Muse Wednesday: Laura Benedict

The third Muse blog in the lead up to the “Maintaining Pace in Mystery” panel set for October 10th, at 1 pm, in Raleigh, Bouchercon 2015, is panelist Laura Benedict.  Her muse is a classic — if you haven’t read the book, I’m sure you might have seen the movie. If you have no experience with either, you must try.  Both the book and movie are super.

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highsmithstrangersIn the summer of 1990, I spent the five weeks leading up to my wedding living with my future in-laws. My soon-to-be husband slept in his old bedroom, which seemed about a half-mile away from where I was quartered in his sister’s childhood bedroom. What did I do during those long, lonely nights in my room? Why, I read like a madwoman, of course. The house—way out in the West Virginia countryside—was stuffed full of books; my husband’s father is a big non-fiction reader and loves history, and his mother is mad for mystery and suspense novels.

While I’d been writing for a couple of years, and had taken a few post-grad writing classes, I hadn’t yet found my material. That sounds a bit presumptuous, doesn’t it? Found my material. But it’s an important step for a writer. There are so many avenues to explore, and, truthfully, unless a novice writer already has a passion for one type of material, she should try her hand at several different ones before committing.

My temporary bedroom was full of mystery and crime novels by established writers: P.D. James, Ellis Peters, Agatha Christie, Dick Francis, Tony Hillerman, Ruth Rendell, Elizabeth George. I could’ve read a new writer every night for weeks. But once I discovered a Patricia Highsmith compendium on a bedroom shelf, I was completely smitten. I spent a scandalous day and a half tethered to my room with that book.

Have you seen the 1951 Hitchcock suspense film Strangers on a Train? That was all I’d heard of Highsmith back then. The film follows her novel up to a point, but I recommend both.

Two men, Guy Haines (a famous tennis player) and Bruno Anthony (a wealthy, boorish playboy), meet on a train and strike up a conversation. Sly Bruno brings the conversation around to murder, suggesting that Guy kill Bruno’s father, and that Bruno will kill Guy’s wife, Miriam (an unpleasant woman who won’t give Guy a divorce so that he can marry the sweet, lovely daughter of a senator—because Guy is famous, Bruno knows the gossip about him). Bruno says they won’t get caught because no one knows they know each other, and neither would have a motive for their respective murders.

It’s a grisly idea, yet terribly clever. Bruno is a psychopath, but Guy is a pretty good guy who would never imagine murdering anyone. He has even remained married to Miriam after she became pregnant by another man. He leaves the train after saying something patronizing but not serious to Bruno. Bruno misunderstands and thinks that they have a deal. Not long after, Guy learns Miriam has been murdered. When Bruno comes to Guy looking for kudos, ready with instructions for getting into the Anthony home to murder his father, Guy is stunned. He tells Bruno that he won’t do it, that he never meant for Miriam to die. Unfortunately, Bruno has stolen Guy’s lighter, and threatens to use it to implicate Guy in his wife’s murder. Guy has to do something…I won’t tell you more. If you don’t know the story, I can’t recommend it enough.

One of the things Highsmith does frequently and very well is put an average person in a morally-charged, thrilling kind of danger. One moment a character is sitting on a train, or throwing a dinner party, or on vacation in Greece, and the next moment they’re running for their lives. The 1950s was a time for intense realism in both books and film (okay, so the dresses weren’t necessarily so realistic), and morality was always in question. But I just love that sense that life can turn on a dime—and rarely in a pleasant way. There’s something more to Highsmith, though. Her villains are rarely thoroughly villainous. They are terribly human, and they sometimes get away with their crimes.

Highsmith’s pacing is perfection. She marches the reader right up to the edge of reasonable behavior and gives a little push—and we tumble into the story, compelled to follow her, peeking between our fingers at the awkward encounters, the necessary murders, the shamefully easy criminality.

There has never been another crime writer like Highsmith. I’ve read just about everything except her previously uncollected stories (I don’t think it’s fair to posthumously publish stories that a writer purposefully left unpublished.), and re-read her style book Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction about once a year. Her prose is simple and declarative, yet wildly intense. It’s that intensity that I yearn for in my own work. That sense that really bad things can happen to just anyone, and they probably will. Once immersed in that world, I could hardly imagine wanting to write anything but suspense. Everything else pales for me—science fiction, romance, historical fiction—I want that constant tension. As a writer, I want to keep both myself and my readers guessing.

And a little postscript—Yes, I married him! We celebrated our twenty-fifth anniversary this past July. So Patricia Highsmith is sort of our marriage muse, as well.

LBenedictcrop415Bio:
Laura Benedict is the author of five novels of dark suspense, including CHARLOTTE’S STORY and BLISS HOUSE, the first two books of the Bliss House trilogy. Her work has also appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, PANK, and numerous anthologies like THRILLERS: 100 Must-Reads, and THE LINEUP: 20 Provocative Women Writers. She lives with her family in Southern Illinois.

Visit her at laurabenedict.com.

“Murder, sexual obsession, and misogyny explode in the final scenes, bringing all the simmering evil to the surface in a shocking finale, that, like all good horror stories, is probably not the end. You just can’t look away from this bombsite—nor forget it. Dripping with southern gothic atmosphere.”—Booklist,starred review, Charlotte’s Story

Charlotte’s Story Buy Links:

http://www.amazon.com/Charlottes-Story-Bliss-House-Novel/dp/1605988782/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/charlottes-story-laura-benedict/1121186394?ean=9781605988788

http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781605988788

Bliss House–NOW OUT IN PAPERBACK:

http://www.amazon.com/Bliss-House-Novel-Laura-Benedict/dp/1605985724/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1383097982&sr=1-1&keywords=bliss+house

 

 

On Writing: Rosanna Leo’s Venture into Contemporary Romance

Note:  From time-to-time, I’ll be blogging about writing.  Some of these blogs will feature an author and his/her body of work, some might address an aspect of the writing process (probably as I am dealing/struggling with it in my current work-in-progress), and some might simply be me being a fan-girl over an author’s current release.

The opinions I express in these blogs will be subjective.  I’m not trying to take that step back and be objective, because reading and writing is very personal to me. My approaches to writing, editing, and critiquing have been formed over a long life of reading, graduating with a degree in English, several professional editing positions, and twenty years plus of writing fiction.

Today’s  premier “On Writing” blog is about Rosanna Leo, a best-selling paranormal and fantasy author, who has a new contemporary romance coming out with nary a shifter or a god or goddess in the mix. Vice will be released tomorrow, September 22nd by Samhain Publishing.

So, the question is — can a popular paranormal romance author make the shift to contemporary and take her fan base with her?  My opinion is “yes.” Read on and find out why.

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Remember what I said above about being subjective in these blog pieces?  So, in the spirit of full disclosure, let me just say I’ve known Rosanna Leo for years – as a fellow author at Liquid Silver Books, as someone whose books I’ve critiqued and bought and read, and as a friend on social media. So, I might be a tad bit prejudiced, but then again  … not. Why?

Because … Quality always tells.

Vice_EPUBI like and appreciate Rosanna’s writing whether it’s her paranormal series Gemini Island Shifters or her myth-based fantasy series … and her recent venture into contemporary romance with Vice hasn’t changed my opinion; in fact, it has strengthened my admiration for her work.

When Rosanna finished Vice, and before she submitted it to publishers, she asked me to read it.  She had concerns; she wasn’t sure her fans who loved her shifters and gods and goddesses’ books would follow her into contemporary romance, especially one addressing serious emotional issues due to gambling addiction.

Understanding those concerns (I had similar ones when I took the side trip into scifi romance), I agreed to read the book and give her my honest opinion.  After I finished, this is the author blurb I gave her to use in promotion BEFORE it was submitted or accepted by a publisher:

Rosanna Leo’s Vice is the story of Kate and Liam, two people damaged by their pasts who meet as adversaries and quickly become lovers.  The sex is burn-the-sheets hot. Their interactions are fraught with deep needs and even deeper desires. But explosive chemistry isn’t everything. How Kate and Liam find their way out of the soul-sucking clutches of their pasts and into a future together makes for one powerful and emotionally satisfying story.  I’ll read anything Ms. Leo writes. She’s that good.

“I’ll read anything she writes.”  That sentence was my answer to Rosanna’s concerns about her fan base abandoning her – they shouldn’t.

The book was good, probably the best work I’ve ever read of hers, and Samhain acknowledged that by contracting it.

What makes her paranormal and myth-based fantasies so good also translates to her first contemporary:  Rosanna knows how to plot, knows how to tug the reader’s emotions, and, simply put, knows how to write a damn good book.

Quality always wins.

And you know it wins with me since I don’t usually read straight contemporary romance, especially where there’s a potential for angst.  And Vice had the angst-potential in spades. First, there’s the heroine Kate who’s emotionally damaged by a parent’s addiction to gambling and refuses to have anything to do with gambling in any way, shape, or form. Enter the hero Liam who, after a troubled and mostly loveless childhood, found success and self-worth through his ownership of  casinos. Add in the instant physical attraction between Kate and Liam which might not be enough to overcome their emotional baggage, and you have the recipe for angst to the nth degree.

The fact that Rosanna still pulled me in and kept me reading until the HEA is a testament to her writing ability.

Here is what I said to her in my page and a half (single-spaced!!) comments on the story – – Note: Slight Spoiler Alert:

The emotional damage of Liam and Kate comes across strongly. I’m happy– and was relieved quite frankly — they found their way through the hot sex and to their real feelings. I got worried when Kate’s vaunted empathy and patience ran out and she couldn’t let Liam work through the issue she couldn’t live in his world of Vice. I think he was on his way there, but she’d had enough. Her damage from her father was just too much – she couldn’t lose anything else and not gain something she needed (losing her friends was the kicker). I understood why she left.  It was a very effective crisis – and my stomach hurt.

BTW I don’t read angst stories usually — and this story has a lot of it — but you also temper it with the very real physical attraction and love that comes through when they interact.  I chuckled at some of their early repartee — Kate picketing his casino was a hoot and then befriending his security was priceless. I loved that Liam protected her even after she left him – that was true love if I ever saw it. And she’d have come around to going back sooner if she’d read he was selling his businesses – so you’re handling of that was well done– it made them coming back together so much stronger.

So, the angst worked in this case – it was not made up or fabricated as many authors often do – I felt it and hurt for and with them and was very very happy when I got to The End and they were together.

In Vice, the emotions read true, not made up to the point of over-wrought drama such as the soap operas I used to watch when I was home sick from school. It takes a very good writer to handle the characters’ extreme emotions and traumatic pasts and their evolution out of them and not fall off that tightrope into melodrama.

Rosanna brings to her contemporary writing the same voice, the same deft handling of plot and characterization, and the same straight-forward writing style she uses in her paranormal and fantasy books.

So, to all the Rosanna Leo fans of her paranormal and fantasy novels, give Vice a try. I’m fairly sure you’ll get the same satisfying read from it as you do her other books.  And if you are new to Rosanna’s writing, you can’t go wrong with Vice – it’s a winner.

Quality always rises to the top.

Blurb:

He’s much more than a bad habit.

As a Vegas singer and volunteer counselor, Kate Callender has experienced life on both sides of Sin City’s bright lights. The thrill of performing, and gambling’s devastating effect on the addicts’ families.

Liam Doyle is just the kind of man she despises—a handsome, enigmatic businessman with a knack for seducing customers into his casino hotels. Determined to put a lid on his growing influence, she prepares to picket the opening of his newest casino, Vice.

When Liam spots the lone protester hassling his customers, annoyance wars with instant attraction. And he quickly discovers the leggy redhead not only can’t be bought, she tempts him the way the sound of a roulette wheel lures a gambler.

They are natural enemies, but when a vile attack sparks Liam’s protective instincts, they begin a sexual odyssey that dances on the edge of addiction. Dangerously close to losing control…and losing themselves.

Excerpt:

He meandered toward her and forced a smile. “You seem to have had a busy day.”

She whipped around and her eyes widened. He saw her give him a quick once-over. Did she like what she saw? Interesting. There was some perverse satisfaction in that.

“It has been busy.” She narrowed her hazel eyes at him. “Do you work here?”

So, she didn’t recognize him. Good. “Yes, ma’am, I do.” He crossed his arms over his chest and nodded, noting how her gaze dropped to his exposed forearms. Her lips parted. Clearly, working out had its merits. “And word inside is you’ve upset the big boss.”

Her nostrils flared as she dragged her gaze away from his arms. “About time.” She put her sign down and picked up her purse. “Do you know Liam Doyle?”

“I’ve heard one or two things about him.”

She stepped closer and her lips did the most amazing thing, curling into a flirtatious semi-smile. “I don’t suppose you’d be willing to share them with me? The other guy kept on sucking up about him as if he was wearing a wire.” She paused. “You’re not wearing a wire, are you?”

He laughed out loud. He couldn’t help it. This was way too much fun. He sidled close to her, leaned in conspiratorially, and put a hand on her elbow. Her very soft elbow. “I’m not wearing a wire. But are you sure you want to know the truth about Doyle? I don’t know if you can handle it.”

She gawked at him and then at his lips. Her voice came out in a whisper. “Try me.”

He murmured in her ear, taking note of her lilac scent. “Well, I hear at midnight he sprouts black wings and horns. And he’s always searching for innocent maidens to add to his coven.” He bit on his bottom lip, suddenly wishing he was gnawing on hers.

At first, her eyelids did this fluttery thing that made his imported pants spring to life. But then she blinked and began to laugh. “And here I thought I was dealing with a mere businessman. I didn’t realize Doyle was cousins with Lucifer.”

“What’s your name?”

She regarded him from out of the side of her eye, her mouth still bearing the same flirty grin. “What’s yours?”

“Consider me a friend who wants to give you some advice.”

The smile disappeared from her face. “And what would that be?”

“Don’t mess with Liam Doyle. He doesn’t take to it kindly.”

The coquettish shine in her eyes hardened. “Is that a threat?”

“No, sugar. That’s not my style.”

“What exactly do you do here? Are you in security?”

“Never mind that.” He waved his hand. “Look, you’ve had your fun. Why don’t you run along home now?”

She reached for her sign and tucked it under her arm. “I will go where I damn well please. And you can tell your friend Mr. Doyle to expect me tomorrow. Maybe next time he’ll be brave enough to confront me himself.” She turned on her heel and walked down the manicured pathway leading to the taxi bay.

Liam stared at her ass as she walked away. Brave?

Game on, sugar. He’d show her brave.

Preorder/buy links:

Samhain Publishing: https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5577/vice

 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Vice-Rosanna-Leo-ebook/dp/B00Y05TZ02/ref=la_B007X5P4I8_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1434484524&sr=1-2

 

iTunes: https://linkmaker.itunes.apple.com/en-us/details/997241784?q=vice%20rosanna%20leo&country=us&media=all&genre=all

 

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/vice-20

 

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/vice-rosanna-leo/1121969539?ean=9781619227194

 

ARE: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-vice-1840843-149.html

 

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Rosanna_Leo_Vice?id=rB91CQAAQBAJ&hl=en

 

Author bio:

Rosanna Leo is a multi-published, erotic romance author. Several of her books about Greek gods, selkies and shape shifters have been named Top Picks at Night Owl Romance and The Romance Reviews.

From Toronto, Canada, Rosanna occupies a house in the suburbs with her long-suffering husband, their two hungry sons and a tabby cat named Sweetie. When not writing, she can be found haunting dusty library stacks or planning her next star-crossed love affair.

A library employee by day, she is honored to be a member of the league of naughty librarians who also happen to write romance. Rosanna blogs at www.rosannaleoauthor.wordpress.com

 

Author Links:

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Rosanna-Leo/e/B007X5P4I8

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5826852.Rosanna_Leo

Tsu: http://www.tsu.co/RosannaLeo

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/rosannaleo/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rleoauthor1

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/LeoRosanna

 

 

 

 

 

Muse Wednesday: Hilary Davidson

HD_for_MOFor the second Muse blog leading up to the Maintaining Pace in Mystery Panel on Saturday, October 10th at 1 pm  at Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh, NC, panelist Hilary Davidson is sharing a very personal muse.

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It’s not hard for me to name my muse. Actually, I dedicated my most recent book, Blood Always Tells, to her. The inscription reads, “In loving memory of my grandmother, Maude Elizabeth Dallas, for teaching me that if you’re going to sin, sin big.”

My grandmother was quite the dame. When I was growing up, I took for granted her red lipstick and varnished nails, her sharp suits and high heels. Her hair was dyed dark and always perfectly set, and she never lost the Northern Irish accent she brought with her when she immigrated to Canada.

She wasn’t like other grandmothers. She enjoyed knitting, but she did so while watching pro wrestling. She never told me to behave, but she did tell me about the time she punched out a guy on a street corner for making an obnoxious remark to her. My grandmother was a voracious reader who sometimes read two books in a single day. She bought me armloads of books, including a complete set of Nancy Drew novels from the 1930s, with blue cloth covers and pen-and-ink drawings inside. She also passed along issues of The National Enquirer, and introduced me to film noir.

As far as my grandmother was concerned, Barbara Stanwyck was the greatest actress who ever lived. Her favorite actor was Tyrone Power, on whom she had a huge crush. (It’s no coincidence that Lily Moore, the amateur sleuth in my first three novels, has an ex-boyfriend who looks just like Mr. Power.) The classic movies we both loved were shown on television late in the evening. Sometimes we would snap them up on videotape. We would often debate the merits of a movie’s ending. The classic Double Indemnity was a favorite, though we both took issue with the femme fatale suddenly going soft at the very end. (My grandmother’s cynical explanation is still the best: “That’s what you get with men making movies. They always think the woman goes swooning for the man in the end. Good luck to them.”)

My grandmother passed away sixteen years ago, but I think about her every day. There’s a photograph of her on my desk that keeps me company as I write. She gave me a love of reading — and in storytelling — that is the ultimate gift that keeps on giving. Being Irish, my grandmother had a litany of sayings, and one of her favorites was, If you’re going to sin, sin big. She believed that you had to put your heart and soul into whatever you did, because once you went off on your own path—in a big way or a small way—you were going to face the consequences for it. Those are words I live by.

Bio:

Hilary Davidson has won the Anthony Award, the Derringer Award, the Crimespree Award, and two Ellery Queen Reader’s Choice Awards. Her debut novel, THE DAMAGE DONE, published by Tor/Forge, launched a series featuring travel writer Lily Moore, which continues with THE NEXT ONE TO FALL—set in Peru—and EVIL IN ALL ITS DISGUISES, about a missing journalist in Acapulco. Toronto-born and New York City-based, Hilary is also the author of 18 nonfiction books, as well as dozens of short stories, which have been published in Thuglit, Ellery Queen, Beat to a Pulp, and other dark places. Her latest book is the hardboiled BLOOD ALWAYS TELLS, her first standalone novel. Visit her online at www.hilarydavidson.com

 

Blood_Always_Tells_cover_image

Buy the Book

 

 

 

Muse Wednesday — Annette Dashofy

In the Bleak MidwinterWelcome to the first in a series of Muse Wednesday blogs leading up to the Bouchercon 2015 panel “Maintaining Pace in Mystery,” scheduled for Saturday, October 10th at 1 pm EST.

I have the honor of moderating the panel consisting of Annette Dashofy, Hilary Davidson, Laura Benedict, and Rebecca Drake. The ladies have enthusiastically agreed to share their Muses with you.

Leading off this Muse Wednesday series is author Annette Dashofy, author of the Zoe Chamber mystery series.

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When Monette first invited me to blog about my muse, I thought what fun! But then I thought some more and it struck me what a complicated mission this was. Or maybe I was over thinking the whole matter. I’ve been accused of this in the past.

My inspiration has changed over the years, going back to books like My Friend Flicka by Mary O’Hara, and Walter Farley’s Black Stallion and Island Stallion series. Yes, I love horses, but what stuck with me about those novels was the sense of place. Setting.

I also devoured anything about the Wild West, especially those written by Zane Gray. Again, the stories transported me to another place.

But the novel that changed the direction of my youthful attempts at fiction writing was Where Are the Children? by Mary Higgins Clark. Suddenly nail-biting suspense became vital in everything I read. And my fiction has been entirely crime related ever since.

As an aside, I met Ms. Clark a couple of years ago and had a chance to shake her hand and thank her in person for setting me on the path of mystery writer. She was as sweet as can be. A true Lady.

Fast forward a couple of decades to the point where I became serious about publication. I found another muse—Dick Francis. Still in love with horses and Walter Farley’s series, I penned two mysteries set in the world of Thoroughbred racing. Two agents and many rewrites later, that first series of mine remained unsold. I moved on to another series, my Zoe Chambers mysteries. I had completed a rough draft of the first, Circle of Influence, when my friend (and soon-to-be-debut author) Joyce Tremel put Julia Spencer Fleming’s In the Bleak Midwinter in my hands. I was enthralled. Like Circle, it had a rural setting, took place in winter, and had dual protagonists, including a small-town police chief. Unlike mine, Julia’s writing was exquisite! I immediately proclaimed (and continue to) that “I want to write like her when I grow up!”

Another aside—I met Julia for the first time at the same conference where I’d met Mary Higgins Clark and was equally fan-girl over her! I remain completely in awe of her skill with the English language.

To this day, she remains one of my muses. And I’ve added another, perhaps influenced by my early love of Westerns—Craig Johnson and his Longmire series. Any time I find myself stuck and trying to figure out how to show-not-tell emotions, setting, character, dialogue—just about anything—I crack open one of Julia’s or Craig’s novels and soak in their words, trying to learn by osmosis.

 

Annette Dashofy-small fileBio:

Annette Dashofy is the USA Today best-selling author of the Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic and deputy coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township. CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE, published by Henery Press, was a finalist for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel and for the David Award for Best Mystery of 2014. The second in the series, LOST LEGACY, was released in September 2014 followed by BRIDGES BURNED in April 2015. Her short fiction includes a 2007 Derringer Award nominee featuring the same characters as her novels. Annette is vice president and past president of the Pittsburgh Chapter of Sisters in Crime. She serves as vice president of Pennwriters, as well as being their 2013 recipient of the Meritorious Service Award. She also belongs to Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. Annette and her husband live on part of what used to be her grandfather’s dairy farm in southwestern Pennsylvania with one very spoiled cat.

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Featured Book: Bridges Burned, Book Three in the Zoe Chambers mystery series.

BRIDGES BURNED front

Buy Links:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Mystery Lovers Bookshop

Muse Wednesday Redux

It’s been awhile since I posted regular Muse Wednesdays. I missed them.  I love learning what set my fellow authors on the road to writing. But social media is a time suck and so I put the Muse blogs aside for only special occasions and the odd one-off author who actually seeks me out to do one.

So why bring them back now?  What’s special about the next four Wednesdays in September?

Bouchercon 2015 will be held in Raleigh, NC, from October 7-11th.

And once again, I have the distinct honor of being a Moderator for a panel entitled, Maintaining Pacing in Mystery.

The panel consists of published authors Annette Dashofy, Hilary Davidson, Laura Benedict, and Rebecca Drake.  Our panel is scheduled for Saturday, October 10th at 1 pm.  If you’re attending, we’d love to see you there.  If you aren’t, there is still time to register for this conference which is the largest mystery convention in the world. See the full scheduled of events and panels, HERE.

My four panelists are all at the top of their game in the mystery/suspense/thriller field, so I thought it would be fun to ask them who or what their writing Muse(s) are — and at the same time get some promo and advance excitement for our fabulous panel.  Yes, I am devious that way. 😉

The Muse Blog schedule is as follows:

September 9th –Annette Dashofy

September 16th –Hilary Davidson

September 23rd–Laura Benedict

September 30th – Rebecca Drake

I’ve already seen Annette’s blog and I love her choice.  And, no, I’m not telling, you have to come back next week and see who she picked.

And to remind you what a Muse Blog is all about, I am re-blogging my original Muse Blog which addressed why I write what I write:

103059

MARY STEWART’S THE MOON-SPINNERS

Monette Michaels

 In the summer of 1964, I picked up The Moon Spinners.  From the opening line, Mary Stewart had this twelve-year-old girl hooked: “It was the egret, flying out of the lemon grove, that started it.”  Such a simple line filled with questions. Who is the narrator?  Where was the narrator that she chanced to see an egret fly from a lemon grove? And what exactly had started?

From that little line, I traveled with Nikky Ferris, a young British woman, on a journey of discovery and danger. When Nikky takes that first step off the beaten path to Agios Georgios, she didn’t know it yet, but she has changed her life forever.  As she makes her way into the rugged mountains lining the Greek coastline, I tasted the dust Nikky’s shoes cast into the air.  I smelled the lemon flowers as she wends her way through the grove.  I shivered at the coolness of the mountain water when Nikki pauses to rinse her hot, dusty hands.  I shared her sense of isolation and the building anticipation that something was going to happen.  When Lambos drops into her path, knife in hand, my heart rate jumped right along with Nikky’s.  What had started out to be a pleasant little getaway with her aunt in a sleepy little Greek seaside resort, has now become a life and death matter as Nikky’s future becomes inextricably intertwined with Mark and Colin Langley’s lives – – lives that had been changed forever when the brothers stumbled across murder in the wilds of Greece.  And I was with her every step of the way.

What amazes me, now that I also write novels, is that the set up in The Moon-Spinners is done so effortlessly and in less than two chapters. There are no wasted words or lines in a Mary Stewart book.  Just as the fabled Moon Spinners spin the moon, Ms. Stewart spins her story, effortlessly and inexorably pulling in her reader.

So what is it about Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense novels that has captured several generations of readers and influenced a generation of authors?

For me, other than the amazing settings and sense of place, it is her ability to create an atmosphere that holds you breathlessly in its thrall from her novels’ first words until the last. Her usage of words rivals a poet’s.  No doubt about it:  Mary Stewart is a master wordsmith.   Added to her perfect selection of words is a superb sense of pacing.  Each word, each line of text builds upon its predecessor, building tension and  providing relief, only to escalate again until the final climactic scene.  Her plots are a perfect balance of description, suspense, and romance and as seamless as a Mobius strip.  This is why myself and a whole generation of authors have attempted to emulate Mary Stewart’s style.

In my romantic suspense novels, I sweat every word, every line, striving to recreate the  suspense-romance symmetry, the perfect pacing of a Mary Stewart novel. My villains are driven to commit evil.  The heroes are strong; the heroines, just as strong or stronger. Fate throws them together, changing their lives for better – – or worse, as the case may be.  In my books, as in Stewart’s, good always triumphs over evil, but sometimes the line between the two is a bit smudged.  From lean first lines to the end, I strive to take my readers on just as breathless a ride as Mary Stewart always gave me.  Do I do this as gracefully and seamlessly as she did?  I only hope so.  Time will tell.

Copyright, Monette Michaels, 2006. This essay  is not to be reprinted without the express permission of the author. Worldwide print anthology rights are held by Crum Creek Press.

 

Cherise Sinclair’s Edge of the Enforcer

CS_DoDH4_EdgeoftheEnforcer_coverinThe Edge of the Enforcer is the fourth book in the Dark Haven world … well sort of.  The first two novella-length books set in Dark Haven were in anthologies, Doms of Dark Haven and Doms of Dark Haven 2, and the third book was My Liege of Dark Haven.  For this fourth book, Cherise chose Zander DeVries, the “Enforcer” of the San Francisco BDSM club called Dark Haven, owned by Xavier, who was featured in Book 3.  Book 4 pulls in the main characters from previous Dark Haven books and the two Mountain Masters’ books.

Loose-Id Buy Link

Don’t miss the chance to win an e-book copy of Master of the Mountain.  Read through to the end to find out how to win.

What’s Edge of the Enforcer all about?

Alexander “Zander” DeVries is an operative for Simon Demakis’s security company (Simon was in the first Doms of Dark Haven antho) and a part-time mercenary. DeVries has just come back from a mercenary kidnap-and-rescue mission where one of his fellow mercs was killed and deVries was shot.  As a Dom with sadistic proclivities, after such a mission, he really needs to work out his anger, frustrations, and just all-round pissed-off-ness on some poor masochist’s body.  Since deVries has a lot of stress and dark emotions to shed, he can’t trust himself to scene with a sweet sub like Lindsey who owes him a blow job and anal sex, a debt she incurred by losing to him in the Dom-sub paint ball games (from the play party at Logan Hunt’s mountain lodge/resort in My Liege of Dark Haven).

Lindsey, who is attracted to deVries, is not into pain. She knows she owes him, but assumes since he hasn’t bothered to collect that he’s not interested in her. She feels it’s probably a good thing since she can’t allow herself to get involved with anyone because she’s on the run from crooked law enforcement officers who’ve framed her for two murders.  Until she decodes some encrypted files and proves her innocence, she has to remain solo, just in case she needs to pick up and run.

Her plan to stay uninvolved with deVries goes awry when he chooses to call in the debt she owes him.  He gives her a whole night of fabulous DS play and hot, Hot, HOT sex.  The morning after he mistakes something she says and it triggers one of his “hot” buttons. When he leaves, he does so in a callous manner that hurts Lindsey and allows her own insecurities to raise their ugly heads.

But the misunderstanding is temporary. After deVries seeks her out, arriving just in time to rescue her from a bad situation in a dangerous neighborhood, she’s hooked on deVries.

But is deVries hooked on her? Can Lindsey handle his level of sadism?  Can he be happy with a sweet sub who likes rough sex and some erotic pain, but no more? And even if the sex issues work out, will her past force her to leave deVries, the only man she has ever truly loved?

Since I don’t want to spoil the twists and turns Cherise takes the reader through, I’ll just leave you with those questions.  You need to read the book to find the answers.

Trust me, if you liked Sam and Linda’s story from Masters of Shadowlands series [This Is Who I Am], you’ll love deVries and Lindsey’s story.

Both Sam’s book and deVries’s deal with the emotional and psychological needs of the SM dynamic (and other plot issues, of course). While it’s true Sam and deVries are both classified as  sadists, they aren’t identical in their needs and urges.

For example, Sam likes to work with true masochists, and if they are also submissive, like Linda, then all the better. Hurting a true masochist makes Sam feel good in that he is fulfilling the masochist’s need for pain. He pushes Linda’s limits, knowing that is what she needs to release her pent up tensions. Sam’s sadism and Linda’s masochism satisfy their particular emotional/psychological needs and are a part of their “normal” sex life when they become partners. Their relationship is, in a way, symbiotic. Putting Linda into subspace, puts him into Dom-space.

DeVries likes to mete out pain to release his own tensions. His role as the Enforcer of Dark Haven allows him to alleviate his tension often, allowing him control in all other aspects of his life.  When his stress gets too strong, he needs to scene — and only male masochists can handle the punishment he dishes out. But after he’s meted out the pain and shed his demons, he wants sex — and not with the male masochists he’s hurt.  At that point, he looks for female subs as partners.  The resulting scene can include rough sex. It can be D/s. It can be sensual, almost vanilla.  It can include a lower level of pain per the sub’s tolerance levels.

DeVries knows himself and his urges well enough to accept that he doesn’t have to have a masochist in his personal sex life/relationship.  He could be happy living with a sweet sub like Lindsey.  This is unlike Sam who needs a submissive masochist for an intimate relationship outside the club.  DeVries can slake his strongest sadistic urges at the club with a male masochist and then go home and make love to a woman like Lindsey.

Does deVries push Lindsey’s limits on pain?  Sure, but he also knows when to call a halt.  DeVries can also be sweet.  He sleeps with Lindsey after he collects the debt she owes, giving her more pleasure than she has ever known. He then stays the night — and he cuddles!

The above is an example of why I like all of Cherise Sinclair’s erotic BDSM romances.  She focuses on how BDSM works for the individual. She doesn’t paint all sadists, all masochists, all Doms and subs with the same broad brush. Her characters come across as real people and not caricatures.   The  fact I can even see Sam and deVries as romantic heroes is why I consider Cherise Sinclair the premier BDSM romance author.  I believe in Sam and deVries. I like them.  I want to meet them.  They are good men despite the fact they like their sex lives with a huge-ass smattering of kink.

If someone had ever told me, I would enjoy and want to re-read erotic romance stories in which the hero was a sadist and who caused his lover pain — I would’ve called them crazy.  But Sam’s story is one of my top five favorite Cherise books, and deVries’s just bumped another book down a notch. [I’ll list my top five fave Cherise books at the end — this is determined by how many times I’ll go to one of them for a comfort read.]

Cherise’s characters, be they Doms, subs, masochists, sadists, lovers of menage, new to the BDSM scene or veterans, are not one-dimensional.  They have real lives.  Some clean offices. Some own construction companies. Some are kindergarten teachers. Some are ex-military and work in security or law enforcement.  They have families. They give back to their communities. They are, in fact, people you might run across at the local grocery store and think, “hey, that person is really nice.”

Cherise’s characters are you and me. Their sexual preferences are just not vanilla.

Other than strong characters with real emotions and real lives – – what makes Cherise a top notch author in any genre, not just romance?

A. She plots extremely well. Her romance arcs have just enough angst to make the characters work through things to reach their happy ever after. She smartly avoids the super-angst of soap operas. [May I just say I hate super-angst and TSTL characters who don’t talk to each other?] It’s a fine balance, but she perches on that narrow line very well, making her stories often heart-wrenching. A reader knows going into one of Cherise’s books that she will be put through an emotional wringer, but that there will be a happy-ever-after for the main characters when the end is reached.

The external conflicts usually have some sense of danger or suspense which propels the story along at a good pace and puts extra pressure on the characters who are struggling with the emotional issues of trust and love. I have to say I am a sucker for external conflicts that exacerbate the characters’ personal journeys.  It’s what I write, and what I like to read.

B. Cherise’s voice is clear and strong with a hint of playfulness — and after all, sex, even kinky sex, should be fun. Her voice has a strength of purpose. What purpose?   Showing a sense of right and wrong in both the BDSM world and in the real world in which her characters act out their stories.  There is a deep sense of justice and humanity in Cherise’s books that sucks me in.

C. Her sense of place is spot on.  You always know where you are and what things look, smell, and sound like.  Setting is important — engaging the senses is important — and Cherise knows that and delivers.  She also never sacrifices the story to showcase nit-picky details.  No info dumps in her writing.  Cherise knows what she is — she is a story-teller, not an interior decorator or a travelogue writer.

So, if you haven’t read a Cherise Sinclair erotic romance — and you are an open-minded reader who enjoys being entertained by excellent writing — give her a try.

I promised to list my Top Five Cherise Sinclair faves.  These are the books I like to re-read when I can’t find anything new to read and I want a well-told story with characters I like — and, of course,  hot sex.

Monette Michaels’ Top Five Fave Cherise Sinclair Books:

1.  The Dom’s Dungeon – a stand-alone book.  I love the set up. I love the humor. I love Alex’s dominant traits and his humanity. I love this book so much I own it in e-book and print.  It’s my first pick when I need a sexy comfort read to take me away from the stress of a bad day.

2.  Breaking Free, Masters of the Shadowlands, Book 3 – Beth and Nolan’s story.  This is a sigh-worthy book.  And a several hankie story.  Nolan is rough and tough and scary-looking, but he has a mushy middle when it comes to Beth. Beth has had a horrific past, but has valiantly rebuilt her life. She still has fears and needs which are often in conflict.  She is a true submissive, but her trust has been so abused she has a hard time getting past her fears.  She can’t believe her good fortune in finding Nolan, the prefect Dom and lover for her. The late-in-the-book crisis is perfect (which demonstrates that Cherise has the Three-Act plot structure down well) and the scene leading to the HEA in this book is one of the best I’ve ever read. I also own this one in both e-book and print.

3.  If Only, Master of the Shadowlands, Book 8 — This book features a menage relationship among three characters who were supporting characters in past books in this series.  Cherise gave enough hints in earlier books that these three would scene.  The book was worth waiting for.  The heroine is sub Sally, who is very outgoing and smart (Master’s in Computer Forensics smart), and the two FBI agents, Galen and Vance, who led the investigation into the sex-slave-trafficking story arcs from Books 5, 6, and 7. Galen and Vance finally get Sally where they want her, and discover she is not the carefree sub she presents to the world. Each character has a bunch of emotional baggage which complicates their being together while they all, independently and then together, attempt to shut down the last vestiges of the trafficking ring.  I normally do not like menage books, but this one I like.  It works.  The three need each other. This is the power of Cherise’s writing – she pulled me into these three characters’ story and convinced me the menage would work for them.

4. This Is Who I Am, Masters of the Shadowlands, Book 7– Sam is a sadist, still stinging from a really bad marriage and divorce.  He helped rescue Linda from the sex slave traffickers (in To Command and Collar) and she is just trying to forget what had happened and get back to her normal life.  But she can’t.  She’s not “normal,” whatever in the hell that is. She is a masochist and a submissive.  She “needs” the release pain gives her in order to deal with every day life.  She visits Shadowlands and finds the one Dom who can give her what she needs is Sam.  In his own way, Sam needs Linda as much as she needs him.  I am so not into pain, but Linda’s character is so finely drawn that as a reader I understand why Linda needs it.  Some people run miles and miles a week or exercise to the point of exhaustion or do extreme sports to get the endorphin high that allows them to function on a daily basis.  Linda needs pain and then the pleasure. Sam gives her both. I went into the book with trepidation. I was so sure I wasn’t going to like Sam the sadist, but I ended up loving him. He and Linda are perfect together — and the life they forge is “normal” for them.

5.  Edge of the Enforcer, Dark Haven 4 — I explained why I liked this book above. DeVries cuddles! And likes to perform oral sex.  And has a wicked way with a Violet Wand. Says it all.  I’ll also add that Xander and Lindsey are perfect together.  I imagine them getting married, having lots of babies, and being blissfully happy.  Yeah, I’m a romantic. But so is this book.

What is YOUR favorite Cherise Sinclair book and why?  One comment will be chosen and the winner will receive an e-book copy of Master of the Mountain.

Visit Cherise Sinclair’s web site to find out more about her books.

Muse Wednesday — Pauline Baird Jones

Brimstone in the GardenIt is hard for me to pick THE one book that made me want to be a writer, though like Monette Michaels, Mary Stewart played a large part in my love for, and my desire to write, romantic suspense.

Dateline: 1967

A 12 year old reader in search of a book noticed a book called Brimstone in the Garden (known as The Greenwood Shady in Britain). The author was not familiar to her, but the title intrigued, so she pulled it out and read:

“The River Starr begins its course as an insignificant trifle in Berkshire.”

Not exactly a grabber, but books sometimes started slow back in the day, and readers were okay with that. Like that opening line, the story started as a trickle but achieved excellent flow. Nowadays, readers are a lot tougher on slow starts. I’m glad I stuck with it, though. Otherwise I would never have “met” Cousin Clarry.

“Cousin Clarry arrived, looking larger than ever. She was of average height, but her great bulk made her appear almost as broad as she was long. She wore a voluminous tweed cloak, which Elinor remembered having seen on Aunt Winifred twenty years ago. Her hat was of the kind known as a straw boater, and was affixed by a piece of black elastic to the back of her collar.”

There’s more, much more to learn about Cousin Clarry and the denizens of Deepwood. They felt real to me then and yeah, they still do. Somewhere Aunt Clarry still lives.

I’ve reread the book many times (it is one of my comfort reads) and learned some important things about being a writer from the sheer craft displayed in this book.

First, characters matter. I know that’s a duh, oh-so-obvious point, but I have many times studied the seemingly effortless way Cadell brought her characters to life, looking for clues to how she managed it. Many of those techniques shouldn’t work with todays’ readers…and yet…when Cadell used telling, instead of showing, I never noticed until I went back to study her work. She made telling fun. She made showing fun.

The lady could write.

I always had the feeling that she chuckled while she typed. For my own writing, if I’m not getting a kick out of a characters—even my bad guys—then they get kicked to the curb. Why would the reader enjoy something I’m not?

The other thing I learned from her—and this goes against current marketing wisdom—was to follow my Muse to the stories. Cadell wrote what is loosely called “women’s fiction,” but her books wander widely between “simple” romances, gentle mysteries, and stuff I don’t think there is a genre label for them. One of her books is a journal, another told from a child’s point of view that is not a middle grade book.

As a reader, I followed where she led because I loved her writing. I loved the way she used words. I loved her characters and her quirky plots. I was willing to go where her Muse took her and be grateful for the ride.

The lady could tell a story.

I wanted to be “a lady who can tell a story,” but in my way, not hers.

As an author, I’ve tried to be true to her standard and true to myself. My books wander the genres like the T-Rex did in Jurrasic Park when the power went off. And though I try not to chomp things, I keep the stakes high. My goal is to deliver to the reader an adventure that only I could write.

Maybe, just maybe, some new writer fifty years from now (ouch!) will be inspired to become an author because of something I wrote. Hey, I’m an author. I can dream.

 

My bio:

me-smallPauline Baird Jones had a tough time with reality from the get-go. After “schooling” from four, yes FOUR brothers, she knew that some people needed love and others needed shooting. Pauline figured she could do both. Romantic suspense was the logical starting point, but there were more worlds to explore, more rules to break and minds to bend. She grabbed her pocket watch and time travel device and dove through the wormhole into the world of science fiction and even some Steampunk.

Now she wanders among the genres, trying a little of this and a lot of that, rampaging through her characters’ lives like Godzilla because she does love her peril (when it’s not happening to her). Never fear, she gives her characters happy endings. Well, the good characters. The bad ones get justice.

rr-web_medPauline released her 13th novel, Relatively Risky, in 2013. She’s not superstitious about it, well, maybe a little. She’ll be glad when #14 is officially out. But the whole loving/killing thing that needs to be done? Doing it fictionally is just better for everyone. And particularly for Pauline, who hates the thought of getting strip searched and jailed.

 

Name a Prime Chronicles Creature

MM_TPC3_PrimeImperative

I am working on the third book in the Prime Chronicles trilogy.  And I need help naming an alien creature who plays a small role in the book — one of those small moments of humor and oddity in a tense scene.

And since I would rather spend my time writing and not playing with name generators, I am asking my readers for help.

So — I will take suggestions for the creature’s species name.  You can give me a full species name, you may shorten it also, if you wish. You can  even tell me what solar system or planet the creatures come from. Be creative.

I will accept suggestions from April 7th.  Please post them in the comments to this Blog Post.

I will choose the one I like best, and that person will be acknowledged in this blog, in the front of Prime Imperative, and will receive an advance final copy of the book in PDF before the actual publication date.

What is the creature like?

Here are some unedited, and not final by any means, excerpts from Prime Imperative.  The scene is in Chapter 6. Dr. Brianna Martin aka Bria is on the run and has come to her adoptive brother’s (Damon) jump station on the rim of the galaxy. It is a rough place and danger lurks everywhere.  She has just come off her transport to the jump station:

As she and the captain waited for Damon to appear, her gaze was caught by a large pile of rags near the Mason freighter’s dock. She could’ve sworn they hadn’t been there when she’d first debarked. When the rags moved and moaned, she realized the pile was alive. Was someone buried under all the ragged clothing? Were they hurt? She moved away from the captain and started to bend over, her hand extended toward the outer layer of cloth.

“Don’t touch.” The Mason freighter captain turned, grabbed her arm, and pulled her out of the way of the shifting mound of fabric. His move nearly had them colliding with another robotic unloader. He dragged her to a rusted steel pillar, far away from the shuffling pile, pushed her against it, and growled, “Stay away. Has teeth and is poisonous.”

****

Her knees went limp as wilted lettuce. She moved to lean against a pillar and barely missed tripping over the pile of living rags.

She looked down at the quivering pile and muttered, “You were no help. You could’ve bit him.”

The pile uttered some high-pitched gibberish, then swirled away in a cloud of dust and moved toward the Erian.

****

Her brother snorted and muttered, “damn right I will.” Then he steered her around the bundle-of-clothing creature which had slid to where the Erian’s blood pooled on the deck. A slurping sound had her stomach clenching.

“Um, Damon, is that creature licking—”

“Yes. It’s a [need creature name and origins]. It’s a scavenger and keeps the docks clean.” He aimed a stern look her way. “Don’t ever come between one and its meal. Don’t ever touch one. They bite.”

“So the captain informed me.” She looked around as they walked into the central core of the station. “Are they all over the place?”

“No. If they come above dock levels, the security guards shoot them.” He touched the weapon at her back. “Your laser pistol will kill them. Full stream into the center of mass. Don’t hesitate and get all girly. Just shoot to kill.”

****

Okay, there it is.  Get me a great name and if you wish, some origins.  I can’t wait to see what y’all come up with! And thanks in advance for any and all suggestions.

Rosanna Leo’s Predator’s Refuge

Predator's Refuge Cover

I want to welcome my friend, Rosanna Leo to my blog.  She has a new book in her Gemini  Island Shifters series coming out today.  I love this series (um, shifters, people!!) and I know you will too. 

*****

Thank you to Monette for hosting me today! I’m so excited to be here as it’s release day for me, and I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather share it with.

Release days are probably the most exciting days for authors. Certainly, they are for me. It’s the day all our hopes and dreams for a book become reality. I can’t think of anything more thrilling than these moments…unless someone were to tell me my heroes just turned real and are waiting for me in the bedroom! Not likely to happen, I suppose.

When I set out to write my Gemini Island Shifters books, quite frankly, I did not anticipate a series. However, my publisher wisely suggested I attach a series name to the first book, and voila, the series was born. Predator’s Refuge, today’s release, marks the third book in the series. In my opinion, it is also boasts some of the sexier moments in the franchise.

Why is this one so sexy? Well, in throwing together this particular hero and heroine, it really felt as if the sexual tension had been kicked up a notch. You see, my heroine, a lynx shifter named Marci, is experiencing her first heat. She could have sex at the drop of a hat! However, her sex-crazed spirit animal seems to be on the lookout for a specific man.

When tiger shifter Anton Gaspar arrives on the scene, all hell breaks loose. Not only does Marci have to contend with some very unwanted emotions and desires, Anton also becomes prey to his voracious tiger. However, Anton fights his attraction to Marci for some unusual reasons. Will he manage to stay away from her? Gosh, we hope not!

Predator’s Refuge is available at www.lsbooks.com and will also be available at Amazon, ARE, B&N, Kobo and other e-outlets.

Blurb:

Lynx shifter Marci Lennox has worked at the shifter-friendly Ursa Fishing Lodge and Resort all her adult life. It’s more a home to her than a job. When her boss goes on vacation, putting her in charge, Marci is thrilled. Finally a chance to prove she has the mettle to run a resort.

Her confidence is shaken when new employee Anton Gaspar appears. One look at the mysterious tiger shifter spells trouble for Marci and for her sex-crazed lynx. Anton is judgmental, condescending, and a little misogynistic. Unfortunately, Marci’s lynx thinks his tiger is more delicious than an oversized bag of Maltesers.

It becomes difficult for Marci to remain neutral near Anton, especially when she learns of his troubling past and unusual family circumstances. However, when dangerous incidents occur on the resort, the lynx woman and tiger man join forces to combat the threat to the lodge and its guests.

Harder still is the quest to combat their explosive feelings for one another. As they explore their mutual passion, they realize the danger at the resort is more insidious than they ever envisioned. Their dreams, their love, and their very lives are at stake.

Excerpt:

The sliding doors swung open for him and he walked in, head high.

Immediately, the fragrance hit him, activating his Jacobson’s organ. He swallowed, tasting it on his tongue and at the back of his throat, and wondered if he was mistaken.

No, how could he mistake the unique scent of a female cat in heat? It was too delicious a scent to forget. Sweetness coated his taste buds, winding a delirious path down his throat. As his head swam, he blinked and tried to clear his thoughts of the sexual imagery racing through it.

The scent did not belong to another tiger shifter, but some other type of predatory cat. One whose perfume he hadn’t sampled before. One who must be particular to this region. Cougar? No. Mountain lion? Surely not.

Whatever she was, her scent teased him with its delicious flavor.

Don’t, he warned himself. Wasn’t it enough that he spent the last few years of his existence trying to escape the sick wiles of the grasping women at court? And God only knew how hard he’d worked to maintain a state of abstinence at Pannonhalma, devoting his life to meditation. He’d come here to work, not lose himself in a sweet piece of…

Stop it. This was no time to think of pussy, even though he’d never been more desperate for a taste of creaming woman.

His tiger howled inside him, hungry for that which it had been denied for almost two years.

Still the perfume, more intoxicating than any he’d known, wafted toward him. He wanted to close his eyes and drink it in. The unyielding power of the aroma could make him forget his vows. Granted, he wasn’t really a monk, but he had followed the monastic lifestyle from day one at Pannonhalma. The purity in the monk’s life had been the very thing he’d required to get his life back on track.

So why did he want to find the source of the scent and fuck her until she begged alternately for mercy and for more? Her need seemed strong. Whoever this lady cat was, she must be in dire agony for her scent to be so powerful.

None of his business.

Mentally caging the growling tiger inside him, he shook his head and approached the front desk. He dropped his luggage and cleared his throat at the woman working there. Her head had been down as she read some reports, but she looked up now.

“Welcome to the Ursa…” Her jaw fell open and her sentence hung in the air, unfinished and clearly forgotten.

Well, well. A beautiful little lynx.

The scent of desire emanated from her. Only now, it flourished under his gaze, increasing tenfold, if such a thing could be measured. Tendrils of teasing perfume waved around her body, blending into the golden brown highlights in her hair and winding their way around her hips and breasts. Exuding from her pores and sinking straight into his. Delicious, sensual saturation.

Anton’s heart raced and his tiger spotted its new prey. The animal licked its lips.

RosannaRosanna Leo is a multi-published, erotic romance author with Liquid Silver Books who lives and breathes paranormal romance. Several of her books about Greek gods, selkies and shape shifters have been named Night Owl Romance and Two Lips Recommended Reads. When not writing, she can be found haunting dusty library stacks or planning her next star-crossed love affair.  Visit Rosanna’s website

Christy Gissendaner’s Newest Book!

Unmasking the WolfOne of my Love Lust and Laptops’ peeps has a new shifter book out!  So, I am sharing it with all of you.

****

Gina Moretti is determined to escape her rural home of Clinton, Indiana, a place where wolves have met, married, and mated for generations. As the only daughter of the alpha, she’s lived her entire life under her father’s rule. No way is she ready to find a mate until she’s experienced more of the world. Against her family’s wishes, she goes to Boston where her scientist cousin, Dominic, has offered to give her a place to stay. She stumbles, quite literally, into her cousin’s gorgeous boss.

Lucas Mason, a Southern boy turned self-made millionaire, rose above his poverty stricken childhood and now enjoys a life of luxury in Boston. To honor his murdered sister, he hires her lab partner to continue their research. His employee, Dominic Moretti, is on the brink of creating a method to combat the scent of a wolf when his country cousin breezes in. Luke knows in an instant that Gina is his mate. The only problem is…she doesn’t even realize he’s a wolf.

As Luke and Dominic get closer to medical trials, an unknown enemy becomes determined to stop them…at any cost. Can Luke discover his foe in time to protect his research…and his mate? And what will happen when Gina finds out he’s not quite as human as he’s led her to believe?

Trailer:  

http://youtu.be/zcyatUihuBM

Buy Links:

http://www.taliesinpublishing.com/unmasking-the-wolf-p26.php

http://amzn.com/B00H3WHGQY

Short Excerpt

“Ahhh,” she cried out as she tumbled toward the floor. A pair of strong arms clamped around her and jerked her back to her feet. Embarrassed beyond belief, her cheeks flamed with the knowledge she’d just made a fool of herself. In front of Dominic’s boss, no less. It didn’t take a brain scientist to realize the handsome, make that extremely handsome, man before her was Luke Mason.

He was sex-on-a-platter hot. Chiseled cheekbones, firm jaw, unbelievably straight nose, and a teensy weensy dimple in the center of his chin. This man was a living, breathing Greek god.

“Are you okay?” Piercing green eyes locked with hers as Luke’s grip on her arms slowly loosened.

Gina felt a jolt in the pit of her stomach. Despite Dominic’s warning to blend in, she sniffed the air. She had to. Something about this man called to her animal nature. But there was nothing. Not a trace of the wolf scent. Despite his unbelievable height and incredible physique, only the scent of sandalwood and spice came to her. Disappointment swamped her. He was human.

Luke continued to watch her. Gina knew he waited for her to speak, but her tongue refused to budge. She’d known he would be good-looking, but the newspaper article hadn’t done him full justice. Instead of a suit, he wore casual jeans and a dark blazer. He had the sort of hair that would curl in the rain. She didn’t know how she knew it. She just did. The golden-brown waves were delightfully rumpled in the middle of his head, as if he’d just risen from bed.

Gina gave a tiny moan at the thought of him rising naked from the sheets. He would be gloriously golden, with a tight belly and even tighter buttocks. Physical need rocked her to the core. What was up with lusting after a human? Was it merely the fact he was every woman’s wet dream, or something more?

His sensual lips curved into a sexy smile as he scrubbed a hand over his belly. “Hell of sharp elbow you have there.”

“Oh God, I’m so sorry.” Gina wanted to sink through the floor. Why was she always such a klutz?

“Don’t worry about it.” He drawled in a soft, slow tone.

She’d read he was originally from Jackson, Mississippi. The Southern accent was unbelievably sexy, but not nearly as sexy as the man himself. His face was a mixture of Hollywood leading man and mixed martial arts fighter. He was gorgeous, yet hard. She could easily visualize him serenading a woman one moment, and then fighting to protect her next.