Selene Grace Silver: The Binding of Adara

A Heroine’s Personal Journey to Claiming Her Power

by Selene Grace Silver

We know the negative stereotype well. The heroine:

  • appears dainty, freezes in the face of violence (interpretation: physically weak);
  • acts indecisive or uncertain, lets a man speak for her (interpretation: intellectually weak);
  • blushes and/or cries easily (interpretation: emotionally weak),

…and therefore, requires repeated rescuing by some self-appointed, protective masculine hero.

Modern readers of romance typically eschew this type of helpless heroine. They even have an acronym for her: TSTL or Too Stupid To Live.

With a history that stretches back to oral fairy tales about Cinderella, heroines of this ilk survived to flourish in the bodice-rippers of the 70s and 80s, and even into the more progressive 90s. It’s no surprise, considering that the readers and writers at that time had grown up in the idealized post-war 50s and early 60s when families lived comfortably on one income, allowing mothers to stay home and raise the children while the fathers ventured out into the harsh world to make money, an ugly business. It was an era in which the mystically handsome and politically powerful Kennedy family defined American strength and sophistication. Like the First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, who embodied the perfect feminine ideal, women were expected to be elegant and completely focused on developing their femininity as a pleasing counterpart to their husband’s vigorous, aggressive masculinity.

Ironically, the late 70s and 80s also produced a second women’s rights movement. Women coming of age in the 70s and 80s were living with one foot in the past (their mothers’ world) and one foot in the future (their daughters’ world). Those women began life as young girls who were told that their greatest aspiration should be a good marriage with lots of children. But by the time they reached late adolescence, many had been introduced to feminist ideology through the media and friends. They attended college, where they traded home economics classes for courses in women’s studies, and they read the consciousness-raising magazine Ms. These feminists believed they could have careers and marry and raise families simultaneously, without giving up anything.

Many did it. They had careers, started companies, married, got pregnant, went back to work three weeks after delivery, kept the house clean, raised the children. They were the first superwomen.

Then their marriages suffered, often ending in divorce. They hit the glass ceiling. They felt exhausted all the time. After all, being everything to everyone is exhausting. The passive, approval-seeking heroines of their romance novels needed to evolve (as did the clueless, self-absorbed heroes). The new heroines of the books their daughters would read would have present heroines who were more self-sustaining, more pragmatic.

Out of those rocky social changes, fiction gained some wonderful heroines. Wonder Woman. The Bionic Woman. Charlie’s Angels. (Okay, maybe not Charlie’s Angels. But they could kick villain butt in their high heels and designer bikinis.) The main problem with these heroines is that they had no flaws. They were invincible. They were…not real women, or not completely real women. Their perfection was elusive and out of reach for most women living in the real world.

Eventually, we got iconic and amazing female characters whose stories were so complex that even men wanted to follow their stories—heroines like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Thank you, Joss Whedon.) She was powerful and independent, but she had flaws. We loved her. Hell, we still love her.

But does that mean that every strong heroine now has to be some copycat version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Does she have to be tough, skilled in the art of using wooden stakes, willing to shut down her feelings, give up someone she loves… in essence, be tough exactly in the (equally unfair) way society has always demanded of a traditional man—and all before she’s even a fully grown woman?

As writers, filmmakers, storytellers, we’d be crafting a disservice to women everywhere if the only alternative to the weak, clinging heroine of an earlier time had to now conform into a penis-less version of Rambo.

And how does a heroine develop into a powerful and wise woman anyway? Everyone is young and stupid at the start. Frankly, it’s rare to encounter women (or men) under 30 who never make mistakes or poor choices. I know I wasn’t one. I credit a lot of my strength today to surviving some pretty awful decisions and their consequences when I was in my late teens and twenties. (My friends acknowledge the same history so I know I’m not alone.) And since fiction is as much about showing us how to overcome the adversities of life as it is to provide us with inspiring role models, it’s appropriate, even desirable, for some stories to begin with heroines who might lack confidence or essential life skills, especially when those stories show the heroine growing and developing into a strong and confident woman by story’s end.

I was mopping (a rare event, believe me—I am definitely not a woman of the 50s—but someone has to clean the floors at least once a year) and daydreaming about nothing in particular when the image of a stunning young woman, naked and bound to a platform, appeared in my mind’s eye. She was pale with long black hair, and she was surrounded by a crowd of people whose faces were obscured by shadowy darkness. The scene was contradictorily frightening and sensual at the same moment. It made such an impression on me that I couldn’t shake it. I felt in my bones that she hadn’t wanted to end up on that stage, that situation, yet there she was.

As a writer, I respond to such visions by wanting to shape a narrative. So I sat down to craft the girl’s story. I discovered that her name was Adara and that she was a naïve but resilient young woman. I knew that she was not going to be able to leave that stage until after the ceremony was concluded. I knew she was going to have nonconsensual sex.

Most rape victims are not raped by strangers in dark alleys. They are raped by seemingly regular guys whom they thought were trustworthy but turned out to be something else—their girlfriend’s brother whom they encountered in the family’s downstairs laundry room next the bathroom, a frat brother on a college campus in a house full of other partying students, the church pastor’s cousin who chased them teasingly into the long grass during the summer picnic as the sun set.

Most people become victims because they trust someone who appears on the surface to be like lots of other people they have trusted in the past and, therefore, have no reason to distrust.

This tendency of the young to trust lands Adara in her serious predicament: on that stage where she is about to lose her virginity as part of an ancient pagan ritual. Sure, some characters, say Buffy, would have drop-kicked and karate-chopped their way out of the scene. I am woman! Hear me roar!

But Adara is not Buffy. Buffy would never have ended up tied to a platform about to be sacrificed against her will in the first place. Adara does.

Adara is the character who appeared in my mind’s eye demanding her story be written—the story of a heroine’s journey, from fool to wise woman, from beginner to virtuoso. Adara begins her story an innocent in nearly every way. She is a virgin. She’s relatively uneducated. She doesn’t know what she wants in life. She doesn’t even know she has special powers. Only through adversity does she progress towards understanding, towards laying claim to that power. The strength she develops through the course of the story is less “external master swordswoman” and more “inner spine of steel.” Sort of the way it is for most women in the world.

About The Binding of Adara: Book Two of the Witches and Warlocks of Los Angeles

The Binding of Adara Final Cover half size copyCursed to bear 12 sets of twins in 12 years by 12 different men? That is twenty-year-old innocent Adara Lane’s terrible fate until a reluctant warlock steps in, altering one significant part of the spell, thus creating a new destiny for both of them. Like the heroic knight from her childhood fairy tales, he rescues her at the moment the spell is manifested. While she’s grateful for his help, being bound to an overbearing, controlling, potentially violent man who may never love her, who despises what she is? Well…forgive Adara if she believes she would be better off had he just minded his own business and left the rescuing to someone else. But, this troubled knight-in-tarnished armor seems to need Adara as much as she needs him.
Bowie Marston knows he’s damaged goods. Home from a tour of duty in Vietnam, suffering shell shock, the young man discovers his family destroyed because he wasn’t in L.A. to protect them. After witnessing the senseless deaths of his comrades overseas, the death of his parents only deepens his disenchantment with the world. Blaming his parents’ murder-suicide on their involvement in magick, Bo vows to never use his own latent powers. It’s too late to rescue his family. On the other hand, it’s not too late to rescue a beautiful, young woman caught up in a web of danger. Knowing what he does about witchcraft, can he involve himself in a spell that spans a lifetime, a spell that ties him evermore to a powerful witch…and all her bless’ed offspring? Can he resist?

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SUSANA SAYS: Sensual and compelling story guaranteed to bewitch: 5/5 stars

The setting: Los Angeles, 1970’s

SusanaSays3Alone in the world after her grandmother’s death, Adara finds herself drawn into a cult ritual of witches and warlocks on the eve of Samhain, where, as it turns out, she is fated to be the main attraction in an orgiastic mating ceremony.

A reluctant warlock, Bowie is a Vietnam vet who attends the ceremony only to protect his sister. He thinks! What but how can he stand by when the pretty girl who’s intrigued him all evening finds herself in danger

Adara and Bowie, along with Bowie’s sister Brianna and her cop lover, find themselves facing a nameless group of unscrupulous cult members seeking to use them to accomplish their evil plans. What to do? Who to trust? How does Adara’s mysterious past fit into this scenario? And is this attraction between Adara and Bo real or the result of a Halloween night spell?

It’s a rare talent for an author to create alpha males as well as strong females who can not only manage them, but also combine with them to make one powerful duo. And that’s what Ms. Silver has done here, not only with Adara and Bo, but also with Brianna and Jack from Brianna’s Bewitching.

The sexual attraction between them is immediate and compelling, but the emotional angle requires trust, and that’s not so easy when you’re suddenly thrust into a dangerous world of magick and goddesses and hidden agendas. A happy ending is an exception rather than the rule in this paranormal world, and while they are allies now, there’s no guarantee they’ll be together in the end.

About the Author

Selene believes in two true things: love and the power of stories. Everything else is up for debate.

SeleneBorder-150x150First and foremost, she’s been an avid reader her entire life. True story. In high school, her English teacher told Selene that she was also going to be a high school English teacher (probably because she actually read the assigned novels). Horrified by this prediction (think about it–eternity in high school?!), she fled home for university. She did her best to make it a permanent stay–changing majors back and forth multiple times, completing classes that had nothing to do with any of those majors, transferring to new colleges several times–eventually earning more than double the credits required for a BA in English. She promptly enrolled in grad school, where she managed to stretch a two-year masters program into a four-year MA in Creative Writing. Then, her beloved university life kicked her to the metaphorical street and told her to GET A REAL JOB!

Selene currently teaches English to the brightest public high school honors students in the land. Mrs. Unkenholz was right.

Oh yeah, and Selene writes. Romances to be specific.

Like the HEAs of her novels, her love life has a happy ending. She’s married to a seriously romantic guy (he’s Scottish, folks), travels abroad every summer, and drives a reliable American-built foreign car. The family cats keep the mice away. Life is simple, but good.

She lives in sunny Southern California, but remains a snowy Midwestern girl at heart.

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See also Brianna’s Bewitching: Book One of the Witches and Warlocks of Los Angeles

Brianna's BewitchingSM

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Sabrina York: Brought To His Knees By Love

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Who Doesn’t Want a Man Brought to His Knees by Love? Eleven Scorching Stories for 99¢

I was thrilled when my latest venture, the Hot Alpha SEALs Megaset, hit the New York Times and USA Today Bestseller lists and I am very excited about my next release, a collection of steamy stories about men brought to their knees by love. Check out a taste of my story, and read on for more teasers from the collection.

Brought To His Knees Box Set

The Alpha male. Strong. In control. Letting no one and nothing rule him…until he meets the one, and all bets are off. The world tilts, the bed rocks, and suddenly that tough guy finds himself Brought to His Knees—in more ways than one. This collection of ten hot to erotic novellas and one short erotic novel will take you on journeys of lust, love, and adventure, leave you breathless and quite possibly in need of a cold shower. Enter with anticipation. Finish satisfied…

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Whipped

By Sabrina York

Dane Coulter is mourning the loss of his best friend, fellow Special Ops buddy, Cody. Oh, Cody didn’t die. It’s worse. He’s getting married. Cody is, in Dane’s opinion, whipped.

Dane swears he will never suffer the same fate. But when he meets a woman who can take all his dominant loving and beg for more, he realizes he may have met his match. It’s a damn shame she’s the one woman in the world his man-code deems untouchable…his best friend’s sister.

Read an Excerpt (18+ Only, Please—this is steamy stuff)

He was bigger than he’d been in high school. Bigger, taller and just…more. His muscles, lacquered by a tight black tee shirt, bulged. Tattoos danced over his biceps. The planes of his face were angled. High cheekbones, dark brows, long blade of a nose all the same, but sharper. His eyes hadn’t had those shadows back then either, that predatory glint. His hair—his thick mop of curls—was gone, shaved off, revealing the perfect shape of his head. His chin, however, wasn’t shaved. It was covered by a smattering of dark fuzz. A scar on his cheek, rather than detracting from his looks, made him even more fascinating, dangerous.

And he smelled…delicious. As he moved, his cologne, a clean enticing scent, enveloped her in a cloud.

Oh, he was dangerous all right.

She didn’t care.

The slight buzz from the margaritas at the bachelorette party, the sexual sizzle ignited by the strippers who’d burst in on their party wearing camo fatigues with rip-away crotches, all contributed to her bravado.

In real life she would never hook arms with some random guy and sashay by his side to his room. But hell. This was Dane. The man of her fantasies. And, judging from the hunger in his expression as he looked down at her, the heat that passed between them where they touched, he wanted her.

Thank God she wasn’t still the dorky teen with braces she’d been when they’d last met.

She looked amazing tonight. He happened to wander by and notice her. No one else was around. And he wanted her.

It was as though, somehow, magically, all the stars had aligned.

There was no way—no way—she would miss this opportunity.

Excitement danced low in her gut as he swiped his room key and led her into his suite. It was a nice suite—not as sumptuous as Angie’s, but nice all the same—with a small sitting area and an enormous king bed. The windows looked out on the sparkling lights of the City that Never Slept. Or one of them.

whipped-e-reader copy“Can I get you a drink?” he asked, taking off his watch and dropping it on the table by the door. It drew her attention to his forearms, thick and muscled and sprinkled with dark hairs. They were roped with thick veins. She’d always had a thing for bulky forearms. And she’d always had a thing for Dane. The combination was irresistible.

She tipped her head to the side and blew a bubble with her gum. “Margarita?”

He waved at the glossy wood armoire against the wall. “I have a mini bar. It’ll have to be shots. What’s your poison?”

“Tequila then.” Might as well keep a good thing going.

He hunkered down and searched through the fridge, pulling out a tiny bottle of tequila for her and whiskey for him. He cracked them open and dumped them unceremoniously into two glasses and handed her hers. No ice or anything.

Good thing it didn’t matter to her, or she’d be pissed at his cavalier attitude. The drink was lubricant, a time filler. They were dancing around a seduction, and they both knew it.

Or…not.

Apparently seduction was not necessary. Because Dane took a swig of his drink and said, with no preface whatsoever, “So do you have any no-nos?”

She gaped at him. “No-nos?”

“Anything you won’t do? Because I’ll be frank. I like a little kink.”

Holy God.

First of all, the heat scorching her was mind-numbing. Literally. Mind. Numbing. Those brash words from Dane’s gorgeous lips and she nearly lost her balance.

Second of all—he liked kink.

So, in fact, did she. Nothing super dark, but a little slap and tickle for sure.

“Um…” She took a sip of her drink. She shuddered as the harsh bite of liquor burned through her. It clashed with the flavor of her gum. “What kind of kink are we talking about?”

He strode to his suitcase and fished around, pulling out a long leather strap with two loops on the ends. Her eyes fixated on it. She shuddered.

“I want to tie you up,” he said, his voice low, taunting, as though he expected her to squeak like a mouse and scuttle from the room.

The. Fuck.

“Hmm. I think I can handle that.”

“I’ll probably smack your bottom.”

Also good. She tried not to flinch in anticipation. His hand on her ass? Gawd.

“I won’t hurt you, though. I’m not into that. And of course, I’ll use protection.” He held up a pack of condoms.

Well da-ham. He’d come prepared. A smile curled on her lips.

“Billy said your fee’s been paid.” His brow quirked.

The smile froze on Tina’s face. A combination of horror and rage and something else altogether snarled through her, as she realized how right she’d been. Not only did he not recognize her—after knowing her her entire life, for pity sake—he thought she was a hooker.

Granted, she did kind of look like a hooker, with makeup plastered on as if with a trowel. But still…

She glanced at him from beneath the impossibly long lashes The Master had glued to her lids. Not her style, but she liked the way they looked. The way they made her feel…like someone else. Someone sultry and daring. Someone Dane would want.

To tie up and spank.

Aside from that, the temptation to have him, taste him, fuck him, ran rampant in her. For years she’d fantasized about her older brother’s best friend. All through puberty and long after that. Every man she’d met, dated or been with had been gauged against Dane Coulter. None of them had measured up.

Ah yes, the temptation to have him was overwhelming.

Not to mention how much fun it would be watching him shit a brick tomorrow, when he realized who she really was.

Too delicious to pass up, really. The whole package.

He stood there in the middle of the room, holding the strap in one hand and the condoms in the other, waiting for her reply. Though he was all Dom, she couldn’t help but notice a hint of tension in him, as though he was, on some level, afraid she’d say no and waltz away.

He wanted her. And he wanted her bad. It was the heat in his eyes that gave him away, the way they flicked over her and burned with hunger. Yeah. Irresistible.

Sure. She could be a hooker for the evening.

What people are saying about WHIPPED:

“5 Stars—Whipped by Sabrina York was so good, LOVED all the sexy scenes and then how she mixed in some humor parts. I know she’s super busy but I’m really hoping she makes this one into a series because its that good :)”—Read More Romance

“5 Stars—Oh my goodness! I loved, loved, loved this story! The sex was off-the-charts hot! And I mean HOT! The characters were witty and so entertaining. As always, Ms. York’s humor and witty writing is on full display. I honestly don’t think she could not write a story that doesn’t leave me in awe of her slightly sarcastic, yet always smartly written style. I bow to the master.”— Coffee and Books

“5 Stars—This was a great read that kept me glued to the events. Loved the epilogue!”—Ms Romantic Reads

Oh and here is some inspiration for Dane & his buddies:  http://www.pinterest.com/sabrinayork/boys-in-uniformor-not/

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More about Brought To His Knees

Dark Wolf Enterprises by A.M. Griffin: Murder, mayhem and imprinting with a hot wolf shifter… And they say being an accountant is boring.

Building Bridges by Amy Ruttan: A vet tech and a lone wolf rancher ride out a sudden storm, but can they weather the emotions they stir up in each other…

Three Strikes by Anya Richards: Two lonely men. One secret affair. Irresistible passion that will push them both to the breaking point, and beyond.

A Cowboy’s Seduction by Cynthia D’Alba: One exhausted cowboy + One uptight account x A tropical resort = A hot seduction. But who is seducing whom?

Born to Sin by Danica Avet: A tomboy in love makes a desperate attempt to seduce her best friend and succeeds beyond her wildest dreams. But this Alpha male isn’t easily tamed and has secrets that could very well tear them apart.

The Sound of Your Name by Felice Fox: Their silent erotic encounters change his luck and awaken his soul, but secrets and cowboy superstitions can only keep them apart.

Beneath the Pages by Jennifer Kacey: One wicked night with her did nothing but whet his appetite. Now he’ll settle for nothing less than her complete submission.

Cruising for Love by Lynne Silver: A vacation cruise comes with surprises—like the BDSM theme and her high school love, the one man she can’t resist.

Whipped by Sabrina York: A scalding attraction. An irresistible passion. A pity she’s the one woman he can never have…

Chief Sin by Sayde Grace: A taste of Sin isn’t enough. Instead she wants all of him, including the heart she once broke.

Make Me Surrender by Tina Donahue: When it comes to two of the hottest guys in town, she has a proposition…to win their attention, passion, hearts.

About Sabrina York

Sabrina_head_logoHer Royal Hotness, Sabrina York, is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of hot, humorous stories for smart and sexy readers. Her titles range from sweet & sexy to scorching erotic romance. Connect with her on twitter @sabrina_york, on Facebook or on Pintrest. Check out Sabrina’s books and read an excerpt on Amazon or wherever e-books are sold. Visit her webpage at www.sabrinayork.com to check out her books, excerpts and contests. Free Teaser Book: http://sabrinayork.com/home-2/sabrina-yorks-teaser-book/ And don’t forget to enter to win the royal tiara!

Like my Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/sabrinayork

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Cheri Allan: Luck of the Draw

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Cheri will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during this tour and the Super Book Blast Tour, and a $15 Amazon or B&N gift card will be awarded to another randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during both tours. Click here for the Rafflecopter. Click the banner above to follow the tour and increase your chances of winning.

Interview with Cheri Allan

Cheri: Thanks, Susana, for having me as I put the cherry on top of my blog tour for Luck of the Draw! Hmm. That makes it sound all neat and tidy, doesn’t it? But the reality is, writing a book is a slog. Through mud. With flies buzzing around you. (Okay, that’s not a pretty picture AT ALL.) What I mean to say is, I’ve arrived at this lovely place chatting with you with a shiny new book and wonderful friends and family (and, God bless you, people I’ve never even met!) buying my book, and it surprises me that I’m HERE. Phew! It’s been a journey. A lovely, crazy, road. With potholes. And some bush-whacking… But I digress. You were asking…?

Susana: What inspired you to start writing?

Cheri: I fell in love, married my best friend and wanted to retell that journey again and again. Plus, I like working from home in my pj’s.

cheriphoto copySusana: How long have you been writing?

Cheri: Eek. Do I have to answer that? Truth is, too long before publishing. In my own defense, I raised and homeschooled two kids, renovated a home, and generally lived life, so it wasn’t as if I was completely idle. But, I did spend too much time waiting on others… waiting for editors and agents to get back to me, and so I’m happy I’m now in a place where I have the confidence and support system to take charge of my own future.

Susana: What advice would I give writers just starting out?

Cheri: 1.) Go buy yourself a copy of Deb Dixon’s Goal, Motivation and Conflict. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and frustration. 2.) Don’t apologize for wanting to be a writer of popular fiction. I spent too long worrying what others would think of my choice, but I’m over that now. Romantic fiction celebrates love, life and community in an unpredictable world. So, what am I apologizing for?

Susana: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

Cheri: I prefer to think of it as inertia, because it’s generally caused by something slowing the momentum of my story (as in, it has come to a dead stop and built itself a protective firewall.) The best way to move past this is to brainstorm one-on-one with my CP or plotting friends. I find they usually ask me the tough questions I’ve been avoiding (but which need answering) in order to identify the problem and move beyond it. Plus, they follow up with me, so I’m held accountable for using their advice.

Susana: What comes first: the plot or the characters?

Cheri: Snippets of both. I might get a nugget of a plot idea, but usually it’s a character whose story needs to be told. For Luck of the Draw, Jim’s character came from a previous book, and the latent match-making grandmother in me kept saying, “That Jim is such a nice young man. Why isn’t he married?”

Susana: Are you a plotter or a panther?

Cheri: I’m a total panther.. Outlines give me hives. The one time I did an outline for a book, I deviated wildly half way through, tore up the outline and never looked back. That said, I’ve learned that if I don’t identify the key GMC of the characters at the outset, I set myself up for lots of hair-pulling revisions down the road.

Susana: Are you working on something at present that you would like to tell us about?

Cheri: Yes! I’m putting the finishing touches on Stacking the Deck, book #2 in my Betting on Romance series (coming this fall!) It’s a story of first love and second chances and living up to your potential and features a smart-talking bad-boy with a killer smile.

Susana: What are you reading now?

Cheri: I just finished Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins and am still in that post-book euphoria. I think I’ll order Chinese food…

Susana: Is there a writer you idolize?If so, why?

Cheri: There’s no secret I have a girl crush on Kristan Higgins. (See above.) Her books make me laugh and weep and laugh again and that’s good medicine. Plus, she’s a genuinely sweet person. I try not to stammer when I see her at writers’ conferences for fear she’ll block me on Facebook.

Susana: What is your work schedule like when writing?

Cheri: My writing schedule is more like binge eating… I will get a great idea and immerse myself for as long as I can, ignoring household chores, menu planning, and small kitchen fires then, when the draft is complete, I walk away and ignore it. I’ll read again and watch romantic comedies. Then, I’ll feel guilted into revisions and dig in, finally sending it to my CP who will point out all the parts I knew weren’t working but had hoped I’d be able to get away with ignoring. (I can’t.) She’ll send me notes, and I’ll find a lot of cleaning that hasn’t been done (see step #1) as I attempt to avoid the inevitable before remembering why I loved the story to begin with and diving in again. It sounds haphazard, but it has its own cyclic quality.

Susana: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Cheri: A vegetarian. Because I wanted to work with animals. Yes, I was a little confused. Then my vocabulary improved and I learned what vets actually did, and I made adjustments.

Susana: What are your pastimes?

Cheri: Do-it-yourself projects and home renovation, skiing, reading, watching reality dating shows and writing!

Susana: What is the one modern convenience you can’t do without?

Cheri: A coffee maker. Panic ensues whenever we’ve had one die usually resulting in a midnight run for a new one. It’s the first thing we plug into the generator when we lose power, too.

Susana: Do you have a favorite quote or saying?

Cheri: ‘It’s all fun and games until somebody puts an eye out.’ Which is usually our way of reminding each other to wear protective eyewear and go have fun. :-)

Okay, now my turn! So, who is YOUR favorite author? What is it that makes him/her an auto-buy for you? Share! I’m always looking for a new favorite author to binge-read. :-)

Susana: For myself, I have to say Diana Gabaldon. I’m enthralled with anything that involves Jamie and Claire. Loving the new show Outlander!

What about the rest of you? Please comment!

About Luck of the Draw

If only life had a refresh button…

Kate Mitchell never planned to be a 31 year-old widowed single mom, but when her soon-to-be-EX husband up and dies, her dreams of finishing college and starting over are thrown in the air like a game of 52 pick-up. When she’s given a leave of absence from work and told to “quit or recommit,” Kate retreats to idyllic Sugar Falls, New Hampshire, to figure out whether she can discover her passion and pay the bills. Cue the fresh air, summer sunshine and one sexy local contractor.

Cover_Luck of the Draw copyTall, dark, and handy…

Volunteer fireman and all-around hunky guy in a toolbelt, Jim Pearson has sworn off complicated women with messy baggage. They cling to his nice-guy stability and skills with a power saw just long enough to straighten out their lives and move on… but then he meets the cute single mom staying at Grams’ lake house for the summer.

While a sizzling attraction draws them together, Jim’s distrust of complicated women and Kate’s incredibly complicated life threaten to pull them apart. But forces beyond their control—match-making grandmothers, the lazy backdrop of summer, and their own reckoning with the past—conspire to make them risk it all… and bet on love.

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“But when I think about going back… to a job I know is safe and secure… I can’t breathe.” She felt her arms grow cold despite the sunshine. “It’s like my future is closing in and there’s no way out. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that going back would mean I’m giving up hoping for something better. And… and I can’t bring myself to give up on me quite yet.”

She stared at him in the silence that followed, her chest rising and falling, feeling brittle and defiant all at once.

But then he tugged her hand until she sat beside him on the porch steps. He blew out a breath. “No one’s asking you to give up on yourself.”

“You think I’m giving up,” she said. “But I’m not. I’m not throwing my hands up in despair. I’m not trying to quit. I’m trying to let go of the handlebars to see if I can do this without help.”

“I don’t understand what that—”

“I’m saying… I know you mean well, but you’ve got to let me figure this out on my own.”

After a long moment, he nodded. “Okay,” he said, and he turned, the corners of his eyes crinkling in that warm, lovely way that always turned Kate’s insides to jelly. “You may not believe it, but I do believe there’s something better waiting for you.”

“You’re talking to a practically unemployed widow,” she sighed. “It’d be hard not to go uphill from here.”

About the Author

Cheri Allan lives in a charming fixer-upper in rural New Hampshire with her husband, two children, one dog, four cats and an excessive amount of optimism. She’s a firm believer in do-it-yourself, new beginnings and happily-ever-afters, so after years of wearing suits, she’s grateful to finally put her English degree to good use writing romance. When not writing, you might find her whizzing down the slopes of a nearby mountain or inadvertently killing perennials in her garden.

Cheri loves to hear from readers!

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Jesse Pearle: Second Skin

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Interview With Jesse Pearle

Susana: What inspired you to start writing?

Jesse: I’d written some in college but nothing that was particularly inspired. It wasn’t until I started playing fantasy RPGs that the creative itch really got going. I play both video and tabletop RPGs, and the open-ended storytelling in them really leaves a lot up to the imagination. And boy did I imagine. I ended up with a story stuck in my head—a love story between two characters in two of my favorite video games that kept niggling in my brain until I finally sat down to write it.

Susana: How long have you been writing?

Jesse: November 2011 was when I first got that itch and haven’t been able to stop writing since.

Susana: What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

MEDIA KIT JessePearleHeadshot copyJesse: You can’t work in a vacuum. One of the best things I could have done for my writing was to let other people read it and critique it. I still remember the first constructive feedback I received on my first story. It was soooo hard to hear, but it was good for my writing to hear it. I’m still friends with the person now, and I am best friends with one of my other crit partners. It can be tricky to grow accustomed to honest feedback, but the more you do it, the more objective you learn to become about your own work, and the thicker a skin you develop. Having a thick skin is crucial to maintaining your sanity as a writer because bad reviews are inevitable, no matter how good your writing is.

Susana: What comes first: the plot or the characters?

Jesse: Characters almost always come first for me. Even in my current project I have a cast of characters who I know have to get from point A to point B. I’m just writing along, letting them show me how they need to get there. The plot tends to emerge in the process of me discovering what the characters’ true goals and conflicts are, and what will motivate them to overcome their conflicts to reach their goals.

Susana: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Jesse: I’m about 90 percent pantser. Like I said above, I just know there’s a Point A and Point B (the beginning and the end), and perhaps a vague milestone somewhere in the middle. The plot gets fleshed out as I write my characters’ journeys between those points.

Susana: Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

Jesse: While I was writing it I considered it an erotic romance due to the focus I placed on the sex scenes. It is, at it’s heart, a romantic suspense. I suppose you could take some of the sex out and the plot would still be intact, but some of the sex scenes are crucial enough to push it pretty close to an erotic romance. One of the books reviewers so far describes it as “off the charts” which was what I was going for.

Susana: Are you working on something at present that you would like to tell us about?

Jesse: I am constantly working on something. At the moment it’s a series of menage erotica novellas that I publish under a different pen name to protect the innocent (or maybe the guilty). I don’t hide it, however, and readers can find the link on my website—just look for the dragons.

Susana: What are you reading now?

Jesse: I just finished a book called Going Under, by Jeffe Kennedy. It’s a hot erotic romance that takes place in the San Juan islands. It’s a love story between a reclusive female video game designer and an investigative journalist seeking out the elusive designer (who he believes is a man based on the designer’s internet personas). I couldn’t put it down. I loved the gaming aspect of it (because I am a gamer), but the “games” that happen in the book aren’t strictly the digital variety. It has some very well written BDSM sex scenes, but my favorite part is how well-written the dynamic is between the two characters and their struggle to work up to an honest, open, mature relationship.

Susana: What author or authors have most influenced your writing?

Jesse: I’m influenced every day by other authors and not just by reading their books. My best friends are writers and they are my most valuable sounding boards for my books. But as far as well-known authors who have influenced my career, I would say Diana Gabaldon has been the strongest influence on my particular style of prose, Stephen King for his methods, and Hugh Howey for his take on the publishing industry.

Susana: Do you have a favorite quote or saying?

Jesse: “Some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.” – Gilda Radner

As much as I love a happily ever after, I honestly prefer books that are a little more unpredictable. I absolutely love cliffhangers, so I apologize to readers who don’t care for them. Pretty much everything I write tends to have them.

About Second Skin

Obsession is never just skin deep.

Sam Blanco’s greatest desire is to escape his abusive father and violent neighborhood the only way he can—by earning money as a tattoo artist for a street gang. He’s befriended their leader, the deadly Leo Reyes, and gained a measure of safety under their protection. But just when things are going right for the first time in Sam’s life, Leo’s girlfriend, Pilar Flores, walks in and requests a tattoo in an unusual location. Sam obliges, but the experience leaves them both reeling. Unable to focus for days, Sam finds himself craving Pilar’s touch, but she’s exactly the kind of trouble he doesn’t need.

Pilar Flores is her father’s daughter. Being the daughter of a drug lord is not an easy role to fill, but she aspires to live up to the title and make her father proud. But her father has no plans to allow her into the business, and Pilar hates being sidelined. She hates that Leo is away for days on end, and she especially hates being treated like an incompetent female by every man she sees. Except for Sam. She decides to take control of her life the only way she knows how—through seduction. But she’s not prepared for how eager and passionate a lover Sam is, or how deeply she’s drawn to him. Even though she knows their ill-fated affair can’t possibly end well…

Excerpt

(Sam’s POV)

MEDIA KIT SecondSkin_ByJessePearle-printmaster“So you just leave the pictures in here until they’re done or what?” Benny asked, flipping through the loose-leaf leather-bound book that Sam always kept with him wherever he went.

“Yeah, if I’m finished working on them I might take them out, give them away or what not. But it’s hard to know when I’m done. Some take a while.”

Sam set out the pieces of his machine in the usual, methodical order to begin assembling it once his client arrived. Something niggled at the back of his mind, however—somewhere behind the image of Pilar tied to her bed, her sweet dimples challenging him to do exactly the thing he planned to do as soon as he finished his drawing.

“Motherfucker,” Benny muttered under his breath.

A hot rush of panic infused Sam at the same instant he realized what he’d done…or failed to do.

“Like this one?” Benny turned the sketchbook around.

Sam’s stomach lurched when he saw the detailed nude sketch he’d made of Pilar Sunday morning. He’d spent enough time rendering her face that there was no mistaking who she was.

“Tell me you just drew her face from memory on some other girl’s body.”

Sam was sure he had a deer-in-the-headlights look when he said, “Not exactly…”

Benny gaped at him then looked back at the drawing. After a second more of studying it he just shook his head.

“Man, you are something else. I seriously think you must have a death wish. Or one huge pair of cojones.”

Sam had lost the ability to speak. His brain frantically attempted to process the implications of his friend seeing the picture of Pilar. Fuck, fuck, fuck, this wasn’t supposed to happen. You’re a fucking idiot, Sam.

About the Author

Jesse Pearle grew up in the mountains of Western North Carolina in a place where there was no danger in dancing naked in the moonlight at the top of a mountain. Always possessed of a creative mind, but never quite the right amount of focus, she wandered for decades. She received a degree in fine art which she put to poor use working an uneventful desk job for an engineering company when she started writing her first really ambitious piece of fiction. She lives in sunny Southern California with her ever supportive husband and four attention-whoring cats.

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Alexa Grace: Profile of Terror

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Alexa will be awarding a signed copy of PROFILE OF TERROR with a $25 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click here for the Rafflecopter. Click on the banner above to follow the tour and increase your chances of winning.

About Profile of Terror

A missing coed named Abby Reece.

Two clever thrill killers are committing the most brutal, public, and horrifying abductions and murders in the county’s history.  The killers, known as the Gamers, have done this before, and are now upping their evil game to a new level.  The question is — can they be stopped before they kill again?

Things get complicated.

When an ex-girlfriend goes missing, Private Investigator Gabe Chase is obsessed with finding her.  But once her naked and posed body is discovered, the investigator becomes the investigated.  His passion for the victim’s beautiful sister is a complication he doesn’t need, as he helps solve the county’s most baffling, terrifying murder cases ever.

Add a sociopathic serial killer who calls himself the Master.

A serial killer so deadly, the FBI’s behavioral analysts want to know when and why he began killing, as well as the identification and location of additional victims.  He will speak only to former federal agent, Carly Stone, a woman he blames for his capture.  When the profiler finds herself at the mercy of this ruthless killer, his becomes the most terrifying profile of all.

Profile of Terror

Three chilling villains, two passionate love stories, and pulse-racing suspense with startling plot twists keep readers on the edge of their seats from page one of this heart-pounding and unforgettable romantic suspense.

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Excerpt

Going down the stairs, Kaitlyn felt a little ball of need that burst to life in the pit of her stomach that could only mean one thing — she was physically attracted to Gabriel Chase, Private Investigator.  Seriously?  She gave herself a little shake.  No way.  She could not be attracted to this man.  Sure, the man was hotter than hot, and had a body designed purely to give a woman hours and hours of female pleasure.  But if he dated her sister, like Dr. Ramsey told her, he must be operating on less than half his brain power, and have no sexual scruples.  Why?  Because that was Abby’s kind of man — eye candy on her arm on campus, no pressure from him for a real relationship, and like her, only in it for the sex.

MEDIA KIT profileofterror_400x600 copyGabriel Chase was an amazing specimen of masculinity, who could undoubtedly get any woman he wanted.  She wanted a man who only had eyes for her.  And if he were the least bit attracted to her, it was probably for a one-night-stand.  And if there was one thing Kaitlyn didn’t want, it was a fling.  She wanted to settle down with a man who was both a lover and a best friend — someone who was in it for the long haul.  She wanted happily ever after.

Compared to her sister, Kaitlyn was a Girl Scout with a badge in chastity.  Okay, she wasn’t completely chaste, thanks to Mitch Bargo, her no-good ex-fiancé, who’d turned her world upside down.  And not in a good way.  Just the thought of Mitch sent her stomach swirling and her teeth gritting.

Kaitlyn got into her car, plopping down in the driver’s seat, slamming the door, and then locking it.  As she turned the ignition on, a thought sizzled through her brain.  Knowing Abby as well as she did, she was convinced that Abby dumped Gabe.  As if she enjoyed it, her sister always had to be the one who broke up the non-relationship.  Abby didn’t have relationships.  She hated the thought of being with any man more than a couple of weeks.  So if Dr. Ramsey was correct and Abby dated Gabe for a month, it was highly unusual.  For Abby, boredom always set in, and it was time to say good-bye.  Abby had a way of breaking up with a man that didn’t include sensitivity or empathy.  The harder they took the break-up, the more she enjoyed it.

Her mind raced with all the possibilities, and one of them went on repeat.  She couldn’t get rid of the thought, fear, or whatever it was.  What if Abby used her typical lack of finesse to break up with Gabe and she angered him so much that he made her disappear?  If a private investigator specialized in finding people, he could be a master in knowing how to make people vanish.  Right?

About the Author

MEDIA KIT Author photo copyAlexa Grace began her writing journey in March 2011 when the Sr. Director of Training & Development position she’d held for thirteen years was eliminated. A door closed but another one opened. She finally had the time to pursue her childhood dream of writing books. Her focus is now on writing riveting romantic suspense novels.

Earning two degrees from Indiana State University, Alexa currently lives in Florida. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Her writing support team includes five Miniature Schnauzers, three of which are rescues. As a writer, she is fueled by Starbucks lattes, chocolate and emails from readers.

Alexa Grace is consistently listed in top twenty of Amazon’s Top 100 Most Popular Authors in the categories Romantic Suspense and Police Procedural.  In 2013, she was named one of the top 100 Indie authors by Kindle Review. A chapter is devoted to her in the book Interviews with Indie Authors by C. Ridgway and T. Ridgway.

Her books Deadly Offerings, Deadly Deception, and Deadly Relations are listed in e-retailer’s Top 100 Bestselling Romantic Suspense and Police Procedural Books.  Deadly Offerings has not left the top ten bestselling free mystery romance and police procedural books since 2011.

Deadly Holiday, published in November 2012, is her holiday-themed romantic suspense novella, featuring all her Deadly Trilogy characters.

Alexa Grace’s book Deadly Relations is included in the bestselling book set The Perfect Ten along with Dianna Love, Norah Wilson, Nancy Naigle, Andrienne Giordano, Misty Evans, Sandy Blair, Mary Buckham, Tonya Kappes and Micah Caipa.

Profile of Evil, the first book of the Profile Series was published in May 2013. Profile of Terror was released in May 2014 and Profile of Fear will be released in 2015.

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Samantha Garman: Secrets of a Heart

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One randomly chosen winner via Rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card. Click here for the Rafflecopter. Click the banner above to follow the tour and increase your chances of winning.

About Secrets of a Heart

London, 1815. At the age of nineteen, Blaine Whitmore loses everything dear to him in a brutal assault on his family line. Left with nothing, he finds himself aboard a merchant ship sailing far from home. Years pass as a boy becomes a man, and yet no amount of time or distance will help Blaine forget all that he has lost. After ten years sailing the high seas, he is finally ready to restore the Whitmore name.

Felicity Canton is as lovely as she is penniless, and has been left to care for her three sisters while attempting to maintain a crumbling estate. With no hope for escape from her predicament, she is resigned to a peasant’s fate. She never anticipates attracting the attention of her wealthy and mysterious new neighbor, nor does she expect him to be her savior.

As Blaine searches for truth and doles out vengeance, he becomes increasingly captivated and distracted by Felicity’s beauty and inner strength. Does he dare confide in her the secrets of his heart? Will his future be as bleak as his past, or will he finally have a chance at happiness?

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Excerpt

MEDIA KIT Book coverShe took a healthy swallow of brandy, unaware of Gray’s steadfast gaze on her. “The sale of the manor will only cover the remaining debts. There will be nothing left to buy even a small cottage so that I can care for my sisters. I can provide them nothing.”

“Your father’s debts are not your fault, Felicity. The choices he made were his, and his alone.”

“Still, it is my burden to carry. Who will provide for Abby, Grace and Phoebe if I do not?” She set her glass down on the desk and took a deep breath. “We have no relatives, but I think I have found a way out of our predicament.” Gray raised his eyebrows, but said nothing. “Would you like to know what my plan is?”

He nodded. “Please, enlighten me.”

She took a deep breath and then stated, “I want to come work for you.”

“You want to what?” he asked in confusion.

“It is a perfectly reasonable request.”

“Reasonable? You are a gently-bred young lady, ill suited to menial labor.

She sighed, crestfallen. “A paid position in a wealthy home is the best I can hope for. I can run a household. I will gladly be your housekeeper.” Gray was momentarily shocked into silence. “I have no hope for marriage. Winterbourne was my only opportunity. I have no dowry, and I come with three sisters equally destitute.”

“You could marry me,” Gray suggested slowly as if he was just coming to the conclusion himself.

About the Author

MEDIA KIT Author PhotoSamantha Garman currently lives and writes in Brooklyn, NY. She loves Scotch, a great conversation with anyone willing to speak their mind and flannel pajamas. While yearning for a backyard and a dog, she’s decided to stay busy working on her next book, Dandelion Dreams.

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M.K. Harkins: Unintentional

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Interview with M.K. Harkins

Susana: Do you ever wish you were someone else? Who?

M.K.: Not usually. If I had to pick someone it would be Bill Gates. I love the idea of spending my life trying to help other people less fortunate. He’s done a wonderful job giving back to the world.

Susana: What did you do on your last birthday?

M.K.: It was a great day. We traveled to Cannon Beach Oregon to start our two week vacation.

Susana: What are you working on right now?

M.K.: I just finished Unintentional. I’m starting to contemplate the next book in the series. The title is Complicated. I checked Amazon, and no one has used that title yet. I couldn’t believe it!

Susana: What do you think you’re really good at?

M.K.: Plot. It just seems to flow!

Susana: What do you think you’re really bad at?

M.K.: Grammar. I have two editors—lol!

About Unintentional

Cade, the gorgeous song man, has every reason to steer clear of commitment and train his soulful eyes, killer dimples, and sexy voice on every beauty swaying to his band. So why is it that he finds himself truly, deeply and unintentionally, fixed on the one woman who is not so easily swept away?

The sequel to Intentional, the debut romantic novel by MK Harkins, Unintentional is the heart-racing new work that follows the tangled thread of Cade in the aftermath of his heartbreak in losing the one woman he thought was his soul mate. After taking a hiatus from his job as an engineer, as well as his role in the band as lead singer, Cade reemerges in the Seattle music scene. Enter Laurel, the tenacious and determined music agent. Laurel is determined to sign him, no matter how clearly reluctant he is. Though they try to resist one another romantically, the magnetism is as immediate as it is powerful.

Unintentional offers readers an intricate, riveting story about the fraught paces of love, while also offering strains of heartwarming humor. With rich detail, authentic characters, and plenty of blood-pumping romance, Unintentional is a moving and multilayered look at how love can slip through our fingers, only to be pulled back again at the most surprising, stirring moments.

Amazon: Intentional (first book in the series) • Unintentional

Excerpt

I close my eyes, trying to shut out the words. A dull, yet painful ache starts creeping up my spine, radiating out to every cell in my body. As the minutes tick by, the feelings become more intense.

My breath catches in my throat as a stream of unwanted emotions rush through me

The torrent of loss and agony storms through my mind, while I desperately hold onto denial, the only thing I have left. Who am I kidding?  I’ve lost her. Dread and sadness are pulling me under, making it difficult to breath

If Jeremy didn’t cheat on Mattie, I know, without a doubt, she’ll be returning to him. Jeremy will have Mattie back. My stomach roils as I contemplate that bastard having her. It’s irrational, I know, but I’ve despised that guy from the get go.

I want to leave, but I just can’t. My body feels like lead as I stroke her hair, catching her tears as they fall. She knows how I feel. I know she loves me, but she has a history with Jeremy. She loves him more. I’ve known this all along.

Damn, I’m so stupid. But could I really help it? As I gaze at her, probably for the last time, I know I don’t have a chance. I love everything about her, her smile, her laugh, her beauty – but not just the exterior beauty. It’s the person she is.

Hell, I probably fell in love with her the first weekend we met at the cabin in Verlot.

I need to get away. I can’t be next to her like this. It’s too painful.

I get up, but I still can’t leave the room, so I move to the window. I stare at the Seattle skyline for what seems like hours. I’m rooted to the floor, unable to leave. I know, when I go, that’s it. Mattie, or the dream of Mattie, will be gone forever.

About the Author

MEDIA KIT Author photo 1MK Harkins is the author of the romantic novel Intentional. An avid reader, she began writing fiction when she ran out of reading selections on her Kindle. Her new novel, Unintentional, is a sequel to her first work and is based on the life of the character Cade. A business owner, Harkins spends her free time traveling, watching movies, reading voraciously, in addition to creating her own fiction. The author currently lives in Mercer Island, Washington.

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