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Archive for the ‘Book Excerpt’ Category

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. 😀 (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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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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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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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! 😀

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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! 😀

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Today we’ve got an exclusive excerpt from Carina Press author Christi Barth. We’re going back to a slightly more regular schedule. Isn’t that exciting?

Hopeless romantic Ivy Rhodes

and

anti-Cupid Bennett Westcott

request the pleasure of your company for

their disaster of a courtship

Wedding planner Ivy Rhodes is the best in the business, and she’s not about to let a personal problem stop her from getting ahead. So when she gets an offer to star in the reality TV show Planning for Love, it doesn’t matter that the show’s videographer happens to be a recent—and heartbreaking—one-night stand.

Bennett Westcott can admit that he didn’t handle his encounter with Ivy very well. But looking at her beautiful smile—and, okay, great body—through the lens of a camera every day? He can’t be faulted for suggesting they have a little no-strings fun.

The more time Bennett and Ivy spend together, the more he realizes that Ivy isn’t the wedding-crazed bridezilla he’d imagined. But if he doesn’t trust himself to make a relationship last, how can he convince Ivy to give him another chance?

“Bennett Westcott, you’re the bravest man I know.”

Ben took a long sip of his wine. Then another. By the fourth sip, Ivy wondered if she should try matching him drink for drink. Clearly Sam had been right on the money when he begged her not to say anything to Ben. She’d assumed it to be a guy thing, a way to allow him to keep his emotions under lock and key. But Ivy couldn’t keep her admiration to herself. Even went so far as to assume Ben would be elated to finally discuss the true version of the day that turned him into a pariah. As the chasm of silence widened, Ivy began to wonder if she’d managed to set a record for quickest ruined date ever.

With the harshness of fingernails down a chalkboard, the scrape of metal chair legs against concrete rent the air. Ben shoved back, tossing his napkin on the table as he stood. He sucked in a deep breath, expanding his already wide chest. Then he scrubbed his hand from his forehead all the way down to the nape of his neck. Still staring out at the lights twinkling on block by block across the city skyline.

“Trust me when I say I’m about as far away from brave as this planet is from Pluto—all I do is make it through the day.” Finally, he directed his gaze straight at Ivy. “But I’m honored and humbled you think so. It goes a long way toward mending the tattered shreds left of my so-called pride.”

Ben bent from the waist to drop a soft kiss in the middle of her forehead. He pulled back, looked at her with those slice of summer sky eyes. Ivy held her breath, afraid the smallest puff of air would break the cobweb of intensity spinning ever wider between them.

“Damn. I was planning to save this for the fireworks.”

“Save what?” She didn’t understand, and she almost didn’t care. Who needed the power of cognitive thought when a handsome man held you tight in the unwavering tractor beam of his eyes? “What fireworks?”

“Gib told me there’d be fireworks in about an hour. Because of Memorial Day. It’s why I brought you here—for the view.”

Her heart flipped. Turned right around in a somersault like she used to do down the grassy slope at her grandparents’ house.

“On the other hand, why should I wait for the City of Chicago to light up the sky?” He framed her face with those big, wide palms, tilted her head back. “Let’s make our own fireworks.”

Before she could savor the sexy promise in his words, Ben kissed her. A gentle touch for the space of a heartbeat—well, three beats at the rate Ivy’s heart raced—and then he sank into her mouth, as if it were a feather pillow to cradle him. Firm, deep kisses that somehow contained the richness of melted chocolate, the kick of a strong margarita, and the undeniable allure she’d succumbed to all those months before.

The earth tilted on its axis. No, it was Ben bracing his hand on the back of her chair, tipping it back for a better angle. Her feet dangled in the air. She hooked them around the chair legs in an attempt to anchor herself. Silly, really. The floor had dropped out from under her the minute his tongue slipped in between her lips, tasting, questing. And she knew without a doubt those strong arms wouldn’t let her fall.

Her hands reached out to feel them, to caress the tight, corded steel beneath his jacket. A quiver grew deep in her core at discovering she couldn’t wrap her hands all the way around his biceps. Muscles like that belonged to a broadsword-wielding knight. One who carried her off on a white horse while the crowd cheered.

The crowd cheered. It wasn’t just one of her flights of fancy. Ivy pulled her concentration from where it lay, writhing, somewhere close to the edge of her red lace panties. The roof deck had erupted into applause, catcalls and whistles. Her eyes flew open. She tapped her toe against Ben’s calf, wrenching out of the lip lock.

“We’ve got an audience.”

Undeterred, he nuzzled just below her ear. “Put on a good enough show, maybe we’ll get a free meal out of it.”

Ivy kicked once more, this time aiming the hard point of her sandal against his shin. But she made sure to let the laughter in her throat burble through. “Enough.”

With a gentle tap he lowered the chair to the ground. Then he ran the side of his thumb across her lower lip, setting off one last chain of sparklers in her veins. “Nope. Nowhere close.”

For a man who eschewed romance, he sure managed to say the right things. While Ben straightened his coat and sat back down, Ivy let her brain catch up to her speeding pulse. What the heck just happened? Hadn’t she just spent two endless months trying to get Ben out of her system? To no avail?

It was one thing to accept his invitation to dinner, to try and work through the white hot…whatever that flared through her system every time she looked at him. She’d banked on a couple hours of basic conversation in a noisy restaurant to lay a groundwork of knowledge about what made Bennett Westcott tick. Her master plan for tonight only played out through the end of dinner. A simple dinner between colleagues. With a side order of chemistry sizzling loud enough to drown out the shouts of Opa as a waiter walked past with a platter of flaming saganaki cheese held aloft.

You can read an additional excerpt here.

Bio: Christi Barth earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage. A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning. Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes contemporary romance. Christi lives in Maryland with her husband.

So what’d you think? Does this sound like your kind of romance? P.S. She’s doing a giveaway!! 😀 

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I know we’ve got super awesome author Lauren Dane sharing an exclusive excerpt of her upcoming book with us today… and it’s even part of an anthology with Maya Banks. The story, Sway, is a novella in the book Cherished.

CherishedSway by Lauren Dane
Copyright 2012, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, The Berkley Publishing Group
Releasing August 7

The Sway blurb:
Levi Warner is an established, older man—wealthy, powerful, and above all, respectable. Then Levi meets Daisy, an uninhibited 24-year-old dance instructor and artist, not exactly the kind of woman Levi is accustomed to. But the young, free spirit, brings out something in him he only experienced in fantasies. When their scorching affair turns into something unexpectedly deeper, Levi finds himself torn between preserving his reputation, and exploring a wilder and much more satisfying kind of life.

She tasted like honey.

Odd and yet, not entirely unexpected.

Her lips were soft, opening on a sigh. He took her invitation and took the kiss deeper, his tongue sliding into her mouth.

His hand remained in hers, though he wanted to haul her close and take her to the couch. He hadn’t wanted to get horizontal on a woman with this much intensity in a very long time.

The more he tasted, the more he wanted until need beat in his head like a pulse.

The depth and intensity of his desire shook him. Hit him so hard he had to fist the hand she wasn’t holding to keep it from shaking.

He kissed like a master. Daisy knew she was in way over her head and all he’d done was kiss her. They weren’t even touching except for lips and tongues and his hand in hers, but it was enough. Enough that it was a full-body caress when he groaned as she sucked his tongue.

So very controlled, this man. But it was there, just under the surface. Levi Warner was a very dominant male and she wondered if that extended to his sexuality.

Hoped so. It wasn’t that she’d had many dominant lovers or anything. But he’d awakened something inside her. Curiosity, yes, but a sense of satisfaction in letting him lead. Something she’d never experienced before.

The weight of his focus on her was tangible. It made her a little drunk, needing more even as she barely managed to process what he gave her through a simple kiss.

It was enough to let him lead the kiss, enough to step back and wait for whatever he had in mind next.

Her body ached, her nipples throbbed and her pussy was wet and swollen. She shivered, imagining what he’d be like naked. In her bed. In his bed with her in it. Whatever, it didn’t matter where, the naked part was important.

He was patient. So very patient as he continued to kiss her. A nip of her bottom lip that had her gasping for air. His beard stubble gave her just the right amount of friction. Nearly painful. Enough to make her imagine what it’d feel like against the skin of her inner thighs as he went down on her. And she bet he did it well. If his kissing was any indicator, he’d be a marvelous pussy eater.

With a sharp intake of breath he broke the kiss and stared at her. His pupils were huge again and it gave her yet another shiver of delight.

“I should go.”

“You should?” She grabbed the front of his shirt without meaning to and released it quickly. If he left, she’d never speak to him again.

“Christ.” He scrubbed a hand through his hair and she let the other one go. Whatever it was he was fighting with himself over, he had to deal with it. He was a big boy and she sure as hell wasn’t his mother. Nor did she plan to beg him to stay.

She knew her worth as a woman. She’d been raised by not only a kick-ass mother, but her grandmother and sister were also strong, smart women. Whatever her concerns about her talent and art, she’d never beg a man for his attention.

He wanted her or he didn’t. So she sat back a little and let him work through it.

“You’re too young. I shouldn’t even be thinking about sex.”

She sighed. “You keep saying that. I’m far over the age of consent. Also, you’re assuming a lot. I don’t fuck on the first date.”

Then he laughed and she felt better for it.

“You’d leave me with blue balls?” he teased.

“I’m too young? You give me that line and talk about my age? I’m sure I heard that one back in the day. Do you think I’ll give you a pity hand job?” She grinned. He was adorable and damn, she might have broken her no fucking on the first date rule earlier, so it was probably good that they both stepped back for a moment. He made her feel . . . unfettered. And as lovely as it was, no man had ever made her want to jump so foolishly into something.

He grinned back. “Well, all right, it’s been some time since I’ve used that line.”

“What’s next? Will you tell me you’ll only put the tip in?”

You can read another excerpt here. And you know what else?! Lauren is giving someone a copy of Never Enough which is the book that takes place right before Sway begins! (Sway is part of a new series – here’s the info:

The Delicious series will feature Gillian’s friends – Daisy – Sway, Jules – Tart (11/12), Mary’s book and Raven’s book both out in 2013. The books are about a group of friends, all set in Bainbridge Island, WA. More info as we get closer. Sway will be in the Cherished Duology with Maya Banks out in August of 2012 and for those of you who wanted an epilogue in Never Enough, you’ll see Adrian and Gillian’s wedding prep in Sway. Sway is contemporary erotic romance with BDSM themes. Tart is Jules, Cal and Gideon’s story and you’ll meet Mary’s hero at Gillian and Adrian’s wedding…

Are you excited? Tell me what you think!) p.s. if you have any questions about how this giveaway will/is run it’s likely answered here.

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