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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 At that point, he almost rescinded his offer to me!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.

 

 

Beth Trissel: Traitor’s Curse (Giveaway)

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Beth is awarding a $30 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn commenter. Click here for the Rafflecopter. Click the banner above to follow the tour and increase your chances of winning.

About Traitor’s Curse

Halifax, North Carolina, 1783.

Captain Stuart Monroe returns home from the Revolutionary War to find Thornton Hall threatened by a peacetime foe: debt. He knows the location of a treasure amassed to pay for the capture of Benedict Arnold that would restore his manor to its former glory. The catch, it’s hidden in the graveyard, and coveted by old enemies.

Hettie Fairfax inherited the Sight from her Cherokee ancestors, and her otherworldly visitors warn her, and Stuart, away from the buried treasure. Half-dead from fever, she delivers a message: the treasure is cursed. But will he believe a girl half out of her mind with illness? Even when a very real enemy attempts to poison her? Stuart soon wants to marry Hettie, but she fears her “odd ways” will blemish his reputation. The spirits have their own agenda, however, and the battle against darkness tests everything the couple holds dear, including their love for each other.

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Excerpt

Halifax, North Carolina, 1783.

Captain Stuart Monroe returns home from the Revolutionary War to find Thornton Hall threatened by a peacetime foe: debt. He knows the location of a treasure amassed to pay for the capture of Benedict Arnold that would restore his manor to its former glory. The catch, it’s hidden in the graveyard, and coveted by old enemies.

Hettie Fairfax inherited the Sight from her Cherokee ancestors, and her otherworldly visitors warn her, and Stuart, away from the buried treasure. Half-dead from fever, she delivers a message: the treasure is cursed. But will he believe a girl half out of her mind with illness? Even when a very real enemy attempts to poison her? Stuart soon wants to marry Hettie, but she fears her “odd ways” will blemish his reputation. The spirits have their own agenda, however, and the bat“Turn back. A man watches you.”

Again, the warning carried from the unseen source.

What man, and how did she know Stuart was observed? He could barely discern anything.

“Who are you? Show yourself.” Uneasiness lent indignation to his demand.

Through the haze, he spotted the figure of a young female dressed all in white. A death shroud?

Pray God, it wasn’t. His gut knotted, and he stood staring at her.

Ethereal, ghostly, she seemed to float toward him, but must have walked.

Must have.

A cold shiver stood the hair on the back of his neck on end. Was she flesh and blood, or spirit? Had she crossed the divide between the two worlds?

He scarcely dared to breathe.

Still, he stood rooted to the trail. And not only from fright. Fascination. Despite fear of being haunted, an aura about her drew him.

He waited, every muscle taut, poised betwixt heaven and earth, the scent of crumbling leaves in his nose. At least, that was real.

Whiteness swirling around her, she neared.

Then he spotted it, an ivory coverlet draped over her head and around her slender shoulders pinched together in front with pale fingers.

No shroud.

The blanket reached to her ankles and trailed behind along the ground. Mist muted the flowers stitched into the cloth. This accounted for him not spotting her sooner. She’d blended in with the vapor.

About the Author

MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_TraitorsCurse copyMarried to her high school sweetheart, Beth Trissel lives on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia surrounded by her children, grandbabies, and assorted animals. An avid gardener, her love of herbs and heirloom plants figures into her work. The rich history of Virginia, the Native Americans, and the people who journeyed here from far beyond her borders are at the heart of her inspiration. She’s especially drawn to colonial America and the drama of the American Revolution. In addition to historical romance, she also writes time travel, paranormal romance, YA fantasy, and nonfiction.

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Linda Bennett Pennell: Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn (Giveaway)

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Linda will be awarding $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.

Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn is set in 1943 in the weeks leading up to the First Allied Conference. The book could just as easily have been entitled Unconditional Surrender. It was at the conference that Roosevelt and Churchill set that policy with regard to surrender of the Axis powers. Might have made a nice little double entendre, no?

In the novel, the hero, OSS officer Kurt Heinz, is sent on a mission that has a high chance of proving fatal. If he is successful, no one will ever know of his heroism and that he prevented disaster from occurring for the Allied war effort. As he flies toward danger, he thinks about Sarah, the army nurse whom he loves. Their paths crossed by accident in a vortex of danger and intrigue. Falling in love was unexpected and unwanted, but became an undeniable force for both of them. Kurt scribbles a last minute letter to Sarah as he prepares to parachute into the night somewhere over the Tunisian desert.

My Darling,

I owe you an apology and I must beg your forgiveness. I still can’t tell you where I’m going or what I will be doing, but I should have been honest with you about one thing. The chances of my coming back from this are not great. I should never have talked you into promising to wait for me. It was selfish and wrong. You are young and beautiful with your whole life ahead of you. You shouldn’t spend months or years waiting and worrying, but even now, I cannot bring myself to tell you to forget me. A less selfish man would write those words and mean them.

If I don’t make it, live life for both of us. Find a guy who will love you and take care of you. You deserve happiness, marriage, children, and that little cottage with the white picket fence you said you wanted. For now, I can’t promise anything except that I love you with my whole heart and will cherish our time together as the most important and happiest of my life.

With All My Love,

Kurt

What is this suicide mission Kurt is on? Does he make it back alive? Does Sarah wait for him?

The answers are in Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn.

About Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn

Casablanca, 1943: a viper’s nest of double agents and spies where OSS Officer Kurt Heinz finds his skill in covert operations pushed to the limit. Allied success in North Africa and the fate of the First Allied Conference—perhaps the outcome of the war—hang on Kurt’s next mission. The nature of his work makes relationships impossible. Nonetheless, he is increasingly torn between duty and the beautiful girl who desperately needs his protection and help.

Sarah Barrett, U.S. Army R.N., is finished with wartime romance. Determined to protect her recently broken heart, she throws all of her time and energy into caring for her patients, but when she is given a coded message by a mysterious dying civilian, she is sucked into a vortex of danger and intrigue that threatens her very survival. The one person who can help Sarah is Kurt Heinz, a man with too many secrets to be trusted.

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Excerpt

Kurt watched in dismay as the man in gray picked up his fedora and rose from the table next to the one recently vacated by the two women. This had to be his contact. The man had watched Kurt on the sly since he arrived at the restaurant. Moreover, the guy matched the description right down to the red pocket square in his suit breast pocket and the thin, pale scar running along his left jawline. Making a quick decision, Kurt pushed his chair back and tossed some cash on the table.

“It’s been interesting guys, but I’m calling it a night. Use this to cover my tab.”

“What’s the rush, Heinz? We haven’t even ordered dinner.”

“I guess my sins are catching up with me. It’s return to quarters and bed for me.”

“You headed back with us on the return flight tomorrow?”

“Nope, I’m here with the Old Man for the duration. You boys have a good trip.”

The street was nearly deserted when Kurt stepped out onto its glistening concrete surface. Misty rain created halos around the sparse street lamps and obscured most objects more than a few feet distant. Only the two women, Sarah and Agnes, stood under an umbrella waiting for a taxi. Kurt watched them from the restaurant’s portico. Focused on their conversation, they seemed oblivious to anyone behind them.

Glancing to his right, Kurt saw his man in gray scurrying toward the cross street. He stepped onto the sidewalk and crept along a good twenty paces behind. When his quarry slowed at the corner and looked back over his shoulder, Kurt stepped into the shadow of a doorway behind the taxi stand and waited. If this guy didn’t want to make contact, he wouldn’t appreciate being followed.

About the Author

AuthorPhoto_CasablancaAppointmentAtDawn copyI have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother’s porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the American South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.

As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to her or himself, “Let’s pretend.”

I reside in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one adorable German Shorthaired Pointer who is quite certain she’s a little girl.

“History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up.” Voltaire

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Other Books:

Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel (Soul Mate Publishing)

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Confederado do Norte (Soul Mate Publishing)

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When War Came Home (Real Cypress Press)

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Sandra Masters: Once Upon a Duke

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Interview with His Grace, the Duke of Sutton

Sandra: What is your main fear, Your Grace?

His Grace the Duke: Getting leg shackled by a woman. I fear commitment and what love can do to a man. My interaction with Lady Serena started out as just another notch on my bedpost, but somehow it grew into something profound when she kissed my scar with tenderness and genuine concern. Even as I now speak, I can feel her nurturing lips.

Sandra: What is the main conflict?

His Grace the Duke: Serena wants a commitment of marriage. As a child, I did not see love from my mother to my father. I have offered the position of mistress. She refused. I left without saying goodbye. Interviewer:

Sandra: What has messed up your life?

His Grace the Duke: When I arrived in London, my thoughts were consumed with Serena. I did return and visited her surreptitiously one night at the lakeside manor and it was…comfortable. I wondered how along the way I had acquired a family: a woman, a maid and a puppy.

Sandra: If everything was so good, why didn’t you propose?

His Grace the Duke: I thought I had time to consider everything. Ours was a tempestuous relationship. The concept of a future relationship intrigued me. I returned to visit her, but she was gone. Her brother informed me she was engaged to wed another man in three weeks, and that she ordered the puppy drowned and my portrait burned.

Sandra: How did you react?

His Grace the Duke: Unfortunately, I believed him. Enraged, I did not care about the portrait she burned, but to order the dog, Adonis, killed—how could I have misjudged her? I drank myself into a stupor with a good friend.

Sandra: Then what happened?

His Grace the Duke: And just when I thought there was no other choice than to forget her, visitors came to my London townhouse who informed me of Serena’s brother’s lies. They returned the pup to me unharmed. She reaffirmed her love for me in letters.

Sandra: Were you now convinced of her love for you?

His Grace the Duke: It was then I realized her brother’s duplicity—about everything. Serena’s letter ended with the words that she would love me forever, in this world or the next. What else could I do but have the maid tell her I loved her with all my heart, that she would either attend our wedding—or my funeral. I leave your readers to draw their conclusion as to how my author, you, charted the ending of the novel.

Sandra: Your Grace, I have created you out of the figment of my imagination. Did I do you justice?

His Grace the Duke: It is a difficult question and I can only say that you and I have been in each other’s heart and soul for a long time. I do believe readers should enjoy our fairy tale romance. After all, you showed me what love can do to redeem a man.

About Once Upon a Duke

Serena, an artist and widow, has no desire for another husband. When she meets Geoffrey Austen, attraction sizzles to a scorch. Stolen days and nights ignite forbidden passion. Geoffrey asks Serena to be his mistress, but she wants commitment, love and marriage, not an affair with a notorious rake.

Geoffrey realizes Serena might be the one woman who can care for his tortured soul, and maybe release his demons. The magic they shared is shattered when he learns she has been forced into an engagement with another. He vows to save her even at the cost of his own life.

Will Geoffrey’s gallantry prove he truly loves Serena?

If he survives, will Serena surrender all to him?

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Excerpt

London 1817

If Lady Serena could be granted one wish, she would ride off into the morning mist and vanish. That, of course was not possible, but here in her favorite lakeside retreat, she could relax in safety.

With her mare nearby, she bent her head over her sketchbook and inhaled the scent of sweet honeysuckle. She paused her charcoal, leaned her head against the tree at her back, and envisioned how her sketch would be completed.

Hoof beats disturbed her contemplation. In the distance, a vision of man and steed, moved as one, and rode toward her.

The vision spoke as he drew his horse to a halt. “Good day, my lady.” He dismounted, and tethered his stallion to a tree away from the mare. “It is a beautiful day, and to have my path cross with a lovely woman makes it more so.”

“Yes, it is a welcomed morning, sir, but your flattery does not turn my head.”

Alarmed, she thought to reach for her riding crop, but checked the impulse. Serena raised her hand to shield the sun and eyed the well-dressed handsome stranger. She assumed him to be of noble birth if on Henry’s property. Her snobbish brother would never allow an outsider to encroach. Something about the man demanded her rapt attention. Curiosity compelled. What harm could come of it?

Allow me to introduce myself, Lord Geoffrey Austen, at your service.” He swept off his hat and bowed. “I am Henry Worthington’s hunting guest for the week.”

“I am Lady Serena Worthington, sister of your host. I would rise and curtsy to you, but I am far too comfortable. You may, however, consider I have proffered the appropriate respect, if you would indulge me.” She meant her smile to charm, and to distract him from her breach in etiquette.

“I would be happy to humor you in any manner you prefer.” His voice murmured low and husky. He removed his gloves and walked to sit next to her on a log fashioned into a bench. Serena noticed the large ring on his finger as it caught the sunlight’s glint.

“I have seen you twice before from a distance when I have come to visit Sir Henry, but never approached you. Some things are best appreciated from afar, but today I was compelled to ride over and speak with you.”

Serena smoothed her skirt, her palms damp.

“Your brother is well aware of my notorious reputation. He would prefer I did not seduce his sister and has made his wishes known to me. However, I feel the Fates demanded we meet.”

“Seduce or merely tempt?”

He grinned. “Dear Lady Serena, a beautiful woman is always a challenge. A wonderful circumstance caused me to come upon you this glorious morning, but I see I have interrupted your sketching. Shall I depart? Or will you show me your wares?”

“They are not my wares, Lord Austen. They are representations of my artistic imagination. There is a difference.”

“I offer my apology. Allow me to rephrase the question. May I see your work?” His eyes sparked with blatant flirtation.

“You may.” She handed him the sketch pad.

He flipped through a few pages. “God’s blood, you are talented. You could sell these.”

“I considered the notion, but Henry would think it crass.”

“I disagree entirely with his perception.” Lord Geoffrey turned to face her. “I wonder, my lady, why your brother has hidden you? Rumor has it you are unattached.”

“I have chosen solitude. It is my personal preference, I assure you. Why do men think every woman in England wants to leg-shackle a man?” She cocked her head in appraisal and met his inquisitive gaze. “I cannot abide the need to display myself on the marriage auction block. I would rather remain a liberated widow or enter a convent before I’d suffer nuptials to some old goat, or a young wastrel who looks for a generous inheritance.” She rose to pace, both hands akimbo on her hips. “If I shock you, it is intentional.”

His lips lifted, the cleft in his chin apparent. “I have a fondness for women who provoke.”

Her heartbeat skyrocketed. He had a maddening hint of arrogance that beguiled her. She lowered her lashes, and then focused her gaze.

“Lord Austen, I know my brother’s horses and your animal is not familiar.” She hoped to steer the conversation in another direction. Her stomach quivered, uneasy.

“Solomon is mine. He is an Arabian and strong-willed, like his master. It takes a firm hand to control him, but he flies like the wind.”

“Your pride is evident.” Serena gestured toward her horse. “My mare is Sheba. She is also high-spirited. We are a good match as well. Perhaps we should consider mating?”

Had she actually said that? Nerve endings tingled, warmth flooded her.

Lord Austen arched a brow. “Were you referring to our mounts, or do I dare hope you meant their owners?” His suggestion wicked.

Serena stopped pacing long enough to meet his direct gaze. “My lord, you disappoint with your practiced words.” She wanted to look away, but curious, dared to ask, “Are you available?” How had the brazen words escaped her lips?

“I could be, for the right woman.”

“Do you have criteria?” There she was, egging him on again. Why was the man so hypnotic?

“Perhaps one could say my only requirement is the effect she would have on my sensibilities.” His smile held a salacious bent.

“How are your sensibilities today?” She continued to play the game and resumed her restless pacing.

He walked to his horse and ran his hand over the silky flesh of its neck. “I would demand to sample the offerings. Do you agree?” Lord Austen turned to her and continued to stroke the stallion in a slow deliberate manner.

Serena took a deep breath and tried to quell her rapid heartbeat. She shivered as if he caressed her skin, his fingers working their magic.

His eyes refused to leave hers. His lips curved sensuously. “Are you about to offer me something?”

She returned to her seat. “I am not familiar with breeding rights. Do we still speak of the horses?” Serena eyed the man and his steed. “How magnificent, a fine specimen.”

“Yes, I agree, or are you a woman who desires to dabble in double entendres? I would say you contemplate the splendid creature before you.” Lord Austen’s stance was presumptive with his feet wide apart, one hand held his riding crop at his hip. “I do not know which of us you mean.”

“Perhaps you will figure it out, Lord Austen,” she flirted back.

Serena noted the twinkle in his blue eyes, as his full dimpled smile emerged. She had a sudden desire to touch that arrogant face. What was it about this man? Her gaze centered on a straight scar down his right cheek. It intrigued her.

“Allow me to explain,” Lord Austen postured. “You see, I am considered quite unsuitable for marriage to most respectable ladies. My reputation precedes me, in part because I allow it. The rest is a fabrication of gossip I refuse to dispel.”

“You are a true rogue? Should I be worried? Are you good at your craft? I am told that a man with a rake’s soul can be a dangerous excitement.”

“So many questions, my lady, which require a thoughtful response. Let me say I have had no complaints.”

“It grieves me to wound you, but since I have not heard about you or your notoriety, could it be possible we do not travel in the same social circles? Should I swoon and fall at your feet? Perhaps I do not find you irresistible?”

Her stomach tightened when he strode toward her in lightning-fast motion. Her breath quickened. His arms uprooted her from the seat, his finger rested under her chin with just enough pressure to tilt it upward.

“Have you not been unattached long enough? Do you desire a man in your bed? If so, I could be persuaded.”

“Perhaps I am the one who needs persuasion.” Against the warning bell in her head, she opened to him when his lips claimed hers. Their tongues teased and the kiss lingered, laced with intimacy. Her body swayed, and made Serena aware of her heartbeat against his chest.

She traced the scar at his cheek, curious how he’d sustained such an injury. Perhaps her heated fingertips would erase the memory of pain to fade away. Serena knew too much about such marks. Her uncharacteristic response, in spite of her fear, confused her. His allure difficult to resist.

She embraced him, pressed her breasts against his chest and experienced a pleasurable frisson which warmed her, his spice and clove cologne an additional attraction. Serena again enjoyed how his mouth plundered and tasted her lips. His skillful tongue flicked in erotic foreplay, something she had heard of, but never experienced. She quivered when he pulled his mouth from hers.

“My reckless lady, your kisses are the sweetest I have tasted. I must have more.”

He again crushed her against him. Seeking. Tasting. Wanting. Taking. Demanding.

Lord Austen set her body afire as he explored, tantalized. An odd sensation stirred within her and caused a warm tingle in her lower body. Strange, to her it had no name, but it delighted.

He untied her hair ribbon, released the untamed dark curls that fell free against her shoulders. The red band lay unheeded on the pine-needled ground.

“I like you this way,” he whispered, his breath warm against her ear. “Do my lips satisfy your desire, my lady? You look wild and wanton, an eager beauty I must possess.”

“I am no man’s possession.”

She reeled from Lord Austen’s sensual assault. His blatant arousal pressed against her and rather than desire, filled her with fear. His nearness too intimate. His touch too hot. His desire too obvious.

A sinful leer crossed his face. He took her hand and placed her palm against his hardened manhood. “This is the kind of rake I am.”

She yanked away from him, and sent a hard slap to his face. “You assume too much. I do not play this game.”

“I think you are well-practiced in such games, dear lady.”

“How dare you tarnish me so? You go too far.” She chastised herself for her role in fanning the flames, but she’d never admit it to him. Serena raised her chin in defiance, looked away, and pointed an accusing finger toward the fall of his breeches. “A mild flirtation does not cause that. I suggest you swim in the cool lake water to ease your discomfort.”

She reached for her large canvas bag of art supplies, marched straight to her horse, and attached the bag to the special custom-made leather strap on her saddle. She mounted Sheba and reined her horse to face the man who stood with his mouth agape. “Do not visit this place again if I am here. This is not a request, Lord Austen. If you do not abide my wishes, I will report your transgression to my brother. Do I make myself clear?”

Lady Serena lightly touched her horse’s rump with her whip and cantered off without a backward glance.

Lord Austen rubbed his cheek, ran his finger down the welt that would soon bruise.

He spoke to Solomon. “I will survive this assault, but the damage done begs retribution. His laughter echoed through the sunlit trees as he recaptured his esteem. Geoffrey found Serena a refreshing change from the ladies who paraded in front of him with marriage on their minds. Still, a decadent thought invaded his head. He wished the yards of fabric which separated him from the softness of her body had dissolved when she was pressed against his hardness. The wanton lady had halted his seduction before it had barely started. “I think I have a coquette on my hands.” How he loved the chase.

The ribbon he pulled from her hair lay on the ground. Geoffrey picked it up and inhaled its lemony fragrance. He pressed it to his lips, and then placed the pretty scarlet band in a pocket. It would be a remembrance until next they met. Perhaps he would tie one of her hands to the bed post? No. He wanted those beautiful fingers free to stroke his body, while he explored hers.

He recalled the pleasure when her generous breasts pressed against his chest and he’d envisioned his body above hers. In his mind, he saw her writhe in ecstasy beneath him. She would beg him to make her his own.

Lord Austen closed his eyes and imagined the pleasure of touching her most intimately, inch by inch, and time and time again, until they were both exhausted and sated. He would wager she would not slap him then.

He mounted his stallion and gave another hearty laugh. “Solomon, I am tempted to place a bet in the White’s Club books that she will be mine by week’s end, perhaps even sooner. He guided his horse along the well-worn path to the large manor house of his host and whistled a bawdy tune.

 About the Author

Laura Strickland: Dead Handsome (A Buffalo Steampunk Adventure)

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Laura will be awarding a pair of hand-crafted, Steampunk-style pierced earrings – 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.

About Dead Handsome

Clara Allen needs a husband in order to keep a roof over the heads of her assorted dependents, a roof her nasty grandfather will re-appropriate unless she is married by her 21st birthday, only a few days away. Strong-minded, unwilling to take orders from any man, she decides to solve her problem by raising a murdered prisoner from the dead and marrying him. She expects an empty-headed puppet; she certainly never dreams he’ll be so devastatingly handsome.

Liam McMahon doesn’t recall much about his life before his hanging in the prison yard, other than being Irish. He does remember the kiss Clara bestowed as she brought him back to life. Every time he looks at her, his desire gets out of hand. But his former life is chasing him down like a steam engine, and when a couple of mad geniuses decide he’d make a fine experiment, he wonders if he’ll live long enough to claim Clara’s heart or if he’ll die all over again.

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Excerpt

“Now remember,” Clara whispered to her husband, “don’t say anything about having been in jail. Or having been dead.”

perf5.000x8.000.indd“What do you take me for?” Liam shifted uncomfortably inside his suit and adjusted his tie one more time. They stood on the doorstep of a splendid house – a mansion, really – on Delaware at Edward Street, waiting for the door to open. And all he could think about was tearing the dress off his wife’s body and having his way with her yet again. As if twice had not been enough. Quite possibly, he could not get enough.

The taste of her still lingered on his lips, the sweetest thing ever to grace them. He remembered the places he had put his tongue and felt half mad to put it there once more. By God, she –

The door swung open and he found himself faced with a mechanical man. He’d heard of them, of course, but could not remember – for he could remember so little – if he had ever seen one up close.

“I should have warned you,” Clara murmured. “My grandfather keeps a number of mechanical servants – the ordinary sort will not stay with him long.”

“Good afternoon, Miss Clara. Please come in.”

The butler’s voice box clicked when it spoke. Its body, made of silver alloy, stood as tall as Liam but was much thinner and its surface had been sculpted to resemble a suit of clothes. It turned to lead them with a distinctive puff of steam. Clara knew it had an internal combustion chamber where a human’s guts might be.

“Thank you, Max,” she said and tightened her grip on Liam’s arm. They stepped in.

And oh, the house was like a picture drawn to intimidate, everything perfect and in place, not like walking into a real dwelling at all. A large entry hall opened from the door, with a black and white marble floor and flowers on tables so highly-polished they gleamed. A double staircase curved in two branching arcs just ahead but the steam butler led them to a door on the right.

“Miss Clara, your grandfather had us bring him down to receive you in the parlor.”

“How is he, Max?” Liam admired the calm in Clara’s voice but he could feel her tension flowing into him through the contact point of her arm on his.

“Much the same, Miss Clara.”

The butler hauled the door of the chamber open; they went in.

A vast room, well-proportioned, languished in gloom. Even though the sun shone brightly outside, the draperies on all the windows had been drawn. Liam found it difficult to locate his host at first. But a lamp burned on a table and beside it sat a wizened figure in a push chair. Clara’s fingers dug into his arm again.

Aye, and he would be careful. He understood what was at stake–his right to her bed, for one thing.

About the Author

AuthorPhoto_DeadHandsome copyBorn in Buffalo and raised on the Niagara Frontier, Laura Strickland has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. To her the spunky, tenacious, undefeatable ethnic mix that is Buffalo spells the perfect setting for a little Steampunk, so she created her own Victorian world there. She knows the people of Buffalo are stronger, tougher and smarter than those who haven’t survived the muggy summers and blizzard blasts found on the shores of the mighty Niagara. Tough enough to survive a squad of automatons? Well, just maybe.

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Jana Richards: One More Second Chance

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Jana will be awarding $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.

About One More Second Chance

Dr. Alex Campbell has an agenda—finish his contract to provide medical services in Maine, pay off his medical school debt, and head back to his real life in San Diego. But when he meets Julia, all his carefully laid plans are put in jeopardy.

Julia Stewart, Lobster Cove’s high school principal, swears she’ll never let another man drag her away from the home she loves. Her aging parents need her, and the Cove is where she wants to raise her daughter. When her mother’s illness brings her and the big city doctor closer together, panic sets in. Her marriage taught her men don’t stay.

Can she put aside the heartaches of the past and trust Alex enough to accept the love he’s offering? Or will her fear of abandonment mean she’ll send him away forever?

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Excerpt

They drank their tea in silence, but the silence didn’t feel awkward. Julia felt soothed, the stress slowly leaving her body. Perhaps her grandmother had been onto something. The tea seemed to be working.

She finished the last of it and set down the cup. “I should be going. I left Ava with Tracy, and she’s probably hungry by now.

perf5.000x8.000.inddJulia got to her feet and headed to the front door, with Alex following her. “Thanks for the tea, and for listening. I guess I needed both today.”

“Anytime. Seriously, Julia, anytime you need to talk, about anything, give me a call.”

She wondered if he was speaking as a doctor, as a friend, or as a man. Which one did she want him to be?

“Thank you.”

“I’ll try to keep an eye out for your folks, see if there’s anything I can do for them.”

She was touched by his offer. “I really appreciate that, but I know how busy you are.”

He waved away her concern. “It’s no big deal. I appreciate my grandmother’s neighbors checking in on her, and I’d be happy to do the same.”

He really did understand how she felt. “In that case, thank you.”

She opened the front door and stepped outside. Turning to Alex, she smiled. His thick hair had begun to dry, and the dark strands gleamed in the spring sunshine. Her breath caught in her throat at his beauty.

“Bye, Alex.”

“Bye. Take care.”

Julia hurried down the steps and across the lawn to her car. An appreciation for his looks was as far she could take any relationship with him. Her life was too complicated, too full already. And she would never get involved with a man who planned to leave Lobster Cove in only a few more months.

About the Author

AuthorPhoto_OneMoreSecondChance copyWhen Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.

In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada with their Pug/Terrier cross Lou and several unnamed goldfish. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at http://www.janarichards.com

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Judy Ann Davis: Key to Love

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Judy Ann will be awarding a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Click here for the Rafflecopter. Click on the banner above to follow the tour and increase your chances of winning.

About Key to Love

When architect Elise Springer’s father is injured, she immediately leaves San Francisco to care for him. The last person she expects to encounter in her Pennsylvania hometown is her childhood friend Lucas Fisher. Lucas is investigating his brother’s death, and Elise can’t resist lending a hand.

Lucas longs for the close family ties he never had. He’s back in Scranton to set up a classic car restoration business and build a future. The torch he carries for Elise burns brighter than ever, but before he can declare his love, he must obtain the legal rights to adopt his nephew—and prove his brother’s death was no accident.

As they unearth clues pointing to find a murderer and a missing stash of money, Elise faces a dilemma. Is her career on the West Coast the key to her happiness, or is it an animal-cracker-eating four-year-old and his handsome uncle instead?

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Excerpt

Cover_KeytoLove copyLucas Fisher stood inside Whitman’s Paper and Paint Store, surrounded by the pungent scents of vinyl wallpaper, turpentine, and paint, and wondered how he had allowed himself to be tricked into abandoning his work at the garage. However, nothing had prepared him for Whitman’s Paint and Paper. It was like stepping onto another planet.

“What are we looking for again?” He watched her leaf through the pages of a pattern book with a speed that defied logic. “Blue dogs?”

“Ah, French blue, something like this.” She paused only long enough to point to a flower so small the average person would need a magnifying glass. She flipped the page before he had a chance to commit it to memory.

Lucas rubbed his bleary eyes with the palms of his hands. Every pattern had begun to look like the next, melting into a haze of swirling tones. God, he needed an aspirin and a beer. “You’re absolutely sure this wallpaper exists?” He squinted at her with a skeptical look, and she nodded, her fingers nimbly turning the pages of yet another book.

“Uh-huh”

“Oh, terrific. There are at least five hundred books here, and we’ve been through what? Two dozen? I imagine you have someone lined up to hang the dang rolls?”

“Uh-huh, you and Fritz. But only if you’d stop talking and help me find it.”

“Me and your brother?” His voice came out in a hysterical wail. “Get serious, Liz, I’ve never wallpapered a room in my life.” Hell, he couldn’t wrap a Christmas present unless it was packaged in a box with four crisp corners and there were yards of paper to waste.

“Neither has Fritz, but he’s watched my mother do it many times. It’s a piece of cake.” Her hands continued flashing through the pages.

“Piece of cake? Are you sane? Unless Fritz has flashbacks, we’re doomed.” Lucas slumped down wearily onto a nearby chair and cupped his face in his hands.

About the Author

AuthorPic copyJudy Ann Davis began her career in writing as a copy and continuity writer for radio and television in Scranton, PA. Throughout her career, she has written for both industry and education.

Over a dozen of her short stories have appeared in anthologies, and literary and small magazines, and have received numerous awards. Nineteen of them are now collected in Upon On the Roof and Other Stories.

Her first novel, Red Fox Woman, published in 2010, is a western, mystery, and romance and was a finalist in the International Book Awards and USA Book News Best Book Awards. Its stand-alone sequel, Under Starry Skies, was released earlier this year.

When Judy Ann is not behind her computer, you can find her looking for anything humorous to make her laugh or swinging a golf club where the chuckles are few. She is a member of Pennwriters, Inc. and Romance Writers of America. She lives in Central Pennsylvania.

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