Posts tagged with: Suzanne Ferrell

WINNER for Elke Feuer’s FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ

1BanditBooty

We have TWO winners for copies of Elke Feuer’s first book, FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ, AMY CONLEY and CATHY P!!

CONGRATULATIONS!!

Amy and Cathy, please send your email addy to me at email hidden; JavaScript is required  and I’ll see they get to Elke so you can get your books!

Elke Feuer visits the Lair!

Elke Feuer - Author PhotoWe Banditas love to introduce you readers and Bandit Buddies to new authors here in the Bandit Lair. Sometimes it’s old friends who have made the jump over the line from unpublished to published authorhood. Other time it’s new friends we’ve met at a conference or books signing. In fact, that’s how I met today’s guest, Elke Feuer. We were seated next to each other at the National RWA multi-author literacy book signing. We chatted between readers stopping to “discover” us newbie authors and after we got home, we’ve been chatting on FaceBook ever since.

So please welcome my friend, author Elke Feuer, who is here to tell us about the first book in her new series….

Suz: Hi, Elke! Pull up a bar stool here at the Lair’s main bar. Our bartender/resident masseuse/houseman Sven will mix you up anything you’d like!

Elke: Hi, Suz! A multitalented man? You might not get rid of me. Hmm. How about a glass of merlot to start, a neck massage, and then my light bulbs changed? I’m certain my husband won’t mind. ;-)

Suz: So, we love “road to publication” stories. Tell us how about yours.

Elke: I wish I could say it was an exciting one with tales of stalking…umm, pitching to an editor in the bathroom stall next to mine who needed a roll of toilet paper, but it was very ordinary. I got an email that a new romance publisher was looking for submissions. I hadn’t planned on sending anything because I was pregnant at the time, but thankfully my bff reminded me that my chances of being selected were slim to none, so why not send something anyway. As luck would have it, two weeks after my daughter was born, I got an email saying my book, FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ, was going to be published. Needless to say, 2012 was a great year for me! 

Suz: DEADLY BLOODLINES is the first book in your “Deadly Series”. Tell us a little bit about the series.barnesnoble_kobo_cover

Elke: Sure thing, Suz. Cayman is a small island, but has a huge melting pot of cultures I wanted to reflect in the series. There are four books and each one has its own unique set of characters and stories. They’re all based in Cayman and are chock full of suspense and romance with hints of mystery, and a mixture of dark and funny themes. That’s not a mouthful. LOL!

Suz: Without giving us the secrets of the book, can you tell us how your heroine, Angel Mason who is on the trail of serial killer is personally involved in the case.

Elke: Love to! The serial killer Angel’s chasing is copycatting her mother’s murders from twenty years ago. She’s forced to remember things she doesn’t want to, and deal with childhood secrets that come from all directions.

Pro­logue

There she is!

Sweat cov­ered his palms as she stepped out her front door. His heart beat wildly and his breath hitched in his chest, as if some­one had punched him in the stom­ach. Only she had that power over him. A power she had held the moment he first saw her.

She locked her apart­ment door and headed down the stairs to the ground floor of the build­ing. Her hair was pulled into a pony­tail, mak­ing him won­der why she never let it down. She had shoulder-length, beau­ti­ful ebony hair he knew would feel soft beneath his fin­ger­tips, and smell like the sea she loved to swim in at night. Many nights he watched her swim, her lean body mov­ing through the dark water that was some­times kissed by the reflec­tion of moon­light. Those were the nights he looked for­ward to, that he longed for. That slight smile she wore on her face when she fin­ished swimming.

He didn’t judge her past. It was what he liked most about her; what drew him to her.

She got into her car and drove away with­out see­ing him. It didn’t mat­ter; he planned it that way. He started his car and let his fin­ger­tips stroke the smooth leather of the steer­ing wheel from one side to the other, imag­in­ing it was her skin, before grip­ping it tightly.

Soon. Soon she’d be his.

Chap­ter 1

Angel Mason sat on the edge of her bed and squished the thick caramel car­pet between her toes, assur­ance the deadly grip of another night­mare was gone.

On the night­stand her phone vibrated, star­tling her. It was Dustin Williams, Chief Super­in­ten­dent. The time, 6:30 a.m., flashed in red from her clock. She cleared her throat and prayed there was no trace of the bot­tle of vodka she’d fin­ished off the night before in her voice. “Inspec­tor Angel.”

“Dead body at Galleon Bay.” He never minced words.

“Some tourist die in their sleep?”

“No, looks like she was murdered.”

Brit­tle silence hung in the air as the words echoed in her mind like a bro­ken record.

“Angel?”

“I’ll be there in half an hour,” she stammered.

“Good, I want this dealt with quickly. There hasn’t been a tourist mur­dered on the island since…”

“Since Mered­ith,” she fin­ished for him.

“Yeah, and we remem­ber how that turned out,” he said dryly.

The phone imprinted her hand as she squeezed it. No one had for­got­ten how it turned out, least of all her—no mat­ter how hard she tried.

“I want you to col­lect the evi­dence,” Williams said.

“What? Why?” She didn’t nor­mally ques­tion his deci­sions, but she hadn’t worked in foren­sics since she had been pro­moted to inspector.

“You’re the most expe­ri­enced scene of crime offi­cer we have.”

“I’ll take care of it, sir,” Angel assured him.

“John­son, Sanchez, and Ebanks are already there con­trol­ling the traf­fic and crowd,” he said, his voice sound­ing miles away.

“Yes, sir.”

The phone went dead with­out a good­bye, not that she expected one. He didn’t con­verse beyond neces­sity, but she never took it per­son­ally. He was like that with everyone.

She went to the bath­room, took out the bot­tle of painkillers on the sec­ond shelf of the cab­i­net on the wall, and downed two.

As the pills made their way to her queasy stom­ach, she searched the cloud in her head for how she had got­ten to bed last night. Left­over Chi­nese and drift­ing to sleep dur­ing the nightly news in a vodka-induced haze was all she remembered.

Hor­ri­fy­ing screams and blood splat­tered across her hand paraded before her, remain­ing trick­les from her dream, and the smell of blood filled her nose.

“No!” She gripped the edges of the porce­lain sink to steady her­self and clear her mind of the images. Her dreams were becom­ing more fre­quent and the vivid details lin­ger­ing long after she awoke.

She let out the breath she was hold­ing and splashed cold water on her face. The reflec­tion in the mir­ror was an unwanted reminder that she couldn’t escape her her­itage or the his­tory that came with it, and there was noth­ing she could do about it.

Once she show­ered and got dressed, she pulled her hair into a pony­tail. She walked down the short beige cor­ri­dor to the liv­ing room and grabbed her keys off the hook on the wall. The cool morn­ing air blew against her makeup-free face when she opened the door. She inhaled the salty air, and watched the sun peak­ing over the hori­zon of the ocean. They calmed her nerves as she made her way down the stairs and to her car. Start­ing the engine, she pulled out of the park­ing lot and towards the hotel where Mered­ith, her mother, had worked before she was arrested for mur­der­ing the guests.

Suz: Wow! Poor Angel certainly has a huge past to overcome! Your hero Bren MacDougal is an unusual hero in a romantic suspense. How did you decide on making him a Professor of psychology?

Elke: Oh boy! He went through a million professions first. I wanted him to be closely involved with Angel and the case, but he also needed to be someone who’d force her (and help her) to confront her own fears and demons so she could heal emotionally. Angel is a brooder (so not a cliché for an inspector, right?) and needed someone who’d understand what she’s going through. Someone who was funny and light hearted wouldn’t have made it through her many defenses or put up with her the way Bren does. 

iStock_000012934413_MediumSuz: One of the things you and I talked about the night we met was that you’re from the Cayman Islands. **so jealous here**. You use it as a setting for DEADLY BLOODLINES. What’s it like trying to write in such a beautiful spot and not want to be out on the beach instead? What’s your favorite part of living there?

Elke: Haha! Everyone’s jealous until they realize we go to work every day and don’t get to hang out at the beach every weekend. Wait…what am I saying? Two of the properties I manage are on the beach. Okay, scrap that. LOL!

I love writing about where I live! It’s easy to get to locations, and there’s usually someone in the coffee shop who can answer questions. How cool is that?! Then there’s the support you get from a small community. It’s better than being a celebrity, because it’s impossible to get snarky. Hehe! But seriously, the best part has been having people I know come up and say that I inspired them to follow a dream, or get them excited about their own writing again. An amazing feeling!SONY DSC

I admit that I sometimes take for granted that I live on a beautiful island in the Caribbean. I drive by the ocean every day and I get to go to the beach for work! I have to remind myself to stop and enjoy the ocean views, white sandy beaches, and smell the salt air. Crazy right? I suppose it’s like living in Paris and taking the Eifel Tower for granted.

Suz: What’s next in your “Deadly Series?”

Elke: Book two, DEADLY RACE! I love, love, love this story! Did I mention I love this book? LOL! The best part is the heroine who’s spunky, driven, and snarky. What a great combination for her love interest who’s shy, uptight, and about to find out that the kind of woman he wants isn’t the one he really needs.

My second favorite thing about this book is that my heroine is a racecar driver on a small island where racing is highly competitive, and an all-male sport. To say she needs kahoona’s the size of bowling balls would be an understatement. J

SONY DSCIt was a blast to write and I’m eager to see if readers love the characters and story as much as I do. The scheduled release date is September 2014.

Thanks so much for having me, Suz, it was fun catching up and sharing a little about myself and my books.  Sven, you were great…I mean the drink was delicious. ;-) 

 

My question for the readers: If you could spend a month anywhere in the world where would it be? Why? I’ll giveaway (2 copies) for my first book, FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ. http://viewBook.at/ForTheLoveOfJazz 
 
Elke’s website: http://elkefeuer.com/ 
 
Don’t forget you can order any books on the Romance Bandits pages by clicking on the covers!
 

April Coming Attractions

Last Temptation of Dr. Dalton

March was an AMAZING month in the lair. Our fabulous Tawny Weber hit the New York Times List as a part of the Lucky 7 Bad Boys boxed set, which features her story Naughty Vegas Nights. And if that wasn’t enough, Anna Campbell won the Australian Romance Readers Award for Best Continuing Series AND was nominated for a RITA award in the historical category for A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS! 

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But never fear that we’ve been too busy partying in celebration of our banditas’ successes. We have an action-packed April for you this month!

 On April 2nd, Robin Giana returns to the lair to discuss whether eyes are truly the windows to the soul.  You can see her inspiration in the cover of her latest release, The Last Temptation of Dr. Dalton.

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 Our very own Thelma and Louise, Nancy Northcott and Jeanne Adams, hit the road on April 4 and 5 and will bring you their latest adventures on a research trip through coastal Georgia. Savannah, Brunswick, and (of course, since Nancy is involved) the Okefenokee are all on the itinerary, and there may be some surprises along the way. Safe travels, Nancy and Jeanne! No cliff-diving now, OK?

 

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On 12 April, Nancy welcomes Alexis Morgan for her Lair debut.  They’ll chat about Alexis’s new release, Immortal Cowboy.

Break out the cabana boys, because Tawny’s full-length paranormal, There’s A New Witch in Town will released on April 14th!  A sexy fairy tale of a witch, a hot hero and a cursed town… and a whole lot of fun!

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On April 15 Trish Milburn celebrates the release of CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF LOVE the second novella collection in the Starfish Shores series from MJ Fredrick, Tanya Michaels and (of course) Trish Milburn!

April 16 – Caren Crane hosts Deb Marlowe and various others of the Red Door Reads authors to talk about their exciting new novella adventure. Be sure to Like their Facebook page before April 15 so you will be first to hear all the news!

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April 17 — Elke Feuer debuts in the Lair with her book, Deadly Bloodlines, in which “A serial killer is determined to repeat a murderous pattern that started twenty years ago.”


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On April 18, Lisa Tapp joins Joanie to chat about her debut novel, FINDING BETH.  

April 21 Allie Burton returns to the Lair with Atlantis Dark Tides, book 4 in her YA series, where treachery and spies determine the fate of the underwater world.
 

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April 23rd brings debut author Ursula LaCoeur to the lair.  Learn how the romance of New Orleans inspired her debut, The Willing Widow.

 

CONTESTS/SPECIAL OFFERS

Suzanne Ferrell’s KIDNAPPED is FREE on Amazon, iTunes, and KOBO ebooks.

Susan Sey and Caren Crane will be participating in a huge Red Door Reads giveaway (prize is an iPad mini!) starting April 15. To keep in the know, Like the Facebook page.

Tawny Weber’s There’s A New Witch in Town will be out in the Dangerous Dozen boxed set on April 7th – for a limited time, the boxed set is specially priced for only .99 cents.

I Didn’t Start The Fire…

a-campfireYep, the Billy Joel song from 1989 has been rolling through my mind for almost 3 weeks now.

Why? Because I have a warped sense of humor and we had a small kitchen fire. It wasn’t too terrible, but did scorch up the hideous Pepto Bismal® pink laminant counter top and back splash I’ve had to endure for the better part of 15 years, since we bought the house. I’ve spent years hating this stuff and daydreaming of how I’d remodel the kitchen.

So, you might think I “accidentally” started the fire that would get it replaced, wouldn’t you? I mean, I had motive, right? 

But note the tile of my blog. I didn’t start the fire. Nope. Wasn’t anywhere near when it happened.

Turns out poor Jazzman did. He thought he’d turned on the burner under the tea kettle and walked away. 20140327_172343Unfortunately, the burner in question was under a cutting board. Next thing we knew, we heard this odd popping sound. We both ran in and Flames were shooting up the wall. OMG! But Jazzman got it put out fairly easily, but not before enough damage was done to cause us to have to replace the counter top and backsplash. (See charred pink crap over there—>)

Well, you can’t just replace one countertop. They have to match. And if you’re going to retile one side of the kitchen backsplash, you have to do both, right? And if  you’re getting rid of the pink crap, you can get rid of the 1980′s pink and blue flowered wallpaper and paint it a crisp color…oh and the 70′s paneling, and paint the cabinets.

Granite-Tan-Brown-Kitchen-and-Bathroom-Countertop-ColorNow, because of my obsessive hours of watching remodeling and house makeover shows, I had a good idea what we should do, what we shouldn’t. What we could do to update the room and yet keep to a reasonable budget. (I asked Jazzman what he thought was reasonable and did my best to work inside it. You’d be impressed how close I came!)

Once I got Jazzman (who was beating himself up pretty badly over the fire) inSomerTile-Reflections-Subway-Tundra-Glass-Stone-Mosaic-Tile-Pack-of-10-P13999058 the mode to remodel, (he’d already contacted the Insurance adjuster and had contractors lined up to give us estimates–I was amazed),  what really surprised me was how easily we could agree on things like….the tiles, which I wanted subway glass and he found this really cool pattern of pale copper, medium dark brown and two shades of pale green…the granite countertop, which has black, brown and a bit of orange to bring out the copper in the tiles…and new hardware for the pulls and hinges. I still have to pick out paint color but have a few weeks to think about it.

Now, be careful when you start a fire. Things can quickly get engulfed in the process. What am I talking about?

20140324_123217See, we’ve needed to remodel our main bathroom for quite some time, too.  Once Jazzman got into the mood to remodel stuff, he took on the main bathroom, too. Since it was going to take a few weeks to get the granite ordered and shipped for the kitchen, the bathroom is actually getting done first! We picked out…modern 12×12 porecelain stone tiles and 6×6 ones to make a diamond border 2/3 up the shower wall…a more neutral but darker wall paint and creme brulee colored trim and cabinets. 

This week the work started in the bathroom, which is on the other side of my office wall. 20140326_184827Lots of banging, dust, odd chemical smells for the mastic and lots of men coming in and out of the house. Poor Rusty has been beside himself with anxiety. (He is a 5 month old puppy after all.) Mostly he’s glued to my side or under my desk sleeping on my feet or staring out the office window to see what the men are doing next. Tiles are going up today and all the walls and cabinets have been prepped for paint as soon as the shower is done. 

And what am I doing through all this?

Working on the new book, which just happens to be about a scarred firefighter and the woman he once loved. Coincidence or fate? Remember that popping sound Jazzman and I heard? We heard it long before we smelled smoke. Something I plan to use somewhere in the book. The demolition? Well, Deke and Libby have a few old mistakes, hurt feelings and bad choices to tear down before they can begin laying down their new tiles and add paint to their HEA!

So what about you? Ever have a house fire? Small or bigger and more scary than mine, (which was truly scary enough for me!)? Is there a room in your house you’d like to take a sledge hammer to? What would you put in a new bathroom or kitchen? 

 

Prize Winner for guest Julie Benson

BanditBooty

 

   The winner of a signed copy of ROPING THE RANCHER by guest author, Julie Benson is LOUISA!!

CONGRATULATIONS, LOUISA!!

Send me your snail mail addy at email hidden; JavaScript is required and I’ll see that Julie gets the book to you ASAP!!

Julie Benson talks Cowboys

Julie BensonHey Bandits and Bandit Buddies, I’m delighted to welcome back my friend and American Romance author, Julie Benson today. Julie writes contemporary romances with modern day cowboy heroes and is here to share with us her newest book, Roping The Rancher.

Pull up a barstool, Julie, and Sven will mix us up some delicious peach margaritas.

Suz: Roping The Rancher is your fourth book for Harlequin American Romance set in Estes Park, Colorado. Give our readers a little background about EstesPark and the series.

Julie: I went to EstesPark years ago for a wedding and fell in love with the town ofRoping the Rancher Front Cover around eight thousand people settled in the Rocky Mountains. The Stanley Hotel is there, and yes, it’s as impressive as everyone thinks. Stephen King used it as his inspiration for the hotel in The Shining and the miniseries was filmed there. It’s rumored to have a couple of haunted rooms, one of which has supposedly scared off more than a few guests. The scenery is absolutely beautiful in EstesPark. Something about being there calms my soul and clears my head. It’s as if my body heaves a huge sigh of relief and starts to unwind. Most of my heroines have been city gals and have the same reaction when they arrive in EstesPark.

 

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Roping the Rancher is the fourth book I’ve set in EstesPark. The first three were about the McAlister siblings, Rory, Griffin and Avery. Readers met Colt, my latest hero, in my last book which was Avery’s story. That book open with Colt calling his younger brother, Reed. Colt had been deployed to Afghanistan. He needed Reed to return to EstesPark to stay with his daughter and run the ranch. From the moment Colt stepped onto the page I knew he needed his own story, and I’m thrilled to share it with readers.

Suz: What a beautiful setting. I can see why you’d want to put your books there! Stacey Michaels is the heroine in Roping The Rancher. It’s not her first appearance in one of your books, is it? How did you transform her for this book?

BetOnACowboyCover-page-001a Julie: Stacy was one of the finalists on a dating reality show in my second book Bet On a Cowboy. In that story, I’ve got to admit, she wasn’t very nice. She was a schemer and made a deal with the hero—if he’d select her as the winner and propose they’d make the most of the free publicity, and then quietly break up. When he doesn’t honor their bargain she threatens to sue him. She was desperate for publicity and thought winning the bachelor competition would revive her career.

When I sent the first three chapters to my editor, she didn’t like Stacy. She said Stacy was still too Hollywood and too self-centered. My editor was right, and her comments forced me I to dig deep to come up with a reason for Stacy’s desperation. I knew something important had to be behind her need to revive her career, more than recapturing her former fame. For a while, I thought I might dig to China before I found the answer, but eventually it occurred to me that her motivation had to be about someone else. 

I gave her a mother who was self-absorbed, and honestly, almost worthless as a parent. Since her father was killed in a movie they were filming when Stacy was a child, Stacy became the family bread winner, like a lot of child stars. Then I turned to her current situation. Stacy had recently become guardian to her brother who was having physical problems because of a car accident. Having readers see her connection with her brother, how she wanted him to have a security she’d never had, allowed me to show Stacy’s softer side, something I wasn’t able to do when readers first met her. For me the scene that made me connect with Stacy occurs when she slips and falls in a cow pie. She’s sitting in the middle of manure and her brother asks her if she’s okay. She tells him she’s fine. What she really thinks is how tired she is of being strong. She realizes she’s sick of smiling for the world when all she wants to say is to hell with it. From that point on I knew everything I needed to know about Stacy and I couldn’t help but root for her.

Suz: Colt Montgomery runs an equine therapy program on his ranch. How did you come across this idea and did you do any special research for it?

Equest 5Julie: I was talking with my dear friend and beta reader, Jennifer Jacobson. She’s great about listening to me as I try to work out my plots. We were talking about the fact that Colt was a veteran and we got on the subject of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. (Jennifer has two sons-in-law who’ve been in the military.) She brought up the idea of how equine therapy is helping veterans struggling with issues when they return home and it just clicked. Colt had a horse ranch already. I knew he wanted to do something meaningful with his life after leaving the military and converting the ranch for equine therapy seemed a good fit.

I researched therapeutic horsemanship programs on the Internet and thought I was all set to go, but the book wasn’t coming together. I’m so visual that even though I’d studied the programs, I couldn’t see how the volunteers, horse and client worked together in therapy sessions. I couldn’t see the scenes I needed to write. I was talking with another friend, Sue Casteel, about how worried I was about getting this book done. Turned out Sue volunteers at a program Equest in Wylie, Texas and it’s exactly like the one I wanted to create at Colt’s ranch. Sue invited me to Equest’s open house, acted as my tour guide and answered all of my questions. Sue showed me an outside arena and explained what would occur during a session. She even obtained permission for me to look over her volunteer instruction manual. I can’t tell you how many times I referred to that to check my facts. It was important to me that I get the aspects of the therapy program right. I’d never have been able to write Roping the Rancher without visiting Equest and talking with Sue.Equest 7

The work programs like Equest do to help veterans suffering from PTSD and other disabled individuals is amazing. The stories I heard about how the program has changed clients’ lives inspired me. Because of that I realized how Colt’s therapy program could change my characters’ lives as well. If you want to read some of those remarkable stories, check out Equest’s website www.equest.org.

Suz: You have modern day cowboys as heroes for your books. What do you think is their appeal for readers? What are the challenges you find in bringing the cowboy persona into modern day books?

Julie: I think cowboys have a strength mixed with a core set of values that appeals to readers. They’re independent and accustomed to stepping up and taking care of business. Think of the saying cowboy up. They do what needs to be done. Through the tough times in life, that’s the kind of man I want around. I think that’s why they appeal to me.

Equest 19But it’s more than that. In my first book I wanted my cowboy hero to have no choice but to go to New York to model because he needed money, but I wanted to use something other than the save the ranch story line. I thought about what a cowboy loves more than his land, and an answer popped into my head. His mom. So, a cowboy’s tough, but he has a good heart. He has a connection to the land and the animals around him. He’s been raised to treat a woman right. He respects women. I like that.

I think the challenges with having a cowboy hero in modern day stories is keeping the stories fresh and giving it a modern twist. I don’t want my heroes to come off as old fashioned or as hicks. 

Suz: So, what’s your favorite country song and how would you fit it into a book?

Julie: I guess I’d have to say “Sounds Like Life to Me” by Darryl Worely. The song reminds me that things like the washer breaking and problems at work are just a part of life. We need to accept it and move on. I love the line, “The only thing for certain is uncertainty.” Boy is that true! As one who struggles with accepting what I can’t control, the song’s a good reminder that I shouldn’t blow things out of proportion. When times get tough, I need to hold on until things get better and not give up. It’s like the Texas weather. Give it five minutes and it’ll change. Life is the same way. I think that’s a pretty good life lesson.

As to how I’d use the song in a book, well, Suz, that’s a great question and as I’m sitting here writing this answer, I can see a scene in my current work in progress. I’ve got a hero right now who works really hard to be in control all the time. He’s a planner. He likes life to be neat and tidy. (I can hear all my friends laughing right now thinking this sounds like someone they know. Not mentioning any names of course, but her initials are JB.) The heroine, a fly by the seat of her pants gal, drives him crazy. They’re forced to work together because she’s the guardian to her six year-old niece and the hero’s the financial guardian. I could see one of the hero’s friends telling him, “As Darryl Worley says, ‘Sounds like life to me.’ Better hold on tight and enjoy the ride.” Thanks for the idea. That’s definitely going in the next book!TheRancherAndTheVet

Suz: You’re welcome. I live to serve! Is there another Modern Cowboy book coming up next for you?

Julie: I’ve got a little twist on the cowboy hero in my next book for Harlequin, Cowboy in the Making, which comes out in September. A pair of old Vietnam War buddies play matchmakers for their grandchildren Jamie and Emma. Readers met Emma Donovan in Avery story. She’s Avery’s best friend who dreams of a career in country music and is the lead singer of the band Maroon Peak Pass. Jamie Westland was raised in the east by adoptive parents and didn’t connect with his cowboy roots until he was eighteen when he met his birth grandfather. When the story opens, Jamie’s been let go from his position as violinist with the Philharmonic because of a hand injury. Needing to get away and clear his head, he goes to Estes Park to visit his grandfather and reconnects with Emma.

So Bandit Buddies: Studies are showing animals have an incredible ability to help us heal and cope with the world. We’re now realizing dogs can sense when someone is going to have a seizure or has low blood sugar. In Roping the Rancher, Colt has an equestrian therapy program to help veterans suffering from PTSD and others with disabilities. Has there been an animal in your life that’s made a difference?

Julie will be giving away one signed copy of ROPING THE RANCHER away to a lucky commentor.

 

It’s VANISHED’s Book Birthday!

Vanished final Bestselling w quoteToday’s the Day! It’s VANISHED‘s book birthday!

We’re having a party!  All the usual suspects are here. The cabana boys have been cleaning furiously, hanging streamers and blowing up balloons. The Gladiators have been oiling their pecs and making sure their leather loincloths are supple to the touch! :) The hockey hunks, back from their trip to Sochi and the Olympic games have sharpened their blades and smoothed out the ice. 

Sven and Paolo have stocked the bar with every kind of alcohol, wine and soft drink. The pair have all kinds of food prepared, because Paolo is celebrating his first inclusion in a Bandita book. That’s right folks, Paolo is a very minor, but important character in VANISHED! He has no speaking part is completely off stage, but hey…I loved his name and used it appropriately. (He’s been strutting around like a peacock ever since I let him have a sneak peek at his part!)

So let me tell you a little bit about the Birthday child!

VANISHED is the 4th book in the Edgars Family Novels. It’s the story of the youngest brother, Luke Edgars. If you’ve read any of the other books, (KIDNAPPED, HUNTED or SEIZED), you’ve already met Luke. Here’s what you know about him. He’s a hacker. He’s also a Treasury Agent and as we learned at the end of SEIZED, he’s recently been assigned to work for Homeland Security. Some other things we’ve come to know about him is, he’s the smart alec younger brother who loves to egg on his brothers and their adopted family member Castello. He’s also a charmer, used to smoothing his way out of trouble with a smile and his quick wit.

So I was a little nervous about him. I mean, this was his book. He needed to step up and be the hero, not just a wise-ass. Could he do it? Could he be the hero our heroine deserves? OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

EXCERPT:

Luke Edgars was pissed. His mission to Tokyo yielded no new information on his current military espionage case. The trip home had been long, boring, and the man seated beside him had smelled of five-day-old body odor and bad cologne, giving Luke a nagging headache just behind his eyes. Then at his layover in St. Louis, his boss had ordered him to divert to Cleveland, instead of his home base of Columbus, to baby-sit a desk agent who might’ve stumbled onto a federal tax fraud case. And at the airport, instead of finding a nervous novice, he’d received a pager message telling him to meet the rookie agent at this address.

He hadn’t thought his week could get any worse. Boy, was he wrong.

Seeing this particular woman—looking very much like the accountant she was, dressed in her loose-fitting blue suit, white blouse, and sensible shoes—holding a gun pointed right at his chest didn’t do anything to improve his mood. “You want to put that thing away before someone gets hurt?”

“I do know how to handle a gun,” Abby said, pointing the gun at the floor.

He pushed himself away from the wall. No longer a target, he walked into the room, careful not to disturb any possible evidence, his own weapon pointed at the floor. “Whose apartment is this?”

“Brianna Mathews. My college roommate.”

A slight catch in Abby’s voice drew his attention away from the chaotic mess in the room and back to her. In the dim lamp light he saw the glistening tears in her green eyes.

Dammit. He didn’t want to see her cry. Not again. Distraction. That’s what he needed. Distraction for both of them. “Did you secure the other rooms?”

The embarrassment that crossed her features, followed quickly by the firm set to her lips told him she hadn’t, even before the word no escaped her lips.

“Dammit, Abby. Did you forget all your training?” 

“I was going to work my way back out.”

He gave her a skeptical look then edged back into the hall, signaling her to stop when she moved to follow him. “Stay there. And try not to touch anything. Remember it’s a real crime scene, not an exercise we played back in Georgia.”

Her eyes narrowed and her lips pressed into a thinner line, but she didn’t move a muscle.

Luke turned away and lifted his weapon out in front of him, pausing a moment. Tension gripped his neck, back and shoulders. He waited to see if she’d put a bullet between them. He wouldn’t blame her if she did.

When no deafening sound blasted through the night, and no searing pain ripped through him, he exhaled and inhaled. Apparently, Abby had learned to control that temper of hers in the past five years.

Slowly he stepped back into the hall to the first doorway. This was probably overkill, since all the noise she’d made on entering the apartment and their own conversation would’ve alerted anyone still in the place, but he needed to be sure they were alone. He also needed some distance between them.

Of all the people he expected to find standing in the center of a crime scene, Abby Whitson wasn’t among them. Hell, she hadn’t even been on his radar, let alone on his short list of possible agents. Seeing her again slammed memories into him of the last night he’d seen her. For nearly five years he’d managed to put the horror-stricken look on her face into a neatly closed compartment in his memory’s deepest recesses. Now he’d have to face what happened between them.

However, first he had to secure her safety. Then he’d deal with the wrath of the one woman he’d never wanted to hurt.

His gun extended, he reached into the first room and flicked on the light. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the sudden bright light reflecting off the huge mirror nearly covering the opposite wall of the wrecked bedroom.

Nothing moved.

The mattresses had been slashed just like the sofa pillows in the living room. The satin coverlet and silk sheets lay in shreds. The dresser drawers had been emptied, their contents strewn across the floor. Whoever had taken Abby’s friend had searched every corner in here.

He moved further into the room, checking out the closet. The cloying scent of an Asian perfume, probably worth thousands of dollars, clogged the air in the tiny space. Silks, satins, furs—all lay scattered across the floor. Boxes of letters tossed on the pile’s top. Even the suitcase lay emptied, the sides slashed open.

Whoever they are, these guys are thorough.

Framed pictures of a strikingly beautiful blonde littered the dressers and night stands next to the bed. Abby’s friend liked men. Lots of them. Each picture had her posed with a different man—old, young, white, black—never the same one twice.

How had prim and proper Abby gotten a friend like this?

What do you think? Is he going to do the job? Can he protect Abby? And who is Abby by the way?

When I was working on this book, I decided Luke, always the charmer, needed someone not afraid to stand up to him. So, instead of giving him a cute, petite girl, I decided on a tall heroine, one who was a bit awkward in social circumstances…sort of like Sandra Bullock’s character in the beginning of Miss Congeniality. 

img1382773901EXCERPT:

“You want to tell me why the feds are interested in this missing woman, Agent Edgars?” asked Detective Jeffers, the local cop who’d caught the case. A tall, older man in good physical shape, Jeffers sported a close-to-the-head military cut of his dark hair and a serious expression that would rival his own brother Dave’s.

Luke gave Jeffers his I-mean-you-no-harm smile. “We’re not officially here. Ms. Whitson and I came to see her friend and found this situation.”

“So you expect me to believe there was no reason you two came here, except to visit an old friend?”  Jeffers eyed him with a no-way-am-I-buying-that-crap look.

“You know how it is, Detective,” Luke laid on the charm. “The little lady wants to visit a friend, we come and visit her friend.” He pulled the detective to the side. “I’d appreciate it if you could keep our names out of your official report.”

“If I need more information about the victim?” Jeffers left the comment up in the air.

“You’ll have our full cooperation. Believe me, we want her friend found as quickly as possible. We’d also like to be apprised of any progress your department might make. Unofficially, of course.”

“Then you won’t be keeping any leads from us?”

Luke smiled again, the smile that usually got him out of trouble with his superiors. “If anything comes our way we’ll be only too happy to share it.” He’d promise to sell his soul if it kept Abby’s name out of official channels.

Moments later Luke watched Abby repeatedly thread her fingers together as she stiffly sat on the edge of the white leather chair talking to Detective Jeffers. After he’d placed the call to the police, she’d asked him not to inform them why she’d come to visit her friend. It went completely against protocol, and they both knew it.

Although he’d made a career of bending the rules to the breaking point in order to solve a case, for once he’d been tempted to play by the rules, ignore her request, and insist she tell the detectives why her friend summoned her. That would’ve been the easiest way to get Abby off this case and to the safety of her desk back in Washington.

However, he had his own agenda for not giving away her secret, and it had little to do with the shadowed plea in her green eyes, the fine tremors that shook her elegant hands, or the catch in her smooth-as-honey voice when she spoke of her friend. When she’d informed him her friend worked for Hollister-Klein his internal warning bells went off. For the past year he’d been secretly looking into the life of one of the founders of the company, Senator Howard Klein. If Abby’s friend was missing, he’d bet his new laptop-tablet there was a connection to the company. He didn’t believe in coincidences.

He studied Abby a moment, remembering all the times he’d teased her during training. Touchy as a wounded hedgehog on the outside, sensitive on the inside.

As she talked to the detective, she slipped her long fingers into the blunt cut of her dark bangs, pushing them off her face. The rest of her thick hair was knotted behind her in some sort of professional, boring sort of bun. Despite her attempt at professionalism, the benign action showed just how frightened she was.

Luke turned his attention away from her and the feelings her vulnerability set off deep inside him. He looked out the window at the dark parking lot behind the condo. Oh yeah. He had his own reasons for suppressing information from the local cops.

If Abby’s friend survived the torture—and by the looks of this place she’d been beaten beyond endurance—she’d already told her abusers what it was they wanted to know. If she hadn’t, every possibility existed that she’d at least let them know she’d called Abby for help.

Abby could’ve innocently walked into a trap. Instead of just her friend’s blood on the floor, Abby’s could’ve been there, too. At the thought, Luke’s gut tightened with white-hot anger.

Any way he looked at it, naive Abby was now a target. A target he had to protect at any cost, even if meant pulling rank on the local cops like he had with Jeffers.

So, that’s our hero and heroine. I think they deserve one hellova party. So let’s throw them one.

Who are you bringing as your guest? (You can choose an actor or a character from a book or movie.) What do we need to have Sven ready to pour at the bar for you? And your favorite appetizer or snack? I’m giving away two print copies of VANISHED today!

Also, don’t forget to sign up to attend the VANISHED FB party on my FB page. It starts tonight @ 6PM EST. We have lots of extra guests and prizes there, too! https://www.facebook.com/events/358088377666257/

February Coming Attractions

SECRETS-SEDUCINGBODYGUARD2-182x300[1]Ahh, February, the month of love! And romance! And chocolate! And champagne, of course! And reading wonderful books by fabulous authors! But that’s what every month of the year is all about, right? Oh, yes.

Call me sentimental, but for me, February is also the month during which I look back, shake my head, and admit that all of those January resolutions I made were ridiculous! Seriously, give up chocolate? What was I thinking??

Hearts and Spurs Med - tracy gHere in the Lair, we resolve to bring you a wonderful line-up of delightful authors each and every month. And February is no exception. You won’t want to miss one single minute of the fun.

We kick things off on Monday, 3rd February, when Anna Campbell hosts lair favorite Vanessa Kelly who is here to talk about SECRETS FOR SEDUCING A ROYAL BODYGUARD, Book 1 in her Renegade Royals series.

WAMR_cover_draftHow do you capture a cowboy’s heart? Tracy Garrett stops in on Tuesday, February 4th to talk with Suz about her newest western romance in the anthology, HEARTS AND SPURS, a collection of nine stories by some of western romance’s best—just in time for Valentine’s Day!

All Beautiful Things 104 (3)And on Wednesday, February 5th, Jesse Hayworth returns to the lair as Nancy’s guest. Jesse will dish on e-dating and chat with us about her new release, WINTER AT MUSTANG RIDGE.

Joanie hosts debut author Nicki Salcedo on Monday, February 17th. Do stop by to find out all about her latest, ALL BEAUTIFUL THINGS.

sapphires-200[1]On Thursday, 20th February, Anna Campbell hosts another lair favorite, Shana Galen. They’ll talk about SAPPHIRES ARE AN EARL’S BEST FRIEND, the conclusion of her very popular Jewels of the Ton series.

Leading Lady - Deb MThe effervescent Deb Marlowe will visit the Lair on Monday, February 24th, to talk to Caren about THE LEADING LADY, Book 2 of her fabulous Half Moon House series. Come see who the infamous former courtesan Hestia Wright has taken under her protection this go-around.

And you won’t want to miss the fun and excitement on February 28th when Bandita Suz launches the newest suspense-filled story in her fantastic Edgars Family series, VANISHED!

Vanished - Suz Ferrell

CONTESTS!

Anna Campbell had such fun with her backlist contest last time that she’s doing it all again for her January/February contest. THREE people (international) will win their choice from her books (except for DAYS OF RAKES AND ROSES). Just email Anna on anna @ annacampbell.info (no spaces) and tell her which book you’d like. If you need help choosing, check out her books page on her website: http://annacampbell.info/books.html For more information, check out her contest page: http://annacampbell.info/contest.html

So, let’s talk February love and romance! What’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done for someone—or someone’s done for you?

Do you have a favorite romantic meal?

And have any of your resolutions survived into February? Please share!

Baby It’s Cold Outside!

acttemp_600x405For those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere we’ve had a rather chilly winter. Oh, alright. It’s dang cold out there!!

Temperatures have plummeted below freezing all over North America. In Minnesota, the reports from Bandita Susan is snow, ice and temperatures below zero, forcing school closings! (I thought they went to school up there no matter what, but I guess blizzard conditions prevent that!)

My mom, (HEY MOM!) who reads the blog daily, reported yesterday that she had over 6 inches of snow Saturday, more was falling on Sunday…and she was “just plain sick of winter.” Hate to tell her but we have February still to go, which historically worse than January.

Even down here in Texas it’s gotten into the single digits more than a few days and today we started in the teens and only getting to 38degrees Farenheit. I think the cows are looking for warm blankets, too!

In the winter of 1978 I was in nursing school when a blizzard with 70 mile an hour winds hit the Midwest on a Friday. blizzard-of-1978My nursing school was attached to the hospital that sponsored it and I lived in the dorms there. The weather was so bad, that not only did they cancel our classes and clinicals, (yea!), they asked us to help staff the hospital as nurse’s aides, since most of the staff couldn’t come in to take care of patients. Since I worked in the hospital on weekends as a unit secretary/aide, I got paid for my hours! (Yea!!!) So, for three solid days, I worked 14 hour shifts, then went back to the dorm for basically a giant slumber party. Any food in the fridge was free game and we cooked up some wild concoctions, ate popcorn and chocolate while watching movies together! By Monday, Columbus had thawed out, roads had cleared to passable, staff showed up for work, and we got to go back to being just students.

MV5BMTU1NTA3NzMwOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzEzMTEzMw@@._V1_SX640_SY720_The new term in weatherology is POLAR VORTEX. I think the term came about in popular vernacular with the movie THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW. Have you seen it? Yeah, something we did caused a super storm of 3 Polar Vortex’s to converge and a new ice-age was started. Dennis Quaid plays the Dad meteorologist/expert who has to save his son and his friends trapped in NYC. I liked the movie a lot! But that was the first time the term Polar Vortex was used, I think. Now we’re hearing about them daily. Geesh that’s cold!

So what to do to stay warm?

Let’s explore a few ideas that DON’T have to do with cuddling with your sweetie. (Please people, take pity on the L&D nurses who already are busy in the summers and early fall!!)

1. Mom, (HEY MOM!), always says, “Make soup.” And the woman can make some goooooood soups! So, I make soups. Here’s the recipe for: 

Suz’ PASTA FAGIOLI AND MEATBALL SOUP

 ½ pound dried navy beans       2 boxes Kitchen Basics® Original Beef Stock (red box)

4 cups water                                 1 & ½ onions, chopped (Yes, it’s a lot of onion, but onion makes the broth taste so good!)

3- 4 celery stocks with leaves, chopped              3 carrots, peeled and chopped

3 cloves of garlic sliced thin       ¼ cup of butter

Salt             Pepper             Oregano             Basil

12-24 miniature meatballs (recipe follows)

  1. Preheat oven
  2. Prepare meatballs and bake in oven for approximately 30 minutes, turning once.Pasta_fagioli_use
  3. Clean beans per package directions.
  4. In large soup pot, heat beef stock and water, adding beans. Salt and pepper Bring to a boil. Cook for 30 minutes.
  5. In skillet, melt butter then add onions, celery and carrots. Season with salt and pepper. Heat until onions turn opaque. Add garlic and cook another minute or so.
  6. Add vegetables and meatballs to bean/broth mixture. Add oregano and basil. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for another hour.
  7. Add pasta and cook until al dente. (15 minutes)
  8. Taste to be sure beans are cooked soft. Add more salt or pepper to taste.

MINIATURE MEATBALLS

1 pound ground beef         1 egg      2 TBS. ketchup  

1 TBS. prepared mustard          1-2 cups bread crumbs

Mix beef, egg, ketchup and mustard. Add breadcrumbs until meat mixture is no longer “wet”. Pull off portions to make meatballs, 1 inch in diameter.

 

201012-w-hot-chocolate-lake-champlain

 2. Don’t feel like cooking? Drink something warm. I like hot chocolate made with Gihardelli chocolate and whipped
cream on top. OR a nice mug of spiced tea. OR for the wine drinkers among us…how about a hot mug of mulled wine? Warm and relaxing…. Just avoid the cuddling you suddenly feel like indulging in!
 
 
 

a-pair-of-warm-socks

3. Warm socks! mmmm, nothing like getting out of a hot shower, padding across frozen tiles as you get dressed, then sticking your cold feet into some thick, warm socks. Ahhh…doesn’t it make you feel good with me just mentioning it?
 
 
 

Vanished final for Barnes and Noble Bestselling with quote

4. Read. Now it’s important you do this in the right way. Grab the afghan, snuggle on the couch, but only with a four-legged friend to sit on your sock-covered feet,  and pull out a good book. A good romance is best, IMHO. If you want some extra heat, you could pull out an erotica or a romantic suspense. But make sure it’s a book that holds your interest so you can stay under the afghan on the couch nice and toasty!
 
If you’re looking for a good RS and the weather is still cold in February, you might try VANISHED, book #4 coming out the end of the month. Hey if nothing else, the PURPLE cover should warm you up some!
 
So, what do you do to stay warm? Do you have a favorite recipe for soup? Got some favorite socks? Mulled wine or hot chocolate or hot tea? What do you plan to read through the Polar Vortex? If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, what do you do to cool off this time of year?

Allie Burton discusses Soul Slam

SONY DSCHave you ever wondered what would happen if someone else’s soul got into your body? What if it were someone famous? Or someone powerful? That’s what Allie Burton wrote about in her new YA romance book SOUL SLAM. Welcome, Allie! I snuck of Bandita Jo’s Diet Pepsi out just for you!

Suz: Writers are asked all the time “Where did you get the idea for your book?” My usual response in my head is a very sarcastic “from the big book of ideas”, but I never say it. So, here I am marveling at the idea behind Soul Slam. How did you come up with that?

Allie: For Soul Slam, I believe the idea was serendipitous. I was finishing the drafts of my Lost Daughters of Atlantis series and hadn’t chosen a new project to start. One morning I was reading the New York Times and I saw a full page advertisement for a new King Tutankhamen exhibit. I don’t live in New York, so I turned the page. Later that day, I was flipping through the channels on TV and I came across a program about the pyramids in Egypt. Hmmm. Two similar messages in one day.

When I picked up the mail, I received a flyer about the same King Tut exhibit coming to my local museum. Could this be fate? Three messages in one day about King Tut.

I’m not a historical writer, so my story wasn’t going to be based in ancient Egypt. But I could incorporate some of the Soul Slam Finallegends into modern day. Then the questions started flying in my head. What would happen if King Tut lived in modern times? Or what if his soul got trapped in another person’s body who lived in modern times? What if that person was a girl? How would the male Pharaoh and the female teenager get along? How did she get the soul? And was this a good thing to happen or a curse?

With each ‘what if’ question came several answers. And then several more answers. And so on, until Soul Slam was completed.

Suz: Your heroine Olivia is both a typical teen in some ways and a very unique teen in others. How hard was it to merge them together in her character?

Allie: The story is about Olivia discovering who she really is. Which I think is typical of most teens. She’s got issues about her clothes, if a guy likes her and why, and if she fits in. What’s not typical is that she’s doing it while being chased by several people, she’s just received new and unusual powers, and she has a male soul inside her female body. Oh, and she can’t touch Xander the hero she’s attracted to.

Suz: What research did you have to do about King Tut to come up with the elements of his life, personality and curse to use in the book?

Allie: Actual facts were the jumping-off point for the story, but so much is unknown about King Tut. For example, King Tut’s father found a new religion, but when Tut became pharaoh he returned to the old religion. Was he forced or was this his will? Did he really believe in this old religion or, as in the case of Soul Slam, did he secretly continue to worship his father’s god? Also, research has shown that Tut died from a head injury, possibly from falling off his chariot. We don’t know this for fact, but I played off of the possibility.

When the exhibit I talked about earlier came to my hometown, I visited the museum and took notes. I also purchased a book or two about King Tut’s life and watched a documentary on archeological digs at the pyramids in Egypt. As I wrote the book, if I needed to know something more specific I’d research online. There are a lot of great sites about ancient Egypt. Someday I’d love to visit! 

Suz: Olivia meets Xander in a rather unusual way. What did you want them to learn from and about each other?

Allie: Olivia and Xander want the same amulet. When she steals it from under his nose she gets more than she bargained for. In life, they want the same thing too, but it takes the entire story for them to figure that out.

I wanted both characters to learn that even though they are from very different and unusual backgrounds, they actually have a lot in common. Their strengths and weaknesses complement each other. And they are stronger working together.

tut-f3103c36a235c445f742b647c76703db0a7d05b2-s6-c30EXCERPT:

Crawling ninja-style out of the sarcophagus, my black gym shoes hit the ground without a sound. But inside, a screech built up in my lungs and released on a heavy exhale, the scream so loud it sounded like an alarm. “Aiyeeeeee!”

Xander and the old man froze.

I lunged at the case, swooped in, and grabbed the amulet.

A jolt rocked my body. Pain rocketed up my spine, but I held tight to the prize. Clutching the piece in both hands, I hit the concrete floor like a football player making a catch, and kept rolling.

“A girl.” Xander’s surprised voice rose on a high note. “What the…Tut.”

“Grab her!” The old man spoke in English.

“Touch her?” Xander sounded horrified like I was the slime of the world. “I can’t.”

“She’s got the amulet.”

I tried to get to my feet, but the pulsing inside threw me off balance. I crashed back onto the floor. Pain seared my fingers and heat rushed my veins.

My body jerked. My head spun.

Something slammed into me from the inside, like it was in my body trying to get out. Back and forth I jerked. A powerful energy thumped from my ribcage to my stomach and back again.

I trembled from head to foot. My vision blurred. Images swam before my eyes—a blue river, golden statues, Egyptian pyramids, deceit, and death.

“What’s going on?” The sound coming out of my mouth warbled. “Am I dying?”

This felt worse than the time I had pneumonia with no medicine, or the time I broke my arm and Fitch duct taped it…

Fogginess seeped into my consciousness. If I blacked-out they’d steal the amulet, leave me to be caught, to go to prison, to face Fitch’s wrath.

Whatever was inside me ignited like a nuclear bomb. My skin could no longer contain my insides. I’d explode into tiny pieces and scatter across the museum floor.

“It’s happening… To. Her.” Jeb’s voice was faint as if coming from a distance, but I saw his shoes through squinted eyelids.

“But it’s my right. My inheritance.” Xander stomped his sandaled foot near my head. “My destiny.”

“It’s too late.” Jeb’s voice curled like a sneer with extra hatred. “The transfer has occurred. This stupid girl is now in possession of King Tutankhamun’s soul.”

Suz: Are there more books in the Soul Slam series?Egypt Pyramids 01

Allie: Yes. I’m working on the second book now. At the end of Soul Slam the reader meets a bunch of unusual characters in a strange twist. I’m hoping that each of them will have their own book. Sign up for my newsletter on my website at www.allieburton.com if you want to learn more and get future release dates.

Great questions, Suz. Thanks for hosting me. I love visiting the Romance Bandits.

Now, I have a question for the commentators. What are some of your ‘what if’ questions? One lucky commentator will win a Soul Slam ebook. 

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