Posts tagged with: Suzanne Ferrell

The Square-Foot Garden Adventure

20140910_190847Pull up a chair…get comfy…this is gonna take a while! :)

Y’all know I love my husband. I do. Let’s make that 100% clear.

However life with the Jazzman is…at times…an adventure. It’s how we ended up in Texas, by way of a few years in Florida. When he gets a new project he tends to focus all that genius IQ on it, sometimes to the point of obsession. Then there’s the experimentation part of most projects. (Nothing has blown up…lately.)

For the past year he’s been reading about organic gardening.

Let me back up a few years. We’ve gone “mostly” organic and reduced the amount of processed foods in our home. My parents grew up on farms in Tennessee and my mom cooked using fresh ingredients when I was growing up, even planting a small garden for tomatoes, peppers and the occasional cucumber vine. We had friends who grew half-runner green beans and corn in bigger gardens, which they would let us pick. In the summer we’d go pick strawberries at a pick-your-own farm outside of Columbus, blackberries at a friend’s farm and apples from relatives in Tennessee. Cooking with fresh ingredients as much as possible isn’t foreign to me, so I indulged most of Jazzman’s wishes for organic foods.

Guess what peeps. Shopping at the Organic Food Stores is expensive!

Jazzman understood this, (after a sit-down with me over the budget), hence his reasoning that we should grow our own vegetables….organically…in our little backyard.

Now, one thing about the Jazzman is that he researches, studies and analyzes how to do things. So naturally, he bought books, read articles on the internet and talked with organic farmers. After many months of research, he decided we should do “raised beds in a square-foot garden, Suz.”

Which of course led to many hours of him planning all the different ways to build a raised bed and how to make it efficient. There are places where you can buy pre-made raised beds in any dimension. Nope. Jazzman decided he needed to build ours out of cedar boards. So supplies bought, you’d think we were ready to go, right? Nope.

We watched the sun rise and fall for about a week, trying to determine where the best use of sunlight would be. Jazzman’s determination? Smack dab in the middle of the back yard. OH, HELL NO! I determined the best spot would be to the side where it would get morning sun, but the late afternoon and early evening would be in the shade. We live in Texas after all. No use frying the poor plants for more than 8 hours a day. Guess where the garden is. :)

1617206_811228818889231_5534118429170367418_oNow we’ve got the supplies and the spot. Jazzman proceeds to build his garden. 4 square feet by 4 square feet. Remember that number, it’s important. He puts the sides together and puts plywood on the bottom. We carry it out to the spot. Then he decides to build a trough-like raised bed 4 square feet by 1 square foot. To the back of both he adds rebarb stakes with piping at the top, then ties twine up and across this frame to make a trellis. (People…I said he’s detailed to obsession, but hey, while he’s busy with this…I’m writing!!)

Next comes the compost and manure mixture. One must have the right kind of soil and fertilizer after all. Finally, it’s time for plants. Now. He’s divided the 4×4 into 1ft square spots. Total…16 (Told you the # would come in handy!) Then the 4×1 is marked off to make 4 spots. Jazzman goes to the store and comes back with…2 pepper plants, 8 tomato plants, marigolds for bug control…and herbs.

HERBS?

Seriously? Okay, fresh basil and chives are cool…but honestly, you can grow them in pots on the back porch. We’ve spent a few bucks and I was wanting…vegetables. He did save a space for green beans near the trellis. Sigh. He was so excited. I let it slide.

Plants are planted, watered. They look happy to be in the soil. Then it rains. And rains. And rains.10348730_811732682172178_6160723296823379236_o

Now, not being professional farmers, we were pretty sure rain was good for the plants. Well at first it was. Things grew, looked lush, beans were starting to send vines up the trellis. But then we noticed the bottoms of the tomatoes were getting dark spots. The marigolds kept dying. What the hell was going on?

After much research, Jazzman determined the cause was poor drainage. See he’d built the raise bed for being on a patio by adding the plywood bottom and not having enough drainage holes. SIGH.

But all is not lost! We live in Texas, which has a very, very long growing season and two times to harvest. Who knew!?!

SQUARE-FOOT GARDEN #2.

Jazzman has bought more cedar and this time chickenwire for the bottom. He’s also reevaluated the soil mixture for the ultimate growing environment. So in JULY in TEXAS he’s decided to rebuild the squarefoot garden, mix up new soil using some from the old gardens, and try again.

Now picture this. He’s got the boxes built, coated them in linseed oil and is ready to fill them. He’s determined the easiest way to mix the new soil is to use a GIANT TARP in the middle of the back yard.

Temp at noon on D-Day is 102….let me repeat that…ONE HUNDRED and TWO freaking degrees.

So, I get this call from the backdoor to stop what I’m doing…(writing)…to come “help”. Help with what? Mixing manure. Yes, I got to play in manure in 102 degree heat. Jazzman pours not 1, not 2, but 3 kinds of manure, (chicken, cow and worm) along with mushroom compost, some expanding shale, and peat moss onto the tarp and we mix it into the old soil he’d dug out of the previous garden by…moving the ends of the tarp.

I KID YOU NOT! (okay, farmer peeps…stop laughing!!! That means you, Cassondra!!)

Here we are in the hottest day in Texas so far this summer, lifting 200# of….crap….over and over and over and over and over. I was not happy. Nope. Not at all. Zip. Nada! And I grumbled…and grumbled. BUT we got it mixed. He fills up the 4×4 with it. Oh wait…it only fills 1/2! WE have to do the tarp dance AGAIN!!! And repeat for the 4×1 replacement!

20140826_192832Finally, at the end of that long, hot, miserable day, Jazzman has the gardens redone, including the saved trellis from the previous ones. He’s replanted the basil…because we had a great basil bush in the old one. Bought new plants, this time, heavy on the peppers and tomatoes.

About a week later, everything is growing fine, but the Jazzman is concerned about keeping them moist so  he investigates, reads and researches how to make…an irrigation system.

Yes, people, we have the most high-tech automatic drip irrigation system for our little gardens. On timers. BUT we also have drainage.

 

tomato_hornwormOh, then we were invaded by aliens. Okay, maybe not aliens, but it sure looked like something from a sci-fi movie. It was actually a Tomato Hornworm. (That’s its picture over there!—–> ) We found four of them, they were happily stripping all the leaves off the tomato plants. They don’t make pretty butterflies, so we had to put them out of our misery.

 

20140917_191343BUT we have!!! Vegetables!! And they taste delicious!!

Are you laughing? I am! :D :D :D :D

So, do you plant a vegetable garden? Have you gone organic? Do you obsess over new projects? Got any good recipes for peppers and tomatoes?

BTW…we’re looking at planting winter vegetables soon…broccoli, onions, lettuce, peas…wish us luck! :)

 

Debut Author Patience Griffin talking Quilts & Kilts

Patience-GriffinHey Banditas and Bandit Buddies, y’all know how much we love bringing you debut authors so you can get their very first book for your TBR collections. Well, today I have a delightful new author to introduce you to. I met Patience several years ago at my local RWA chapter here in Dallas. Since then I’ve had the pleasure of watching her grow in her writing career and take that first step into publication. She’s in the Lair today to tell us about her debut novel, TO SCOTLAND WITH LOVE, book #1 in her Quilts & Kilts series.

Suz: Welcome, Patience!! Pull up a chair here in the Lair bar. Sven will serve up whatever you’d like to drink while we chat. Name your poison!

Patience: I would love to have a caramel frappe…with plenty of whip.

Suz: So, first things first…we LOVE call stories in the Lair, so tell us yours.

Patience: Oh, dear, do you really want to hear this? I have a long history of kidney stones and was in pain on this particular day. I had been sitting in a warm bath and had just gotten out. I’m usually pretty shaky after one of these episodes—I call it a kidney stone hangover—and decided I didn’t feel good enough to get dressed. So here I was lying under a pile of covers, naked, when my agent called. I had to ask her to repeat herself several times. Oh, and to this day, my agent doesn’t know I was naked while getting the news. So shhhh, mums the word. Okay?

Suz: Can you give us a little bit about TO SCOTLAND WITH LOVE to wet our appetites, please.

Chapter One
Cait Macleod frowned as the taillights of her taxi sped off into the night. She was standing in a deserted parking lot on the northeast coast of Scotland in the middle of December. All alone. Not new for her, but it sucked all the same.
“Don’t worry about me,” she said to the now-long-gone cabbie. She kicked snow off her shoe. “I’ll be fine and dandy.”
A fierce gust of wind caught her hair, reeling it around her head like tangled fishing line. The saying You can never go home again smacked her in the face as surely as the wind did. She gazed down at the scant glow of lights rising from the coastal village below and wondered if she was crazy to think she could recapture the happiness she’d once had here. Instead of coming home with her Scottish head held high, she was coming home in defeat.
But there was no time to ponder what was or what might be again as a wintry chill settled into her feet. She grimaced down at her metallic Brian Atwood heels immersed in the snowy slush. Clearly, she hadn’t given enough thought to her wardrobe when she’d decided to escape her crappy life in Chicago.
“This is one hell of a birthday,” she said into the wind. Thirty-one years today. She’d forgotten Gandiegow was a closed community—no cars past the parking lot, only walking paths. And here she stood with four hefty suitcases and only two arms to drag them into the village. She yanked two of her bags over to a tree to wait their turn. The other two, she rolled behind her as she awkwardly hobbled into the village, all the while cussing in Gaelic.
Gandiegow had exactly sixty-three houses arcing around the coastline, with rocky bluffs boxing in the village. The way the town snugged up against the sea made it look like an extension of the ocean. But instead of ripples of water, there were houses. She’d been born in this village. She’d watched her mother bake bread in their wood-fired stove. Her father, when he’d cared about being a good da, had taught Cait how to fish just yards from their front steps. Her cantankerous grandmother still lived here in one of the little stone cottages.
Cait sighed heavily at her predicament. How had it come to this? Her cheating husband, Tom, was dead. Her journalism career was nearly a corpse. And her hope for reviving her life was gasping for its last breath, too.
She stopped, pulled out her map, and checked the location of her own newly bought bungalow. It sat farthest away, next to the bluffs, isolated but for one other house next to hers. She’d purchased the cottage sight unseen, based on a few snapshots over the Internet. It was the craziest thing she’d ever done, selling everything and running away. But, she reminded herself, she wasn’t really running away; she was running home. Her father had been the one to uproot Cait in the first place. When she was thirteen, he’d dragged her and Mama halfway around the world.TSWL
“God, I haven’t turned into my da, have I?” she said to the wind.
No. Her rash move affected no one but herself. It was Tom’s deceit, their marriage headed for divorce court, and then the dirt mounding over his grave that brought Cait to the breaking point. She had to get out of Chicago and come home to Scotland. Maybe here she could pull herself together and eventually revive her writing career.
She went back to slogging through the slush, not really thinking about the cold. It was the tension that had built up over the last few days that was getting to her. Now it increased exponentially, making the knot at the back of her neck feel like a burning fist. Deydie. The only family Cait had left.
Her gran would wring her neck for not letting her know she was coming. Cait had tried—sort of. Before the plane lifted off, she’d called, but Deydie hadn’t answered and there’d been no machine to take a message. What kind of granddaughter waits until the last second to let her gran know she’s coming? A stupid one?
But dang it, Deydie wasn’t your typical gran. Cait loved her, but the old gal had issues. Crabby, in-your-face issues. During their last phone call, her gran had made it perfectly clear what she thought of Cait: a chip off the old block—specifically, her father’s worthless, good-for-nothing block. Cait knew there’d be hell to pay. She’d never given Deydie a good reason for staying away so long. But what could she have said? I can’t leave town because my husband screws around at every opportunity? Or, I lost myself along the way and did everything the cheating bastard told me to do? How ridiculous Cait felt. Especially now.
What if her grandmother and the other townsfolk rejected her? Cait hadn’t visited even when she was an adult and had the means. In Gandiegow’s eyes, that was indefensible, regardless of Tom. Cait had slapped her kinsmen in the face, and they would surely repay her by showing her their backs. What would she do then?
The gravel and slush gave way to a cobblestone walkway. Under other circumstances, Cait would’ve found the winding sidewalk charming, but right now it felt like the devil’s path. Her heels kept getting lodged in between the stones, and every few feet, the suitcase wheels got stuck, too. If she had to lug the baggage much farther, her arms were in serious danger of being ripped from their sockets.
Six houses and two turns of the stone walk later, she found cottage number thirteen. Her heart stopped. There had to be a mistake. This couldn’t be the two-bedroom bungalow she’d seen online. That one had been a quaint, one-and-a-half-story, ivy-covered dream.
This one was a black, smoky ruin.
“It figures,” Cait groaned.
Dangling sideways from a wrought-iron post hung the #13 sign. Judging by the look of the charred wood, a fire had claimed every bit of her new home. The only parts left were the chest-high stone wall surrounding the perimeter of the house and a smoke-stained chimney jutting out of the ashes.
Her house was dead.
It all made sense now. Death comes in threes. Wasn’t that the old saying?
Well, the Christmas tree back in Chicago had knocked off first. It turned into a skeleton and dropped pine needles all over the floor. Tom, her lying, cheating, weasel-of-a-husband, went next. He had a heart attack while inserting his holiday sausage into his mistress. And now her new home was dead, too. A freaking funeral pyre.
A shiver, which had nothing to do with Scotland’s frigid December weather, overtook her. “I’m such a fucking idiot.” Could life get any worse?
A fat raindrop hit her head. Then another. Just like that, the heavens opened up and dropped a shitload of rain on her dumbass head. She looked up. “Thanks.”
She dragged her bags to the house next door with the intent of using her neighbor’s phone. While stepping up on the porch, she formulated a few choice words for the online Realtor—the big swindler!
Before reaching for the knocker, Cait decided to dislodge the rock from her shoe first. But when she bent over, the door suddenly opened. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a man come through and stop short. She felt pretty sure, even from that angle, he was giving her ass the once-over.
She had every intention of giving him a piece of her mind—she didn’t allow men to ogle her like a rump roast—but when she stood and saw who was eyeing her . . .
Omigod! Mr. Darcy. She nearly fell in the ice and mud.
She couldn’t catch her breath. Graham Buchanan. It was Graham Buchanan in person. He was so outrageously handsome he seemed to glow and shimmer, and she couldn’t take her eyes off him. More impressive than he’d ever been on the big screen or in a magazine spread. No glitz, no glamour, no hair gel. Not put together in any sense. And better, so much better—his collar-length brown hair tousled, his beard a two-day stubble, and he wore a Scottish warrior’s frown like a badge of honor. Sexy as hell.
She had come to this house to ask for something, but for the luvagod, she couldn’t remember what. All she could do was stare at his broad chest and tall frame. She licked her lips. His spicy cologne drew her in.
He took a step back, ready to slam the door in her face.
“Wait,” she cried. She still needed a phone. And to smell him a second longer—a tantalizing mixture of ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg.
“You’re with the press,” he accused.
How did he know? Graham Buchanan must have a sixth sense.
But right now, who cared? His Scottish burr rolled off his tongue like melted caramel. She wanted to lap him up. And the pheromones flying off him were so palpable, they had her wanting to drop to her knees and offer herself up as his love slave, his sex kitten, his everything.
Get it together, Cait.
She straightened herself up and took a deep breath, then lied as if her career depended on it. “I am not with the press.” Not anymore. Editing Chicago Fishermen’s Monthly didn’t count when it came to journalistic credits.
She looked into his golden brown eyes. Being near him caused her heart to bang against her insides like a wild badger inside a metal drum. She closed her eyes, trying to center herself. It didn’t work. She felt like the envy of all ovulating women in the free world. It wasn’t every day she stood in the presence of the sexiest man alive.
It hit her then like a wrecking ball—oomph. The headline from People magazine in her carry-on bag—Graham Buchanan Gone Missing Again. According to People, no stone had gone unturned, yet she’d stumbled into him, now only three feet away. She’d found the lost actor. Cait Macleod had done it—found Graham Buchanan!
Inside the cottage, another man’s voice rang out from behind Graham. “What is it?” He sounded a little perturbed.
Graham’s eyebrows furrowed, distrust shrouding his features. “I’m not sure,” he called. Any second now he’d slam the door in her face.
Cait stuck her hand in the jamb. “I need to use the phone.”
“Then you’re not a journalist?” He crossed his arms over his chest. “You look like one of those leeching paparazzi—”
“Heavens no. I—I—” Her brain faltered, and the stupidest answer came out. “I’m a quilter.”
Graham jerked back. “You’re a what?” He closed the door a bit more.
A small boy saved her. He came up behind Graham and grabbed his hand. The kid looked about six, dark red hair, sad eyes and an even sadder mouth. Graham put his arm protectively around him. “Go back to your da, Mattie.” Obediently, the boy turned and left.
Graham watched him until he disappeared; then he gave her his full scrutiny again. “Usually, I’m right about these things. I can’t believe you’re not with the press.”
“You’re wrong this time, buster.” Her Episcopal upbringing had her wanting to make the sign of the cross, a little protection against lying so fervently. And for calling the mega star buster. She gestured toward her misfortune. “That’s my house next door.” She took a couple of deep breaths, trying to regain her composure. “The one that looks like a campfire gone awry.” She made sure she looked him square in the face so he wouldn’t know she’d lied about her profession. What a bonus that he was so easy on the eyes.
He leaned out and nodded toward her house. “She went up in flames day before yesterday.”
Cait gazed over at her cremated house as well. “I knew it was too good to be true. I’m plagued with bad luck.”
“Luck has nothing to do with it.” He shrugged. “Faulty wiring is what I hear.”
“About that phone? My cell’s dead.” She wiped the rain from her eyes.
He seemed to wake up to the fact that she was soaked. “Come in.” He still sounded leery, but stepped to the side and opened the door fully. “Duncan, you have company.”
“What?” A young man appeared, the same height as Graham, so like the actor it made Cait stare at both of them. Two things hit her at once.
The man behind Graham was little Duncan MacKinnon, whom she’d once protected from a bully at Gandiegow’s one-room schoolhouse. Shoot, she’d babysat for him a time or two as well. Duncan would be, what, twenty-five or twenty-six by now?
Second, and most unbelievably, Duncan MacKinnon was undoubtedly Graham Buchanan’s son. People insisted the star had no family. But the resemblance was just overwhelming. And the sad little boy—Graham’s grandson? She rubbed her temples. It was almost too much to take in.
“Duncan, meet your new neighbor.” Graham looked at her quizzically. “Miss . . . ?”
“Caitriona Macleod.”
“Caitie Macleod?” Graham said, incredulous.
Caitie. Her mother had called her that, and the villagers had called her that, too. Her stepmother, however, had refused, insisting
Cait drop the ie along with her other Scottish traits.
The men stared at her, gape-mouthed, in the entryway.
Finally, Graham found his voice. “I knew your mother, Nora, well.” Then, a lot sterner, “Does Deydie know you’ve come?”
“No, but I plan—” she started.
“Are you daft?” Graham took her arm and ushered her into a small but cozy living area. “Call her.” He pointed at the black 1960s-era wall phone hanging on the real-wood paneling.
Cait crossed her arms. “It’s late. I’ve been up more than twenty-four hours. I’ll see her tomorrow.” Graham might be a superstar, but he couldn’t tell her what to do. “Listen, I feel too wet, too tired, and my brain too jumbled to deal with Deydie. Is there a hotel in town?”
The men looked at her in disapproving astonishment, like she’d stubbornly sailed a dinghy into a hurricane. A churlish Deydie hurricane.
Duncan prodded her, much gentler than his da. “You must call her. She’s family. You don’t want her upset.” It sounded like a warning, the bell of a danger buoy.
He was right about one thing: Cait didn’t want to upset Deydie, the most daunting woman in all of Scotland. But there’d be no avoiding it. Cait was the prodigal granddaughter, and that was some powerful unpleasantness she’d rather face when she was dry and when her feet didn’t feel like a couple of stumps in her six-hundred-dollar heels.
She tugged at her Barbour trench coat. She’d never tell them the real reason she wasn’t asking her gran to put her up. Rejection. Cait had had it up to her wool cap with being dismissed, denied, rebuffed, and repudiated. “Tomorrow. I’ll see Deydie tomorrow. Tonight, I need a hotel.”
Cait got more frowning from Graham. “Gandiegow doesn’t have one,” he said, irritated.
“True,” Duncan said with an edge of resentment. “But he can help you out.” He gestured toward his da.
She didn’t know what was going on between the two of them, but at least someone was on her side. Cait used her best downtown-Chicago scowl to stare Graham down.
Finally, Graham caved with a sigh of resignation. “If you insist on being obstinate, then you can stay in the room over the pub.”
She was the one to be circumspect now. “You know this for sure about the room? Shouldn’t you speak with the pub owner first?”
The men shared a knowing look.
Graham pulled the handles up on her suitcases and started walking toward the door. “Aye, you’re in luck. The owner won’t turn you away tonight.”
Cait turned to Duncan. “It’s nice seeing you again.”
“Then you do remember me?” Duncan said.
“How could I forget little Dunkie MacKinnon? I used to babysit you at your grandda’s house,” she said.
Duncan smiled. “I remember getting extra biscuits when you took care of me.”
“We’ll catch up later,” she said with a genuine smile, then realized that Graham was already out the door.
She stepped outside and found the rain had turned into sleet. “Lovely weather we’re having.”
Graham shook his head. “What did you expect? It’s December in Scotland.”
She felt like an idiot and pulled her lapels around her face to block out the December in Scotland welcome. “The rest of my bags are back in the parking lot.”
“Let’s get you to the pub first; then I’ll go for the rest.”
“Thanks.”
The conversation died, and a million thoughts converged in on her. Was this where Graham went when he disappeared for months at a time? If Duncan MacKinnon was his son, how come the press didn’t know? Even more perplexing, why hadn’t she known? She’d grown up in Gandiegow.
Cait slipped and grabbed for Graham. He dropped the bag handles and reached for her, catching her around the waist with a strong grip. For a moment, they stood toe to toe with her hands holding on to his biceps, his made-of-steel biceps. Time downshifted to a complete halt. Before this moment, she wouldn’t have given two cents for a muscly man. In a twinkling of an eye, Graham Buchanan changed all that. She looked up into his face and turned into a hot puddle in his capable arms.
Geesh, Cait. Get a grip.
She dropped her hands, made sure she stood on solid ground and then continued on, not looking over at him. Thank God it didn’t take long to get to the pub or she might have gone so far as to ask for his autograph . . . or if he needed a warm bod to snuggle up to tonight.
Graham withdrew an old-fashioned skeleton key from his coat, unlocked the door, and held it open for her. “The switch is on your right.”
Her own lightbulb went on. “You’re quite the joker, aren’t you?” She mimicked his baritone voice. “The owner won’t turn you away tonight and all.” She flipped the switch. The place lit up with old-world ambience—all dark wood on the floor, booths, and counter.
The chairs had been upended on the tabletops, and the bar and floor had been polished by Mr. Clean. It lacked only a band of rowdy Scots and it would’ve been perfect.
“Why isn’t the place hopping?” Cait asked.
“Renovations. Tomorrow night is the grand reopening of the Fisherman.” For the first time, he actually smiled. “Let’s get you upstairs and dried off. Over here.” He made his way past the bar to a narrow set of stairs. He had to duck his head to make the climb.
She followed him, getting a gratifying view of his man-butt in his jeans. At the top landing, she found a small hall with two doorways.
He pointed to one. “The bath’s in there.” He opened the other door. “The bedroom. It’s not much. It should be enough for tonight, though.” He frowned at her, the frown he’d given her earlier. “Are you sure you won’t stay with Deydie tonight?”
She shook her head.
“Well, then, I’ll be off to get your other bags.” He pointed at the armoire. “Towels and linens are in there.” Then he was gone.
Cait hurriedly slipped out of her ruined heels and freed herself from her coat. Her Jones New York slacks would never be the same, and she stepped out of those as well. When she dropped her tailored white shirt to the floor and stood in nothing but her lacy white bra and her French-cut undies, the door opened.
Graham stood there slack-jawed. “I . . . I . . . just came back to tell you I’ll leave your other bags out in the hall.”
Bless him, he was embarrassed. But not enough to look away. He gave her underthings an appreciative nod. “I’ll be going.” The door shut.
Cait should’ve been incensed by him barging in. Instead, her belly warmed with excitement, and adrenaline made her tremble. What was wrong with her?
“What female wouldn’t get a little flustered with Graham Buchanan gawking at her underwear?” she rationalized to the wall.
The mirror caught her flushed face and bright eyes. “Oh, shut up,” she muttered to her reflection

Suz: I have to confess, the moment I read your hero played Mr. Darcy on TV, Colin Firth was in my head for the duration of the book. Sigh. Who did you have in mind for him?

Patience: I do love Colin Firth, but I might have had a particular Scottish actor in mind (perhaps Gerard Butler) while I was working on To Scotland with Love. My first Gerard Butler crush was when I saw Timeline. There have been many since.

Suz: Sigh. I do love a good Gerard Butler movie, picture…uhm, yeah. He could work for me as Mr. Darcy, too. Poor Cait, the heroine of TO SCOTLAND WITH LOVE. She has some hard choices to make when she arrives in Scotland, doesn’t she?

Patience: Cait does have a tough time of it. She has to choose between kick-starting her career or respecting the privacy of someone else. Her hard choices are just a reflection of what we have to face every day. When we get up in the morning, we have to decide whether we’re going to do only for ourselves or to take care of others. It’s a balancing act between self-preservation and loving those around us. It isn’t easy, but no one ever said life would be.

Suz: So quilts? Why did you decide to put quilting in your books?

Patience: I began quilting in Iowa. On the first Saturday of every month, a group of us quilters would get together and sew. We would eat, tell stories, and laugh while we were sewing. I loved my community of quilters and thought it would be fun to create a small town where quilters were the center of everything. Women are powerful and I enjoy showing how this community of women draw strength from one another through laughter, and sometimes, tears.Scots at Highland games

Suz: Okay, you know I’ve been green with envy ever since I heard you were going to Scotland. How was your trip? Meet any Scots in kilts?

Patience: My trip to Scotland was amazing. And, yes, I did see many Scots in kilts at the Highland games last weekend in Birnam—from the bagpipers and drummers, to the Highland dancers, to the men competing in the heavy athletics. It was a kilt feast for the eyes! My cousin wanted me to take a picture of a tartan that she liked. The older Scot accused me of taking a picture of the younger Scot’s bum. They had a good laugh about it and let me take a face-forward picture of them.

Suz: What’s next in your Quilts & Kilts series? Meet_Me_in_Scotland.indd

Patience: MEET ME IN SCOTLAND comes out January 6, 2015. Here’s a little blurb: You can run from your problems, but you can’t hide from love in the Scottish seaside town of Gandiegow…. When a video of her calling happily ever after “a foolish fantasy” goes viral, marriage therapist Emma Castle is out of a job—and off to Scotland.

The tiny town of Gandiegow is the perfect place to ride out the media storm and to catch up with her childhood friend Claire. But also in Gandiegow is the one man she hoped never to see again. She’s successfully avoided Gabriel MacGregor since Claire and Dominic’s wedding, only to find he’s now the village doctor—and just as tall, dark, and devilish as ever. Claire and

Dominic’s blissful marriage, however, is not what it used to be. Soon Emma and Gabriel find themselves taking sides even as the sparks begin to fly between them. Can Emma help her friends—or regain her career—as she struggles with her own happily ever after?

Website: www.PatienceGriffin.com

The Quilters of Gandiegow Creed: Our life is not measured by the quilts we create but by the number of quilts we give away.

Patience wants to know what’s your favorite quilt? Do you have a story to go with it? She’s giving away a signed print copy of TO SCOTLAND WITH LOVE to one poster today.

 

September Fun in the Lair!

I don’t know about all of you, but I can’t believe it’s September already. Before you know it, shops will be stocking up for Christmas! At least those of you in North America have Halloween and Thanksgiving to keep those retailers occupied. Here in England, we’ve seen tinsel and twinkling lights as early as the beginning of October. *shakes head*

 

A SEAL's Fantasy coverAnyway, the weather may be cooling in the northern hemisphere, as summer fades into fall, but here in the Lair, the fun is heating up – rather like the weather for our friends Down Under! As usual, we have a month packed with great Bandita books and lots of fabulous guests. I can hear my TBR mountain groaning already!

Duke very low resTawny Weber’s latest Sexy SEAL hits the shelves this month with A SEAL’s Fantasy.  The title really says it all.

 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00004]Also, don’t forget Caren Crane’s Tiara Wars (launch party coming on September 21!) and Anna Campbell’s What a Duke Dares.

 

DamasoWe kick off the month in style tomorrow, with the return of a Lair favourite,  as the lovely Annie West stops by to talk about her latest book, Damaso Claims his Heir. Damaso garnered a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews and it’s a doozy of a read so check it out.

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Donna will be interviewing Caroline Warfield about her debut historical novel, Dangeorous Works, on Sept 4.

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On September 5th, debut author Patience Griffin makes her first visit to the Bandit Lair with her book To Scotland With Love, the first in her Quilts & Kilts series.

 

More fun on Sept 7th, when Nancy and Trish report on this year’s Dragon*Con adventures.

 

Duke low res*Launch party alert* On 10th September, the fabulous Anna Campbell  is holding one of the lair’s infamous launch parties to send her What a Duke Dares, book 3 in her Sons of Sin series, into the world with a bang. Swing by for a glass of ducal champagne and giveaways!

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On Sept 12th, Barbara Lohr joins Donna to talk about her new release, Her Favorite Honeymoon. Barbara will be comparing a warmly familiar setting such as a small town series to a pulse-speeding read in faraway places or times, and asking which you prefer.

 

Vexing_The_Viscount_(eBook)A familiar and beloved face returns to the Lair on Sept 16th, as Christie Kelley joins Nancy to talk about her latest releases, Vexing the Viscount.

 

On Sept 17 Trish hosts Pam Mantovani to discuss The Cowboy on her Doorstep, her debut novel. 

 

CowboyInTheMakingFrontCover-2-2

 

More cowboys on September 18th, when Julie Benson returns to chat with Suz about her latest Harlequin American book, A Cowboy In The Making!

 

 

Don’t forget to check out this month’s Bandita contests!

Anna Campbell’s RT Book Reviews Top Pick, What a Duke Dares, is out in the UK at the end of October so she’s celebrating this momentous occasion by having a cup of tea and giving two entrants in her current website contest a chance to win a signed print edition of the beautiful Mills and Boon edition of the book. To enter just email her on anna @ annacampbell.info (no spaces) with the names of the other full-length novels in the Sons of Sin series. There are two of them and you might find the answer here. The contest closes 31st October, 2014, and entry is open internationally.

Tawny’s giving away a free digital compilation of Hot Kisses to anyone joining her newsletter this month. To join and get your copy, just click here.

Do you have anything special that you’re looking forward to this September?

By the way, don’t forget you can buy most of these books quickly and easily by clicking on the covers!

Bandit Booty!!

BanditBooty We’ve got lots of Bandit Booty to give away from the old Lair “Treasure Chest” today!

The winners of a signed copy of WHEN THE DUKE WAS WICKED, the first book in Lorraine Heath’s new series, and a surprise book of Lorraine’s choice are: BECKE and SALLY SCHMIDT!! CONGRATULATIONS, ladies!

AND

The winner of a signed print copy of Jo Davis’ new Sugarland Blue series book IN HIS SIGHTS is MAUREEN!! CONGRATULATIONS!!

Please email me your snail mail addresses at suzanne AT suzanneferrell.com and I’ll see both authors get you your prizes ASAP!

Men With Bows

kevin-costner-robin-hoodI love men with bows.

No, not pink bows on their heads or bow ties on their necks, although Ducky from NCIS is rather dapper in his.

What I mean is, men with long bows and arrows. It’s something about the precision of using a bow to hit a target and especially a moving target. Then it’s the forearm strength. Imagine how defined the muscles in those arms are after all that practice. Yummo!

***Psstt*** here’s a secret. I think men’s forearms are very, very sexy. :D

I think my lover for archers started back with Robin Hood, the one with Errol Flynn. But then I also loved Robin Hood Prince of Theives with Kevin Costner. (I loved it so much I can forgive him for the very bad accent attempt.) Oooo and then there was the one with Russell Crowe. Yeah, loved that one, too!TV_Gallery_Arrow01_53712d787bb741.46013658

So what other archers have I fallen in love with? Uhm…Have you seen the show on the CW titled ARROW? That is one sexy dark hero. OMG…and he’s lightening fast with his shots. Oh and they tend to show him shirtless just enough…but yeah, he uses his bow with great skill. :D

Then there were all the lovely archers in the movie KING ARTHUR. While my favorite hero was Clive Owen in that movie, the archery skills by several of the other characters was enough to make me swoon, well all except Guinevere, although she was pretty badass.

Hawkeye_promoOh and let’s not forget Hawkeye in THE AVENGERS. My friend Addison Fox hooked me on Jeremy Renner and I have to confess it was fun seeing him in the movie, but then, he’s got a bow and arrows and great forearms… Sigh. I’m hoping to see more of him in the next Avengers movie.

So, let’s talk men and their weapons. If you could right a medieval or super power hero, what weapon would you give him? A sword? A Hammer? Bow and arrows? How would you arm your hero??

Robin Hood Prince of Thieves image courtesy of Warner Bros.; Arrow image courtesy of DC Comics.com; Hawkeye image courtesy of Marvel.com

GOING OVERBOARD with Lorraine Heath

FB_LHeath-lresHello, Banditas and Bandit buddies! It’s so lovely to be visiting with you again. It’s always a treat and I can’t thank Suzanne Ferrell enough for the invitation. Since Suz is busy playing grandma and I’m in the midst of revisions, Grace, the Duchess of Lovingdon (from WHEN THE DUKE WAS WICKED) has consented to interview the characters in my upcoming release, ONCE MORE, MY DARLING ROGUE. So, Grace, take it away…

Thank you ever so much, Lorraine and Suz, for allowing me this opportunity. I am more than qualified to get to the heart of the matter with these characters as Drake Darling, the hero of the tale, was raised within the bosom of my family. And Lady Ophelia is, in today’s terms, my BFF. We’ve known each other forever. Before I place them both on the hot seat, I wish to tell you a little bit about them.

When Drake first came to live with my family, I was not yet born but I have heard his tale. He was an orphan who went by the name of Peter Sykes. My mother had a rather nasty encounter with his parents, but she has always been a generous soul and did not hold the actions of Peter’s parents against him. When his mother was murdered and his father hanged, she took him in. After my mother married the Duke of Greystone, Peter adopted her maiden name of Darling. My father has a fascination with dragons, which he passed on to Peter. When Peter learned of the constellation Draco, a formation of stars that etched a dragon in the night sky, he began calling himself Drake. And so it was that by the time his story was told, he was known as Drake Darling. Although he traveled the world with my family, he never quite forgot his origins. Eventually he was employed at Dodger’s Drawing Room and quickly moved up to become its overseer.

My dear friend, Lady Ophelia Littleton, had lost both her parents and was living with her brother, the Earl of Somerdale. Her father had established a trust for her that would serve as her dowry. If she had not wed by the time she reached her thirtieth year, the trust and all its funds would be turned over to her. Although she flirted with gentlemen, she had no wish to marry. I did not quite understand that. Nor did I understand why she snubbed Drake at every turn. I suspected it was because she was drawn to him, and the notion that she might want someone who had come from the streets appalled her. As much as I treasured her friendship, I must admit that she was a bit of a … how shall I put this politely? A snob.ONCE MORE MY DARLING ROGUE

I’m not proud of the fact that I found it fascinating to watch the two of them cast sly insults at each other. I always suspected that Drake was holding back. It is not in his nature to be cruel. Ophelia, on the other hand, sometimes seemed to be someone else entirely.

So there you have it. What I know of them. I suspect there is a good bit I do not. Let’s see what they are willing to share.

Grace: Ophelia, with your dowry, you could have any lord in the kingdom. Yet no one seems to have caught your fancy.

Ophelia: I am extremely particular. He must be of noble birth, not in need of my dowry, as handsome as Apollo, as powerful as Zeus, as strong as Hercules. He must be dashing, kind, gentle, above reproach, with no sins to his name.

G: Even my dear husband, the Duke of Lovingdon, would not meet your criteria.

O: I am quite aware that I want what does not exist.

G: Do you not fear loneliness as you advance in years?

O: I fear choosing poorly, as my dear aunt did, so I prefer not to choose at all. What is shown to the world is not always the true heart of a man.

G: I couldn’t agree more. But sometimes what we hide is what makes us vulnerable. You are my dearest friend. I know you are hiding something. Will you not share it?

O: I do not like the one you refer to as your brother.

G: (laughing) That is no secret. What is it specifically that you don’t like about him?

O: He makes me contemplate the pleasure that might be found in the forbidden, makes me wish for things I shouldn’t.

G: You are drawn to him then?

O: Quite the opposite. He repulses me.

G: Has he ever been unkind to you?

O: Of course not. It is part of his façade. The kinder a man is, the deeper his cruelty runs.

G: That is not true of Drake.

O: Trust me when I tell you that he is capable of doing things you would never expect.

51p1PAqrHOL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I have to admit to being quite troubled by my dear friend’s cynicism and perception of Drake. I could not love him more if we carried the same blood.

Grace: Drake, brother of my heart, you recently purchased a residence. You live there alone, no servants whatsoever. Why the Spartan existence?

Drake: I have recently acquired a servant. I found her drifting in the Thames, and decided to give her a place as long as she earns her keep.

G: I was not aware.

D: I’m keeping her secret for now—until I unravel how she ended up in the Thames. She is part of the aristocracy and yet no one seems to have noticed that she has gone missing.

G: Would I know her?

He considers…

D: I do not think so. Even I am hard pressed to admit that I have met her before. She is quite different in unfamiliar surroundings. Fetching, interesting, enticing.

G: It sounds as though you are smitten.

D: Absolutely not.

G: Not even a little?

D: Perhaps a little.

G: Can she not tell you how she came to be in the Thames?

D: Her first memory is awakening in my bed. She recalls nothing before that.

G: How unfortunate for her.

D: But very fortunate for me. And I think in the end, extremely fortunate for her.

G: Do tell.

He merely smiles, but with that smile he has spoken volumes. I look quite forward to meeting this woman who I believe has the ability to tame him. Or is it she who will be tamed?

Back to Lorraine.

Thank you, Grace, for giving us a little peek at these characters. As you all may have figured out, this story is OVERBOARD meets Victorian London. OVERBOARD is a go-to for me when I just want to feel good. The chemistry between Kirk Russell and Goldie Hawn is terrific. Of course, I don’t write romantic comedy so my tale is a little darker and edgier but I had a lot of fun writing it. What is your favorite feel good movie or a movie would you like to see transported to Victorian London?

I will give a signed copy of WHEN THE DUKE WAS WICKED, the first book in this series, and a surprise book of my choice to 2 lucky posters.

Winners of Kay Thomas’ Elite Ops downloads

1BanditBooty

We have 3…yes that’s THREE lucky winners today of downloads from Kay Thomas’ ELITE OPS SERIES!!

CONGRATULATIONS…HELEN, HEATHERCM and BRENDA RUMSEY!!!

You get your choice of HARD TARGET now or PERSONAL TARGET when it releases on July 29th!!

Please send me your snail mail addy to suzanne AT suzanneferrell DOT com and I’ll see your information gets forwarded to Kay ASAP!

Kay Thomas

olp_2496d_final_headshot_medOkay, everyone, pull up a seat and hold on tight. Kay Thomas is back in the Lair, and you know what that means, action, adventure, bullets flying and very sexy heroes! Kay’s here to talk about her second book in her Elite Ops series from Avon Impulse, PERSONAL TARGET, which will be released on the 29th of this month in e-book form. And in honor of Kay’s visit, Sven has Prosecco chilling behind the bar for everyone!

Welcome Kay!

Thanks, Suz. And thank you, Sven. You know how I love bubbles!

So, tell us a little bit about PERSONAL TARGET.

Kay: A former SEAL and Black Ops specialist who left the CIA, Nick Donovan gave up a life on the edge to work in the private sector. But that didn’t stop his enemies from coming after him, or his family. In a case of mistaken identity, a drug cartel kidnaps his sister-in-law’s best friend…a woman from Nick’s past.

One minute Jennifer Grayson is housesitting and the next she is abducted to a foreign brothel. Jennifer is planning her escape when her first “customer” arrives. Nick, the man who broke her heart years ago, has come to her rescue. Now as they race for their lives, passion reignites as old secrets resurface. Can Nick keep the woman he loves safe against an enemy with a personal vendetta?

At its core, the book is about a case of mistaken identity and a very personal vendetta. PERSONAL TARGET takes the reader from Dallas to Mexico, across the African Savanna, to the shores of the Mediterranean in a race against time for Nick to save the woman he loves but lost ten years ago.

Suz: We’ve met the oh, so, sexy hero Nick Donovan in HARD TARGET and he was in a bit of a pickle then, wasn’t he? (Can you tell I like Nick…a lot?)

Kay: I’m pretty partial to Nick myself. As I said, Nick and Jennifer “have a history together,” but their summer affair was over long ago. In this scene—one of my favorites in the book—Jennifer has been kidnapped, and Nick has come to take her away from the people holding her captive.Eonly_9780062290878_Cover

The woman at the vanity turned, and Nick’s breath caught in his throat. He had known it would be Jenny, and despite what he’d thought about downstairs when he’d seen her on the tablet screen, he hadn’t prepared himself for seeing her like this. Seated at the table with candles all around, she was wearing a sheer robe over a gray thong and a bustier kind of thing, or that’s what he thought the full-length bra was called.
He spotted the small unicorn tat peeping out from the edge of whatever the lingerie piece was and his brain quit processing details as all the blood in his head rushed south. He’d been primed to come in and tell Jenny exactly how they were getting out of the house and away from these people and now . . . this. His mouth went dry at the sight of her. She looked like every fantasy he’d ever had about her rolled into one.
He continued to stare as recognition flared in her eyes.
“Oh my God,” she said. “It’s . . .”
She clapped her mouth closed, and her eyes widened. That struck him as odd. The relief on her face was obvious, but instead of looking at him, she took an audible breath and studied the walls of the room. When she finally did glance at him again, her eyes had changed.
“So you’re who they’ve sent me for my first time?” Her voice sounded bored, not the tone he remembered. “What do you want me to do?”
What a question. He raised an eyebrow, but she shook her head. In warning?
Nothing here was as he’d anticipated. He continued staring at her, hoping the lust would quit fogging his brain long enough for him to figure out what was going on.
“I’ve been told to show you a good time.” Her voice was cold, downright chilly. Without another word she stood and crossed the floor, slipping into his arms with her breasts pressing into his chest. “It’s you.” She murmured the words in the barest of whispers.
Nick’s mind froze, but his body didn’t. On autopilot his hands automatically went to her waist as she kissed his neck, working her way up to his ear. This was not at all what he’d planned.
“I can’t believe you’re here.” She breathed the words into his ear.
Me either, he thought, but kept the news to himself as he pulled her closer. His senses flooded with all that smooth skin pressing against him. His body tightened, and his right hand moved to cup her ass. Her cheek’s bare skin was silky soft, like he remembered. God, he’d missed her. She melted into him as his body switched into overdrive.
“What do you want?” She spoke louder. The artic tone was back. He was confused and knew he was just too stupid with wanting her to figure out what the hell was going on. There was no way the woman could mistake the effect she was having.
She moved her lips closer to his ear and nipped his earlobe before she spoke in a hushed tone. “Cameras are everywhere. I’m not sure about microphones.”
And just like that, cold reality slapped him in the face. He should have been expecting it, but he’d been so focused on getting her out and making sure she was all right. She might be glad to see him because he was there to save her, but throwing her body at him was an act.
He had to get them both out of here without tipping his hand to the cameras and those watching what he was doing. He was crazy not to have considered it once he saw those tablets downstairs, but it had never occurred to him that he would have to play this encounter through as if he was really a client.
He slipped her arms from around his neck and moved to the table to pour himself some wine, willing his hands not to shake. “I want you,” he said, clearly and loudly enough for any microphone in the room to pick up.
She smiled, but her expression wasn’t warm. “Do you now?” Her frigid tone was so at odds with the woman he’d known years ago.
He knew what he had to do. Monique and company were expecting them to have wild sex. If they’d been truly alone, it wouldn’t have been a hardship. And regardless of the circumstances, that’s exactly what he was going to have to pretend to do. He had to make love to Jenny knowing others were watching, at least until that distraction of Bryan’s came through.
There wouldn’t be any sneaking out of the room or the house before then. Guards were most likely gathered around security monitors at this very moment, drinking beer and taking bets as to how long Nick would last before he came. They were expecting to see some action.
“What do you think I want?” His voice was pitched low but loud enough for the mics as he took a sip of the wine. “Didn’t they tell you what to expect?” 
Copyright © 2014 by Kay Thomas. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. 

Suz: I love former lovers reunited stories. Did you find this easier to write or did their past cause you as much problem as it did them?

Kay: That’s a great question. This was the first “lovers reunited” story I’ve ever written, and I had a blast. It was fun creating Nick and Jennifer’s backstory and weaving that into their present day adventure. Because I’m a pantser when I write, I wasn’t really sure what their history would be until I was working my way through the first draft of the book. It made the discovery part of the writing process particularly interesting.

9780062290847-2_medSuz: Most heroes have a core value, the one thing that matters above all to them. What would you say is Nick’s core value?

Kay: Taking care of family (the people he loves) is the most important thing to Nick Donovan. But for years he’s been turning off his feelings, so he can do his job with the CIA. Seeing Jennifer from his past, tears down the wall he’s built around himself and his heart. Jennifer turns everything back on. Those feelings and emotions all reignite with a vengeance. And yes, fireworks ensue.

Suz: As you know, I had a huge emergency last week. I ran out of M&M’s. Writing came to a standstill until I resupplied. What is the one thing you must have to write? Your favorite music to write to? What do you do to take a break and re-energize to write more?

Kay: I need a quiet place to write. I can write in a Starbucks in a pinch, but I put headphones on with instrumental music or lyrics in another language besides English. Otherwise, I’ll get caught up in what I’m hearing instead of what I’m writing.

Hanging out with my family re-engerizes me—eating dinner together, watching TV, or just sitting around and talking. This summer my teenage son has been taking a summer school course and in the evenings we’ve been watching “The Walking Dead” together. But only after we eat! We’ve had such fun doing this. My husband likes to watch us (and laugh at us) watching the series. We put on quite the show ourselves with our cringing, gasping, and shouts of “No! I can’t look!” We’ve only got one season left to go till we’re caught up with the current schedule. Any suggestions for what we should watch together next?

Suz: Okay. I cannot get into zombies of any kind. I think it’s a nurse thing with the whole decaying flesh thingy of zombies. (shiver). What’s next in the Elite Ops series? Any other news?

Kay: I’m working on Book 3 and I’m having a great time with it. I don’t have a title yet. It’s Bryan Fisher’s (Hollywood’s) story. I’m just getting started but I’m very excited about how things are shaping up for him. ELITE OPS 3 will be out late next spring.

As to news, I’m headed to San Antonio next week for the RWA National Conference, their big Literacy Signing, and the Greater Detroit RWA Booksellers Best Awards Reception. HARD TARGET: Elite Ops – Book 1 is a nominee for Best Romantic Suspense of 2014. I’m very excited.

If you haven’t started the series, each book stands alone. HARD TARGET is on sale for the next two weeks for $0.99 across all ebook platforms. It’s a great chance to grab it at a red hot price and meet the men of Elite Ops. And please join me on July 29th for an online PERSONAL TARGET Pool Party to celebrate the release of Book 2 in the series. We’ll have lots of prizes and special guests, (including Suz herself!)

Question for the readers:

I find I’m reading more and more on my ereader these days, but sometimes there is nothing like the feel (and smell!) of holding a real book in my hands. When you read a print book, do you break/crack the spine or keep it pristine?

Kay is giving away 3 prizes today: 

3 winners….each has choice of either an ecopy of PERSONAL TARGET when it releases on July 29 or an ecopy of HARD TARGET right now.

Check out my Rafflecopter, a Rafflecopter giveaway

too for this awesome Pride and Prejudice Infinity Scarf!

4th of July Booty winners!!

1BanditBooty We have TWO winners today for the Booty from Addison Fox’s post on July 4th.

The winner of a signed copy of THE MANHATTAN ENCOUNTER is … LAURIE G!

The winner of all 4 books in The House of Steel Series is … DI R!

CONGRATULATIONS, LADIES!!

If you’ll send me your contact information to suzanne AT suzanneferrell DOT com I’ll be sure Addison gets those prizes to you ASAP!

Addison Fox

Addison_Fox2_Color_High_Res-3001

Welcome to the Lair on this our American birthday. For a wonderful treat I’ve invited my dear friend, contemporary and romantic suspense author, Addison Fox to stop by and tell us all about the fourth book in her House of Steele series: THE MANHATTAN ENCOUNTER. Take it away Addison!

My thanks to Suz and the Romance Bandits for inviting me back to the Lair! And for those of you here in the US, wishing you a very happy Independence Day! (Am I the only one picturing very tight, very cute red, white and blue trunks on the Cabana Boys?!?!?)

For the last year I’ve been hard at work on a fun, sexy romantic suspense quartet for the Harlequin Romantic Suspense line called the House of Steele. And in thinking about today’s blog post I realized the subject of independence was a fortuitous fit as that description matches my hero, Liam Steele, to a “T.”

The four Steele siblings run a high-end security firm. The fourth book – THE MANHATTAN ENCOUNTER – features the most illusive Steele sibling, Liam. I had an absolute blast writing this book and I think what I enjoyed most was how the book evolved between what was in my mind and what ended up coming out on the page.

I expected to write a book about a suave, sexy, James Bond-esque character romancing his total opposite: our shy, reserved, scientist heroine, Dr. Isabella Magnini. What ended up coming out instead was a suave, sexy, James Bond-esque character who had to deal with two nosy sisters, a nosy sister-in-law and a woman who was more than his match in every way. THE MANHATTAN ENCOUNTER ended being a family book and it was great fun to see how Liam not only fell in love with Isabella, but how he had to find a way to get closer with his family and re-engage as part of their family unit as well.The Manhattan Encounter_Cover

I suppose in a lot of ways, that’s life. The things we often expect to happen don’t, but what takes their place is exactly what’s meant to happen. Life has a very funny way of unfolding in its own time and in its own way.

I pulled a quick passage to share…since it’s the 4th of July I thought I’d shoot off a few sparks! <g> As quick set up to this scene, Isabella’s learned some disturbing news about the individuals who are after her and her research (the reason why Liam’s protecting her). She’s done the proverbial “I can take care of myself” dance and he’s forced her to own up to it.

Something dark and raw churned under her fury, erupting from her in a wash of flame.

“You know nothing about my life. About the humiliation of what I’ve lived with. About the betrayal of not one parent, but two.”

She dashed away the hot tears that fell freely down her face, clogging her throat in a tight fist, determined to get out the rest of it. “And you sure as hell don’t know what it’s like to live like a freak. Someone whose intelligence and drive and innate sense of freaking order scares the hell out of everyone around her.”

18468034“Isabella—” he reached out but she flung off his hand, stepping back from the sheer weight of the pain that threatened to drag her to her knees.

“You can’t know what it’s like. You have a family who loves you even though you keep them at arm’s length for some puzzling reason known only to you. You have a reputation that’s sterling. You even have an endless parade of women content to share their time and attention. I have nothing.” He reached for her once more, but she flung him off. “Nothing!”

And then he had his hands on her and he was dragging her close and she was trying to breathe through the tears and the need and the most desperate desire to connect with someone.

No, she amended as his mouth crashed on hers with the force of a hurricane. She had the desperate desire to connect with him.

With Liam.

Hot, wild need sparked under her skin everywhere he touched. His hands were on her shoulders, on her lower back, roaming over her stomach before reaching up to cup her breasts.

She should have been shocked or felt some sort of embarrassment that she’d been wearing the same clothes for nearly twenty-four hours or that her stomach wasn’t flat enough or that her slacks hadn’t been ironed but none of it seemed to matter to the man who had her in his arms and demanded she give him everything she had and then some.

And oh boy, did she own up to the task.17738200

Her hands matched his for fervor, the hard lines of his shoulders a sensuous feast for her fingertips. She explored his body, even as their mouths never broke contact and as he walked her backwards toward the wall. She willingly let him lead, ready to follow him anywhere.

His tongue thrust into her mouth, a carnal feast that mimicked a joining of their bodies and she sucked hard before biting his lip.

Isabella felt his fingers lock with hers and then he had her hands up on either side of her head, holding her steady as he plundered her and still, she gave it all back to him, every move countered with one of her own.

The temptress she never knew lived inside of her skin came to life under his tutelage and, if the low moans echoing from the back of his throat were any indication, was having a grand time teaching Liam Steele a thing or two about desire.

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I had so much fun bringing this couple together and I so appreciate you spending some time with me today! And as an extra special treat, two commenters will win today! One will win a copy of THE MANHATTAN ENCOUNTER and one will win all 4 books in the House of Steele quartet – THE PARIS ASSIGNMENT, THE LONDON DECEPTION, THE ROME AFFAIR and THE MANHATTAN ENCOUNTER.

My thanks – as always – to the Banditas for hosting me and for the very warm welcome to the blog!

XO,

Addison (http://www.addisonfox.com/)

(Don’t forget, if you want to download the ebook copy of any of these books, click on the picture.)

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