen for two hours once every five years. This is not that year.

And then like a thunderbolt from the heavens, August comes roaring in. Hot, raging sun all day long. Our hero and heroine remember what it is to be too warm. They realize perhaps they might survive the rainy season if they team up. Together, they might occupy themselves inside, away from the damp, warming each other up and watching in hope of that rare, perfect moment: sunbreak.

Seattle in the Deadglass Trilogy is its own character: wet, insidious, and seductive. I had a great time writing about it, in part because I do love the city, rain and all. While I love my sunbreaks, August finds me running for the shade. What’s your favorite time of year? Do you like the sound of rain on a hot tin roof? Or do you prefer the caress of sun day in and day out?

 Bio: A native Seattleitte, Kira spent her childhood hiking the rainy forests of the Pacific Northwest and drying out by the fire with a good book and a mug of something hot. She graduated with honors from the University of Pennsylvania, where she met her real life Prince Charming and promptly dragged him back to sunless Seattle. She fell in love with historic, haunted cities in graduate school. Now she writes about the twisted cities of her imagination, where wraiths and shape-shifters stalk the night and love redeems even the darkest heart. When not writing, she can be found drinking inordinately large mugs of Assam tea, knitting wool socks, and raising a wee heroine-in-training.
Kira is giving away either a print, kindle, or nook copy of Hearts of Darkness to one lucky commenter who answers her question. Ready? Go!

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