Monday, June 30, 2014

The Rules of Writing #RomFantasy

Write what you know. Write every day. Write for yourself. Change this. Learn that… Then do it all over again. A few times. This is the glamorous world of writing at its’ core. All the learning is on-going. It never really lets up if you are a writer who respects and understands craft–and yes, despite the shoddy way it is often treated, writing IS considered to be a craft, or an art.

There are endless ways to address writing, some that give it an air of mystery, or glamorize what is often a very lonely and personal process for most of us. You’ll see phrases like “show, don’t tell” a lot. References made to a writer’s “voice” – like it’s something Divine or magical. Some banter about monikers like “natural writer” because the stories come as easily as drawing breath – while others struggle to dredge up one solid idea that can be hammered into a story plot.

But, what does any of it really mean? I have collected about a thousand dollars worth of writing guides over the past two years – 50/50 split between paper and eBooks. A few nights ago I forced myself NOT to buy yet another guide, despite the high recommendation it was given. Why? Well, I’ve come to the sad but real conclusion that all this study has not only slowed my writing process, it’s pretty much strangled my voice and joy of creating stories. It’s ironic in one sense because years ago I used to get asked a lot if I had studied creative writing, or gone to school to learn to write. No on both counts – I told many people that sitting in on one “writing course” class was all it took to convince me that being told how to construct sentences and what “rules” should always be observed was the quickest way to silence the stories before they ever stirred to life.

Good editors and writers all know that the only honest and real rule is there are no rules so etched in stone that they can’t be broken or ignored entirely. Writing is like the flow of a river, shifting, rushing, always moving forward to a destination. Rules are like dams – they slow the progress, but they can’t really stop the inevitable burst that will open the floodgates, figuratively speaking, of course.

I like good editors, they teach and draw out your inner visions, sometimes showing you things you didn’t see yourself in the rush of white-water rafting that was your first draft creation. LISTEN to those editors, they care about your story. There’s more to editing than typos, grammar, and rearranging words. Editors who chop out blocks of your text, and expect to be the final word on your story are honestly full of shit for the most part and should be avoided. The story is yours – work with a builder, not a wrecking ball.

Tons of advice out there. You can read and learn forever – which means you’ll never write that book. If you don’t draw the line and just do the writing, you can’t really call yourself a writer. Writer-in-waiting maybe, but you’re the only one who’ll know that.

So, break a few rules, make a few rules, bend a few rules. Do whatever works for you. Don’t write what you know, write what you feel – what pushes and inspires you. Toss your baby out of the nest and into the world. Then – start all over again! That’s the only way to do this gig.

Good luck, and happy writing!!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Celebrating Summer with a wonderful CONTEST! @LadyBPublishing

Who is ready for a contest? In honour of both Canada Day and the 4th of July, LadyBee Publishing is holding it's first big contest with fabulous prizes. The prizes centre around the Alex and the Wolpertinger series. The first prize is a crystal LadyBee necklace.

The second place prize is a LadyBee one hour timer. The third place, 4th and 5th place prizes are these very cool bookmarks. They not only mark your page, but the line you are reading.

The contest rules are simple. Answer these 5 questions correctly, and your name will be entered. All the answers can be found in the Alex and the Wolpertinger- The Monster Inn, and Alex and the Wolpertinger- The Downhills

1)- Who is Boohoo?
2)-What is Polar Pots and how did Alex first meet him?
3)-How did Spark become an Ice Prince?
4)-What were the directions given to Alex and Ludo, on how to find Fabulous?
5)-What happened to Spark, when he left the Downhills and followed Alex back to the land of humans?

Send your answers to

One entry per person, and must be of legal age. LadyBee Publishing employees, past and present are not eligible for entry.

Winners will be announced on July 16/14 

Wondering where you can find these wonderful books? Of course you are!! Check them out here:

Available Now at: OmniLit  |  Amazon  |  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.

Available Now at: OmniLit  |  Amazon  |  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.

LadyBee Publishing

Monday, June 23, 2014

Winner Take All – an Amazon Best-seller #MFRWAuthors #RomFantasy

I’ve long been an author who doesn’t linger long in any one genre, so imagine my surprise last week when one of my lesser promoted and known books suddenly climbed to the #17 spot on Amazon’s best-seller list in Westerns! A week later it’s sitting at #24, and a review posted today that made me laugh out loud. (In a good way!)

I’ve always considered myself more an Historical writer than contemporary, though in recent years I’ve become very associated with both contemporary and paranormal genres. The thing is, when I am feeling lost about where to go next, I inevitably go back to the Old West. My first heroes were cowboys and the love affair has never died.

Winner Take All is a combination of influences for me, and Dylan Coulter is many heroes rolled into one. He has Paladin’s charm and easy grace, Chris Larabee’s intensity and deadly accuracy with a gun, and probably both men’s tempers when pushed. (For those who don’t recognize those names – Paladin is Have Gun, Will Travel, played by the late Richard Boone, and Chris Larabee is The Magnificent Seven, played by Michael Biehn.) The heroine, Maggie, is a lady with fight, brains, and independence–she’s the heroine I often wished had graced the screen with the heroes I love.

This particular novella has an odd history. It was first published back in 2005, and sold virtually nothing. Once I got the rights back, I filed it away for a number of years. In 2012, I decided it was time to bring it back for readers. It was a disaster, the company I contracted it with was the wrong publisher for it, and it languished again. I think it was on their catalogue for a couple of months, then I requested termination. Winner had lost again, and I put it back in the literary vault. XoXo Publishing asked to publish it months later, and I decided to let it go again. Another doomed release. So, earlier this year, New Dawning Book Fair, a company I love working with, put out a call for Westerns. This is one of my best books, and I am fond of it. I considered it for a time, then decided to take a chance again. This time I think the book has found a home. Less than six months out, Winner Take All has found its audience.

Probably no surprise that I’m creating a new Western, too – one with some amazing and sizzling possibilities. It’s called Parlour Photography, and I think readers will love the idea!

Here’s an exclusive look at Winner Take All:
Historical/Western Erotica Novella

Amazon  •  Barnes & Noble  •  Google Books  •  iTunes  •  Smashwords   ARe Romance

When Dylan Coulter rides into Sparkling Springs, he quickly discovers the woman who runs the local saloon is worth the risk of facing the hangman. Things get ugly fast when Dylan is accused of killing the only son of the richest rancher in the area. Unwilling to leave her behind, Dylan takes Maggie with him as he tries to dodge bounty hunters and a determined Pinkerton agent who just happens to be Maggie's old love...


It was well into the night before Maggie was able to herd the last of the night’s customers out of the Spur and lock the doors behind them. When she dropped the key in her pocket and turned around, she was startled beyond reason to find herself face to face with Dylan Coulter.

“Mr. Coulter, I thought you’d gone upstairs,” she said, feeling instantly foolish when he grinned at her discomfiture.

“Where am I supposed to go upstairs, ma’am?”

Her annoyance with herself went up another notch. “I’m sorry. I’d forgotten that you’ve just arrived. I’m on my way to my rooms, so I’ll show you the way.”

“You stay here?” He sounded surprised and she gave him a sidelong glance.

“Of course. It’s comfortable, and convenient.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He nodded, still smiling broadly.

He took the oil lamp from her hand and gestured for her to lead the way. A slight scowl marring her face, Maggie set her jaw and headed for the stairs, the soft pool of golden light steady at her back as heavier steps trailed hers up the plain flight, and along the shadowy corridor.

“Your room is number three, Mr. Coulter,” she told him, pointing, “at the end of the hall, on the left. I had your things sent up earlier. Your horse is stabled across the street.”

“When did you have time to do all that?” he challenged, pleased, but also curious.

She laughed. “While you were busy taking money from foolish drunks.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re quite welcome, Mr. Coulter.”

“It’s Dylan, ma’am.” He handed her the lamp and touched the brim of his hat before walking away, humming softly to himself.

Before she could think about it, Maggie stopped him by calling out quietly, “Dylan, have you had any supper?”

He turned, watched her for several indeterminate heartbeats, and then shook his head.

“Would you like to join me?” Some inner voice was already laughing at her, and Maggie ignored it. She never socialized with customers. This was not only uncharacteristic; to her mind it was absurd. Yet… “Jonas Wilkins runs the café a few doors down, and he often stays late for me,” she said by way of explanation.

The amusement in Dylan Coulter’s blue eyes was already making her regret the impulsive invitation, but she bit back the tart words that would retract her cordiality, and waited for him to walk back to stand in front of her.

“I’d be delighted to have supper with you, Miss Watson,” he assured her and offered his arm.

“Maggie,” she said. “If you wouldn’t mind waiting for just a few minutes, I’d like to tidy up before we go.” She knew full well that she looked more than a bit harried after a long shift in the bar.

“I’ll meet you downstairs in twenty minutes, ma’am,” Dylan said with a smile.

* * *

Fifteen minutes after they’d separated upstairs, Maggie was waiting in the main room of the saloon. She heard a heavy footfall on the stairs and swung around to look at him.

For the second time that night, Dylan Coulter took her breath away. He’d changed from his riding clothes into a suit of rich, dark blue. His shirt was pale blue, ruffled at the cuffs and down the front. His silk tie was black, and the jacket he was pulling on drew her attention to broad shoulders and the undeniable impression of strength and power. He hadn’t bothered with a hat, and his dark brown hair was neatly combed, the deep waves gleaming when he passed under a lamp.

As he continued his walk toward her, her eyes drifted over him. Narrow hips flowed into long legs that were muscled from many hours spent on horseback. His boots were polished black leather, and the silver spurs were more ornate than functional. A gold chain dipped gracefully from the pocket of his burgundy vest, and the watch fob was a small, exquisitely carved replica of an old-fashioned flintlock pistol. At his hip, once again, rested a polished black gun, holster and shell belt lacking ornamentation.

A tiny sliver of ice formed at the base of her spine and began a swift ascent, chilling the back of her neck in heartbeats. He knows how to use that gun, too, a tiny voice murmured inside her head. The knowledge scared her a lot more than she wanted it to, though she wasn’t sure why it should.


She actually started at the sound of his quiet, richly timbred voice. His accent, like so much else about him, was something of a mystery; it revealed lingering traces of the south, but also the precision of an education obtained abroad. There was a subtle, growling purr in the texture of his speech A sound that made her feel awkward and vaguely disoriented. She’d felt a shadow of that kind of feeling only once before, and the reminder of it unsettled her further.

“Mr. Coulter.” She tried to smile, and knew it was only a partial success when his eyebrow rose, curiosity lighting the deep azure gaze that studied her. “Dylan,” she corrected softly. “Shall we go?” It was safer than standing around looking at him. She was distinctly certain that too long in his presence would not bode well for her peace of mind.

“Ma’am.” He nodded and offered his arm. “How far is this café?”

“A few doors down,” she said, and waited while he locked the saloon and pocketed the key. She opened her mouth to question the action, then chose not to bother.

“How much money did Billy Madison lose to you?” She asked the question carefully, a deep reticence about the answer stirring something akin to dread in her heart.

“A fair bit,” Dylan replied, his tone casual. “He assures me his daddy will be happy to pay the debt.” He looked down at her, a tiny smile lifting the corners of his mouth. “Is that true, Maggie. Or is the boy really as stupid as he seems?”

She sighed and shook her head. “Unfortunately, both.”

Dylan nodded. “Is this the place we’re looking for?” They’d stopped outside a small building with several windows in the front, and a sign above the door that read Wilkins Café.

She glanced at the door, with its shutter down but a light clearly burning inside. She smiled. “Yes, this is it.”

* * *

“She’s pretty friendly with that stranger, Billy,” Gil Horner noted as they watched from the concealment of an alley across the street from the café. He wasn’t much interested in Billy Madison’s attempts to win Maggie Watson’s heart, but Billy’s father paid him well to keep the kid alive. He had the feeling this would be one night when he had to earn his pay by more forceful means than the threat of his presence. If the kid went after Coulter, Gil knew they didn’t really stand much of a chance. Coulter had an air about him that Horner had encountered before; he was dangerous, cool, and confident. All the things Billy Madison wasn’t, of course. “Why don’t you just leave it, kid?” he advised, knowing as he spoke that the boy wouldn’t be deterred.

“Maggie and me have an understandin’, Gil,” Billy objected. “I don’t aim to leave her alone to face the likes of Dylan Coulter.”

Grinding his teeth in frustration, Horner grabbed the young man by the shoulder and spun him around so he could look Billy in the eye.

“What you and Maggie Watson have is a misunderstandin’, kid,” he snarled. “She’s out of your league, Billy. Leave her alone before it gets you killed!”

He waited, and in a detached corner of his mind, he gave the kid a once over. Billy was a good-looking boy, with light brown eyes and hair as black as his Indian mother’s had been. He carried the best features of both his parents, and there wasn’t a girl within a fifty-mile radius who wouldn’t be eager to marry him. Nature being perversely absurd, the only woman he’d ever expressed an interest in was the one who didn’t want him. Maggie was twenty-five to Billy’s nineteen, and Gil had wondered a few times if that wasn’t her primary objection to the kid. Horner had made a play for her once, and like others, she'd shot him down with kind, but firm words.

“You still hankerin’ for her yourself, Gil?” Billy asked with a sneer. “That why you want me to give up?”

“I’m not a man who likes to be turned down more than once, kid,” Gil snapped. “She said no, and I’m willin’ to leave it at that. Unlike you,” he added pointedly.

“Go home, Gil,” Billy ordered. “If I need backup, I can find Boyd.”

“Billy,” Horner began with forced patience. “The Sheriff’s out of town. Boyd ain’t in a position to be doin’ you favors. He’s the deputy, let him do his job.”

Billy started to object, just as Horner knew he would. Gil’s closed fist rose straight up, clipping the boy soundly beneath the chin, snapping his teeth together and knocking him out cold in a matter of seconds. Sighing heavily, Gil caught the kid’s weight, hefted him onto one broad shoulder, and headed down the alley to the waiting horses. Billy would be madder than a caged bobcat come morning, but that was better than dead. At least in Horner’s book.

Amazon  •  Barnes & Noble  •  Google Books  •  iTunes  •  Smashwords   ARe Romance

Friday, June 20, 2014


* * Winner of the Audio book is Joye - thank you to everyone who visited! * *

I was having some trouble with the idea of summer romance and a post that would be fun, then it occurred to me that maybe it was staring me in the face. Movies. Not only a summer favourite with everyone, but often the best time of year for the romance movie! Like most things, the movies and stories we each find romantic and unforgettable are as diverse as we are as individuals. I had to really think about what my top five movies would be in this category–well, somewhat. The first two are no-brainers for me, and they’re movies that I have watched many times over the years.

There is something about the sheer scope of the love affairs in all these movies that makes them part of your heart once you’ve seen them. Whether it's the utter magic and sacrifice of Casablanca, the sweeping epic grandeur of Gone With The Wind, or the fantasy of LadyHawke - all of these films have enchanted the world in one way or another. I don't personally find Titanic all that engaging, but I know for many people it's a pretty awesome movie.

My top five are these:


Gone With The Wind

(Art created by

The Notebook


In the spirit of romance, I wrote Bella Signorina a few years ago. It’s been called lyrical, sensual, and gotten five star reviews. One of the real strengths in the story is the intelligent banter between the two main characters, their dance is verbal as well as physical.

This is the third time BELLA SIGNORINA has been released, and I'm hoping the last time as it finds a home at Eirelander Publishing in both eBook and Audio. This is the first time, though, that my original manuscript is what you will read. Edited, polished, and breathlessly romantic! Set in the Eternal City of Rome, Italy - the night just got a little bit steamier when two people finally give in to their attraction for each other and take a leap that might change their lives forever.... A best-seller for six months when it was released a few years ago, this version is a little sexier, a little hotter, and whole lot more sensual -- take a look and fall in love....

In its original format for the first time!
Sweetly sensual contemporary romance

Set in Rome, Bella Signorina is a sweet, romantic story of two people who meet in a trendy caffè, and through the magic of dance and music discover they have many things in common. Bianca comes to Caffè Rosati every week, and for many weeks she's been watching a special man, a handsome, charming stranger who dances, flirts, and leaves alone each week. Bianca is a woman who enjoys her freedom, and has been hurt before, so she's not anxious to fall in love again. Something about the enigmatic Stefano has captivated her heart, though, and she is drawn to him in spite of herself. When she finally gathers her courage to approach him, and ask him to dance, little does she know that her entire world is about to change.

Stefano Esposito is a man who's past relationships have not left him much in the way of ideals about women. Many have claimed to love him, none have understood him. Stefano is a rare breed in today's world of fast-paced life and love. He is a gentleman, a man who many consider a little out of step with the times. For Stefano, falling in love is the completion of a soul, not the consummation of a sexual itch. He wants the woman in his life to respect, understand, and adore him, as he will her. When he meets Bianca, he wonders if he's finally found the one he's waited a lifetime for? She understands his internal conflicts, his desires, and his dreams, after only hours together.

When their attraction to each other flares too quickly and too intently, Stefano pulls back. Confused and uncertain, Bianca flees his beautiful home and business, and goes back to her busy life. But, once the dance has begun, is there a way to go back to what you knew before, or is it just a matter of time before the music lures you back to your dreams and, perhaps, makes them reality?

Read an excerpt:

I simply smiled and raised a glass when she walked over
Then love began, she took my hand, and said let’s dance…

Bianca allowed the music to surge into her being, until the only thing real was the easy rhythm of motion that had her spinning into the pulsing sounds of the catchy song. She’d danced with Gianni many times, and no thought was involved, only the perfect movement and the music. He was an excellent partner, and as always, the song ended too soon. Tonight, as often happened, there was a small burst of applause for the performance they’d given.

She smiled and turned to go back to her table when the handsome stranger at the bar lifted his glass and saluted her. For just an instant, the cafe and its patrons vanished, and there was only his sparkling eyes and the humor that emanated from him. Excitement surged into her veins, making her reckless and determined. Bianca murmured an excuse to Gianni, then changed direction and headed directly for the beautiful man she’d been wanting to meet.

When she stood in front of him, she offered her hand.

He took it, kissed it, and waited, faint challenge in his eyes.

She ignored the tremor working its way into her knees and making them wobbly.

“Let’s dance,” she invited.

Laughter accompanied the shake of his head.

Bianca eyed him with amusement.


“I don’t dance, bella.”

His voice was soft, richly modulated, and layered with too many subtleties to readily define them all.

“Of course you do,” she countered, her head tilting to one side. “I’ve seen you dance here.”

“Not like you do,” he replied.

He reached for his wine, and she caught his hand and tugged, gently but insistently drawing him with her as she walked back to the dance floor, her gaze locked with his startled look. The four piece band was just beginning a lively number when Bianca struck a pose and waited for him to take the lead. He did, and she was totally unprepared for the shock of awareness that went through her when he pulled her to him and they started to move like one person…


Leave a comment and tell me your favourite romantic movie(s), and you'll be entered to win an AUDIO copy of Bella Signorina from - and don't forget the Rafflecopter - because there are some truly AWESOME prizes to be won!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Super Book Blast and Giveaway! Calculated @RS_Novelle @GoddessFish

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Renee will be awarding a $10 Amazon gift card to two randomly drawn commenter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

An investigative journalist gets an unlikely tip from a mysterious informant. Dismissing it as impossible, she disregards the information and drops the story. Until the informant turns up dead, as predicted.

Plunged into the murky waters of a seedy underground prostitution ring, this psychological thriller provides twist upon dark twist in a story that would ultimately pin the church and several government officials in the largest murder cover-up the city has ever witnessed.

But is it true, or has the journalist merely been used as a pawn in a greater scheme? And how many people is she willing to sacrifice trying to figure it out?

Enjoy an excerpt:

When she arrived at the little facility her building provided, a quick look around confirmed she was the only one there. Just as she’d hoped, and exactly how she liked it to be. Smiling in satisfaction, she flipped on the television that was perched on the wall, and turned up the music on her iPod as loud as she could handle it. The multiple distractions would help her get through the extra mile she was planning to conquer. With chilled water bottle in place, she cranked up the treadmill to a nice brisk pace.

As her breathing picked up speed and her muscles began to warm, Ana’s eye caught a red flash along the bottom of the screen. Breaking News filled the bar, and the too-chipper-for-their-own-good reporters were suddenly getting serious. Since the volume was still muted, Ana couldn’t understand exactly what was going on, only that they were showing the wide stretch of river that ran along the outskirts of the city. She wiped the first beads of sweat from her brow, and used the remote to turn the volume of the television higher while simultaneously adjusting her music.

As the reporters spoke, home-video footage of something floating in the water rolled before her eyes. The camera zoomed in, the frame ever so shaky, and it became clearly apparent that the “something” was a person - face down with long brown hair spread out like a Catholic halo. It appeared another victim had been pulled out of the water; the count was quickly tallying up. A young woman this time, and possibly one who had gone missing the night before.

Ana’s pulse skipped a few beats as they replayed the video over and over. There was something familiar about the long, lean body. Slowing the treadmill to a stop, she ripped the ear buds from her head to give the segment her entire attention. appears at first glance that the victim suffered from a deep cut to the throat, and received multiple stab wounds to the chest...

The beads of accumulated sweat turned cold on Ana’s brow. She immediately reached for her phone and dialed Kylie’s number.

“What the hell, Ana?” Came her friend’s groggy voice.

“Turn your TV on. Channel four. Hurry.” Ana said, eyes transfixed to the screen in front of her. “Recognize that face?”

...It’s thought the victim may be one of the young girls recently reported missing. The screen flashed candids of three possible women. All brunettes. All tall and thin. All roughly the same age. Among them was a photo of Mara, just as Ana had expected there would be.

But the body was too bloated and disfigured to be absolutely certain, and an autopsy would be needed.

... The body will be taken in for processing where officials hope to shed more light on the case in the near future. In the mean time, they’re cautioning residents to avoid....

“Did you see that?” Ana’s voice escaped in more of a demand than a question. “Please tell me I’m seeing things.”

“Oh my god...” Kylie whispered into the receiver, confirming the dread that was building in Ana’s stomach. “Do you really think it’s her?”

“I know for a fact it is.” Ana declared, the pull in her gut getting stronger by the minute. “The autopsy will confirm it.”

“So, what does this mean exactly now?”

“That maybe I should have been listening a little closer when I was talking to Mara.” She said with regret as she swiped her forehead with the back of her hand. “And maybe I should have asked more questions. There’s a story here, I’m sure of it now.”

“What are you going to do?” Kylie’s voice was decidedly more alert now.

Ana shook her head. “I have no idea.”

Though if she were to be truthful with herself in that moment, she’d already made up her mind. Ana flipped off the television, and left the little gym to get started.

About the Author:

Formerly a freelance journalist, Novelle has found placement of her pieces in both online and print publications since 2008. Additionally, she has written multiple screenplays, and contributed her writing to many non-profit and for profit organizations. She has launched several blogs over the years, which garnered international attention.

In 2013, Novelle returned to her first love – fiction. Writing under the names Renee Novelle and R.S. Novelle, she has a publication schedule that includes Psychological Thrillers, Suspense, Paranormal Fiction, Contemporary Women’s fiction, Chick Lit, and New Adult.

Though she received her Bachelor’s of Science in Communication, summa cum laude, she considers herself a constant student of the written word. She’s an avid reader, an enthusiastic quote poster, and rarely takes “no” as a final answer. She has an unhealthy obsession for theater, dance, music and art, and strongly believes that wine is simultaneously the beginning of, and resolution to, all of life’s problems. She believes in following dreams, and that in the end, you always end up where you’re meant to be.

You can find out more about her books and connect with her here:

Website  |  Goodreads  |  Facebook  |  Twitter 

Buy the book at:


The author will be giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to two randomly drawn commenters.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

London Circa 1892 - The Devane Files: Out of Hell

The Devane Files: OUT OF HELL

A murder scene is not exactly the place to find romance. But when Inspector Michael Devane is called upon to solve the murder of Robert Bradshaw, he finds a woman who arouses intense passion in his heart. Unfortunately, she’s at the top of his suspect list! Denyse Bridger brings the Victorian Era alive in Book 1 of her romance series The Devane Files.

In 1892 Whitechapel, only a few years after the infamous Ripper murders, Inspector Michael Devane is given the job of investigating the murder of a theatre producer. Devane is a haunted man, driven by the dark demons of his past, the elusive Ripper, and a growing addiction to opium. His brilliance is unquestionable, but his methods are highly unorthodox.

When Devane comes into the home of the victim, an unpleasant man named Robert Bradshaw, he meets Bethany Davenshire-Bradshaw. In Bradshaw’s widow, Michael finds a kindred spirit who defies both the conventions of society, and the trappings of false mourning. As they grow closer, Devane discovers that Beth is a woman of many secrets, but could one of them really be that she is the murderer he’s looking for.

Exclusive excerpt:

“Mrs. Bradshaw,” Devane walked into his modest home and she turned, her face so filled with concern, and relief, that he felt absurdly guilty for his absence when she’d arrived.

“So,” she murmured softly, “we are once again retreating to the safety of formality, my dear Inspector Devane.”

He caught the hint of dry humor in her tone and smiled.

“Of course not, love,” he said gently and closed the door, then joined her in the small sitting room they’d occupied a few nights earlier. “You look beautiful,” he whispered when he was standing only a couple of feet in front of her. He was able to see the shadows beneath her eyes, but the ethereal beauty that was inherent to her spirit still shone in spite of her weariness and sadness. She was dressed in dark jade silk this morning, again with the obligatory black lace trimming the dress, a reminder that she was a widow, and therefore in mourning; whether or not the grief was genuine paid little part in the necessity for her to play the correct role in their present drama, at least to some extent when she ventured out in public.

“Thank you,” she replied with equal softness. “You, Michael, do not, though.” She touched his arm, acutely and overly conscious of the texture of fine material as her fingers absently stroked it, and of the supple strength in the smooth length of muscle and sinew under the jacket. “Is there anything I can get to ease your pain, Michael?” she asked, seeing the dull presence lurking in his dark eyes. “When was the last time you ate a proper meal?” she went on without pause for his response to the first query she’d made.

He laughed quietly, unable to stop the reaction.

“You are fussing like a distressed mother,” he remarked with gentle teasing.

She flushed red and he refused to let her turn away when she attempted to put distance between them in the small room. His hands on her arms caressed unconsciously, and she stared at him, green eyes both curious and confused.

“I only wished to help,” she answered his words, trying desperately not to succumb to the desire to step into his arms and forget everything her life had been before he’d so unexpectedly come into it and awakened her from a nightmare in which she’d grown too complacent. “Let me fix you a meal,” she requested with a smile, “and we can talk again.” 

“I don’t know if there’s anything...” he began, his eyes leaving her to look into his tiny kitchen. He rarely shopped for food. He rarely ate at all. It was all part of the addiction and its way of depleting the body of strength as effectively as it did the mind.

“Then we will go to a very fine café that I am familiar with,” she replied quickly. “The owner is an old friend, and we will be seated where no one can observe,” she added, seeing the doubt rise in his eyes for a moment, then vanish at her assurance of privacy. “I wouldn’t care if we were seen, Michael,” she told him, voice and eyes earnest and truthful. “I could never be ashamed to be at your side. Not as I was with my husband.”

The last statement made his heart ache with its poignancy, and the loss of innocence that nothing could restore to her.

“I would not risk your reputation,” he said, his hand on her chin tilting her head so she would face him directly again. “Not for any price.”

“I know.”

It was flutter of air between them, and Devane felt more than heard the words. He was startled when she stepped back and walked to the small table that was between the kitchen and the sitting room. She looked down at the assortment of bottles that littered the table’s surface, then selected one of them. When she returned to him, she handed him the bottle and he looked down at it, curiously ill at ease with her obvious knowledge of his addiction when he saw that she’d picked up the tonic that Sir William Gull had ‘prescribed’ for him during the Ripper case. Abberline had actually delivered the medicine to Devane after Gull had asked him to remain behind for a private word. Michael had been sent out ahead of his superior. It was to help restore the appetite that was stolen by the opium he smoked. Bethany Bradshaw clearly understood the significance of everything she had found on the table. He met her eyes, and found nothing but warmth and understanding in their deep green depths.

“How is it you understand the deprivations of opium addiction?” He didn’t want to ask. He couldn’t keep the words from pouring forth.

“Someone I loved once suffered greatly from his association with opium,” she replied after an instant of consideration for the query.

When she was disinclined to elaborate further, he nodded. After a brief hesitation, Devane swallowed a healthy dose of the bitter tonic, pocketed the bottle, then held out his arm for her. They left his flat in easy silence.

“My carriage is outside,” she said, “Percy will take us to the Café, if you are willing to be seen with me, Inspector,” she grinned as she spoke, a teasing challenge in her tone.

“I think I’ll risk it, Lady Bradshaw,” he replied, matching her tone.

Once they were underway, he looked across the carriage and saw she was still watching him, a wistful smile softening her features. When she saw he was observing her interest, the expression changed, and became one of polite warmth. He was exceedingly disappointed.

“Why did you want to see me?” he asked, finally coming to the reason for their present meeting.

She opened the small bag she carried and offered him the handkerchief he’d given her in the library of her home, after the torrential storm of her tears had passed and left them bonded much more intimately than was wise for either of them. He accepted the freshly washed and pressed handkerchief, tucked it in his pocket, and waited.

“Bethany?” he prodded when she seemed inclined to remain silent. He leaned forward, and saw the ashen features that had been so animated mere minutes prior to his query. He took her hands in his, felt the chill through her lace gloves, and his chest tightened painfully. “What is it, darling?” he coaxed, sincerely anxious when her agitation grew more evident.

“Last night,” she started, choosing her words with obvious difficulty and care. “Do you believe dreams show us things, Michael?” she asked, attention erratic, switching topics so swiftly, he blinked.

“Yes,” he answered her honestly. How could he not believe in dreams as visions of truth when much of his investigative brilliance was based on the abstract images of dreams and drug-induced vision.

If it was possible, the answer upset her further. He left his seat and settled next to her, keeping her hands held tightly between his.

“What have you seen?” he asked, filtering the probable answers through his brain even before she could reply. When she spoke again, she offered him the one possibility that he would never have guessed.

“Your death,” she murmured, voice heavy with dread. “Last night, in my dreams, I saw you die, Michael! You were alone, lying on a dark street...” She shuddered violently, closed her eyes, and tears slid from beneath the veil she’d hidden behind. “I know it is highly inappropriate, but I cannot help it,” she looked at him again, and finished, “I do not think I could bear your death, dearest.”

Devane was speechless for a few seconds, stunned by the revelation of both her nightmare and the depth of her sincere affection for him. Bethany clearly misinterpreted his silence; she pulled her hands from his grasp and stared at the other side of the carriage wall.

“You must think me a complete fool, Inspector,” she murmured bitterly. “Please accept my apology for the embarrassment I have...”

Devane reacted purely on instinct, cutting off the apology that hit him as an offense, not a deference to his feelings. He touched her cheek, turning her to face him. Before reason could censor his action, he touched his lips with hers, covering her mouth with a tenderness that had been missing from his heart since the early days of his marriage. Back when he and Evelyn had been in love and filled with hope. The kiss had been meant as a brief caress of reassurance, but the tentative touch slowly caught him and held, making him deepen the kiss further, turning it into a sensuous exploration of her mouth. The taste and scent of her filled his awareness and he leaned closer, holding her head, guiding her willing response as she sighed quietly and melted into his embrace.

It was several minutes before he withdrew, and seconds more before he knew what had pulled him out of the erotic languor that had seeped into his very bones. The carriage had stopped moving. He looked at Bethany, and she stared back, her expression a combination of wonder and confusion. He was puzzled by the emotions, but decided not to ask.

“Lady Bradshaw!”

Percival Vaughan’s anxiety laden voice reached them a moment before the carriage door was unceremoniously opened and the footman peered inside. Devane caught his attention instantly and was startled by the burning resentment that sizzled in the other man’s light blue eyes.

“I’m fine, Percy,” she said, sounding slightly breathless. “Really. Thank you for your concern.”

“I told you we was here, ma’am,” he stated quietly. “When you didn’t answer, I thought you’d fainted again.”

She winced at the reminder of the last time she’d ridden in a carriage with Devane, and he tried, unsuccessfully, to keep the smile from curving his lips upward. She pretended not to notice his amusement.

“I’m sorry, Percy,” she apologized, quite unnecessarily. “The Inspector and I were discussing Robert’s death, and I truly didn’t hear you.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he bowed his head in deference, and held the door open while Devane stepped from the carriage then turned to assist Bethany.

Devane caught the anger in Vaughan’s eyes again the instant his hand touched hers, but he made no outward appearance of having noted the emotion. Bethany stepped daintily onto the cobble-stoned walk, and asked Percy to return for them in approximately an hour. He nodded, slammed the carriage door shut with needless force, then climbed back into the driver’s seat. Devane felt the prickle of ice at the back of his neck as they approached the door to the café, and he glanced back, long enough to see Vaughan glaring at him with open hostility. The vehemence of the resentment struck Devane like a blow, then he entered the building and turned his attention to Bethany as she spoke quietly to a young man, asking for a private room. He clearly knew her and was happy to accommodate the request.

* * * *

Hours after they’d returned to Devane’s flat, Bethany worked quietly in the small kitchen, preparing a light meal for later in the evening. Devane had finally surrendered to his need for sleep, and periodically she would walk to his bedroom door and watch him. He was like a fragile angel when he slept, she thought, his smooth, angular features relaxed and at peace. The raven’s wing of his hair fell across his forehead, and his pale skin had less of the ash tone on it now. As she went to the door again to look at him, Bethany knew without doubt that she’d fallen deeply in love for the first time in her life. She knew with equal certainty that she would never forget this beautiful man, whatever happened in the coming weeks. He’d shown her kindness, compassion, and respect; all things with which her late husband had had little acquaintance.

Devane had told her to go home, making a half-hearted effort to observe the mandates of society. He had not insisted when she refused to acquiesce. She’d told him to go to bed, and promised she would be here when he woke. Since her presence seemed as much a comfort to him as his was to her, she knew she had been right to stand firm in her decision. She had told him she would cook, and after his initial skepticism had incited a small, if teasing exchange between them, he did go to his bed, and she to the kitchen. Percival had been sent for groceries, then dismissed once he’d delivered them.

She was setting the small table when a sharp banging on the door, it could hardly be called a knock, made her drop the cutlery she’d been placing. It clattered to the floor with a rattle, and she scowled at the door before walking over to open it. She backed up a few steps in automatic retreat when her father’s glowering countenance stared down at her.

“So, it is true!” he snarled, coming into the flat like a hunter stalking hapless prey. “Where is he?”

“Inspector Devane is sleeping, Father,” she said in a furious whisper. “Please keep your voice down, there is no need to shout!”

“No need to shout!” he roared. “Have you taken leave of your senses, Beth? I don’t give a damn if Devane is asleep or not. You, my girl, are leaving this flat at once!”

“I am going nowhere,” she stated quietly.

“What’s going on?”

They turned together when Devane appeared in the bedroom door, wrapped in a heavy robe, his eyes still dreamy with sleep and his hair an unruly rumple. Michael resisted the audacious, “Hello, darling,” that wanted to be tossed in Bethany’s direction, and focused on her outraged father instead.

“Mr. Davenshire,” he nodded in greeting. “Is there something I can do for you, sir?”

The courtesy was absurd, though the humor wasn’t lost to Bethany, who stifled a smile.

Davenshire puffed up like he would explode at any moment. His face reddened with the effort it took to keep from taking Devane by the throat.

“Are you trying to destroy my daughter’s reputation entirely, Devane?” he managed to grind the question out without shouting, barely. “She is a woman in mourning. A widow for less than a week, man! Where’s your sense of decency?”

Now it was Bethany who looked about ready to erupt with fury, and Devane was a great deal more concerned with her feelings than he’d been about her father’s indignation. He crossed the space in a few steps and shook his head in warning. She met his gaze squarely, and to his surprise, she smiled.

“This is between me and my father, Michael,” she stated softly.

Then, she turned her look to her father, and Devane felt helpless while he watched the mutation of her lovely features as she allowed herself the luxury of speaking freely, at long last. “Decency, father?” she queried, the ice in her voice was painfully cold.

The old man winced and Devane felt a moment of pity for him. His daughter was about to flay him with words and the young Inspector was fairly certain each slash of the verbal knife would be more than justified.

“You dare to speak to Inspector Devane about decency, when you sold me into slavery to Robert and his filthy demands!” She walked past Devane, who looked on in perverse fascination. “If I’d known someone like this man before I’d met Robert, I would have been lucky enough to have some happiness in my life. But,” she hesitated at the pale, shaken features of her father, then her voice softened very slightly, and she chose not to continue as she’d intended, “I can hardly blame you for what he did to me. Still,” she drew herself up straight and laced her fingers together in front of her, casting a quick glance over her shoulder at Devane, seeking his strength, and finding it in the smile he offered her, “I will not have you destroy my friendship with the Inspector, Father. He is a good man and a good friend.”

“He’s a police inspector, Bethany!” Davenshire stated, frustrated and edgy in equal measure. “Meant to be investigating the death of your husband.”

“A job I am sure he is doing, Father,” she replied.

The defense angered the old man again, and Devane stepped forward to avert the wrath he knew was about to be unleashed. He needn’t have made the attempt.

“The only job he is doing, Bethany, is the successful enterprise of destroying your standing in society, while a murderer walks free!”

“I think you should leave now, Mr. Davenshire,” Devane interjected before they could say more things that would inflict wounds that might never heal between them.

Davenshire and Devane faced each other, both men measuring the strength in his opponent and discovering they were finely matched. It was Davenshire who broke the intense lock first, though. He turned to his daughter.

“Get your things, Bethany,” he ordered firmly. “We’re leaving.”

“I am...”

“Damn it, girl!” he roared, “do as you’re told or I’ll drag you out of here.” When she hesitated, her eyes going to Devane for guidance, Davenshire’s erratic temper snapped and he grabbed her by the arm and hauled her toward the door.

Bethany broke away and went to Devane’s side.

“Go with him for now, darling,” he advised quietly and kissed her temple, despite the smoldering rage in her father’s eyes.

She nodded, accepted his wisdom, and went to retrieve her cloak from the coat rack by the door. She left the flat ahead of her father, and Devane, who had crossed the room to place her cowled cape on her shoulders, spoke again, this time his hushed voice murmured to Davenshire. “Touch her again, and I’ll see you dead for what you’ve done to her.” It was a whisper of vehement fury. Davenshire actually paled slightly as he stared in open astonishment at the young police inspector. If he doubted Devane, there was no evidence of it in his mute acceptance of the very real threat the inspector had issued. Davenshire turned on his heel and followed his daughter.

Once he’d closed the door, Devane dragged his shaking hands through the thick tangle of his hair and decided to go back to bed for a few hours. The smell of the meal Bethany had prepared was pleasant, but not overly enticing to his temperamental stomach. He twisted the lock on his door and walked silently back to his bedroom.

Dropping his robe, Devane nestled between the still warm sheets of his bed. He fell asleep quickly, but his comfort was short-lived. Dreams invaded his mind again, the same erotic torments that were beginning to plague his subconscious on an almost nightly basis. Bethany Bradshaw’s supple body lured him into a tempest of passion-induced madness and he went to her eagerly, his entire being caught in the throes of hungry desire. Her hands and mouth were everywhere and he lay flat on his back, willing slave to her kisses and caresses...

Michael woke with a gasp, still caught in the tangled remnants of the dream and the twisted sheets that covered him. He flung the bedding aside as his body trembled under the assault of memory and longing. He groaned loudly and closed his eyes. His hand moved of its own volition, strong fingers curled around the pulsing heat of his erection and in his mind, as the motion of his stroking hand increased in momentum, he imagined Bethany sucking the smooth length of his shaft deep into her mouth...

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