Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Cover Reveal: Til Life Do Us Part. Thrilling New Paranormal Romance from Carmen Stefanescu

Jessica, thank you so much for having me as your guest today.  You know my interest in anything odd--paranormal, myths,  legends--all that is out of the normal boundaries.  Reincarnation and chat with ghosts can be included, too. I’m thrilled to be here, and excited to share the cover for my incoming release!




Till Life Do Us Part
By Carmen Stefanescu
Publisher: Solstice Publishing
Genre:  Paranormal Romance
Magic, Reincarnation, Mystery, Suspense
Release date: 9th June 2016

Barbara Heyer can hear voices of dead people. They whisper of their deaths, seek comfort for those left behind, and occasionally even warn her about future events. But when Barbara’s brother, Colin, is accused of murder, it will take more than her gift to prove his innocence.

Becoming smitten with the handsome investigator, Detective Patrick Fischer, is a serious complication given his assignment to her brother’s case. Barbara senses there is something far deeper—and perhaps much older—than the surface attraction between them. Could that be why she’s visited by a mysterious woman named Emma in her dreams? Could past life regression tie all the seemingly unconnected events together?

Barbara and Patrick must overcome heartache to find the truth to save Colin, and perhaps themselves.

Carmen Stefanescu resides in Romania, the native country of the infamous vampire Count Dracula, but where, for about 50 years of communist dictatorship, just speaking about God, faith, reincarnation or paranormal phenomena could have led someone to great trouble - the psychiatric hospital if not to prison.

Teacher of English and German in her native country and mother of two daughters, Carmen Stefanescu survived the grim years of oppression, by escaping in a parallel world that of the books. 

She has dreamed all her life to become a writer, but many of the things she wrote during those years remained just drawer projects. The fall of the Ceausescu’s regime in 1989 and the opening of the country to the world meant a new beginning for her. She started publishing. Several of her poems were successfully published in a collection of Contemporary English Poems, Muse Whispers vol.1 and Muse Whispers vol.2 by Midnight Edition Publication, in 2001 and 2002.

Her first novel, Shadows of the Past, was released in 2012 by Wild Child Publishing, USA.

Carmen joined the volunteer staff at Marketing For Romance Writers Author blog and is the coordinator of #Thursday13 posts.


You can stalk the author here:

Monday, May 23, 2016

Cover Reveal: Balancing Act, New LGBT Romance from K. Vale


Balancing Act
Shooting Stars Book 4
By K. Vale
Release: June 27, 2016
Publisher: Liquid Silver Books

Greg Dwyer and Kyrie Li are living the glorious couple life in New York City. Or are they? When struggling actor Kyrie lands a modeling job, he’s ecstatic to have extra cash to spend on his best-friend-turned-boyfriend.

Of course, Greg is suspicious Anders Berglund, the gorgeous and androgynous Swedish cover model the designers love to pair with Kyrie, is after his man. And maybe Kyrie encourages a growing closeness with the guy?

Greg is probably to blame if Kyrie is drawn to the openly gay and seriously beautiful Andy. With Andy, Kyrie can be himself, as loud and proud as he’s always been. But Greg’s sexuality stays firmly locked in the closest except when he’s with Kyrie’s supportive family or alone with the man he loves.

To make matters worse, Greg’s out-of-touch mom meets with financial ruin and moves in with the couple, forcing him into the closet in his own home. 

Can Greg find a way to stand up to Mommy Dearest and win back a love he fought so hard to reach? He discovers the road to pride begins at home and with accepting oneself first. Otherwise, it’s just a dead-end street.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Kyrie’s amazing day was about to get a cherry on top. He opened the apartment door to the rattle of keys on the other side.

Greg’s mouth dropped open, eyes widening comically, but he spared a nervous glance for the empty hallway behind him before stepping swiftly over the threshold.

He shut the door and locked it with a snap of the deadbolt.

“Is it my birthday already?” Easing his work computer to the floor, Greg allowed the suit jacket draped over one arm to follow unceremoniously. As he loosened his tie, yanking the knot from side to side, his mahogany gaze did a similar zigzag down Kyrie’s exposed body.

“This, my love, is just one of the outfits I was given today when I went for my Spectrum Spectacular callback.”

Greg took in the full extent of Kyrie’s ensemble, what little there was of it, and his auburn brows lowered. Kyrie spun around to give him the complete picture, peeking back over his shoulder with a salacious lick of the lips. The white micro trunks and matching fishnet tank were his favorite parts of the ample cache he’d received. He’d been beyond excited for Greg to get home and see them.

“Why would they...? You got the job?” A grin broke across Greg’s face, but the disapproval was still evident as he continued to eye Kyrie’s appearance.

“I got the job! I got the job!” He grabbed Greg’s hands and pumped them up and down. “I’m modeling with Anders Berglund! Anders. Berglund! The Swedish supermodel! We’re partners for the No Black, No White shoot!” 

He clasped his hands together while the rest of his body vibrated with pent-up energy. Anders Berglund was gargantuan, his gorgeous face on nearly every magazine cover in the grocery store checkout aisle. Kyrie’s fairy godmother had waved a magic wand over him, and Greg just stood there with his forehead puckered.
“Well?”

Greg slid his arms around Kyrie, rubbing his back as if he were cold. “So…this is what you’re gonna be wearing?”

“Maybe. Who knows? They gave us a few outfits to try on for size.”

“This is not an outfit.” Greg rubbed the holey fabric between his fingers.

Kyrie canted his head, eyebrows lifting as he delivered his best You’re kidding, right? stare. “This is only a sample. There will be all kinds of clothes at the shoot. I’m sure they’ll pick the best of the best after we’re done.”

“Won’t posing half-naked hurt your acting career?”

Kyrie scoffed, rolling his eyes. “No! Watch how many doors this opens. Just you wait.”

“And this is for what? Gay rights or…something?”

Kyrie ramped up the baleful expression. “Have you been listening to anything I’ve said for the past month? It’s not just gay. It’s everything. A campaign to call attention to all shades of the sexual identity spectrum. We gays are pretty widely accepted these days, you might be surprised to know.”

Greg’s arms stiffened around him, and Kyrie bit down on a sigh. Yes, we gays. Including you. Or maybe bi sits better, but you’ve been sticking it to a dude for almost a year and a half now. Time to officially join the not-so-straight club.

Kyrie expelled a frustrated breath after all. “It’s a phenomenal thing to be part of, never mind the sweet paycheck I’ll be pullin’ in. Never mind that I’ll be working with Anders Fucking Berglund and how much visibility I’ll get out of it.” He squeaked, elation bubbling from him despite Greg’s muted response.

“And I thought his first name was bad,” Greg groused, even as his fingers tested the thin mesh over Kyrie’s back and traveled lower.

Kyrie freely admitted he was damned stunning in the getup. All the white clothing they’d given him popped against the brown skin he’d inherited from his mother. Conversely, Anders was the fairest lad in all the land. He had pale blond hair and porcelain skin, fractured only by startlingly dark eyebrows and a couple of highly fortuitous moles rumored to have launched his career. He’d be dressed in black and guaranteed to look amazing. Together…this was going to be fucking epic.

“I thought you’d be proud of me.” Kyrie pouted, simultaneously arching his ass into Greg’s touch like a cat begging for attention.

“Of course I’m proud of you. I just worry about…well—”

“Everything?” Kyrie reached up to stroke Greg’s cheek, loving the feel of his trimmed beard and mustache combo. It could be soft, skimming over Kyrie’s nipples while Greg flicked a tongue and lit them on fire, or it could be coarse, bordering on harsh, as Greg went savage licking Kyrie’s ass and balls. Sure, that sort of thing was usually reserved for the times Greg had a few drinks on board and abandoned his inhibitions fully. But, oh God, when it happened…

Kyrie’s dick swelled thinking about Greg’s tongue swirling over his asshole. “Want me to pour you a little whiskey to help you wind down after your hard—” he squeezed Greg’s cock through his suit pants, “—day, sexy?”

Greg grunted and rocked his hips into Kyrie’s hand. “I can always use a little tension release.” His eyes, hooded, stared at Kyrie’s lips. 

He parted them slowly and dragged his tongue tip across his top teeth. “I think I have one of those stress balls around here somewhere.”

Firm and fast, Greg hauled him flush against his chest and stole Kyrie’s breath. His fingers explored Kyrie’s ass crack—crude, demanding, bunching the satiny material between his cheeks before dragging lower to feather behind his nuts. 

“Think I found my two favorite stress balls right here.” Greg wore a wicked grin. “Trying to hide ’em on me?”

He gathered the back of Kyrie’s tiny tight boxers, taking the wedgie to another level. He gasped and lifted on his toes. His sac was trapped, kinked up on one side of the seam almost painfully tight. Greg cupped Kyrie’s slung nuts, the touch so gentle it reminded him of ice over fire. Cool, crisp sheets after a day from hell.

Kyrie loved being the seductive bottom, igniting Greg with his teasing and flirting, backing off while he simmered. Then Kyrie would stoke him higher, feeding the inferno until Greg eventually crumbled and became the domineering top. Usually they made the game last, pushing each other’s buttons in their own drawn-out version of foreplay.

The sliver of pain slicing down Kyrie’s crack paired succulently with the throbbing wood pressed against his lower belly. All signs told him they were going straight to sudden death—no warm-up, no scrimmage, just hot, fast action. Game on.

Bio
K. Vale writes erotic romance of all stripes, from hot hetero to mouthwatering manlove. Find her M/F work published under Kimber Vale. Stalk Kimber on Facebook and Twitter, check http://authorkimbervale.com for updates, new releases, and freebies, and sign up for her newsletter to receive an exclusive free story. Come for the sex. Stay for the story. 


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Riding St. George: Regency Sex Terms You Won't Find in Austen

I’m a big fan of profanity. Some people aren’t crazy about, but I fucking love it. I was one of those kids that makes parents uncomfortable; at age nine I had a vocabulary that wouldn’t have been too far out of place in the navy. It’s not that I had bad parents; my parents are great, they just had their priorities straight. Swearing was not at the top of their list of concerns, and they didn’t confuse it with lack of intelligence or disrespect. Profanity can’t be reduced to abuse or threatening language; it can also be used effectively for levity or, if you’re a writer, to inject some authenticity into your work (but we’ll get to that).


I like Stephen Fry’s take on swearing here:


It’s important to know how to swear properly. Nothing’s going to make you sound more awkward than dropping an f-bomb in an unnatural place. Likewise, all Americans should know how to say ‘twat’ properly (rhymes with cat. Trust me). Unfortunately, American profanity is relatively limited when compared to the colorful vocabulary of the British.

As much as I’d like to use names like knob jockey or twat waffle in my books (I’m not being funny, I would LOVE to), these terms of endearment* are relatively new. Swearing, however, is not. It’s nice to imagine that people of bygone eras engaged in squeaky clean cap-doffing a la Mary Poppins and didn’t feel the need to use rude language (much less engage in rude activity), but that’s just not the case.

You want proof? Let’s look at Captain Francis Grose’s 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

While many of the words in here are not what we might consider profanity** and the phrases are largely bonkers, this book is a fantastic reference for any fan of history. 135 pages of cant and “vulgar language” cover everything from terms for flattery to fornication and include sixty-one words for prostitute.***

One common issue romance writers have in particular is finding historically appropriate euphemisms related to sex. If you’re writing a Regency or Georgian romance and you’re puzzling over another way to say throbbing member, the dictionary has you covered. Let’s take a look at some period terms for naughty bits.

Penis

Arbor Vitae
Gaying Instrument
Horn Colic (“temporary priapism”)
Lobcock (“a large, relaxed penis or a dull inanimate fellow”)
Matrimonial Peace-maker
Piss-proud (“a false erection”)
Plug Tail
Prick
Roger
Pego
Silent Flute
Sugar Stick
Tackle (also a mistress)
Thomas
Tool
Whore Pipe

Vagina

Bite
Carvel's Ring (“The private parts of a woman. Ham Carvel, a jealous old doctor, being in bed with his wife, dreamed that the Devil gave him a ring, which, so long as he had it on his finger, would prevent his being made a cuckold: waking he found he had his finger the Lord knows where.”)
Cauliflower
Cock Alley (or Lane)
Commodity
Crinkum Crankum
Cunt
Dumb Glutton
Dunnock
Eve's Custom-House
Fruitful Vine
Madge
Man Trap
Money
Monosyllable
Mother of All Saints
Mother of All Souls
Mother of St. Patrick
Muff
Notch
Quim
Rum Goods (“a maidenhead, being a commodity never entered”)
Tu Quoque
Tuzzy-muzzy
Venerable Monosyllable
Ware
Water-mill

Breasts

Apple Dumplin Shop
Cat Heads
Dairy
Diddeys
Dugs
Kettledrums
Cupid's Kettledrums
Chest and Bedding (sea term)

Testicles

Nutmegs
Ballocks
Bawbels
Trinkets
Cods
Gingambobs
Thingamabobs
Tallywags
Tarrywags
Twiddle-diddles
Wiffles (“a relaxation of the scrotum”)
Whirlygigs


St. George. Raphael, 1504

Sex    

Basket Making
Beast With Two Backs (to make the, from Shakespeare)
to Blow the Grounsils ("to lie with a woman on the floor")
to Dock
Dog's Rig ("to copulate until you are tired, then turn tail to it")
a Flyer (with clothes on)
to Give a Girl a Green Gown (sex in the grass)
to Grind
Hump (at this point an unfashionable term)
to Lay Cane Upon Abel (sex between men)
to Jock
Jockum Cloy
to Keep it Up (“to prolong a debauch, a metaphor drawn from the game of shuttle cock”)
to Knock
to Mow
to Occupy
Prigging
to Relish
Riding St. George (“the woman uppermost in the amorous congress, that is, the dragon upon St. George. This is said to be the way to get a bishop.”)
to Roger
Rutting
to Screw
Shag
State (“to lie in state; to be in bed with three harlots”)
Strapping
Stroke (“to take a stroke”)
to Strum
to Swive
Tiffing
to Tup
Two Handed Put
to Wap

Arse

Blind Cheeks
Blind Cupid
Bum
Bumfiddle
Ars Musica
Cheeks
Double Jugg (a man's arse)
Pratts
Round Mouth
Wind-mill

Masturbation

To Box the Jesuit and Get Cockroaches (a sea term)
Toss Off

Condoms

Mrs. Phillip's Ware
Armor
Machines

Venereal Disease

Blue Boar (“a venereal bubo”)
Bube (see above)
Burnt
Clap
Clapham House
Covent Garden Ague
Crinkums
Drury Lane Ague
Dumb Watch
Fire Ship ("a wench with venereal disease")
Flap Dragon (clap or pox)
French disease
Frenchified (to be infected with venereal disease)
Job's Dock (“laid up in Job's Dock, after the ward for venereal patients in St. Bartholomew's hospital”)
Peppered
Pill or Peele Garlick (“someone whose skin or hair had fallen off from venereal disease”)
Pissing Pins and Needles
Poulain (French, a bubo)
Scalder
Shanker
Venus' Curse


A Harlot's Progress, detail. Hogarth
Prostitute

Petticoat Pensioner (a man, “one kept by a woman for secret services”)
One of Us
One of My Cousins
Barber's Chair
Bat
Blowen
Bunter
Buttock
Buttock and Twang
Buttock and File (a prostitute who is also a pickpocket)
Case Vrow
Cat
Cattle
Convenient (usually a mistress or concubine)
Covent Garden Nun
Covey (plural prostitutes, a covey of harlots)
Crack
Curtezan
Dirty Puzzle (a loose woman)
Drury Lane Vestal
Easy Virtue
Family of Love (plural prostitutes or a religious sect)
Fancy Man (kept by a lady for secret services)
Fen
Hedge Whore (one who works outdoors)
Impure
Laced Mutton
Left-Handed Wife
Madam (also used for bawd)
Madam Ran
Merry Arse Christian
Miss
Miss Laycock
Mob
Mab
Moll
Peculiar
Proud Ledger
Punk
Trull
Quean
Queer Mort (“a strumpet with venereal disease”)
Receiver General
Rep
Room (“she lets out her front room”)
Short-Heeled Wench (“a girl apt to fall on her back”)
Squirrel
Stallion (a man kept by lady)
Star Gazer (see hedge whore)
Strumpet
Tail
Thorough Good-Natured Wench (“one who being asked to sit, will lie down”)
Three-Penny Upright (one who works standing up)
Town (a woman of)
Trumpery
Madam Van
Unfortunate Women (as termed by other “polite” women)
Wasp (“an infected prostitute, who like a wasp carries a sting in her tail.”)
Wife in Water Colors (a mistress or concubine)
Woman of Town
Woman of Pleasure

Brothel****

Academy
Pushing School
Bordello
Buttocking Shop
Cab
Cavaulting School
Corinth (likewise Corinthians are people who frequent brothels)
Nanny House
Nugging House
Nunnery
School of Venus
Seraglio
Smuggling Ken
Snoozing Ken
Vaulting School

A few extra terms, just for fun:

Duck Fucker (“man who has care of poultry on a ship”)
Kiss Mine Arse ("An offer, as Fielding observes, very frequently made, but never, as he could learn, literally accepted.")
Queer As Dick's Hatband ("out of order, without knowing one's disease")
Smack (to kiss)
Urinal of the Planets (Ireland, due to its frequent rain*****)

Notes

*I’m totally shitting you, these are not terms of endearment. Don’t call your gran a twat waffle!
**Words we would consider profanity or at least rude such as fuck, arse, piss, whore, cock, etc are used by the author in definitions but he takes for granted the reader is familiar with these and he does not define them.
***It’s interesting to note that prostitutes are referred to affectionately and none of the terms used for them are really insults. The author’s contempt is reserved for celibate women, who are called Ape Leaders ("an old maid; their punishment after death, for neglecting increase and multiply, will be, it is said, leading apes into hell") and may suffer from Green Sickness ("the disease of maids occasioned by celibacy"). Equally, “whore” is not presented as an especially strong insult. Bitch is far worse. He says this is “the worst appellation that can be given to an English woman.”
****Notice how many of these are related to schools. Likewise, “college” was used to refer to prison, college being a natural progression from a school or academy.
*****This book has an incredible number of derisory terms for the Irish...and Welsh, Scottish, Jewish, mixed-race, religious, and people from Boston.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Run Away With a Jacobite in Amy Rose Bennett's Sweeping Highland Romance, The Master of Strathburn


The Master of Strathburn
Amy Rose Bennett
Escape Publishing (Harlequin)
Release date: May 15, 2016

A sweeping, sexy Highland romance about a wanted Jacobite with a wounded soul, 
and a spirited Scottish lass on the run.

Robert Grant has returned home to Lochrose Castle in the Highlands to reconcile with his long-estranged father, the Earl of Strathburn. But there is a price on Robert’s head, and his avaricious younger half-brother, Simon, doesn’t want him reclaiming his birthright. And it’s not only Simon and the redcoats that threaten to destroy Robert’s plans after a flame-haired complication of the feminine kind enters the scene...

Jessie Munroe is forced to flee Lochrose Castle after the dissolute Simon Grant tries to coerce her into becoming his mistress. After a fateful encounter with a mysterious and handsome hunter, Robert, in a remote Highland glen, she throws her lot in with the stranger—even though she suspects he is a fugitive. She soon realizes that this man is dangerous in an entirely different way to Simon...

Despite their searing attraction, Robert and Jessie struggle to trust each other as they both seek a place to call home. The stakes are high and only one thing is certain: Simon Grant is in pursuit of them both...


Amy Rose Bennett has always wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember. An avid reader with a particular love for historical romance, it seemed only natural to write stories in her favorite genre. She has a passion for creating emotion-packed—and sometimes a little racy—stories set in the Georgian and Regency periods. Of course, her strong-willed heroines and rakish heroes always find their happily ever after.

Amy is happily married to her own Alpha male hero, has two beautiful daughters, and a rather loopy Rhodesian Ridgeback. She has been a speech pathologist for many years but is currently devoting her time to her one other true calling—writing romance.



Blog Tour Brought to You By Secret Realm Book Reviews & Services



Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Field Guide to Historical Poisons (Part One)

The Long Way Home takes place in the court of Louis XIV during the Affair of the Poisons. During this period, many people from all walks of life were employing poison to dispatch with rivals and even family members to improve their fortunes or standing in court. As you can imagine, poison plays a large part in the plot of The Long Way Home. Here are three that are featured in the book along with symptoms so you’ll be first to know if your enemies have dosed your wine. 

You know, just in case. 


Arsenic (also known as Inheritance Powder)

Arsenic was the most commonly used poison at this time, and was used alone or to add extra toxicity to other lethal concoctions. It was the primary ingredient in Inheritance Powder, so called because of the frequency with which it was against relatives and spouses for the sake of inheritance. 

Tasteless as it was potent, arsenic usually went undetected in wine or food, although it was also added to soap and even sprinkled into flowers. It could easily kill someone quickly, but was more commonly distributed over a long period of time to make it appear that the victim was suffering from a long illness. The symptoms begin with headaches, drowsiness, and gastrointestinal problems, and as it develops, worsen into convulsions, muscle cramps, hair loss, organ failure, coma, and death. 

Unusually for a poison apart from lead, arsenic has had many other common uses throughout history. It was used as a cosmetic as early as the Elizabethan period. Combined with vinegar and white chalk, it was applied to whiten the complexion as a precursor to the lead-based ceruse popular in later centuries. 

Ad for Arsenic Wafers, 1896. Arsenic was a common complexion treatment until the early 20th century.

By the Victorian period, arsenic was taken as a supplement to correct the complexion from within, resulting in blueish, translucent skin (see above). Victorian and Edwardian doctors prescribed it for asthma, typhus, malaria, period pain, syphilis, neuralgia, and as a nonspecific pick-me-up. It was also used in pigments such as Paris Green, Scheele’s Green, and London Purple, all of them extremely toxic when ingested or inhaled. A distinctive yellow-green, Scheele’s Green was a popular dye in the nineteenth century for furnishings, candles, fabric, and even children’s toys, but it gave off a toxic gas. It may have even played a part in Napoleon’s death. While it took nearly a century to discover the dangers of the pigment, it was later put to use as an insecticide. 

A Glass of Wine With Caesar Borgia. John Collier, 1893. From left to right: Cesare, Lucrezia, their father, Pope Alexander VI, and a young man with an empty glass. The implication is that the man doesn't know if it will be poisoned.
Cantharides (also known as Cantarella or Spanish Fly)

Cantarella was a poison that was rumored to have been used by the Borgias (among others). Although it appeared in literature as something that could mimic death, cantarella was probably made from arsenic, like most of the common poisons of the era, or of canthariden powder made from blister beetles, and was highly toxic. Cantharides are now more commonly known as Spanish Fly. 

Although it was only rumored to have been used by the Borgias, it was definitely associated with the Medicis. Aqua Toffana, or Aquetta di Napoli, was a potent mixture of both arsenic and cantharides allegedly created by an Italian countess, Giulia Tofana (d. 1659). Colorless and odorless, it was undetectable even in water and as little as four drops could cause death within a few hours. It could also be mixed with lead or belladonna for a little extra f*** you. 

In case you’re wondering how one would catch enough blister beetles to do away with one’s enemies, cantharides were surprisingly easy to come across. They were also used as an aphrodisiac. In small quantities, they engorge the genitals, so it must have seemed like a good idea at the time. In larger quantities, however, they raise blisters, cause inflammation, nervous agitation, burning of the mouth, dysphagia, nausea, hematemesis, hematuria, and dysuria.

Oh, and death.

The powder was brownish in color and smelled bad, but mostly went unnoticed with food or wine. More than one character in The Long Way Home has come in contact with it, and it even plays a part in the story. 

Ad for Pennyroyal Pills, 1905.
Pennyroyal

Pennyroyal was not often used to intentionally poison anyone, but I’m including it in this guide because of its toxic effects. Usually drunk as tea, is was used as a digestive aid and to cause miscarriage. Is was also used in baths to kill fleas or to treat venomous bites. 

Although this is the least toxic of the bunch, the side effects are much more worrying. Taken in any quantity, it may not only result in contraction of the uterus, but also serious damage to the liver, kidneys, and nervous system. It’s a neurotoxin that can cause auditory and visual hallucinations, delirium, unconsciousness, hearing problems, brain damage, and death. 

Along with Inheritance Powder and Cantarella, Pennyroyal also appears in The Long Way Home and causes some interesting complications for a few of our characters.
*
All of these poisons were common and easily obtainable in much of Europe during the time this book takes place and as you can see, continued to be commonly used for a variety of purposes until very recently. The use of Inheritance Powder in particular is very well-documented and it played a huge part in the Affair of the Poisons as well as commanding a central position in The Long Way Home

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Release Day: Her Deviant Lord, New Historical Romance by Layna Pimentel

Her Deviant Lord 
Pleasure Garden Follies, Book Three
by Layna Pimentel
Release Date: April 11, 2016
Genre: Erotic Historical Romance


Her Deviant Lord from romance author Layna Pimentel, is the third installment of the Pleasure Garden Follies series. This historical romance features a sexy earl, second chances at love, and plenty of kink for good measure.

Bastian Wycliffe, the Earl of Wendelhem, has finally moved on…or so he thought. En route to a hunting trip after over-indulging the night before, he endures a frightful and terribly embarrassing swoon. He’s seen a ghost and her name is Cordelia Waite, the Duchess of Downsbury.

Mrs. Weylen, formerly a duchess, has a secret. All it took was the chance meeting in the inn that fateful night for her memories to come back and haunt her. She makes haste returning to London incognito with the intent to clear up misconceptions and to deliver an ultimatum to her former lover.

Yet, when a newfound obsession refuses to accept the truth, and her imprisoned husband discovers she’s still alive, their lives and relationship may be in danger. Second chances have never been more precarious.



Excerpt 

Cordelia nodded as the marquess ran through her instructions. The beautiful, dark blue gown that he and his wife had gifted her with was reminiscent of the style of gown that suited her the most. Since having Matthew, although she had kept her hourglass figure, she was a bit more top heavy as she was still nursing him. The black velvet cape that Isabel had loaned her covered every nuance of her body that would make her recognizable to the ton.

The marquess stepped out of the carriage and helped her down. Cordelia kept her gaze on the cobblestones leading up to Bastian’s door.

“My lord, ma’am. If you will follow me to the library, I will see if my master is up for a visit,” the butler declared with a scowl.

“I hope he is not too busy? We have much to discuss, and it is very important. Let him know that an audience with him is imperative.”

Overly tall and lean, the man had to be near ancient. He furrowed his brows, squinting for only a moment, as if discerning how to deliver—or more accurately, interrupt, Wycliffe. “Very well, sir, please wait here in his library.”

“That went well.”

“That is only the beginning. I wonder…Cordelia, if you were to stand in the corner by that bookcase…” He pointed to the opposite side of the room where it was dark.

She nodded and made haste before anyone walked in on them.

“Perfect,” the marquess commented a short moment before the butler entered.

“His lordship will join you momentarily. He only needs to dress. May I offer you and the lady some refreshment?”

“No, that will not be necessary. I do not plan on staying long.”

The butler bowed and left, Bastian arriving soon after. Cordelia noticed that his hair was mussed at the back. Has he been entertaining a woman upstairs? Has he truly moved on and found another lover? Her heart sank at the prospect. How could he replace me so…so…so…soon? It has not even been a full year.

Her hands trembled beneath her cape, and she could barely stand on her own. How she wanted to throw her arms around him and tell him how much she missed him.

“Thompson! What is so important that it could not wait until morning? Has anything happened?”

“Be easy, man. I assure you, Isabel and Emily are fine. I simply came here to escort a woman who desperately wanted to see you.”

He scoffed. “If this has anything to do with Mary Elizabeth, I—”

The marquess nodded, and Cordelia stepped forward into the glowing light of the fireplace. Bastian turned toward her, and when she lifted the hood of the cape, his eyes widened and his mouth gaped before he crashed to the floor from swooning.

“Oof! I have to admit, I did not quite expect that response.”

Cordelia abandoned her cape where she stood and ran over to him, dropping to her knees. Good heavens! What have I started? The man probably thought he was staring at a ghost. “Wake up, my love!” she whispered as the butler walked in.

“What happened?”

“He just swooned. I have it under control. If he was entertaining upstairs, can you see to the lady and have her sent home immediately? He will need some rest, and I am certain he will want some privacy.”

“Certainly, sir. I shall have her removed immediately.”

So, he was entertaining another woman. How could he… Fury simmered beneath the surface of her calm facade. Why had he never come to confirm if the reports were true? She always knew Richard would never waste a minute on her, but Bastian…They were so close. Kindred spirits. He should have been able to feel, somehow, that she was alive.

Disappointment washed over her. Instead of fawning over his swoon, Cordelia jumped to her feet, walked over to sideboard, and grabbed a bottle of port. Then, she returned to him and began to unscrew the cork.

“Cordelia, what are you doing?”

“Getting him to come out of his swoon.”

“With that?”

“Yes. Do you take issue with my course of action, my lord?”

The marquess stepped away and waved for her to continue.

“If you would rather leave, I am quite capable of waking and caring for him.”

“I will leave the two alone once I am assured you can stay. Though we should not stay too late.” 

“And I assure you, my lord, once I have said what I have to say, he will probably want me removed from the premises immediately.”

“In that case, I will wait in the hall for you.”

Once his lordship closed the door behind him, she dumped the bottle of port over Bastian’s face. He sputtered at first, and when his eyes opened wildly, followed by oaths being muttered, he stared at her and jumped to his feet.

“Damnation, woman! You are alive!”

He practically collided into her to embrace her, and all she could do was slap him. Her hand stung from the impact. She instantly regretted her action, but how else was she to express her displeasure at his courting another woman?

Bastian growled at her. “What in the world was that for?”

“That was for not looking for me! And if I were you, I would stay back. I am liable to slap you again for entertaining other female guests.”

“Cordelia…please!”
***
About the Author

Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Layna discovered her love of reading at an early age. She’s a bestselling author at All Romance eBooks, and multi-published author of historical, paranormal and contemporary erotic romances. When she isn’t devouring salacious romance novels or writing, she enjoys losing herself in researching ancient history and mythology, weaponry, and hiking. She lives in Northern Ontario, with her husband and two daughters.


Monday, April 4, 2016

Catching Up With Contemporary Romance Author Brenda Margriet

Today I am thrilled to welcome Brenda Margriet to the blog for a chat! Brenda has brought us a peek at her brand new romance, When Time Falls Still. Check it out! 

***

When Time Falls Still is set in winter in Northern British Columbia. What made you choose that location and season?

When I first started writing, I wanted to concentrate on character and plot, and figured that having to deal with an unfamiliar location would just add to the strain. So I set my first romantic suspense, Mountain Fire in my hometown of Prince George, and have continued to do so for four of my five finished manuscripts, including When Time Falls Still. One of the things I like best about the area where I live is we have four distinct seasons. Summers can reach 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit for you Americans ), Autumn is crisp and bright, and Winter is usually a snow-lovers paradise (Spring is probably my least favourite. I call it “The Melt” and it can be pretty ugly for a while.) We also get a lot of sun in the winter, which makes the short days bearable and beautiful at the same time. I wanted to celebrate all that.

What is your writing process like? 

As I have a demanding full-time day job, I can only write in the evenings and on weekends, yet in the last four years I have completed four manuscripts. I can only do this by being very efficient, which has led me to be a confirmed plotter. Each new manuscripts starts out as a list of scenes in an Excel (yes, Excel!) spreadsheet. As I’m writing, I allow myself to deviate from the spreadsheet, but it is very useful when I hit a “where do I go from here?” moment. I can go back, review what I thought I was doing when I first started writing, revise the spreadsheet, and use my initial notes to help me move forward. I’ve toyed with the idea of writing scenes out of order, like Jessica does, but I’m afraid I’ll just write all the fun ones and never have the incentive to go back to do the necessary-but-not-as-fun scenes. Writing chronologically, I have the carrot of an exciting scene ahead, as long as I can get there. 

What, aside from writing, do you like to do best? 

Well, reading, of course. I’m a bit of a speed reader, so I often go through two or three books a week, despite my busy schedule of work and writing. I also enjoy gardening, although I like the planning and planting part better than the maintaining and weeding part. Photography is something I like to do as well, especially when my husband and I are camping or travelling, two more things I love to do.

Justice Cooper had the all-Canadian dream in his grasp – a chance to play in the National Hockey League. Are you a fan of hockey? 

As a Canadian, I think I have to say yes or give back my passport! But in all honesty, I do love the sport. It’s fast and gritty and skillful, demanding partnerships with teammates and a commitment to hard work. Like most team sports, it’s a great way for kids to learn how to work together and to be unselfish in the pursuit of a common goal. The National Hockey League may be the golden dream for many young boys, but from the tiny tots to old-timers it’s a game that is simply part of our psyche as a nation.

What kind of research did you do for this book? 

Charlotte is a university professor, teaching medieval poetry. My main research, other than online sources, was to talk to my oldest daughter. She started out as an English/History major, and is now working on her Master’s Degree in History at the university where I set my story. When it came to the workings of the University of Northern British Columbia, how to get a doctorate, how professors are awarded tenure and things like that, she was my go-to girl.

I have a small confession to make about research. I’m still shy about approaching people outside my circle of friends and family. So for this book, I didn’t talk to any security guards about what their normal days and duties are like. Someday I’m going to have to break out of that insecurity. I know it will add another layer of credibility to my writing, even if I have to ignore some of the realities in order to write the story I want to write.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you so much for hosting me today, Jessica! I’d also like to invite people to join my newsletter. It will be a great way to keep up with what's new in my writing world, but I promise emails will only be sent a few times a year. As an incentive, all new subscribers will get a FREE e-copy of my short story, The Life She Had Before. You can sign up on my Author Page or my website.

And one more thing! I’m giving away 5 copies of When Time Falls Still.  Enter here by April 15th for your chance to win!
When Time Falls Still
by Brenda Margriet

Professor Charlotte Girardet is focused on one thing – securing tenure at a large, prestigious university. 

Her career is firmly on track, but her life is complicated by her attraction to rough and rugged security guard Justice Cooper. It isn't only Charlotte's heart in danger, however. Tensions blaze on campus after several students are viciously attacked. 

Struggling to balance her ambitions and her growing passion, Charlotte takes a leap of faith, and trusts Justice with her deepest secret. But when the assailant's attacks escalate to kidnapping, will Charlotte have the chance to decide between her long-held dreams or a new life with Justice?

Excerpt

Charlotte braced herself against the motion of the elevator, but not before her breasts, protected only by thin fabric and thinner lace, brushed Justice’s chest. He was standing so close she felt overwhelmed. Not intimidated—he didn’t scare her—just...swamped by his nearness.

Or maybe it was the heat in his eyes.

Ocean depths had nothing on the blueness searing into her, she thought wildly. Vertigo weakened her knees, but she couldn’t look away.

"I—" She broke off, swallowed, and tried again. "I don’t know what to say." He toyed with the end of her braid, and she swore she could feel the touch of his fingers fizzle up the strands, down her spine and into the soles of her feet.

"Did you honestly think I wasn’t attracted to you?" His voice rumbled, low and sexy.

The doors slid open. Thank God the hallway was empty. Her legs felt disconnected from her body, but she managed not to stumble. She unlocked her office, seeking refuge inside. Justice followed.

"Charlotte?"

He wasn’t going to let it go. Perseverance was his greatest strength—and his most irritating habit, she thought peevishly. "I threw myself at you and you walked away."

"I just about took you up against your front door." Frustration coloured his tone. He scrubbed his hands over his close-cropped head.

"Fine. Maybe you were right." She lifted her satchel off her shoulder and tossed it into a nearby chair. "Maybe I wasn’t thinking clearly enough."

"Maybe." He crossed his ankles and leaned against the wall, the casual stance belying the tension evident in the fists jammed in his pockets, the set of his shoulders. "Now what?"

"I don’t know." The collar of his uniform jacket had kinked up on one side. Without thinking, she stepped forward to smooth it down. He caught her hand and held it. Her fingers curled into his.

The connection felt good. It felt right. Maybe she should stop thinking altogether, and just go with her gut.
She never did that. She planned and researched and debated and planned some more. Trying to regain her equilibrium, she tugged away and escaped behind her desk.

"Let’s look at this rationally," she said. His scarred eyebrow arched and amusement flickered in his face, but she battled on. "We are both healthy, single adults. For some reason, we seem to have strong physical chemistry."

"Some reason?" The amusement was uppermost, now. His lips remained firm and straight, but she could see it in his eyes, as usual.

"Don’t take this the wrong way, but you are not the kind of man I ever thought I’d be attracted to."

​He lowered his lids and regarded her through narrow slits. "Right back at you."

She bristled, but took her own advice and let it go. "Regardless, we could take advantage of this mutual appeal."

"There’s the professor I know and...admire," he murmured.

She ignored the sarcasm. "I’m only here for a few more months." The exam today was the last she needed to invigilate. As soon as they were marked and the results submitted, she was flying out to spend Christmas with Sonny and family, returning a few days before the start of the winter session. "Are you in any of my classes next semester?"

He shook his head, watching her closely.

"Would you consider a short-term, exclusive relationship, with a predefined end date?" There, she thought. That sounded mature, sensible. No need to let emotions colour what promised to be a satisfying adult affair.
He straightened from the wall, looming to his full height. "Would this so-called relationship be strictly physical? Or could it involve social aspects as well?"

Once again, she sensed an underlying current of laughter, but she ignored it. "I can’t see why not."

"And it would come to an end the same time as your contract?"

"Or earlier, of course, should either of us find it no longer meets our needs."

"I thought English professors were supposed to be romantic."

Romance. Love. That’s what hurt you. Sex, on the other hand, was just sex. "Not all of us."
***

Reviews

"If you're looking for a great contemporary romance, WHEN TIME FALLS STILL is the book for you. The romance between Justice and Charlotte was full of ups and downs but their connection, friendship and attraction a constant. A fantastic introduction to a new-to-me author, I will happily browse through Brenda Margriet's backlist." - The Romance Reviews 

"Margriet’s voice produces a smooth flowing narrative, intriguing sexual tension, and a well-plotted romance that takes it’s time developing as Margriet sets out to address and resolve the internal issues of the protagonists while flirting with a light suspense filled subplot." - Smexy Books 

Buy Links

Brenda Margriet writes contemporary romances with heroes you'd meet at the grocery store. And by that she means real-life men – sexy, smart and looking for the love of their life. Her heroines are bold, savvy and determined to accept nothing less than the man they deserve.

A voracious reader since she was old enough to hold a book, Brenda's idea of the perfect holiday involves a comfortable chair near the water (ocean, lake or pool will do), a glass of wine, and a full-loaded e-reader.

She lives in Northern British Columbia with her husband, three children (all of whom are taller than her) and various finny and furry pets. 

Join Brenda's newsletter and be the first to know about new releases and other exciting news! Plus, receive a free c-copy of her short story, The Life She Had Before.