Annette Mardis. Shore To Please.

Pub sister Annette Mardis is here! And not only is she introducing us to her awesome new romance Shore To Please, she has a special character interview with protagonists “Flipper” and Tara!

Welcome Annette!

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Thanks so much for hosting me today, Rosanna. I’m thrilled to introduce everyone to the “stars” of Shore to Please, Book 3 in my Gulf Shore series, released June 22 by Liquid Silver Books. Tara Langley is an animal rights activist and Paul “Flipper” O’Riley is the head dolphin trainer at Gulf Shore Aquarium, the jewel of the tourist district in the west-central Florida beach town of Gulf Shore.

Dolphin trainer graphic

Flipper sets hearts aflutter when he dons a wet suit and interacts with his finned friends at the aquarium’s Dolphin Inlet habitat. But Tara isn’t happy that Flipper sets her pulse to pounding, too. After all, the group she cofounded, Stop Whale and Dolphin Suffering, SWADS for short, is against keeping dolphins in captivity.

Flipper and Tara are a classic case of fire and gasoline. Why, then, are they both itching to strike a match?

I sat down with Flipper and Tara for separate interviews recently. I’m combining them here so you can compare their answers.

I have to tell you, Flipper, that I’m puzzled you’re even considering spending private time with Tara. What could you two possibly have in common?

Flipper: Well, we both love dolphins, for starters. Yes, we disagree on a very controversial issue, and it’s obviously a huge stumbling block because of what I do for a living. But she has a right to express her opinion, as long as she continues to do it in a respectful way.

Tara: I’m not sure we have anything in common. Well, OK, I have no doubt he loves those dolphins and wants the best for them. But we differ so drastically on what that best thing is. I don’t see how we could possibly meet in the middle.

Are you saying there’s no attraction there?

 Flipper: (Big sigh) Tara’s gorgeous, obviously, and I’d have asked her out already if I sold insurance for a living or she wasn’t the head of SWADS. My boss will kill me if he finds out I said this, but I can’t get the woman out of my head. She stirs something in me that I haven’t felt in a very long time. Not since…well, that’s in the past, and I’d rather not talk about it.

Tara: Against my better judgment, I do find Flipper very appealing, and I suppose that surfer-boy scruffiness could grow on me if I let it. I usually prefer a more buttoned-down look, but exteriors can be quite deceiving. My ex-boyfriend, Steven Christianson, is proof of that. I’ve come to realize there wasn’t much substance beneath his pretty packaging. Flipper’s quite charismatic and much more intelligent and hard-working than I first suspected.

So there’s no chance you two could get together romantically?

Flipper: That would be like a vegetarian dating a butcher. Not. Gonna. Happen.

Tara: That’s the most ridiculous idea I’ve ever heard. I’ve endured one failed romance already this year. Why would I set myself up for such heartache again?

There are other organizations and individuals opposed to keeping dolphins and whales in artificial pools. I know Gulf Shore Aquarium is no danger to such criticism. What’s the deal with the threatening letters the aquarium’s been getting?

Flipper: The anti-captivity contingent has had us in its sights for a while, especially since the controversy over SeaWorld and its killer whales. But lately some anonymous notes have been arriving in the mail, and the language has been increasingly nasty. And then I came home from work to find a message nailed to the door of my cottage. Taking issue with us keeping dolphins is one thing. But threatening bodily harm to me and other aquarium staff unless we release those animals… Some people are really sick, that’s all I can say about that. Detective Jo Tompkins of the Gulf Shore Police Department has been working very hard to track down the source of these threats. She hasn’t made any arrests, but I’m confident she’ll find the guilty party before someone gets hurt.

Tara: I cannot say it vehemently enough: There’s never any justification for violence. The police and the aquarium have been suspicious of me and SWADS, but I don’t tolerate threats and intimidation. I hope Flipper doesn’t think I’d ever endorse anything like that.    

“I wish circumstances were different and

Blurb

Tara Langley thought she’d found the love of her life, but he betrayed her with another woman. So she buried herself in her mission: convincing Gulf Shore Aquarium that dolphins and whales belong in the wild, not in artificial pools.

If Tara had her way, Paul “Flipper” O’Riley would lose the job he loves. Flipper is the head dolphin trainer, and the aquarium’s dolphins are his babies. While he’s open to having a real family one day, the last person he would choose to be his wife and the mother of his children would be Tara.

These two should be sworn enemies, after all. He certainly swears at the sight of her. And his surfer-dude looks and lover-boy reputation aren’t exactly what Ms. Prim and Tidy had in mind when she pictured her ideal man.

But in the age-old way of opposites attracting, Tara and Flipper find themselves inexplicably drawn to each other. There’s no possible way a relationship between them could work, right?

As the two try to find common ground amid all the quicksand, Flipper and his coworkers become the targets of an increasingly more menacing campaign to force the aquarium to release the dolphins under its care. Will Gulf Shore Police Detective Joanna Tompkins catch the culprit before it’s too late?

 

Excerpt

Paul “Flipper” O’Riley backed away from the note as if he expected it to somehow lunge at his throat. The outrage, disgust, and, yes, he’d admit it, fear he felt at reading the vile threats composed on the single page of common white printer paper had his stomach roiling ominously.

The letters of each word had been cut from what looked like a glossy magazine and glued on like a ransom note from a classic crime drama. If the message hadn’t been so loathsome, Flipper might’ve laughed at how cartoonish it looked.

But the warning had been nailed to the front door of the cottage he rented across the street from the beach, and that in itself represented an alarming development. It meant, of course, that the animal rights crusaders who’d been hounding Flipper’s employer now knew where he lived.

With a hand he fought to keep from shaking, he drew his cell phone out of the case attached to his belt, scrolled through his contacts, and pressed a familiar number. It rang several times before the person on the other end answered with an impatient huff.

“Jo?” Flipper asked. “Is that you?”

“No, it’s the queen of England. What do you want?”

Joanna Tompkins’ characteristic grumpiness and brusque manner usually amused him, but Flipper wasn’t in the mood for her tough-chick act right now.

“I’ve got something here at my place that you need to see. Can you come over?”

“How many times do I have to tell you, Fish Brain? Even if you show me yours, I’m not going to show you mine. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.” She gave a chuckle that he didn’t appreciate, given the circumstances.

“Hilarious, but I’m serious. Another of those nasty notes came, and this one’s even more personal than the others.”

Jo’s tone immediately changed into her no-nonsense cop voice. “It mentioned you specifically by name?”

“No, but it’s nailed to my front door.”

“At your cottage?” She sounded even more concerned now.

“Yes.”

“Don’t touch it. I’ll be right over with a tech to dust for fingerprints.”

“I know the drill. I’m hanging up now and calling Kenshin.”

“See if he can meet me at your place. That’ll save me a trip to the aquarium.”

“Okay.”

“And if you’re still on your doorstep, haul your happy ass inside right now and lock the door until I get there.”

“Seriously?”

“Did you call me for help or not?”

“All right, all right. You’re the boss.”

“And don’t you forget it.”

Wary now, Flipper looked around before doing as she ordered. Then he called his boss, Kenshin Hamasaki, supervisor of marine mammals at Gulf Shore Aquarium, and filled him in. Kenshin promised to drop what he was doing and be right over.

Flipper surveyed his cozy living room—with its bland, impersonal furnishings straight from the rental property decorators’ manual—and then moved to his front windows to fully close the mini blinds. He wasn’t too proud to acknowledge Jo’s admonition had freaked him out, and he was too antsy to sit. Not that he’d feel safe settling onto either the loveseat or his favorite recliner, both near windows. He yanked his hand through his hair, annoyed with himself for letting the situation unsettle him and pissed off at whoever was disrupting his life this way.

Who would’ve thought being a dolphin trainer carried such potential for danger?

 

Buy links

 

Liquid Silver Books: http://www.lsbooks.com/shore-to-please-p1026.php

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/q9lmzsz

 

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shore-to-please-annette-mardis/1121964097?ean=9781622102297

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/shore-to-please

 

All Romance: www.allromanceebooks.com/product-shoretoplease-1839913-153.html

Annette Mardis author photo

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From a portrait to a romance. Night Lover.

Have you ever fallen in love with a portrait? I have. I’m flighty that way. After all, For the Love of a God was inspired by my obsession with a Greek statue.

Recently on Facebook, I shared some inspiration with my street team, Rosanna Leo’s Pride.  Specifically, I told them the story behind my upcoming paranormal romance Night Lover. This story goes back years for me and I thought it might make an interesting blog post as well.

Back in 1986, when I was a teen, I visited London for the first time. On a tour of Kensington Palace, I encountered the small portrait of Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex. He was one of King George III’s sons.

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I remember being mesmerized by the portrait. And although it is of a child, I recall imagining him as a young man, fair and blue-eyed and beautiful. I read once the Duke of Sussex became rather overweight as an adult, but I love picturing him as a gorgeous youth.


As I walked away from the portrait, I felt haunted by it. It’s safe to say the Duke haunted my dreams for years.


Years later, Night Lover was born. My heroine Renata has this experience as well when she first sees a portrait of Hugh Dawlish, my incubus hero. Only her encounter with the portrait is far more unsettling.

Please enjoy this snippet from Night Lover, coming Nov. 9 from Hartwood Publishing.

Excerpt:

When I saw the face in this painting, I gasped, feeling as if someone had punched me in the gut.

Him.

It was the portrait of a man, much in the style of a Gainsborough painting. Full-length, it displayed the man in Regency dress. Tall Hessian boots reached up over his pants, accentuating his height. A waistcoat peaked out from under his soft blue riding coat. I looked up to the face above the coat, clean-shaven and somehow boyish with its round features. His hair was the color of honey and quite curly, with long sideburns travelling down his cheeks. Although he bore a fashionably serious countenance, his blue eyes smiled.

It’s him.

The man from my recurring dream, the man from the theater mezzanine in Toronto. I blinked several times, not believing my eyes.

I couldn’t move. I returned the stare of the man in the portrait. A friendly face, it still managed to unnerve me. The artist must have been a master because its subject seemed to be looking right at me. His pale eyes bore into mine. As I continued to gaze at my dream man, other objects in the background began to blur. The portrait frame and the wallpaper behind him dissolved into nothingness. I could only make out the man, and his gaze seemed to issue me a challenge, daring me to look back at him. My head swam. My tongue grew thick. Pain shot through my stomach and I clutched it so I wouldn’t keel over.

Lizzy came out of nowhere and bounded up behind me. “What’s up? Ooh, he’s cute.” She, too, had noticed the portrait. She also saw how intently I stared. “Hey, are you okay?”

“No.” I couldn’t look away from him, couldn’t stop myself from raking my gaze over every painted inch. “It’s him. The man from my dream.”

“Yeah, right.” She frowned.

Finn walked up to us and put a hand on my back, oblivious to my shock. “So you’ve found the lord of the manor.”

“Huh?”

“Hugh Dawlish, scion of Dawlish Manor. The women in the ensemble love this portrait because they think he’s, ah…easy on the eyes. So, shall we rehearse?”

I let him lead me away, but I couldn’t stop looking back at Hugh Dawlish’s portrait. He was real. Not a wraith from my imagination.

Real. And dead.

Lizzy elbowed me. “You look like you’re going to pass out.”

“I’m fine.”

As we left the room, I looked back once more. The eyes of Hugh Dawlish followed me. I shivered.

A slight smile played on his lips.

Dark and Damaged: Eight Tortured Heroes of Paranormal Romance

Hot new box set alert! Make sure to check out Dark and Damaged: Eight Tortured Heroes of Paranormal Romance.

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Dark and Damaged: Eight Tortured Heroes of Paranormal Romance Boxed Set is now available worldwide for a special introductory price of only $0.99!

This ebook boxed set features all-new, never-before-published hot paranormal romances by eight New York Times and USA Today best-selling romance authors. Tortured alpha-male bad boys will ignite your darkest, most secret desires in these stories about vampires, shifters, dragons, fallen angels, werewolves, demons, psychic warriors and ghosts.

Here’s more about this fantastic eight book boxed set, including an excerpt from one of the stories.

Dark and Damaged: Eight Tortured Heroes of Paranormal Romance is available from Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, Barnes and Noble Nook, Apple iBooks stores and other retailers. Find the links to your preferred retailer at: http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/dark-and-damaged/   

 

Dark and Damaged: Eight Tortured Heroes of Paranormal Romance

By Jennifer Ashley, Caris Roane, Erin Kellison, Felicity Heaton, Erin Quinn, Laurie London, Bonnie Vanak and Colleen Gleason

LION EYES by Jennifer Ashley

Bree has just decided to give up trying to be a Shifter groupie when a lion Shifter slams into her truck and tells her to drive. Seamus is on the run from hunters, other Shifters, and who knows who else. All Bree knows is that he’s compelling, needs her help, and most intriguing of all, wears no Collar…

BLOOD FLAME by Caris Roane

Vampire Officer Connor of the Crescent Border Patrol tries to suppress his desire for the powerful witch, Iris Meldeere. Because the woman possesses the ability to kill him with the tips of her fingers, how can he possibly fall in love with her? When a double homicide throws them together, he soon finds his deepest fantasies fulfilled as Iris succumbs to his seductions. But as they battle together to stay alive, and love begins to consume them both, will the witch be able to forgive the dark secrets of his past …

HER SINFUL ANGEL by Felicity Heaton

Cast out of Heaven and now the king of Hell, Lucifer is a powerful fallen angel warrior with a heart as cold as ice and soul as black as the bottomless pit. For millennia, he has ruled his realm with an iron fist as he plots the demise of his ancient enemies. When one of those enemies dumps an unconscious mortal female in the courtyard of his fortress and leaves her there, Lucifer finds himself entranced by the beguiling beauty and tempted beyond all reason. But is the enchanting Nina an innocent pawn in the eternal game or part of a plot against him?

TEMPTED BY FIRE by Erin Kellison

A powerful dragon shifter has waited six hundred years to avenge the loss of his family, but the beautiful mediator sent to prevent violence among the Bloodkin doesn’t want to be his key to discovering the murderer—in fact, she wants nothing to do with dragons at all…

REBEL’S DESIRE by Laurie London

A jaded Iron Guild warrior cares about nothing except battling a ruthless enemy, but when a beautiful woman literally runs into his arms, he realizes she holds the key to his success. As passion ignites, he must decide whether to sacrifice the woman he’s falling for or dare to trust his heart again.

THE RESURRECTION OF SAM SLOAN by Erin Quinn

Trapped in the body of a human, the Reaper is about to fall in love with a woman he was never meant to have… When a reaper is trapped in Maggie’s estranged husband’s body, she knows only that the man with her husband’s eyes feels like a stranger… a compelling, seductive stranger who touches her in ways her treacherous husband never could. She wants to trust him, but what about the ghost who haunts their home, implicating him in a gruesome murder…

REDEMPTION by Bonnie Vanak

A cursed alpha wolf promises to free an enslaved Mage if she mates with him so he can sire an heir, not realizing she can destroy the dark secret keeping his pack alive.

RAGING DAWN by Colleen Gleason

After the vampires Max Denton hunts brutally murder his wife, he is nearly destroyed himself and spends the next ten years living a life of violence and revenge. But when sensitive information about his young daughter falls into the hands of the vampires, Max is forced to team up with the woman whose father ultimately caused the death of his wife. Savina Eleaisa has secrets of her own, and she’s determined to do whatever it takes to clear her father’s name: even if it involves seducing the most dangerous of vampires–with or without the help of the arrogant, brooding Max Denton.

 

Dark and Damaged: Eight Tortured Heroes of Paranormal Romance is available from Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, Barnes and Noble Nook, Apple iBooks stores and other retailers. Find the links to your preferred retailer at: http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/dark-and-damaged/   

 

EXCERPT FROM BLOOD FLAME BY CARIS ROANE

Connor held his spotting scope pressed to his eye. His adrenaline flowed as he levitated high in the air. He was forty feet above the witch, his heart pounding in his chest. He’d tried about a dozen times to leave, but couldn’t since his craving for the Tribunal Public Safety officer had finally tipped the needle into the red zone. He wanted her bad.

As a Border Patrol officer for Crescent Territory, he often spent time surveilling suspects. The problem was Iris Meldeere hadn’t broken the law. She wasn’t part of a Five Bridges drug cartel, she didn’t traffic innocent humans into their sick world, and she definitely kept her hands off the lucrative business of running flame drugs.

For a witch, she was a model citizen.

It was after midnight, but he was still in the middle of his shift. And he had no damn reason to be at Iris’s house, except he couldn’t help himself. Not that he had plans for the future since he could never actually be with the woman. As a witch, and a powerful one at that, she had the power to kill him with a touch of her fingers.

She moved around her overgrown garden, her voice reaching his ears almost incessantly. At first, he thought she wore a Blue Tooth because both hands were constantly busy, pruning, digging, cutting, planting. He’d rolled his eyes when he realized she was communicating with her plants. Very witch or very Iris, maybe both.

Apart from his bizarre need to spy on the woman, he hated witches with a passion.

A witch had started this whole shitfest with a brew pot. Result? Seventy thousand humans, in Phoenix alone, lived in a pit of hell, having gone through the alter and become something not human anymore. At least the original witch had changed as well. Witches were now one of the five alter species living in Five Bridges. Being an alter witch or a vampire wasn’t a choice; it was a genetic mutation.

His own story wasn’t unusual. Devastated by his wife’s death, he’d stupidly tried to numb-out with a hit of blood flame. But it had been laced with the alter serum that created a set of fangs and an annoying craving for blood. The flame drugs by themselves weren’t the culprit, only when enhanced with an alter serum.

He’d gained physical strength and long-life. Beyond that, he was living a nightmare, one that had started thirty years ago, not long after the flame drug craze had hit the human population.

Now he was here, watching a witch who had gotten hit with an alter serum herself ten years ago. Only her flame drug had carried the witch serum. He knew this because he’d Googled her. A lot.

She wore a purple smock over her jeans and a pair of flats that looked like ballet shoes, typical brew-faring clothes for one of her kind.

And he liked her in jeans. She wore them snug and that was part of the problem. He’d seen her dozens of times at the Tribunal building in her casual investigative uniform of short-sleeved t-shirt, also worn tight, along with the form-fitting jeans. He’d mentally stripped her clothes off about a thousand times. He swore he knew what she looked like naked.

Yeah. Obsessed.

And guilty as hell. His kind didn’t go with her kind.

His kind killed witches, wizards and anything else that dared to smash up herbs and throw them in a cauldron, or cast spells, or worse, kill with the tips of their fingers. Witches, like Iris, were a danger to vampires and shifters. She should be offed, like all her murdering, enthralling kind.

Yet, here he was, floating above her garden, so quiet he’d never be heard not even by another vampire. He’d gotten good at stalking the woman.

Grab the boxed set for just $0.99 to read this story and seven others…

Dark and Damaged: Eight Tortured Heroes of Paranormal Romance is available from Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, Barnes and Noble Nook, Apple iBooks stores and other retailers. Find the links to your preferred retailer at: http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/dark-and-damaged/   

 

 

 

Artemis Milchon. The Last Dragon.

I’m very pleased to welcome author Artemis Milchon today as she introduces The Last Dragon and her approach to social media and marketing.

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As soon as I saw this meme, everything “clicked” into place for me. Social media and marketing your book may be a terrifying proposition for most writers, but this one image could be the key. For the first time I understood that if I wanted to succeed, I needed to change my tactics. I can’t change my book, but I could and had to change the delivery device I chose when talking about it.

For The Last Dragon, a shape-shifter romance with heavy fantasy and world-building elements, I would adopt this new philosophy.

On Pinterest, I pin pictures of hot men, romantic embraces, and recipes of the food my heroine, Sally, likes to cook for her men. The recipes will specifically be embedded in the body of the pin, so I can link the image to The Last Dragon’s publisher website or any bookselling website of my choosing.

On Instagram, I would use those shots of hot men and romantic embraces and just the photos of the food. I’m focusing on photos of guys, romance and great food because I know my target market for the book are women.

Twitter seems perfect for some one-liners from the book, with other sporadic pics or progress updates on the book’s sales.

Since The Last Dragon is a paranormal romance, it’s hard to align any marketing for LinkedIn, which is geared toward professionals so I’ll most likely skip it.

Tumblr is one of my favorites and is easy to use with my Pinterest and Instagram posts. It does well with both word- and image-heavy updates. I appreciate the easy interface on Tumblr as well as the versatility of both text and image heavy posts. You don’t have to technically “mingle” here, something my shy personality prefers.

Google+ has a small following, but they are loyal. I’ll post book-sale updates and pretty pictures (mostly because I love gmail!).

Then there’s Facebook. The problem with the king of social media is it is massive. How do I market there? Simple. I can’t. I can be myself and post things I find entertaining. I can occasionally present the book’s progress, but I refuse to be one of those authors who hits you with nothing but one “buy my book” plea after the other. I’m thinking posts like this will help create some buzz for Sally and The Last Dragon:

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The best thing to do when marketing any product is to remember everyone wants to be invited to the exciting, cool party. They’ll buy a ticket if they think they’re going to have a good time, and I’m determined to make The Last Dragon the most epic adventure ever.

Now here’s taste of The Last Dragon, when my hero and heroine meet for the first time. I hope you enjoy it …

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Sally woke up feeling as if a small truck had run over her, and backed up a few times as well. She had heard hangovers were brutal but this was ridiculous. What did she have to drink? The bottle of Jack Daniels she had ordered for the table must have been dumped in her coffee. Either that, or someone slipped her a date rape drug, but that seemed equally improbable.

A roar filled the room, making the floor she lay on start to shake like an earthquake. Not good. They lived in Pennsylvania, not many earthquakes here.

Not good at all.

Her eyes opened and she looked into a barrier of solid steel. Her body informed her the floor was more of the same. A slight turn of her head told her brain there was steel above her head as well. She was locked up. Just what did she do last night, or get involved in? Her mind remained as blank as the structure around her.

Another roar echoed around the chamber and she swallowed her squeak of terror.

So not good.

Turning her head some more she saw a man. Or at least, what was left of a man. His clothing had been ripped into shreds. He must have done it to himself; she could see the scratches marring the golden expanse of his body. The tattered cloth did not contain the movement of his skin. It was as if millions of worms moved under there. He arched off the floor where he lay, groaning in torment.

Sally used her heels to sit up into a corner of the room. Another squeak of terror slipped past her lips before she could stop it. The last thing she wanted was to attract the attention of whatever was making that man scream.

A rumble of awareness ripped through the male body, and she looked up in open-mouthed astonishment as the form bowing in painful throes across the long and narrow cell leapt up and landed at her feet, crouched on all four limbs. The noises coming from deep within his chest were more animal than human. The long, shaggy midnight hair fell in his face, making it impossible for her to see any of his features. His movements belonged to a mighty predator, his muscles and joints rolling with the power of the deadliest creature. She panted in fear as her mind took stock of the thick limbs and heavy planks of muscle covering every inch of this man. He sniffed her feet, then slowly moved up each of her legs, torso, and paused at her neck. Sally shivered at the sensation of his beard-roughened skin rubbing against hers, something she could feel with ease, even through her clothes.

His face nestled closer to her skin as he took slow, deep breaths of her scent.

Sally was torn between being turned on and insulted.

She felt the caress of a tongue lick at her jugular, and she shuddered. She assured herself there were no such things as vampires – no matter how much she liked reading about them. Her entire library was romance and fantasy books, with a heavy emphasis on dragons. The only thing that could be better was a fantasy book about vampires and dragons. Ok, Sally… let’s try to focus on the wild man now. Another long slow lick at her neck, a burning hot tongue that felt rough like a cat’s, and she almost had an orgasm. She was not so desperate that some crazy wild man was going to send her heart racing and body heating, she tried to assure herself. Okay, she was that desperate, but she didn’t have to admit that right now, did she?

A slight press of teeth made her shake, “Please,” she whispered. “Please don’t hurt me.”

The roar that ripped through the man was more about his own affront over her plea than pain. He did another one of those jaw-dropping leaps across the cell and huddled in the farthest corner from her. “Not. An. Animal.”

She folded her legs underneath the drape of her skirt as she kept her eyes glued to him. “What’s wrong with you?”

He fell forward as he clasped his arms around his knees. She swallowed with empathy as his misery tugged at her heart as little else could. The brief flashes Sally could see of his face, she could tell he was now clenching his jaw to keep his cries within. All to keep from scaring her. “Why isn’t anyone here helping you?”

“No help.” His cut off sob wrenched whatever fear she felt out of her soul. “No hope.”

She inched her way closer to him, her heart thundering in her ears like an oncoming train. “There’s always hope.”

“Please,” his voice broke as he tried to take in a deep breath, “stay away.”

“You’re hurting,” she cocked her head to the side as she took her courage in hand. “I can’t just sit back and watch.”

“I could kill you.”

“Believe me,” her laugh was a harsh sound that was a contrast to the kindness of her smile. “There are worse things than death.”

“Not to me,” he backed away from the woman.

His continued attempts to protect her tugged at her heart as nothing else could, sending an open wave of emotion to him. She never could resist someone or something in pain. “What happened to you?”

He eyed her through the strands of his hair. “I am holding on for now, but can’t for much longer.”

“Let me help you.”

“You are either very stupid or disturbingly brave.”

Sally laughed low and gently, a sound she didn’t know she could make. “I’ve heard the first one most of my life, but never the second.” Reaching his side she could not resist extending her palm to smooth the wayward locks from his forehead. His face was on fire, and he was covered with sweat. The beads on his skin felt like oil against her fingertips. “Don’t you have family?”

“My brothers,” he said, as a low pained moan escaped his lips. “They are nearby.”

“They should be here. By your side. Healing you.”

He turned his head away as if her words wounded him. “Can’t.”

“Bull,” she swallowed back any more of the words she considered spitting out at his relatives. It wasn’t her business. It just hurt because their abandonment reminded her of her own siblings.

“So fierce,” he mumbled.

“I guess I should apologize,” she offered begrudgingly.

“I like fierce.” His body writhed and he was thrown onto his back as if an attacker had flipped him. As he danced across the floor, locked in the pain of the disease gripping him, Sally tried to understand what she could do. When the episode seemed to subside, he turned onto his stomach and moaned softly.

It was then she saw the wound.

There was a deep puncture on the back of his neck. It looked fresh, almost raw. The red streaks shooting out from the hole told her this had to be the source of a serious infection. Green and yellow puss oozed out of the mark whenever he moved. A trace of sulfur burned her nose.

“Okay, here’s the deal.” Her voice was husky with a combination of terror and hope. “I’m about to try to help you, but I would really appreciate it if you wouldn’t kill me. The truth is that I haven’t managed to do much in my life, and would like more of a shot at some excitement before I’m dead.”

Hell, even some happiness would be a nice change, she thought.

When there was no answer she made a quick prayer. As she brushed her fingers across the injury she could feel a hard substance underneath the skin. “Please be like the lion in that kid’s story,” she muttered.

“I. Am. No. Lion.”

Her eyebrows rose at the affront in his voice. “Okay,” she patted his shoulder, “no need to get all pissy.” The growl at this statement made her smile. “I’m going to have to lean against this and it’s going to hurt. So I am going to repeat my prayer that you not kill me.”

She received another growl for her efforts. As Sally tried to press against the sides of the mark, she hoped getting out whatever was stuck in there was like removing a splinter. In her work she’d had plenty of experience with that.

When she felt the thorn start to move Sally let out the breath she’d been holding. He flinched at the feeling of her soft burst of air brushing against his skin.

More pressure wasn’t making much difference, so she crawled over him to get better leverage. Sally ignored the rush of adrenalin she felt at the male body she could barely straddle between her knees. There was so much heat coming off him, and she was always cold. It was as if she had found a living-breathing heater that wouldn’t singe her. She could feel his muscles spasm as she continued to work at the wound. Sally tried humming to soothe him, hoping he’d continue to control his response, and not kill her in a seizure of pain or confusion.

When the head of a dark object appeared in the hole, Sally leaned her elbows against his skin to grasp it with her fingers. Her nails were groomed into perfect square tips, the only sign of vanity she usually allowed herself.

Pulling out the thorn, she winced as she saw the five inches of razor sharp plant matter. There was a flood of pus when the object was removed. Pushing on the skin around it again she kept up the pressure until the viscous fluid turned into a healthy bright red blood. Tearing off her slip, she wadded it up to cover the wound. The cotton was at least clean, and that was the best she could offer. “Now let’s hope you didn’t just save the life of some serial killer, Sally.”

“You talk too much,” he gritted through his teeth.

Sally put the object next to the man’s head. “That’s what was wrong,” she chided him. “This thing is so huge it was probably stuck in your spinal column.” A single golden eye popped open to stare at the thorn lying near him.

In a sudden surge of outrage and betrayal, the man roared as he leapt to his feet. She could not have foretold his reaction to the display of the dart, so she never had a chance to get off his body. Her head made a loud cracking sound that echoed through the cell as she was catapulted into the steel wall. Sally slipped into the encompassing darkness to escape the pain she knew was coming.

 

For more information about The Last Dragon or to reach Artemis, please connect:

Through her publisher:

http://avalerionbooks.com/the-last-dragon

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/artemis.milchon

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/10063543-artemis

You can also find her on Google+, Pinterest and twitter.

 

 

 

Roberta Pearce. Famous Penultimate Words.

It’s always a thrill for me to spend time with another Canadian writer, especially one from my home town of Toronto! Roberta Pearce is here to share her love for beta readers, something with which most authors will invariably agree.

Please help me welcome Roberta Pearce.

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9 Reasons Why Authors Need Betas

I recently read [I’m glad I don’t remember where, exactly] of an author dissing his/her betas because they didn’t “get” his/her “brilliantly conceived” novel. I still have scrape marks on my jaw from where it hit the floor. What if this story went viral? What if herds of roving betas suddenly rebelled? Resigned?

Well, I, for one, would be totally boned.

I’d self-published two novels before I even heard of beta readers. [Yes, I’d been self-pubbing in an isolated cave. LOL. I knew nothing.] The news was a stunner for me: “What?” said I. “There are people who will willingly read my MS and report back with their feels and maybe flag some typos? That is . . . is . . .” Then I burst into joyous tears, and left my cave in search of these magical creatures.

Now, I was smart—by accident rather than design—because what I did first was: Tah-dah! Became a beta. I’m not a great beta reader, but doing it gave me perspective on having that job. [And no, it’s not easy. So yes, it is work.]

I won’t make a move without betas now. Even when I disagree with them, I need them. And here are the nine reasons why:

  1. They’ll kill your darlings when you can’t.

When you think you’ve been terribly clever [my weakness, always], betas will smack you around. Beta 1: I don’t get that [terribly clever] line. You should scrap it. Beta 2: Are you trying to be funny? Okay, nice try. Um . . .

  1. They’ll smack you around.

See point above. It’s worth repeating, because authors need it. You want only praise? Then give your novel to your mom. This smacking about by betas is done in an earnest and sincere wish to be useful. Remember: betas want to help you! And remember, too, it’s hard to get tone on the page, so when comments are painful to read, assume the tone is encouraging, and take the feedback under serious consideration.

  1. Their ranging voices give perspective.

Having betas with a wide range of tastes is ideal. Two betas can have completely different views on the same scene. Beta 1: That sex scene was too graphic for me! Beta 2: Did they have sex just then? I wasn’t clear on that. This divergence helps you pick an audience, or groom your work to your chosen audience. And a good reminder that mileage may vary.

  1. They’ll tell you you’re great.

They make book-boyfriends of your H and admire the wits of your h. They’ll tell you how some line or situation resonated deeply with their personal experiences. They’ll beg for an ARC and swag and your next WiP. They’ll street-team your ass off and tell their friends and Like all your FB posts. They will love you.

  1. They’ll tell you you’re awful.

They don’t actually do this. But when something in your MS doesn’t resonate with them, or doesn’t sit well for whatever reason, they will tell you. Those visceral reactions are pure gold.

  1. They’ll tell everyone about you.

To wit: “I’ve been beta reading this new book from this great author. I’ll let you know when it’s published. You’re going to love it! Oh, the release date is here! Share. Share. Share!

  1. They’ll tell no one about you.

They will keep details of your book confidential. At least, that’s been my experience. Some of my betas are friends with each other, so they might talk amongst themselves, but I know it doesn’t leave the circle. Betas respect you, respect your work, and respect themselves.

  1. They’ll do it all for free.

Free. Free!

  1. They’ll still read your stuff when no one else will.

Ever try to get a family member to pay serious attention to your creativity? And if reviewers trash your last novel and swear never to read your stuff again, your betas will still line up to get a taste of your magic. Even if it’s not that magical.

In short, betas think authors are the bomb and admire their accomplishments. Treat your betas well, and the rewards will be endless.

What about you, you lovely betas? Do you have any advice for authors who want to win your love?

 

Famous Penultimate Words

 

Blurb:

Just a normal twenty-something girl, with a couple or four boyfriend mistakes behind her and a recent relocation to London, Adelyn Wilding is living an ordinary life. Then she’s shot on the street, dies, and is revived. So far, a busier day than expected.

While in hospital, she meets to-die-for Nathan Crawford, who helps unravel the motives behind the not-as-random-as-it-seems attack, while making her fall madly in love with him. With a wicked sense of humour, a penchant for Latin idioms, and a heavy fog on her memory, Adie alternates between clever and ditzy—even as the body count rises!

Bio:

Roberta Pearce lives in Toronto, Ontario, and is currently having a love affair with her city. That’s the short form for: she’s single and likes to go out on the town with friends. The author of four romance novels that feature alpha heroes—and heroines who aren’t taking that crap—her latest novel strays into romantic suspense comedy territory. Famous Penultimate Words is scheduled for release July 24, 2015.

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Haley Whitehall. Alpha’s Voodoo.

I’m a huge fan of shape shifters romances and was so pleased to hear talented author Haley Whitehall has added this genre to her catalog. Please help me welcome Haley as she brings us Alpha’s Voodoo and tells us her thoughts on the mysterious mate bond.

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Shifters and Mate Bonds

Alpha’s Voodoo is my first shifter romance. I love reading about all kinds of shifters, but I never thought I’d write one. One thing I learned was never say never. Wolf shifters are my favorite. (I think that’s because I like dogs.) I made the hero in Alpha’s Voodoo a Wolf Shifter.

I like the primal aspect of shifters, the shifter side isn’t usually complicated. The animals within just let things happen naturally. And when they find their mate the mate bond often comes into place. While I am not a fan of love at first sight the mate bond is an exception. There is something magical about finding your soul mate, and I think it is very romantic. It is every girl’ s dream come true.

In Alpha’s Voodoo Mark never expected to find his mate when he went on a pleasure cruise. He wanted a vacation away from thinking about courting and marriage. Then he saw Violet and everything changed immediately. The dark skinned human is the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen and he instantly knows he wants to protect her, claim her.

The problem is she doesn’t feel the mate bond, and he doesn’t know what to do. If she denies they are meant to be together he will go crazy.

alphasvoodoo

Blurb:

Are curses real or merely imagined?

Violet Creed is a colored New Orleans debutante. She was brought up with servants and a strict set of rules regarding propriety, and her papa never approved of her interest in Voodoo. One night she sneaks out of the house and attends one of Marie Laveau’s gatherings—where she loses her virginity and her reputation. Turned out by her papa, Violet is destined for a life on the streets until Madam Dawn saves her.

Cursed to live as a wolf shifter, Mark Afton is a wealthy lawyer and heir to the Bayou Pack. Unfortunately, he can’t take over leadership from his uncle without a mate. Wanting to escape his mother’s endless matchmaking attempts, he accepts Madam Dawn’s invitation to sail on the maiden voyage of the Southern Rose and enjoy the pleasurable company of her ladies.

One of Madam Dawn’s recent hires catches his attention. He is drawn to Violet immediately. Could she be his mate or is their attraction merely Voodoo?

Buy Links:

Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble | Liquid Silver Books | Kobo | All Romance Ebooks

 

Excerpt:

Hormones flooded his body and his cock, now hard as steel, ached.

Proceed with caution. If he shifted now without warning Violet, besides frightening her to death he would risk hurting her, as it was hard to restrain the beast in the midst of the mating thrall.

The dining bell rang and his wolf let out a low growl.

Worst. Timing. Ever.

He picked up her many layers of clothing and handed them to her one at a time. Once she was dressed, he escorted her into the parlor. Scanning the room, he looked for any possible threat to his mate. His wolf snarled. Every man here was competition and a threat.

Mark pulled back Violet’s chair for her and then sat down. She folded the large cloth napkin in her lap, closed her eyes, her lips moving in silent prayer before filling her plate.

His stomach tightened, pushing out all his air. Would she think his inner wolf was of the devil?

It was common knowledge in many circles that wolf shifters existed, but did she believe in them? Did she realize they were half human and not monsters? He cursed the stories of wolf shifters kidnapping and enslaving women. While some of them were true, they were not representative of his race. They only served to frighten people, women and children especially.

The last thing he wanted to do was frighten her.

Mark passed the bowls and plates handed to him to Violet, making sure they weren’t too hot to handle. She wasn’t going to burn her delicate fingers on his watch.

“Thank you,” she said, taking the bowl of potatoes and peas out of his hands.

All the men and women at the table had the smell and glow of sex on them— even Madam Dawn, although he had no idea which of the men she had taken to her bed.  They all looked quite satisfied. All except for himself.

“Are you enjoying the voyage?” Madam Dawn asked from the head of the table. The lingering question in her voice, though subtle, was hard to miss.

“Yes, very much. Thank you.” He smiled at Violet and patted her hand. The last thing he wanted to do was give the impression anything was wrong.

Her eyes brightened at his touch and his heart gave a resounding thud.

A waiter made his way down the long rectangular table, which was actually several smaller tables pushed together, and poured each of them a glass of red wine.

He should have taken himself in hand before answering the dining call. Now he had to wait what seemed like a month for a release. The mating hormones continued to pump through his blood and made it impossible to focus on anything but Violet. He shifted in his seat, desperately trying to get comfortable and ignore his hard cock.

Violet batted her eyelashes at him. She picked up her wine glass and pressed her lips to the rim. His attention drifted from her lips to her slender throat to her chest. He bit his tongue to hold back a groan. She had him so worked up he could hardly think straight, and the funny thing was she seemed oblivious of the seductive power she cast.

How he managed to eat he didn’t know. The courses kept coming and somehow he cleaned his plate each time. He couldn’t remember what he’d eaten or even how it had tasted. Thoughts of lying with Violet consumed him. The desire to claim the ebony beauty beside him intensified with each passing minute until a near painful need pulsed through him.

He shifted in his chair again, this time scooting a little closer to her. Instead of quelling the flame it fanned the fire even more. What had he been thinking? He considered scooting back, but that might seem odd. Most of the men were snuggled closer to the women than what was naturally considered polite. He’d suffer for Violet’s sake.

Haley's Author Picture 

Where to Find Haley Whitehall

 

Author Website | Facebook  | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest |

Author Amazon Profile Page

 

About the Author

Haley Whitehall lives in Washington State where she enjoys all four seasons and the surrounding wildlife. She writes historical romance set in the 19th century U.S. When she is not researching or writing, she plays with her cats, watches the Western and History Channels, and goes antiquing. She is hoping to build a time machine so she can go in search of her prince charming. A good book, a cup of coffee, and a view of the mountains make her happy.

Previous Books:       

Midnight Caller – Moonlight Romance Book 1

Midnight Heat – Moonlight Romance Book 2

Midnight Kiss – Moonlight Romance Book 3

Soldier in Her Lap

Wild and Tender Care

Civil War Valentine

Chris Almeida and Cecilia Aubrey. Hot Beach Romance.

I’m so pleased to host dynamic duo Chris Almeida and Cecilia Aubrey once again as they dish on deadlines and Hot Beach Romance!

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The Dreaded Deadlines

Deadlines are fun, said no author ever! While I agree that they are not fun, they can act as driving tools to get the job done.

For the last two years, Cecilia and I have been trying really hard to complete our most complex novel to date. Alternate Connection, the next novel in the Countermeasure series will be the starting point of a spin-off series and for that to work seamlessly, and also fit in the overall plot of the series, we need to make sure all connections are correct. There is no room for plot holes.

Due to the sheer need of research and caution, we’ve procrastinated on finishing Alternate Connection. Although we’re proud of the other work we’ve released during this time and the effort we put into promotion (because it meant meeting lots of great people, both readers and writers alike), we’re not proud of not having finished our biggest challenge.

Many of our readers have been chomping at the bit for the next installment, the one that will push the series into the mystery’s climax, and will most likely shock a few. With them in mind, we’ve decided to establish hard deadlines for the rest of the year and that means less presence online, less interaction on social media, but it also means we will push that baby out on its due date.

Cecilia and I have achieved a lot in just one week and we hope to make, not only Alternate Connection, but many other titles a reality this year solely because of the dreaded deadline regime.

So here’s to full steam ahead!

How about you? How do you deal with tight deadlines?

 

About CHRIS ALMEIDA and CECILIA AUBREY 

Writing had touched Chris Almeida’s and Cecilia Aubrey’s lives in different ways through the years but had never taken flight. It was in 2010 when Chris and Cecilia met and began role-playing online as a hobby, that writing placed itself front and center in their lives.

Chris and Cecilia have since chosen to release all their titles independently. They have several short stories and two novels published under their own label, Éire Publishing, and are vocal supporters of independent publishing done right. They are currently working on the third novel in their series (and too many other projects). Through all the chaos and laughter, they still hold true to their roots, bringing their favorite role-play characters and stories to life.

You can find Chris and Cecilia online at:

Website | Facebook |Twitter | Newsletter

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Chris and Cecilia have one of their titles in the upcoming Summer bundle Hot Beach Romance.

15 Contemporary Romance Stories by Best-Selling and Award-Winning Authors.

Join the Facebook party on June 28th for the official release of the bundle.

http://smarturl.it/HBRFBParty

Find out more about the books in the bundle at:

http://hotbeachromance.booksr.cool/

Pre-order available at:

Amazon | iBooks | Nook |Kobo | Google Play | ARe