Ahhhhhh!!! First off, I have to do a wild Happy Dance because my Sexy SEAL boxed set has had a wonderfully successful weekend. It’s discounted to only .99 cents this weekend, and it’s hit #5 on the Kindle Bestseller List and #1 on the Nook Bestseller List. Wheeeee, yay and a huge thank you to EVERYONE who added the boxed set to their collection.
But that’s not what we’re celebrating today (although do feel free to happy dance with me-I always dance better in a crowd). Today’s the big whohoooo is because we’re having a Launch Party! A SEAL’s Fantasy is out in digital at midnight tonight, which means today is the Final Day of Preorder celebration. See what I did there 😉 So instead of being a launch party, it’s a last day to preorder party today. The Cabana Boys are coming around with pre-release goodies in the form of grapes instead of wine, tequila shots sans margarita mix, strawberries that haven’t been dipped in chocolate yet, unfrosted brownies and chocolate chip cookie dough (chilled, of course). And here’s a peek at the story. I thought since it’s a pre-party, it’d be fun to get the pre-opinions Dominic and Lara have of each other at first sight…
Lara found her mark, front stage left, shimmying in place while the principles gracefully mounted ribbon-covered swings, arching their bodies backward as the swings rose to sweep out over the crowd. Catcalls rang out over the applause as the women shifted upward to dance on the slender bar of the swing.
One of the perverts jumped onto the stage and tried to grab the swing, coming away with just a handful of plastic flowers. The dancers didn’t miss a step as a burly man dressed in black wove through their still kicking legs to grab the guy and haul him off the stage.
Lara barely resisted rolling her eyes as the security dragged the idiot away. Then a movement in the front row caught her eye.
Her gaze shifted to the left.
Oh my. A little breathless, and not from the dance steps, her smile dimmed a little.
He was gorgeous.
Dark, intense and emitting such a gimme vibe that she was grateful that the sequins of her bra kept her nipples from showing.
He was big. Big enough to loom over the guys in the seats around him.
He was sexy. The kind of sexy that made her knees weak and her tummy shake. The kind of sexy that made her want to promise anything, for just one taste.
But she’d learned the hard way that every bite, nibble or lick cost a girl. And there was nothing she was willing to pay anymore. The good times just weren’t that good.
Dance, she told herself.
Focus on the dance.
Next to her, Sheri putt in enough extra shimmy that the beaded fringe of her bra swung in circles. Lara was impressed. Used to working the late show, the statuesque blonde had a gift for swinging her pasties, but the costume top was a lot heavier than a tiny flap of fabric and a few dangling glitters.
Without thinking, her gaze shifted to the sexy guy in the audience to see if he was impressed, too. But despite the blinding lights, she could tell his eyes were still locked on her. It was unnerving. Flattering. And one hell of a turn on.
Let it go, she told herself. Thankfully, the music changed and Lara led the chorus line in a swirling series of steps, upstage, then right, then back.
She’d seen plenty of gorgeous men in her time. Dancers didn’t have to be pretty, but many of them were. Especially the guys. Of course, most of them were only interested in the other pretty guys, but that was beside the point. They were still plenty hot.
So hot wasn’t worth wasting her thoughts on.
And sexy was pure trouble.
Now on the opposite side of the room, she felt safe looking at him again.
But oh, what a yummy mouthful of trouble he’d be.
It was probably the long, dry spell without sex that had her getting all wet and wild over a guy whose face she couldn’t even see clearly. Maybe she should break open her piggy bank and hit the toy store. An adult toy might take the edge off.
And, more importantly, keep her from thinking about doing anything stupid.
She had plenty to think about already. She had goals, big goals. Goals she was this close to making a reality. And those goals required every single one of her thoughts.
So, sorry gorgeous guy. None for you.
Well, well. Apparently little sister Lara got all the looks in the Banks family, Dominic decided. And all the style. She had the same mahogany hair and green eyes as her brother, but the resemblance stopped there.
Her hair was short, a wicked angle that highlighted sharp cheekbones and exotically long-lidded eyes. And her mouth… Oh, baby. Her lips were full and rosy, erotic enough to put a porn star to shame. Of course, that impression might be the result of watching her strutting her incredibly sexy body onstage for an hour.
He dropped his gaze to take in that body up close. It was definitely one worth getting personal with. She was tall, in heels just a few inches shorter than him, with most of her height in those long, sleek legs. The kind of legs made to wrap around a man and take him for a wild ride. Her jacket obscured, but didn’t hide the lush curves of her breasts. His fingers itched to move that denim aside and get a better look.
Not because she was glaring gat him. Nor because of any stupid rules about her being off limits because she was Banks’ sister.
He yanked his lust back, holding it in check.
She was his mission.
“Hi,” he said, his smile pure charm. He didn’t figure it’d take more than that. It rarely did. “You’re Lara, right?”
“Excuse me,” she said, moving her hand from side to side as if flicking him out of her path. “I’m in a hurry.”
He’d been able to resist her looks, stunning though they were.
But that voice. Hello, darlin’, that voice was pure sexual invitation. Low and husky, it was meant for dark rooms and silk sheets.
“You’ve got a second, though, right?”
She gave him a look, a combination of irritation and inquiry, as if she couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t listening.
He could have told her he was listening just fine. But her order and his wishes were in direct conflict, and Dominic made a habit out of getting his way. Especially when it came to beautiful women.
With that in mind, he amped up the charm a little and tilted his head.
“Look, I just want to talk to you.”
“Right,” Lara mocked with a roll of her eyes. “Talk. Sorry, big boy. I’m busy. Why don’t you grab one of the girls on the corner. They’re never too busy to chat.”
He snorted. Damned if her smart-ass mouth wasn’t just as sexy as her legs.
“We can keep it public. There’s a diner across the street. We’ll talk there.”
“I’m not into talking, even in public,” she said as she tried again to pull her arm from his grip. He didn’t let go.
“Sweetheart, you just bared your all to a theater full of drooling guys. You obviously have no problem with public displays.” A fact for which he was very grateful. He might not be planning to enjoy what she had to offer, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to appreciate its existence. Covered in shiny fabric or simple denim, the woman had a body of a goddess.
“My all was fully covered,” she reminded him with frown.
“Not fully enough to diminish the fabulous view,” he corrected, his smile automatically shifting to flirtatious before he could stop it. Not that he’d have tried. After all, a goddess had to expect a little worship with a body like hers.
“I’m betting at some point, your momma probably taught you that look doesn’t mean touch.” She shot a pointed glance at his hand, still holding her arm. “You wouldn’t want her disappointed, now, would you?”
Dominic grinned. She was as clever as she was pretty.
Still, he didn’t let go. Clever and pretty wouldn’t keep her safe. He, on the other hand, would.
He just had to convince her of that.
Ahhh, they’re in for some fun, don’t you think? I hope you’ll check out A SEAL’s Fantasy at midnight (or preorder now if you’re so inclined) and let me know what you think.
In the meanwhile, I’m excited to celebrate and hope you’ll give me some more pre-celebration treat ideas. What’s a yummy delicious treat even before it’s reached it’s final stage? Share a few in the comments and I’ll draw two random names to win an autographed copy of any of my first 4 Sexy SEAL titles, along with a fun Sexy SEAL Swag Bag!!!
Sven? Where’d he go? He knows it’s launch day… Hmmm. Okay, so Sven is probably off chasing roosters. Why he”d want to catch one is beyond me, though – I mean, if the Rooster is gadding about, let him gad right? At least he’s not drinking all of the party booze. And speaking of booze, what should we have to celebrate today? I’m in the mood for something bubbly to go with the frothy margaritas. Champagne, perhaps? I know Sven is hiding a case in the back of the wine cellar, I’ll have the pool boys bring it around.
What else do we need for a proper celebration? Food, of course. I’m always in the mood for chocolate and cupcakes sound fun, but what else? How about fruit tarts for a change. We can call them healthy.
Music, music. Hmm, should we bring in a DJ and rock out with the dance tunes? Or have mellow quartet playing in the background?
And for entertainment, well, that’s where the Sexy SEALs come in. Because today, my hunky sailors get their very own boxed set! Yep, the first four Sexy SEAL stories are now available in a handy dandy digital boxed set!
Hmm, who should we bring in?
There’s Blake from A SEAL’s Seduction. The Boy Scout of the SEAL team, always prepared and ready to do the right thing (and boy does he do it right).
Or Cade, aka Slick. Oh, so sexy and tempting, this charming rich-boy knows just what it takes to get the job done in A SEAL’s Surrender. He’s always coming to the rescue!
I’m partial to Brody, myself. Also known as Bad Ass in A SEAL’s Salvation, he fits his call sign so well. And I do love me a brooding bad boy with a chip on his shoulder and a heart of gold.
But Aiden from A SEAL’s Kiss is such a sweetie. Genius to his teammates, Aiden proves just how sexy smart can be. And yeah, it can be really, really sexy.
I loved writing each of these individual stories, but am so excited to see them brought together into a single set. Its like guys night, in book form 😉
To celebrate their launch I’ll offer four prizes – one for each book in the set. For a chance to win one of four autographed print copies of any of these first four books (winner’s choice) and a Sexy SEAL swag bag, just answer these easy party questions:
Margarita or Champagne
Cupcake or fruit tart
DJ or Quartet
And last but not least… Which SEAL would you take for your very own? Blake, Cade, Brody or Aiden?
I’m super excited about the release of Naughty Vegas Nights in digital! Until today, it was only available in the Lucky 7 Bad Boys boxed set (still is, as a matter of fact). The boxed set hit both the USA Today and the New York Times bestseller lists this week, so I’m even more excited about this release. I hope readers are, too!
To celebrate, Sven and the boys have decked the lair out in roulette wheels, poker tables and over there, next to the champagne fountain is a bank of slot machines. It’s Casino Day here today!!!
Here’s a peek at Naughty Vegas Nights, and a virtual stack of chips for playing to your heart’s content (well, imaginary playing, you know *g*)
“Aren’t you curious?” Drew asked as Natasha walked away.
“Almost as much as I’d be curious about a car wreck,” she replied over her shoulder. “Simple morbid fascination with probable doom. Or at the very least, pain and suffering.”
Drew appreciated her quick mouth. And the sway of her hips. This was going to be fun.
She stopped, the diaphanous fabric of her skirt swirling with the sudden movement. She glanced back and gave him a look of contemplation.
Then she turned and took two steps back toward him. His arms filled with boxes, Drew stood stock still as she took his face in her slender hands and gently pulled his head down. Stunned, he watched as humor vied with curiosity in her stormy gray eyes.
She winked and Drew started to laugh. He’d forgotten that sly, subtle humor of hers. Tasha presented such a cool, sleek shell, it was easy to mistake her for cold.
Then she took his mouth and proved she was pure heat. And his heart stopped.
Her kiss was an inferno. A wild storm, a crazy rollercoaster. Sensation swirled through his mind, his body. Tasha’s lips were hot, wet and luscious as they softly played over his. Tempting, teasing, she used her teeth and tongue to keep the kiss on the razor’s edge of passion. As he teetered there on that precipice, Drew realized he was on the verge of begging. Willingly begging for her to deepen the kiss.
Mindless of the boxes between them, Drew used one arm to pull her closer. His tongue delved into the heavenly warmth of her mouth. She tasted like pure temptation. Hot, sexy woman in a cool, controlled package. The challenge of making her lose that control was overwhelming.
Before he could attempt to rip that control to shreds, she pulled back, drawing in a deep breath through her nose. Then she offered him a cool, friendly smile, patted his cheek and walked away.
Drew stood there, his mind foggy with longing. He could only form a single thought…
Yay and whoohooo, there’s another Sexy SEAL on the shelves!! That means it’s Launch Party Time!!!
I am ecstatic to share this book! So happy that I think I might be able to get Sven and the boys to do a little dance for us (what? You don’t want to see me dance. They are much more fun!)
For today’s celebration, we’ll be doing something a little different. Yes, of course there is a chocolate fountain, champagne and the margarita machine!! It’s not a party without those. But we also have ice cold milk being brought around by the cabana boys, and trays of cookies. Oooh, the many delicious cookies!!!
We’re partying with cookies because Genna, the heroine of A SEAL’s Salvation, turned her baking hobby into a career over the course of this book. Mmmm, cookies…
Want a peek at a cookie scene?
A SEAL’s Salvation excerpt…
“Let me get this straight.” Genna set the tray of cookies on the counter, opposite Brody and too far for him to sneak one. A frown between narrowed eyes, she gave him a long look. Strikingly
similar to her father’s look, actually. Brody’s lips twitched. She probably wouldn’t want to hear that.
“I write to give you bad news, and you hit on me by mail. I come to see you to pass on an invitation and a message—neither of which are from me—and you feel me up then kick me out. And today my father, clearly overstepping both his parental and legal bounds, warns you to stay away from me.” She paused, as if waiting for him to dispute anything she’d said so far. Since she was pretty much on track, he just shrugged. “And now that I am, according to someone who has no say in it, off-limits, what? You want me?”
“I didn’t say I wanted you,” Brody corrected quickly. No point giving her the wrong idea. Or in this case, the right idea that he planned to ignore.
“Ah, my mistake.” She tossed her hands in the air, the move sending the scent of fresh-baked cookies through the room. Brody’s stomach growled. Risking her glare, and the spatula she was currently smacking against her palm, he snagged a cookie from the closest tray.
It melted in his mouth, rich molasses goodness coating his tongue and sliding down to create a celebration in his stomach.
He lifted the small piece left in his hand, peered at it, then looked closer at the trays around the room. He knew these cookies.
“I’ve had this before.”
“I brought you a plate of them less than a week ago.”
He shook his head. “I tossed those out.”
“You threw out my cookies?” Outrage and shock rang out, her voice rising with each word. Eyes wide, mouth half-open, she kept trying to say something but the words seemed to be stuck somewhere. Instead she shook her head and gestured, tried again, then settled on a low growl.
Brody smothered a laugh.
He’d intimidated her.
He’d groped her.
He’d put on his meanest face and tried to scare her.
And she’d had a sassy comeback every single time.
But now he’d finally done it.
He’d rendered Genna Reilly speechless.
All it’d taken was to insult her cookies.
He couldn’t help it. He laughed out loud.
Okay, I’m unquestionably biased, but I love Brody. I really, really do. I really hope readers love him too. He’s the kind of guy who needs lots of love LOL.
So one of the most difficult parts of writing A SEAL’s Salvation was, yes, all the cookies. And cakes, and desserts. But mostly, Genna is about the cookies. I can’t count the number of batches I was forced (yes forced) to make in the process of writing this story to make sure I was conveying the right amount of yumminess on the pages!!!
So, with that in mind, I’ll give away three autographed print copies of A SEAL’s Salvation randomly for answering this question…
Sven marches up to Paolo and hands him 3 enormous steel padlocks. “You need to put these on the door to Erminarde’s tower. There is no way we want her escaping today.”
Paolo gulps. “No. The hockey hunks have said that they’ll make me wash all their gear for a month if she gets out.”
Sven shudders at the thought. “Well, Zach and the other hunks have been working hard to get the ice rink and ice lounge ready for Vrai Anna’s launch party. The guys who made them came from my hometown in Sweden. They make the famous ice hotel every year. It’s been a bit of a challenge with the summer temperatures, to get everything to stay frozen. The last thing they need is that overgrown lizard melting the ice bar, the ice seats and the ice tables. “
“Not to mention the ice sculptures. Especially after the hockey hunks had to spend so long posing for the artist.”
“Yeah. I’m not so sure they were too worried about that. They love showing off their muscles.”
“Your sculptures of the Golden Rooster and Ermingarde are really good too. I didn’t know you could carve ice.”
“Ah, I have hidden talents, grasshopper.”
“I uh wouldn’t say that too loud around the Banditas and BBs if I were you. They’ll hound you to discover what else you’re hiding.”
“Oh yes. I mean. Oh dear.” Sven turns and calls out to the gladiators, “You can bring those trunks in now.”
“Is that the blankets and quilts to keep everyone warm?”
“Everything the Banditas and their BBs need to keep warm in the ice lounge. Fake fur coats, hats, mittens and boots. Plus skates, for anyone who wants to dance.
Paolo looks worried. “You know all those women, they’ll use the ice party as an excuse to snuggle in corners with their favourite guys.”
Sven grins. “I can’t wait.”
Welcome everyone to the launch party for A Perfect Distraction. I’m so excited to see this first book in the New Jersey Ice Cats series hit the shelves (both real and virtual!). As you can see, the men of the Lair have gone all out to create an ice lounge around the hockey rink – yes, everything made of ice! So grab a drink and someone to keep you warm and join in the fun.
And to get things started, here’s a little excerpt. Maggie, her sister, Tracy, and her daughter Emily, have been invited to the Badoletti Labor Day Barbecue. Here’s what happens when they arrive.
When Maggie accepted Jake’s invitation to the Labor Day barbecue, she hadn’t imagined the view from the Badoletti’s deck would be so spectacular.
A dozen men, half bare-chested and half wearing sleeveless vests were embroiled in a game of American football. She’d never seen such a prime collection of six-packs, glutes and pecs.
Maggie cut Tracy off with a stern look. “Little pitchers.” She patted Emily’s head.
“Sorry.” Her sister grinned sheepishly. “But take a look at that.”
She followed Tracy’s gaze to the tangle of men. “Oh my.”
Jake. Shirtless. Glorious.
Muscles rippled in his broad chest, as he scrambled free and leaped to catch the ball. Her heart thudded at the lean, corded strength in his arms and legs.
He must have sensed her watching, because his gaze homed in on her like an ice-blue laser. His triumphant grin turned feral as his eyes skimmed her body from head to toe, lingering on her bare shoulders before dropping to the hem of her sundress and focusing on her legs. Then he winked and turned back to the game.
She exhaled deeply. Jake Badoletti was one hard man to ignore.
“You’ve been holding back on me,” murmured Tracy, as Emily sat on the steps. “What’s going on between you and Bad Boy?”
Maggie swallowed. “Nothing.”
“Uh-huh. That look made my temperature go up thirty degrees, and he wasn’t aiming it at me.”
“Jake’s all wrong for me.” She ignored her body’s vehement disagreement.
“I’m not suggesting you marry him. What’s the harm in a couple of dates?”
That’s how it had started with Lee. The perfect antidote to her father’s dictatorial rule, her ex had offered everything a sheltered eighteen-year-old had dreamed of. His charm had thrilled, while his brooding good looks had tempted. But the prison he’d trapped her in had been far worse than the one she’d left behind.
Still, that didn’t stop her wondering what a date with Jake would be like. How it would feel to have his attention, his charm focused solely on her. To be the woman in the glamorous dress, on his arm, as they went to a smart restaurant or a Broadway show. How the evening might end with…
Stop! She wouldn’t let her mind stroll down that dangerous path.
One lucky commenter today will win a prize package of a signed copy of A Perfect Distraction, a collector’s pack of the Jane Austen commemorative stamps and some real Cadbury’s chocolate.
All you have to do is name an ice-themed cocktail for the party and tell us what’s in it. If you’re not into drinks, then name a special ice-themed snack or dessert.
[All images are from www.icehotel.com – for more information about the fabulous ice hotels, click the link!]
Early heads-up for our lovely BBs – I’m going to be running a prize draw to win some Anna Sugden goodies. As I’m in the UK, I won’t be seeing my book in the stores, so I’m asking for some help. All you have to do is send me a pic of you with A Perfect Distraction – the book, on your e-reader or on a shelf in a store – and you’ll be entered into the prize draw! I’ll be announcing this on my website and Facebook/Twitter, but wanted to let you all know to watch out for it! Get snapping!
Hi, everyone. Joan usually blogs on the 13th of the month, but she let me take over the blog for today. Today is my birthday AND I am officially launching my debut published novel, Kick Start!Sven was up late preparing his traditional Swedish meatballs, vats of potato and pasta salad, delicate cucumber sandwiches on pumpernickel with fresh dill and a host of other savory options. On the sweet side we have cream puffs, triple-chocolate butter cookies and, of course, birthday cake!
Damon is behind the bar and Paolo is serving. I know Paolo’s a bit clumsy, but he’s so cute when he apologizes for spilling a mojito down one’s cleavage! Maybe this time he’ll keep all the drinks inside the glasses. We’ll have to see about that. (Damon did make sure the absinthe was locked up tight so Paolo won’t be slipping any of that into any glasses this time, either. Ahem!) Make yourselves at home, load up a plate and wrap your fingers around a frosty glass. It is time to party!
Now that everyone’s mouth is full and there’s a very tiny lull in the conversation, I’ll segue into the second part of today’s celebration. My debut booklaunch! I am very happy to announce that Kick Start is available in all e-book forms (links below) for your reading pleasure. Kick Start was the book that finaled in RWA’s 2006 Golden Heart contest—the one that brought us Romance Bandits together! Kick Start was not the first book I wrote. I think it was the fifth. (Believe it or not, I have forgotten some of my early books. I counted the other day and thought my total was 7, but I think it’s actually 9). I had done a lot of writing and learning about writing by the time I began Kick Start. I wrote it in 7 weeks in the summer of 2005, when I was laid off from work but still collecting severance pay. The book was fast, funny, easy and a pleasure from beginning to end.
Fast forward to 2006, when it finaled in the Golden Heart. It had been edited quite a bit by then, but the story pretty much remained intact. It piqued interest at Harlequin, but they ultimately passed on it. By 2007, I had changed the location of my town from Georgia (where you can get a quickie divorce) to North Carolina (where you can’t, but which I knew much better). Changing the location changed the timeline of the story and lots of story elements and locations. By the time I finished revising it, I was kind of sick to death of it. I had moved on and written another book in the Cross Springs series and was working on the third.
And then Life Happened. My husband was once again laid off, I was working full-time and our darling back-to-back daughters were at that incredibly needful stage of high school. Keeping our family afloat and checking things off my To Do list were about all I could handle. For THREE YEARS. Last fall, the baby went to college. Long about September, my dear friend Deb Marlowe started poking me. She wanted to know when I was going to publish a book. You know, one of the 9 I had already written. I thought about it and learned about self-publishing…and then dawdled and dragged my feet. I kept pretending not to hear Deb’s increasingly sharp and pointed probes until she flung down the gauntlet as we celebrated her birthday at the beginning of March. It was time. Now, as we celebrate my birthday, I give Deb the credit for kick starting my publishing career. (That’s a picture of us at an RWA conference many years ago.) Here’s a blurb:
When life stalls right in the middle of the journey, sometimes all it needs is a Kick Start
Linda Dowling’s husband traded her in for a younger model, and she clung to the only life and home her kids knew. Easiest thing by far when her heart was broken and her small town was filled with folks who commonly mistook their neighbor’s concerns for their own. But even in Cross Springs, NC, time moves on and heals the most grievous of wounds. Linda shakes things up, goes back to school and—gasp!—starts to date a younger man.
Suddenly everyone in Cross Springs has something to say about her life—and Linda is faced with hard choices. She has tried for years to live up to the expectations of Cross Springs’ society, but now she is remembering the girl she used to be, back before motherhood and self-doubt robbed her of her self-esteem. Should she bow to comfortable roles and old expectations? Or should she give herself a Kick Start and pursue the kind of love she never thought she would find?
Here’s a link to the excerpt on my website. Actually, it’s the entire first chapter! Hopefully, you’ll be intrigued and entertained and want to read more. 😀 In case you do, here are some links where you can find the book in the e-format of your choice. It is also available on Amazon sites around the world. Or it should be. I haven’t quite figured out how to check all those things yet.
As a special present from me to you, I would love to gift one commenter with a copy of Kick Start in the e-book format of your choice. To get in the drawing, please tell me what your ultimate birthday gift to yourself would be (if time, money and reality were not issues and you could Treat. Yo. Self! :D). I gave myself a published book, so anything goes!
It’s Par-Tay time!!! I’m so so excited that A SEAL’s Surrender is hitting the shelves. So in the fine Lair tradition, we’re having a major blowout.
Today’s treats include margaritas (of course) and a cupcake tower. Cupcakes of every flavor are being passed around by our hunky cabana boys. Why did we choose cupcakes to celebrate this particular launch, you ask (okay, so maybe you didn’t ask. But hey, I am happy to fill you in you anyway 😉 ) A SEAL’s Surrender opens with my heroine, Eden, blowing out her birthday candle on a delicious cupcake. And as we all do when we blow out candles, Eden made a wish. A very special, very sexy birthday wish. Or should I say, she wishes for sex.
Check it out…
I wish for a guy who worships my body, is great at sex and makes me feel like a well-loved Goddess. Someone who loves me, for me. Inside and out. And is really, really good at it.
And if he could be six-foot-two, with sandy blond hair and dreamy green eyes, a body that made nymphomaniacs weep and a smile that melted her panties, that’d be nifty, too.
Eyes scrunched tight, Eden Gillespie let that visual play out for just a second. Then, with a deep breath, she opened them wide and blew.
The flame went out. Thankfully. Because she’d blown so hard, the candle toppled from its perch on the chocolate cupcake. Good wishes did that, she told herself as she scooped up a fingerful of frosting and grinned at the woman sitting across from her.
“So? What’d you wish for?” Bev Lang leaned forward, her wild red curls bouncing like springs around her cheerful face.
“It’s a secret. If I tell, it won’t come true,” Eden said primly before bursting into laughter. Yeah. Like she was gonna lose out on her body-worshipping lover because she put the word out that she was waiting? Still, she pulled her cupcake closer and, since it was filled with molten chocolate, used a fork to enjoy the next bite. And fill her mouth so she didn’t blurt anything out.
Because you never knew with wishes.
“I can’t believe you won’t tell me. How long have we been friends?” Bev asked, putting on her best fake-affront look. It wasn’t very effective since she still looked like she was waiting for a white apron and her boyfriend, Raggedy Andy.
“Eleven years?” Eden guessed, counting back to the first day of high school. That’d been the year her dad had died, leaving her mom too broke to keep paying the exorbitant tuition to the private school Eden had always attended. Secretly terrified, she’d put on a brave face in hopes that the public school kids would accept her more than the private school snobs had. Bev had been the new girl in town, unaware that Eden wasn’t acceptable because of her zip code. By the time she’d learned the ins and outs of Ocean Point social politics, she and Eden had been too good of friends for it to matter.
“Then as your best friend since ninth grade, I figure it’s my job to help you with the wish,” Bev decided, leaning back in Eden’s faded and frayed Queen Anne dining chair and digging into her own cupcake. “I think this should be your year for sex.”
“An entire year, dedicated to sex?” she asked with a laugh. She was sure there was nothing more than dust motes and the faint air of neglect floating through the formal dining room. But, still, it was all she could do not to look over her head to see if the wish was written there in the candle smoke.
“You should dedicate this year to the pursuit of sex.” Bev scrunched her nose and pointed out, “I don’t want to hurt your feelings or anything, but it might take a little effort on your part.”
When was the last time she’d had sex worth putting in a little effort? Definitely not with that guy. Not with any guy, if she were being honest. Eden swirled her fork in the gooey rich chocolate, using it to make a design on the Meissen plate. And when better for brutal self-truths that a girl’s twenty-fifth birthday.
The last guy she’d had sex with had broken his foot trying to play he-man and do it against a tree. Instead of accepting that he just wasn’t he-man material, he’d blamed her.
No wonder her love life sucked. Look at the kind of guys she had to work with.
Yep. I think if I had that kind of luck in my love life, I’d be using my birthday wish on a sexy hunk, too. Lucky for my husband, I will probably be wishing for something more fun this week when I blow out my own birthday candles. Shoes, some fabulous book sale numbers, shoes, possibly a massage. Or, oh, I don’t know. Maybe shoes.
How about you? Do you blow out candles on your birthday? And do you make a wish? Does it come true? (you can share after the fact, if it does. The wish fairy can’t come take it back, right?)
We’re not exactly having a Launch Party today. Do I hear groans and sighs of disappointment. The Banditas and their BB’s are always up for a raucous event.
Never fear! We have the usual finger foods and goodies on hand. Sven’s been hard at work in the kitchen making canapes and those little barbecued sausages, as well as caviar and champagne.
Unfortunately he’s not getting the usual “help” from Lars, who’s promised everyone a foot massage today. It’s probably just as well since Lars tends to drop things.
The party preparations are on temporary halt, however, because we have a serious problem in the Lair.
Someone (andI’m not mentioning any names) stole the proof copy of Jo-Mama’s debut book “The Watcher.”
In case you’re confused look to the left for Evidence #1 — the purloined book!
Missing, MISSING, I tell you! And someone must pay!
You might suspect the Golden Rooster carried the book off to the Land of Oz or even — shudder — to the “right coast.” Or perhaps a Bandita Buddy from down south “appropriated” the proof prize. Not naming names, again, but I hear some of those southern gals have sticky fingers.
In fact, our famous Chook is NOT the culprit, but the investigator. So line up the usual suspects and let the case begin!
What? What? Oh, that’s right, some naughty visitor to the Lair has stolen Jo-Mama’s proof of “The Watcher.” Let me see, let me see (dons his Sherlock Holmes hat and whips out his magnifying glass).
Not I! I’ve been slaving in the kitchen for days (looks darkly at Lars). With NO help, I might add.
Don’t look at me (eyes Aunty Cindy’s pretty colored toes greedily). I’ve been playing with pinkies all day.
[Enter Gladiators Demitrius and Marcus, flashing swords.]
What about those two?
Not likely. They never learned to read, just a bunch of steroid-pumped hunks (looks jealously at the Gladiators).
Say it isn’t so! Reading is the foundation of civilization!
Whatever. (Bends over, examining a dusty spot on the end table of the reading room.) Hmmmm, looks like the book was lying here.
Good grief! How can you tell MY book was there? There are millions of Bandita books around here. (Flings her arms wildly) It IS the Romance Bandits Lair, after all. Books are coming out all the time!
I see dead people.
What are you talking about, you crazy chook?
Dead people! Aren’t your books full of dead people?
Well, sure, “The Watcher” is a romantic thriller, but it’s not ALL about murder and mayhem. There’s a very sensual love story in it. Kate and Slater have an instant connection between them, and although she’s single minded to the point of annoyance, Slater’s just the man to, uh . . . distract her.
Take a look at Evidence #2 — the back cover blurb:
Forensic psychiatrist Kate Myers believes the killer of two teenage girls in Bigler County, California, is the same man who savagely murdered her twin sister over fifteen years ago. Working with a single-minded tenacity, she sets out to prove it.
Deputy Ben Slater hides his personal pain behind the job, but Kate’s arrival in his county knocks his world on its axis. He wants to believe her wild theory, but the idea of a serial killer with the kind of pathology she proposes is too bizarre.
Together they work to find a killer whose roots began in a small town in Bigler county, but whose violence spread across the nation. A Janus-like killer, more monster than man, he fixates on Kate. The killer wants nothing more than to kill the “purple-eyed girl again.”
[Enter Paolo, Lucius, and the Hockey Hunks, led by Zach, all bearing trays of champagne and bottle of Coke and Pepsi — perennial rivals in the Lair]
(shouting at the top of his lungs) Let the festivities begin!
(Grabbing for the champagne) Give me one of those! (sniffs loudly) I hope that nasty Ermigarde isn’t going to eat all the food.
(Stumbles about, muttering) Clues, clues, must follows the clues.
Readers, join us in the hunt for my proof copy of “The Watcher.” Who do YOU think purloined the book? One of the Banditas or Buddies? One of the Lair denizens or guests? Or someone we’d never, ever think of! Heh, heh, who’s the main suspect??!!
One clever commenter who convinces me who the guilty culprit is and WHY will receive a free download of “The Watcher” when it becomes available the end of August.
Everyone who emails me a snail mail addy (firstname.lastname@example.org) will receive an autographed postcard of the book cover and will be entered to win a PRINT COPY of “The Watcher.”
Good evening, Regency gossip mavens! It’s your eagle-eyed editor here from Regency Routs, Rumpus and Rumpy-Pumpy.
Are you ready for your big dose of SCANDAL???!!!!
Yep, we’re all getting to play papparazzi for the day. Nikons at twenty paces! Hoist your Olympus!
Because today is the launch party for the honorable Miss Campbell’s latest release MIDNIGHT’S WILD PASSION and there’s going to be blood on the Polaroids before we’re done, dear readers!
But first a word from our sponsors at MIDNIGHT CENTRAL…
MIDNIGHT’S WILD PASSION is a classic Regency romance spiced with passion and danger and…SCANDAL (well, you kinda knew that, you’re papparazzi, right?).
Here’s some secret video from one of our undercover London reporters:
And here’s the background to the breaking story that’s taken the gossip sheets by storm:
London’s most notorious seducer, Nicholas Challoner lives solely for revenge…
The dashing, licentious Marquess of Ranelaw can never forgive Godfrey Demarest for ruining his sister – now the time has come to repay the villain in the same coin. But one formidably intriguing impediment stands in the way of Nicholas’s vengeance: Miss Antonia Smith, companion to his foe’s unsuspecting daughter.
Having herself been deceived and disgraced by a rogue-banished by her privileged family as a result and forced to live a lie-Antonia vows to protect her charge from the same cruel fate. She recognizes Ranelaw for the shameless blackguard he is, and will devote every ounce of her intelligence and resolve to thwarting him.
Yet Antonia has always had a fatal weakness for rakes…
We even have specific footage for our Aussie scandalmongerers, uh, READERS of Downunder Disgraceful Doings!
You’ll notice that Nicholas and Antonia have been caught in a VERY compromising position in this candid photo.
Just goes to show you shouldn’t do anything naughty in the summer house at Pelham Place. All those bushes give dedicated papparazzi lots of places to hide out – and let’s face it, neither Nicholas nor Antonia was paying much attention to what was going on OUTSIDE the lovely little Greek temple at the time!
Our intrepid reporter told us events reached such a pitch that his camera fell from his sweaty hands and crashed upon the muddy ground, so this is our only photgraphic record of illicit cavortings.
To speak frankly, dear readers – and do we ever do anything else here at Regency Routs, Rumpus and Rumpy-Pumpy? – we’re not at all surprised that the Marquess of Ranelaw is currently giving us plenty of material to titilate you. After all, he has always had a terrible reputation as a rake and a libertine.
He looks like a fallen angel and acts like the De-il himself! Many a time, we’ve had to fan our heaving bosoms and reach for the smelling salts preparing the sealed sections of RRRARP where we’ve related his numerous and notorious escapades with wanton women both within and without society.
But this Season, the on dit is that Nicholas Challoner is out to catch himself a bride. And he seems to have settled on innocent debutante Cassandra Demarest.
The marquess’s attentions to the lovely young woman have been notable. At the Bradham musicale, he sat next to her for the entire evening – apart from a mysterious disappearance onto the terrace. During the house party at Pelham Place which had such a lamentable end, he was rarely away from Miss Demarest’s side.
But we at Regency Routs, Rumpus and Rumpy-Pumpy have inside information, dear readers! It’s not Cassandra he’s pursuing but her dowdy chaperone Miss Antonia Smith who until now has been a model of rectitude.
Previously, Miss Smith was on our radar purely as a dragon of a companion with no dress sense. But rumor now has it that Miss Smith conceals hidden depths.
We wonder what else this lady is concealing!
We have it on good authority that Miss Smith can ride and shoot better than most men – something Ranelaw needs to take into consideration if he’s plotting the lady’s ruin. Just take a look at this candid shot of Miss Smith toting heat instead of a reticule.
If I were the marquess, I would be VERRRRRRRRRRRY careful! Of his dealings with both Miss Smith and Miss Demarest.
And then, fetch your editor a burnt feather, there was that scandalous evening at the Merriweathers where not only Miss Smith and the marquess danced a waltz together, but the poet and traveler John Benton, once accounting the handsomest man in England, returned to set female hearts a-flutter.
The fellow has been in Italy for years and there is some secret scandal about his absence that we promise to get to the bottom of before we’re done. We will leave no stone – or poet – unturned in our search for the truth! Our reporters will scale any cherry trees (oops, gave away a clue to a future edition there!), hide in any retiring room at a ball, eavesdrop on any conversation to keep our readers informed!
There is MUCH more we could say – once our lawyers have cleared us to speak… Ahem, once we have completed our researches.
There are whispers of missing heiresses, elopements, parental disapproval, seductions, abductions, duels. Oh, my, we can hardly contain our censure at the wicked goings on this Season. And we dread to assault our gentle readers’ ears with what we know.
Well, all right…
If you insist…
What’s that? The lawyers say no?
It seems if you want the full dramatic story, you have to read MIDNIGHT’S WILD PASSION?
NOOOOOO! Regency Routs, Rumpus and Rumpy-Pumpy resents the implication that we don’t have the whole story – even though we don’t. One thing we do know, there is much scandal and mayhem before there’s a wedding!
OK, you papparazzi in training, let’s celebrate the launch of this scandalous memoir with some wild reportings! Tell me the latest scandal in that notorious den of iniquity, the Romance Bandits Lair.
What did Sven do with Madame Christine at the last party? Where did Cindy and the cabana boys disappear to on Thursday? Is the deadline cave only for deadlines?
If you know no scandal of the lair – which this editor finds extremely hard to believe! – tell us some scandal from this momentous Season where the Marquess of Ranelaw seems to have lost his taste for wild women and started to pursue dowdy companions.
Heavens to Betsy, what is the world coming to?
Plenty of champagne and orgeat and warm lemonade to keep you refreshed. We have the second best orchestra in London to keep your toes tapping – that social-climbing Mrs. Jones-Llewellyn-Jones had already booked the best orchestra, bl-st her hide. And the party favors include THREE signed copies of the document in question. Yes, MIDNIGHT’S WILD PASSION (oh, my, the summer house!) will go to three intrepid reporters today.
GOOD LUCK, PAPPARAZZI! May you do Regency Routs, Rumpus and Rumpy-Pumpy proud!
First, thanks to Tawny for giving up her normal blogging day so I could have a launch party here in the Lair to celebrate the publication of my first women’s fiction novel, Living in Color. This is a bit of a departure from my normal romance and young adult novels, but it’s a story I really thought deserved to be out there in the world. That’s why I decided to hop on the self-publishing wave and give it a whirl to see what happened.
It’s a different type of experience being in charge of every aspect of the writing, editing, marketing and distribution of one’s book. So far the only thing I’ve not done myself is design the cover. I knew I had no talent in that arena, so I enlisted the talented Kimberly Killion at Hot Damn Designs, and I think she did a lovely job. I firmly believe covers are important because they’re the face of your book, the first impression. I have no doubt that there are really good books out there that don’t get read as many times as they should because they’ve had the misfortune of having bad covers, though I’ve been very fortunate with all of my covers to date (thank you, Harlequin and Penguin!). I also believe that the book beyond the cover has to live up to good packaging. I hope readers believe Living in Color does that.
Living in Color is a mother-daughter road trip story, one that leads to healing and some unexpected discoveries. Here’s the blurb:
After the death of her father, Sabrina Bishop feels a sense of relief that he’s gone. No longer will he be able to abuse her mother mentally or physically, and just maybe her mother might grow to see what he’d done to her was wrong. But with the death of Jim Bishop, Sabrina is now responsible for her mother’s well being since Ruby can’t read or write and has lived a sheltered life. But Ruby has a very small comfort zone in rural West Tennessee, and that means she can’t come live with Sabrina in Atlanta. Besides, Sabrina’s job as an award-winning news photographer keeps her traveling around the globe most of the time. As she tries to make suitable plans for her mother’s future, Sabrina offers to take Ruby on a road trip to expose her to a world she’s never seen. As they travel to sites such as Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park and the Gulf Coast of Florida, the trip becomes a journey of unexpected healing and self-discovery not only for Ruby, but for Sabrina as well. ~~~ As someone who doesn’t like to fly, I take a good amount of road trips. I actually enjoy driving long distances and being able to stop wherever I want whenever I want. So I thought I’d share my top five favorite road trip destinations I’ve been to.
1. Yellowstone National Park — My sister worked at the park for a year, so I visited once while she was there and a couple more times since then. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and I always want to spend more time there.
2. San Antonio and the Hill Country of Texas — My good friend Mary lives in San Antonio, so I’ve driven there several times. Last month, we also took a trip up to Fredericksburg in the Hill Country so I could do some research for the trilogy I’m writing for Harlequin American. Some of my favorite stops on this trip are the missions along the Mission Trail in San Antonio — the Alamo and four others (San Jose, Espada, San Juan and Concepcion).
3. Destin/Ft. Walton Beach, Florida (in the sunset photo) — I love the Gulf Coast. It’s so relaxing there. I love driving along the roads that follow the beach, listening to the waves.
4. Outer Banks, N.C. — Home to Cape Hatteras and several other lighthouses, Cape Hatteras National Seashore (wonderful because it’s undeveloped like so many stretches of beach), and Kitty Hawk, site of the Wright Brothers’ famous flight.
5. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN and N.C. — The roads that crisscross this park pass by waterfalls, beautiful mountain streams, lush green mountains, stunning wildflowers, historic structures of past mountain communities, and even the occasional black bear. It is one of the most richly bio-diverse places it the world and is thus designated an International Biosphere Reserve. And it has the benefit of only being about four hours from my house.
What I’d like to know from you all is:
a. Do you like road trips?
b. What are some of your favorite road trips and destinations?
c. Any fun (or horrible) road trip stories to share?
I’ll pick a winner from today’s comments to receive a road map of the United States and a $5 Starbucks gift card to get you started off right on your very own road trip.
If you’d like to read Living in Color (it’s a great Mother’s Day gift — hint, hint), you can download it at:
Smashwords.com for Sony e-reader, iPad and various other formats, including for your desktop computer
Okay, break out the freshly made cookies (I hope Joanie made them, and I’d like to request they be just like the ones she made for one of our Bandita get-togethers — yum!), your favorite non-alcoholic beverage (we are driving, after all), and road map and hit the road!
Disclaimer: Our guests run the gamut from personal friends, to interesting authors who've asked to appear, to authors whose books we love. We have not always read our guests' books before hosting them here. Some of them provide us with free books though most do not. We do receive a commission from Amazon for every book purchased through links on our site. For purposes of making purchasing decisions, visitors should assume the bandit sponsoring the guest has a personal connection of some kind to her guest and may have received a free copy of the guest's book.