Posts tagged with: guest blogger

Winner – Daryl Wood Gerber’s Cookbook Nook Mysteries

Congratulations to Kathleen J. Kaminski, winner of the first two Cookbook Nook Mysteries from Daryl Wood Gerber! Kathleen, please send your mailing address to me at I’ll forward it to Daryl so she can get your prize in the mail!

Daryl Wood Gerber, Author of Stirring the Plot (plus giveaway)

I am so happy to welcome my friend Daryl Wood Gerber back to the Lair! Daryl, who also writes as Avery Aames, is the author of the deliciously dastardly Cookbook Nook Mysteries. STIRRING THE PLOT, Book 3 in the series, is coming out next week, and Daryl’s here to answer a few fun questions about it… and she’s giving Books 1 and 2 to one lucky commenter today!

Halloween in Crystal Cove, California, is a big deal, involving a spooky soiree where the Winsome Witches, a fund-raising group, gather to open up their purse strings and trade superstitions. But party magicians, fortune-tellers, and herbalists are only the beginning of this recipe for disaster…

Jenna Hart has packed The Cookbook Nook chock-full of everything from ghostly texts to witchy potions in anticipation of the annual fund-raiser luncheon. But there’s one unexpected addition to the menu: murder.

When the Head Priestess of the Winsome Witches is found dead under mysterious circumstances, there’s no logical answer and plenty of blame to go around. With her aunt, Vera, unable to call on her ability to foresee the future, Jenna will have to use more than just sleight of hand and a few magic tricks to conjure up the truth…

And now, without further ado, here’s Daryl with a quickie Q and A. Please make her feel welcome!

Daryl Wood GerberSTIRRING THE PLOT is the third book of your Cookbook Nook mystery series. Love the idea of a store that specializes in cookbooks! What is your favorite cookbook, the one you turn to time after time?

Gourmet, Volume 1. I purchased it as a teen and really cut my teeth on it. It has everything. Biscuits, pies, cookies, boeuf bourgignon (a delicious stew made with red wine), the perfect way to cook a rib roast (sear first), and so much more. I love it so much that the spine is worn; the pages, cooking-stained. It doesn’t have pictures, which nowadays, I really like when I buy a cookbook—I appreciate knowing what the author thinks a recipe should look like because it helps me with plating and such—but the Gourmet, Volume 1 is irreplaceable. Why did I purchase the book? Well, I had a subscription to Gourmet Magazine (sob… it’s no longer published). All the issues contained fabulous pictures. I made something every month from the magazine. If those recipes were that good, the book had to be better, right?

Which of the characters in STIRRING THE PLOT is most different from you and why?

Tigger, the rescue cat. Okay, that’s not true. Tigger and I are a lot alike. We bounce, we pounce. We attack life. 🙂

I would have to say Jenna’s aunt, Vera, is probably the most different from me. She wears caftans and turbans and lots of jewelry. I’m a simple dresser, especially when I’m writing. My preferred outfit: yoga pants and a tee shirt, my hair in a ponytail. Vera tells fortunes. I’ve always been a bit of a skeptic in that regard. A line on your hand or a Tarot card can divine the future? C’mon. Vera believes that stroking an amulet she wears will ease woes, and surrounding herself with crystals will purify or cleanse a situation from evil. Again, honestly? And yet, I love that some people do believe these things. Faith, hope, and optimism are so necessary in today’s world. Vera is a good businesswoman; she makes sound investments. I’d like to be more like her in that respect. Vera bears the disappointments of her life well; she keeps her sadness to herself. I’m not at all like that. I am a heart-on-my-sleeve kind of person. Way too emotional. I have to work on that aspect of myself constantly. Vera and I are alike when it comes to helping people and wanting the best for them. I do so, to my detriment. My husband says I’m “mother to the world.” That’s not a bad thing, right?

Halloween kittenSTIRRING THE PLOT has a Halloween theme (but without supernatural elements). Can you share an interesting Halloween memory with us?

My mother kept a wonderful collection of Halloween costume pictures when I was growing up. I’m so glad she did. I adored Halloween. I was a harem girl (in my nylon pajamas), an Indian (a burlap bag), a wealthy heiress (I will never forget the mink stole I bought at the costume store using $4 of my hard-earned allowance), and a doctor (I had a dream the other night about my sister and me doing a skit; I was about ten and I was in that Halloween doctor’s jacket – weird, right?). When my son was growing up, he had the same love for Halloween. I made many of his costumes: Mickey Mouse, generic super heroes, dinosaurs. I got ousted as the costumer when he wanted to be a Teenaged Ninja Turtle. I just couldn’t figure out how to make the mask! Of course, he didn’t wear that mask on Halloween, but I didn’t rub that little tidbit in. As for being scared… I can’t remember ever being scared on Halloween. I think I was always aware of the difference between fiction and reality. Now… when I’m writing… not so much. The worlds blend. Uh-oh.

Are you able to share any future plans for Jenna?

Jenna will be back in another story, FUDGING THE BOOKS, which will come out in the fall of 2015. It occurs during the first week in February. Chocolate is always a great focus for the month of love, so expect plenty of yummy goodies. Yes, Rhett Jackson is still in Jenna’s life. You’ll learn more about their blossoming relationship as the series unfolds.

Will you share any other upcoming books?

I write as Avery Aames, too. The next Cheese Shop Mystery, AS GOUDA AS DEAD, comes out in February 2015. What’s that story? When a beloved bar owner is discovered murdered on her fiancè’s farm, Charlotte Bessette is more determined than ever to contain the killer. For those who don’t know, Charlotte owns Fromagerie Bessette, or as the locals call it, The Cheese Shop. She has been amateur sleuthing for five books. AS GOUDA AS DEAD is the sixth in the Agatha Award-winning series.

For a chance to win the first two Cookbook Nook Mysteries – FINAL SENTENCE and INHERIT THE WORD – share a favorite Halloween memory! If you can’t think of any Halloween memories, share a memory of a time that you played dress-up for any reason.

Guest Author: Hannah Dennison

Hannah DennisonPlease join me in welcoming Hannah Dennison back to the Lair! Hannah is one of my dearest friends in the mystery writing community and I’m so thrilled about her fabulous new Honeychurch Hall mystery series. I guarantee you will absolutely love it. Welcome, Hannah!


When Kate invited me to blog on Romance Bandits I was thrilled because although my new book Murder at Honeychurch Hall is a murder-mystery, one of my main characters secretly writes steamy bodice-rippers under the pseudonym of Krystalle Storm. In other words … I finally get a chance to take a wild stab at writing romance myself—albeit, vicariously.

Murder at Honeychurch HallOf course, just like love and life, nothing ever quite works out how we expect. The same holds true for my protagonist, Kat Stanford. Kat stars in a hit road show called Fakes & Treasures. Weary of being permanently in the public eye and the target of her boyfriend’s estranged wife who hosts “Walk of Shame: Celebrity Family Secrets Revealed,” Kat switches careers initially to set up an antique business with her newly widowed mother, Iris. Kat’s mother, however, has other ideas and Kat is horrified to learn that not only has Iris secretly purchased a dilapidated carriage house on a crumbling country estate several hundred miles away from London, she’s actually an internationally best-selling author of erotica, writing under the pseudonym of Krystalle Storm.

So what prompted me to make Iris Stanford live out my own romantic writing aspirations? I always like to give each one of my characters a secret—this could range from some shameful act in the past or an unhealthy obsession for collecting paperweights (a good murder weapon if anyone is interested). In this case, Iris is a conventional, prim and uptight housewife who had been married to—and controlled by—a tax inspector for almost fifty years. I thought that by having Iris write about “tiffin”—her pet name for sex— it couldn’t have shocked Kat more than if Iris had announced she was taking up break-dancing.

Hillersdon HouseAny hesitation I had soon vanished when I began researching into one of the two private houses in Devon that I have based the series on. As a teenager, I grew up living in the gatehouses at the bottom of the main drive of Hillersdon House in Cullompton, Devon. When Hillersdon came up for sale in June of 2009, I discovered that it had had a reputation for holding wild society parties during the 1890s or “naughty nineties” as they were then known. Elinor Glyn, who was rumored to be one of the first writers of erotic fiction, was a frequent visitor.

Men were to say:

“Would you like to sin with Elinor Glyn on a tiger skin?

Or would you prefer to err with her on some other fur?”

Elinor Glyn was said to popularize the concept of “It” as in, “You either have it, or you don’t.” She claimed that “With ‘It,’ you win all men if you are a woman and all women if you are a man.” By modern standards, her books are pretty tame but well-worth reading. She said, “Romance is the glamour that turns the dust of everyday life into a golden haze.”

Yet, murder and romance aside, at the core of my new series is the relationship between a mother and daughter facing new and uncertain beginnings. I’m fascinated by the notion that it’s those who are nearest and dearest to us who are often the most duplicitous of all.

Who do you think has “It” in our modern age? Here are my top three—Catherine Deneuve, Angelina Jolie … and my mum who is still vibrant at 85 with a mischievous sparkle in her eye and a beautiful smile.

About the Author

Born in England, Hannah relocated to Los Angeles with her daughter and two cats to pursue a career in screenwriting. Along the road to publication she has been an obituary reporter, antique dealer, private jet flight attendant and Hollywood story analyst. Hannah is the author of the Vicky Hill Mysteries (Constable UK) and the first, in her new series, “Murder at Honeychurch Hall” (Minotaur). Now living in Portland, Oregon Hannah continues to teach mystery writing at UCLA, has served on numerous judging committees for the Mystery Writers of America and still works part-time for a west coast advertising agency. She is married to an advertising executive and enjoys hiking, horseback riding, skiing and seriously good chocolate.

What Every Romance Writer Needs: A Fabulous Mentor and Chocolate with Lair Guest: SaraJane Stone

 Okay, I have to tell you I’m blushing as I share this lovely guest post today. Not because her book is totally hot -which it is!!!  So so hot!!!  But because, well, you’ll see when you read it 🙂  I’m not only thrilled to have SaraJane Stone here in the Lair today, but so so excited that she’s sharing her fabulous debut, COMMAND PERFORMANCE.  This book is hot. Fabulously, sexy hot and such a wonderful read.  

HQ Party '13 with SaraJaneIn honor of SaraJane’s visit, Sven is serving Chocolatinis, as well as various other delicious drinks. The boys have the buffet table set up with all of your favorite chocolate delights, so be sure to try a few.  And yes, of course I’m willing to share some of the chocolate covered strawberries I’m carrying around.  Want one? Or three?  While we indulge, here’s SaraJane 🙂  

Thank you to my friend and writing mentor Tawny Weber for inviting me to the Bandits’ lair!  Ever since I “won” Tawny through Brenda Novak’s Annual Online Auction for Diabetes Research, she has stood by my side, offering writing advice and support as I submitted, revised, and ultimately sold my first novel, COMMAND PERFORMANCE, to Harlequin Blaze.  Even with years of publishing experience under my belt—I worked in marketing and sales for Simon & Schuster and later, Random House before I started writing—having a mentor while I traveled the winding road from aspiring writer to published author proved invaluable. 

Tawny’s thoughts on my work took my writing to new levels.  Without her, I would not have written one of my favorite lines of dialogue in COMMAND PERFORMANCE.  The first chapter opens with Maggie, my heroine saying: “Goodbye control.  Hello fantasy.”  That one line sums up Maggie’s red-hot sexual journey perfectly.  Thank you TawnyJ      

Long before I bid on the critique offered through the auction, Tawny’s work inspired my writing.  As a reader, I love it when a romance novel feels like a mini vacation.  Tawny and her fellow Blaze authors routinely swept me away for little breaks from day-to-day life.  Reading these hot and steamy stories was akin to lying on a tropical beach devouring chocolate bars.  And now that my debut is on shelves and available for ereaders, I hope that I can offer readers a similar experience.

Oct 770 SaraJane

Speaking of chocolate, I wanted to share a brief excerpt from the prologue of COMMAND PERFORMANCE.  It is possible the many, many dark chocolate bars I ate while writing my first novel inspired the opening line.  My excuse?  I was pregnant with my daughter at the time.  I needed chocolate to function  🙂 

“WHERE IS THE CHOCOLATE?” Maggie Barlow stood on her front porch, the door to the three-story mansion that had been in her family for generations open behind her, allowing the cooled air to escape into the hot July night. She watched her best friend since the second grade march up the steps with a pair of four-inch stilettos in her hand. Not a bakery box in sight.

“You need these more.” Olivia thrust the shoes at her.

 Maggie looked down at the shiny white stilts she held and frowned. Twenty-four hours earlier, she’d caught her supposedly stable and reliable fiancé with his pants down—literally—and his nineteen-year-old research assistant bent over his desk wearing nothing but a pair of pink fuzzy handcuffs. She needed double-fudge brownies, not shoes.

Now, my question for all of you—milk or dark chocolate?           

About the Book

Subject: Chief Warrant Officer Hunter Cross 

Mission: Keep Margaret Barlow distracted…using any means necessary! 

Ranger Hunter Cross is the army poster child—excitement, danger and no strings in sight. And he’s been in town exactly three hours before a curvy blonde named Maggie flashes him a look that says “You belong in my bed.” It’s a night of wicked satisfaction. And it’s a night they can never repeat…. 


All Professor Maggie Barlow wanted was an orgasm—or three— from the dead-sexy Ranger. Having him as her official army liaison while she works on her new book? That wasn’t in the plan. Especially when she learns that Hunter has orders to “control” her. Little does the army know that when it comes to their deliciously naughty nighttime activities, Hunter is at Maggie’s complete command…. 

Uniformly Hot!  The Few. The Proud. The Sexy as Hell.

COMMAND PERFORMANCE is available in print, ebook and audio! 

Author Bio:

After several years on the other side of the publishing industry, Sara Jane Stone bid goodbye to her sales career to pursue her dream–writing romance novels. Sara Jane currently resides in Brooklyn, New York with her very supportive real-life hero, two lively young children and a lazy Burmese cat. 

You can find Sara Jane at her website, on Facebook, Goodreads or Twitter.  

Oct 770 SaraJaneT Weber - DOUBLE DARE

I have to admit, in addition to making me blush, this post made me smile so big.  I loved being Sara Jane’s mentor, and in the course of falling in love with her writing, found a wonderful friend, too.  Talk about a double blessing!!  So in addition to Sara Jane’s question (milk or dark chocolate?), I have this question for you… Have you ever found a great friend in a most unexpected way? 

Sara Jane is offering an e-copy of her book, Command Performance.  To celebrate her debut, I’ll offer an e-copy of my own debut as well, Double Dare.  All you have to do to is leave a comment to be in the drawing for both books 🙂  C’mon… ya know ya wanna.  

Karin Tabke -The Queen of the Cliffhanger

I am SO excited today, not only because I get to share a fab book with all of you, but because the fab book comes with a fab author who is one of my favorite peeps.  I adore Karin, so it is with great pleasure that I am opening the party floor to her highness… The Queen of the Cliffhanger! T&K '12 RWA conference

Yup, that’s me, Karin Tabke, Queen of the Cliffhanger.  If you don’t believe me just ask anyone who has read my Blood Moon Rising trilogy, or my current serialized series, The Chronicles of Katrina.  THE DARE, book one in the chronicles, left me, the author screaming at the end for more of sexy green-eyed cop, Simon.  Chronicle two opens a heartbeat after the last word of THE DARE.

My readers love to hate me.  And being the confident girl that I am, I can take it.  Because here’s the thing: I HATE cliffhangers too.  Deplore them!  Yet I’m like a crack addict (a purely speculative comparison on my part, as I have no practical knowledge of crack usage or any type of addiction, well except for writing cliffhangers) when I get to one.  I want more. Must. Have More. More NOW!  And yet, while more now is good, sometimes, more later is better. 😉

That said, I have one condition when I knowingly venture into a book/movie/television show with a cliffhanger: If the next installment is not already available, produced w/a release date, in production or slated for production, I won’t go there.  I do NOT want to be left hanging.

Until I started watching Dexter, then True Blood, I didn’t really get the beauty of the whole cliffhanger angle.  Cliffhangers used to irritate me, but something happened as I obsessively waited for each episode of the aforementioned series: In between each episode, I could not stop thinking about the characters and where the writers had left them and me hanging!  I could not wait for Sunday nights to see what happened next!

Had each episode wrapped up nicely, like a chapter in a book where the protagonists contentedly close their eyes and drift off to sand man land, I’m going to snooze along with them, not pace frantically back and forth in my family room, waiting for the train wreck that I know is coming, come!

KT-TheDare-Book1-Final-500x762Yeah, it’s frantic and frustrating, but it’s also exciting-heart-poundingly fun to keep characters that you care about and bad guys you want to see get theirs, in your head as you breathlessly wait to meet up with them again.  

I know many of you may not feel the same way that I do about cliffhangers, but that my friends is my story, and I’m sticking to it.  Speaking of stories, answer me this for a chance to win a digital copy (Nook or Kindle) of THE DARE: Cliffhanger, love to hate them or hate them period.  I’ll randomly select two commenters tomorrow morning and post your names here in the comments. 

And always, a big thank you Miz Tawny Weber for the invite to hang out with all of you and the banditas today.  It’s always a pleasure. ~.~

It is!!!  A pleasure, that is 🙂 Karin, thank you SO much for visiting.  And everyone, here’s a peek at the blurb for The Dare, as well as a  lil more about Karin…

THE DARE is contemporary erotic fiction with the signature Tabke hot cop. 
I dare you…
Dr. Katrina Winslow has always known who she is; an elite scientist, a certifiable genius and ultra-reserved when it comes to love and relationships. So when a simple game of truth or dare offers the cool doctor the opportunity to shed her lab coat and glasses and put on a pair of sexy stilettos, she accepts the dare.  But will shedding her inhibitions fulfill her every desire and help her discover if she can be truly daring or will it cost her everything?
Two men, one a sexy stranger, and a night of no holds barred passion…
What would you dare to do?
The Dare: The Chronicles of Katrina (Book One) by Karin Tabke
Author’s Note: This is book one of a four part series.
National bestselling, award-winning author Karin Tabke isn’t just another author with steamy stories to tell, but a cop’s wife who has “seen it all and heard it all.” Some of the hottest stories come from behind the blue wall of law enforcement rather than from in front. Married to a street cop, now retired, Karin is intimate with both and proves it with her sizzling tales of hot cops. Not only are her cops hot, but so are her sexy knights and bad boy werewolves.  Karin’s Blood Sword Legacy series is a must read for anyone who loves tales of yore when men were men and women were women, and love did conqueror all. Her dark, erotic Blood Moonparanormal trilogy is best described as “Sons of Anarchy meets Rise of Lycans”. Her L.O.S.T. series (w/aKarin Harlow) is paranormal romantic suspense at its “chilling and sizzling”* best. You don’t want to miss any of Karin’s deliciously edgy tales of danger and passion! 

Guest Blogger: Daryl Wood Gerber, aka Avery Aames

I am so excited to welcome my good friend Daryl Wood Gerber to the Lair today! You might know Daryl by her “other” name – Avery Aames. As Avery Aames, she’s the author of the delicious Cheese Shop Mysteries. As Daryl Wood Gerber, she has just launched a fabulous new mystery series, the Cookbook Nook Mysteries. Heroine Jenna Hart owns the Cookbook Nook, a cookbook store. Wouldn’t you love to eat and read there???

YOU have a chance to get into this fun, romantic mystery series right at the beginning by rushing out to grab Final Sentence (A Cookbook Nook Mystery), which is brand new in stores this week!

Welcome, Daryl!!!

It’s Not Sexy, but Sometimes You Have to Plot a Mystery

Finalsentence_cvBy Daryl Wood Gerber
aka Avery Aames

Memory. (Not the song. Not the game). Memory. Brainpower. Good when you have it. Not good when you don’t.

What was I saying?

Okay, enough silliness. Memory is one of the most important things I, as a mystery writer, need to employ. I have to make sure I remember whodunit. I have to remember why. I have to remember what the characters look like and where they are at all times. When you watch a movie, don’t you often wonder what the bad guy is doing off-screen? When I write a book, I know. The bad guy is planning to thwart the good guy. He is doing everything he can to make sure he doesn’t get caught. He can’t sit back and drink a whiskey, although often times a bad guy does when he gets cocky and thinks the good guy would never consider him the suspect. I need to know when and where he does that. A saloon, a bar, at home by himself? I need to know what my protagonist is doing at all times, too. Is she working out the crime or daydreaming? Is she promoting her business or tending to family? Is she picking up clues that will bring the bad guy to justice?

Romantic Couple at SunsetBack to memory. Do I have a good enough memory to keep all of this in my head? Not on a bet. Maybe I did when I was twenty, sure, but now I make charts. For the main story. For the B and C stories. Because I write culinary mysteries, I even chart the food and cookbooks mentioned in my books. Can you believe it?

Because I’m here on Romance Bandits, I must admit that I also plot out the romance. I know, I know. That’s just not sexy. Romance needs to blossom. It needs to feel natural. Romance has a mind of its own. True. But I can’t simply let whatever happens happen. I need to know that the hero is being proactive. Where is he? What is he doing? Will he want to set a date? He has a life. fireworksHe works. Is he thinking about Jenna (the protagonist in my latest book, FINAL SENTENCE) at work and while driving? Is he going to take command of the situation or is he going to let some other man slip in and make a move? Is Jenna going to make the move and be a 21st century woman? These things matter. In real life, if we don’t watch out, an opportunity can slip away. I don’t want that to happen for the characters that I love, so I plan. I plot. Sometimes I even cajole them into acting perhaps sooner than they might think necessary. In Jenna’s case because I KNOW there is someone in the wings. Who, you ask? Oooh, I’ll never tell. But Jenna is a catch. So the new man in her life better think ahead and take action. And she’d better be ready!

Have you ever plotted out something in your life to make it come true? Did you feel like a manipulator or did you feel powerful because you took control? Did you feel sexy?

DARYL WOOD GERBER aka AVERY AAMES pens the Agatha Award-winning, nationally bestselling Cheese Shop Mystery series. As DARYL, she writes A Cookbook Nook Mystery series, featuring a culinary bookshop and café owner. The first in the series, FINAL SENTENCE, debuted July 2nd! Daryl’s short stories have been nominated for the Agatha, Anthony, and other awards. As an actress, Daryl has appeared in “Murder, She Wrote” and more. Visit Daryl & Avery at Check out her recipes on her blog And friend her on Facebook at

Deb Marlowe Dishes About Her Love List

I am incredibly excited to have my dear friend Deb Marlowe visiting with us in the Lair today. As most of you know, Deb has published seven books with Harlequin Historicals. Lately, though, she joined the fast-growing world of indie publishing. First came her novella in the marvelous anthology An Encounter At the Museum called An Unexpected Encounter. In the novella we were introduced to a supporting character named Hestia Wright. We were given to understand that Hestia was a former courtesan who now made it her business to help women in need. I was intrigued to learn that Hestia would play a pivotal role in Deb’s new Half Moon House series. She is here today to talk to us about the first book in the Half Moon House series, The Love List. Deb, welcome back to the Lair!

DebMarlowephotoIt’s always lovely to be here with you and the Banditas, Caren. I do hope Paolo doesn’t spill a drink down my blouse like he did last time…

Well, Damon assured me they have been working with him on his serving skills. Still, he does look awfully cute when he’s embarrassed! But I digress. Deb, I long anticipated getting my hands on The Love List. Reading the novella in An Encounter At the Museum just whetted my appetite! I’ll admit, I gobbled it up when I got it and it left me wanting more! But…it also left me with some questions. First, why don’t you tell our readers the premise behind The Love List.

Well, The Harris List of Covent Garden Ladies, a wickedly witty annual register of the city’s light skirts, was once a London tradition.  At the beginning of The Love List, as all of Europe celebrates the end of the long wars, Miss Brynne Wilmott discovers that Lord Marstoke, her malicious former betrothed, has revived the List–and turned it into a weapon.  With the reluctant help of the Duke of Aldmere, she sets out to thwart Marstoke–and discovers that his plans are more twisted and treasonous than anyone has suspected.  Yet the danger and intrigue are as nothing compared to the effect that Nathan and Brynne have on each other. . .


Okay, Deb, first I have love to know where did you the idea for resurrecting Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies?

The Love ListI’d heard about the Harris List for years and I had a vague notion that I’d love to write a book about someone who ended up on the famous List of London’s prostitutes, but who didn’t belong there.  It wasn’t until I read some of the actual entries that I realized how witty and how tragic it really was . . . and then the idea really bloomed until the newly resurrected List became not just a sensation, but a weapon.  And I loved the idea of it being more than it seemed, so then the idea of it      being used in a more treasonous fashion came…and it fit with the real history of the time . . . so..Boom!  There you have it!

I found it a bit different from your other books, since there is quite a bit of suspense and political intrigue in The Love List, as well as a big romance. Did you set out to create a big suspense plot for the Half Moon House series or did it just evolve with the storyline of the book?

It was exactly what I wanted to write.  As soon as I read the real List, the idea came to use it in a plot.  I love a big romance with a lot of intrigue!  It keeps me turning pages when I read and keeps me writing them too!  I love to weave all the elements together into an emotionally satisfying, fun ride.

You definitely accomplished that! I know The Love List is Book 1 of your Half Moon House series. How many books do you plan to write and have you introduced any of the heroines for other books in The Love List?

The Love List is the first novel in the series.  There will be at least two more—The Leading Lady is coming next and we met Callie Grant, the heroine, in The Love List. I think readers will also be able to figure out who here hero is.  🙂  Then there is the connected novella—An Unexpected Encounter in the anthology An Encounter At the Museum.  It is set in the same world and includes Hestia Wright as a supportive character. There will be at least one more connected novella—and after that—we’ll see! 

An Encounter At the MuseumI loved the novella. Actually, I loved all the novellas in An Encounter At the Museum and highly recommend it! The heroine of The Love List, Brynne Wilmott, is very intelligent and competent, yet she manages to conform to the expectations of a Regency miss…until she doesn’t. Was it a challenge to write such a strong heroine without tossing all the Regency mores out the window?

Actually it wasn’t difficult.  All those rules Society imposed on young girls in the Regency were meant to guarantee their safe-keeping and their happiness, at least on the surface.  (We could do another whole blog on maintaining the status quo, etc.)  Brynne followed all the rules, did as her family and Society expected—and is trapped in an unsupportable situation.  She follows the rules again, in seeking a way out—and the traditional system fails her.  At that point, all bets are off.  In my opinion, and thus hers, ( 🙂 ) she is free to fight her way out by whatever means necessary.  So she does.  And if you read the book, you’ll see what a very good thing that turns out to be!

You can check out Deb’s entire bibliography and read excerpts on her website Let’s check out an excerpt for The Love List:

She paused just before they reached the last door and looked up at him, her expression a stiff mix of defiance and pride.  ”It’s wonderful work that Hestia does here.  I’m proud to be a part of it, even for a short while.”  She glanced back the way they had come and then lifted her hand in a gesture that included all of the house and the people in it.  She met his gaze–and smiled.

He froze.  

Backwards.  Inverted.  Inside Out.  He didn’t know this girl.  Their acquaintance was incredibly brief and even more outlandish.  The natural order of their knowledge of each other was completely offset.  He knew how she looked when she was terrified and furious, annoyed and protective.  What he did not know was the expression she wore when she was introduced to someone, how she looked when she was relaxed and happy.  This was it, the first time he’d experienced her in a more commonplace manner–and it came with a wash of feeling that utterly shocked him.

Transformative, that smile.  It lit her from within like a burgeoning flame, starting small but climbing higher, warming her features, blending them into a perfect, gut-wrenching harmony.

Even more amazing was the effect it had on him.

Bowie as JarethI love the Duke of Aldsmere! Actually, I love all Regency Men In Boots. Speaking of which, I recall that in your About the Author bios, you mention your ongoing efforts to get one of the men in your life to don a pair of boots. Any progress on that front?

Well, Valiant Husband and Youngest are still resistant.  Eldest, however, has finally seen the light and become enamored with good boots.  The closest I’ve got him to a Regency outfit however, was when he briefly debated cos-playing as Jareth, the Goblin King from the movie The Labyrinth.  I’m still working on it!
Keep working on them, Deb. I’m sure it will pay off at the end! Deb has generously offered a copy of The Love List (in reader’s choice of hard copy or e-book format) to a lucky commenter today. So here’s your question, Bandita Buddies: Do you like a little intrigue in your romance?  How about a bit of real history worked into a historical? And how about those men in boots? 🙂

V.R. Marks and Military Heroes

Banditas and Buddies, you may recall I had VR Marks here in the Lair as a guest in December as one of three authors of the A Season For Romance anthology. According to Alfred Hitchcock, “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” V.R. Marks feels the same way about writing romantic suspense. Marks combines a passion for suspense films with a passion for writing to create adventurous romantic suspense novels. You may also recall that Marks confessed a penchant for military stories when he was here before. Today, he is here to talk to us about his romantic suspense novels and why military heroes are so appealing to him as an author. V.R., welcome back to the Lair!

VR-Marks-googleplusI can’t say I’ve ever been greeted quite like that before. Not by anyone who didn’t want to kill me, anyway.

No, I expect not. Still, it’s a cozy sort of Lair and the boys regularly check around corners and in the broom closets for bad guys, so it should be safe enough. Even for one as naturally suspicious as yourself!

If you say so…

Please, have a seat and make yourself comfy. I would normally offer a mojito or perhaps a glass of sangria to a visiting guest, but you strike me as a beer kind of guy. Sven, a beer for the manly man, please!  Now, do tell me more about your military heroes. I, for one, adore a military hero and I know many of my friends here do, as well. We adore the uniforms and muscles, mostly, but…er…what do you see in military heroes? Have you served in the military yourself?

VR Marks the hostage-cover-mAs a romantic suspense author who enjoys writing characters from military backgrounds, it was a real compliment when one of my beta readers said my books read like I’d been in the Army. While I’ve never served myself, I have friends and family who serve and I’m grateful for everyone who does. Apparently after listening to so many tales – good and bad – a few details have stuck with me.

My books The Thief, The Witness and the latest, The Hostage, all feature lead characters who served together in a Special Forces unit for the U.S. Army. Once they left the service, Ross, Rick and Eva regrouped and combined their skills into a cutting edge investigations team for private clients as well as local law enforcement.

When I’m writing a novel, the military heroes (or heroine in The Hostage) always seem to bring a world view or experience to the situation that the rest of us who haven’t “been there” just can’t fully understand.

VR Marks the thiefFINAL-198x300Whether it’s determination, creative problem solving or even the cold dread or comic relief of paranoia, the military hero offers a unique perspective.

Military heroes do seem to have a universal appeal, something for both male and female readers of all ages.

Yeah, what is the universal appeal of a military hero to readers? It has to go beyond the uniform or a fascination with Captain America or NCIS (I’m a fan of both).

Military heroes show up in all of my favorite books and movies, and what I like best is the inherent code of honor they all share: the willingness to stand tall in the face of danger, the drive to defend the innocent and the courage to do what’s right and to hell with public opinion.

That code of honor and selfless commitment to helping others are the heroic traits I admire most, and it leads characters to make the most intriguing decisions along the course of their adventures.

VR Marks the witness-cover-198x300That makes perfect sense to me. I knew it couldn’t just be the fetching berets or bulging biceps. Honor, yes, that is obviously the thing! 

I’d like to hear what your readers here think. How about we give away some prizes as an incentive to share their thoughts?

Ooh, we LOVE prizes!

All right Banditas and Buddies. Let us know what you think makes a military hero believable, relatable, or memorable to you and you’ll be entered to win one of today’s three giveaways:

  • V.R. Marks t-shirt plus an ebook edition of The Thief (1 winner) OR
  • Winner’s choice: An ebook edition of any one of my novels (2 winners).

And while we’re all here chatting, I’ll just let you know that I have FINALLY set up an author page on Facebook. I know, I’m the slowest writer on the planet, right? But if you get a chance, I would love for you to check it out and Like it!

Special Guest: Avery Aames, aka Daryl Wood Gerber

I’m thrilled to welcome my good friend Avery Aames to the Lair today! Avery is the author of the delicious Cheese Shop Mysteries and will soon introduce the Cookbook Nook Mystery series under her own name, Daryl Wood Gerber. Her latest book, To Brie or Not to Brie, is out… TODAY! And to celebrate, Avery has brought oh-so-delicious Chocolate Goat Cheese Truffles. Keep reading for the recipe!

And now, here’s Avery – er, Daryl – no, Avery…


Avery AamesI started writing screenplays way back when I was an actress. I focused on romantic comedies. I loved those kinds of movies – like the fabulous ones by Nora Ephron, Sleepless in Seattle or While You Were Sleeping. One of my favorite all-time movies is It Happened One Night. [Granted, the latter might be a little dated and Clark Gable does play a dolt for most of the movie. Luckily, he matures.] Anyway, I wanted to write these kinds of movies. I wanted to star in them. [Didn’t happen. Oh, well.] But it stands to reason that, even though I’ve moved into the realm of mysteries and thrillers (I loved these kinds of movies and books all my life, too), I wanted to instill romance in my stories.

In A CHEESE SHOP MYSTERY series, the protagonist, Charlotte Bessette (The Cheese Shop owner) is in love with a mysterious cheese farmer. The chief of police shows interest in Charlotte, too. A little conflict never hurt in a romance. In the books I write under my real name, A COOKBOOK NOOK MYSTERY series (which debuts July 2013), cookbook store owner Jenna Hart, who still pines for her deceased husband—the love of her life—meets the handsome owner of a local sports store and suddenly finds herself feeling tingly all over. Could he become her next special someone?

To Brie or Not to BrieOne of the problems for mystery authors, however, is allowing a romance to blossom while there is murder afoot. Both Charlotte and Jenna are curious souls. As amateur sleuths, each, due to the nature of the genre, confronts a murderer or two. The men in their lives worry about them. Should either woman back off? I don’t think so. I, as a confident, independent female, want to see these women follow their instincts. I want them to catch a culprit and bring that culprit to justice. I certainly don’t want my protagonists to rely on men to save them. This could get prickly if it weren’t for the fact that I have crafted strong men who appreciate independent females. [Oh, hooray.] The men I write might be considered Renaissance men in the fact that they like to romance a woman right down to her toes, perhaps even sweep a woman off her feet, but they know and appreciate the fact that the women they choose are smart, strong, and resourceful.

And so, I ask you, would Mr. Darcy have minded if Elizabeth investigated a crime? I don’t think so. How do you feel about romance in a mystery?

Just because it’s nearly Valentine’s Day, here’s a fabulous recipe for delicious chocolate goat cheese truffles. Charlotte could cook them with her eyes closed. Jenna is a work in progress. Though she’s a true foodie, she is just learning how to cook. I think she could figure this one out, don’t you?



3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 ounces fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons Triple Sec
1/3 cup cocoa powder, for dusting


Melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl on medium-low heat for about 2 minutes. Stir. Heat again at medium-low for another 2 minutes. Stir. Remove from microwave. It should be smooth when melted.

Blend the goat cheese and brown sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Stir in the melted chocolate and mix until smooth. Add Triple Sec to the mix.

Refrigerate the mixture (from an hour to overnight).

When you are ready to make the truffles, roll mixture into walnut-sized balls, between the palms of your hands and set on waxed paper. When all the balls are formed, spread the cocoa powder in a flat container (like a pie tin). Roll the balls in the cocoa powder. Set the candies in pretty paper candy cups; they are ready to eat.

If you prefer to save them, put in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. They will keep for 4-5 days in the refrigerator. (The cheese is perishable.)

Black Moon with JD Tyler!

Waving madly at you from the Lair’s cabana bar!

Hey Bandit Buddies, we’re over here.

As you approach you see Suz and her good friend JD Tyler noshing on some steak bruschetta and sipping on mojitos.

Suz: JD and I have been talking about BLACK MOON, her third full length book in the Alpha Pack series. Pull up a chair and join in!

JD, you once told me that if Criss Angel and Adam Lambert had a child it would be Kalen. That was a very graphic visual description and I immediately went, “whoa, bad boy to the mega degree!” So, exactly how did you come up with his character in the scheme of the Alpha Pack world?

JD: I love this question, because I enjoy talking about how Kalen came to be. I recently told USA Today’s Happy Ever After that some characters are created, and some simply stroll from the shadows and take your breath away. Sorcerer/Necromancer/panther shifter Kalen Black from BLACK MOON was like that for me—I didn’t sit down and painstakingly outline his character. When the Alpha Pack team was watching the old cemetery, a young man emerged from the darkness wearing an old, battered leather duster, raven hair falling around his face, surveying the area with kohl-rimmed green eyes that reflected far too much sorrow. And in that moment, I knew I had met a rare, signature character that readers would love and who would define my series for the duration.

Suz: Did you always intend for him to be the misfit in the pack and a linchpin for either their future or their demise? (BTW readers, isn’t that a YUMMY cover?)

JD: From the second Kalen walked into that cemetery, I know he would be a critical character. Until then, I had no idea. The best characters are like that, I think—they simply grab you and refuse to let go!

Suz: In BLACK MAGIC, the e-book novella, you introduced your readers to the burgeoning relationship between Kalen and Mackenzie. How did that affect how you approached their story in Black Moon?

JD: In BLACK MAGIC, Kalen and Mackenzie come together in passion after narrowly escaping an attack by a Sluagh. That night holds repercussions that reach far into BLACK MOON in several ways. One, it leaves Mac with a secret she’s not sure she can share, considering the man she’s falling for dumped her, seemingly without a backward glance. Two, he handed over something very important to Mac in order to protect her, leaving him vulnerable when BLACK MOON begins. The stage has been set for a huge battle, and heartbreak before things get better…

Suz: Kalen had a very rough life even before he was on the streets. Without giving away anything, how did you see Kalen’s struggle in this book?

JD: Kalen’s rough home life growing up, with only his grandmother as his rock, was essential to his emotional development as a grown man struggling to find his place. He finally lands in the Alpha Pack, starts to fall in love with Mackenzie, but even then, with the love and stability he’s always longed for within his grasp, he can’t trust that it’s real.

In BLACK MOON, Kalen is mentally struggling against being seduced to the side of evil by the Unseelie King Malik, and those were among the hardest scenes I’ve ever written. Kalen is a good man losing the battle for his mind, a man who’s never had love and wants it so desperately. He’s fighting against accepting a twisted form of love from a force who’s sweet-talking him, saying all the right things. Now he’ll have to find that core of inner strength that’s always been there, and use it to save everyone he loves.

Suz: Nick is a very interesting character. He’s not only the pack’s leader, he’s also a PreCog. Can you tell the readers what that means and how he deals with his “gift”.

Nick Westfall is the commander of the Alpha Pack, a PreCog (meaning he can sometimes see the future) and a rare born white wolf. He’s very mysterious, outwardly strong yet dealing with several lifetimes of inner agony. He carries the secret of a tragic past, and nobody knows that Nick is actually more than two hundred years old. His gift as a PreCog is more of a burden, and he rarely interferes with the future even when it holds something bad—he interfered once, with horrifying results. He tries to guide without imposing his will when he gets visions, and that’s a razor’s edge for him to tread.

Eventually, Nick’s past will be revealed when it comes back to haunt him…

Suz: So what’s next in the Alpha Pack world?

JD: BLACK MOON releases today, Tuesday, December 4, and I’m so excited! Here’s the blurb:

A group of former Navy SEALS, the Alpha Pack is a top-secret team of wolf shifters with Psy powers combating the greatest dangers in the world. But sometime those dangers are more intimate than they bargained for…

Ever since he saved Dr. Mackenzie Grant’s life, panther shifter and sorcerer Kalen Black has had trouble keeping the beautiful doctor out of his thoughts, and his heart. The brush with death awakened an intense passion between them—one that for the first time had the notorious loner letting down his guard.


With the Alpha Pack battling an evil Fae who is slowly gaining control over Kalen’s mind, Kalen can no longer trust his own actions, and he breaks off his affair with Mackenzie in order to keep her safe. But when Mackenzie learns that she is carrying Kalen’s child, no amount of danger will keep her away from the man she loves. To be with his mate and unborn child, Kalen will have to unleash the full fury of his power, and risk destroying them all…

 JD: Next up in the series is HUNTER’S HEART, the 4th installment in the Alpha Pack series. (Due to be released in late summer/fall 2013) This is Ryon Hunter’s story, and while I don’t have back cover copy yet to share, I can tell readers that 1) A big secret will be revealed involving the Alpha Pack, regarding a question posed back in PRIMAL LAW and 2) this is a “predator” story. It explores the question—what if one of Malik’s and Dr. Gene Bowman’s test subjects, an innocent human man, was an experiment gone wrong and accidentally got unleashed on the world when the labs were destroyed? Can Ryon, Ryon’s mate Daria, and the Pack save this man inside the creature? They’d better hope so. Because the most dangerous predator is the one you can’t see coming…

In spring of 2013, my Sugarland Blue series that centers on the Sugarland, Tennessee Police Department (written as Jo Davis) launches with the novella ARMED AND DANGEROUS in April. The next month, in May 2013 is the first book, SWORN TO PROTECT. Both the novella and full-length book feature the popular Detective Shane Ford, who first appeared in my Firefighters of Station Five series! 

After that, I have two more books under contract—the 5th Alpha Pack book, character and story to be announced, and the 2nd Sugarland Blue book, tentative title HOT PURSUIT (could change). HOT PURSUIT is slated to be Detective Taylor Kayne’s story. Taylor is Shane’s partner in Homicide.


So dear readers, do you like Bad Boys as your heroes? What about Bad Boys attracts you to them? Who is your favorite romance Bad Boy and why?

JD is giving away a signed copy of BLACK MOON to a lucky commenter


 Be sure to come back to the Lair on December 13 when we kick off the annual 12 BANDITA DAYS OF CHRISTMAS! Prizes and recipes every day!! Roosters. Starbucks goodies. Books. Dragons. Books. Cookies. Godiva. Books!! (By Banditas and friends like Sabrina Jeffries, Liz Carlyle, JD Tyler, Deb Marlowe, Addison Fox and many more!) You know you want the cookies, for sure, so come home to the Lair for the Holidays! Who knows, you might win something, and you’ll be guaranteed to have fun!!

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