Téa Cooper: A Sneak Peek at Jazz Baby

Thanks for the invitation to stop in … I’ve got news! I’ve got news! Hot off the press ….

October 1st will see the release of my next historical romance from Escape Publishing and it is a bit of a diversion from Lily’s Leap and Matilda’s Freedom.

About Jazz Baby

In the gritty underbelly of 1920s Sydney, a fresh-faced country girl is about to arrive in the big, dark city–and risk everything in the pursuit of her dreams.

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Sydney is no place for the fainthearted—five shillings for a twist of snow, a woman for not much more, and a bullet if you look sideways at the wrong person.

Dolly Bowman is ready and willing to take on all the brash, bustling city has to offer. After all it is the 1920s, a time for a girl to become a woman and fulfil her dreams. Turning her back on her childhood, she takes up a position working as a housemaid while she searches for her future.

World War I flying ace Jack Dalton knows he’s luckier than most. He’s survived the war with barely a scratch, a couple of astute business decisions have paid off, and he’s set for the high life. But a glimpse of a girl that he had forgotten, from a place he’s tried to escape suddenly sets all his plans awry. Try as he might he can’t shake the past, and money isn’t enough to pay the debts he’s incurred.

Coming Soon

I can’t show you the cover of Jazz Baby yet but I have to admit to drawing on an Australian TV series called Underbelly Razor for inspiration, especially as far as the clothes are concerned, which I adore. This is one of my favourites….

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I spend a fair amount of time in Sydney and I stay right in the middle of Darlinghurst and Surry Hills where the story takes place. Most of my research consisted of pounding the pavements, checking out the back alleyways, terrace houses and dubious bars and pubs! One of my favourites is called Love Tilly Devine. There is a great story on their website.

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I’ve also written a sequel to Jazz Baby entitled The Wages of Sin, a spinoff story about two of the secondary character–as yet I can’t give you a release date and a blurb would give away the story of Jazz Baby.

You can find all the information on my website www.teacooperauthor.com or be the first to hear all my news by joining my free readers’ newsletter group.

About Téa

Author Photo_TéaCooper_smallTéa Cooper lives in a stone cottage on one hundred acres of bushland, just outside the time-warp village of Wollombi, NSW Australia. When she isn’t writing, Téa can be found haunting the local museum or chatting to the locals, who offer a never-ending source of inspiration.

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Smart Blondes: Sonia Koso

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Working With a Manuscript Consultant

by Sonia Koso

As I completed the first draft of Smart Blondes, I was thrilled with the sense of accomplishment. As I started reading, re-reading and editing, I soon realized I needed feedback. I had a bit of a problem: I was absolutely terrified of having someone else read it. In fact, I had hid that I was writing it from just about everyone in my life.

In an anxiety-fueled fit of insanity, I posted the manuscript in blog form and asked three “beta” readers to take a look. All were helpful and it made me slightly less horrified at the thought of letting other humans see it. However, they were not writers and couldn’t push me where I needed to go.

Enter WritebyNight, a writer’s service then located in Austin (www.writebynight.com). The name caught my eye because this was how I had been writing: after work and sometimes very late into the night. In the description of who they are and what they do, the phrase “get a specific project off the ground or complete a project you’ve started” jumped out at me. At the time, Writebynight had an office/writers loft in uber-hip East Austin. They have since moved to New York but are able to assist writers nationwide.

It was not without trepidation that I made an appointment with Justine Tal Goldberg, a member of the WBN Management team. In the scant block between my car and the front door of the WBN office, I considered turning around more than once. I’m not a real writer, I thought, I don’t belong here. My ingrained Southern manners wouldn’t hear of me blowing off an appointment so I forced myself to go.

Justine, who has vast experience with frustrated, frightened, and neurotic writers, immediately put me at ease. She started off by asking about the story, where I was in the process, my experience level and what my goals were. I heard myself saying: “I want it to be good and I want it to be published.” She suggested a manuscript consultation and explained that this was ideal for writers who have completed or are close to completing a full draft.

I was matched with the very talented Cecily Sailer as my consultant. I met with Cecily at a local coffee shop and discussed the book for an hour before she began her critique. Again, I was met with a lack of confidence: Cecily is a real writer…what if my stuff sucks?

After a couple of weeks, Cecily provided me a copy of my manuscript with in depth notes on point of view, voice, setting, characterization and style. The comments, both critical and complimentary, bolstered my writing confidence. She identified with specificity what was working, what was not working, what could be improved and suggestions on how to make those improvements. It was a writer’s road map of how to get out of the places where I was stuck. This was exactly what I needed to take my manuscript from merely written to polished.

I have since learned that quite a few big-name writers have manuscript consultants on their payrolls. A consultation is not inexpensive. The initial meeting was $99 and the consultation was $35 per hour but the coaching and direction I received was priceless. Without WritebyNight, my novel would likely still be languishing somewhere in the digital recesses of my laptop, never seeing the light of day.

“Like” Sonia on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sonia.koso) for a chance to win a Vera Bradley “Canterbury Magenta” tote or a $25 gift card to Sephora.

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About Smart Blondes

Austin socialite Carrie Pryce has no clue her criminally charming husband is carrying on with another woman until she returns home unexpectedly, mistakes the sounds of passion for a home-invasion robbery and accidentally shoots him in the backside. Stunned, Carrie drives all night to her quirky hometown and collapses in a near-catatonic state.

A crew of ladies spanning three generations realize it’s up to them to help Carrie get her life out of the ditch. Known as the “Presbyterian Mafia,” these are not sweet old gals. They have a book club that never reads, a garden club that doesn’t garden, and a bible study class that gossips about the Methodists. They’re known around town for antics including catfights, car chases and Voodoo rituals. The women enlist Carrie’s former childhood best friend Portia (now a lawyer) and her flamboyant cousin Eric (recently returned from New York) in their effort.

While dealing with the after-effects of her imprudent gunplay and managing a hair color disaster, Carrie meets Rhett Richards. He’s an attractive oil field worker who can make women think un-Christian thoughts by the mere act of wearing a pair of tight wranglers. Carrie soon learns that hometowns can be the perfect places to bury old scandals and create new ones.

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Excerpt

“Baby, put the gun down,” Jake said in a tone of voice one would use with a naughty three year old. “It’s…it’s not what you think.”

MEDIA KIT Smart Blondes Cover copyCarrie froze. She couldn’t have lowered her arms if she tried. As she scanned the room, she saw the remnants of a well-planned romantic event including champagne, massage oil, and discarded lingerie.

Jake was slowly moving away from the defiled kitchen island and found a potholder to shield his now deflating manhood.

“I wanted to tell you for a while,” Jake started. “I hate that you had to find out about it this way.” Carrie recognized this as his salesman tone of voice—over-articulated, round tones that were completely full of shit.

“This has been going on for a while?” Carrie asked.  Jake looked down and then nodded his head.

He exhaled slowly and gazed downward, his default action before saying something awful. “We’ve been having problems…I’ve tried, but the excitement is gone.”

Excitement? Carrie immediately knew this was man code for I want to trade you in for a new one.  She’d seen it many times but never thought it would happen to her. The phrase I’ve tried but the excitement is gone would run through her head in a relentless loop a thousand times.

“I need to be on my own for a while,” Jake continued in round tones. “With you and Kayley around, I can’t figure any of this out.  I can’t be a grown man. I need fewer responsibilities…”

“You want me and Kayley to leave so you can figure out how to be a grown man? Jesus H. Christ!” Carrie screamed it more than speaking it. She couldn’t help herself.

“Maybe you need to get a few things,” Jake began, “And I’ll call the Driskill Hotel and get you a suite. We’ll talk in a day or two after we both cool down.”

“Let me get this straight. I walk in on you with your cock in the help… and you think I need to leave?” She firmed up her grip on the tiny Kel-Tec pistol. “I’m not leaving this house, this room or even that damn Aga!” It was an out-of-body experience. She wasn’t sure why she did it but Carrie fired the pistol at the stove.

There was bang followed by a ping and a whoosh and Jake’s scream.  The bullet hit the front of the Aga, ricocheted off the cast iron and bounced into Jake’s naked butt cheek.

The next few seconds seemed like a year. Jake’s hand went to his ass then up to his face where he saw blood.

“Holy shit, Carrie!”

About the Author

Sonia Koso grew up in the eccentricity-filled piney woods of Northeast Texas.  She has been writing since an early age and considers it her first love. After receiving a B.A. in English Writing, her life took a drastic turn and she went to law school. Sonia practiced law for over a decade but was drawn back to writing in 2012. Sonia’s stories feature strong women, good-looking guys, legal dilemmas and a dose of humor.  Smart Blondes borrows many characters from her childhood as well as her legal career.

Sonia does most of her writing at her condo in Austin’s hip SOCO district. It’s in walking distance from landmarks including Lady Bird Lake, the Continental Club, and the Congress Avenue Bat Bridge. When not writing, Sonia divides her time between the live music of Austin and the sunshine of Boca Raton. She loves Tex-Mex food, blue water, cocktails and good friends. Sonia often dreams of a man who can do his own laundry and a walk-in closet with a chandelier…but not necessarily in that order.

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Notice Me: B.L. Blair

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The author will be awarding a paperback copy of all three books in the Holton Series (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 chance of winning.

About Notice Me

Andrew Moore has always thought of Victoria as family. She is his best friend’s little sister and his little sister’s best friend, but recently something has changed. Andrew is thinking about Victoria in a completely different way. She will never fit into his quiet, conservative world. They are too different to have a future together, but he can’t help noticing her.

Victoria Carson has been in love with Andrew since her sixteenth birthday, but Andrew never noticed her as anything other than his best friend’s little sister. She fled from her hometown so that she wouldn’t have to watch Andrew build a life with someone else. But things have changed. Andrew is now a widower, and Victoria has returned home. It is time to make him notice her.

Return to Holton, Texas to see if Victoria can get Andrew to notice her. Notice Me is the second book in the Holton Series but may be read as a standalone novel.

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Excerpt

“Drew,” Victoria said drawing his attention.  He was pleased to note she had returned to the shortened version of his name.  “What’s going on?”

Cover_Notice Me copyAndrew took a deep breath.  Here was the hard part.  Victoria was very independent, and he knew if he said the wrong thing, she would dismiss him in two seconds flat.  “I thought I would go with you to look at those buildings for your friend.”

Her eyes narrowed.  “Why?”

“The children are visiting their grandparents today so I’m going into Dallas anyway.  Normally, I do some work while they visit but I thought about you and hoped you wouldn’t mind the company.”

She studied him a moment.  “Let me get this straight.  You want to spend the day with me looking at buildings?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”  She asked again.

Andrew walked over to the large window and looked out.  Both children were sitting quietly, albeit somewhat impatiently, in the car.  Slowly, he turned back to her.  He looked into her eyes wondering if he had mistaken the look he had seen last night.

“Tell me I didn’t see what I think I did last night.  Tell me that you didn’t experience that moment too.”  He watched her grow pale at his words but he had to know.  “Tell me, Victoria, tell me you don’t want me as much as I want you!”

She started to turn away but he reached for her arm and pulled her back to face him.  “You can’t, can you?”

“No,” she whispered.

Andrew was shocked at the relief that rushed through him.  He had not realized how much her answered had meant to him.  He slowly let go of her arm before saying softly, “That’s why.”

About the Author

Author Pic_Notice Me copyB. L. Blair writes simple and sweet romance stories.  Like most authors, she has been writing most of her life and has dozens of books started.  She just needs the time to finish them.

She is the author of the Holton romance series.  She loves reading books, writing books, and traveling wherever and as often as time and money allows.  She is currently working on her latest book set in Texas, where she lives with her sisters and her cat, Darcy.

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Kiss Me By Moonlight: Michele Zurlo

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Michele will be awarding a choice of signed paperback copy of Wanting Wilder, Mina’s Heart, Kiss Me Goodnight, or Kiss Me By Moonlight, and a $25 Amazon gift card to one randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click here for the Rafflecopter. Click the banner above to follow the tour and increase your chance of winning.

Interview With Michele

Susana: Where do you find inspiration for writing?

Michele: I find inspiration all around me. A few months ago, I was hanging out in my friend’s garage/workshop, and I came up with the seed of  an idea, and then yesterday, I caught an auditory snippet of conversation from a show my kids were watching, and the rest of the plot fell into place. Many of my friends and relatives love to give me ideas that strike them, and I think they get mad when I don’t incorporate their suggestions. Inspiration doesn’t work that way. It’s a series of ah-ha moments that I have to feel a connection with, or else I can’t write the story.

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

Michele Zurlo copyMichele: Keep at it. I shopped Letting Go around for two years before Siren jumped on it. Also use beta readers. Once you find a good one, cherish them. Beta readers have done more for me than any editor (and please note that I’ve worked with some pretty awesome editors). Beta readers speak from the reader’s perspective. You’re not going to get “that’s not an appropriate way to use that word” when you use made-up slang. For example, In Kiss Me By Moonlight, Lacey notes that Dylan is “king of the man-look”, the kind where the item he wants is blinking in neon lights right in front of him, yet he can’t find it. As far as I know, it’s a slang term my best friend likes to use on her husband, which I thought was funny—and accurate. My editor let me have it, but she did try to figure out if it should be hyphenated. My beta readers just gave it an LOL notation, which let me know it had the intended comic effect.

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

Michele: The characters always come first. Emails I get from readers always talk about the characters—how deeply they hit home, things like that—so I know my characters resonate the most in my stories.  With regard to the garage project hinted at earlier, I started with the hero and heroine. I thought about who they were and why they were there. I created and revised backstories so that we’d have conflict, and then I started thinking about the plot. With the Kiss Me series, I created Lacey first. I thought about her for a good month before I started writing anything down—and that was her first interaction with Dylan.

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

Michele: At one point, Dylan takes Lacey to a restaurant and they hate the food. The idea came from a date night I had with my spouse. We arranged for the kids to stay with my parents, dressed up in something that wasn’t sweats or jeans, and we went out for dinner and a show. We went to a new-to-us restaurant that served all kinds of Asian food—Korean, Chinese, Thai—and the food sucked. The human, which I love, tasted like fried chicken with barbeque sauce. It was a disappointment. That’s why I left the name of the restaurant out. If I’d liked it, I would have included the name. All the locations in the novel actually exist here in Metro Detroit.

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

Michele: I want to switch sides. I’ve launched a publishing company called Lost Goddess Publishing. I was inspired by friends and readers who tell me they don’t have much time to read, and that sometimes they didn’t have time to get into a novel (because they don’t end up finishing the story ever) and so I came up with Hot Lunch. They are short erotic stories that can be consumed with lunch or right before your loved one comes to bed. My beta reader said the stories don’t lead to wanting to go to sleep, unless the goal was to have erotic dreams. I’m working on adding novellas to our line, and I’ll be revising and republishing my novels there as I get the rights back over the next couple of years.

About Kiss Me By Moonlight

Hey there. It’s Lacey again. Falling in love and landing Dylan hasn’t been the panacea I thought it would be. For starters, he moved into my apartment without asking, and he continues to have no respect for my need to have things in sets of six. Pile that on top of my emotional upheaval after losing my stepfather, and you have a recipe for disaster no amount of German chocolate cake can cure.

Yes, Lacey Hallem’s life remains fraught with challenge, but you know she’s a fighter. Forming a talent management agency with her best friends has been the best career move she’s ever made—even if it’s the only thing currently working according to plan. Lacey’s OCD is getting the better of her, and this time her hands aren’t the only casualty. When her lies ruin her relationships with both Kiss Me Goodnight and Dylan, she’s forced to confront her demons in ways she’s never had to before. As she once again faces her past, can she learn once and for all to let love and friendship through the barriers she’s built?

Both harrowing and hilarious, this conclusion to the tale of Lacey and Dylan will leave you laughing, crying, and fanning yourself—sometimes all at once. Michele Zurlo triumphs again in this moving story about life’s quirks and what we all have to do to get by.

Excerpt

He followed me into the apartment, hopefully noting the stiffness of my shoulders. I projected outrage as hard as I could. Lies to cover lies. I know what I’d done was wrong, and it wasn’t a little problem. I’d said it in front of the media. Not for the first time, I considered that I was a bad choice to manage his band. With my mouth, it was bound to get negative press.

Cover_KissMeByMoonlight copyI went into the bedroom and into the closet. It’s a large, walk-in number half full of his clothes. I went to my dress section and began evaluating them to figure out which one I would wear to see John’s grave. Though it had been chilly when we’d left this morning at an ungodly hour, the sun had come out for the return trip and warmed things up considerably. The ice in the parking lot was melting, and the early spring day promised to get even warmer. I selected a long-sleeved black velvet shirt and its matching full-length skirt.

Dylan stood in the door of the closet, deliberately blocking my path. He eyed the dress in my hand incredulously. “What the hell are you doing?”

I responded to him with a passively neutral expression. “Changing.”

This is my way of goading him. He has a temper, but it takes a lot to get him to explode. I have a hard time expressing anger, and I hate how Dylan gets eerily calm when he dealt with me, so this is my way of compelling him to force me to let it out. Fucked up, right?

He took the clothes from me and threw them on the floor littered with shoes. Then he gripped my chin in his cupped hand, making me face him. “No. We’re going to discuss whatever is eating you up.”

I tried to shake my  head, but he didn’t let me move. “I’m fine.”

“Liar. You’re so not fine, it’s not even funny. I haven’t seen you this way in months.”

If I take a step back, he’ll let go of me and back off. I stared at him, wondering who is going to break first.

He studied me, searching my eyes for answers I didn’t have. “You weren’t calling me a name; you were lying.”

“It’s a fine line, isn’t it?” I spoke softly and kept my gaze locked to his. “And at the end of the day, it doesn’t actually matter.”

About the Author

I’m Michele Zurlo, author of over 20 romance novels. I write contemporary and paranormal, BDSM and mainstream—whatever it takes to give my characters the happy endings they deserve. I’m not half as interesting as my characters. My childhood dreams tended to stretch no further than the next book in my to-be-read pile, and I aspired to be a librarian so I could read all day. I ended up teaching middle school, so that fulfilled part of my dream. Some words of wisdom from an inspiring lady had me tapping out stories on my first laptop, so in the evenings, romantic tales flow from my fingertips. I’m pretty impulsive when it comes to big decisions, especially when it’s something I’ve never done before. Writing is just one in a long line of impulsive decisions that turned out to showcase my great instincts. Find out more at www.michelezurloauthor.com or @MZurloAuthor.

Elsa Winckler: Touched To the Heart

Susana: How long have you been writing?

Elsa: I love to read and I read just about anything but I’m a sucker for a happy ending. I’ve always loved reading romances and when I “met” the classic authors like Jane Austen, Mrs. Gaskell, Henry James, the Brontë sisters, George Eliot, etc. while studying, I was hooked for life.

I entered an Afrikaans romance competition in 2008 and was fortunate enough to win it. The prize was having my story published. Since then I’ve published ten Afrikaans romances, one English romance and the second one, Touched to the Heart, has just been published.

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

elsaElsa: The best advice I think is that if you want to be writer, you must write. It’s that simple and that hard. :-)

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

Elsa: I’m working on what I hope would be the next book in the series that started with Touched to the Heart. The four Cavallo brothers own and manage boutique hotels in South Africa, London and in the Seychelles. Don’s story is told in Touched to the Heart and I’m now working on Dale’s story.

Susana: What is your work schedule like when writing?

Elsa: On a good day I try to write at least 3 000 words. ‘A good day’ is what I hope to have every day but unfortunately life happens in between—the washing has to be done, hubby wants to eat, I have to see my grandkids, etc. When I begin with a story, I know the characters, have a vague idea of what will happen but then the story kind of writes itself after a time. When I get to the point where I don’t have to think about what I’m writing, I know it’s going to work. But that normally only happens towards the end.

Susana: If your publisher offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming project, where would you mostly likely want to go? Why?

Elsa: Oh, to Tuscany, of course! I live in South Africa, a beautiful country, but there is just something about the Italian lifestyle that gets to me – probably the food. I love to eat!

Susana: Do you have a favorite quote or saying?

Elsa: There is one quote that has helped me through the ups and downs of life—”this too shall pass.” It somehow reduces even the worst of times to the small incident you’ll eventually recognise it to be – one that has to end at some point.

Susana: Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, would you consider straying outside your genre?

Elsa: At the moment I only write contemporary romance. I’ve tried my hand at an inspirational story in Afrikaans, which will be published next year. Paranormal stories amuse me and I think I’d like to try one at some point.

About Touched To the Heart

Discover beautiful South Africa in this sweet, heart-warming Cinderella story about a blogger, a billionaire, and one chance meeting.

When it comes to men, if physiotherapist Caitlin Sutherland didn’t have bad luck, she would have no luck at all. To help cope, Caitlin starts blogging in her spare time, about the types of men she meets and the bad dates she goes on.

While on duty during the annual Wines to Whales bicycle race, a gorgeous, sweaty cyclist walks in and sets her hormones dancing. But he is Don Cavallo; one of the four Cavallo brothers—hotel tycoons, famous as much for their business skills as for the number of beauties regularly seen on their arms.

Don Cavallo has his own issues with the other sex. He has yet to find one who is interested in him and not in his money or hotels. But when this sexy physio puts her hands on his back she not only touches his body, but also his heart.

They’ve both been burned before, but neither of them can stop themselves from playing with fire.

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Excerpt

Touched cover_Final copy‘I have a question,’ he said.

‘Yes?’ she said, hoping her knees would not buckle underneath her. This close, he was even more overwhelming.

‘The massage I’ve just been given, is that what you usually do?’

Her face flamed, but she ignored it and squared her shoulders. ‘You have a back problem. I tried to ease your pain. That’s it.’

‘You haven’t answered my question. Is that the usual treatment your patients get?’

‘I…yes.’ She nodded and opened the door quickly. ‘I’m sorry if you didn’t like it.’

He smiled. This time her knees did buckle and she gripped the door more firmly. His smile was devastating.

‘I didn’t say I didn’t like it.’ He bent down till his face was centimetres from hers. ‘As you very well know, I liked it just fine,’ he said, his brown eyes dark.

Link to Longer Excerpt 

About the Author

I have been reading love stories for as long as I can remember and when I “met” the classic authors like Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Henry James The Brontë sisters, etc. during my studies, I was hooked for life.

I married my college boyfriend and soul mate and after 39 years, 3 beautiful children and 3 grandchildren, he still makes me weak in the knees. We are fortunate to live in the picturesque little seaside village of Betty’s Bay, South Africa with the ocean a block away and a beautiful mountain right behind us. And although life so far has not always been an easy ride, it has always been an exiting and interesting one!

I like the heroines in my stories to be beautiful, feisty, independent and headstrong.  And the heroes must be strong but possess a generous amount of sensitivity. They are of course, also gorgeous!  My stories typically incorporate the family background of the characters to better understand where they come from and who they are when we meet them in the story.

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The Gull Motel: A Barefoot Novel by Amie Denman

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Amie will be awarding print copies of her three Barefoot novels from Turquoise Morning Press: Blue Bottle Beach, Will Work for Love, and The Gull Motel to one randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour (US ONLY). Click the banner above to follow the tour and increase your chances of winning.

About The Gull Motel

Savvy Thorpe needs a vacation. Finally finished with college, she heads to her favorite shabby motel on Florida’s Gulf Coast where her aunt and uncle always save her room twenty-four. She quickly finds out, though, that The Gull Motel is not just her home away from home. It’s hers to manage while her aunt and uncle take an extended trip.

Skip McComber, The Gull’s former maintenance man, has been working on Savvy’s nuts and bolts for years. Now the new owner of the bar next door, his mission is to renovate a pirate bar while being a walking temptation for the girl he can’t get off his mind.

For Savvy, keeping her cool running a motel in Florida heat is one thing, but navigating the steamy waters of a former fling takes a whole other kind of savvy. In addition to the motel and the man next door, Savvy stumbles on a plot to swindle land from the residents of Barefoot Key. Devalued properties tumble like dominoes until Savvy musters her colorful crew from The Gull Motel to make the pillagers walk the plank.

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Excerpt

I watched a fishing charter leave a wharf several properties farther down the beach. I could see at least half a dozen people and lots of long fishing poles sticking up all over the boat like a case of bed hair. An idea swirled through my head like the sand between my toes.

Cover_The Gull Motel“Fishing charter,” a voice said behind me.

I jumped. “You shouldn’t sneak up on people like that.”

“Hard to make noise in sand,” Skip said.

“You should try. I might have had a heart attack or something and then you’d have my blood on your hands.”

Skip picked up a long lock of hair brushing my shoulder and twisted it in his fingers. He leaned forward just a little and glanced down my shirt. “You look perfectly healthy to me.”

I stepped back, hoping to restore my heart rate to something close to healthy.

“One of these days we should talk about last spring,” he said. “Maybe over some tequila.”

I narrowed my eyes at him. “I thought you would have called me if you wanted to talk. You’ve had plenty of time since April.”

Skip put his hands in the pockets of his cargo shorts and rocked back on bare heels in the sand. He was shirtless as usual. And he wasn’t taking my bait.

“Saw you staring at the fishing charter boat,” he said.

“I was thinking about something.”

“Thinking of teaming up with a local charter and offering package deals? Could be a great add-on to rooms at The Gull.”

My heart rate steam-trained up the scale again. That was exactly the idea I’d been formulating, and I didn’t appreciate him acting like it was his. The danger of years of slightly-lusty friendship is that you can know a person too well. And they’ve got your thoughts on speed-dial.

About the Author

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAmie Denman lives in a small town in her native Ohio with her husband and sons. Her two cats and large yellow labrador are kind enough to share a sunny office where she lets her imagination run wild. Reading books was her favorite escape as a child, and growing up four houses away from the community library encouraged her addiction. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys walking and running outside. The helpless victim of a lifetime of curiosity, she’s been known to chase fire trucks on her bicycle just to see what’s going on. Amie believes that everything is fun: especially roller coasters, wedding cake, and falling in love.

Amie is the author of five contemporary romance novels:

  • The Gull Motel
  • Blue Bottle Beach
  • Her Lucky Catch
  • Her Lucky Prize
  • Will Work for Love
  • He’s on Her Trail

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Melissa Fox and Ash Rising

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Melissa will be awarding an ebook copy of Ash Rising and a $20 gift certificate to Amazon or Starbucks (Winner’s Choice) to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Click here for the Rafflecopter. Click the banner above to follow the tour and increase your chances of winning.

About Ash Rising

Infiltrating an international drug cartel is the dangerous chance of a lifetime for Asher Beaulieu of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Falling in love while running the op isn’t part of the plan, but he never had much use for plans anyway. Shrouded in deception and surrounded by temptation, his charmed life explodes in betrayal and tragedy.

Ash rises from the flames a guarded, wary shadow of his former self. His past comes to revisit him, along with an annoying American DEA agent, who forces Ash to reclaim his courage and character before facing another chance at love—and an even deadlier threat.

DEA Special Agent Emmaline Justice is determined to be recognized for her work, not her sex. She doesn’t have time for an intriguing, wounded RCMP inspector. When the contacts she cultivated over long months of an international undercover investigation keep showing up dead, Emma must use her instincts as both an agent and a woman to determine Beaulieu’s role in the case and in her life.

One woman tore him apart. Another is brave enough to put him back together—if his past doesn’t kill him first.

Excerpt

His expression changed from shock to bewilderment and hurt. “Why would you be sorry you’re in love with me?”

“Because—” She winced, his words too close to what had been going through her mind. How could she explain what was obvious? Expecting him to deny, deflect, play her declaration off with humor, or even completely disregard the sentiment, she didn’t think he’d welcome her confession. “Because it appears that’s something you don’t want to hear.”

He looked completely offended, and it was her turn to be confused. When he spoke, his voice rang quiet and low, giving his words more impact. “I’ve really screwed things up if I’ve made you think that.”

“It’s just…” She floundered in her attempt to verbalize her feelings. Could she be wrong about his reaction? “I’m not sorry I love you, Ash. I couldn’t be. I thought it might be too soon, too much, that you’re not ready.”

“Ready?” He interrupted with a wry smile. “Who’s ready for that? If you’re ready to be blindsided, overwhelmed, blasted to pieces and then put back together again, well, if you’re ready for that, then it isn’t really love, is it?”

“A-Ash.”

“I was brought up by two people who loved each other—and me—beyond reason. I’ve always wanted what my parents had. I always knew when I met the right person, that’s what I’d have. That’s how they raised me.”

“You don’t have to explain. I—”

“With Liz… I loved her.” He ignored her interruption and kept his gaze level, refusing to let her look away. “I’d never been in love. Don’t know what would have happened between the two of us if she hadn’t been taken from me. Don’t know if she was the one, if she… I don’t know. And that’s okay, because there’s you.

“I didn’t expect you, Emma. You’re more than I ever expected to have, and I never thought you’d feel what I do, not now, not right away. I planned a long, patient, careful campaign. Wear you down, distract you with pleasure, make you fall in love with me. Figured you’d make me work harder than I ever had in my life, and you have. It’s been worth every second, because there’s you—only you. I love you, Emmaline. I love you, damn it. Don’t be sorry you love me, too.”

About the Author

After being rationed books by my parents like most kids get rationed candy, I turned to writing to tide me over between fixes. I love to get lost in a captivating, exhilarating story, whether reading or writing. Nothing is better than being drawn into a story so deeply you don’t realize you’re turning a page until you’ve reached the end, and the characters live on in your heart and mind long after the cover has been closed.

Having lived in the suburbs of the Mid-West, desert of the Southwest, and foothills of the Rocky Mountains, I’m now on an island in the Puget Sound with my husband and dogs.

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