Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Blast from the past: THE DOMINO EFFECT #RomFantasy

Romantic Suspense/Thriller (novella)

Available from:

Ex-intelligence operative Martin Fowler is a man with a dangerous past, filled with casual liaisons and complex betrayals. In his mentor’s daughter, Martin’s found happiness and trust for perhaps the first time in his life. But, that peace is about to be tested when an old enemy kidnaps Martin’s lover and a mutual friend, and to stay alive they must engage is a betrayal of their own.

Chapter 1

Daniella Renault watched in silence as Martin Fowler pulled on a lightweight jacket and made a grab for his car keys. The tension in the air was palpable and she no longer knew what to say to change it. Fowler had been getting edgier by the day, and the strain was starting to spill over into their relationship. Daniella pushed for answers Martin refused to give her, and they ended up walking around in the same rooms with no true contact. That had been the case since late the previous evening.

"I'm sorry," Daniella finally offered, unable to let Martin leave the apartment with this kind of anger separating them. She wanted to add something, but forced herself to wait for Martin's response to the cease fire.

Fowler had his back to the young woman when he heard the quietly spoken words, and he felt a painful twist deep in his chest. She was apologizing to him for something that had nothing to do with her, and everything to do with Martin's inability to rein in his reactions to what was going on around him. He ran a hand through his hair, pushing fine, dark brown strands off his forehead. He turned equally dark eyes to meet the shifting tide of blue that was his lover's gaze.

"You have no reason to be sorry, Daniella." When she gave him a confused shrug and turned to look out the window, Martin crossed the distance between them. He touched the golden silk of Daniella's hair and felt her slow exhalation of air easing some of the stiffness from her stance. Fowler dropped the keys into his pocket and stepped forward, standing at Daniella's side. "I'm the one who's sorry," he whispered. "This has nothing to do with you, honey."

"I want to help," Daniella murmured, facing Martin with an expression of unmistakable concern. "I know something is hurting you, and that hurts me, too, Martin. I hate it when you shut me out. It always feels like you think you can't trust me or count on me." She didn't bother adding that she frequently feared that the lack of openness from her handsome, worldly lover stemmed from the difference in their ages and experience. Daniella's twenty-one years had been spent sheltered and protected from the very life that made Fowler what he was. Daniella was a photographer and a drama student; her lover was considered to be one of the finest intelligence operatives in the world. Daniella's father, Andrew Renault, had been responsible for much of the agent's training. Martin, at forty, had lived through far more than most men his age--infinitely more than Daniella ever would. Fowler and Renault had gone into business together a few years earlier, private investigation, and in typical fashion, they'd been successful from day one. But, their pasts were never far behind them, and she suspected that this was yet another example of that darkness swallowing the light in her world yet again. Martin had taken freelance assignments from his old boss recently, things he was eminently qualified for due to his past training. But, she was more afraid now than she'd ever been in her life. Each time the Agency took him from her, the risk of his never coming back grew more real.

"I trust you with my life, Daniella," Fowler replied without hesitation. "And, I count on you every day, even if you don't always realize it." He smiled, brushing a gentle touch across the smooth slope of her cheekbone. "You keep me sane."

"You always said I made you crazy," Daniella pointed out with a weak grin. She slipped her arms around his waist and closed her eyes when Martin pulled her close, her head moving naturally to his broad shoulder.

"Just give me some time, Daniella," Martin requested. "I have to sort out what's going on at the Agency. Maybe then we'll take off for the weekend?"

"Why won't you talk to me?"

Fowler sighed and pushed down the flare of anger the words sparked. This particular question had preceded some rather loud arguments during the past couple of weeks; he was honestly tired of the dissension.

"I'll tell you anything you want to know," Martin answered, pulling back so Daniella could meet his eyes. "As soon as I know what there is to tell you. Let it go for now, Dani, please." She would have walked away from him if Martin hadn't tightened his hold. The injured defiance Martin saw in the wide blue eyes was becoming a much too familiar expression. Fowler hesitated a moment, then bent his head to cover Daniella's lips with a lingering, sensual kiss. Her initial resistance melted, and her tongue slipped into Martin's mouth, deepening the caress until they were both gasping for breath. Martin stared into the beautiful young face and felt his entire body stirring with familiar passion. He dragged in a deep breath and eased away from the enticing feel of the slender body pressed against his.

"I'll call if I have to be late," he said, then leaned forward to claim the tempting mouth again. Daniella would have been molded to him a second time, but Martin broke the kiss with a regretful shake of his head and spun on his heel before he could change his mind about leaving.

* * * *

Daniella watched the gleaming, scarlet Corvette pull away from the curb, and she leaned forward in the window seat. Part of her was still annoyed at being put off another time, but at least there was some semblance of peace between them today. She hated the silences even more than the recent disagreements. She was used to Fowler being open and sharing with her; it had always been one of the most attractive things about him. But, Daniella was also perfectly aware that he wasn't going to relent on this point; if he were going to, it would have happened by now. That meant Daniella had to find out herself what was happening.


She unfolded herself from her uneasy slouch and went to the desk. A minute's thought gave her a potential target for her questions, and she reached for the phone, a smile slowly transforming her features into an expression of satisfaction.

* * * *

Christian Baines opened the door and let his sharp gaze wander over his pretty friend. The expression in Daniella's eyes warned him that she was on some kind of mission, and he suddenly felt like he'd been caught in a well-set trap. He stepped aside and gestured Daniella into the house.

"When are you supposed to be at the hospital?" Daniella asked, strolling into the spacious living room. She loved Baines' house, she thought with a smile, looking around appreciatively. Chris had a large, sprawling, ranch-style home, and the entire feel of the place was warm and relaxed--a direct reflection of the man who owned it. Baines' hobby was in evidence in a far corner of the room; paints, brushes and easel scattered in the work area specifically designed for them. Daniella dropped into a comfortable seat on the leather sofa and crossed her legs, revealing an enticing length of shapely limbs.

"I've got a couple of hours," Chris answered. "Want a beer, or coffee?"

"Coffee's fine," Daniella rose quickly. "I'll get it."

Before Chris could object, she had disappeared into the kitchen. Shit! Chris thought, a flare of annoyance creeping into his mood. Daniella was being too cheerful, and too solicitous--that meant she wanted something. Not that the young woman wasn't usually generous and good-natured, but there was something in Daniella's voice on the phone that had put Chris on his guard long before she had shown up.

"I need your help, Chris," Daniella said once she was seated across from Baines, coffee cup in hand. Her other hand was filled with a huge Asian pear, lifted from the fruit bowl on Baines' kitchen counter.

Daniella's idea of a well-balanced breakfast, no doubt, Chris thought.

"That much I figured out, Dani," Baines commented dryly. The startled expression on her lovely features actually won a small laugh from the physician, and he leaned back in his chair and nodded. "Okay, what's goin' on?"

"It's Martin," Daniella told him after a brief pause and a huge bite from the piece of fruit she was holding.

"Now there's a surprise," Chris remarked, softening the quip with a grin that told Daniella she was being teased, nothing more.

"I'm not joking about this, Chris," Daniella said quietly. "There's something wrong, and I can't get him to talk to me. I know it's got something to do with work, but that's it. You're involved with the Agency..."

"So you want me to ask a few questions," Chris finished with a nod. "I don't work for the Director, Daniella. My connections are flimsy, at best. If he doesn't want me to know what's happening, nobody will talk to me. What about Johnson?"

"He'll say it's up to Martin," Daniella retorted, quickly realizing she wasn't getting very far with Baines, either.

"Maybe he's right," Chris suggested carefully, measuring Daniella's reaction to his gentle resistance. She frequently felt like she was out of his league, and Chris did his best not to treat her with the same over-protectiveness everybody else seemed compelled to exhibit when dealing with her. When the familiar line of stubbornness became more pronounced along her jaw, Chris sighed and leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees.

"Listen, Daniella, this really is something that you and Martin have to work out yourselves. You're asking me to put myself in the middle of your relationship, and to be honest with you, Dani--I'm not wild about that particular position."

"I'm not asking you to do anything except ask a few questions," Daniella protested, anger flooding her features. "What if he's in trouble, Chris? I need to know what's wrong before I can help him."

"Then wait for him to tell you, Daniella. You sure as hell wouldn't want me in the middle if your situations were reversed, would you?"

"I don't push him away!"

"He's doing what he thinks is best," Chris observed, certain that was the case. "Just like you think it's for the best that you should know what's going on with him. Same instinct, same motivation. He loves you."

Daniella stood up, nervous energy making her restless. She paced the living room before she dropped back into her seat on the couch. "I'm afraid for him, Chris."

The genuine misery in the sapphire eyes almost changed Baines' mind about a trip to the Agency, but he knew Fowler would be the one he'd have to deal with afterward. Martin wasn't thrilled about Baines' friendship with Daniella under the best of circumstances. If Fowler thought for a minute that she was using it to pry into his professional business, via Chris's connections, he'd make life hell for Baines.

"Then tell him and accept his decision, Daniella," Chris advised. "You and I both know that Martin's not going to be pushed into anything."

"Yeah," Daniella muttered, irritation resurfacing. "He's about as helpful as you are right now." She didn't wait for a response, simply rose and headed for the door. "Goodbye, Chris."

Baines sighed heavily, as annoyed with himself as he was with Daniella. Why did saying 'no' to her always make him feel guilty? Because Daniella so rarely asks for anything, he answered in the next thought. Even now, the request hadn't been made because of curiosity; it had been made out of love and worry. Maybe he shouldn't have been so quick to say no. He was on his feet and headed for the door when he heard the sounds of a scuffle on his doorstep.

* * * *

Daniella was torn between frustration and anger when she swung the door shut and stepped onto the front steps outside Baines' house. Damn it! She'd thought she could count on Chris to help her; in fact, she'd been too certain of it, she suddenly realized. She was just turning around to go back and apologize when a hand closed on her shoulder. She whirled and barely had time to see the man behind her before pain doubled her over. She clutched at her stomach, choking on the need to draw in air that refused to filter into her lungs. She would have slipped to the ground except the same man who'd landed the solid blow now kept her on her feet.

The world did another disorienting spin on her when she was turned around suddenly, and a gun placed at her left temple. Chris Baines stood staring at her from the open doorway, fear written vividly on his handsome face.

"I want you to come with us, Doctor Baines, quietly, and without a fuss, or your lovely friend will die."

Chris nodded his understanding, shut the door to his house and allowed a second man to lead him toward the car waiting at the curb. Daniella was pushed into the vehicle ahead of him, and Baines climbed in and drew the shaking woman close to him. Daniella said nothing, and Chris suffered a moment of pain when he realized how often she had been placed in danger during her young life. There was a glaze of terror in the blue eyes, but beneath the panic was a sense of resigned hurt that was disconcerting and infuriating to Baines. Chris clenched his jaw and held her closer.

Available from:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Perceptions and Responsibilities - a personal view #RomFantasy

Today, I came across something that reminded me of an old friend, an author I haven’t noticed publishing lately. Curious, I did a search on her and came up with some interesting links to things I didn’t really know about. It’s strange how the mind works. After I’d gotten through reading some of the statements she posted about a former publisher, someone we both published with, in fact, it made me wonder why in hell people are so quick to air their snarky grievances in public forums.

I know the old battle cry that goes–we want to warn other authors about the potential problems with this publisher or that publisher. Quite frankly, that is just one more bullshit excuse for letting your mouth run rampant because you want attention. IN MY OPINION. Stress that–MY opinion only! I’ve never seen the value in ranting about potential employers, then expecting others not to notice that you’re a shit-disturber when you don’t get things handled in the way you deem correct. The author in question now publishes with at least one trouble-ridden house with a laughable reputation, and self publishes. I wonder if there’s a correlation to the inciting a riot and the refusal of higher end houses not offering contracts, because I know for a fact she has submitted to some of the more reputable places.

The blame game is an old one, and at the end of the day it always strikes me that authors have a fascinating way of making it always the publisher who is at fault. We live in an age where unless you’re in a bad movie, set in a foreign country accused of a crime, no one puts a pen in your hand and a gun to your head to make you sign something against your will. So, isn’t it about time that we get real and accept that when an author signs a contract, it’s a voluntary thing? NO ONE can tell you with 100% accuracy what a publishing house can or cannot do for you. What is right for some is dead wrong for others, does that make the publisher bad, or to be avoided? I love the folks who are willing to jump on a bandwagon and crucify publishing houses that other authors are having a very good experience with, and then because those individuals don’t agree with them, they are then vilified, lied to, lied about… etc., etc., etc….

I’ve known authors from at least two publishing houses who did their best to destroy their publishers because they didn’t like one thing or another. In some cases, these were writers who had signed not a single contract, but MULTIPLE contracts, then decided they weren’t happy with what they were getting. Again, I ask, is that the publisher’s fault entirely? In some cases there is a legitimate bitch, and I don’t mean to imply there isn’t, but in many cases what you get is a whole lot of very personal, one-sided, distorted “fact” and very little real evidence of all the evils. Even when it’s well documented, the fact remains, some people will be having a perfectly good experience with the publisher others hate. Who’s to say one is more right than the other?

Not everyone who isn’t with you is against you. That mentality is a whole different set of crazies. I’ve worked with a couple of houses where I was well treated, and had no bitch about anything. Others weren’t so happy. By refusing to “join” them I was deemed against them–and suddenly people who had barely spoken to me were experts in my loyalties, my thoughts about things, and my “cowardice” in not standing with them. It’s laughable now, though I wasn’t laughing when it happened, believe me! There are a handful of writers in this business I will never have a tolerance for because of their actions in instances like this, and while it might mean nothing to anyone else, those people gain nothing but my disdain and contempt, professionally and personally.

At the end of the day, for me at least, it comes down to accepting responsibility for the choices we make. I’ve signed with some truly bad publishers, and some excellent houses. No one forced me to sign those contracts, and the choices were mine. I suppose that is the point, isn’t it? You can let other people influence your career choices with their experiences, or you can accept that in the end, the pen is in your hand, and the commitment you make is one you choose to make. If things go bad, learn and move on… Taking your discontent public only makes it easy for everyone, publishers included, to see how well you handle your choices and accept your personal responsibilities.

For those of you who wonder who I’ve published with over ten years, here’s the list, good, bad, and indifferent–and I have strong feelings about ALL of these houses, but you won’t be seeing the negatives in any public forum, believe me. I signed the contracts, I learned the lessons, and I continue to learn every day. In this business, that’s called being a professional, and it takes you a long way in any publisher/editor/agent relationship you wish to cultivate for success.

Most still in business, some long gone, but this is ten years of experience (listed alphabetically): 

Absolute XPress  •  Amber Quill Press  •  Crimson Frost Books  •  Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy  •  Eirelander Publishing  •  Ellora’s Cave  •  Evolutionary Publishing  •  Firedrakes Weyr  •  Forbidden Publications  •  Hearts On Fire  •  Liquid Silver Books  •  Midnight Frost Books  •  Moongypsy Press  •  Naughty Nights Press  •  New Concepts Publishing  •  New Dawning International Book Fair  •  Noble Romance  •  Ravenous Romance  •  Samhain Publishing  •  Solstice Publishing  •  Twilight Fantasies  •  The Wild Rose Press  •  XoXo Publishing™

Photo via Google Images - no copyright infringement is intended.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Meet Koos Verkaik, creator of a wonderful new world for Children!

Once in awhile you discover books that are magical and imaginative and so wonderful you have to share them! Now, these books are for children, or those who are children at heart. The author is a charming man from the Netherlands who writes with a gentle touch and a warm and wonderful wit that will appeal to people everywhere. The first two books in his series, Alex and the Wolpertinger, are now available through LadyBee Publishing of Canada. I really think you should take a look and enjoy them, especially if you children to share the experience with you!! So without further babble from me, enter the world of the Wolpertinger and smile...

New from Koos Verkaik:


Amazon  |  OmniLit  |  Smashwords

Never trust a wolpertinger! For wolpertingers only give you troubles!

Wolpertingers come from the mysterious Downhills, where also monsters and dragons live. They scare you and they make a fool out of you, they want to tease you and they play all kinds of tricks with you.

Don’t be mistaken about wolpertingers! They are small, but stronger than a bear and they can eat and drink more than a giant. When you ever see a wolpertinger… you better fly!

Still, once, a long time ago, there was a boy who made friends with a wolpertinger.

That was Alex, the boy from the Alps, who lived in the land of the giant king Clover and traveled through the Downhills – together with Ludo the wolpertinger.

The human child and the wolpertinger were inseparable and experienced the most marvellous adventures…


“…a real master in his genre, wherein the reader gets taken along on a journey through time! A fantastic and spectacular intrigue; Koos Verkaik can hold his own with the best foreign names in this field!” - A.P. MAGAZINE

“The Dutch Stephen King, that's the best compliment we can give horror writer Koos Verkaik from Zoetermeer. With his novels he fills a gap in the market - he is writing original fantasy and horror. Finally the reader doesn't get badly translated English, but a fresh, almost literary Dutch. Verkaik has a personal, original style!” - AKTUEEL MAN EZINE

“Verkaik is always flirting with the paranormal. The tight, balanced style of his works give away his great craftsmanship. Koos Verkaik is called the Dutch Stephen King. Where productivity is concerned, this is right, but where his work is concerned I think that Koos is just himself and that is quite a lot!” – PENTHOUSE MAGAZINE (EUROPE)

“His style is characterized by a direct use of language and a high speed. His stories are written with virtuosity!” - THE LIBRARY

Available now from:

Amazon  |  OmniLit  |  Smashwords


Alex and his friends, Shabby Tabby Chum and Ludo the wolpertinger are on a mission to save the magician Halo. Halo is being held prisoner by Prince Ruff Rumble. The giant prince wants the magician to make gold for him. The prince doesn't know that, and Alex's real mission is to find a magician that can help Halo and get him set free.

~ Illustrated book.

Alex and his friends, Shabby Tabby Chum and Ludo the wolpertinger are on a mission to save the magician Halo. Halo is being held prisoner by Prince Ruff Rumble. The giant prince wants the magician to make gold for him. Halo's magic books are now unreadable after falling into the lake but he couldn't have made the gold even if his books hadn't gotten wet. The prince doesn't know that, and Alex's real mission is to find a magician that can help Halo and get him set free.

OmniLit  |  Amazon  |  Smashwords

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

10 Years and Counting @DenyseBridger #RomFantasy

In May of this year, I will be celebrating ten years as a professionally published author. Back in March of 2004, I entered a contest and won my first contract. It feels like forever ago in some regards, and in others it was like a year ago! (At present I have published with no less than two dozen publishers, some of them great, some I'd run a mile from on my most desperate day!) But, in the ten years of non-stop publishing since the first contract, I’ve learned a lot. Most of it by trial and error–with a large margin of error in the early days. As the years have passed, this business has grown by leaps and bounds, and is more competitive by the day. So, you have to learn fast, and then keep up. That keeping up is a full time job all by itself, too!

So, things learned, in no particular order, and this is only a very general list, obviously!

First, reviews. Everybody loves to read that their book has been enjoyed, or see it recommended to others. However, in the new world of online life and work, reviews are not conducted the way they once were. When I started, I was astounded to discover that people were not only reading my first books, review sites were reading and rating them, and no word of a lie–most of those first reviews were 5 star! But, those reviews were also from people who loved books and understood, for the most part, the value of a well balanced perspective in judging the merits of the stories they gave their time to. Review sites like Coffeetime Romance, Fallen Angel Reviews, The Romance Studio, and others like them–they have editors, and a set of rules and guidelines that have to be followed. Those reviews, to this day, are valued by authors.
Enter the new age of Amazon and Goodreads, and bloggers… While there is certainly value in what people have to say, it’s pretty much a given that open sites such as these allow people to spew a lot of venom if they are inclined to trash any book or author they take a dislike to. One star reviews are common on books offered by publishers for free as incentive to discover new authors, and ironically, with Amazon if you get a free book from a publisher promotion, they call it a verified purchase! If you take the time to look, it is often those free days that garner you the worst reviews, and then look again, you’ll discover that it’s a pattern. Not everyone engages in this type of abuse, but many do. It then becomes an exercise in futility if you track down reviews, because I can guarantee you’ll make discoveries that discourage you. It becomes clear fairly fast who’s really read your book and made thoughtful observations, and who’s skimmed a few pages and decided it’s crap.
The best defense? NONE at all. If you do have to acknowledge, say thank you for your time and move on, otherwise all hell breaks loose and the author always loses!
Most publishers send out their books to review sites–if you don’t get a notification from them of a review, don’t torture yourself by looking. This is of course only MY opinion.

How many times have you seen authors make the statement that they don’t like edits, or they don’t feel editors are needed? I’ve seen this proclaimed proudly by MANY indie authors–they refuse to engage an editor who will “change” their work, or alter their voice. I could be a total bitch and say what I think of that kind of posturing and arrogance, but hey, why bother? Good writers understand that a strong and talented editor is vitally important to producing the best book you can write. A good editor isn’t striving to change your voice, but to improve it and make it shine. So, yeah, I’m a strong advocate of listening to editors and respecting them as the important people they are to the industry. It’s a thankless job when you’re ignored or whined at, or subjected to outright hostile vitriol from authors who apparently don’t want to work as hard as the editor at making their book the best it can be.

A couple of other lessons that spring to mind are to never take your battles public. If you’re having an issue with your publisher, before you decide to play martyr and see if you can force them to squirm, know that it often backfires. You end up labeled a troublemaker, and the internet never forgets. Somewhere the angry tirade will be stored and resurface when you least want to see it. If you have no other choice but make your grievances a matter of public record, think very carefully about how you present yourself and your issues, because the taint will not shake easily if you come off as an ego-driven diva.

Be aware that contracts are pretty standard, but always read them carefully, especially the first time you work with a new house. MOST will not ask for a termination fee should things not work out, those that do, look closer and find out why? It’s not unreasonable for a house to expect you to leave your book with them for a period of time that will enable them to recover their investment, at least to some degree. If you want to terminate within the first six months, is that being fair to the publisher who invested their resources in publishing your book? Of course when you DO sign a termination, watch for things like gag orders and other anomalies. No one has the right to silence you if you wish to discuss your experience with a publishing house, but be sure you’re not being malicious just for the sake of it. If you have issues, be prepared to back them up with fact, or shut up. Otherwise you might be inviting a lawsuit.

In conclusion, let me leave you with a very valuable piece of insight that I have learned the hard way–and more than once, sadly. The real pros in this business want you to succeed, and they support you, encourage you, and cheer your triumphs. The amateurs will resent your successes, envy your breaks, and seethe every time you get something they don’t get. Those are the people you really want to walk away from because they’ll do you more harm than good, and make you feel doubts and fears you might otherwise not experience. This is a tough enough business without your “friends” making it harder on you.

More than anything else – continue to enjoy creating your stories, and tell them with love and passion… you’ll never lack for an appreciative audience if you invest in entertaining them the best way you can. If the words make you smile, you can pretty much rest assured, they’ll make your readers smile, too. And that is an author’s best reward for all the hours of hard work!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Heart To Heart Valentine's Hop CHAMPAGNE AND CHOCOLATE #MFRW Bloghops

This book came about in an unusual way, it was once a short story, written for a specific theme. It went out of print almost eight years ago. Last year, I pulled it out and considered the many times I’d been told it would be a great longer story. With that in mind, I built the rest of the world it was set in, and created a deeper relationship. I submitted the story to my editor at Ellora’s Cave, and she felt it still needed more background and a larger canvas. I was bored with it by then, so I left it. Then the rest of the story started whispering, and I pulled it up and finished it. Originally, this was to be my return to Noble Romance Publishing, but before it could be released, Noble closed its doors in the publishing world. My good friend Gina Kincade and I have long wanted to work together, but somehow the right time was never there. When she said they had no “cowboys” on the catalogue, I offered this one. I love Westerns, have long been enchanted with them. My first real hero was Paladin in Have Gun, Will Travel–a show that was on years before I was born. But, the Old West heroes have left an indelible imprint on my heart, and I go back to that era often. I hope you’ll enjoy this latest look into the West of the past, and two very different people who discover passion and love can often be the same thing, and old wounds can still heal with love.

Historical Western romance

Available from:

ARe Romance

From different worlds, drawn by desire, passion is about to change their lives forever....

Austin Standish is a man of refined tastes. Intelligent and educated, Austin enjoys all of the best life has to offer. A gambler, a gunslinger, and a man who has plans to taste the sweetest prize at The Palace Casino and Saloon - the lovely owner, Chantille L'Amour, the most sought after jewel on the Barbary Coast.

Running a high-class brothel and casino isn't exactly the life she was born to but Chantille is determined to overcome the ruin her family was left in once the Civil War ended. But, she has chosen a difficult path... one that demands much and leaves her lonely. She's noticed the handsome man who comes into her world from time to time, and when she chooses to give in to desire, the passion evoked by Austin's touch may change her life forever....


As she led him to the private wing of the large building that housed her home and business, Chantille had time to question the wisdom of her actions—again. She'd been berating herself for most of the past thirty minutes. Austin Standish was a danger to her; she knew this on an instinctive level. Not that he would hurt her, of course. But, he was dangerous, just the same.

She was acutely aware of every panther-like, lissome step he took behind her. He was elegant in manner and dress, quietly contained but always alert. The sense of being in perilous company assailed her with new severity. She opened the twin doors to her living suite and went inside, hearing him close the doors behind him before joining him.

She continued into the room, uncomfortable as she chafed against the restraints of her heavy dress and the many layers beneath it. She'd permitted a few select men into this suite over the past five years, but none had ever made her so acutely aware of herself and the desire to shed her clothes and feel solid muscles and male hardness pressed to her warm curves. Her breasts felt heavy, and her nipples strained against the fabric of her chemise, rubbing against the soft material until the pebbled points ached. Between her thighs, a slow, steady throb began to increase in rhythm, finding a matching tempo in her heartbeat.

The soft illumination from the fireplace touched the wood that dominated the room's furnishings, warming the smooth, lustrous finish as shadows danced on the walls and glimmered in the reflections of the mirror that adorned one wall of the room. She saw nothing, only the darkness that had grown around her so steadily throughout the past half-hour, a darkness that touched her with fears she couldn't clearly define, much less explain.

Watching the play of light catch in the soft gold of his hair, Chantille was struck again by the intuitive knowledge that dominated the man's handsome features. Barely suppressed sensuality and anticipation were so strong in the shadowed intimacy of the suite that she felt she could reach out and touch the things that presently put them on opposite sides of a chasm she didn't know with certainty she wanted to close. The only thing she did know was that she wanted to be with him more than she had any man she'd ever met.

"Tell me what you're feeling right now, Chantille."


"At me?"

"No," she whispered, then shook her head to deny her dishonesty. "Yes."


"I don't like being vulnerable."

* * * * *

For the first time, Chantille looked right at him, and Austin could read all the uncertainty he hadn't taken the time to notice before. He answered her honestly, unwilling to do anything less.

"Being vulnerable isn't always a bad thing, Chantille. Sometimes it makes you stronger."

"I don't believe that, and you certainly don't." The edge crept back into her tone. "I feel like I did when I was a child, needing to be wanted. When I came to San Francisco, I swore I'd never feel that way again."

Austin drew in a deep draught of air and ran a hand through his hair.

"You don't have to be afraid of anything, Chantille." He knew the words were weak, and he could have kicked himself for them once they were spoken.

She actually managed to smile at the statement, though there was no warmth in the expression.

"Weak women hold no appeal for men like you, Mr. Standish," she remarked.

"Is that what you want? To appeal to me?"

She laughed, a low murmur of sound that stirred the air between them.

"I want to share my bed with you, Austin," she conceded. "What I don't want is for it to cost me everything I've worked for."

"What are you afraid of losing?"

"My independence."

"Your heart."

"Don't be ridiculous."

"Don't lie to me, or to yourself."

Chantille met his eyes as if she were trying to pierce the shadows that surrounded them, to see what lay hidden behind that confident stare. When nothing shone forth, she closed her eyes.

Austin let the silence engulf them again for a long minute, then he closed the distance, touched her chin, and made her face him. His thumb brushed at the tear welled in the corner of her eye.

"I do want you," she murmured, voice raw with the force of her feelings.

The loneliness and the need for reassurance was almost a physical presence in the room with them, and Austin was forced to wonder just how long it had been since Chantille L'Amour had uttered those words to any man. If she ever had.

"I want you, too, Chantille."

Austin's whispered words were like a soft breath of air touching her face as he leaned forward to cover her lips with a tender kiss. She moved into the caress with a soft gasp, and her knees seemed to buckle as Austin's tongue slipped into her mouth with possessive hunger.

Chantille broke the intense kiss, and her head fell back as a sigh of relief and pleasure slipped out of her. She wrapped her arms around Austin's neck, then buried her face against his broad shoulder as she shivered into the sensations they were igniting in each other. She smiled at the slight catch already detectable in Austin's breathing, then shuddered when his hands began to work the buttons of her gown.

Suddenly, she eased free of his embrace and took a step back. He watched, eyes narrowed for a moment as he waited to see why she'd withdrawn. The wariness left his gaze a few seconds later when she lit another lamp and stood next to it.

The soft golden glow of the flickering lamplight illuminated the deft movements of her hands as she undid the buttons and hooks that held her gown together. Austin smiled and went to sit in a chair near the fireplace, his eyes never leaving her. The beautiful amethyst silk crumpled into a heap at her feet, and she gracefully stepped free of the shimmering mass. Next, the petticoats and crinolines fell into a crisp white pile, and she smiled, her expression faintly wicked with delight. He forced himself to remain still while she undid the hooks of her corset, her actions slow and deliberate. Her eyes never lost their hold on his, and she walked toward him, hips swaying seductively.

Available from:

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Sunday, February 09, 2014

A Valentine Offering - PAS de DEUX @DenyseBridger #RomFantasy

Her Secret Admirer - Brigit Aine
The Conversation Cards - Denysé Bridger

One sweet, one sexy - both passionate and guaranteed to make you smile!

Amazon  |  ARe Romance eBooks  |  Smashwords

Two very different stories of love and passion. In Brigit Aine’s enchanting tale, Her Secret Admirer, love is being discovered, with all its magic and mystery and hope… and in the second movement of the Duet, The Conversation Cards, two people already involved in their passionate love affair learn new things about each other, and reaffirm their bond.

Pas de Deux: Her Secret Admirer – Love is often found when it’s least expected. Cindy is working hard at making her business a success, and at her side offering solid support is Will. When she arrives home one evening to find a Valentine Love Coupon taped to her door, a romantic game of dreams and hope begins as her Secret Admirer begins a courtship that will win her heart long before she knows his name…

Pas de Deux: The Conversation Cards – Two modern lovers, living often separate lives, discover that making time for their relationship isn’t always easy. A whimsical, spur of the moment purchase of a Valentine novelty evokes an open and honest conversation that makes their secret getaway an even more romantic rendezvous, and renews hope for a future that is the stuff of dreams…

Excerpt: The Conversation Cards

“What’s this?” He leaned forward and pulled out the slim deck of cards that was on the table next to the sofa.

“I bought them when I stopped at a store on the way up here,” she said, taking the small box from him. She shook out the slender deck and showed them to him. “Each one has a question on it, it’s a game for Valentine’s Day. Want to play?”

“What’s the purpose?” Suspicion and amusement vied for dominance in his expression as he looked at her.

“They’re called The Conversation Cards, they’re meant to stimulate talking to each other,” she said.

“I can think of better stimulations, sweetheart.” He laughed.

She rolled her eyes and selected a card. “What’s the first thing you notice in a person?”

“Is there a point to this?”

She made a face at him. “It’s a game of sorts, allowing you to get to know things about the person you’re with,” she said. “It wouldn’t pain you to play along, would it?”

He took the card from her and looked at it. White and red, simple and sweet. The kind of thing teenagers might enjoy, and yet there was something very sweet about the hearts and red script. He shrugged.

“The first thing I noticed about you was your honesty,” he told her. “But that was in your letters. When we met, I noticed the light in your eyes. You were so alive and filled with passion.” He leaned forward and touched her cheek, his thumb tracing the curving slope. “You still don’t seem to understand how much beauty that can create in a woman, or how seductive it is to a man.”

“Is that what you always notice about a person?” She smiled, and waited.

“Mostly, yes.”

She laughed. “We’ll leave it at that, I think,” she said with a wink. “Your turn to pick a card.” She handed him the deck, and watched him shuffle the cards.

He selected one and read it, “What is your most cherished possession?”

She gave it some serious thought and leaned on the back of the sofa, head resting against her hand. “I think that would be your heart, but I don’t think that’s the real question.”

He grinned. “Good answer, though.”

“If it’s material possessions, it would be the doll my dad gave me when I was four. I still have her, as you know.”

He nodded. “Yes, sitting in the middle of your bed, as I recall. I don’t think she approves of me.”

Laughter filled the space between them, and she hugged him. “She approves, trust me! It’s being tossed on the floor by you that upsets her,” she concluded with a wink.

Another card was drawn and she read it, then looked at him.

“Well?” he prompted.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Valentine's Day delights from @miriamnewman #RomFantasy

Confessions of the Cleaning Lady: A band of feisty Irish faeries who stow away in the trunk of a pharmaceutical representative from Killarney are inadvertently released in the Pennsylvania countryside where Mal McCurdy sets up bachelor housekeeping. In need of a cleaning lady, he is introduced to Shawna Egan, unaware that his faeries have taken up residence in her oak tree. Shawna, who was raised with tales of the Fair Folk but never realized she can see them, learns it the hard way when she cuts down their home. She gives them another…and faeries always repay their debts. In Stupid Cupid, when the son of Zeus and Aphrodite bumbles into a meadow south of Killarney, he is met by a band of indignant faeries outraged by his target practice. Soon, however, all the supernatural creatures are overshadowed by an estranged couple intent on fisticuffs! Can Cupid effect a reconciliation between the humans? Or is just a wee bit of intervention by the Fae in order?


Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Into The Darkness @KFBreene @GoddessFish

by K.F. Breene


I’d always been different. I saw objects in the night where others saw emptiness. Large, human shaped shadows, fierce yet beautiful, melting into the darkness. I collected secrets like other women collected bells; afraid to fully trust lest my oddities be exposed.

Until I saw him. He’d been gliding down the street, unshakable confidence in every step. It wasn’t just that he was breathtakingly handsome with perfect features. Something about him drew me. Sucked my focus to him and then tugged at my body. As his eyes met mine, I was entrapped.

No one had noticed him. He’d been right there, just beyond the light, but only I had perceived.

I had to know if he was real. Or maybe I really was crazy. And even when my secret box was blasted wide open, dangers hurled at me like throwing knives, I couldn’t stop until I unraveled his true identity.

I just had to know.

“She was fated to live.”

“Then why must you save her?”

“Often Fate is struck down by dumb luck.”


Stefen approached the wide bed, looking down on the limp human, her angelic face devoid of color. Her arms rested on her chest, her body so still she looked dead.

A shot of fear pierced Stefen’s chest. “Will she make it?”

Luke’s head shook before he sighed. “She shouldn’t have made it last time. Yet she did. Something is holding her to this life.”

“My blood helped last time. Will it help again?”

Luke sighed, raising his eyebrows in a facial shrug. “If you can get her to drink, she might pull out of it. Might. She should be dead already; she’s largely catatonic. But…well, she survived last time, so who’s to say?”

Stefen nodded, allowing himself to bestow his gaze back to this woman that had a firm hold on his vitals for reasons he couldn’t understand or explain. The only thing he knew with certainty was that she could not die.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

A wine country native, K.F. Breene moved to San Francisco for college just shy of a decade ago to pursue a lifelong interest in film. As she settled into the vibrant city, it quickly became apparent that, while she thought making and editing films was great fun, she lacked cinematic genius. For that reason, her career path quickly changed direction. Her next goal was a strange childhood interest, conjured at the dining room table while filling out a form. For some reason, her young self wanted to be an accountant. Thinking on it now, she often wonders how she had any friends. Regardless, it was the direction she finally took.

While she could wrangle numbers with the best of 'em, and even though she wore the crown as the most outspoken, belligerent accountant in the world, her mind got as stuffy as her daily routine. It was here that she dusted off her creative hat and began writing. Now she makes movies in her head, not worried about lighting, shutter speed or editing equipment. Turns out, a computer is much easier to manage than a crowd of actors. She should know, she was an actor at one time.

An Interview with the AUTHOR:

1.  First book you remember making an indelible impression on you.  

It was this monster book. It was my brother’s, and had these really vivid pictures of monsters. A lot of them were absolutely revolting! Disgusting. I still have a couple of those pictures etched in my head. Little boys are so gross!

2.  If you could only eat one food the rest of your life, what would it be?

No. I’d starve. I have a hard time eating the same thing two nights in a row, let alone more than that. I would lose the will to eat. That’s what happens when I diet. I just stop caring what goes in my mouth and actually stop eating. Not good stuff. 

3.  If you were a shifter, what animal would you like to be?

A bear, probably. Kind of even keel with the penchant to mind my own business, until riled. Then get the hell out of the way ‘cause sh*t just got real!

4.  Favorite season? Why?

Spring is my favorite. Granted, I live in California. The rest of the states don’t think we have seasons. But spring has that little hint of flower on a gradually warming breeze. Things smell new and fresh. Alive. I love the feel of it.

5.  Best movie ever made?  

Sorry Peter Jackson, because I do love Return of the King, but I have to go with Gladiator on this one. I love Gladiator. I really do. The cast was awesome, the directing was great, I love Rome and that era, and it never lost my attention. All the emotions were there, it was an epic, it was vicious and grueling with parts that gave you an underlying longing. Also, they did a good job with the history of the coliseum and what it was really used for (crowd control). It was just a really well done movie.


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