Category Archives: Favorite Authors

Welcome M.Q. Barber!

I am delighted to welcome wonderful and talented author M.Q. Barber to my blog. M.Q. is a sister author with Lyrical Press, and I’m delighted she agreed to stop by to talk about her debut release, Playing the Game: Neighborly Affection Book 1. I was lucky enough to receive a sneak peak at the first few chapters when M.Q. was shopping it around, and let me tell you – she hooked me right away. I’ll admit I’ve not read much in the BDSM/erotica subgenre of romance, partly out of being a bit…squeamish. Playing the Game changed my mind and won my heart, however, with its emotional and psychological depth, strong heroine, and two very different yet equally compelling heroes.

 

PlayingtheGame_400pxBlurb:

She expects dinner with neighbors, but gets sex with a side of safewords.

Mechanical engineer Alice still drools over her sexy neighbors a year after she’s moved in. She can’t decide whether they’re roommates or partners, but either way, they spark a wanton desire in her that has her imagination–and vibrator–working overtime.

Henry, director of everything around him, studies human nature and applies philosophies to his paintings as well as his relationships. Quirky, polite to a fault, and formal, he follows his own code of honor even when it means denying himself.

Flirtatious and playful, Jay needs stability, guidance, and to please others. His antics counterbalance Henry’s stuffy ways while he brings a level of vulnerability and fun to everything the trio does.

BDSM play with the enigmatic artist and flirtatious joker across the hall allows Alice to put aside the linear thought processes which have kept her unsatisfied and distant with other lovers. She must dismiss her preconception of love, sacrificing her independence, if she’s to find a permanent place in their beds and hearts.

CONTENT WARNING: Explicit sex, graphic language, BDSM, bondage, spanking, M/M/F menage.

M.Q., I found your three main characters so compelling, particularly in terms of the way they balance one another within the context of their rather unconventional relationship. Since Alice is your POV character, we’ll start with her. She’s a smart, strong, and very independent woman who winds up becoming a submissive. This seeming contradiction actually works extremely well in your story. How did you reconcile these two opposing facets of her character development?

Thanks, D.B. I’m elated that the character balance works from a reader perspective. The three of them grew together that way; I’m not sure I actively did something so much as they showed me what they needed.

In Alice’s case, it’s been a very long time since she’s had someone taking care of her. She has a strong sense of responsibility to the people in her life, and letting go of control is both difficult and freeing for her. It demands an enormous amount of trust. Submitting to Henry is only possible for Alice because he has demonstrated his trustworthiness in their friendship. He creates a safe space for her to relax.

I think of it like having a public persona and a private one. Alice is the sort of person who wouldn’t break down and sob her heart out at her desk at work if she got bad news, but the second she got home and closed the door behind her to lock out the world, the tears would come. Henry’s shoulders are much nicer than an empty apartment.

In much the same way, submission is an emotional release. It gives her something she doesn’t know she needs in the guise of a game, a challenge that appeals to her competitive drive.

Makes perfect sense. Playful Jay serves as a wonderful foil for Alice. Clearly he has some past issues that have made him uncomfortable with certain aspects of domination play, yet he appears to have near complete trust in Henry. Their relationship is fascinating, particularly as viewed through the lens of Alice, who sometimes feels like an interloper. I LOVE that she struggles with intimacy issues more than their ‘games.’ What is it about Alice that draws Jay or that he needs from her to augment his dynamic with Henry?

Yowtch, you go right for the tough questions. Book two, Crossing the Lines, answers that question in more depth from Alice’s perspective as she learns about Jay’s past, and a separate Henry-and-Jay prequel shows how the two men got together from Henry’s perspective. But let’s see what I can say without spoilers. 😉

Two of the main factors at work are Jay’s primary kink and his playful orientation to the world. I said above that submission for Alice is an outgrowth of her trust in Henry. For Jay, submission is a primary kink, meaning he prefers to submit to his lovers in any sexual encounter.

That’s not to say he doesn’t trust Henry – he does, and with good reason. But it does mean he wants to be told what to do in the bedroom all the time. If he’s attracted to a woman, having Henry tell him how to seduce her makes her even more attractive. Since Henry has a strong voyeurism/exhibitionist streak, Jay is thrilled to play with Alice while Henry directs them. He gets to make two people happy and get laid – it’s a dream job for him.

As for why Alice in particular, the non-spoilery answer is that they both have a playful side. You may have noticed that Henry’s a somewhat serious guy, LOL. He’s loving and indulgent, but he’s a quiet, controlled man and Jay is an energy-filled flirt. Alice is Jay’s partner in crime, the woman who’ll tease him and laugh with him and still understand his need to submit to Henry.

She’s also an example of strength for him, but one that’s accessible because she, too, submits. Alice and Jay complement each other in that way: he sees her bravery in their physical games, and she sees his bravery in emotional contexts (more on that in book two). As you might expect, it’s a balance that Henry works to foster.

Yes, the three of them do work and play very well together. Now, to the enigmatic, intriguing (and flat out sexy as hell) Dom Henry. He is in charge, a true dominant, yet he is also thoughtful and caring while carrying the mantle of alpha male. As with your strong heroine in the role of submissive, these seeming contradictions give Henry so much depth and make him such a compelling character. Was it difficult to balance the alpha-Dom with the thoughtful gentleman?

Henry makes it easy, I think. Is an alpha who spends all of his time blustering and posturing and acting like a spoiled child with broken toys really an alpha, or is he an uncontrolled mess with insecurities he takes out on everyone around him? From Henry’s perspective, there’s a proper time and place for everything, and a man who means to call himself a dominant had better be able to control himself first. If he can’t master his own desires, who is he to say he can master anyone else’s?

When Alice and Jay give him their trust, he in turn gives them the domination they need from him. Neither of them have a kink for substantial humiliation or degradation, which is why you’ll never see Henry ordering them to lick the floor clean or hear him calling them whores or sluts. He studies his submissives carefully; he keeps track of their reactions to various games. He enjoys using his control to deliver an experience of overwhelming pleasure.

Henry is a gentleman because of his upbringing, and he’s a dominant because he prefers to be the chessmaster in his personal relationships. Neither precludes him from being a tender teacher for his subs, especially when their exhausted satisfaction is what he most wishes to see.

I agree! An alpha male can and should also be thoughtful and caring – those traits only enhance his appeal. For me, the best romances are those that incorporate plenty of emotional and psychological intimacy into the hot and steamy scenes. You don’t hold back on the sex scenes, but they are so beautiful and reveal so much about the characters and their motivations. How important is the sex-psychology interplay for you and does it come naturally (or do you have to work hard for it, pun probably intended)?

LOL! It comes first, actually. A sex scene that is only about putting Tab A into Slot B is more boredom than titillation for me. If it doesn’t engage my mind, I skim. So when I write, the sex is a vehicle for those emotional and psychological intimacies that the characters can’t always express in other ways.

It helps that Alice is highly analytical and that Henry’s very talkative. She’s always trying to make sense of her experience, and he’s always trying to coax revelations out of her. Bring the two of them together, and the sexual tension becomes a dance of cognition and recognition. If the sex scenes excite readers on intellectual and emotional levels beyond the physical, then I’ve done justice to the characters.

Any hints of what’s to come in Book 2?

Hints, eh? How’s this: the evolution of their arrangement, confusion over where the lines should be, tension as the emotional strings tighten, a deeper understanding of Jay’s fears, and confessions that change the game.

Sound fun? 🙂

Yes, sounds fun indeed and I cannot wait to read it! How do you balance life and writing (yes, I’m always looking for advice on that!)?

Oh, I’m terrible at giving that sort of advice – you’ve caught me. When I’m writing, I ignore just about everything else around me. The laundry piles up, my husband scrounges for his own dinner, and friends who text with invites get “Can’t. Writing.” as a reply. The characters completely take over my head. I scribble notes during lunch breaks at work and on the back of my grocery list while I’m standing in the checkout line at the store. When the characters are done with me, I take a deep breath and set the house to rights until it’s time for another round in the ring.

 Desert island – three must-have books?

Only three? You’re killing me. But you already know the first one I’d pick: The Silence of the Lambs. The literary language, the character complexity, and the symbolism and suspense make it a book I can re-read again and again.

For the same reasons, I’d pick Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. Preferably the whole run of the series, if you let the four volumes of the Absolute edition count as one book, but if not, then the Worlds’ End collection. I love the story-within-a-story motif that shows up in those issues. Aside from being an incredible example of art and mythology and fantasy and reality and literature and just humanity in general, the Sandman books were the first comics my then-friend, now-husband loaned me. I might have fallen in love with his book collection before I knew I was in love with him. 😉

After that, well, there are a few hundred books I’d like to bring along. Forced to pick just one, I’d probably choose a childhood favorite. Charlotte’s Web, maybe, or one of the Little House books, or The Secret Garden, or Black Beauty, or Where the Red Fern Grows, or Little Women, or … yeah, it might be better to put all of the books I love in a box and take the first one I pull out in a blind test. Luck of the draw. I might feel less guilty about leaving the others behind then.

 The Silence of the Lambs would be tops on my list as well, yes. Thank you so much for the wonderful interview. To learn more about M.Q., please visit her website. Playing the Game: Neighborly Affection Book 1 is available now from Amazon, and Barnes&Noble, and iTunes.

Thanks so much for letting me visit, D.B. I’m always happy to babble about Henry, Alice, and Jay. Anyone who wants to keep up with my babbling or ask questions of their own is welcome to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.

Celebrating Strong Heroines

I’ve been spending way too much time on Facebook.

In the sea of cute kitties, the musings of George Takei, and political banter, I’ve fished out a few links that have made me think. Even better, links like the one below, courtesy of Upworthy.com, proved inspiring. Admittedly, the video clip created by Anita Sarkeesian is long, but it’s well worth a look and well worth considering:

Anita Sarkeesian on Misogyny and Damsel in Distress Tropes in Video Games

Screen Shot 2013-07-06 at 9.12.48 PMThe misogyny and worn out, overused, been-there-done-that-damsel-in-distress tropes she discusses in the context of video games are, of course, relevant to fiction. Genre fiction is filled with them, as are all forms of visual and written entertainment. In fact, what Ms. Sarkeesian so eloquently describes explains my aversion to a very popular fantasy series recently adapted for television.

On a positive note, however, I’ve found some very refreshing novels in the romance and urban fantasy genres (among others) that not only deviate from the classic ‘big, strong, dominant alpha male rescues helpless, submissive, weak female’ trope, they turn this trope upside down, shake it up, and churn out some incredibly compelling strong heroines (and heroes) in the process. These ladies kick ass, take names, and are as complex and capable as their male counterparts. Here, in no particular order, are some of my favorites:

Screen Shot 2013-07-06 at 9.14.13 PM1. Clarice Starling, Hannibal Lecter fictionverse

She is one of my all-time favorite characters from one of my all-time favorite novels, The Silence of the Lambs. Women are still underrepresented in law enforcement, including the F.B.I., but in the 1980s? As author Thomas Harris observes through the eyes of his protagonist:

All of Buffalo Bill’s victims were women, his obsession was women, he lived to hunt women. Not one woman was hunting him full time. Not one woman investigator had looked at every one of his crimes.

Not only must Starling face serial killer Buffalo Bill, she must overcome the old-boys’ network, her own personal demons, and she must match wits with one of the most frightening and fascinating killers ever conceived in the realm of fiction – Hannibal Lecter.

In the follow-up to SOTL, Hannibal, the genius killer himself sums up everything you need to know about Clarice Starling in a letter to his favorite lady:

You are a warrior, Clarice. The enemy is dead, the baby safe. You are a warrior.

The most stable elements, Clarice, appear in the middle of the periodic table, roughly between iron and silver.

Between iron and silver. I think that is appropriate for you.

2. Early Anita BlakeScreen Shot 2013-07-06 at 9.20.20 PM

I resisted this series for the longest time, but I’m so glad I finally got around to reading the first 5 or 6 books, featuring the adventures of this necromancer/private investigator who specializes in cases revolving around some pretty frightening supernatural creatures. She’s a tough as nails heroine, though to author Laurell K. Hamilton’s credit, she portrays Anita’s strengths in a realistic manner. At just over 5 feet tall, Anita has to rely on weapons and wits (plus a bit of magic at times) rather than brute strength when confronting vampires, were-creatures, serial killers, and a host of other threats.

She definitely holds her own with male colleagues and suitors as she fights beside them. More often than not, Anita actually rescues the guys. If I had to wander the dark and dangerous streets of Hamilton’s St. Louis, I’d definitely want Anita to have my back!

Screen Shot 2013-07-06 at 9.27.43 PM3. Cat Crawfield, Night Huntress series

I’ve had a ball following half-vampire Cat Crawfield’s exploits in Jeanine Frost’s Night Huntress fictionverse. From vigilante vampire hunter to covert ops team leader to up-and-coming Master Vampire, Cat’s growth and journey toward confidence and self-acceptance are as delightful to read as her relationship with hot, sexy Master Vampire hero, Bones. They fight their enemies (and sometimes one another) as equals. And anyone who can earn the respect of the most infamous, bad-ass vampire of all, Vlad Tepesh, is a heroine worth celebrating.

4. Angel Crawford, White Trash Zombie seriesScreen Shot 2013-07-06 at 9.16.07 PM

I’d been introduced to Diane Rowland’s Kara Gillian series by a friend (loving that one, too), but when I read the title of her first zombie book, I knew I’d have to grab a copy pronto. Yeah, I bought My Life as a White Trash Zombie for the title alone. Angel Crawford begins as stereotype destined to become a statistic. A high school drop out shacked up with a loser boyfriend, she can’t keep a job for more than a month and turns to pills and booze to stay numbed out. Her life takes an unexpected turn, however, when she becomes a zombie.

Angel is a fascinating character with a lot of depth and potential – becoming a zombie (seriously, it works!) gives her the impetus and means to get her life together.  Add in a series of unsolved murders, some entertaining side characters, and one hot cop, and you’ve got a great set up for a fabulous series featuring a kick-ass heroine. I also love her growing self-reliance as the series progresses – she even puts the brakes on the fast and furious relationship with her hot cop for the sake of personal growth. How refreshing.

Screen Shot 2013-07-06 at 9.18.26 PM5. Ciara Griffin, WVMP Vampire series

I’ve become a HUGE fan of Jerri Smith-Ready’s work. After Requiem for the Devil, I fell in love with the vampire DJs of WVMP and their unlikely protector, marketing intern Ciara Griffin. Wicked Game blew me away with its originality, powerful themes, and middle finger to all of those over-used conventions that riddle the vampire fictionverse (e.g. uber-alpha/high-handed heroes and damsel-in-distress heroines).

The vamps of WVMP are scary creatures of the night, as vamps should be, but with some unusual quirks. They become trapped in their era at the time of turning and have trouble adjusting to change, often resulting in OCD and mental deterioration. Working as DJs helps them stay connected to the outside world (through current events featured in their news stories) while maintaining ties to their musical ‘Life Time.’ Ciara Griffin, recovering con-artist and jaded cynic extraordinaire, makes it her mission to save the vamps and their radio station safe haven from the clutches of soul-sucking corporate radio.

She falls for hot-yet-angsty grunge rock era vampire Shane McCallister along the way, but the romance blends seamlessly with the larger plot and, fortunately, doesn’t overshadow it (or Ciara).

6. Dr. Elsa Brandeis, Soldiers of Fortune seriesScreen Shot 2013-07-06 at 9.24.11 PM 1

I adore everything written by my writing mentor, Jenna Bennett, but Fortune’s Hero proved an interesting departure from her mysteries. Captain Quinn Conlan has nothing left to lose – betrayed by his girlfriend during a weapons smuggling mission, he’s being held and tortured within an inch of his sanity by Rhenian ‘medics’ on their inhospitable prison colony. Among his torturers is icy Rhenian, Dr. Elsa Brandeis. His one and only chance at escape puts the frigid doctor in his clutches when he takes her hostage. In order to survive the elements on Marcia-3, free Quinn’s crew, and hijack a ship and flee the Rhenians, these two bitter enemies must form an uneasy alliance.

The alliance breeds understanding and attraction, but can they trust one another, or is their passion just a case of Stockholm Syndrome? When the Rhenians catch up with them, will Elsa rejoin her ‘side’ and condemn Quinn to a fate worse than death, or will she risk everything she’s ever believed in to save the rogue smuggler? Starting off as a Dr. Mengele-style torturer, Elsa is pretty much the antithesis of submissive. What Jenna manages brilliantly, though, is to humanize this strong, cold character while preserving her strength and cunning.

Screen Shot 2013-07-06 at 9.26.06 PM7. Lt. Taylor Jackson, Taylor Jackson series

Thanks to J.T. Ellison, Nashville’s finest are well-represented in the form of homicide detective Taylor Jackson and her team, who spend their time chasing serial killers in and around the city. I could wax poetic about Taylor’s strengths and virtues, but J.T. sums it up best under the FAQs section of her website:

I wanted to write about a…woman in control, who’s strong without being strident, who commands the respect of her peers and her enemies. One who’s worked hard and paid her dues.

As far as I’m concerned, J.T. has succeeded and I’d rank Taylor Jackson right up there with Clarice Starling. I look forward to delving into her spinoff series featuring medical examiner Samantha Owens.

8. Adelia Aguilar, Mistress of the Art of Death seriesScreen Shot 2013-07-06 at 9.32.56 PM

Think CSI meets The Canterbury Tales. Adelia Aguilar, the medieval equivalent of a forensic pathologist, faces a plethora of challenges when she’s called into the service of King Henry II of England: royal and local politics, the oppressive Catholic church (the grand poohbahs of which would love to see her burned), and a serial murderer of children she is charged with stopping. Adelia is the antithesis of an ideal medieval female, and thank goodness for that! Still, she manages to capture the attention of a knight – sort of. Former crusader Sir Rowley Picot, the king’s ambitious tax collector, is also out to catch the killer. When Dr. Aguilar saves him from a near-fatal knife wound, however, an unlikely romance blossoms amid the backdrop of the larger mystery plot.

The late Diana Norman (w/a Ariana Franklin) created a memorable, epic ballad-worthy heroine in her mistress of the art of death.

Screen Shot 2013-07-06 at 9.33.55 PM9. Dr. Marina Singh, State of Wonder

State of Wonder was my introduction to Ann Patchett’s work (thanks to my fabulous Agent, Natalia Aponte, for the recommendation!). Being a laboratory researcher myself, I found reluctant heroine Marina Singh authentic and relatable. Singh embarks on a  journey reminiscent of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (with a splash of the 1992 film Medicine Man). Her mission: travel to the Brazilian rainforest to discover the circumstances behind the death of colleague and friend, Dr. Anders Eckman, on behalf of her pharmaceutical company. The stakes are high, as formidable research team leader and Singh’s former mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson, claims to have discovered a compound that extends female fertility. Corporate greed, ethical questions larger than Swenson’s ego, and the exotic, deadly jungle setting round out this heroine’s journey and make for one of the most thought-provoking novels I’ve yet read.

I also thank my lucky stars that I’ve never had a run-in with anyone as brutal as villianess (or anti-heroine, depending on your personal perspective) Annick Swenson in my own academic career!

10. Lisbeth Salandar, Millennium seriesScreen Shot 2013-07-06 at 9.35.25 PM

Reading about the brutality inflicted upon bad-ass hacker Lisbeth Salandar at the hands of her so-called advocate was difficult. How she exacts her revenge upon the sadistic pig was nothing short of a kick-in-the-balls to male oppression and a no-holds-barred lesson in eye-for-an-eye justice. Love her or hate her, she’s the sort of heroine you won’t soon forget. While I found much of the narrative…sluggish, I never skimmed when Stieg Larssen gave Salandar page time.

Short list, but these characters are among those I’ve found most engaging and inspiring – they represent what I hope to achieve in the heroines I create.

So, good people of the Internet, tell me – who are your favorite strong heroines and why do you love them? I’ve always got more room on my TBR pile and I’d love to find some more great reads featuring strong female leads.

Welcome back, Jessi Gage!

I am delighted to welcome fabulous author Jessi Gage back to my blog. Jessi is a sister author with Lyrical Press, and after reading and loving Wishing for a Highlander, I just HAD to grab a copy of Road Rage. Everyman hero Derek’s day goes from bad to worse when his temper causes an accident on the freeway and he flees the scene. His guilty conscience plagues him with nightmares, and his only solace comes in the form of a beautiful dream girl – a dream girl who turns out to be very real and the map he needs for his journey to redemption.

 

Screen Shot 2013-06-22 at 2.33.35 PMBlurb:

Lashing out in anger, construction worker Derek causes an accident on the freeway. His truck escapes unscathed, but he can’t say the same for his conscience. Plagued by nightmares of the wreck, his only comfort comes in the form of nightly visits by a mysterious woman who interrupts his dreams with sensual caresses and words of solace.

Cami has no idea who she is, until she wakes in a hospital bed and learns she’s been comatose due to a car wreck. Her visits with Derek must have been a dream, so why can’t she shake the feeling he was a real man who truly needed her help?

When Derek learns his mystery woman is none other than the driver of the car he cut off and she is fighting for her life, he must decide: Is he man enough to face her and ask forgiveness, or will he run away and avoid the consequences of his anger, yet again?

CONTENT WARNING: Sex with a perfect, imaginary dream girl who really isn’t imaginary

A Lyrical Press Paranormal Romance

Jessi, your hero Derek is so relatable (love the ‘Blue Collar Boyfriends’ concept, BTW) – we’ve all been stuck in traffic, usually at the worst possible moment when we’re late and stressed about a plethora of problems large and small. Dealing with Nashville traffic on the morning commute definitely puts me in a mood – who or what inspired this character and his situation?

Thanks for the compliment, DB, and thank you for having me! I’m so glad you connected with Derek. He’s not a hero that’s going to please everyone because, like you said, he does something pretty horrible at the opening of Road Rage. But for those readers who are willing to give him a shot and see where his story leads, they won’t be disappointed!

Derek was partially inspired by my observations as a timid driver. I hate road rage, like hate it with a fiery passion. Anger on the road, where we’re surrounded by fast-moving weapons of glass and steel, is so incredibly dangerous. But like you said, we’ve all been in situations where we lose patience on the road, yes even me. And I consider myself such an easygoing person. Driving seems to be one of those things that brings out the worst in people. But are the people who act out on the road bad people? Does a bad decision or a single action that harms another make a man unredeemable? That was the seed that started Road Rage, and I learned that redemption IS possible. Key is taking responsibility for one’s actions.

Ah, yes – growth and working through one’s flaws is a great theme in fiction and in life. Flawed heroes are my favorite kind – give me a good, angst redemption story any day! That being said, it can be difficult to balance flaws with keeping a hero/heroine likable. What quality do you think makes Derek most redeemable?

Add-a-kid, LOL! I needed something to make the reader’s heart melt for Derek, because in my head, he wasn’t a bad guy, just a guy who needed to do some growing. He had to be a romantic hero not only whom my heroine’s love could change but also a hero worthy of her. I accomplished this through making Derek a divorced dad who spends weekends with his eleven-year-old daughter. His love for her is apparent in almost everything Derek does, and through that, the reader can see past all the exterior anger (which is explained, by the way, and is never directed at his daughter) to his tender heart.

I loved Derek’s relationship with his daughter and you’re right – it definitely shows his tender heart. Now for your heroine, Cami – also relatable and suffering from her own demons (and a coma!). In spite of those steamy ‘dream’ visits, she has plenty of reasons to hate Derek for what happened to her. What gives her such a capacity for compassion and forgiveness?

Poor Cami. She’s had a rough go of it. From the outside, her life looks pretty perfect. She has a good job, she volunteers, she’s active and healthy. But what people don’t see are the scars she bears both inside and out after making a mistake on the freeway. She was driving, and thus blames herself for the outcome of that accident that tore her family apart. While she still talks to her mother and brother, she has never really felt they forgave her for what she did. So she’s thirsty for love and acceptance. These are things her “dream guy” is all too happy to give her! Then when she learns Derek is the one who caused the accident that put her in the hospital, she has the unique perspective of someone who has been in a similar situation in the past and understands that one bad decision does not make a person bad.

So… Blue Collar Boyfriends implies series… Hooray! Can you give us any hints about what is to come?

Thanks for asking! I have two novels in the works that fit the mold I’m trying to create with Blue Collar Boyfriends. I love rough and ready men who go all soft and melty for the right woman. I love men who work with their hands and face danger on a daily basis.

I have one novel finished…just working up the courage to submit it to Lyrical, and I have a couple more that are in the idea stage. We’ll see where it goes. I’ll be honest, I haven’t really “branded” myself as an author yet. I write Highlanders and contemporary alpholes. Those two things totally don’t work together, but it’s what I like, so it’s what I do. Lyrical is awesome for bearing with me while I find my feet as a writer, LOL!

I think you should just focus on writing what comes naturally. Your themes of growth and redemption are universal and come through in highland warriors and alpholes (love that terms!) alike. Random question just for fun – dark chocolate or milk?

Dark.

Top three absolute favorite romance heroes?

Jamie from Outlander (duh, if you couldn’t figure that out from reading Wishing for a Highlader)

Raiden Miller from Kristen Ashley’s Raid

Jericho Barrons from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series (this series is not romance, but for urban fantasy it has a wonderfully satisfying emphasis on sex and love)

Thank you so much for the wonderful interview. To learn more about Jessi, please visit her website. Road Rage is available now. You can grab a copy using the links below.

zz_Jessi Gage headshot2Bio:

Jessi lives with her husband and children in the Seattle area. In addition to writing paranormal romance, she’s a wife, a mom, an audiologist, a church-goer, a Ford driver, a PC user, and a coffee snob. Her guiding tenet in her writing is that good triumphs over evil, but not before evil gives good one heck of a run for its money. The last time she imagined a world without romance novels, her husband found her crouched in the corner, rocking.

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Lyrical Press

Jessi Gage links

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Welcome Jessi Gage!

zz_Jessi Gage headshot2I am delighted to welcome fabulous author Jessi Gage to my blog. Jessi is a sister author with Lyrical Press, and I’m thrilled to be in her company for upcoming new releases in June. I recently picked up a copy of her sweeping and steamy historical romance, Wishing for a Highlander, and boy, am I glad I did. With an unconventional heroine (my favorite kind!), a red-hot Scottish warrior who balances his alpha nature with a surprising tenderness, and a dash of magic, this is a great read you won’t want to miss!

 Blurb:

While examining Andrew Carnegie’s lucky rosewood box, single-and-pregnant museum worker Melanie makes a tongue in cheek wish on the artifact–for a Highland warrior to help her forget about her cheating ex. Suddenly transported to the middle of a clan skirmish in sixteenth-century Scotland, she realizes she should have been a tad more specific.

Darcy, laird in waiting, should be the most eligible bachelor in Ackergill, but a cruel prank played on him in his teenage years has led him to believe he is too large under his kilt to ever join with a woman. He has committed himself to a life of bachelorhood, running his deceased father’s windmills and keeping up the family manor house…alone.

 

wishingforahighlanderDarcy’s uncle, Laird Steafan welcomes the strangely dressed woman into his clan, immediately marrying her to Darcy in hopes of an heir. But when Steafan learns of her magic box and brands her a witch, Darcy must do what any good husband would–protect his wife, even if it means forsaking his clan.

WARNING: A pregnant museum worker, a sixteenth-century Scot, and a meddlesome wishing box.

If my gushing isn’t enough to convince you, getting the insider scoop from Jessi ought to do the trick.

Jessi, your heroine Melanie starts off in a bit of a bind – namely, she’s pregnant and alone thanks to being abandoned by her commitment-phobe of a boyfriend before she’s transported back in time and meets Darcy. What inspired you to take a risk on this unconventional situation for a romantic female lead (which works beautifully, BTW)?

Thank you for having me, D.B.! I’m honored to be here and so excited to share a release day with you! Red Shoes for Lab Blues looks like so much fun. I can’t wait to read it!

I was actually pregnant myself when I started writing Wishing for a Highlander. I remember feeling all at home in my body for like the first time ever, and I might have been a tad more interested in sex than before. I’d never felt more womanly than while I was pregnant. I thought, why aren’t there any pregnant romance heroines? Pregnancy is sexy! That’s how Melanie was “born.”

Oh, I remember those days – pregnancy hormones definitely spice things up, don’t they? I fell in love with Darcy from the get-go. He’s all male, all warrior, and definitely carries with him the masculine mindset of 16th century Scotland, yet he comes across as caring rather than high-handed. How did you balance keeping him true to his time while maintaining his appeal to his modern-day lady?

Well, the idea for Wishing for a Highlander started with Melanie, the pregnant heroine who loves history so much she works with it every day at the Charleston Museum. Darcy started out as this enormous boulder of a warrior who was kind of a cardboard cutout until I figured out what his issues were and how Melanie could help him deal with them as much as he helps her in the novel.

My characters tend to evolve slowly as I write. The key for me is always discovering what the characters’ goals are and what motivates them to keep trying to achieve those goals even when things go way wrong for them. (GMC, goals, motivation, conflict: if I can nail that, the novel writes itself—okay not really. I still have to do kind of a lot of work, but it’s way more fun when I know GMC.)

I think you created the perfect hero for Melanie in Darcy – the contrast between his tough exterior and carefully guarded heart was a great source for goals, motivation, conflict, and depth. And…speaking of, er, interesting cultural differences, I found Melanie’s efforts to educate Darcy on the joy of foreplay and her slow, patient awakening of his sexuality very authentic, amusing, and touching. What inspired this aspect of their story?

I’m so thrilled you liked that aspect of the story, D.B. I love me a good alpha hero. Karen Marie Moning writes some of the best (Highlanders too–YUM!). But I was curious about exploring a hero who had some alpha qualities on the battlefield but some beta qualities in the bedroom.

I did this by writing a twist on the much-loved theme of the hero educating the heroine in the finer points of sex. I turned it on its head and let the heroine be the teacher. Darcy has some deep-seated personal insecurities even though he’s strong in other ways. Melanie needs and appreciates Darcy’s strength and protection, and she’s able to reciprocate by patiently helping him overcome his personal issues.

It’s a dynamic I haven’t seen a lot in romance, I suspect because it can be a challenge to keep the hero believably strong. Maybe I’m a masochist for trying it, or just too new to know better, but it sure was fun, and I’ve gotten some good feedback, so I consider the dynamic a success.

Oh I do love to see conventional tropes turned upside down – you made it work beautifully! I was over-the-moon excited to hear there’s a sequel in the works. Can you give us any hints about what is to come in this series?

The Wolf and the Highlander will be the second book in my Highland Wishes series. In it, I will tell Anya’s story. That’s right. I’m giving the murderous whore a chance at redemption, and with a wolf-man no less!

Anya was a very naughty girl in Wishing for a Highlander. She’s got a lot to make up for, and she’ll get her chance to prove she can be selfless instead of selfish. In The Wolf and the Highlander, stakes get raised, and the steaminess will climb a notch. You won’t want to miss seeing Anya go from brash villainess to selfless heroine, all because of the love of one poor trapper with a rather large axe (you thought I was going to say something else, didn’t you?) Well, you won’t be disappointed in that regard, I promise.

Can’t wait to find out how Anya redeems herself! How do you balance life and writing (yes, I’m always looking for advice on that!)?

It’s a struggle and a joy. I stay home with my two little monsters…I mean darlings, and I keep very busy running them around, playing outside, keeping them out of trouble, and trying to be a good mommy. I write in chunks of time here and there, largely when they have TV time or are napping or are in bed.

I’d prefer to be able to focus on writing for larger chunks of time. 4 hours is a good length of time to sit and write, but I don’t get that. I might not get that luxury for a few more years. My motto these days is: Make it happ’n cap’n. You just gotta do it when you can and be smart about how you use your time.

One thing I’m HUGELY thankful for is that my mom babysits for me every Friday morning rain or shine so I can go to Cupcake Crew, my wonderful critique group. I get my weekly dose of critique, cupcakes, and snark and am good to go for another week. I don’t know what I’d do without my critique partners or my mom, who makes it possible for me to see them each week.

My goal is to produce 1-2 books per year. So far, I’m managing that much and am a happy camper. Maybe someday it will be more. *fingers crossed* But for now, I consider myself blessed to have such a wonderful opportunity to be with my kids so much while I do what I love (write!) in those windows of time that appear at random intervals throughout the day.

Sounds like you got some great strategies for success there. Desert island – three must-have books?

The Bible. The Stand. KMM’s Fever series (I’m cheating and making the third book a whole series of 5 books, but if you’re going to be a stickler, I’ll take the fifth book, Shadowfever).

Thank you for having me, D.B.! I’m so glad you liked Wishing for a Highlander and loved chatting about it here on your blog.

Thank you so much for the wonderful interview. To learn more about Jessi, please visit any of her online haunts:

Website | Blog | Facebook Fan Page | Twitter | Goodreads

 

For more information about Wishing for a Highlander or to buy your copy, here are the links:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Lyrical Press
All Romance

Spreading sunshine

IMGA2734What? I’m somebody’s sunshine?

Thanks to M.Q. Barber, fellow Lyrical Press author, for the nomination, and to Sophia Jones for tagging me, too. I ‘met’ both of these amazing authors through fanfic, and they’ve both spread their writing wings with original material that will thrill and delight readers everywhere – can’t wait for that debut, M.Q.! And, she just signed a contract for the second in her series:)

The goal is for bloggers to bestow a sunny flower to other bloggers “who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” These ladies definitely count, as do those mentioned within their blog posts.

So… here goes. Answers to questions that will hopefully spread some sunshine:

Favorite Color: Any shade of red will do, as you might have guessed from the title of my debut. You’ll find plenty of burgundy in my closet.

Favorite Animal: Well, I’ve always been a cat person. Love my two fluff buckets, even though they spend most of the day doubling as couch cushions. Still, let’s make this interesting… I’m also a sucker for iguanas. Aside from visiting the locals at the Nashville zoo, I took about a zillion pictures of the glorious green reptiles on our various trips to Aruba. You think that’s weird, my daughter wants a pet armadillo! Guess she gets her weirdness from Mama.

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Favorite Number: Positive numbers in my bank account 🙂

Favorite Non-alcoholic Drink: Pink lemonade

Facebook or Twitter: I spend far too much time on both, but probably more on Facebook.

Your Passion: Reading, writing, and gathering all the life experience I can so I can share it in my stories. Thanks, Sophia, for helping me add skydiving to that list, and to hubby for our scuba diving adventure.

Giving or getting presents: Oh I looooooooove chasing down the perfect gift for friends and family! Giving is the best 🙂

Favorite Day: Those rare and glorious weekend days when I can sleep in and/or nap.

Favorite Flowers: Lilies

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Now for the fun part – check out these folks for a heaping helping of web-based sunshine:

M.Q. Barber

Sophia Jones

Jessi Gage

Welcome Sophia Jones!

Skydiving CompositeI am thrilled to welcome fabulous author Sophia Jones to my blog. Sophia is my critique partner, fellow romance junkie, and all around great gal pal. After years of Skype and IM, I finally had the great pleasure of visiting her in her home state of Arizona, where she joined me in checking off one of my big bucket list adventure items. Gotta love a friend who’ll jump out of an airplane with you!

She’s been with me from the beginning of my writing journey – seriously, she’s read everything I’ve ever written, including some things better left buried in the depths of my computer hard drive. So naturally I’m very happy and proud to be a part of her writing journey!

Today, she’ll be telling us about her new release, The Pharaoh and the Curator.

Synopsis: Unlucky in love museum curator Michelle Beaumont finds herself in Egypt where she contributes to god Amon Ra’s resurrection. His burning heat soon has her throwing caution to the desert winds, but a lurking danger threatens both of their souls.

Pharaoh coverSophia, tell us a little about your heroine, Michelle. Aside from the physical, what drives her attraction to Ra?

Oh goodness, dare I use the word soul mate?  He is her soul mate.  But that connection aside, I think she’s drawn to his warmth.  He’s considerate of her, respectful in a way that harkens back to another time–yet he knows she is his equal and treats her as such.  She also likes the way he’s managed to keep a positive attitude and his sense of humor through what has been a very long trial.  She admires his fortitude.

Ah yes, chivalry of old mixed with a soul-deep connection and a mighty pleasing physique. Speaking of…luckily for Michelle, Ra shows off that physique by wearing very little, aside from one particularly intriguing piece of clothing that doesn’t quite fit the Saharan desert setting. Needless to say, Michelle calls him out on his wardrobe choice with great comedic effect. Do you find it easy or challenging to balance the romance with humor (which you do very well, IMHO)?

Aw, you’re sweet, thank you for that nice compliment.  I’ve been a bit surprised at how many readers have commented on the humor in my stories–mostly because I’m not a funny person.  I can never remember the punch lines to jokes and can’t tell when other people are kidding half the time.  But I find that often my characters, my female leads especially, have snarky inner voices that translate to their dialogue.  Any humor element in my writing comes about organically and usually takes me by surprise.  The romantic bits?  I have to work at those. ;o)

Oh, I don’t know, I personally think you’re a pretty funny gal, and I definitely enjoy the romantic bits in your work. This is the second erotic short you’ve published (and, dear readers, you should really check out her first – The Phantom and the Psychic), and I adore your exotic locations and romantic pairings. Can you give us any hints about what’s next for you?

I intend to do another Paranormal Erotic Tale and am currently polling readers about what they’d like to see.  Their suggestions have been quite inspiring.  So far the possibilities include a Roman garden with floral scents heavy in the air, historical New Orleans, and haunting Savannah, Georgia.  I love all of these ideas, but I’ll be honest and admit there’s a pirate argh-ing sweet nothings into my ear and sending me flashes of blue Caribbean waters when I close my eyes. 

You know I’m voting for the pirate theme, as visions of Captain Jack Sparrow dance through my naughty mind. Now then, readers, I happen to know a bit about Sophia’s process, including an, um, unconventional writing location she favors (evil grin)… Tell us a little about the inspiration for your stories and your process. You can even share that writing location if you like 🙂

You’re an evil, evil woman who knows far too many of my secrets.  Okay, if I can jump out of a plane, I can share this. ;o)  I’m a big reader, as many of us writers are I think, and I do a fair amount of my reading from the bathtub.  I suffered pretty bad writer’s block for this second shorty, and in desperation one evening, I plopped down in my bathtub– laptop and all.  No, there was no water in it, just me, sitting in an empty tub, typing.  But I found writing from my “reading place” helped me get back into my story.  The next night I laid a big, squishy comforter in the tub for cushioning, along with a pillow or two, and was able to crank out two thousand words.  Needless to say, my hubby was amused.  No, there is no photographic evidence–nor shall there ever be!

Hey, you gotta go with what works. Here’s my confession: I once pounded out 2,000 words in the passenger seat of a car while picking hubby’s brain about the inner workings of the male mind. So, in the bathtub or elsewhere, which authors would we find you reading when taking a break from your own writing?

There are so many, and it changes week to week.  My all-time favorites are Kresley Cole, Lisa Kleypas, Susan Elizabeth Philips, Stephen King, and more recently, Joe Hill.  

I’m with you on Stephen King and Joe Hill, and I’ll add Lisa Kleypas and Susan Elizabeth Philips to my list. Thank you so much for the wonderful interview and for feeding my romance addiction with your wonderful stories!

Thank you so much for having me.  I’ve learned so much from you these last couple of years; you’re truly an inspiration.

To learn more about Sophia, please visit her website. The Pharaoh and the Curator is available now from Amazon, as is her first, The Phantom and the Psychic. You can also find Sophia on Twitter and Facebook.

Welcome Lynn Cahoon!

Lyrical girls!I am delighted to welcome fabulous author Lynn Cahoon to my blog. Lynn is a sister author with Lyrical Press, and I recently had the great fortune of meeting her in person at my favorite Nashville bookstore, Mysteries & More Booksellers. What a treat!

Today, she’ll be telling us about her new release, Temporary Roommates, a smokin’ hot contemporary romance from Passion In Print. The story features a dedicated nurse, a busy doc, and the apartment they agree to share – just for convenience, of course.

Yeah, right.

Blurb:

TemporaryRoomatecover_frontAnnie Baxter has her dream job.  Now, all she needs is a cheap apartment close to the hospital.  Troy Saunders knows his life as an intern is all about the long hours. He doesn’t have time to play doctor to some Nurse Barbie.  So when his sister finds a great apartment walking distance to work and next to the best running paths in the city, he’s sold. Two leasing agents, two prospective renters, one apartment.  Can they co-exist without fireworks?

Lynn, tell us a little about Annie and Troy. Aside from the physical, what drives their attraction and what makes them hesitate to act on it?

Both Troy and Annie have strong future driven goals.  They can see the finish line and don’t want anything, or anyone, to get in the way of what needs to be done. For Troy, his grandmother’s death from cancer set his mind to work for a cure. Annie got left at the altar by her high school sweetheart. An action she blesses him for because it forced her to look at what she wanted out of life, besides the white picket fence. 

This determination fuels the desire for each other, even though both deny wanting more than just a friendship. Maybe it’s the idea of forbidden fruit as much as karma that keeps throwing them in each other’s line of sight.

Sounds like they both get a lesson in work-life balance, which I’m sure a LOT of us can relate to. And three cheers for Troy – nothing like a hot guy with noble goals. Since cancer research is my day job, he’s definitely my kind of hero. Speaking of, I commend you on winning your battle with breast cancer. Congratulations on being a five-year survivor and kicking cancer’s ass! Did your personal experience with nurses, doctors, and hospitals influence this story?

Of course! I spent so much time at the hospital and in the general area, I almost considered moving closer.  At first though, thinking about the story allowed me to think about anything else than the treatment.  As far as kicking cancer’s ass, I’d rather not crow about that. I’m a bit superstitious. Let’s just say I’m doing good now and I have a full head of hair.

I have to tell a husband story here. The guy is a true romantic. One Sunday, I was taking a nap (which I did a lot during the chemo summer.)  I’d just started to lose my hair. A noise woke me and I went into our bathroom to find he’d taken the buzz shears to his shoulder length hair. He’d fully committed too. He ran those puppies right through the middle of his head, no turning back.  He wore the buzz cut all summer.

Even now, that memory makes me smile.   

Understood, and I’m so delighted hear that you found your real life hero. What a wonderful husband! Can you give us any hints about what is to come in this series?

Temporary Roommates (A Central West End Story) will be followed by a sequel, continuing Annie and Troy’s story.  And, there’s at least one unattached friend, Sasha, who needs her own story.  I’m not sure about Matt though.  I don’t know if I can rehabilitate him into anything close to hero status. But it might be fun to try.

I’ll be releasing Marriage Not Included in May with Soul Mate and the second in The Council series with Lyrical –Return of the Fae July 1st.  So there is lots to read from me while you’re waiting for the second in the Central West End series. And of course, there’s always The Bull Rider series 🙂

You are one busy writer! How do you balance life and writing (yes, I’m always looking for advice on that!)?

Just do it?  Nike has a point here.  I work 40+ hours a week, commute another 8 hours, and try to fit in a work out. I’m a firm believer in baby steps. Writing 250 words a day is better than none and you have a page.  Write 500 words twice a day, and you have 7000 words in a week or 28000 words in a month. Two months and you have a nice category length book to revise, edit and shop.  Four months and you have a full length book.

My bad habit is all or nothing at times.  So I have to remember to take time for me, even if I haven’t made word count for the week.   As you know, once you’re published, more time gets stolen away from you for promo, edits, publisher requests, etc.  Only you can write your story, so make sure you focus on that first. The rest can fit in around the big stuff.

Sounds like you have the right attitude, and I like the idea about baby steps – those 250-500 word count days really do add up! Desert Island – three must-have books?

The Stand by Stephen King – Anything I haven’t read from Harlan Coben – Illusions by Richard Bach (author of Jonathon Livingston Seagull).  It’s a little book, but punches a wallop as far as story. Wait, I just realized these are all male authors.  Let’s add Jayne Ann Krantz and her Arcane Society series to the mix.  So Four – because I’m getting a boxed set.  Maybe I can do that with Harlan’s books too. ???

Yes, I like to bend the rules, why do you ask?

Thank you for inviting me. I’m so blessed to have met so many wonderful authors and readers, on line and in person.

Oh man, Stephen King’s The Stand is definitely one of my all time favorites and one I’d bring along to the beach. Thank you so much for the wonderful interview. To learn more about Lynn, please visit her website. Temporary Roommates is available now from Passion In Print , Amazon, and Barnes&Noble.

Welcome Calisa Rhose!

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I am tickled pink to welcome the lovely and talented Calisa Rhose for my first blog interview evah!

And I’m thrilled to be your first to interview on your lovely blog, DB! Thank you for having me today for the official kickoff party tour for Risk Factors, which released March 4th!

Calisa is not only a sister author with Lyrical Press, she is now a content and acquiring editor for Lyrical Press. Today, she’ll be telling us about her upcoming release, Risk Factors, a contemporary romance that features veterinarian Vivian Dane, a heroine who has something to prove, and Connor McKay, an EMT and dedicated father who is afraid to risk his heart and his daughter for the sake of attraction.

Calisa, you have a penchant for wounded heroes, like Sam Callahan from Home (Wild Rose Press Publishing) and Connor in Risk Factors. Can you tell us a bit about Connor’s history and why he’s afraid to fall for Vivian?

Oh, Connor. As a small child he was abandoned by his biological mother and later on his young wife walked out on him a their infant daughter Janna. Other than his adopted mother and father, everyone he’d known growing up left him, so naturally he’s a little relationship shy. Vivian is not an easy woman to ignore, however. LOL

Thanks goodness for strong heroines! Vivian must not only win over Connor, but she has to prove worthy of the most important lady in his life, his daughter Janna. Applause for taking on the issue of single parenthood in romantic fiction! How do you balance Connor’s role as father with his role as romantic hero?

 Oy- he was not happy with me. He had to make some difficult decisions or risk losing both women. For instance, when Janna approves his date with the doctor, he has to work not to mess it up or risk hurting his daughter. Can he? I’ll let you read the book to find out how he manages.

Looking forward to reading all about their journey. Your love of horses and Oklahoma roots no doubt influenced character development for Vivian. Can you tell us what inspired EMT and paramedic Connor?

My roots definitely helped shape Viv. As for Connor, First Responders are H.O.T. That was pretty much it for me. I chose his particular line off rescue because originally there was going to be a forest fire and I needed a hero who could get in and out of a fire zone to save people and a helicopter allowed for that. The fire didn’t happen in the end, but his career stayed.

I’m glad the career choice stuck. There is something so very appealing about men who risk their lives in order to save others. Between writing, being an editor, and a wife/mother/grandmother, you wear a lot of hats! How do you find balance?

Hahaha Balance? You missed care-giver for my elderly father in-law. J My hubby spends a lot of time cooking. Bless his heart! I’m lucky he loves to cook because we’d both starve if he didn’t. I don’t think about food much when I’m working. Being a mother is the easy part as all three of our daughters are out on their own with their families. We are raising the oldest granddaughter right now, though. She’s a fun almost-8-year-old who refers to my writing as “sitting on the couch, doing nothing” (don’t I wish!) and she aspires to be just like me! LOL

Oh goodness, my almost-8-year-old has accused me of the same thing! Congratulations on becoming a Lyrical Press editor. Can you tell us what you’re looking for in submissions and authors?

You sneaky girl! LOL Thank you, Dana. As is with most editors, I want a love story I can get lost in, craft that shows the author knows their business with tight writing and unique plots. Specifically I like to see contemporary, suspense or paranormal stories with heart. I’m not into blood and gore or erotic or demonic, so sweet to steamy, sensual stories can find a home with me. What do I look for in authors? Someone who isn’t afraid to write outside the box, who is willing to work with their editor and build a solid relationship and will delve into the process of editing fearlessly.

Thank you so much for the wonderful interview. To learn more about Calisa, please visit her website. Risk Factors will be available March 4, 2013, from Lyrical Press, Amazon, and Barnes&Noble.

BLURB:

Love, like life, is not without risk.

Veterinarian Vivian Dane has purchased her uncle’s practice in the tiny town of Wales, Missouri, where most residents still doubt her ability to treat their pets. But Viv is used to being considered less-worthy than her predecessors. After all, her parents are world-renowned wildlife vets, and most everyone is unimpressed she’s chosen to not follow directly in their footsteps. Now Connor, a patient’s owner, is hot for Viv, but clearly doesn’t think she’s dating material because he has a daughter…who he believes no woman is good enough for. Being a perfect dad is EMT paramedic Connor’s life focus. He can’t seem to stay away from sexy Doctor Viv, but attraction is as far as he’ll ever let it go. His mother abandoned him, leaving him to be raised in the foster system, and then his wife abandoned both him and their daughter. He absolutely will not risk bringing another woman into his little girl’s life and having her feel the hurt of being left…again. Forfeiting is easier than attempting and failing. So why does Viv feel compelled to prove she’s a sure bet for Connor and his daughter? Can Connor trust Viv–and himself–enough to play the possibilities?

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EXCERPT:

Viv’s smile and throaty laughter burrowed deeper by the second, mutating into hot want that seemed to draw him to her at every opportunity. But her invitation shook him back to level ground. Dinner. With her. Vivian Dane, the woman who seemed to freely access his dreams lately, was asking him out.

Her voice fell to a low smoky grade that slid like satin over him, tightening around his chest, making it hard to breathe.

He wanted to kiss her.

Period.

There was something about her in the lab coat he couldn’t put his finger on. She appeared

so fragile and delicate in pink that matched her lips…china doll perfect. Kissable.

He opened his mouth to refuse. He couldn’t afford to get close to anyone, wouldn’t risk Janna. He knew his daughter already liked the vet, had said so. If he got involved and it all nosedived south, he couldn’t stand to have Janna hurt. Even if she didn’t know it, Viv was their veterinarian now and he’d have to see her, Jelly Bean would notice the tension–

“Connor?”

“I’d like that.”

I’ve enjoyed this so much, DB! I’d like to invite everyone to join my party to a few blogs and help me celebrate Risk Factors’ release. Here’s the link to follow my tour and the more you comment, the better chance you’ll have to win either a GC or a rose rock from me and a PDF copy of RF and maybe even some swag. I’ll select a winner at the end of the tour, so be sure to leave an email address for me to contact you!