Monday, February 29, 2016

Release Day! Jessica Cale Reinvents Cinderella in New #HistRom, The Long Way Home

Friends!

I am so excited to announce that it's finally release day. The Long Way Home is out! For a full list of buy links (to be updated as they go live) and the Rafflecopter to win the 7" Kindle Fire I'm giving away this month, see below!

The Long Way Home took a lot of work to write and research, and I am proud to say that it's my favorite of the series so far. In this book, Alice Henshawe leaves Southwark and winds up becoming the inspiration for Charles Perrault's Cinderella (or Cendrillon) when she meets him at Versailles. How is such a thing possible?

I'm so glad you asked!

In want of a magic wand, Ysabeau, Chloe, and Marie-Clemence are forced to rely on surer methods to transform our humble barmaid into a legendary beauty: makeup and someone who knows how to put it on! In this new excerpt, we get a front-row seat to the intricacies of a 17th century makeover, egg whites and all.

Enjoy!


***
“You must relax or the crayon will leave creases and you’ll look like a madwoman.”

Alice clenched her teeth and attempted to relax as Laure, one of Chloë’s servants, applied the pearlescent peach crayon to her eyelids. She kept thinking about Chloë’s comment that a girl had been blinded by belladonna, and her eyes tried to glue themselves shut in protest.

She took a deep breath, willing herself to relax. The grit crayon was made of alabaster, ground to fine dust and bound with grease. Though it had, no doubt, been exorbitantly expensive, it was still made of rocks and Alice could feel the tiny specks of grit within it scraping her eyelids. She winced.

“Take care,” Ysabeau cautioned. “You mustn’t wrinkle your face.”

Alice let out a long, silent sigh. Right. Her face. Her face, neck, and chest had been covered in a thin white paste that had dried almost instantly in a flawless, ghostly mask. Ysabeau had assured her the substance was Venetian, as if that was supposed to mean something to her. As soon as it had dried, Laure took what looked like a pastry brush and covered every inch of it in a slimy yellowish film.

“Q’est-ce que c’est?” Alice asked her.

“Egg whites,” Laure had whispered, commiserating with a roll of her eyes. As a domestic servant, Laure was better situated than Alice had ever been, and likely came from a family of nobler birth. Not that it mattered to anyone else. To the ladies of the court, she and Alice were merely clay to shape in their image.

The egg whites dried quickly, tightening almost painfully around her skin. Her reflection had been so shiny that she looked shellacked. This was remedied by a generous dusting of white alabaster powder. Alice thought she must look like she had fallen into a sack of flour.

Now, her eyelids were pale pink. Laure withdrew yet another fluffy brush from a velvet-lined box and dipped it into a gold jar, coating the bristles with powder in a slightly different shade of pink. This she applied to Alice’s cheeks and under her chin. She followed the powder with a deep red crayon to Alice’s lips. It tasted of grease and chalk.

Alice had never worn anything on her lips before and found it an odd sensation. She peeked at the mirror past Laure’s shoulder only to be struck by Ysabeau’s fan.

“You mustn’t look until we have finished,” she purred. “The surprise will be that much more breathtaking.”

Alice felt her eyes widen. They weren’t done yet?

Once Laure had finished Alice’s face, she set to work on her hair, vigorously rubbing a thick, clove-scented paste into it. The motion made Alice think of making pie crust and she thought of Meg. No doubt Meg would enjoy every minute of this “pampering,” while Alice kept looking longingly at the door.

Laure liberally shook more powder into Alice’s hair and brushed the whole mess out until it felt like a voluminous cloud. She twisted it and pinned it efficiently, leaving a portion of it draped over Alice’s shoulder. This she curled with the tongs that had been left to heat in the fire. When they were applied to her hair, Alice smelled hot grease and burning hair, and again thought of the kitchens of the inn. Hiding in them, more often than not.

An image of Jack waiting at the bar came to mind and she smiled.

Ysabeau struck her with the fan. “No moving!”

Her smile faded. Alice closed her eyes, trying to find some enjoyment to having her hair curled for her. It was not likely to happen again. Truth be told, she would be relieved if it didn’t. She hoped they would tire of their little game quickly so she could scrape all of the rubbish off of her face. It itched terribly and the egg whites were beginning to smell.

As if she read her mind, Laure put the tongs back into the fire and pulled an exquisite glass bottle from the box. She pulled off the top and the smell of lavender filled the room.

Alice coughed.

Laure doused Alice in the perfume, the scent of the flowers sitting strangely against the tang of clove in her hair. Alice shifted uncomfortably. Was this meant to be appealing?

“Bon!” Ysabeau clapped. “I can see it already. The dress!”

Alice stood and they dressed her. A silver corset was laced over her shift, inches too long but tight enough to satisfy them. A sort of cage was tied around her waist and they lowered the skirt over it. It was as wide around the bottom as a wagon wheel. The dress came in several pieces of deep blue embroidered with silver thread and studded with sapphires and pearls. It was a far cry from the lovely mauve dress Jane had made for her. Alice tried to count the twinkling gemstones on her skirt, wondering how much such a thing would sell for in Southwark. If she sold the bodice alone, she could probably buy the inn outright and still have change left over for a new pair of shoes.

A pair of blue slippers were placed in front of her and she stepped into them, teetering on the tall heel. The sensation of standing off the ground was still so strange that for a moment she thought there was a rock stuck under the shoe. She was dismayed the heel did not budge as she rolled her foot. She was stuck with it.

The sleeves were pinned to her bodice, gloves were added, and a fan was thrust into her hand. She opened it tentatively to see it had been painted with an image of a triumphant golden god, echoing the sculptures she had seen in the gardens. At last, something she could hide behind.

An elaborate necklace of diamonds and pearls was draped around her neck and silver combs pushed firmly into her hair. Ysabeau studied her seriously, frowning. “Something is missing.”

Chloë and Marie-Clemence joined her inspection, their expressions mirrors of hers.

“A feather,” Chloë suggested.

“More diamonds,” mused Marie-Clemence.

Ysabeau’s eyes lit up. “A patch!”

The others tittered in agreement and Laure brought a little glass cask filled with what looked like black fabric. Ysabeau seized one between her fingers and applied a sticky substance to the back of it. She pressed it firmly to Alice’s cheekbone, just below her eye. “Oui, une passione. Parfaite!”

The others clapped happily and Laure set to packing the supplies back into the box. Before anyone had noticed, she had taken the box and slipped from the room.

Alice envied her. She used to be able to do that.

“Come,” Ysabeau ordered her. “Behold!”

Alice stifled a groan and stepped obediently to the mirror.

The face looking back at her was not her own. She looked startled, stiff, and very, very pale. The crayon enhanced her lips, making them look bitten, blurry, and oddly soft. She leaned forward to better inspect her reflection, noticing a couple of hairline cracks around her eyes from when she had smiled. The patch on her cheek was a little black heart.

Her hair was a cloud, twisted and pinned around her head and skyward, with loose curls hanging over her shoulder to her waist. With or without the powder, her hair was an indeterminate color. In spite of all the effort that had been put into it, she still did not think it particularly noteworthy.

The dress, on the other hand, contained a king’s ransom in jewels. Shining as it did, she was unlikely to draw more attention than the dress itself, and she found this thought comforting. With any luck, no one would look at her at all.

Ysabeau gave a long, contented sigh. “Voila! Cendrillon!”
***

Alice is right to be suspicious of the makeup. The ceruse she is wearing contains a great deal of white lead, and the Venetion ceruse Ysabeau is so fond of contains the highest level of all. It is most certainly poisonous and destroys the complexion quite thoroughly over time, necessitating the use of more ceruse to cover up the damage and poisoning you all the while. I don't know about you, but this makes me all the more grateful for my little compact of Cover Girl! 

Although the court setting of this book is exciting and very different for me, I think the best part of the book is the love story. You might remember Alice's crush on Jack from Tyburn and Virtue's Lady. Well, six years have passed since Virtue's Lady ended and Alice and Jack have grown up apart. Alice still doesn't talk if she can help it, but she has learned to speak French with Sally and Jane as a secret language her sisters don't understand. Meanwhile, Jack has become a spy on the Dutch side of the Franco Dutch War. They meet again as intelligent, frighteningly competent adults, but when they see each other, it's like they're kids again, and it's a little awkward, to say the least. Things only become more awkward when they become "accidentally" married. 

Oh, and that crush? Still there. Big time. 

In the midst of the Affair of the Poisons and all the resulting drama and intrigue, there's quite a sweet love story unfolding between two of my favorite characters. And by "sweet", I do not mean PG. 

Oh, no. 

This book has a spicy rating for a reason, but there's plenty of plot, historical details, and adorably awkward love to go along with it. I hope you enjoy it. 


The Long Way Home
(The Southwark Saga, Book 3)
By Jessica Cale
Release Date: February 29th, 2016
Genre: Historical Romance, Adult Fairytale, Romantic Comedy, Action/Adventure

A paranoid king, a poison plot, and hideous shoes…it’s not easy being Cinderella.  

After saving the life of the glamorous Marquise de Harfleur, painfully shy barmaid Alice Henshawe is employed as the lady’s companion and whisked away to Versailles. There, she catches King Louis’ eye and quickly becomes a court favorite as the muse for Charles Perrault’s Cinderella. The palace appears to be heaven itself, but there is danger hidden beneath the façade and Alice soon finds herself thrust into a world of intrigue, murder, and Satanism at the heart of the French court.

Having left his apprenticeship to serve King Charles as a spy, Jack Sharpe is given a mission that may just kill him. In the midst of the Franco-Dutch war, he is to investigate rumors of a poison plot by posing as a courtier, but he has a mission of his own. His childhood friend Alice Henshawe is missing and he will stop at nothing to see her safe. When he finds her in the company of the very people he is meant to be investigating, Jack begins to wonder if the sweet girl he grew up with has a dark side.

When a careless lie finds them accidentally married, Alice and Jack must rely on one another to survive the intrigues of the court. As old affection gives way to new passion, suspicion lingers. Can they trust each other, or is the real danger closer than they suspect?
***

“Really brilliant writing that's so engaging with such endearing characters! I especially love the way Jack and Alice are both so devoted to each other! I was totally absorbed in this exciting and fascinating world Jessica Cale created from the very first paragraph to the last! I read this all in one sitting, staying awake late to finish, just had to!”Romazing Reader

"It was so hard to put this book down. The author has a way of drawing the reader into the action and story line. It’s an exciting story that constantly delivers the thrill that one gets from reading a good book. All else fades in the background and I was transported through time. It felt like I was Alice, experiencing everything first hand. The attention to detail like the smells, dresses, feelings, all felt real. For example, when Alice finds herself in King Louis court amongst the courtiers all dressed up with their over the top outfits and malodorous perfumes, I could actually smell what she was smelling. I fell in love with this book and with Alice. It was her inner monologue that made me laugh out loud." - Lampshade Reader 


"Equal parts historical fiction and historical romance, The Long Way Home offered me a fascinating glimpse into the life, intrigue, and scandal that could be found in the court of King Louis XIV in 1677 France. Jessica Cale expertly wove historical facts and customs into the narrative without detracting from the plot... and all of it was fascinating. No skimming paragraphs in this novel! As for the romance... this was one of those slow burning, gentle rain romances that make one sigh in the end. I adored how Jessica Cale managed to make both main characters innocent, but not in the slightest bit weak and every bit intelligent and capable of saving themselves." - Amy Quinton


"Oh my... Jessica Cale has done it again, another delicious period romance with suspense, gorgeous descriptions of historical places and events and, of course LOVE. I ADORED the pairing of Alice and Jack, two lost souls who find themselves reunited after five painful years separation in Versailles of all places. I loved Jack, he's a charming male lead who is adorably still a virgin like Alice. Not enough romance novels take this tact and I was so into how eager and inexperienced they both were. I couldn't recommend this book more." - Eve Dangerfield

You can find it here:




Sunday, February 28, 2016

RWA Online Interviews Jessica Cale

Hi everybody!

Only one more day until The Long Way Home is out! I'm so excited! Today I am posting a fun interview I did with my chapter of the Romance Writers of America (RWA), RWA Online. There's more about them at the end of the interview if you'd like to check them out! 

Thanks! :) 
***
Interview with Jessica Cale 
by Karen N. Jones

Jessica, would you tell us a little bit about The Long Way Home? 

The Long Way Home is a historical romantic comedy that takes place in the 1677 in the court of Louis XIV. It is a new take on Cinderella, but instead of living the story, the heroine inspires it. The author of the Cinderella story we are most familiar with, Charles Perrault, was in Versailles at this time and writing fairy tales. Alice Henshawe is an English barmaid who becomes employed as the Mistress of the Wardrobe for the Marquise de Harfleur. When her childhood crush, Jack Sharpe, comes looking for her, they find themselves in the middle of the scandal that would become the Affair of the Poisons. It’s dark in places, but funny, and both Jack and Alice are endearingly awkward. The e-book is being published by Liquid Silver Books and will be released on February 29th. The paperback with be available from Create Space on the same day.


The Long Way Home is your third book. Would you tell us a little bit about the other two books?

Tyburn and Virtue’s Lady are books one and two of my series, The Southwark Saga. In Tyburn, prostitute Sally Green falls in love with highwayman-by-night, tutor-by-day Nick Virtue while she is otherwise engaged on a quest for revenge. In Virtue’s Lady, heiress Lady Jane Ramsey flees her life of wealth and privilege to live among the poor in Southwark when she falls for carpenter Mark Virtue. Both are somewhere between Historical Romance and Historical Fiction, and they take place in Restoration London. They are vivid and very gritty, and they were great fun to write. Tyburn even won Best Historical of 2015 in Southern Magic’s Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence! 

How did you become a Historical Romance author? 

I have always loved history and I got into historical romance at a really young age. I always wanted to write it, but reading it really fueled my love of history. I ended up going to college in Wales and got a B.A. in Medieval History there, then I went on to do an M.F.A. in Creative Writing with the goal of writing historical romance. I really got into journalism at the same time, and I was fortunate enough to intern at BBC History Magazine. After that, I continued working for them as a freelance writer visiting castles and other historical tourism spots around Wales for a few years. It was wonderful fun. Studying history at university level really set me up with some solid research skills, and the journalism helped me to establish my voice and hone my writing. Those few years I had in Wales were so important to my development as a professional writer, and I’m still using the skills I learned in my writing and the history blogging I do today. 

How did you research The Long Way Home?

After I decided exactly when it was going to be set (October 1677), I read everything I could find about the period, including Louis XIV, Versailles, the Franco-Dutch War, and the Affair of the Poisons. I found a lot of great books at my local university library (UNC), some coursebooks I found in used bookstores, and others I had to search for online. A lot of them are recent history books, but I also used a lot of primary sources included the memoirs of Madame, the Duchesse d’Orleans and letters from other people who were there at the time. It was a challenge because I’m more familiar with British history, but it was really interesting and I hope the research has translated into a vivid setting. 

What is the most courageous thing you had Alice do? 

Alice is one of my favorite characters. She is very shy and anxious, and she is blessed (or cursed) with a perfect memory. This makes her terrified of saying the wrong thing—because she’ll remember it—so she doesn’t speak. The first brave thing she had to do was start to speak, and, by the end, she has to work up the courage to ask for what she wants. It isn’t easy for her!

Did you ever have a character demand his/her book right now?

Yes! Mark Virtue from Virtue’s Lady took over my imagination for months. He first appears as the hero’s brother on Tyburn, but he was so real to me, that I had to write his book, and quickly! Every day I rushed home from work, excited to spend more time with him in his world. I wrote that book in record time for me. He became so real that one night, I had a dream that he was sitting on the end of my bed in full historical costume, calmly explaining how I was to write his book. I don’t remember a word he said, but I think he liked how it ended! 

Did a character ever surprise you? 

Oh, yes. Jack Sharpe was a surprise and a half. I hit a little bit of a roadblock when I was finishing the first draft of The Long Way Home. I made it to the climax of all the danger in the book, and I couldn’t write the characters out of it. It was plotted out, and I had been working on it for a year, but when it came down to it, Jack just wouldn’t do what I told him to. It finally occurred to me that I had made him too clever to walk into the traps I had set. I had to just let him do what he was going to do, and it worked. It changed the ending, but I think the book is truer to his character because of it.

What can we expect to see in the future?

I have eighteen books planned for The Southwark Saga so far. I plan to carry on the series following characters introduced in the first three books and their families over the course of several generations. While most of them are not related to each other by blood, they will all be tied in some way to the place they live. I also have plans for a New Adult series and some later Historical Fiction unrelated to this series. 
***

This interview is used with the permission of RWA Online, RWA Chapter #136, and was originally published in their newsletter, LoveBytes, in February 2016.

About RWA® Online: RWA® Online is proud to have been the first electronic chapter of Romance Writers of America®. We know the writer’s life can be a lonely one, and it doesn’t help when the closest chapter meeting is a hundred miles and two weeks away. Our chapter resources are available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! All you need is an internet connection. 

Chapter Features:
User-friendly bulletin-board discussion forums—no Yahoo loops-- which include:
In-depth discussions with the capability to go directly to discussion posts you haven’t read.
Extensive personal customization of notifications to meet your interests.
Free workshops for members.
Chapter newsletter with discussion of individual articles and interviews of RWAOL authors.

Membership is open to members of RWA. To learn more, visit us at http://www.rwaonlinechapter.org/

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Win A Kindle Fire with Jessica Cale's New Historical Romance, The Long Way Home

It's almost here! With only one week to go until the release of The Long Way Home, I am kicking off my blog tour and announcing the opening of a very exciting giveaway. The Long Way Home is not just a name -- this book took me a very long time to write and research, and I am thrilled to be bringing it to you now. So far the reviews have been wonderful, and people are saying this is their favorite one of the whole series! I am so happy I could dance! To celebrate the release of the third installment of The Southwark Saga, I am doing two things:

1. I am hosting an epic, eight-hour Facebook party this Saturday with thirteen of my favorite authors from around the world. I hope you'll come! RSVP here

2. I am giving away a 7" Kindle Fire! You can enter to win at the bottom of this post. Good luck! 

I hope you're as excited as I am about release day! If you are, you can add The Long Way Home to your Goodreads TBR list here and pre-order it from Liquid Silver Books for 20% off the cover price here

Thanks for stopping by! 



The Long Way Home
(The Southwark Saga, Book 3)
By Jessica Cale
Release Date: February 29th, 2016
Genre: Historical Romance, Adult Fairytale, Romantic Comedy, Action/Adventure

A paranoid king, a poison plot, and hideous shoes…it’s not easy being Cinderella.

After saving the life of the glamorous Marquise de Harfleur, painfully shy barmaid Alice Henshawe is employed as the lady’s companion and whisked away to Versailles. There, she catches King Louis’ eye and quickly becomes a court favorite as the muse for Charles Perrault’s Cinderella. The palace appears to be heaven itself, but there is danger hidden beneath the façade and Alice soon finds herself thrust into a world of intrigue, murder, and Satanism at the heart of the French court.

Having left his apprenticeship to serve King Charles as a spy, Jack Sharpe is given a mission that may just kill him. In the midst of the Franco-Dutch war, he is to investigate rumors of a poison plot by posing as a courtier, but he has a mission of his own. His childhood friend Alice Henshawe is missing and he will stop at nothing to see her safe. When he finds her in the company of the very people he is meant to be investigating, Jack begins to wonder if the sweet girl he grew up with has a dark side.

When a careless lie finds them accidentally married, Alice and Jack must rely on one another to survive the intrigues of the court. As old affection gives way to new passion, suspicion lingers. Can they trust each other, or is the real danger closer than they suspect?

“Really brilliant writing that's so engaging with such endearing characters! I especially love the way Jack and Alice are both so devoted to each other! I was totally absorbed in this exciting and fascinating world Jessica Cale created from the very first paragraph to the last! I read this all in one sitting, staying awake late to finish, just had to!”Romazing Reader







Excerpt

The palace was quiet, and he imagined most of the residents were away at meals of their own, or perhaps watching His Majesty do something else inane. The enormous rooms were dim, the lesser used ones only half-lit by candles. The marble walls appeared to glow warm with some internal fire, and the gods and monsters in the oil-painted ceilings seemed more alive in the semi-darkness.

Versailles was at its best when it couldn’t be clearly seen. By daylight, the rooms were too garish, too heavily embellished to be tasteful, but alone in the night, Jack could have believed he was sneaking through some secret corner of heaven.

As if to underline this point, Alice’s door opened and she slipped out of the darkness like a divine vision, the only sound she made the whisper of her skirts sweeping against the door. Her dress was the deepest midnight blue trimmed with gold lace, the muted shine of the silk like a moonlit night. Her hair had been arranged carefully and ornamented with three dazzling gold stars above her left ear. She was wearing less powder than she often did, and she looked more like the Alice he knew, only dressed splendidly as a goddess of the night.

She gasped when she saw him standing there, leaning in the arch of the doorway. He hadn’t realized he had done it, but some part of him must have known he needed the support to look at her. She looked him over slowly, bashfully, and her face did not reflect any of Achille’s earlier disappointment. Her eyes appeared to be a hazy gray in the dim corridor, and were so beautiful they were almost painful to look at. It was not disappointment he saw in those eyes, but something altogether more confusing. Was it guilt? Apprehension?

Dear God, it might be lust.

He wondered if her room was empty, and if she had tied her corset with the knot he’d shown her. He knew he could have her dress off in a matter of moments. Just one little tug and her corset would follow, and she’d be in his arms and very nearly his. Jack felt his temperature rise for the second time that night.

If she was a murderer, she must be very good at it. She could have his own knife out of his boot and between his ribs before he could pull his gaze away from her lips.

Remembering himself, he straightened and bowed deeply. He offered her his arm. “My lady.”

Alice took it without a word, flipping open a painted fan with her other hand, fanning her face as they began to walk. Jack was tempted to ask if he could borrow it for a moment. Lord knew he needed to cool down.
They walked slowly together through the dim rooms, the only sound the click of his boot heels and the swish of her skirts. The candlelight gave her face a lovely, rosy glow, but he had seen enough of her that afternoon to know that every inch of her skin really was flawless. His gaze flitted once more to her peony-colored lips. 

He had kissed her once before. Dare he do it again?

As if she could read his thoughts, Alice looked up at him and he almost tripped over his own feet.

Murderer, he tried to remind himself.

His heart insisted wife.

He cleared his throat noisily. “Y-Your shoes aren’t making any noise,” he observed, and cursed himself for the ridiculous observation. He wanted to compliment her correctly, but he was afraid he would accidentally tell her she looked like something straight out of his most illicit dreams, so instead he blurted a silly comment about her shoes.

Well done, Jack.

Alice didn’t seem to mind. Instead of looking at him with the pity she probably should have felt, she grinned up at him and stopped walking. She removed her hand from his arm and, to his considerable surprise, she raised her skirts to show him the lower half of her curvy calves in silver stockings. He realized after a moment it was not her legs she was showing him, but her shoes—she was wearing a pair of flat, fluffy slippers.

They didn’t look like any slippers Jack had ever seen. They were generously cut and enveloped her little feet completely, so it appeared that instead of wearing shoes, Alice had grown the feet of a bear. Jack grinned at the ridiculous thought. “Those are fur.”

Alice nodded enthusiastically. She raised her skirts a little further and, after she checked that no one else was around, took off running through the now empty Petite Gallerie du Roi. She stopped suddenly and the slippers kept her sliding an extra several feet through the arch into the next room. She looked back at him over her shoulder, her delight plain on her lovely face. Jack laughed, the sound echoing through the cavernous palace.

Something about her running playfully made him want to go after her. The last time he had done that, he had lost control of himself completely and kissed her in the rose garden. That’s how he had ended up going to this damned supper in the first place. Still, her skirts began to shake as she ran a few more steps, and he couldn’t help it.

He chased her.

When Alice noticed him jogging behind her, her face lit up and she took off running in earnest, tearing through the empty rooms and halls as fast as her dress would allow. He chased her through them, grinning so hard his face hurt, until they reached another hall of private apartments and he caught her.

His hands closed around her waist and he spun her around in his arms, trapping her against the gold-trimmed wall. She looked slowly up at him with those devastating eyes, and he knew one thing for certain.

She had let herself be caught.
***



You’re Invited! 


Win a 7” Kindle Fire! 






Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Sweet on You: New Contemporary Romance by Marianne Rice


Sweet on You
The Wilde Sisters #1
by Marianne Rice
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Limitless Publishing

An extravagant cake design brings small town baker Trent Kipson to fame…

After gaining social media exposure of his culinary art, Trent’s cake design goes viral. Soon he’s contacted by the Cooking Network to host a new show in California. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime for the owner of a modest shop in Portland, Maine, and the financial freedom the network offers could be the answer to all of his monetary problems.

Fitness instructor Rayne Wilde wants the life every small-town girl dreams of…

Rayne wishes for a future full of romance and the pitter-patter of little feet. She wants it all, including a white picket fence and a dog named Spot—which is exactly why she refuses to sleep with Trent, the sexy man who attends her Zumba classes. After a series of dead-end relationships, this time she really is in love. Trent is special, and the fear of letting him slip through her fingers keeps her advances at bay.

Life is waiting—all it takes is a leap of faith...

As their friendship grows and skeletons creep out of their closets, their relationship is put to the test. Stakes get higher, and the spark between them burns hotter than ever before.

Can they handle the heat when life-changing secrets are exposed, or will the fear of being burned send them on two different paths?

Available on Kindle Unlimited!

Marianne Rice writes contemporary romances set in small New England towns. Her heroes are big and strong, yet value family and humor, while her heroines are smart, sexy, sometimes a little bit sassy, and are often battling a strong internal conflict. Together, they deal with real life issues and always, always, find everlasting love. When she’s not writing, Marianne spends her time buying shoes, eating chocolate, chauffeuring her herd of children to their varying sporting events, and when there’s time, cuddling with her husband, a drink in one hand, a romance book in the other.


Monday, February 8, 2016

Seduction in Seville: Thrilling New Romantic Suspense by Olivia Night


Seduction in Seville 
The Men of FTI, Book #2
By Olivia Night
Out Now 

In a hospital in Seville, Spain, Patrick Kane lies in a coma. Ambushed and shot while protecting someone important to him, he fights to survive.

She never thought she would see him again. Patrick, the man who’d brought her back.

Eight years ago, Patrick Kane, a joint partner in Fairlane Trade International, descended into a basement of horrors. That horrible day he rescued many women, but one he would always remember. Her beautiful doe eyes filled his dreams and haunted his nightmares.

Madison Lockwood, a nurse, has struggled to put her past behind her, trying to forget the time she spent in captivity. But she recognizes the man who rescued her and brought her out of that terrifying reality. She owes him her life. Patrick is gravely injured, and Madison vows to see him through.

When Patrick opens his eyes, he instantly knows that he made a mistake leaving Madison after freeing her from the clutches of a human trafficking ring. She is meant to be his. As Patrick tries to win over a wary Madison, the past they both thought was gone for good comes back with a vengeance. One by one, the survivors of the horrific ordeal are being murdered. Patrick knows that Madison will be next if he doesn’t protect her.

Together they must fight for their survival. Seduction In Seville, book two in the Men of FTI series, is a tale of redemption, murder, new beginnings, and love that takes the reader on a wild, exotic ride.


Excerpt 

Madison remembered staring up at him after he had extended his hand to her, and preparing herself for what was to come. What she’d assumed was going to come. But it never had. It had been his eyes that had brought her back. They were the most mesmerizing emerald green. They shone in his face like a lighthouse would during a terrible storm. His eyes, like the lights, meant safety. He had, very gently, taken her hand and lifted her to her feet. Madison had averted her gaze then. She had been afraid to hope, thinking them coming to rescue her was some sick psychological game.

He hadn’t touched her, but dropped his face so his gaze could reach hers. “You’re safe now,” he’d said as a small, gentle smile played at his lips.

“You’re safe now,” he repeated.

She remembered throwing herself into his arms and sobbing. The man had moved his body away from hers, not allowing them to touch other than her arms around his neck and her face buried there too. All she had thought to say had been “thank you,” so she’d repeated it over and over again. He’d stood that way with her for a long time. Madison hadn’t given any thought to how she might have looked or, worse, smelled.

She’d stood there crying uncontrollably and rejoicing that it was over. Eventually, the exhaustion of being there for as long as she had, the exhaustion from constantly fighting for survival, the exhaustion of having given up, hit her, and her knees had begun to give out. He’d walked her to the stairs, and somehow he knew those stairs seemed too high. Too daunting.

So he’d told her, “I’m going to pick you up, okay?”

She could only nod, her face still pushed into his neck. He had scooped her up as if she’d weighed nothing.
Madison remembered being placed in a Jeep and the man gently buckling her in. He had begun to close the door and seemed ready to walk away, but Madison had protested. “Please...could you stay with me?”

Her voice had been soft and weak. She had been so tired. He’d glanced over at another man who was orchestrating arrangements for the rest of the women who had been saved. They had been creating a triage, of sorts. Those who’d needed urgent care and had been the worst off were in Jeeps equipped with stretchers, and two or three other women, like her, had been put in cars. There were some who had been carefully placed on stretchers with blankets over their bodies and faces. Madison hadn’t wanted to look to see where they were going. The guy who was clearly in charge had cast a glance over at her and nodded. 
Then the man who’d saved her climbed in the backseat and buckled his seatbelt as the car started and they’d begun to drive away.

Bouncing down the unpaved road had jarred her injuries. She’d tried to stay quiet. Even at that point, leaving that awful place, she hadn’t been entirely convinced that this was real. But he had heard her quiet gasps. He’d looked over at her and placed his arm around her shoulders and effectively held her in place so that the bumps along the road did not jar her as much.

It had been then she’d noticed the scar. Her rescuer had a scar that ran the length of his face. It was almost a perfect diagonal, cutting across his left cheek, going through his top lip and down into his bottom. It was thin but looked no less viscous. How had he gotten that kind of a scar? But before Madison could give the question any real thought, her eyes had grown heavy, and she focused her energies instead on staying awake. She had been terrified to fall asleep. She had been afraid if she’d closed her eyes she would wake up once again in the basement.

As if reading her mind, he had turned toward her and whispered, “You’re safe now. You don’t have to be scared anymore. You’re safe, I promise.”

And with that, her eyes had shut. She hadn’t voluntarily touched another human being in months. But she’d wanted him near her. So she’d laid her head on his strong shoulder and slept. She’d woken in the hospital a few days later. Emerald Eyes had been gone.

And now, eight years later, it was her turn to save him.
***
"We are taken on a wild ride and I loved every minute of it. I like to read books that have action and move at a fast pace and this one was just what I wanted. I look forward to reading more from this author." -Nerd Girl Official


Other titles by this author

Seduction in Sierra Leone

The Men of FTI Book One

In the mangroves of Sierra Leone, two strangers raised a world apart find themselves inextricably connected. Seduction in Sierra Leone, the first in a series of three novels, is a fast-paced tale of murder, lust, and love that transports the reader to a foreign and mysterious world of danger.

Aislinn Salameh, an American relief worker, is searching for purpose in her self- imposed lonely world. The stranger who enters her village on a blistering hot day seems more animal than human. She knows she should stay far away but can’t stop herself from being drawn to the mysterious man.

Brandt Fairlane is haunted by the sins of his past. Detached from others, Brandt has spent his life alone. His line of work is too dangerous for the luxuries of love and family.

When Brandt sees Aislinn and her haunting eyes, he knows he must possess her. But when Brandt’s past comes back from the dead and Aislinn is caught in the crossfire, it is up to him to keep her safe. In order to survive, they must learn to rely on one another. As they run for their lives, the heat between them becomes undeniable. Now, Brandt must not only protect Aislinn from a madman committed to stealing her away, but he also must protect her from himself. Because if Brandt steals her body and her heart, he’ll never let her go.

“Seduction in Sierra Leone has a great combination of action and romance. This book is well written and fast paced. There is enough hot sex to keep you reading and cheering on the couple. I recommend this book to all suspense and military romance readers. I’m looking forward to next book.” - Night Owl Reviews


Author Bio:

Olivia Night, a fictional character herself, has always been an avid reader and writer. She found the romance genre in college and has never been able to get enough. One sleepless night, the main characters of Book One in her Men of FTI  series sprang from her head fully formed. They demanded she tell their story; so she did. As they revealed themselves, so did two other intriguing characters. Those characters convinced her to give them their own books because their stories were worth telling too. And so Olivia suddenly became a romance author. When Olivia is not writing, she has the best job in the world, which, too, will remain a secret. In her free time, she reads, write, drinks wine, or is, most likely, out emulating Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Olivia lives in one of the most diverse and vibrant cities in the U.S.—Baltimore. She lives with her cat, which she is convinced was a gladiator in his past life. Olivia plans to continue being awesome at this thing called life. Really, that’s her only goal.

Connect with Olivia Night

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Scandal at Vauxhall: New Erotic Regency Novella by Layna Pimentel

Scandal at Vauxhall 
by Layna Pimentel
Pleasure Garden Follies, Book 1
Erotic Historical Romance Novella
Out Now

Full of mystery, gambling, and a love story for the ages, this Regency romance is a wonderful addition to your historical romance library. Find out why scandal has never been sweeter, even when society dictates otherwise!

The love and happiness Isabel Salisbury expected in life when she accepted the proposal of the Marquess of Stoughton takes an unexpected turn, when he leaves on a mission for the war office. She is married off to the Duke of Brimley.

Nathaniel Thompson, the Marquess of Stoughton, is devastated to learn upon his return that Isabel has married the duke. When news of her husband’s death surfaces, Nathaniel sets out to make amends and will stop at nothing until she’s his marchioness.

But when London learns of a promiscuous tryst between them in the Daily, their credibility is at stake. They soon discover that nothing in life is simple, nor private, and all is fair in love and war.

Purchase Link: Liquid Silver Books

Excerpt

On a night like tonight, however, she was thankful for the lack of her husband’s presence. These types of occasions always put him in a sour mood. He’d wind up playing whist and lose. Then, he’d drink himself into a stupor, drag her away from whatever conversation she was having, take her home and bed her roughly, only to fall asleep before giving her any pleasure in return.

Pfft. What is pleasure anyway? Yet, while she didn’t have much experience in the ways of lovemaking, it was highly unlikely most marriage beds were like hers. Especially during these moments, she wished she had the courage to run.

Is married life supposed to be like this? Leaving me feeling filthy, unworthy, and so lonely? She hadn’t the slightest clue about what she'd ever done wrong, but the pang of regret over not standing up to her husband made her frailer with each passing day.

Distracting her from such sad thoughts, Lady Balfour approached, fanning herself with expediency. “My dear, have you heard? The Marquess of Stoughton has just arrived. My word, he hasn’t aged one bit, and he’s looking quite fit.”

Nathaniel! He’s alive. Isabel’s heart pounded in her chest as her gaze settled on him.

She hadn’t seen him since he’d told her he was leaving on business for the war office. Her pulse kicked up furiously to the point that she felt light-headed and breathless. He was still a sight for sore eyes. His dark hair and piercing blue gaze stood out in the crowd. The sheer breadth of his shoulders framed his muscular size. She watched as he stopped and spoke with other gentlemen, his back now facing her and Lady Balfour.

My God! He really is here. Would he even recognize me? Hardly. He’s probably here to fetch his mistress for the evening. Why would he even pay me any mind? Besides, she was a duchess, very much married, and obliged to keep up appearances.

“My, would you look at the size of his thighs,” Lady Coxley announced as she approached the ladies, garnering a few giggles from prying ears.

Isabel smirked, knowing all too well in what direction this conversation was headed.

“They are wonderfully built, but I’m sure some other lady has laid claim on the marquess.”

“You haven’t heard, have you, Isabel?”

“What haven’t I heard?” she asked. Her breath hitched and her pulse raced. What could I have missed? 

“Come away with me to the terrace. I wish to speak to you in private. We can’t have half of London listening in.”

She followed Lady Coxley outdoors, leaving behind the sounds of merriment to be embraced by the shrouded darkness of night and silence.

“They say the marquess will not marry until he’s found her.”

“Until he’s found who?”

“The one who broke his heart. But in all honesty, everyone knows it’s you. With any luck, perchance some horrible fate will happen upon Henry.”

If I were only so lucky. “You shouldn’t talk like that! And for the record, the marquess and I were done long ago. Remember, he’s the one who left me.”

“Isabel, you cannot expect me to believe that you haven’t thought about that man— at least once or ever—during the course of this sham of a marriage of yours. The haute ton in its entirety knows where he is right now. And you’d be a fool to think Henry gives two ninnies about your welfare.”

The sound of someone clearing their throat interrupted them.

“Excuse me, ladies, but I was wondering if perchance I could steal Her Grace for a dance.”

Good grief. Did he hear any of our discussion? I cannot believe he’s actually here.

Heat coursed through Isabel at the thought of holding him once again. She nodded and held out her gloved palm for him to take. “I’d be honored, My Lord.”

“The pleasure is all mine, Your Grace.”

Leaving behind Lady Coxley, she followed his lead inside for a waltz.

“It’s been too long, Isabel. I’ve missed you terribly,” he whispered as they took a turn about the dance floor. Nathaniel bowed and took her hand. His touch warmed her, and the gentle squeeze that followed reassured her that the flame they once had was still there.

She and Henry hadn’t danced since their wedding and even then, he quickly discarded her to dance with the Duchess of Downsbury. If she’d only known her dismissal that evening would be the first of many others. For the most part, her husband had two left feet, but Nathaniel whisked her away gracefully to the tune. She wished to kiss him again and remind herself of their time together. Good heavens, Isabel. You’re married. Enough of this foolishness!

Isabel felt him pulling her closer as his arm at the small of her back pushed her in. His head dipped down, and, naturally, she looked up at him, ignoring every stare and whisper as they moved together. She finally cringed and mustered the courage to ask him the one thing weighing heavily on her mind. “Why did you take so long? Why didn’t you come sooner? Nathaniel, there hasn’t been a day I haven’t thought of you.”

As the music wound down and the dancers departed, Isabel locked her eyes on his and felt a tear escape. “You’ve been missed greatly, My Lord.”

His thumb swiped away the drop. “My dear, there hasn’t been a day, hour, or dream you haven’t occupied.” 

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.

For updates on her upcoming releases, or to leave her a comment, you can find her here:



Join Layna, Jess, and twelve of their friends on Facebook on February 27th for a day of fun, romance, and fantastic prizes. We hope to see you there!