Kathy Fischer-Brown: Winter Fire

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Kathy will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC 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.

Message From Kathy

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t fascinated by early American history. In fact, when I was ten, I wrote my first novel; it was very loosely based on the Swamp Fox TV series (a Disney production 1959-1960), starring Leslie Nielsen as the Revolutionary War hero, Francis Marion. I’d like to think I’ve come a long way since then J

From around this time until I was fourteen or fifteen, our family vacations involved visits to old forts, battlefields and living history sites up and down the East Coast of the US and Canada. My father was a Civil War buff who owned an extensive collection of books on the subject, but he was eclectic enough to include sites from earlier periods in our itineraries. Strolling through formal gardens and marveling at sumptuous bed chambers and ballrooms of Tryon Palace in North Carolina or expressing wonder over the three tiny rooms of an 18th century farmer’s house in Connecticut, I was deeply moved by the vibrations set off by the clothes, furniture and personal effects on display. Subsequent trips to Williamsburg, Virginia, and Old Sturbridge in Massachusetts—among others—provided far more insight than any high school history text could on how people in the past lived, worked and died, and with detail that struck all of my sensory nerves.

It was only natural that, when I took up writing seriously, I chose to set my fiction in the period I had come to love—the time encompassing the colonial and Revolutionary War eras in the U.S.

While searching for information on a book idea back in the days before the Internet, I became intrigued by “captive narratives.” In their time, and for a populace starved for the type of fabulous accounts that scream from today’s tabloids, this was an extremely popular genre depicting stories of white settlers taken in raids by Native Americans. Although these tales provided entertaining and informative reads, none was more gripping than the story of Mary Jemison, a teenage girl who was captured by a raiding party of French and Shawnee and adopted into the Seneca tribe in the area around what is now Syracuse, New York. Even as she mourned her family, Mary lived the rest of her life among the Haudenosaunee, marrying twice and giving birth to a number of children. By the time she was an old woman, Deh-he-wä-mis (as she came to be called) had all but forgotten her native language and was venerated by her tribe.

The story of Zara Grey, the heroine of my historical romance, Winter Fire, has as its core elements of these old captive narratives. Like many in the literature of her time, she is returned to what remains of her family. Fifteen years after her capture and adoption into a Seneca tribe in upstate New York, she finds herself once again reluctantly attempting to assimilate. As difficult as it was for many of these “redeemed captives” to readjust to a former life, the complications often proved far too great. The suspicions and mistrust with which they were perceived by their own people for their “Indian ways” put added strain on relationships and often prompted attempts on their part to rejoin their Indian families. In Zara’s case, a brutal murder makes her an easy scapegoat and puts her life in danger.

About Winter Fire

When Ethan Caine pulled the unconscious woman from the half-frozen creek, he had no idea that his world was about to explode. Dressed in quilled doeskin of Iroquois design, she stirred up dark secrets from his past. At the same time, she was everything he desired. But she was more Indian than white, and on the run for murder. He needed to know the truth. He needed to find it within himself to trust her.

Banished by the Seneca Indians who had adopted and raised her, ostracized by the whites in the settlement, Zara Grey wanted only to be accepted. “Ethancaine” treated her with kindness and concern. It was easy to trust him. But her Indian ways disturbed him, and in her heart she would always be Seneca.

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Excerpt

October, 1779. Six Nations Territory

She ran. Breathless, heart straining. Despite the stabbing pain in her side and the fire in her lungs, she forced herself on through the crackling underbrush. The cold wind whipped hair in her eyes. Briars tore her face and hands.

Cover_Winter Fire copyYet with each labored stride, the soldiers’ shouting voices drew closer. She dared not look back for fear of losing ground, dared not avert her eyes from the forest path.

But where was she to run? As if the question were an obstacle in her path she stumbled to a halt.

There was no one to help her. The People had gone, taking with them all help, all hope. She was alone. The outcast. Nameless.

Gasping, she slumped to her knees into the dew-drenched leaves.

The witch Jiiwi is no more!

The truth of it choked her. She set her teeth against the cry of anguish rising in her throat. She could have chosen death! Death at the hands of The People would have been swift. Nichus, her-husband-no-longer-her-husband, had assured her.

But her fear of death had been stronger than her fear of the unknown. She had chosen life. And with it, banishment.

She tore wind-blown hair laced with leaves and twigs from her face and glanced back over her shoulder. The soldiers were nearly upon her.

Five of them. They slowed their pace. Perhaps they knew she could run no more. They approached as if puzzled, talking among themselves. “Savages musta left her behind when they sneaked off,” one of the men said. “Why d’you suppose…?”

“Hotakwih!” she said to herself, unable to hold back the tears. It is finished. Raising her eyes to the sky above the autumn colored hills, she whispered, “Hohsah,” It has begun. She bowed her head. “Haywokahweh!” I have gone in a circle.

When the blue-coated soldiers caught up with her, she had neither the strength nor the will to resist.

Two of them edged closer to her in the shadows. “Here, we’re not going to harm you,” one said, his voice a raspy whisper. “Do you understand?”

She could not bring herself to look at them. Soon they would do more than talk. She knew. Soon they would see what she was. They would take her away. Take her back. Back to where the circle had begun.

She shuddered.

“Not so close,” the other man ordered. “Give her room. You’re scarin’ her.”

A twinge of unease rippled through her stomach. These were the same blue coats that had left a trail of ashes where thriving villages once had stood, who girdled the fruit trees so they would wither and die, who laid waste the fields of corn and squash and beans. She had seen them before, in her dreams. Her dreams had shown them the way.

“Good God!” another of them cried out. “She’s white! The woman’s white!”

The first man knelt before her. “Do you speak English? Can you tell us your name?”

She would not trouble herself to reply.

“Here!” A man fumbled in his pack, producing a slice of jerky. He extended it just beyond her reach, an attempt to lure her closer, like a starving dog. But she would not oblige him. “I’ll wager you’re hungry.”

She lifted her head slightly and eyed the meat with longing. Three days of subsisting on nothing but roots and groundnuts had left her light-headed and weak. But she would accept none of their food. She looked down at the leaves.

“Suit yourself,” the man grumbled, and tore off a piece with his teeth.

In the distance, the shouts of men rose above the morning stillness. An acrid odor wafted on the wind through the trees. Across the meadow, lush with green grasses, beyond the expanse of ripening fields and orchards, the soldiers had set fire to the village.

From a place deep inside her, as if awakened by the sounds and smells, an old terror forced itself past the dust of forgotten memory.

Zara! Run!

Voices from the past rang out across time. Silenced for so long, they gained new strength and force on the billows of smoke darkening the sky.

Mama! Her own voice. The voice of the child she had been.

For as long as she could remember, her dreams had been filled with fire and smoke. And a savage host tore her from one world and thrust her into another. So it had been in the past. So it would be again.

“Haywokahweh!” she said, and she closed her eyes.

The circle was complete.

About the Author

AuthorPic_Winter Fire copyAs a child Kathy wanted to be a writer when she grew up. She also wanted to act on the stage. After receiving an MFA in Acting from the Mason Gross School of the Arts and playing the part of starving young artist in New York, she taught theater classes at a small college in the Mid-West before returning home to the East Coast, where over the years, she and her husband raised two kids and an assortment of dogs. During stints in advertising, children’s media publishing, and education reform in the former Soviet Unions, she wrote whenever she could.

Her love of early American history has its roots in family vacations up and down the East Coast visiting old forts and battlefields and places such as Williamsburg, Mystic Sea Port, and Sturbridge Village. During this time, she daydreamed in high school history classes, imagining the everyday people behind all the dates and conflicts and how they lived.

Claiming her best ideas are born of dreams, Kathy has written a number of stories over the years. Her first published novel, Winter Fire, a 1998 Golden Heart finalist in historical romance, was reissued in 2010 by Books We Love, Ltd., which also released Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, Courting the Devil, and The Partisan’s Wife.

When not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, photography, playing “ball” with the dogs, and rooting on her favorite sports teams.

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Courtney Rice Gager: Tess in Boots

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Courtney is giving away five Tess in Boots posters. 

Click here for the Rafflecopter.

About Tess in Boots

Tess Dougherty plans every aspect of her life right down to the last detail. But she doesn’t plan on running her boyfriend off by bringing up the topic of marriage before he’s ready. And she doesn’t plan to lose her job on the day she’s set to receive a huge promotion. So when her perfect world unravels, Tess makes a new plan: disappear.

Tess packs her bags and leaves her city apartment for a remote vineyard in North Carolina. At first, she’s put off by the slow pace of small-town life in the South. She’s especially irritated by Thatcher, the vineyard’s smart-mouth, dimple-faced farmhand. But she soon begins to appreciate the area’s charm, and Thatcher’s charm, too. She even swaps her trademark heels for a pair of cowboy boots. As Tess spends more time getting to know Thatcher, she finds herself loosening her grip on her old life little by little. Unfortunately, things on the vineyard aren’t as simple as they seem. There’s a secret here, and when the truth comes to light, Tess is forced to reconsider every plan she’s ever made.

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I heard the sound of tires on the wet road, and looked up in time to see another truck slowing down to avoid crashing into the cow. The truck pulled around the cow and stopped alongside where I stood on the side of the road. The driver rolled the window down, and when I saw his face, I wanted to cry.

Tess in Boots Cover copyThatcher.

It was not my day.

“You all right?”

I crossed my arms. “I’m fine!”

“Guess your GPS didn’t tell you to go around the cow, did it, Heels?”

I turned away from him and pulled my phone out of my pocket.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“I’m calling for roadside assistance.”

“Good luck. Cell phones don’t work on this stretch of road.”

I turned around and glared at him. “What?”

“I said cell phones don’t work on this stretch of road.”

“I heard you. That’s insane.”

“Go ahead and try. Maybe you have some fancy magical cell phone.”

I rolled my eyes and turned away again, attempting to place a call. He was right. Nothing.

“Get in the truck, Heels.”

I didn’t budge.

“Come on, now. Get in.”

I turned around to see him hop out of the truck, walk around to the passenger side, and open the door.

There was no way I was getting in his truck.

“You gonna make me stay out in the rain all night?” he asked.

I put my hands on my hips.

“You know,” he said, “it ain’t right for a cow to stand in the road like that. You ever heard of Mad Cow Disease?”

I looked at the cow, then back at Thatcher, then back at the cow.

Was he kidding? I couldn’t tell. What choice did I have anyway? I was soaking wet, freezing, and miles from the vineyard.

I balled my hands into fists and took several strides toward the truck. “Fine. But I’m only coming with you because you look like an idiot standing out here in the pouring rain.” I got in the truck, and he shut the door behind me.

“Well, so do you, Heels.”

About the Author

Courtney Rice Gager copyCourtney Rice Gager graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in communication and a minor in creative writing. Courtney is also the author of The Buggy List. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and daughter.

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Amy Rose Bennett: Long Gone Girl

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Amy be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Click here for the Rafflecopter. Click the banner above to follow the tour and increase your chances of winning.

About Long Gone Girl

The girl Ginny Williams used to be is long gone…

After returning home from the Korean War a widow, former MASH surgical nurse, Ginny Williams, heads to the Jersey Shore for a weekend of much needed R&R. But her plans to do nothing more than relax on the beach go seriously awry when the boy who broke her heart on Prom night nine years ago—the now hotter-than-hot ‘fly-boy’ Jett Kelly—shows up on her patch of sand. To make matters worse, Captain Kelly seems to be on a mission to win her trust, and maybe even her heart again. But the last thing Ginny wants is a man—especially one like Jett—in her life. She’s a career nurse now, and that’s that. If only Jett wasn’t so damned charming and attractive…

US air force pilot, Captain Jefferson ‘Jett’ Kelly Junior is blown away to have stumbled across the beautiful yet shy and bookish girl he used to have a huge crush on in high school—especially now that Ginny is all grown up and sexy as hell. Problem is, she’s also not backward in coming forward when letting him know she hasn’t forgiven him for the Prom-kiss-gone-wrong incident. Even though Jett knows he’ll have his work cut out for him to get a second chance with her, he’s definitely going to give it his best shot…

Despite Ginny’s determination to keep her head—she’s certainly not the naïve girl she used to be—when Jett starts to unashamedly woo her, she soon realizes that maybe her heart didn’t get the memo…

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“Ginny O’Hara? God, is that really you?”

Cover_Long Gone Girl copyGinny cracked open an eyelid and squinted up at the dark shadow—enormous, dark, male shadow—looming over her. What the hell?

Heart in her mouth, she pushed herself up to a sitting position on her beach towel then tipped down her sunglasses so she could peer over the top—only to be confronted with her worst nightmare. Jett Kelly was at the Shore. And she was wearing nothing but sunglasses, a bathing suit and now a bright red blush.

Oh no, no, no. How unlucky could she be? Of all the places in the state of New Jersey that Jett Kelly could have gone, why had he shown up exactly here? While she was sun bathing. Vulnerable didn’t even begin to describe the way she felt—she may as well have been sitting on the beach stark naked.

And to make matters worse, he was only wearing bathing trunks as well. Do not look down. Do not look down. Just look at his face.

She swallowed, then somehow scraped together a voice that was passably clear if not confident. “Yes, but it’s Williams. Ginny Williams now…” Keep it together, Ginny. You’ve seen thousands of men wearing a lot less. She thrust out her hand. “It’s nice to see you again, Jett.” Well that was a big fat lame lie. And he knew it.

He smiled slowly, and even though he was wearing aviator sunglasses, she knew the smile mustn’t have reached his bluer-than-the-sky eyes. But he took her hand and shook it anyway. “Same.”

Dear God, what an idiot she must look, shaking hands with Adonis personified at the beach. She pulled her hand from his firm grasp, desperately trying to ignore the searing heat that had shot from her fingers straight to the apex of her thighs, making her want to squirm.

Stop it, Williams. You’re all grown up now, remember? A hardened field-surgical nurse.

Jett’s grin broadened, as if he was reading her mind. “You’re looking well.” Even though she couldn’t see his eyes behind the lenses of his sunglasses, she felt his gaze drifting over her polka-dot bikini clad body.

“So are you.” Which was an understatement to say the least. Despite her determination not to notice anything about Jett Kelly’s physique, she’d have to be dead not to. Wide shoulders, sleek golden skin over well-defined muscles—she could name every one—lean hips… She stalwartly resisted the urge to glance lower at the front of his trunks and dragged her gaze back to his annoyingly, too handsome face. “So…”

“Do you mind if I pull up a pew?” He gestured at the sand beside her.

Yes! “I was just thinking of leaving actually,” she said through a tight smile. “A girl shouldn’t get too much sun. You know, fair skin and all.” The audacity of the man. She’d all but told him she was married, but here he was, about to make himself at home on her quiet patch of beach. The man was unbelievable! He hadn’t changed one iota since high school.

He grinned. “I could help you with that lotion you’ve got there.”

Once a jerk, always a jerk apparently. “I don’t think so.” Ginny grabbed her floppy hat, shoved it onto her head then stuffed her Bain du Soleil sun lotion and novel into her calico beach bag. She stood, snagging her beach towel up as she rose. “Well, it was nice—”

He touched her arm. “Don’t go.”

Ginny jumped as though she’d been scalded and dropped her gaze to where his hand lay on her forearm. His long fingers were tanned against her own pale skin. She half suspected there were burn marks underneath.

He took off his aviators. Mesmerizing blue eyes, bluer than she remembered, trapped her gaze. “Don’t go on my account,” he repeated softly, his voice as rich and deep as the purr of the car he drove. “I’m just here to go for a swim anyway. You won’t even know I’m here.”

About the Author

AuthorPic_Long Gone Girl copyAmy Rose Bennett has always wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember. An avid reader with a particular love for historical romance, it seemed only natural to write stories in her favorite genre. She has a passion for creating emotion-packed—and sometimes a little racy—stories set in the Georgian and Regency periods. Of course, her strong-willed heroines and rakish heroes always find their happily ever after.

Amy is happily married to her own Alpha male hero, has two beautiful daughters, a rather loopy Rhodesian Ridgeback and a Devonshire Rex cat with attitude. She is a Speech Pathologist, but is currently devoting her time to her one other true calling—writing romance.

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Rachel Brimble: Christmas At the Cove

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Rachel will be awarding a $20 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Click here for the Rafflecopter. Click on the banner to follow the tour and increase your chances of living.

Message From Rachel

Writing a series of books set in a small town is a dream come true––something I’ve wanted to do ever since I discovered Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven series when I was nine or ten. The idea of having recurring characters appeals to me in both my writing and reading choices.

Obviously, I’ve moved on from Enid Blyton, but my shelves now groan with the weight of the books I collect and refuse to part with. The downside of loving a particular series is I have to buy the entire backlist (if I’ve come in past book 1) or keep buying each book the author releases.

To name a few favourites, any series or trilogy by Nora Roberts, The Lucky Harbor series by Jill Shalvis and The Virgin River series by Robyn Carr – each of them has influenced some small aspect of my Harlequin Superromance series set in the fictional UK seaside town of Templeton Cove.

AuthorPic copyUntil this latest release, Templeton has more often than not basked in the summer months due to the sea, the beach and everything a typical British seaside town encapsulates. Yet, when my editor suggested I might like to try a Christmas themed novel, I was thrilled! One, because I had never written a Christmas story before and two, it would be fun to paint the canvas of the Cove a different colour for book number four.

The series consists of a mix of romantic suspense and mainstream contemporary romance stories, but I decided quite early on I didn’t want to taint the joy of Christmas with a grisly murder, abduction or threat of some sort…so mainstream contemporary it was!

Christmas At The Cove is a reunion story between long-term Templeton resident, Scott Walker and the return of his brief but passionate lover, Carrie Jameson. Carrie has news for Scott – the decision is his what happens next…

Happy Reading!

About Christmas at the Cove

More family for Christmas?

Scott Walker doesn’t have time for a relationship. The sexy mechanic has career ambitions, not to mention a mother and three sisters to take care of. The last thing he needs is Carrie Jameson, the beauty he never forgot, arriving in Templeton Cove over the holidays with some unexpected news.

Scott still finds Carrie irresistible, and he’s not one to shirk responsibility. Scott’s issues with his own dad make the prospect of parenthood a minefield. But if he and Carrie can overcome their fears, this Christmas could bring them the best gift of all.

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She squeezed her eyes shut. “I’ll stay for another couple of days, but then I have to go home. I can’t stay here for Christmas.”

The soft whisper of his exhalation drifted over her folded hands on the table. “That’s great. It’s more than great. Thank you.”

She swallowed, wanting the words she needed to say out of her body as soon as possible. “You have your life, and I have mine.” She opened her eyes. “Neither of us has to change our plans because I’ve told you about Belle. You can still do what you want to do.”

Cover_Christmas At The Cove copyHis eyes ever so slightly darkened. “If I’m a father, it changes everything.”

Be strong, Carrie. Lay down the ground rules. “I disagree.” She straightened her spine. “I get it, Scott. Truly. I understand you think knowing about Belle means you have to change your entire life, but that’s not true.”

“That’s not what I’m––”

“Let me just say this, please.”

He closed his eyes and she took that as permission to continue. She inhaled a deep breath. “I like, and appreciate, you thinking what you should to do and how to do it, but I’m not asking you to change your plans overnight. This is going to take time. I want it to take time. Belle doesn’t need to know about you yet. You can go on with your life and when the time’s right, I’ll tell her about you.”

Silence.

Carrie swallowed against the dryness in her throat. When she’d been standing outside the holiday park, the decision to see her mission through to the end burning like a flame inside her, she’d thought her words would be strong and clear, delivered with a reverence he couldn’t argue with. Yet now, her stomach trembled with nerves and her hands longed to take his.

Why did he make her feel so torn and her reasoning unfair? Belle was hers. He had no obligation to her unless he wanted one. “I’m not saying that to be cruel, you know.” She sighed. “I’ve looked after her the last year without a partner beside me. She’ll be okay…whatever you decide.”

His continuing silence raised the hairs at the back of her neck, made her fear she drove a bigger wedge between them, but she wouldn’t falter. She had come to Templeton and achieved what she came to do––the gates were open and Scott could step through them whenever he was ready. As long as he realized the hinges wouldn’t creak back and forth on a whim.

About the Author

Rachel lives with her husband and two young daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. After having several novels published by small US presses, she secured agent representation in 2011. In 2012, she sold two books to Harlequin Superromance and a further three in 2013. She also writes Victorian romance for Kensington–her debut was released in April 2013 and she has since signed for three more.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family and beloved black Lab, Max. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.

She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!

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Karyn Lawrence: Keep

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Karyn will be awarding a $25 gift card to Amazon, a signed paperback copy of both Keep and the first book in the stand-alone series, Stay, bookmarks from Stay and a can kozie with the logo from the fictional beer company that the hero owns in Keep (Swag and print book are US only) to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Click here for the Rafflecopter. Click the banner above to follow the tour and increase your chances of winning.

Interview with Karyn Lawrence

Susana: How long have you been writing?

Karyn: I’ve been writing my whole life. It was short stories in high school and then on to screenplays when I hit college. When I was supposed to be studying database programming, I would stay up late at night and write terrible screenplays for features. They were usually action movies with romance . . . the film equivalent of romantic suspense. After fifteen years with some success, I got the crazy notion to write a novel version of that first screenplay I completed. I started in January of 2013 and published my first novel, “Stay” in May of this year.

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

Karyn: The characters, absolutely. Once I have a strong idea of who they are, the plot develops from that. This is a huge departure from screenwriting; it’s typically the other way around in film. It’s ALL about the plot and action, even when it’s a character-driven film.

Susana: Are you a plotter or a panster?

Karyn: I’m a hybrid of sorts. I don’t write anything down or make notes. Structure has been so beaten into me through the years that I have all of the major story beats mapped out in my head before I begin, and I don’t start a scene until I know exactly how it’s going to end. I find if I write outlines, I lose motivation to write the story and I feel locked in to the decisions I made at the outline stage. It should be noted that this lack of outline makes my husband crazy.

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

Karyn: I am polishing the second draft of the third book in this series, working title “Surrender”, and it’s due to the editor at the end of December. I’d like to put that book out by April 2015.

Susana: What is your work schedule like when writing?

Karyn: I have a nine-to-five job and write during my hour lunch break. I polish whatever I wrote in my last writing session, and usually average about 500 words. Then, after dinner with the family and the kids are in bed, I write from nine to ten-thirty. On the weekends, I write for an hour or so in the morning, during my three-year-old’s nap, and after bedtime.

Susana: What author has most influenced your writing?

Karyn: Anne Stuart. I picked up her first book in the Ice Series (Black Ice) right after it came out, and it blew me away. It was the first romantic suspense book I’d read that featured an anti-hero, action, an international setting, and some steamy sexy-times. It was firing on all cylinders for me. I was completely addicted, and I’ve read all of the books in her series multiple times.

Susana: Who gave you the writing advice that sticks with you to this day?

Karyn: I have two: I had a screenwriter instructor (I unfortunately can’t remember his name) tell me that there must be two people in every scene who don’t agree with each other. Conflict moves plot forward and disguises exposition. So even if it’s two people talking about grocery shopping, make them fight about which brand of cereal to put on the list. The other is my editor, Karen Dale Harris, who told me to imagine my characters are blindfolded when writing a love scene. Originally my scenes were little more than stage directions and lacked any feeling.

Susana: Do you write in multiple genres or just one?

Karyn: I’m getting ready to publish under a pen name in the contemporary erotic romance genre, and I have a book in the hopper to write that will be a romantic comedy.

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

Karyn: Finish that first book, script, novella, etc. Even if it’s garbage. (You can edit! You can fix!) After the first one is under your belt, the second one is easier. It’s like running. It doesn’t matter how slow you are because it’s amazing how quickly you can improve. Just keep slapping those fingers on the keyboard and you’ll get to the finish line.

About Keep

Billionaire CEO Shawn Dunn has plenty of sex, power, and money. A woman turning down his advances? Unfathomable. Yet that’s what she does, again and again.

Kara Hayward is supposed to be off limits. Her sister is hiding from the dangerous assassin she escaped from, and it’s best for everyone if Shawn keeps his distance. Certainly as far as Kara is concerned. Shawn’s only after one thing and then he’ll walk away, just like her ex-husband.

But Shawn has larger desires and he’s used to getting what he wants. He doesn’t care if being together is dangerous. He doesn’t believe that threat to him, or his empire, is real. Right up to the night he has everything taken away.

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This man moved with an elegance that was off-putting, as if everything was calculated, and then the gun disappeared into his suit coat.

Cover_Keep copy“Does that make you feel safer?” he asked.

“No. It doesn’t.”

He gave her a pleasant smile. “Why do you think that is?”

Maybe she could stall him. Maybe the police weren’t far behind and any moment they’d burst through the door.

“I’m not naïve,” she said, for her benefit more than his. “Plus I know what kind of man you are.”

“Really?” He looked, for lack of a better word, delighted. “What kind of man am I?”

“You’ll do anything to get what you want.”

“How do you know that?” His tone mocked her.

“I used to be married to a man like you.”

He gave her a look, his pure eyes shinning, one that said he highly doubted Paul was anything like him. That he was so, so much worse than her ex-husband.

“We’re going to have fun together, you and me.”

A chill ran down her spine.

About the Author

AuthorPic_Keep copyKaryn Lawrence is an author, graphic designer, and screenwriter. She published a nonfiction book about color guard after an editor discovered her blog, way back in the infancy of the Internet and long before blogging was really a thing.

She has been a screenwriter for more than fifteen years, with rather mild success, and grew tired of her stories only reaching a handful of readers. The decision was made to try fiction in early 2013 and once she figured out how to write internal dialogue again, the prose came fast and furious. She most enjoys writing smexy (smart-sexy) books featuring a lovable SOB hero and a tough-as-nails heroine.

Karyn is a Chicago native who lives in Kentucky with her epic husband and two adorable sons.

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Amy Rose Bennett: Lady Beauchamp’s Proposal

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About Lady Beauchamp’s Proposal

A runaway countess finds love when she least expects it…but she can’t hide from her past forever.

Elizabeth, Lady Beauchamp, fears for her life. When she discovers her dissolute and long-estranged husband has syphilis—and he wants to beget an heir no matter the cost—she flees to a remote part of Scotland to begin a new life as the widowed governess, Mrs. Beth Eliott at Eilean Tor Castle.

When Mrs. Eliott unexpectedly arrives on his doorstep, the reclusive and recently widowed Marquess of Rothsburgh is both irritated and intrigued. No longer in need of a governess—his young daughter now resides with his sister’s family in Edinburgh—he proposes the beautiful widow fill a position of a different kind…

Torn between staying true to her marriage vows and her wanton attraction to the devilishly handsome marquess, Elizabeth struggles against the temptation to become his mistress. But living a lie is not easy when you have fallen in love. And secrets always have a way of coming out…

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Secret Cravings

Excerpt

Set-up: Elizabeth, Lady Beauchamp—after leaving her husband and now in disguise as the widowed governess, Mrs. Eliott—arrives at Eilean Tor Castle, where she hopes to gain employment within the household of James Huntly, the Marquess of Rothsburgh.

At last, she heard the unmistakable sound of bolts being pulled back, and then the door was thrown wide. A bright lantern was thrust toward her face, blinding her. She raised a hand to her eyes in a futile attempt to shield them and squinted upwards. An extremely tall man was holding the lantern aloft; she could discern little else about him as the intense light in her eyes obscured her vision.

Edinburgh castle“What do you want, woman?” The man’s voice was a low growl.

Elizabeth drew a deep breath and summoned her most imperious voice. She had come so far and she would not be cowed by an obnoxious servant. “I seek an audience with Lord Rothsburgh. Is your master at home?”

“What the deuce for?”

She immediately bristled at the insolence in the man’s tone. “I’d have a care to mind your tongue, sir. And lower that lantern. You’re hurting my eyes.”

The light was immediately lowered, and Elizabeth was able to see a little more of the man who seemed to be filling up the whole doorway. He must have been at least six foot four, with black hair that fell across one eye. She also noted that he was informally dressed in a loose, white cambric shirt that was open at the neck, black breeches and boots. The marquess obviously had low standards when it came to fitting out his staff in proper livery.

“Well, aren’t you going to invite me in?” she demanded.

The man—she assumed he was some sort of sloppy butler or footman—let out a snort of laughter. “What on earth for?”

She scowled and drew herself up, raising her chin. She would not be laughed at by the hired help. “I understand there is a vacancy for a governess. I’ve come to offer my services to Lord Rothsburgh.”

“Have you indeed?” There was still an annoying undercurrent of laughter in the man’s voice. Nevertheless, he stepped aside and made a grand sweeping gesture with his free hand. “Then by all means, come in.”

Elizabeth picked up her skirts and started to step forward when the toe of her boot caught on an unevenly laid flagstone on the threshold. With an unlady-like squeal she pitched forward toward the floor—until she was deftly caught about the waist by the vulgar butler. With a gasp of half-shock, half-embarrassment she found her midriff was bent across his muscular forearm, whilst her side was crushed roughly against his wide chest. One of her hands had involuntarily fisted into the linen sleeve of his shirt where underneath she could detect the bulk of a sizeable, iron-hard bicep.

The scent of the man flooded her senses; warm male, whisky and the tantalizing scent of exotically rich soap; it reminded her of sandalwood, leather and a spicy note she couldn’t quite place—perhaps it was cloves. She took all of this in within the instant that she was suspended above the floor before the man righted her. She took a step away, her cheeks flaming. “I’m so sorry, sir. How clumsy of me. And I’ve made you all wet…Mr.…”

The man’s arm lingered across her waist. Perhaps he thought she would fall again. She noticed he had dark eyes; his gaze travelled over her face, studying her. She must look a sight.

“James,” he said, his eyes holding hers. In the dim light she couldn’t work out if they were dark brown or black.

Susana Says

SusanaSays3…sizzling second chance love story: 4/5 stars

Desperate to escape her pox-ridden husband, Elizabeth seeks a position as governess as far away from London as she can. Lord Rothsburgh’s island fortress off the Scottish coast is a perfect retreat…except for the fact that there is no longer a need for a governess.

The position Lord Rothsburgh has in mind for the lovely “widow” has nothing to do with teaching children. But she’s still in mourning for her soldier husband and after his disastrous first marriage, he’s not looking for anything long-term. He should just send her away and forget her. But he can’t quite manage to do that. And she has nowhere else to go, so…

Elizabeth, Lady Beauchamp, is just the sort of strong, independent heroine I’ve always loved to read about. As a tortured hero with a deep-seated yearning for love, James, Lord Rothsburgh is remarkable.

In Lady Beauchamp’s Proposal, Ms. Bennett has created a compelling erotic love story in an authentic Regency setting. Highly recommended.

About the Author

AuthorPic copyAmy Rose Bennett has always wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember. An avid reader with a particular love for historical romance, it seemed only natural to write stories in her favorite genre. She has a passion for creating emotion-packed—and sometimes a little racy—stories set in the Georgian and Regency periods. Of course, her strong-willed heroines and rakish heroes always find their happily ever after.

As an unpublished author, Amy has been a finalist in contests in both Romance Writers of Australia and Romance Writers of America. In 2013 and 2014, she has achieved a place in the top three of Romance Writers of Australia’s Emerald Award, and her debut Regency romance novel—‘Lady Beauchamp’s Proposal’—was the winning entry in the historical section of two Romance Writers of America Chapter Contests in 2013—the Chicago North Fire and Ice Contest and the San Francisco Heart to Heart Contest.

Amy is happily married to her own Alpha male hero, has two beautiful daughters, a rather loopy Rhodesian Ridgeback and a Devonshire Rex cat with attitude. She is a Speech Pathologist, but is currently devoting her time to her one other true calling—writing romance.

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Eva Scott, Susanne Bellamy, Elizabeth Ellen Carter, and Noelle Clark: A Season to Remember

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A Season to Remember

A Christmas anthology from four Australian authors

Eva Scott, Susanne Bellamy, Elizabeth Ellen Carter, and Noelle Clark

Release Date: November 28, 2014

Free download from Amazon

Four short stories on the Christmas theme, spanning time, places. Uplifting, funny, thought-provoking, heart-warming, ‘A Season to Remember’ will make your heart sing.

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Interview With the Authors

What advice would you give writers just starting out?

Elizabeth Ellen: Get the words out. Don’t mentally edit as you go. Concentrate on telling a good story first. Don’t worry about pithy prose or vivid description – that can come in subsequent drafts. Also read. Read the best writers in the genre you love and work out why you love the story. Is it the characters? The plot? The description? By identifying ‘why’ you love those things will point you to the ‘how’ on creating that yourself.

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

Susanne: I have the luxury of being able to move between several work spaces, inside or on one of our verandas, depending on the temperature. The change of perspective will often trip the ‘on’ switch in my head. Failing that, I work through the plot point as a logical problem that needs to be solved.

What comes first, the plot or the characters?

Susanne: First meetings! Knowing where and how characters meet tells me so much about them and their personalities. For example, the couple in my first Italian novella, One Night in Sorrento, sprang into being while my husband and I were travelling on the Amalfi Coast in Italy. It’s a busy, winding, but stunningly beautiful coastal road, and their meeting simply arrived in my imagination!

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

Elizabeth Ellen: The two cats in Three Ships are based on my two cats, Claude and his little sister Coco.

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

Elizabeth Ellen: I’ve just finished writing a short story sequel to my debut Regency romance, called Moonstone Promise. I have also done a full length sequel Moonstone Conspiracy which will be out next year.

I’m also researching a Roman era (3rd century AD) story what is interesting is I’m pulling today’s headlines for the plot.

What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

Eva: Isabel Allende (House of the Spirits, Eva Luna), Donna Tartt (The Goldfinch), J.K. Rowling (no need to list those titles), Kaui Hart Hemmings (The Descendants). All of these writers made me walk around for weeks wishing I could write like them.

What is your work schedule like when writing?

Eva: Crazy! I call it the Sara Lee Method – layer upon layer upon layer. I’ve got a toddler so things get hectic. I layer writing in amongst the kid stuff and the house stuff. There’s no set time, I’ve just got to grab it as I go.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Susanne: A ballerina (I studied ballet and contemporary dance for thirteen years), an air hostess (as they were then called; I studied French and Japanese at high school in preparation for a glamorous, international lifestyle!) and finally, an archaeologist because I fell passionately in love with Ancient History.

Noelle: Mature and sophisticated. Alas, I never achieved that goal.

What is your favorite food? Least favorite? Why?

Eva: Least favourite food – Chokos! My grandmother used to boil the hell out of them and I loathe the taste. There is absolutely nothing you can do to make them better in my opinion. Favourite food – probably pizza. If I was on death row that’s probably what I’d order even though there are far more amazing dishes to have. I find pizza a very satisfying comfort food.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Noelle: I’m a hybrid of both methods. I plot, create my characters in great detail, know my location intimately, study maps, climates etc…but then when it comes to writing, I just follow the characters and end up somewhere entirely different to what I planned.

What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?

Elizabeth Ellen: I like to drive fast cars.

Is there a writer you idolize? Is so, who?

Susanne: Margaret Atwood. I love the possibilities firmly rooted in some real aspect of present life. She takes an idea and marches it down the road of ‘what if’ and creates fascinating tales. Alias Grace and The Handmaid’s Tale are two of my favourite books by her.

What would we find under your bed?

Noelle: I’m ashamed to say there’s mostly dust bunnies, but I try to keep them under control.

Eva: Several small toys and the dog, an ancient cocker spaniel named Taj.

Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book. Where would you most likely want to go?

Susanne: Back to Nepal! I travelled through parts of the country many years ago with my husband, who has returned to trek and climb several times. My next romantic suspense, Her Mountain Man, which is part of a trilogy, is set on the Everest track.

Noelle: Italy and/or France. Those locations set my muse into a frenzy of story ideas.

Do you have a favorite quote or saying?

Elizabeth Ellen: I’m sorry, I forgot.

Eva: There’s more ways than one to skin a cat. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, do you ever consider straying outside your genre?

Noelle: This is an interesting question as I have yearnings to write in several genres. At the moment I mainly write Contemporary Romance, but I’m drifting towards Women’s Fiction too. I also have a completed manuscript of a Commercial Historical Fiction book that hopefully will be published in 2015.

Elizabeth Ellen: I love historicals but I do have great ideas for outside this genre. I have a contemporary rom-com and a ghost story short story that I’m looking forward to writing.

What is something you’d like to accomplish in your writing career next year?

Noelle: I would love to try self-publishing. I have a novella manuscript all ready to go that I’d like to use as my experiment into self-publishing. I also have two more books contracted with Secret Cravings that I need to finish. I’d love to do another Christmas anthology with my buddies, Eva, Elizabeth, and Susanne.

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Three Ships by Elizabeth Ellen Carter

An adventure romance set in the early 19th century on the Devon coast.

Excerpt

“Why doesn’t the lieutenant do something?” Laura whispered tautly.

“Just wait,” her father insisted.

Blackwell too had stopped running as he watched his two men close the gap. They were now only ten yards away when Renten picked up the lantern, pulled out the candle and dropped it in the cauldron.

The blackguards closed in – five yards, two yards – then the powder in the cauldron ignited. Renten disappeared in a flash of light and billowing smoke.

The two men ran into the miasma and, a moment later, their cries of distress were heard as they ran right off the edge of the cliff.

Laura gripped her father’s hand at the sound and the sight.

When the white-blue smoke cleared, the cliff edge was deserted, save for the cauldron.

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Sands of Time by Noelle Clark

Kitty faces her first Christmas without the love of her life. She looks back with fondness on the memories of Christmases past and, with the love and support of her grandson Joe, finds inner strength to face the future with anticipation. Kitty realises that, as she gets older, time passes so quickly. Although sad and happy memories flood through her on this special Christmas day, she chooses to embrace every moment of life.

Excerpt

They were nearing Kingfisher Island. Not a grain of the tract that joined the small sandy cay to the mainland was visible. A couple of small boats were moored along the deep channel on the southern side of the causeway, with people fishing from them. The boats bobbed up and down on the whitecaps, sometimes disappearing from view, then emerging again.

“Just over there, please, Joe. Near that clump of mangroves.”

Joe pulled on one oar, turning the bow of the boat towards where she pointed. Within a minute, she heard the sand scraping against the keel under the boat. Clamping her hand on the gunwale for support, she stood carefully and jumped over the side, landing in knee-deep water. Joe shipped the oars and joined her, the water not even reaching halfway to his knees. He grabbed the pointy prow and pulled the boat up onto the beach.

She gazed around her, the familiar sight of the few remaining stumpy mangrove trees, and the covering of pigface on the small dunes bringing a lump to her throat. The mauve star-shaped blossoms of the coastal succulent groundcover looked exactly as they had done for all these years. Nature’s legacy, constant and predictable, unlike humans, whose term on this planet was fleeting. For a moment she recalled the faint, salty perfume of the little dune succulents whose strong roots helped the sandy hillocks from washing away with each tide. When crushed, they emitted a soft waft of delicate scent. Not for the first time, she wondered why they’d been given the hideous name of pigface.

Joe’s outstretched hand appeared before her eyes, inviting her to take it. She refocused her vision, reached out, grasped it, and took a few steps through the water and up towards the sandy beach. Joe tugged gently on her hand, helping her to stand upright in the choppy waters which made the little boat bob roughly. A cascade of spray caught them both in the face as it slapped against the side of the wooden boat with a thud. They laughed in unison, blinking at each other through salt-filled eyes.

“Gotcha, Nan.” Joe’s smile, always so generous, beamed at her. She smiled back, raised her arm, and wiped her face with the sleeve of her blouse.

He held on to her hand until she reached the dry beach, then he stretched into the prow of the dinghy and pulled out an anchor attached to a sturdy rope, walked further up the beach, and buried it firmly into the sand. When it was secured, Joe turned and retrieved the picnic basket and the rest of the things they needed for their visit to the island, and deposited them where the low dunes met the beach. She walked to the picnic basket, leaned over and opened it, took out an old blue blanket, and spread it down on the sparse tufts of grass. Ignoring her sand-encrusted feet, she stepped onto the blanket, sank back on her elbows and gazed dreamily up at the cobalt sky.

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All That Glitters by Eva Scott

Molly is a modern day Cinderella, second best to her half-sister Aimee and never measuring up to her step-mother’s expectations. Now Aimee has the chance to marry an elderly millionaire and Molly is expected to keep the man’s grandson, Connor Rathmore, from sabotaging the event. Handsome, charismatic and very, very sexy – how is she going to keep him from sabotaging her heart?

Excerpt

“Well, are you ready?” She sounded rude but it was all she could manage to say. On the way over to pick him up she’d been too preoccupied to consider him at all. Instead she replayed the conversation she’d had with her stepmother. After receiving a reprimand for arriving late, Maria had grilled her over Connor Rathmore and found her answers less than satisfactory. Then the lecture started on her appearance. Where were the shoes? She’d kicked off those horrible expensive shoes at the airport and hadn’t given them another thought. An unforgivable act in her stepmother’s eyes. It was impressed upon her that she must try harder and remember her sister’s happiness. Of course. Molly loved her half-sister, Aimee, despite the fact the girl was spoilt rotten. Underneath all the embellishments she really did have a good heart. It wasn’t Aimee’s fault she’d been raised to be a life-sized doll.

She appraised the man before her. She steeled herself not to react to him. When he’d opened the hotel room door, more primal male than any man she had ever encountered, something unexpected happened to her. Bam! Right to the heart. Very inconvenient and impossible, the idea could not be entertained. Not for a millisecond. The consequences would be devastating.

“Good evening to you too.” He bestowed what she assumed was his best killer smile. “Shall we go?”

He stepped through the door, so close the heat radiating off his body hit her like a furnace. Her natural reserve began to melt. The scent of him was so… masculine and her knees wobbled as she caught her breath. Moving away wasn’t an option, even if she tried.

He smiled as if aware of the effect he had on her. Without looking back he strode towards the elevator and pushed the button. They stood in silence side by side while they waited. The animal magnetism between them shimmered, increasing with every passing second.

Molly’s senses scrambled. She stumbled into the lift. This situation would need careful handling. The man beside her must not guess his presence caused a meltdown. Her attraction to him created a complication she did not need. Just one week. Please help me make it through this one week. If her stepmother suspected an attraction between Molly and Connor, all hell would break loose.

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A Touch of Christmas by Susanne Bellamy

As Starship Bluefire settles into orbit around Earth, Captain Andra Veluthian anticipates meeting her favourite human, Colonel Nick Madigan. Have his efforts to save the planet succeeded? And if so, will she lose any chance to be with him?

Knowing Andra’s fascination with all things Terran, Nick has planned a surprise for her. After all, it is Christmas, the season of giving. But when Earth’s leader and the Gravlarian captain spend time planet side, the temperature soars.

Excerpt

Starship Bluefire – Log entry #1878 Orbit established around Planet Earth. Local time: 0715 – 22 December 2525 AD

“Reverse thruster off. Docking complete, Captain.”

Captain Andra Veluthian ordered her viewing screen to retract, rolled her shoulders then rested her head against the padded headrest of her Conforma-chair and looked at the view. Framed by a huge window on the bridge, planet Earth appeared close and surprisingly whiter than on her last stopover two years earlier. Through breaks in the dense cloud cover she could even discern the long coastline of what Earth dwellers used to call South America and, just appearing on the western edge across an expanse of ocean, was the island continent they called Australia. Home of the wombat, wallaroo and one handsome colonel.

Colonel Nicholas Madigan, political leader and guiding hand in Earth’s struggle against extinction.

Last visit, the fair-haired colonel had set more than a few hearts pounding among her crew. Including hers.

About the Authors

Elizabeth Ellen Carter

A future with words was always on the books for Elizabeth Ellen Carter who started writing her own stories when she ran out of Nancy Drew mysteries to read at the age of ten. Using her mother’s Olivetti typewriter with all italic keys, she spent endless school holidays making up her own (italicised) stories and then using the Dewey Decimal System to arrange and categorise her bookshelf.

Somewhere around the age of 13, she determined to become a journalist and at 17 was awarded a newspaper cadetship. She covered news, council, education and health but had the most fun as an entertainment and features reporter covering film, TV and music.

Best of all, she met her husband at the newspaper and, together, they started a small award-winning media, marketing and advertising agency. Today, she works as marketing manager for an international organic skin care company.

In 2012, Elizabeth also returned to the keyboard to write stories (and found laptops are so much better than manual typewriters).

Her debut novel, Moonstone Obsession, was shortlisted for the 2013 Romance Writers of Australia’s Emerald Awards for unpublished manuscripts.

Elizabeth is a member of the Romance Writers of Australia, the Australian Romance Readers Association and the Gold Coast Writers Association. She is currently published by Etopia Press.

Website

Noelle Clark

Noelle Clark is an Australian author of contemporary romance and commercial historical fiction novels. Her books weave romance, intrigue, and adventure into colourful, exotic, and interesting locations around the world. Widely travelled, Noelle uses real life experience of places, culture, and people as a backdrop to her stories, giving the reader an authentic taste of the location. Her novels feature strong, mature heroines and heroes, who—often without knowing it—are ready for new beginnings.

She lives close to the sea and shares her home with two cats and two dogs. She has two grown up children, and five very small grandchildren. When Noelle’s not writing and travelling, she plays guitar, tends her vegetable garden, enjoys the company of family and friends, and—of course—reading.

Noelle is a member of Queensland Writers Centre; YON Beyond Writing Group; Romance Writers of Australia; and Australian Romance Readers Association, and is currently published by Etopia Press and Secret Cravings Publishing.

Website

Eva Scott

Eva Scott writes contemporary romance set in her homeland of Australia and historical fiction set in the Ancient World. Her books offer passion and adventure in some of the most beautiful and intriguing places in the world. Her heroes and heroines are strong, sassy and ready to rise to their challenges, and learn a little bit about themselves along the way.

Having lived overseas for several years, Eva returned to study Anthropology before heading off to live in Papua New Guinea for a year. There she met the love of her life, author G.W. Gibson, who was stationed there with the Australian Defence Force. The rest is history, romantic history.

She now lives on the Redcliffe peninsula with her husband, small son and an assortment of animals. When Eva is not writing she enjoys mentoring first-time authors, cooking up a story, practising yoga and getting out on the bay on her stand-up paddle board.

Eva is a member of Romance Writers of Australia; North Lakes Writers Group; Queensland Writers Centre and Australian Romance Readers Association. She is published by Musa Publishing and Harlequin Escape.

Website

Susanne Bellamy

Susanne is an Australian author of contemporary and suspense romances set in exciting and often exotic locations. Her heroes have to be pretty special to live up to the real life one she married. He saved her life then married her. They live on the edge of bush land on a mountain in beautiful sunny Queensland, Australia with two children and their dog.

Paris will always be one of her top spots, and she fell in love with Scotland when they visited the west coast (nothing to do with fine single malts!), and recently had her first real trip to Italy–tick off one Bucket List item!  She has enjoyed New Year in Kathmandu and trekked in the Annapurnas, sailed in Ha Long Bay on a junk, and stayed on a floating hotel beside a tethered elephant in Thailand. The Peak in Hong Kong and Mt Faber cable car ride in Singapore are favourite spots. Susanne loves travelling to new places and exploring the culture and history, and meeting new people. These experiences are gradually being incorporated into her stories.

Her as yet unrealised dream is a trip into Earth’s orbit.

Susanne is a member of RWA and enjoys mentoring new authors. She is published with Escape Publishing, and will be a 2015 release author with Entangled Publishing.

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