Monday, August 31, 2015

August 2015 Giveaway - Last Day to Enter

Last day to enter the August giveaway to win a Holton Series Gift Bag which will include a tote bag, a copy of all four books, and a bookmark.

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Galapagos Islands

I visited the Galapagos Islands in 2010.  Yes, the tortoises were really that big.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Dating Tips from Dad by Amity Jones #DTFDTour

A look at dating advice learned by a daughter from her father.

Publication Date: June 29, 2015
Genre: Non-Fiction/Relationships

Growing up with my father had helped me to learn valuable ways of what to do and not to do regarding dating. I am so grateful he took the time with me to make sure I would have the best type of person in my life. This book is designed to help parents talk to their kids about dating. In addition, singles that have struggled and for those back into the dating world after being out of it for a long time. In this book you will find fast ways of how to meet that guy or girl; beginning of dating; who makes the first move; great conversation starters; and when to move on. As a bonus I have some tips I have learned along the way and have found helpful for me as well as my friends I have shared them with.

Amity Jones grew up with her father from age 8 and on. Learning the simple steps of dating, among other things, were very helpful in finding the most amazing men in her life. After she did a personal survey of her friends the last 10 years and found that they didn't really learn "how-to-date" other than from trial and error, from their dysfunctional parents, and/or their peers that didn't know what they were doing. It led her to write this book to help others learn her dating tips from dad. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Excerpt - Dead in a Park: Leah Norwood Mystery #2

When I stepped out of the front door of Scents and Sensibility, a dark blue SUV pulled up to the curb and Griggs stepped out.
“Are you leaving?” he asked me as he shut the door.
“Going to lunch,” I said pointing over my shoulder.
He looked behind me at Nora’s Bakery and then smiled.  My stomach churned.  I wasn’t sure if it was the smile or hunger.  Although I wanted it to be hunger, I’m pretty sure it was the smile.
“May I join you?”
“What?” I asked nervously.
“Come on,” he said taking my arm and leading me next door.
It wasn’t until we were standing at the counter that I came out of my stupor.  I glanced at him.  He was dressed casually in jeans, a button-down shirt, and a light jacket.  Neither his gun nor badge were anywhere in sight, but I was sure he had both.  He looked relaxed and comfortable.
“You’re not working?” I asked him.
He shook his head.  “Day off.”
When I looked surprised, he laughed softly.  “I do take one now and then.”
“I know.  It’s just…”
“Hi Leah.”  I turned back to the counter and gave Jake Turner a brief smile.  Jake is a college student who works part-time at Nora’s.  He is used to me coming over to get a bite to eat.  He returned my smile.  “What can I get for you?”
I ordered the lunch special and a glass of tea.  Nora’s serves breakfast and lunch but has a limited menu.  Their main business is pastries and cakes.  Each weekday, they have a lunch special, usually some combination of a sandwich, soup, and salad. 
“And a strawberry scone?” Jake asked.  He knows me really well, and Nora’s strawberry scones were the best I’ve ever tasted.  I get them quite often.  I nodded quickly and reached into my pocket for some cash.
Griggs stepped a little in front of me and said, “I’ll get it.  Why don’t you choose a table?”
I started to protest and then shrugged.  If he wanted to pay for my lunch, I wasn’t going to argue.  I had originally planned to pick up my food and leave, but Griggs obviously wanted to talk.  The store was mostly empty.  Only one table was currently occupied.  I chose a seat in the corner near the back.  It was out of the way so we had some privacy. 
Griggs joined me a few minutes later with my meal and drink.  He had a cup of coffee and a strawberry scone for himself.  I guess he had already eaten lunch.
After we were both settled, he asked, “How are you?”
“Fine.”  I swallowed a bite of my sandwich.  “No one tried to break in last night.  With Leon in jail, Myra is planning to return to her house tonight.  You think that’s okay?”
“Should be.  We can hold him for a few days.  Eventually, a judge will set bail, but until then, she should be safe.” 
Griggs broke off a corner of the scone and popped it into his month.  I watched him a minute wondering what he wanted.  He was acting differently, causal, friendly.  It was bugging the hell out of me.
“So what did you want to talk about?” I finally asked him.
“Nothing in particular.”  He paused and looked around.  “I thought Tuesdays were your day off.”
“Normally.  But Emma is on vacation so I came in to cover the lunch breaks.  Kara and Myra could have probably handled it alone, but I don’t like there to be only one person in the store so I came in for a couple of hours.”
“But you’re off the rest of the day?”  When I nodded, he asked, “What are your plans for the rest of the afternoon?”
I leaned forward and lowered my voice to a whisper, “I’m planning to follow someone.  Dig up some dirt.”
His face changed immediately.  I had known it would.  Griggs is a police officer through and through.  If he thought I knew someone was doing something illegal, he would expect me to report it.  I didn’t say a word while I watched the thoughts flick briefly across his face before his features settled into a blank stare.  I had followed Trent back in December when I was still trying to determine if he had been involved in Isabel’s death.  Griggs had yelled at me.  Well, maybe he didn’t yell – just told me I was interfering with the investigation.  I had thought he trusted me now not to cause problems, but I wasn’t sure.
If I hadn’t been watching, I wouldn’t have seen the humor dancing in his eyes.  When he spoke, his voice was stern and unyielding, “Are you interfering in a police investigation, Ms. Norwood?’
“Would I do that?” I asked innocently.
“Hell, yeah,” he said with a laugh.  “But I don’t think you would have told me about it.  So, who is it?”
I huffed out a breath, but couldn’t deny his accusation.  I shook my head and told him about Aaron.  Twenty minutes later, I was in the front seat of his SUV heading to the Weston’s house.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Channel Islands

In 2009, my sister and I went to the Channel Islands off the California coast. They were beautiful.

Friday, August 21, 2015

TGIFiBooks - Convince Me (Holton Series #1) is free on iBooks.

Anna is afraid of love, but Steven changes everything.

Anna West just wants to start over in a new town far away from her past. The only child of a mixed race couple, Anna learned about the ugly side of human behavior at an early age.  After watching her abusive father mistreat her mother, Anna knows that love is not for her.

Steven Carson has always known what he wanted, and from the moment he saw her, he wanted Anna.  Steven is ready for love.  He is ready to settle down, start a family, and he knows Anna is the one for him.  Now all he has to do is convince her.

Come visit Holton, Texas to see if Steven can convince Anna to take a chance on love. Convince Me is the first book in the Holton Series but may be read as a standalone novel.

Available now:

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Dazzled by Maxine Nunes

During a brutal L.A. heatwave, four people are murdered in the Hollywood Hills and Nikki Easton's best friend Darla Ward has disappeared. The police think she might be one of the victims.

In her relentless search for the truth, Nikki discovers the hidden side of her friend's life, laying bare secrets buried before Darla was born, and uncovering widening layers of corruption that reach far beyond Hollywood to the highest levels of government.

What’s real? Darla used to ask me. How do you know what’s real? I never understood the question. But then I didn’t have platinum hair and cheekbones that could cut glass, and no one ever offered to buy me a Rolls if I spent one night naked in his bed. Darla was a brilliant neon sign flashing pure escape. You almost didn’t notice that those lovely green eyes didn’t blaze like the rest of her. She was both main attraction and sad observer at the carnival. Something had damaged her at a very young age. We never talked much about it, but we recognized this in each other from the start. Isn’t that what friendship is?
The week she disappeared was as extreme as she was. Triple-digit heat in late August and wavy layers of smog suffocating the city. By ten in the morning, it was brutal everywhere, and on the sidewalks in front of the homeless shelter, with the sun bouncing off the film crew trailers and the odor of unwashed bodies and general decay, it was a very special episode of hell. Beneath an archway, a tall man with a filthy blanket draped over his head rolled his eyes heavenward like a biblical prophet. Or a Star Trek castaway waiting to be beamed up.
In one of those trailers, where air conditioning brought the temperature down to the high nineties, I was being stuffed into a fitted leather jacket two sizes too small. Perspiration had already ruined my makeup and the dark circles under my eyes were starting to show through.
Heat keeping you up, hon? the makeup girl had asked. I’d nodded. Half the truth.

Purchase Links:
Special introductory price for the paperback is $6.37 (will be $12.99). And the Kindle edition is just $3.99.

Maxine Nunes is a New Yorker who's spent most of her life in Los Angeles. She has written and produced for television, and currently writes for several publications including the Los Angeles Times. Her satiric parody of a White House scandal won the Pen USA West International Imitation Hemingway Competition.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Love Easy & Love Hard by Roe Valentine

Love Easy and Love Hard banner

Love EasyLove Easy
by Roe Valentine
Genre: Roaring Twenties Historical American Romance
Age category: Adult
Release Date: February 22, 2014

News reporting is the main joy in Norma Hill's life. She is hell-bent on being more than a weather reporter, but new tyrant boss, Henry Chapel, doesn't agree. While she is following a news lead, Henry saves her from a handsy heir. His words warn her of danger, but his actions stir deeper emotions. Despite his gruff words, can she find the love forever absent from her life?

Pompous and determined, Henry Chapel revives sagging rags and brings them to their former glory. When Lawson Publishing begs Henry to take over the Chicago Daily News, he is more than happy to comply; after all, it had been his favorite newspaper as a child. What he didn't anticipate was a fiery sass-mouthed weather reporter to contend with. He also didn't anticipate finding what he'd been looking for his whole life in the press room.
Book Links:

Heat Index: Spicy
Note: Love Easy contains explicit scenes. Intended for adults.

A loud crash startled him from his nostalgic reverie. The hefty door to his office swung with the full force of a motorcar barreling down Michigan Avenue, one with an ossified driver behind the wheel, no doubt. The metal knob crashed into the plaster, leaving behind a round imprint.
What the hell?
Behind the ruckus was a tiny brunette standing in the doorway with defiance in her eyes. The little dame slammed the door shut and stood in front of his desk with her tiny palms planted firmly on her hips—her sweet tiny hips.
“I know you said things will change around here, but I refuse to be a slave to you, Mr. Chapel! I am a professional reporter, and I will not be bullied by the likes of you.”
Her face was beet red, masking her beauty. Exotic amber eyes twitched, and her loose raven curls swayed around her face with every head movement.
He remained near the window, compressing his initial need to blow his top. His blood boiled with her blatant reproach. He’d never seen any female employee react that way. Mostly, he’d seen female employees pout and shed tears. This female did neither, and it stimulated him in a way he didn’t expect.
He narrowed his eyes. Sure, he remembered her. If he wasn’t mistaken, she’d stood with her arms crossed and a sneer on her lips during his introduction speech. He studied her lips, her very kissable lips. His mind rattled with aversion and intrigue. He should’ve known then she’d be trouble.
Moments passed, and he couldn’t figure out why he didn’t fire her on the spot for insubordination. After all, he would’ve done it at any other newspaper he managed. But she was just so small and…breathtaking. Perhaps that had something to do with his softened heart.
He surveyed her again. Drab clothes and Victorian hair style. She wasn’t the stylish Sheba he’d been acquainted with. No eye kohl or painted red mouth. She was natural. But the fire in her eyes gave her face an unnatural semblance. 
It was his turn to say something when the space between them grew thick and tense as the seconds passed. If only he could stop staring at her mouth, especially when she drew in her bottom lip for a quick chew.

Love HardLove Hard
by Roe Valentine
Genre: Roaring Twenties Historical American Romance
Age category: Adult
Release Date: July 1, 2015

Ingrid Crawford isn’t the careless flapper everyone thinks she is. In fact, she’s carrying around a heavy load, thanks to her loose-fisted father who’s gambled the family fortune away. While moonlighting at the Tease, she meets a man who might get her out of her financial troubles for good.

Jovanis Koulis is a Greek immigrant who works as a courier, but he strives for much more. While visiting a burlesque joint, he is hit by Cupid’s arrow in the worst way when he lays eyes on the Veiled Vixen. Though he doesn’t tell the fair lady who he really is, he lets her believe what she wants…until he meets her face-to-face days later and neither are who they thought they were.

Will they be able to live up to each other’s expectations without finding themselves in hot water first?
Book Links:

Heat Index: Spicy
Note: Love Hard contains explicit scenes. Intended for adults.
Note: Love Hard is a standalone novel, but best when read after LOVE EASY

“And you lied to me, Vixen.” They stared, chests rising and falling with hard breaths. He didn’t care for her name calling. The heat of a hundred fires lashed his insides, eased up to his face until he had to wipe his sweating brow.
“You said you were a businessman.” Her full pink lips remained thin somehow. Her body remained tense, shaking somewhat.
“No, I didn’t. You said that.”
“And you didn’t disagree.” She placed both hands on her hips. He followed the movement, taking in the curves of her suited body and remembered how luscious she was without clothes on. A twitch in his crotch jerked his eyes back to her blushing cheeks.
He smirked. “Well, I was in the middle of something.”
Her angel face reddened, proving to him how angry she was. In fact, the steam of her anger misted into the air between them. “You’re just a con!”
“If I’m a con, what are you?” Her eyes widened. He’d hit a nerve. But he had to continue. She wasn’t going to get off so easy. “Does your employer know you dance at the Tease? Do they know you strip for money?”
He was being cruel, and he should stop. Or he should take her and kiss her like she needed to be kissed. Only his mouth would shut her up—he’d proved that the night before. Though, she might not be screaming his name there.
“How dare you!” Her large eyes glossed over.
Just as he was going to say something, apologize for being a brute, the elevator doors opened. Both sets of eyes turned to the empty vessel waiting for passengers to enter. One foot in and she grabbed him by the bicep. “We aren’t done.” Her gaze went to his mouth, lingered there in that split second that could have been a lifetime. To test her intention, he licked his bottom lip slowly. Sure enough, her stare moved with the motion, and her lips parted in time to release a small whimper.
Something overcame him. The same something that overcame him last night to even be so bold with a woman. He pulled her into the elevator with him, pressing her back against the elevator wall just as the doors closed.

RoeAbout the Author:
Roe Valentine was born into the right family. Not only does the name Valentine suit her, but her grandmother, unknowingly, introduced the young Ms. Valentine to her first romance novel. She hasn’t read anything else since. She calls herself a romantic at heart and believes that love conquerors all.

The San Antonio native, who now lives in Houston, attempted to write her first contemporary romance novel when she was nineteen years old. That attempt didn’t take, but her story has a happy ending. She kept pursuing the dream until she landed her first publishing contract in 2013.

When not busy writing or reading love stories, Roe can often be found in a yoga class or chatting with friends at her favorite coffee shop. Enjoying margaritas with some girl-talk isn’t unusual for her either. For a night in, she watches reruns of her favorite TV shows and, of course, romantic comedies on her Roku, usually with a glass of wine.

She writes spicy Contemporary, Historical, and Erotic romance novels.

Roe Valentine also LOVES talking to readers. You can contact her in the following ways:
- Website
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Goodreads
- Email:

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Norway Pictures

Three years ago, a friend and I were lucky enough to travel to Norway. The people were incredibly nice and the scenery absolutely beautiful.

They had these gorgeous Stave Churches:

And stunning waterfalls:

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Miles Apart by Rhonda L. James - $10 Amazon Gift Card

banner Miles Apart

Miles ApartMiles Apart (The Not So Bad Boys of Rock #2)
By Rhonda L. James
Genre: Romance
Age category: New Adult
Release Date: May 31, 2015

From the author of Across the Miles, comes the sequel to the love story of Sebastian and Brooke. Go back to the days after Brooke left for London, and find out what happened to place Sebastian in that hotel room with nothing but memories and a bottle of whiskey.

What happens to America's favorite rock star when his picture perfect life falls apart? Again…

Sebastian and Brooke had a fairy tale romance, until one choice tore them apart. Brooke's decision to move away and run Max Wolf's struggling restaurant, Lardon's, stands in the way of Sebastian's plan to propose on the night of his birthday. They have a fight and he takes off, leaving her to board a plane to London without saying goodbye. While there, she meets Reid, a handsome chef who just happens to live in the same building she now calls home. Their newfound friendship, and Reid's attraction to her, only adds to the strain on her already fragile relationship with Sebastian.

Then, one out of control night changes everything as they know it, and their relationship is put to the test. Now, do they fight for what they love? Or choose to walk away? Will facing your demons destroy you? Or make you stronger? Surely, a love that was meant to be can face any obstacle.

A force too strong to ignore. A need so deep it aches. Undying love.

A heart may be broken, but it keeps on beating. And never gives up.

Brooke POV Excerpt:
He turned around, and fire blazed in his eyes when he saw me. He was upon me in two quick steps, wrapping me in the warmth of his strong arms, erasing any doubt I’d had about this reunion. Our lips found each other, tender flesh pressing firmly together, both of us fighting for control of the kiss. Four weeks had passed since I’d had his lips on mine. Four long weeks. Thirty days of absolute heartbreak. Thirty days of fear and regret. Thirty days of longing for him, needing his touch. One kiss was all it had taken to erase all of it. One swipe of his tongue made me forget the pain. One brush of metal against my quivering lip was all it had taken to remind me of what it was that I had walked away from, and what I never wanted to lose again.
I reached behind him, pulling him tighter against my body, feeling all of him, yet still needing more. The intensity of the kiss was unlike any I had ever known. It was out of control and yet it centered me. Our tongues swirled together like a finely woven fabric, each turn and stroke relying on the other. I was mildly aware that I was breathing, yet somehow breathing felt unnecessary. In that kiss I felt as if he was giving me all of him, yet I still craved more.
“I can’t believe you’re here,” he said, pulling away breathlessly, lips still mere inches from mine. The electric charge I felt coming off him was exhilarating, and I couldn’t stop touching him.
“I wanted to surprise you.” I brushed my thumb over his piercing. “Surprise.” I whispered, pulling his lip between my thumb and forefinger. I brought my mouth to his for one more round before I remembered that we had an audience.
“Oh, don’t mind us.” Dek laughed. “We love watching Sebastian get the girl, nothing new here.” He teased.
Miles Apart:
- Amazon
- Signed copy

First book in the series:
Across the MilesAcross the Miles (The Not So Bad Boys of Rock #1)
By Rhonda L. James
Genre: Romance
Age category: New Adult
Release Date: February 28, 2015

Sebastian Miles was twenty-three years old and living a charmed life. Loving family, beautiful girlfriend, and lead singer of the rock band, Paradox. Their debut album shot to number one on the charts, and they had just come off a worldwide tour, performing in venues filled to capacity. Then, one night, a tragedy rocked his world in a whole new way, turning him into someone he no longer recognized. Now, two years later, and on the other side of his own private hell, he learns to stop taking everything and everyone for granted. Yet, he is still alone. Then, one day he meets her, and suddenly, his darkened world is once again filled with hope.

Brooke Caldwell is a twenty-four-year-old prodigy in the culinary world. After a lifetime filled with heartache, she decides to pursue the opportunity of a lifetime by interviewing for a world famous chef in Los Angeles. While visiting the city, she is reminded how cold and calculated the world can be. Until she meets him, and he shows her a world filled with the love and support that she never knew growing up.

Two wounded souls. Two hearts that continue to beat, in spite of all the damage that has been done. What happens when their damaged hearts collide? And, could they possibly be the half that finally makes the other whole?

Across the Miles:
- Amazon
- Signed copy

Author RhondaAbout the Author:
Rhonda loves writing, and reading, books. When not working at her office job, you will find her writing, reading, or cooking. She lives in Michigan with her husband of twenty-two years, and their two grown children. She loves talking online with fellow Indie Authors, and learning tips and tricks for reaching her readers. Her guilty pastime is playing on Pinterest, and she welcomes you to follow her boards.

- Website
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Goodreads
- Amazon
- Pinterest

$10 Amazon gift card. For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Alawahea by Sara L. Daigle

Tamara Carrington always felt different. One event in high school left her wondering if maybe she really was a freak, although she’d managed to leave that experience in the past—buried deep in her psyche. With the arrival of the exchange students from the planet of Azelle to her college, Tamara’s long buried memories threaten to erupt. As Tamara’s emotions build and her friendship with the Azellians grows, so does the knowledge of secrets within her own family.

With the deterioration of her mother’s health, Tamara doesn’t know where to turn for answers or solace. What has her family been hiding? Why does she feel inexplicably drawn to the Azellians? What will happen if she unleashes her long-suppressed passion? Will she survive or even recognize herself afterwards? Wanting answers, yet being afraid of what she might find, Tamara wonders if it would be better to remain asleep.

As they turned to comply, the ambassador walking away with them, Tamara studied the newcomers surreptitiously. The three young men and one young woman all had an air of comfortable confidence quite at odds with their new status here. The young man closest to her was a redhead. His features, even in profile, were delicate and chiseled—his nose a fine, straight blade on his face as he leaned over the table in the far corner. He rested an olive-skinned, tanned arm on the table, the muscles in his forearm etched in sharp relief by the pressure he exerted on his arm. Generous lips pursed as he read the card in front of him. His broad shoulders and chest, well-defined under a white t-shirt with some type of writing on it that she could not see, tapered down to a narrow waist and slender legs encased in light blue jeans.
The second young man leaned over the table facing her. Sandy-blond hair fell over a high forehead into amber brown eyes as he read—a slight frown between them. His features were much heavier than his companion’s, with a slightly too-long nose and a jaw that was almost too strong. A good four or five inches shorter than the redhead, his dark blue t-shirt stretched across a well-muscled chest that, despite being stocky, had no spare fat on it at all. As he wrote on the card with his left hand, she observed that he was less tanned than the redhead. He nevertheless bore the same basic olive complexion. The dark-haired young man next to him nudged him and said something she couldn’t hear. The one who spoke suddenly grinned—his wide, generous mouth flashing straight white teeth. Black hair fell into his blue eyes, and he tossed his head, catching Tamara’s expression as she looked at them. He winked and returned his attention to the table in front of him.
Not wanting to get caught staring, Tamara looked away. After a few minutes, she snuck another peek at him. His face reminded her of someone’s, but she couldn’t place where she’d seen those features before. Relatively small and straight, his nose had a slight flare to the nostril. His jaw was fairly prominent, making his face look long. The generous mouth softened the hard, mascu­line features of his face. He wore a vividly colored t-shirt tucked into a pair of long safari shorts. His thighs were quite heavy and muscular. His upper body was broad and unfinished looking, a little more muscular than the redhead but not as stocky as the blond. Her eyes traveled around the table to the young woman. The same height as the blond, she bent over the table with her back to Tamara. She had wavy brown hair that was cut in an attractive, shoulder-length bob and swept behind one delicate ear as she bent over the paper. Tamara couldn’t see her features from that position, but her lithe, slender body looked athletic.
Tamara’s cautious regard swept on to the final member of the group. Standing at the head of the table, the ambassador leaned forward to answer a question posed by the woman. His expression intent on what the young woman was saying, Tamara got the opportunity to study him more closely. Taller than the other young men, the ambassador in his suit revealed less of his body structure than their jeans, t-shirts, and shorts. She had a moment of disappointment. Then, as if he noticed her attention, the ambassador looked up, caught her looking at him, and dodged around the desk to come up to her. Hastily, Tamara dropped her eyes to her desk as he approached, feeling the furious blush crawl up her face.
“You are a student here?” he asked in that musical voice.
Tamara looked up, her cheeks burning. She had a hard time meeting his eyes but forced herself to do so anyway. “Yes. Uh, my name is Tamara Carrington.”
The ambassador leaned against the desk. “Carrington? Would you be any relation to James Carrington?”
“He was, uh, my grandfather.”
“Ah, this is wonderful! We in the diplomatic corps know Ambassador Carrington well.” He paused, then continued, “Was? Is he not still alive?”
Tamara ducked her head. “He passed away a few years ago.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.” The ambassador straightened and bowed to her, placing his hand on his chest as he did so. “He was well respected on Azelle. We knew he had been ill, but we had no idea he had actually transitioned.” He rested his hands on her desk. Leaning forward, those dark eyes appeared intent on her. He gave her a charming grin that might have even melted her grandmother’s cold heart. “Well now. Do you mind if I ask what you are majoring in?” Usually feeling fairly secure in herself, she wondered why she was suddenly blushing.
Tamara swallowed hard as she tried to regain her composure—and her ability to speak. “I am, uh, in diplomatic studies. Or I will be when I declare my major this year.”
His grin widened, and he looked at her from under thick lashes. “Any specific planet you might be interested in?”
Dizziness assailed her as she struggled to remain calm. An odd pressure built behind her eyes and she lifted her hand unconsciously to rub the bridge of her nose. “Azelle is, um, interesting. I know more about it than my teacher does sometimes, mainly because my grandfather used to share stories with me. All the other planets are really great, too. I really like learning about other places. I’m not positive I want to be a diplomat like he was, but I do want to learn about other cultures and planets, and diplo studies is the best place to do that.”
The pressure vanished abruptly just as it edged into pain. “Would you be willing to come to the embassy for a welcome party for these students tonight? It would give you an opportunity to mingle with embassy members and get you prepared for a possible diplomatic career.” One side of his mouth lifted higher than the other as his voice took on an almost wheedling tone. “I can also get you access to other diplomatic embassies. I have several contacts in both the Atheran and Dorbin embassies.”
Tamara hesitated only briefly. “Sure, that would be great! I’ll come to the party tonight.”
He straightened. “Seven o’clock, in the main lobby. Bring any of your friends too who you think might be interested in diplomatic studies.”
Tamara blinked. A slight headache throbbed between her eyes. She managed to ignore it as the young woman stepped up to the desk carrying the eight cards. She smiled at Tamara. “Thank you. Here are the cards you asked us to complete.” The words flowed out of her mouth more heavily accented than the ambassador’s, although with the same musical lilt.
Tamara smiled back and collected her thoughts. “Now you need to go to the Dean of Students’ office and get your room assignments.”
The five Azellians left and the room suddenly seemed empty, as if there had been a lot more than just their bodies in the room. Ta­mara shivered, her head pounding. She flipped through the cards, reading the personal information listed there as she tried to figure out which was which. The only one she successfully identified was the woman, Mellis, since she was obviously the only female in the group. If Tamara attended the welcome party that night, she was sure she’d be introduced to the others—Greg, Justern, and Alarin—and learn who was who. Pushing aside her curiosity, Tamara focused on entering the data into the computer and tried not to wonder more about them. She’d probably get the chance to find out more, if she actually took the ambassador up on his invitation.
As soon as the five of them walked out of the office, Merran reached out to Greg on his private level so he could converse with him telepathically without the others hearing. Did you pick up that she sensed me?
I caught that she was becoming rather uncomfortable. I think you were hurting her. As a Healer, with a highly specialized sensitivity to others’ suffering, Greg often could tell things about peo­ple that everyone else missed. Is that even possible? Do humans even have psi?
Theoretically, yes, they do. We talked about it a little bit in my training. I’m surprised Healers don’t talk about this in theirs.
Healers aren’t exactly all that interested in humans … as you know … considering the challenges I faced getting permission to come here. Back to Tamara Carrington. What did you pick up?
She was open on the surface, but her deeper levels are heavily screened by a very thick shield. When I pressed on it, it resisted me with surprising force.
Is that normal?
I don’t know. I haven’t run into a human with psi before. Whether they normally have it or not, Tamara certainly has a shield, at least on the deeper levels.
Greg was silent for a moment. Shielded, huh? So, you actually think she’s psi?
Sure, why not? I think she very well could be.
Hmm. Maybe I should keep an eye on her.
Merran glanced at him. Is she giving off a Call? He had been friends with Greg long enough to know the Healer responded to things that Merran himself couldn’t sense, but that those some­times odd decisions and directions were important.
Not really. I just have a gut feeling.

Sara L Daigle has been creating stories since she first forayed into the world of writing at the age of eight. As an avid reader, growing up in a small town without much access to a library, and before the birth of the Internet, Sara devoured her mother’s extensive stack of science fiction and romance novels to keep her literary thirst quenched. Soon afterwards, she began writing her own stories and entertaining her friends by composing plays for them to act out.

A passionate interest in astronomy, anthropology, and linguistics, coupled with this early background in science fiction and romance, led Sara to merge the two fields and create a series of interlinked stories built around a fictional planet’s culture and its interaction with ours.

Sara currently lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband and three very loving but energetic dogs.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Fever by Tonya Plank - Book Giveaway

Rory’s once promising ballet career was destroyed by family tragedy and illness. She turned her life around and became a lawyer. Now at the start of her legal career, she lacks passion in her work and self-confidence in her abilities. But when she meets gorgeous, mysterious Russian ballroom dancer, Sasha, at a firm holiday party, her passions for life and dance are immediately re-kindled.

Since being torn from his Siberian family as a child, Sasha’s life ambition has been to be world ballroom champion, a path he was destined for until his former partner pulled the plug on their partnership. She went on to win the world title, leaving him, without a partner equal in ability, forever in second place. The instant he lays eyes on Rory, he recognizes the depth of her passion and talent, and falls hard for her in more ways than one.

But she also reminds him of great pain from his past. He must not only overcome his own demons but convince her to leave her demanding law career, and all that she has worked for in her adult life, to train with him full-time in order for their partnership – both on and off the dance floor – to work.  

This is part one in a continuing three-book series.

I first saw him at The Beverly Hilton. Witnessed him, is more like it. It was an early November holiday party thrown by my boyfriend’s entertainment law firm. I was secretly hoping I’d see some of the celebrities the firm represented. But no such luck. The room was filled only with boring lawyers. And, admittedly, I was one of them. I didn’t work at James’s firm, though. I’d just graduated from Hastings Law School in San Francisco and James wanted me to move down to L.A. with him. He was infatuated with L.A.
Tuxedoed waiters had just brought us bowls of chocolate mousse. I nearly inhaled mine, hoping they’d soon open the dance floor. I’d been pretty bored for much of the evening, to be honest. James and Mitchell, the partner seated with us, talked of contract clauses and made veiled references to actors they couldn’t name to outsiders. Gossip isn’t really that fun when you don’t know whom it’s about, is it? I tried to make small talk with Mitchell’s wife, Cheryl, but we had so little in common. She spent her days getting beauty treatments, tanning, and lunching at places I was embarrassed to say I’d never heard of and well knew I couldn’t afford on my small-firm starting salary.       
I’d just swallowed my last spoonful of mousse, eyes focused on my empty bowl, when the chandeliers dimmed. Oh good, something was about to happen.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” a lush male voice said over a microphone, “we have a special surprise for you tonight.” Whispers filled the room. “Before we open the dance floor, the current national ballroom champions would like to perform for you. First in the U.S. and second in the whole world, please welcome…!”
I couldn’t make out the names, partly because they were foreign-sounding and partly because James’s deep voice continued to vibrate next to me. The man loved to talk. 
The room went dark for a few seconds. A low, pulsing drumbeat sounded from afar. James’s relentless baritone was really aggravating me. I smacked him on the arm. He jumped and I could see, even in the dark, his confusion.
“Sorry, Rory,” he said with an embarrassed laugh and a shrug.
I felt bad, and gently put my fingers to my lips, without turning toward him.
The beat—from a conga drum—grew louder and closer. The spotlight shone down on a figure at the far corner of the floor. He wore form-fitting black clothing, his back toward us. He moved his hips to the pulse of the drums, which was getting heavier and faster. He walked backward, toward the center of the floor, taking these tiny steps, placing one foot behind the other, rocking several times back and forth and circling his pelvis around.
James said something in my direction, perhaps to me. But I was too mesmerized to pay attention to him. I nodded, figuring that would be answer enough for whatever he wanted.
The faster the beat went, the faster the dancer moved his hips and pelvis, and the more quickly he got to the center of the room, taking those small steps. He soon stepped and shook with such speed, his body was a blur. He looked like an upright snake. I’d never seen anyone move like that before. Then I noticed a woman doing the same, coming from the other corner. She had long, platinum hair, tied back into a long French braid. She had large eyes, lashes that practically reached her forehead, full lips, and high cheekbones. Her dress was hot fuchsia, and seemed to be made almost entirely of mesh, save for two patches of fabric covering her nipples, and a bikini bottom. Wow, she had guts. That looked like a costume malfunction waiting to happen. And yet she was dancing with the same confidence as he, snaking toward him at the speed of light. Soon, they turned to each other and took long steps to meet in the middle of the floor, hips gyrating even more.
He was the most intriguingly beautiful man I’d ever seen. He appeared to be in his mid-twenties, had jet black hair, slicked back, slightly longish and ending about an inch below the nape of his neck, large dark blue eyes, a well-defined nose, sharp cheekbones and a strong jaw. His spandex shirt had a wide, plunging V-neck, revealing very well-defined pecs. His skin was a glowing light bronze. He reached out and grabbed her, whisking her around, and, bending his knees, seated her on his lap. Now their hips rolled in unison. Instinctively, I sat up in my seat and straightened my back, elongating my spine and holding my arms out into the most elegant port de bras I could do, sure no one was watching me. When I did so I realized how restrictive my suit was. I’d danced ballet all throughout my childhood and teen years and once had dreams of becoming a pro. But wow, this looked so much more fun. Not to mention sexy. I squirmed in my seat. 
As I fixed on those dark, soulful eyes, it seemed like he peered right back at me, into me, his piercing gaze sending an electric current up my spine. But I knew very well he couldn’t see me. I’d known, very briefly, what it was like to be on a stage with lights shining down on you and how you’re unable to see anything in the audience. I knew this was what gave a dancer charisma, or that nearly impossible-to-attain thing called presence, that allowed the dancer to connect with the audience in a way that made it seem like he or she was dancing just for you. But in a nanosecond his intense expression lightened into a smile, revealing dimples that made him ooze with boyish charm.
He suddenly straightened and gave his partner a swift little bop to her butt with his pelvis. This was apparently her cue to move, as she took off in a long-stepped, fast-footed snaky walk away from him. He followed behind her, his hip and pelvic movements so much fuller and sexier than hers. I felt like I was going to fall out of my chair, watching him walk like that. He caught up with her and grabbed her from behind. He then beautifully shadowed her with his body by wrapping one arm around her waist and, with the other, grasping her hand and holding it high above her head. Together they bent over at the waist, brushing their arms over and out, then lifted themselves up and arched back—way back—then down again, the whole time moving their hips and feet in these tiny circles, around and around.  
The drums stopped and the music changed to Spanish guitars playing slower, dramatic, gypsy-sounding music that soon sped up and began to take on a more playful bullfighter flair. My dancer slowly raised a large, red cape off the floor and held it high above his head. He arched his back and lifted his chest, making the shirt fall open even farther, revealing more of those bronzed pecs, along with major eight-pack abs. I could also spot the outlines of some kind of tattoo, which looked like it snaked all the way around his back, wrapping slightly around each shoulder.
Using only the strength of his right arm, he whirled that cape high above his head in a full figure-eight motion. It was like a flash of fire in the black sky. The material looked heavy and I thought he must be damn strong to be able to move it so fully and precisely like that with only one arm.  
As the music slowed, so did his arm. The cape came down and he tossed it aside.
Olé!” shouted one of the guitarists. The music sped up, and the dancer took a deep breath, lifted his chest, eyed his partner, and, with a vigorous snap of his fingers, went dashing toward her. When he met her, he whisked her into the air, her legs flying up and around him, before lowering her into a deep, dramatic dip. He was gentle, yet strong and precise. So trustworthy. After releasing her, he backed away, then ran back to her and did a huge turning jump high in the air, landing in a deep lunge, hand on his knee, chest up and out, a smug smile on his face. What an enormous, brilliant tour jeté! My favorite male athletic feat from ballet. What a truly endearing bravura show-off this guy was! 
Just then, the music changed into a soft, slow violin piece. Very romantic, and actually quite ballet-like. I loved it. I wanted so badly to stand up and dance with him, my legs ached. He slowly bent down and held out his hand. She took it and he lifted her, not to her feet but all the way up to his waist, as she spread her legs into a forward split. He made her look weightless, like she was walking on air. 
As soon as he set her down, she stood on one leg, lifting the other high in back of her, while he lunged onto one knee like he was proposing. I could do that arabesque penchée; I loved those in ballet. One thing I’d always had in class was hyper-flexibility. My years of dance training—my life before college and law school—flooded my thoughts. The dream I’d had to give up after Daddy died and I got sick. I felt my face get hot. The dancer rose to his feet and spun his partner around him, whipping her into multiple turns. Another step I could do in my sleep, and fast, very fast. I’d learned how to hold my head back and stabilize my equilibrium so I could spin faster, without spotting, like an ice skater. I found myself bouncing in my seat, I wanted so badly to get up and dance with him.

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About the Author
After working for many years as a criminal appeals attorney in New York, Tonya Plank now lives and writes in Southern California. A former amateur ballroom dancer, she wrote the dance blog, Swan Lake Samba Girl. Her first novel, Swallow, won several awards, including gold medals in the Independent Publisher and the Living Now Book Awards, and was a finalist in ForeWord’s Book of the Year and the National Indie Excellence Awards.

When not writing, she enjoys taking road trips with her rescue dog, Sofia, devouring Mexican food and Cadillac margaritas, sweating to dance-based workouts, cuddling up with her cats and a good book, and seeing dance performances of any kind. Her favorite places in the world are Lincoln Center in New York City, the Pacific Coast Highway from Laguna Beach to San Francisco, and the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah.

To connect with her, please find her at where she tries to blog regularly.

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Monday Excerpt - Notice Me (Holton Series #2)

Upstairs, she took Katie to her room.  The five year old was tired but fighting sleep, and she begged for a story.  There was little Victoria could refuse Julie’s daughter.  She loved all of the Riley children but did admit to herself that Katie was her favorite.  Named after her, Katherine Victoria was sweet, affectionate, and mischievous.  Julie had put Michael to bed and stopped by Katie’s room.  She smiled when she saw Victoria with Katie’s favorite storybook in her hand.
"Do you want me to read to her?" she asked from the doorway.
"No.  I want to."
Julie nodded and headed back downstairs.  Victoria picked up the book and began reading.  It wasn’t long before Katie drifted off to sleep.  Victoria carefully rose and covered her with the bedspread.  She stood a moment by the bed fighting the longing for a child of her own.  When she turned and headed for the door, she saw Phyllis leaning against it.
"Is she asleep?"
Victoria nodded and walked over to Phyllis.  She linked her arm with the woman she considered a second mother.  As a child, Victoria had spent as many hours in the Moore home as she had in her own, and she had a great deal of love and respect for this woman.  Victoria closed the door softly behind her and headed for the stairs.  Phyllis stopped her before she reached them.
"Tori, you should consider having children of your own."
Victoria closed her eyes momentarily against the pain her remark caused.  Twice in a matter of days, someone had made that suggestion, and Victoria fought the longing each time.  She smiled ironically.  "I think it is too late for me to marry, and I can’t imagine raising a child on my own."
She looked at the older woman and saw that Phyllis was staring at her, searching for something.
"You’ve given up," Phyllis said softly.
Fear raced through Victoria.  Surely, Phyllis didn’t know.  She quickly gathered herself together.  "What do you mean?"
"You’ve given up on Andrew, haven’t you?"
Victoria leaned back against the wall and sighed.  "How did you know?"
"Oh, Tori.  I've known you since you were five years old.  I still remember the look on your face at your sixteenth birthday party when Andrew handed you his gift.  It was like a light had suddenly been turned on inside you.  You had always burned bright, but that day a fire ignited in you.  It worried me at first, but I should've known better.  You were incredibly sensible underneath all that flamboyant exterior even then.  You knew you were too young at the time, and you were willing to wait.  Only we both waited too long, didn’t we?  I wasn’t prepared for Carolyn either."
Victoria watched Phyllis as she turned and looked down the stairway.  For some reason, it helped to know that she had been watching out for her.  She listened as Phyllis went on.
"I wish I could say I had loved her.  Carolyn was very nice and a good daughter-in-law.  She gave me two beautiful grandchildren, but I couldn’t love her.  You see, I wanted you for Andrew."  She smiled a little sadly at Victoria who leaned over and hugged her.  "Don’t give up on him, Tori.  He's coming around.  I can see it."
"I don’t know, Phyllis.  I don’t think I'm making any progress, and it hurts so much."
"I know it does, dear.  I wish I could say that you'll never hurt again, but we both know that's not true.  All I can say is that I think you are just what he needs.  I believe someday he'll realize that."