Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Meet the Characters - An Interview with Brooke from “Brooke Runs Away” by Carrie Padgett

Today we’re talking to Brook Richmond from the upcoming romantic novella, “Brooke Runs Away,” by Carrie Padgett. The book is scheduled for release this summer.

I like to sit with my characters and have a cup of coffee. Even their choice of coffee tells me a lot about them. Then I dive into some other questions.

So first up, Brooke Richmond, what kind of coffee can I get you? Or would you prefer tea?
I would love a cup of hot, black coffee. I’m from a German and Mennonite heritage, and we like our coffee the way our women are: strong and hardy.

How old are you and what is your relationship status?
I’m 28. Although some members of my family think I’m a spinster who should be rocking and knitting, I’ve been pretty happy to be single. I had one serious boyfriend back in high school, but we broke up when he went away to college and I stayed home in Harts Leap to take care of my mother who was dying of cancer. I’m dating a man now, and … I think it may be serious. We’ll see.

I’m sorry about your mom. And losing your boyfriend, too. Double heart break. Tell me about Harts Leap.
Thank you. *She smiles broadly* Harts Leap is a small tourist destination town in the Sierra Nevada, just outside Yosemite National Park. I’ve lived there all my life. My family has apple orchards, just down the hill, at a lower elevation. I’ve spent many hours picking and sorting fruit. Now I’m a second-grade teacher at Harts Leap Elementary school.

Name three of your favorite things.
*She lifts her coffee cup in a toast* Well, this is one for sure! Then my seven-year-old niece April. She’s my brother Jake’s daughter. We all live in the family ranch house that’s been handed down through the generations. My brothers are building me an apartment over the garage, so I’ll be living alone soon, but still close by. My sister-in-law … well, Anna likes a house run a certain way and it will just be easier on everyone if she and I don’t live together. So that’s two, right? Coffee and April. And I love waking up on a Saturday morning with nothing to do but read a great book, then go for a hike or bike ride.

Are you close to your family?
We are super close. Partly because I live with my brother and sister-in-law. And partly because all my brothers work together. I have four brothers. They run the orchards and the business now. My dad helps out, but he’s semi-retired. I adore my niece April. Did I mention April yet? She has blonde curls. Her permanent teeth are coming in, but they’re still all crooked and adorable.

Name three things that tick you off.
That’s easy. *Brooke leans closer and whispers* Anna knows how to push my buttons and it drives me crazy! *She relaxes against the chair again* And dishonesty of any kind really makes me angry. I don’t care if you don’t like me, just be honest about it. I respect that. And thirdly … anyone who insults my family or my hometown.

What was your first impression of Austin? How did you meet?
*Brooke sighs deeply* Well, my first impression was that he was slick and glossy. *She laughs* Because I saw him on a magazine cover! He was the next bachelor on that reality show, Date My Son! I thought he was good looking—I mean, hello?? Have you seen his dimples? —but in a far off, I’ll-never-meet-him kind of way. So I when I ended up on the dating show—completely by accident—I was blown away by how kind and genuine and transparent he is. Even surrounded by all those women wanting him to fall in love with them. Not to mention his mother tagging along on all the dates and having a say in who he kept on the show. It was crazy. But we laughed a lot together, and I think that made both of us more comfortable with each other, in spite of the cameras and all the reality drama.

That’s sweet! If you could go back in time, what one thing would you change in your life?
Wow, that’s tough. I’ve had two things I would change in a heartbeat, if I could. First, I would keep my sister close. She moved away and cut all ties with the family. I’d do everything I could to keep her in my life. And of course, I’d invent a cure for cancer so my mom would still be here.

Those are two very heavy things. I don’t blame you for wanting to change them. Now, on to something lighter. What is your favorite food?
I love a good, juicy burger. With cheddar cheese melting down the sides.

Now, I’m hungry. Thanks a bunch. And thanks for the coffee and chat, Brooke!

Watch for news about the pre-order link on Carrie’s blog and Facebook page 

Friday, June 16, 2017

First Kiss Friday – An Excerpt from “One Night With a Duke” by Sandra Masters

Today on First Kiss Friday, we welcome Sandra Masters and an excerpt from her Historical Romance novel, “One Night With a Duke,” the fifth book in her Duke series.

Reclusive, cold as ice, the politically powerful Raven, Duke of Ravensmere, denies love after the tragic deaths of his duchess and baby. He is bound by his vow never to allow love to enter his heart again. Samantha Winston permits him to seek refuge in her carriage in a time of need, and what started as a kiss in the name of safety, becomes something more pleasurable and not so safe after all. In spite of every caution, his interest escalates into unexpected desire.

First Kiss Excerpt

The distraction had Raven cling to the walls that shadowed him. Raven moved carefully to the end of the alleyway to round the corner of Langham Place and another corner to Regent Street, which held a more fashionable row of homes. A few meters down the pavement, through the muddle, he spotted a carriage with lanterns lit. The street seemed deserted, but the men’s clamors a short distance behind sounded in the night hour. The desolate area offered a perfect opportunity for them to do damage if they caught up with him.

Raven cat-footed his way to the coach aware the coach driver stepped down to steady the horses. With the driver occupied, he opened the door, entered the carriage, closed it, and dropped on the brocade seat. A well-dressed woman seated there gasped. She held her reticule high, poised to strike him.

He gripped her arm. “Bravo,” he whispered, a grin curling his lips. Nonetheless, he kept his voice low to allay her fear. “I’m a gentleman in dire straits whose life is in danger. May I share your company for a moment? I will not harm you.” He removed his top hat, placed it and his cane on the shadowed opposite seat.

“You frightened me with your abrupt presence. Pray tell, sir, what are your intentions?”

Outside the coach driver’s voice pierced, “Git away, rowdies, or I’ll take my whip to ye. No need for trouble if ye leave.” One of the louts climbed on the conveyance, and it swayed.

Raven slid closer to the woman. She didn’t move, so he embraced her and placed his cheek against hers. “If you scream or shout, our lives will be in jeopardy.” He bent his head to capture the woman’s lips, pressing her against the seat. Raven sampled the sweet mint taste of her mouth. Her lemon fragrance pleased his senses, a rare combination of forbidden pleasure and danger that caused his groin to ache. He lingered in enjoyment. True, his lips held the kiss longer than the moment required. What started as a kiss in the name of safety became something more pleasurable—and not safe at all.

Raven placed his gloved finger to his mouth. “Shush.” The brunt of her shoe connected to his shin, and he held back the profane words he wished to say. “Place your arms around me now. Perhaps if we pretend to be lovers, they will leave us alone,” he whispered. He paused and spoke a word a duke would never utter. “Please.”

Her arms encircled him as she dropped her reticule to the floor. His broad back shielded her from outside harm should anyone attempt to enter. Her generous breasts against his chest had his blood surging through his veins until the sensation settled uncomfortably in his loins—a long ago forgotten desire. The naiveté in her kiss reminded him how jaded and bored he’d become. A delicious awareness invaded and reeled his senses. The touch of her hands to his hair tingled his scalp. Damnation, her fingers were magical. A purring moan escaped through her racing breath.

The ruffian peered through the curtained window and chuckled. “No one here ’cept some clod with his doxy,” the mob spokesman shouted and he jumped to the pavement. “Let’s move on to better pickin’s.” They surged away down the street.

Raven’s heartbeat pulsed at his temples, not from fear, but from potent desire. He broke the kiss for a moment and moved his body a whisper-breath away to better study her. He savored all he saw, as did his male parts. He moistened his suddenly dry lips. “I don’t hear voices, but it would be best to wait to make sure the mob has gone, my lady. Nor do I want to attract attention to your coach by my departure. It could place you in danger.”

“I’m sure it’s best to be cautious,” she said. “However, you should be aware, I don’t usually entertain strange men in my carriage. The driver has held the horses against the ruffians and the commotion. Explain yourself, or I will summon help.”

“My boot sheaths my knife, and my cane is also a sword. Have no fear. I would have kept you safe.”

She arched one brow in a challenge, and simply held his gaze. Her devastating smile ensnared him. “And who will protect me from you, sir, and the marvel of your rakish kisses?”

“Dear lady, I would guess we’d protect each other. The magic of your hands fingering my hair must have presented quite a lover’s sight. Wherever did you—”

“I read it in a penny novel. I presume it sufficed? I have limited experience in that regard.”

“Indeed.” His grin contradicted his serious tone.

“One Night With A Duke” is available through:

First Kiss Friday – An Excerpt from “William, Mary & Percy: Passion in the Office” by Adam Mann

Today on First Kiss Friday, we welcome Adam Mann and an excerpt from his romantic short story, “William, Mary & Percy: Passion in the Office.”

William and Mary are effectively the accounting department in a property investment company (boring, but part of the story!). The Company is taken over, and they are asked to prepare a report so they work late into the evening, and then visit a local restaurant, but not really a date. Mary asks William to walk with her home as it is now dark, which he does, and is offered a bed for the night.

First Kiss Excerpt

She went out closing the door and I began to take off my clothes. I looked at the larger bed which had a duvet under the covering blanket, and began to get undressed. I looked outside and then nipped across to the bathroom. I came back and stripped down to my boxer shorts, and got into the bed. 

I had forgotten to turn off the lights but Mary came back into the room wearing just a nightgown, turned off the lights and got into the smaller bed.

We said goodnight, but about half an hour later I felt Mary climbing into the other side of the larger bed with me in it!

She had to touch me as the bed was too small not to, and I noticed the soft fabric of her nightgown as she snuggled up to me, and put her arms around me.

I turned to face her, and she kissed my chin. She smelt very feminine, without using any discernible perfume.

I put my arm on her waist, and then up to her back.

I was a bit startled as the back of her bra felt like canvas webbing through the soft nightie, but she snuggled up me again without saying a word.

I moved my hand to her bottom and found another canvas garment there, which was like a pair of knickers made from thick denim material.

“That’s my chastity belt,” she whispered. “Go to sleep,” she commanded.

William, Mary & Percy: Passion in the Office” is available through:

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Meet the Characters - An Interview with the 12th Earl of Claverlock from “If Wishes Were Earls” by Luanna Stewart

Today we’re talking to Edward Penhallion, the 12th Earl of Claverlock, from the historical romance, “If Wishes Were Earls,” by Luanna Stewart.

What is your relationship status?
I’m thrice widowed. Some busybodies in the neighbourhood are whispering that I’m cursed. Perhaps I am. Or perhaps I’m an idiot where women are concerned.

What is people’s first impression of you?
I’m sure they find me dour, disagreeable, and something of a hermit. For the most part they are correct. Few things amuse me, and I’m happiest left alone with my books.

Name three things that tick you off.
Rude people, interfering people, and willfully ignorant people. In short, most people of my acquaintance.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?
If the choice were up to me I’d have inscribed “Dead as a doornail.” As I’m sure you know, that is a phrase from Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part II. Unfortunately I’ll be departed from this world and unable to voice my preference. My heirs will no doubt choose something salubrious and maudlin, like “And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.” Or, god help me, “Tears water our growth.” I’m confident there will be no tears shed at my funeral.

Now on to something lighter, what is your favourite drink?
Whisky and soda. Some days call for more of the former and less of the latter.

What is your favourite food?
I don’t have one but the day must start with coffee. Hot and strong. I’ve heard whispers amongst the servants that I’m a bear without my coffee. They’re not far wrong.

What would you most like to forget?
The past year and the disastrous marriage I contracted. I have few regrets but marrying Catherine is an enormous one. I’m doing my best to avoid contact with any and all eligible females because any relationship will just become a major cock-up.

Do you care about what others assume about you?
I don’t give a rat’s ass what others think of me. Most people of my acquaintance are small-minded idiots.

What is your most prized possession?
My house and all its memories and responsibilities. This land has been under my family’s stewardship for centuries and I’m determined to leave it better than I found it. Only one wing of the house is original – a fire took a good portion of the manor in the 1600’s. My grandfather built the back wing that houses the library. My father installed modern plumbing. I’ll be making improvements to the kitchens, otherwise I’ll have to endure continued sniping from Sinjun, my butler.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I’m a morning person otherwise I feel as though I’ve wasted half the day. There are fewer dark corners in which to hide secrets or misdeeds during the daylight hours.

IF WISHES WERE EARLS is available through:

Friday, June 9, 2017

First Kiss Friday – An Excerpt from “It Takes a Cat Burglar” by Cailin Briste

Today on First Kiss Friday, we welcome Cailin Briste and an excerpt from her Romantic Suspense, Sci-fi romance novel, “It Takes a Cat Burglar: A Thief in Love Romance.”

When Darcelle Lebeau throws off the invisible chains that keep her bound to her family, she discovers a new vocation. Tempted to enter the illegal playground of a man she nicknames Matou, she becomes a cat burglar in training. Deeply ensnared with each task he entices her to fulfill, she fails to discover his identity and true intentions.

First Kiss Excerpt

“There’s a price for my services. It’s time for you to pay.”

Heat bloomed through Darcelle. What did he mean? Hadn’t she been serving him this whole time?

He rose and moved to stand behind her, placing his dexterous fingers on her shoulders and gently massaging her taut muscles. Head tipped to the side, she succumbed to his ministrations even though she ought to resist. Over the last year she’d dreamed of him seducing her, and now the man of her most erotic fantasies was rubbing his hands over her. A tremor coursed through her body.

He nuzzled soft lips against her check and whispered, “That’s better.”

Resistance had drained away. He clasped her hand and led her to a sofa. “Sit with me.”

Darcelle sat at one end of the sofa. A faint gasp fell from her lips when he positioned himself next to her, his thigh touching hers. She dropped her gaze to her russet, reddish-brown fingers engulfed in his warm beige hand. When he spoke, she looked once again into his eyes, her heart thudding.

“I’m an artist of sorts. A dilettante. I abhor that the wealthy keep so many of the universe’s masterpieces to themselves. I cannot change that, but I can recover works that have been stolen from venues open to the public.”

With one finger he brushed a trail from her temple to her jaw. “I rescue beautiful things.” A smile played along his lips, and he withdrew his hand.

“I need a partner. You.”

Darcelle’s mouth fell open. “What?”

He smirked. “I’d been looking for some time when I discovered you.”

One question moved through Darcelle’s mind like sludge. Discovered me? She was pulled back to the conversation when Matou squeezed her hand.

“You surpassed my expectations.”

“Did I?”

His gaze softened. “Yes. You’ve passed your initial training, but more will be required before we can work together. Once you’ve completed the next phase, you may decide whether to join me. If you choose to, you can leave now, and I will never contact you again.”

“What does the next phase involve?”

“You’ll be learning the rules I require of anyone who works with me. A series of tests will help me decide where to focus your training. Simulations will play an important part in preparing you to be under me. It shouldn’t take more than a month.”

Under him. Gods, she wanted to be under him. Had he meant what that word implied? Her nipples tingled. Stop it! This is your life. It’s more than getting laid.

Considerations raced through her mind. One more month and she could be done with this whole thing. Or not. What was another thirty days of cat burglary? Her clandestine adventures had offered the most fun she’d ever had. She didn’t want to quit. But could she handle going solo? She slid her gaze over Matou. He wasn’t just a handsome face. He was built like a sleek black panther, lean, muscular, and thrumming with lethal energy. What would it hurt to discover what this mortally alluring man had in store for her?

“I agree.”

Matou tipped his chin up and looked down at her. “Take time to think about it.”

“I’ve thought. I agree. But, you must allow me to continue to work. I can’t lose my job.”

He dropped his chin, his gaze blazing with heated satisfaction, and grinned wickedly at her. “I can arrange a leave of absence from the Institut for you. I will pay your usual salary while you are with me.”

“Okay.” The butterflies attacking her stomach were 20 percent apprehension, 75 percent anticipation, and a 5 percent dollop of good old-fashioned lust.

He picked up a packet from a side table and handed it to her. “Here is the knife you came for. You were to retrieve it first. In future, if you do not adhere to my instructions, you will be punished. Use your escape route to leave. I’ll dispose of your skin suit. You won’t need that shabby relic again.”
Her eyes widened. “This really was a burglary?”

“I wouldn’t waste your time or mine.” He rose, pulling her hand up with him and waiting for her to stand.

She was nearly his equal in height. He caught her with his pale green gaze, mesmerizing her. Could he see inside her? Read her mind? She was laid bare before him. Who she was and what she believed, everything was open for him to examine and to judge. Gods, she wanted to be worthy of him.

He leaned in and brushed his mouth across hers. Those artfully sculpted lips were touching her. She accepted the caress, her body both rigid and boneless at the same time.

He pulled away, and the loss was painful. She needed more.

“We need to leave, minou. You’ll be hearing from me.” When she didn’t move, he stepped beside her, placed his palm firmly on her bottom, and scooted her forward. “À la prochaine.”

Yes. She couldn’t wait until next time. She turned at the study door and looked back over her shoulder, but he was gone. Damn, he was quiet.

“It Takes a Cat Burglar” is available through:

First Kiss Friday – An Excerpt from “Unexpected” by Valerie Ullmer

Today on First Kiss Friday, we welcome Valerie Ullmer and an excerpt from her Male/Male Romance novel, “Unexpected.”

A chance meeting will change their lives forever…

From the moment he entered the dark taproom, Caleb Hunt found himself drawn to the handsome man who sat alone at the end of the bar, away from the crowd. His interest in the dark-haired, muscled adonis took him by surprise, not remembering when he’d felt such hunger from a simple glimpse. Unable to stay away, he quickly found an open seat next to him and slid into it. When Ronan turned his ice-blue eyes to Caleb and introduced himself, his warm hand sent shivers of desire through his body and he was enthralled.

Ronan Scott’s boring Friday night had taken a turn for the better when Caleb took the seat next to him. Over the next few hours, he found Caleb easy to talk to and at the same time, he found that he couldn’t tear his gaze away from the beautiful man. Caleb captured his attention in a way that no other had for as long as he could remember. Taking a chance, he leaned forward and captured Caleb’s lips with his. And with the simple kiss, Ronan understood that Caleb would become an essential part of his life.  

As Ronan and Caleb explore their new relationship and integrate their lives together, they realize that not everything will be so seamless…

First Kiss Excerpt

“What’s it like to kiss a man?”
“Well, I don’t really remember it enough to compare it to other kisses I’ve had, but there was no spark, nothing memorable. But then again, I could say that about the relationships I do remember.”
Ronan thought about Caleb’s statement for a moment. “I hadn’t really thought about it until you sat next to me. But for the first time, I feel more than attraction, more than desire. For you.”
Caleb hadn’t known if his feelings for the man could be reciprocated. But when Ronan lowered his head, he noticed heat and a glow of an emotion he couldn’t name in the other man’s eyes.
At the first touch of their lips, Caleb sucked in a breath and clenched his fists, preventing himself from reaching for Ronan. He loved it when Ronan moved his hands from the back of his neck to cup his face. He tilted Caleb’s head and he watched intently as Ronan closed his eyes and dove into the kiss.
The whimper that escaped Caleb’s throat as Ronan’s tongue explored his mouth had an obvious effect on Ronan. He pulled Caleb off the chair and moved him between his legs. Caleb groaned aloud as they pressed their chests together. But the feeling was nothing compared to when Ronan devoured him in a kiss that stole his breath and left him hard and aching. Before long, the kiss deepened and Caleb stopped thinking and lost himself to the new sensations.
Caleb’s sudden desire for more had him tense. He locked down his muscles to prevent himself from crawling onto Ronan’s lap, but it didn’t keep him from smoothing his hands over the man’s wide shoulders, imagining what it would be like to run his hands over Ronan’s naked skin.
But before he could explore further, the bartender shouted for last call.
Caleb could feel himself swaying as Ronan released him from the kiss, but somehow his hands had moved over Caleb’s waist and held him close. Ronan rested his forehead against Caleb’s as they tried to get their breathing back to normal.

“Unexpected” is available through:

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Meet the Characters - An Interview with Kaane from "Riffing With The Muse" by Yvonne Kohano

Today we’re talking to Kaane Scott, legendary front man for the iconic rock band Rebellion, from “Riffing With The Muse” by Yvonne Kohano.  Here’s what he had to say to Music Today.

Music Today:  So Kaane, been a long time, man. Where are you hiding yourself these days? Wherever it’s been, they must not have reporters because the media’s said zip about you in the past few months.

Kaane Scott:  The band’s been busy. You’ve probably seen them, you know, playing some different kinds of music, performing with our buddies, trying out new sounds. You know, busy. 

(The dude’s fingers never quit strumming on the tabletop.)

MT:  Yeah, we’ve noticed the old gang’s been all over the planet, getting pretty comfortable in those gigs. Some are getting to look kind of permanent. Does that worry you?

KS:  Worry me? Nah, the guys are having fun. We’ll be together again soon, real soon.

MT:  You’re looking a little tense about this, man. So what are YOU up to these days? Like we said before, radio silence on you, man, and that is so not the Kaane Scott we’ve known at any point in your career. No crazy party stories, no weeping women throwing panties, no bar owners asking for damages.  You know, radio silence.

KS:  ---

(Radio silence, like we said – he’s staring at us blankly, peeps.)

MT:  So, ah, tell us about the music, man. Give us a taste of what’s on the next Rebellion download.   

KS:  Ah, no guitar.

MT:  Never stopped you before. Come on, just sing us a verse, like you did that night up in Aspen, you know the time, when the –

KS:  Not doing it. The songs, they’re not ready yet. And, you know, I don’t want to put the curse on them.

(Ah, this is getting’ good!)

MT:  Are they cursed, Kaane? Are you cursed? Rumor has it you haven’t written a thing in years, the band’s been covering for you, and we all know your history on women and booze and such. So tell our Music Today readers, is the great Kaane Scott no longer legendary?

KS:  ---

(He’s looking for an escape route, peeps. You can see it in the tight fists and manic look in his eyes. MT hit a nerve. Sad, actually, to see the great one fall.)

MT:  So what’s really happening, Kaane?

(We’re sitting in a pause frame here…) 

KS:  I’m just riffing with my muse, just riffing with my muse.

MT:  And looking like you’re a little lost.

(Shakes his head.) 

KS:  Yeah, that too, man, that too.

And there you have it, peeps. Kaane Scott, speeding toward the death curve. Who knows where he’s been, but it looks like the only direction he’s going is down, down, down. Shame, really. Once upon a time, his music rocked us out of our ever-effing minds, but lately, he’s been phoning it in. Was that the final chord we just heard strumming in the background? Only an Angel can save him now.

Preorder your copy of RIFFING WITH THE MUSE for its July 25 release at these fine retailers: