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K.J. Watters: The Sale of Woodhouse Glass (Giveaway)

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The author will be awarding a $25 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 The Sale of Woodhouse Glass

“Touching and intelligent, The Sale of Woodhouse Glass isn’t your ordinary romance. Kali Woodhouse is a widowed mother-of-two who spends her days running her deceased husband’s business, Woodhouse Glass, and flirting with the town police officer, who is exactly right for her in every way. He’s certainly a better choice than the bad-boy, screw-up she’s known since childhood, and who just so happens to need a job and has the necessary skills for Woodhouse Glass.

“No, this isn’t the generic storyline you’ve seen before with flat characters who play their roles according to the formula. Watters eschews cliche and instead tells a touching story about love, loss, family, and finding happiness again after tragedy.”

-Author of “Someone Else’s Fairytale” E.M. Tippetts

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Excerpt

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00063]Within half an hour, the lawyers had arrived with their paperwork and it was done. Kali and Spencer walked out side by side into the warm summer day, a sense of finality clinging to them.

“How do you feel, fancy suit-wearing business owner?”

“Excited. And sad.” Spencer stopped walking to turn and look at her. He pulled on his collar. “And hot.”

Kali laughed. “A mixed bag. Such is the life of the self-employed. I guess I’m off to the life of the unemployed for now.”

“You sure you don’t want to keep your job?” Spencer looked hopeful.

“Nah. No offense, but I sold it to get away from you, so that would kind of defeat the purpose.”

Spencer nodded with a good-natured chuckle. “Fair enough. But if you change your mind…”

Kali smiled sadly. They both knew that wasn’t going to happen, and they stood looking at each other for a moment, neither exactly sure how to walk way.

“Hey, um, give the kids a hug for me. I’m gonna miss ‘em. Would it be weird if I signed up to coach Ryder’s soccer team this year?” He wasn’t serious about the soccer, but she knew he would miss the kids. They would miss him, too. They already complained about not getting to see him much. Now they wouldn’t see him at all.

“Single thirty-something man with no children signs up to coach six-year-old soccer. Yeah…I’m thinking it might be weird.”

He laughed as he reached for her and pulled her into a tight embrace. It was the first time they had touched in weeks. “I’m gonna miss you, Kal.”

Kali rested her cheek against his silky tie and freshly pressed shirt. This was goodbye.

“I kind of hate you, Spencer.”

“I kind of hate myself, Kal. But I love you.” He didn’t let her go.

“I love you, too.”

When he finally released her, his eyes looked a little bit glossy, the way hers felt. He kissed her on the forehead and turned to walk to his truck, leaving her standing in the sunshine, not quite sure if she was supposed to feel relieved or heartbroken to have reached the end.

About the Author

MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_TheSaleOfWoodhouseGlass copyK.J. Watters is the author of The Sale of Woodhouse Glass, a solitary journalistic article, and a large number of unfinished manuscripts.

She has an underutilized degree in Communications, selected for its minimal math requirements. She married her math tutor who is now a CPA in southern Oregon.

Her hobbies currently include reading, writing, and watching beginner level gymnastics, ballet, and soccer practices. When she isn’t writing or being a mom, she also teaches high school conflict resolution classes part-time.

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Julie Shelton: Passion’s Triumph (BDSM)

 Interview with Julie

What were some early influences on your writing?

Nancy Drew and Mad magazine.

Where do your ideas come from?

IMG_2358Everything I’ve ever seen, read, heard or done. I wrote an entire medieval romance just from seeing a blue gown worn by a minor female character in the movie Becket. The entire novel just sprang into my mind fully-blown. I could hardly write it down fast enough. I wrote it on 3 x 5 index cards, since I was in college doing research and that was all I had to write on, one sentence per card. They took up an entire shoebox. After carrying that shoebox around for forty years, that novel eventually became Dark Warrior.

Do you feel humor is important in romantic fiction?

I feel that humor is important in everything! I can’t imagine how dreary life would be without it.

Are sex scenes easy or difficult to write?

Easy in that I know where all the parts go. Difficult in finding exciting and interesting new ways to describe how the parts get there and what happens as a result. Otherwise what you get is a medical treatise. After all, there are only a finite number of words in the English language suitable for describing an orgasm. And they’ve all been used ad nauseum.

Name three things that inspire you?

Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, the Smoky Mountains, the full-length ballet Romeo & Juliet, and medieval illuminated manuscripts. Okay, that’s four things. So sue me.

Dogs or cats?

Cats

Chocolate or Vanilla?

Pistachio

Coke or Pepsi?

Coke. Definitely Coke.

Coffee or tea?

Coke. Definitely Coke.

Leather or Lace?

Lace. And Velvet. And silk. Oh, and satin. Yeah, satin…with lace…

Guilty Pleasure?

Edwards® Hershey’s Chocolate Crème Pie. OMG! You know how most people cut their pies into six pieces? I cut this one into…two.

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About Passion’s Triumph

Former SEAL Dr. Lucas McKay and his brother Alex, former FBI agent, have been looking for their lifetime submissive. And they may just have found her in the new Director of the Passion Lake Library. She’s sweet. She’s curvy. She’s adventurous. She’s a green-eyed, freckle-faced redhead with the world’s sexiest glasses. And she’s chock full of secrets. Not the least of which is the fact that she writes steamy BDSM romances in her spare time. She’s also a virgin who has never done any of the kinky stuff she writes about.

When they discover this, they offer to act as her temporary Doms, giving her lots of first-hand experiences designed to enrich her writing and make her D/s scenes more authentic and emotional. Since she’s as attracted to them as they are to her, she leaps at the chance. Unfortunately, Lily has another, even deadlier secret. One with the potential to destroy not only her but the two men she’s grown to love. Will death triumph? Or will love?

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Excerpt

Alex climbed into his truck, but he didn’t drive off. He was too busy mentally reciting the FBI’s Manual of Administrative and Operational Procedures in an effort to deflate his cock enough to ease the stranglehold his jeans had around it. Holy shit! That woman is so fucking hot! The moment he’d laid eyes on her, his response to her had been instantaneous. The electrical current zapping between them had ripped the breath from his lungs. His heartbeat had gone from zero to sixty in one second flat and had started beating so hard he’d thought he was having a heart attack. He’d never reacted like that to any woman. Ever. And he’d had more than his fair share of those. But this one was different. He closed his eyes, squeezing his face tight. Lily Rose. God, what a beautiful name! Lily Rose. She was different, all right. She called to a part of him no woman had ever touched before. A part of his soul that had been waiting, biding its time, for just such a woman as Lily Rose Prescott.

And she was not immune to him either. The Dom in him had recognized the submissive signals she was giving off—her shyness, her diffidence, the constant blushing of that pale, translucent skin, her inability to hold his gaze. She had been aroused. He had smelled her essence, especially within the close confines of the elevator and his truck. If he’d swiped his finger through her slit, it would have come out wet and slick with her juice. Just the thought made him moan as his cock hardened once again, making him wince in pain.

Christ! I can’t go back to work like this! I’ll never hear the end of it. Suddenly putting his truck in gear, he checked both ways, made a u-turn and pulled into his driveway, heading back toward the garage. Fortunately his property was shielded from the neighbors’ view by a hedge, a cluster of crepe myrtle trees, and a gigantic live oak tree. Feeling desperate, awkward, and not a little stupid, he shoved his seat back, lifted his hips and unzipped his jeans, freeing his rock-hard erection. The skin was a mottled purple, and blistering hot to the touch. Wrapping his hand around the base, he began moving it up and down in hard, rapid strokes. As primed as he was, it didn’t take long before his eyes were closing, his body was tensing, and he was coming, great white globs of cum spurting all over his hand. Hissing his breath through his teeth, he continued to stroke himself and massage the head of his dick with his thumb, coaxing every last drop out of him. When he finally released himself, he realized he was shaking. And his dick was still semi-hard. As orgasms went, that one had been singularly unsatisfactory, leaving him feeling restless and scratchy, as if millions of insects were crawling just under his skin.

Grimly, he rummaged through the glove box, looking for a rag to wipe the stickiness off his hand, but the only thing he found was a coffee-stained napkin. Feeling more than a bit sheepish, he tucked himself back inside his jeans, moved the seat back up, and backed out of the driveway, his mind still reeling with what had just happened. He had just jacked off! Sitting in his driveway! Jesus, I haven’t done that since I was sixteen! As he turned to head back to the station, he realized that the truck still reeked of cum, so he quickly lowered the windows, hoping the breeze would dispel any lingering aroma. You’re in deep shit, McKay. Deeeep shit.

At the very last second, he jerked the wheel hard to the right and pulled into the clinic’s parking lot. Exiting the car, he entered through the back door. He had to tell Luc about this woman. Because if she was who he thought she was, Luc needed to be on board, too. The decision to take her as their sub and train her would have to be made by both of them. Alex walked past several open doors into empty examining rooms and headed straight for his brother’s office. Luc was sitting behind his desk, gazing intently at his computer screen, writing something on a pad on the desk top in front of him.

“I’ve found her,” Alex said quietly. “She is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met. And sweet? Fuck, is she ever sweet!” Now that he was describing her, his words tumbled all over each other in their effort to be heard. “And so fucking gorgeous! Red hair, perfect, pale skin, with just a light dusting of freckles. Green eyes. Ripe, delicious breasts, a body to die for, her ass is—”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Lucas held up his hand. “Slow down. What the fuck are you talking about? Who are you talking about?”

“Lily Rose Prescott. Our new submissive.”

What?” Luc’s voice rose three octaves. “You just met her and you’ve already talked her into being our submissive?”

Alex shrugged. “Well, not exactly,” he had to admit. “She doesn’t know it yet—”

About the Author

Julie has always loved stories, both reading and writing them. A career as a children’s librarian eventually led to her dream career as a freelance storyteller and puppeteer, a business she operated successfully for twenty-five years. During that time she created and wrote all the original material for Kidstuff, a monthly language arts resource newsletter for early childhood educators. For that endeavor she won the prestigious EDPRESS Award, given by the Educational Press Association of America. She has also written other resource materials for preschool and early elementary teachers.

Now she writes erotic romances. Go figure.

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Other Books in the Series

Passion’s Dream

JulieShelton_PassionsDream_FULL copyWhen Clay “Raven” Nighthorse is offered a job as bodyguard to a woman being stalked by her vengeful ex, he’s ready to turn it down. Until he discovers that she is the woman he met on a beach three years ago. The woman with whom he felt an instant connection. The woman who has been haunting his dreams ever since.

Leah Stanhope has never forgotten the day she found her husband in bed with another woman. Nor has she forgotten the kindness and compassion of the complete stranger who’d simply held her in his arms and let her cry herself out on a public beach. She despairs of ever seeing him again until fate brings them together in a conflagration of desire and smoking hot passion. Can Clay convince Leah to risk her heart? And when her stalker finds her, will Clay be able to stop him in time?

Amazon

Passion’s Fury

JulieShelton_PassionsFury_FULL copyWhen Simon Rafferty finds Kylie Ferrell sleeping in her broken-down car by the side of the road near Passion Lake, Virginia, the connection between them is instantaneous and combustible. He recognizes her as the woman he and his two brothers have been searching for all their lives. Their lifetime submissive. And the fact that she’s homeless, injured, and targeted by the mob? Minor details.

Identical triplets and former spec ops soldiers, Caleb, Simon, and Ash Rafferty are more than capable of handling anything life throws at them. Including a sweet, sexy, lusciously curvy woman who has sworn off all men and who is clueless about the darkness of their needs and desires. Clueless…but intrigued. These dominant alpha males will do whatever it takes to get her into their bed, their hearts, their lives…and their dungeon.

But Kylie has secrets that put them all in deadly danger. And when that danger catches up with her, Caleb, Simon, and Ash must launch a desperate search to find her before she is ripped from them forever.

Amazon

Passion’s Hope

Golden Flogger Award -- Nominee

JulieShelton_PassionsHopeV2 copyOn the run from an abusive Dom, Charlotte Fielding has sworn off men and the BDSM lifestyle. She’s only attending this particular Open House for the free food. But when her abuser, who also happens to be at the club, confronts her, former SEALs Nikolai Rostov and Jay Gillespie come to her rescue and offer to help. But that would require her to trust the two hunkiest Doms she’s ever met. And Charlotte’s all out of trust.

But fate has brought these three people together—Nik, the big Russian Daddy Dom, Jay, the switch, and Charlie, the submissive who needs what both of these men have to offer. Just as they need what she has to offer. Can she learn to trust them? Can she risk her heart? And when danger comes for her will she stay and let Nik and Jay risk their lives to keep her safe? Or will she run—and risk destroying the only happiness she’s ever known?

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Kimberly Keyes: Lover’s Leap (Giveaway)

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Kimberly 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.

Welcome to today’s interview of Candace and Logan, the heroine and hero in Kimberly Keyes’ contemporary romance, Lover’s Leap.

Interviewer: Candace and Logan, the two of you are involved in a wildly passionate relationship and anyone who sees the two of you together can’t miss the fact you’re meant for each other, but as we understand it, when you met, starting a relationship with each other was the furthest thing from either of your minds. The word is your paths crossed by chance when both of you wound up vacationing at a mutual friend’s luxury vacation home in Tahoe. Can you tell us a little bit about how you both ended up there at the same time? And also, what held you back from acting on the attraction the two of you so obviously share?

Logan: I wasn’t on vacation in Tahoe. More like on sabbatical. Trying to decide what direction I wanted to go in my career—and my life, for that matter.

Candace: I wasn’t actually on vacation, either. I went to Tahoe to work—I’m a romance writer—and to clear my head. The house belongs to my agent, who also happens to be my very good friend, Eric. He offered it to me after a certain…um…traumatic event put my life into turmoil.

Logan: She walked in on her fiancé in bed with another woman.

Candace: (Laughs) Yep. Eric was worried about my ex badgering me into taking him back. I knew that would never happen. I can’t stomach cheaters, especially not after the way my dad treated my mom. But I did want to examine why I wasn’t more broken up about ending my engagement.

Logan: She didn’t love the guy. (Grins) She loves me, though.

Candace: (Gazes at Logan) I sure do.

Interviewer: So you both had reasons for hiding out in Tahoe. And?

Candace: After Eric offered me the house, he belatedly realized his quote-unquote special friend, Logan was already staying there. At that point, he almost rescinded his offer to me! And that’s where the confusion came in. You see, Eric’s gay. When he said he had a special friend at his vacation home, I figured that meant…

Logan: She figured I was Eric’s lover. I was pretty shocked when I realized she thought that. And a little peeved. Eric had (clears throat) given me strict instructions to keep my hands off his quote-unquote special friend, Candace, so I thought he’d told her he and I were lovers to insure my cooperation.

It struck me as way over the top—at first—primarily because Eric was my late twin, Luke’s partner. But after spending, what? Five minutes in Candace’s presence? I knew there was something really special about her.

Candace: He got the hots for me.

Logan: There was that…but also, she was a breath of fresh air. For most of my adult life, women have kind of…how do I say…

Candace: They throw themselves at him.

Logan: I was going to say, they come on strong when they’re interested.

Candace: Which any single woman is bound to be.

Logan: See? Told you she loves me. So…back to my guilty conscience over having it bad for Candace when I’d promised to steer clear. I tried not to notice her pretty eyes that saw right into me, and I tried not to follow her around like a puppy dog just because she really listened to me when I talked, and I never meant to get possessive and protective over her when I learned about her idiot ex cheating on her.

Candace: Or when the store clerk offered to help me.

Logan: (frowns) He seemed aggressive.

Candace: Whatever you say, Logan.

Logan: Okay, okay. Maybe I wanted you all to myself and that clerk was showing just a little too much interest.

Candace: Logan had taken me sightseeing in Tahoe, and practically ran off the cute male store clerk. At the time Logan and I were still firmly in the friend phase. I picked up on the boyfriend-ish vibe, but decided I was just wishful thinking, because, after all…

Logan: I was supposedly Eric’s boyfriend.

Interviewer: Okay, so if I understand you right, you each felt an attraction for the other, but felt you couldn’t act on it?

Candace: Guilty.

Logan: Absolutely. And it only got worse after we slept together.

Interviewer: Excuse me?

Candace: (Laughs out loud) It’s not how it sounds. We just had occasion to wind up in bed together in the middle of the night. The dreams I had about Logan…

Logan: and I had about Candace…

Candace: Still make me blush. But that’s a story for a different day.

Interviewer: You were attracted, but felt each other were off limits. How did you get over that hump?

Logan: I had to leave Tahoe. Had some personal business in San Francisco, and I wasn’t supposed to come back to the lake house. My God, I was gone something like twenty-four hours—

Candace: Not even.

Logan: …and I missed her like hell. But I resisted calling her because she’d been through enough with her jerk ex. I figured she didn’t need any Loganesque complications.

Candace: I missed Logan, too. I pretty much decided I needed to have my head examined. I finally felt a soul-deep attraction for a man, and he was completely off limits—or so I thought. But then a killer storm hit Tahoe.

Logan: (takes Candace’s hand) And I came rushing back.

Candace: He came rushing back to me.

Interviewer: And? What happened next?

Candace: (Smiles at Logan; Logan smiles at her) You’ll just have to read Kimberly Keyes’s Lover’s Leap and find out!!

About Lover’s Leap

After finding her fiancé in bed with another woman, Candace, a twenty-something, up-and-coming romance novelist takes off for a friend’s vacation home in Tahoe. The good news? She’ll share the place with fellow house guest, Logan, her best friend Eric’s latest lover. Except…

Logan, the nearly-irresistible-to-women photographer, isn’t Eric’s lover. Not now, not ever. He’s in Tahoe licking his own personal wounds, and before he’s allowed near Candace, he’s sworn off of her. No problem. Except…

There’s something about Candace. She’s not simply beautiful and enticingly off-limits. It’s in the way she doesn’t flirt with him. In the way she treats him like he isn’t a shallow pleasure-seeker. In the way, somehow, she brings peace to his world-weary soul.

Too bad she thinks he’s gay. But even if he can clear that hurdle, can he really entrust Candace’s heart to his own haphazard keeping?

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Excerpt

MediaKit_BookCover_LoversLeap copyExhausted. Soaked. Muddy. Hair plastered to his forehead, blinding him. He dug his elbows into gravel and dragged himself further away from the drop off, then rolled onto his back and closed his eyes. He would definitely lecture Candace. Just let him catch his breath first.

“Logan, are you all right?” Candace demanded, not content to wait for him to recover his strength. She crawled onto his chest and put her ice cold hands on either side of his face, pushing his hair out of his eyes. “Logan, answer me.”

Logan cracked his eyes open and studied her. Her fair hair was soaking wet and plastered to her skin. Water droplets slid down her cheeks, and off her nose.

“You told me you were safe, you silly man,” she half-yelled, half-sobbed. “You’re lucky your car stopped where it did instead of crashing into the gorge.”

Shivers racked her slight frame. Was she frightened? Cold? He lifted one exhausted arm and swiped her hair back from her cheeks. “Let’s get you home,” he said.

For a moment she stared at him with the blankest expression—then laughter burst from her lips. “You’re crazy.”

“I’m crazy? You just took a joy ride in the middle of a tropical storm.”

She sat back on his stomach and just smiled at him. A big beautiful smile that lit up her whole face. Something warm and wonderful filled Logan’s chest and he did the only thing he could do at that moment. Grasping her nape with one hand, and her shoulder with the other, he dragged her down and kissed her.

About the Author

MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_LoversLeap copyKimberly Keyes knew before she was old enough to drive, writing was her passion. Specifically, writing romance. Once she got up the courage to start typing, she never looked back—although some of her earlier works will never get further than underneath her bed!

She writes single title contemporary and historical romance, Victorian era, and is most comfortable working on two books in the two different genres, simultaneously.

The bulk of her time she spends writing, and re-writing, plotting, and dreaming up ways to perplex the characters living inside her head.

She’s lucky to have the unswerving support of her family, and most especially her two faithful companions, Pappillon, a twenty pound rescue puppy from Puerto Rico, and Frank, a.k.a. “President of the Black Dog Club,” also a rescue. The two are constantly by her side offering love and encouragement, and occasionally demanding chewies.

Lover’s Leap, a contemporary romance, is her first published book. The Trouble With Tigers, a Victorian romance will be released soon, too! Both books are published by The Wild Rose Press.

 

 

R.C. Bonitz: Dangerous Decisions (Giveaway)

Hi there fans of Susana’s Morning Room. It’s my pleasure to join you today. Thanks for inviting me, Susana.

Bob%20Bonitz[1] SMALLI don’t blog hop very much these days. FB and my own blog keep me busy enough, and with autumn in the air I’d rather be enjoying the brisk breezes at the end of the sailing season and writing novels. I only have three in the works right now and one in promotion. Heh, heh, you knew I’d get to that one didn’t you. Well, I might as well mention the book in question now that I have your attention.

Ever hear the saying, “the grass is always greener etc.”? Ever feel that way in your own life? That could be a dangerous thought if you give it legs. It might call for Dangerous Decisions, which just happens to be the title of my fourth book.

Megan believes in loyalty and living up to one’s commitments, but her live-in boyfriend isn’t in very much these days. And then of course there’s that total stranger her four-year old daughter invited to move in with them. The dog-pound helper-outer? He seems to have a few secrets up his sleeve. Then again, it turns out the boy friend has a few too.

About Dangerous Decisions

Occasional snatches of conversation reached her from the bathroom as Jordan and Wade carried on their endless chitchat.

Dangerous Decisioms small copyThe man was very patient for darn sure. Why did he hang around them so much? Because of Jordan? Was he some kind of pervert who had fixed on her daughter? She shivered at the thought. He couldn’t be interested in her. Could he? A thrill ran up her back. Stop it, Megan Weston, you’re a mother and in a committed relationship. She stopped abruptly in the midst of slicing carrots.

The sounds from the bathroom had ceased and Megan strained to hear Jordan’s voice or Wade’s, or the sounds of tools being used on the broken door. Not a single bit of noise reached her ears.

He liked Jordan? Too much? Oh God! What was he doing in there?

She charged down the hall and threw open the bathroom door. Almost. The door flew open just a little bit before something very solid brought it to a halt. A loud thud was followed by a clatter as something metallic crashed to the tile floor.

“Owww! What the devil?” Wade yelled.

Megan cringed. Oh dear, what had she done?

She stuck her head through the partially open door and grimaced. Wade lay on the floor behind the door, a hand over his right eye, blood streaming down his nose. Across the room Jordan tried to restrain an agitated Betsy, who gave voice to her upset with loud barking. Jordan stared at Megan, a look of utter consternation on her face.

“You don’t believe in knocking, I gather,” Wade growled as he staggered to his feet and turned to face Megan.

Blood streamed from a gash at the bridge of his nose and he still held that hand to his eye. Jordan was absolutely fine. She’d half-killed Wade for nothing.

“I’m so sorry. Are you all right?”

“I’m not entirely sure. Let me get out of your way. Jordan, come on. Your Mommy has to use the bathroom.” He started to step around Megan, his hand still plastered against his eye.

“Oh, no that’s all right. Let me get something for that cut.”

He frowned then winced. “You don’t need to use the bathroom? I thought you were in a hurry.”

Heat rose to her face. How to explain she’d thought he was a pervert? She needed an excuse, another reason for braining him with the doorknob. Oh well, she could take the one he’d given her.

“Oh yes. I’m just upset. I have to pee.” Oh crap, why don’t you stick your foot in your mouth, Megan? Nobody said you had to be so specific.

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There you go. That’s only the first calamity to befall our hero. That’s all about Dangerous Decisions for the moment. You can buy your ecopy at Amazon  or at ARe.

You can also win a FREE copy in the GIVEAWAY starting today. Leave a comment. I’ll pop your names into a hat three days after this post first appears and then will choose one commenter at random. That person will receive a free copy of Dangerous Decisions  with my best wishes.

About RC Bonitz

I’ve been writing forever, or so it seems sometimes. Long enough that I don’t recall my beginnings exactly, say about 1995. My first novel wasn’t intended to be a romance, but it almost came out that way. I killed the hero, though, an absolute no-no in romance, but it made for a good story. Since then I’ve never started out to write a romance, but they all keep coming out that way. Must be in the genes—my grandson still writes love poems to his wife. I’m a great-grandfather you see. Wonder what kind of romance a great-grandfather writes? Aha! You’ll have to read Dangerous Decisions to find out.

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Abby Bardi: The Secret Letters (Giveaway)

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Abby will be awarding an eCopy of The Secret Letters to 3 randomly drawn winners via Rafflecopter during the tour. Click here for the Rafflecopter. Click the banner above to follow the tour and increase your chances of winning.

A Letter From a Character Setting the Scene

by Abby Bardi

Dear J. Fallingwater,

I am writing on behalf of my sister Julie Barlow, who has asked that I contact you. We believe that you were an associate of my late mother, Cynthia Barlow. We found this address for you in Arizona in an old address book as we were cleaning out the contents of her house.

I hope it won’t distress you to hear that we also found a box of old letters that were signed by someone who simply called himself “J.” If this was not you, please ignore the rest of this letter. Let’s be frank: the letters were love letters from during the period my mother was married to my father, Bill Barlow. When my sister and I read the letters, we—well, to be honest, she—checked the dates, did the math, and has come to the conclusion that you are—there is no easy way to put this—her real father.

If you knew my mother, then you might also know the details of her divorce from my father, Bill Barlow. Not to rehash that old history, but it was pretty ugly. I think Julie would be happy if she were able to find out that someone else was actually her father.

So I told her I would write to you, even though to be honest, there is almost no chance in hell of this letter actually reaching you, since the address is at least twenty years old, and even if you get this, you may or may not be the person who wrote the letters. But Julie asked me to write and even though I said no about a hundred times, well, here I am, writing you.

On the off-chance that this letter reaches you, and that you were the same “J.” who wrote love letters to my mother, and you are actually Julie’s father, would you please contact us at the above address?

Sincerely,

Pam Barlow

Attorney

About The Secret Letters

When thirty-seven-year-old slacker-chef Julie Barlow’s mother dies, her older sister Pam finds a cache of old letters from someone who appears to be their mother’s former lover. The date stamped on the letters combined with a difficult relationship with her father leads Julie to conclude that the letters’ author was a Native American man named J. Fallingwater who must have been her real father.

Inspired by her new identity, Julie uses her small inheritance to make her dream come true: she opens a restaurant called Falling Water that is an immediate success, and life seems to be looking up. Her sister Norma is pressuring everyone to sell their mother’s house, and her brother Ricky is a loveable drunk who has yet to learn responsibility, but the family seems to be turning a corner.

Then tragedy strikes, and Julie and her siblings have to stick together more than ever before. With all the secrets and setbacks, will Julie lose everything she has worked so hard for?

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Excerpt

The casket was a double-wide, with painted flowers on the side like a circus wagon. Pam said it looked like hippies had scrawled on it with crayons while tripping.

“She’s at peace now,” one of our idiot cousins said to someone I half-recognized from when my mother used to drag us to West Virginia, where she was born. “Just a bunch of goddamn hillbillies in the Mountain State,” she always said, like she was Martha Stewart.

“Shut up,” Pam muttered in the cousin’s general direction, smiling like she was saying something nice. I hoped she planned to provide snark during the funeral, since I didn’t know how I would make it through otherwise. My other sister Norma was in the front pew sobbing. We were keeping our distance from her, not because of anything in particular, but because we always stayed out of her way if we could. It didn’t pay to try to comfort her, since anything you said would be the wrong thing.

The casket was closed, thank God. Our mother had left strict instructions about this and everything else when she was still conscious. Even while dying, she was a control freak, and amazingly vain for someone who weighed just shy of 400 pounds, even with terminal cancer. “You’re beautiful,” we always said to her in a Hollywood voice, “don’t ever change.” She knew we were just messing with her, but she always smiled and patted her hair.

“That’s a hell of a casket,” I said.

“Sure is purty.” Pam’s eyes were red. I hadn’t looked in a mirror since early morning when I’d slathered on eye makeup, but I’d been crying all day, too, and probably looked like a slutty raccoon. “Is Timmy here yet?”

“Haven’t seen him. It’s so crowded.” I scanned the room.

“Did any of these weirdos actually know her?”

“I don’t know. I bet those fat guys were football players at her high school.” I wiped my eyes, though I knew it was a bad idea, smear-wise.

“Oh, there he is.” Pam pointed to the back of the room and I spotted our older brother. He was wearing a dark suit that made him look like a Mafia don, talking to some blond guy. She tried waving, but he didn’t notice. His eyes were on the casket. He hadn’t seen our mother in almost a year, and I was sure it was hard for him to believe she was gone. Tough shit for him, I thought. He could have come here when it would have made a difference. Now it didn’t matter to anyone what he did.

“Is The Asshole coming?” I asked, referring to our father.

“No, he says he has a schedule conflict.”

“Probably golf. You’d think he could at least manage to show up for this.”

“At least he’s clean and sober.”

“So he says. He’s probably still banging down Zombies at strip clubs.”

“Try not to be bitter, Julie. It’s unattractive.”

“Bitter? You think I’m bitter?”

As the minister cut in and began to read the eulogy my mother had probably written for him, my mind started wandering like I was in grade school waiting for the bell to ring. I tried to concentrate, but I couldn’t. Every so often I’d tune back in and hear things that weren’t true. Her devotion to other people. Her service to the community. Her wonderful family life—I could just about hear her voice coming out of the guy’s mouth. I didn’t know where she found him, since she never went to church. I figured he was an actor she hired to play a minister, and made a mental note to mention this to Pam.

As he droned on in his phony actor voice, I closed my eyes and imagined walking through the woods on the hill behind our house. Most of it was gone now, bulldozed to make room for the townhouse development just over the ridge. I made a path through the old trees, and the dogs ran in circles around me. Ahead of me was the pond, though in real life it wasn’t there any more either, except for the hints that sometimes bubbled up in people’s driveways. I was going to dangle my bare feet in the water. I could hide there all day, and no one would know where I was. Then I would run back through the trees to our house, with the dogs behind me, and my mother would be there, and Frank, and Donny.

When I opened my eyes the minister was gone, and some cousin who hadn’t seen my mother in years was reading from a wrinkled piece of paper. She was stumbling over the words, maybe because it was Mom’s loopy handwriting, or maybe she couldn’t read. It was Mom’s life story minus all the bad parts and made going to high school in East Baltimore, meeting The Asshole, and having five children with him sound like an E! True Hollywood Story. Norma was born six months after the wedding, and it didn’t take a mathematician to figure out the facts, but the cousin glossed over that, and the ugly divorce, and finished with the happy ending, my mother finding true love with Frank and then having little Ricky. Ricky, on my left, burst into loud sobs. I put my arm around him and he cried onto my shoulder. I could smell he’d been drinking again. I would have pulled him onto my lap like I used to, but he was a big boy now. When I looked at him with his tattoos, dreadlocks, and piercings, I still saw that cute little blond guy and felt how much we had loved him. We still loved him that much, but it was complicated.

Pam leaned across me and held his hand. “You’ll be fine, sweetie,” she whispered to him, though we were pretty sure he wouldn’t.

About the Author

Version 2Abby Bardi is the author of The Book of Fred. She grew up in Chicago, went to college in California, then spent a decade teaching English in Japan and England. She currently teaches at a college in Maryland and lives in historic Ellicott City with her husband and dog.

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Carla Caruso: Starcrossed (Giveaway)

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Carla will be awarding an eCopy of Starcrossed to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click here for the Rafflecopter. Click the banner above to follow the tour and increase your chances of winning.

A letter from Starcrossed heroine Simona Gemella to her ex-husband Carmine

Dear Carmine,

I know I will never send you this letter, but it feels good just to write it.

To let you know that I’m not a bitter divorcée, that you haven’t sucked the life – the passion – out of my romance-writing career just yet by walking out on me.

Okay, so I’ve had a bit of writer’s block since you left, but I’m on my way to fixing that. I’ve joined my best friend, Nessie, at a girly, cosmic-inspired retreat on Kangaroo Island.

The island is rugged, windswept and isolated – just the sort of place to get the creative juices flowing again. And I’ve got a whole week here to soak up the wintry vibe.

The retreat’s being run by an astrology guru called Astrid. You’d probably agree with her description of Capricorns, like me, being ‘workaholics’. Isn’t that one of the reasons you walked out on me?

Anyway, I’m having fun learning about New Age-y stuff at the retreat, like astrology and Auro-Soma, plus doing morning yoga and hanging out with the other holidaymakers, including Raquel (who’s a real sweetie) and Jordana (nice, though I don’t much fancy her frowny husband who’s tagged along).

There’s also a cool guy called Denham Cobalt, who helps out at the old manor where the retreat’s being held. He’s so different to you. He even has a scorpion tattoo on his neck. I couldn’t even imagine you getting one!

The manor can be a bit creaky and spooky, but right now, it just feels good to be a long way from home. Plus, there’s a masquerade party on the last night of the retreat, coinciding with a total lunar eclipse. If only you could see how hot I’ll look in the frock I bought for it!

Best,

Simona

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About Starcrossed

Fledgling romance author Simona Gemella is hoping the rugged wilderness of South Australia’s Kangaroo Island will help reignite her creative spark after her husband walked out on her (calling her a workaholic and filing for divorce).

She’s joined her best friend, Nessie, on a health and wellness retreat at a mysterious old manor on the island, run by an astrology guru.

Though Simona’s sworn off men, she can’t help being distracted by a darkly dangerous man with a scorpion tattoo – Denham Cobalt – who’s also staying at the manor. Then strange things start to happen, including uncanny accidents and even a possible murder.

It all culminates at a masquerade party on the night of a total lunar eclipse. Will Simona survive – with her heart intact?

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Excerpt

Simona woke with a start, her heart pounding. A dream featuring dark-eyed strangers and clawing scorpions had been interrupted by the sound of footsteps. Real ones. Growing closer. Not far from her bed. She could have sworn it. Although, the pitch black revealed nothing.

The noise had seemed to come more from the right side of the room, behind the wardrobe. Almost inside the wall. Which was ridiculous. She turned her head, peering into the darkness. 3:08 glowed in fluorescent green digits on the alarm clock radio.

Grasping the covers under her chin, Simona lay still, waiting for more, her ears pricked. Three glow-in-the-dark star stickers shone down from the ceiling. She imagined a travelling mum sticking them there to soothe their child, remind them of home. Unfortunately Simona needed more than that to placate her.

Aside from the occasional breathy snort from Nessie, though, silence reigned. Her friend had finally hit the pillow after kicking on to play pool with some backpacker. She had called Simona a stick-in-the-mud earth sign for leaving the pub early. Nessie always had a knack for making her feel dull.

Simona strained her ears. Still nothing. Her writer’s imagination had obviously conjured up the footsteps. Pity, as she had found it hard to get to sleep in the first place. Phone in her possession again, she had been kept up, mulling over a three-star Goodreads review from a writers’ group pal. Yup, three measly stars. Friends were meant to give you five stars, or four at least to look realistic. It was an unofficial rule.

But her supposed mate, who had hidden behind a code name (undone by the profile pic of her pet dog), hadn’t been so generous. She had written: I fell in love with the rugged hero and the unique story. The only shame was that some of the more intriguing plotlines weren’t further explored, sacrificed for the romance aspect of the book …

Um, it was a romance novel, hence, the emphasis on that particular component. Really. Of course, any criticism only hurt because she feared it was true: she was her own worst critic.

Then, just as Simona was drifting off, Nessie had crashed home, flicking on the lamp so that she could put on her so-called ‘lucid dreaming’ sleep mask. Another bizarre Nessie-style item. This one, she reckoned, helped encourage creative thinking. Though what Nessie needed it for, Simona didn’t know. Dreaming up more crazy holiday ideas? If anyone required it, it was Simona with her severe case of writer’s block.

And now? Now she was imagining things that went bump in the night.

Why oh why had she been fooled into believing going on holiday with a friend would be fun? It never was. She would have had more luck with inspiration striking at home. Where the internet was never far from her fingertips, and her thoughts weren’t clouded by no-good men.

Willing sleep to come soon, Simona unearthed an arm from beneath the doona and stretched to tap the bedside table three times. For luck — in case she wasn’t crazy and someone really was lurking about. Touching wood was a vice of hers. Nessie would probably say it had something to do with her being an earth sign and needing to be close to Nature. Really it just meant she was a tad OCD. Besides, the footsteps she’d heard before probably were just in her head — a symbol of her fear of being walked out on again.

About the Author

AuthorPhoto_Starcrossed copyCarla Caruso was born in Adelaide, Australia, and only ‘escaped’ for three years to work as a magazine journalist and stylist in Sydney. Previously, she was a gossip columnist and fashion editor at Adelaide’s daily newspaper, The Advertiser. She has since freelanced for titles including Woman’s Day and Shop Til You Drop.

These days, she plays mum to twin lads Alessio and Sebastian with hubby James. Visit http://www.carlacaruso.com.au.

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Dianne Maguire: What Matters Most (Giveaway)

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Dianne will be awarding an eCopy of What Matters Most to 3 randomly drawn winners 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 What Matters Most

There is good love and bad love. Good sex and bad sex. And sometimes it’s hard to know the difference.

Paediatrician and mother Mia Sandhurst is scraping to keep her marriage together after her husband of 25 years breaks her heart. Finally facing reality, Mia embarks on a series of outlandish new behaviours to make startling discoveries about herself, love and life.

But the lies and betrayal Mia endures are nothing compared to those of her 15 year old patient, Rachel Hooper.

Set on the magical coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula, What Matters Most is a story of love, family, misplaced loyalty and how our choices shape who we are.

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Excerpt

When her family arrived, Rachel’s condition was stable, but she was still in a coma.

Mia left the treatment room for the waiting area to see Jack in discussion with a short, round woman wearing a brown coat and woollen cap from which locks of red hair fading to grey seemed to be struggling for an escape. Her chin jutted as though she was fighting for her life, and even from a distance Mia could see her blue eyes bulging with anger. Beside her, a dungareed man of medium stature, with the stoop that comes from back neglect, listened with no show of emotion or facial expression, his hands clasped behind his back. Tim, morosely silent but actively listening, held the hand of a boy aged about seven whose round face, topped with a mop of dark hair like his sister’s, moved silently and intently from his mother to Jack as they each spoke.

BookCover_WhatMattersMost copy‘Mr and Mrs Hooper, I’m Dr Sandhurst.’ Mia stepped up and extended her hand first to Peter, who shook it flaccidly and flicked dark, seemingly bottomless eyes towards her for a brief moment.

‘I’m Annie,’ the woman said with a stiff smile and a perfunctory shake of Mia’s hand. ‘And this is Ben, our youngest.’

‘Hello, Ben.’ Mia shook his hand to elicit a wry grin before leading the way towards a room in the treatment area. Jack bid his farewells in a way that made it clear to Mia that he and the family knew each other well.

The moment they entered the small interview room and sat on the trio of mustard vinyl chairs facing the narrow desk, Annie let forth as though she had held back for long enough.

‘This cannot be true, Dr Sandhurst. It is not like Rachel,’ she said, absently watching Ben climb onto Tim’s knee. ‘Yes … she can be unpredictable … Yes, she’s stubborn about simple things like refusing to have a shower … But to her credit she has never followed the crowd and she would never ever drink alcohol … and as for taking drugs, well it’s just ludicrous to even entertain the idea.’ Her blue eyes shone more than would be natural and she swallowed with difficulty.

Gently closing the door, Mia knew she was about to make a highly provocative suggestion, but she was experienced enough to know the reality — a harsh new reality that had to be faced sooner or later by the family. ‘I gather Rachel was on her own in the lounge room for quite a while, once her friend Cassie had gone to bed and before Tim found her in the bathroom,’ she said sitting on the swivel chair behind the desk. ‘It makes me wonder if she deliberately took the alcohol and drugs with the intention of harming herself.’

Annie sprang from her seat like a giant cork. ‘That’s insulting and ridiculous. How dare you even suggest …’ She promptly sat again as though pushing away any semblance of thought about the words she was about to utter.

Mia cast a glance at Peter’s persistently bland expression, now intently aimed at the mottled blue carpet. Then at Tim, who muttered something about bullshit.

‘No, it’s quite feasible actually,’ Mia persisted, one eyebrow arching. ‘Rachel would not be the first troubled teen to overdose on alcohol or drugs because she is overwhelmed by problems. And she wouldn’t be the last. Hopefully, one of our psychologists will get her to talk about it.’

Annie Hooper’s eyes widened. ‘I’d prefer the shrinks left her alone. They cause more harm than good in my opinion.’

Over the following minutes Mia tried to make allowances for the parents’ rigid denial of the possibility that their daughter was deeply troubled. Shock and even the will to protect family dignity may have been factors, but these people stubbornly refused to relent, despite her most determined efforts at convincing them that much care was needed because their daughter could be in grave danger of making a repeat attempt on her life.

‘Mm, it’s all a bit of a mystery,’ Mia said, finally giving up. ‘But we shall know more when Rachel regains consciousness. The good news is that there doesn’t seem to have been any damage done to her heart muscle.’ She stood and a spontaneous sigh escaped her. ‘You can see Rachel very briefly, then I suggest you go home and get some sleep. That way you’ll be fresh for her tomorrow.

 About the Author

AuthorPhoto_WhatMattersMost copyDianne Maguire is a social worker turned novelist with over 20 years’ experience in child welfare and protection.

She has won the Pauline Walsh Prize in the Eastwood/Hills Regional Annual Literary Awards and in 2010 she co-wrote a collection of non-fiction short stories, It’s About Time, for children’s charity Time for Kids. Her articles have been published in state and national newspapers and magazines.

Although Dianne lives in Adelaide with her husband Jerome, she does most of her writing on the Fleurieu Peninsula. What Matters Most is her debut novel.

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