Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A best-selling thriller from past days... Defector #RB4U #MFRWauthor

The first thing you’ll notice if you get a copy of this best-selling non-romance is an author note. It reads: DEFECTOR is set in the 90’s, when the biggest enemy the US faced was a potential nuclear war with the Soviet Union. This particular story is about the machinations of vying factions to gain the loyalty and support of a US weapons designer, using any means possible.

For those who don’t know, I used to write thrillers and suspense stories that won minor awards. Occasionally there was a romantic element, but for the most part, these stories were focused on political tensions, and just straight out espionage gone wrong in some cases. And, most of these stories took place in the late 80s and early 90s, when the political situation was ripe for intrigues that would affect entire nations. For this one, 12 hours after it was released this week, it made the OmniLit/ARe best-seller shelf.

My editor on this project asked if there were more stories with the irritable and hard-assed Andrew Dahle, and yes, there are at least two others. Plus a slew of unconnected stories of this style. I may have to drag them out and revise them, I’m thinking. The whole departure from the steamy romances has been like a breath of fresh air for me, and I quite enjoyed this whole adventure into the writing past. In this book/short novella, there is one female–and she dies on page one or two, if memory serves...

So, if you’d like to, please leave me a comment with your thoughts on things, and whether or not you’d like to see more non-romance titles from my catalogue. Thanks for stopping by!! Here’s a look at Defector and where you can find your copy.

Suspense/Thriller (non-romance)

Andrew Dahle is a career spook, with no messy emotional ties to complicate his life. He’s worked with the best, and despite himself, he’s about to discover that he’s got friends he really didn’t know he wanted.

A straight-forward operation to grab a defector before he can leave the country with a top secret project goes wildly awry, and forces Andrew to choose between saving the life of a colleague’s son or nailing his target. To his great surprise, he saves the young man’s life, and wakes up in a hospital.

Grateful, Richard MacAvoy, a retired agent with his own elite contacts and players, steps in when Dahle is injured saving his son. Desperate to complete his mission, Andrew reluctantly accepts the help MacAvoy offers, and in the process just might learn that alone isn’t always the best way to work, and friends might be worth the vulnerability he’s always shunned.


“What have you managed to pull out of your files regarding Yasmine Akhtar’s recent activities?”

Control leaned back in his chair with a vaguely amused smile then beckoned Richard into his office. MacAvoy gave Miriam a broad smile and closed the door as he went inside.

“Michael’s not very happy about you involving yourself in the Firm’s business,” Control admonished, the smile still solidly in place.

Richard gave the reproach mock consideration, then shrugged expansively.

“Yes, I don’t suppose he’s overly eager for word to leak that he’s lost the ‘Phantom’ project.”

“Richard.” This time the disapproval was genuine. 

“All right, Control. Tell me what your computers have turned up about Miss Akhtar.”

“She’s currently with the Bulgarian Secret Police,” Control told him, a genuine note of mild curiosity and surprise in the words.

Richard’s eyebrows rose, his expression echoing Control’s tone. “She’s from the Middle East, and after the last squabbles her family was involved in, she was left with only her father.”

“And where is he located nowadays?”

Control laughed with ironic humor. “You haven’t forgotten much, have you, Richard? He’s back in Libya.”

“Do you think the ‘Phantom’ might have been destined for Quaddafi’s arsenal?”

Control shrugged, his entire manner non-committal. 

“There’s just no way of knowing until Hunter is located. I’m sure the Bulgarians have a vested interest in this now that one of their better agents has been eliminated. They probably have Dahle targeted already.”

MacAvoy felt a distinct jolt as he realized the truth in Control’s words. His expression must have registered his emotion as Control’s entire posture became alert and wary.

“Get someone over to the hospital,” Richard directed as he headed for the door. 

“Richard!” Control’s shout fell into empty air, and he rose, grabbed his jacket and headed after MacAvoy.

* * *

Andrew felt the shadows releasing him, the sensation an abrupt, disturbing awareness that he knew he shouldn’t be experiencing. He trusted the instinctive alertness, though, and waited for the sound to give him a clear indication of where the danger was coming from. It only took a few minutes to locate the source, and Dahle’s eyes flew open just as the needle was being inserted into the I.V. tube that ran into his arm.

Andrew pulled the intravenous out as he forced his body into motion that it clearly objected to. The man hovering over his bed jumped back, his surprise giving Dahle his only chance to make a useful move.

Andrew threw himself off the bed and into the man next to it, taking them both down to the floor with a solid thud. He recovered quickly and landed a jarring blow to the man’s jaw. In the few seconds it took for the attacker to shake himself free of the pain, Dahle located the gun inside the other man’s coat. He pulled it free of the holster and pressed the barrel snugly between the man’s terrified eyes.

“Who sent you?” he demanded, the words little more than a rasp. He could feel the pulses of pain building with each breath, and he knew he’d probably torn apart whatever stitching the doctors had done earlier.

Dahle saw the refusal to answer before his assailant tried to offer him a response. He shifted his hold on the gun, then brought it down against the side of the man’s head, the action little more than a blur of smooth, practiced motion. 

Andrew staggered to his feet and glanced around the room, suddenly expecting menace from every angle. He went to the locker and yanked his bloodstained clothes from the hangers. He dressed quickly, the gun within easy reach as he kept one eye on the door, then he slipped into position and waited. Instinct and experience told him there’d be more than one man sent for this kind of job. This one would have needed a lookout to warn him of possible interruptions by hospital staff.

He didn’t have to wait long for confirmation of his assessment. The door inched inward and Andrew banged the heavy metal panel back on the intruder, causing him to stumble. With a swiftness that stirred to life all the pain that he’d been fighting, Andrew reached for the wobbling figure and hauled him into the room. As the door swung shut on virtually silent hinges, Dahle slammed his captive against the wall and glared into the dazed features of the startled man.

He recovered a little more quickly than his partner and before Andrew could prevent it, he was struck soundly in the stomach. Gasping, Dahle almost passed out completely when the man’s fist came down hard on his injured shoulder, and he lost his grip on the gun he had been holding. He wheeled back and barely managed to dodge another punch aimed at his vulnerable shoulder. He spun on his heel, used the momentum, and landed a surprisingly solid kick to the second attacker’s midsection. He went down on his knees in front of Andrew and Dahle grabbed a handful of hair, then yanked back with all his strength. He heard the distinct crack of bones, then released the man to fall into a lifeless heap at his feet. 

Glancing around him, Andrew knew the room would be crawling with people before too much longer. He needed to get out of the hospital, and quickly. Picking up the weapon he’d dropped minutes earlier, he ducked his head around the door. When he saw no one coming in the direction of his room, he slipped into the corridor and headed for the elevator.

He didn’t get to the end of the hall before he heard the sounds of commotion behind him. The bodies in his room must have been discovered a little more quickly than he was anticipating. He looked automatically toward the elevator and realized he wasn’t going to reach it, or the stairs, without being spotted. His entire body was alive with pain and he could feel the knots in his stomach twisting tighter as he fought down the agony-induced nausea. He stumbled into a wall as another wash of dizziness blurred his vision and threw off his balance. With an effort of sheer determination, Andrew reached for the door knob and almost fell into the room...

Monday, February 15, 2016

New #Teen #SciFi Release from @lwreyes and @EvernightTeen #Suspense #YA #Romance

Mira wants to die. She’s attempted suicide twice already and failed. Every time she comes in contact with another person, skin to skin, that person’s psyche uploads into hers. While her psychologist considers this a gift, for Mira it’s a curse from which she cannot escape.
To make matters worse, Mira’s father is being investigated for the deaths of several volunteer test subjects of the miracle drug Gaudium. Shortly after Mira’s mother starts asking questions, she ends up in a coma. Although her father claims it was an accident, thanks to her “condition” Mira knows the truth, but proving it just might get her killed.
14+ due to adult situations
I’m alive?
Yes. Still alive…
A tube runs from an IV bag into my arm, the plastic needle burrowing under my skin like a tick. Thank God I was unconscious when they put that in. I cringe at the thought of being deluged with so many psyches at once—paramedics, nurses, doctors, all of them touching me.
Where are my clothes? They must have taken them off when I was out. This flimsy gown can’t protect me. I want to tear off the tape securing the IV tube to my skin, rip it off like a Band-Aid. I want out of here, but then I see Mama sleeping beside me, her body sloped in a plastic chair. I shouldn’t have done this to her again. But I had to try.
A plastic clamp pinches my finger, connecting me to a heart monitor. Three inches further up, my wrist is wrapped in gauze. Two months ago I would never have had the courage to do this—or any reason to. But now, feeling the staples beneath the bandage, I wonder how deep someone has to cut in order to die?
The curtain jerks back, the metal rings dragging across the ceiling rail. Mama snaps to attention. I half expect her to stand and salute.
“Miranda Ortiz?” says a woman in a beige linen suit and crisp white blouse. She is thin, stiff, and colorless. She reeks of gardenias.
“I’m Dr. Walsh from Mental Health,” she continues. The plastic laminated nametag hanging from her neck confirms this.
Dr. Walsh extends her hand, but instead of taking it, I grasp the edge of my sheet and pull it up to my chin. Other than this stupid hospital gown, it’s the only barrier I’ve got right now.
Mama stands up and reaches over the bed to shake the doctor’s hand. “I’m Mira’s mother, Ana,” she says wearily. She starts to sit back down, but Dr. Walsh interrupts.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you in person, Mrs. Ortiz. However, I’d like to speak to your daughter alone, if that’s all right.”
Dr. Walsh is insistent, in a polite sort of way. Mama leans toward me, and for a split second I think she’s going to kiss me goodbye. Though deep down I almost wish she would, instead she offers me her gentle smile and tucks the sheet under my shoulder.
“Please don’t go,” I whisper.
“It’ll only be a few minutes,” she says. “I’ll be just outside, all right?”
Mama brushes a strand of hair from my eyes with her manicured fingernails, careful to avoid contact with my skin. She smiles at me, but her eyes are wistful. As she walks out, my insides tighten up, and I suddenly realize how much I’ve missed her touch. My instinct is to cling to her like when I was small, but instead I press my arms stiffly to my sides like a corpse.
A security guard opens the door and accompanies Mama out into the hall. Dr. Walsh takes Mama’s empty chair, crosses one leg over the other, and lays a clipboard on her knee. “So,” she begins, “you cut yourself last night. Is that right?”
Her voice is casual and smooth, as if she’s just asked me what I ate for dinner. She waits for me to respond. When I don’t, she glances down at her clipboard. “I understand it’s not your first attempt. You were here a couple of weeks ago, I see. Overdose, but no permanent damage done.”
She glances up at me, pausing in case I have something to say.
I don’t.
Laurisa White Reyes is the author of The Celestine Chronicles and The Crystal Keeper series. She has a Masters degree in English and is the Editor-in-Chief of Middle Shelf Magazine. Visit her website at: www.laurisawhitereyes.com

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Valentine Treat, a giveaway, and romance begins... #TransCRW #RB4U #MFRWauthor

Since Valentine’s Day falls in the middle of Winter, I thought I’d share a couple of terrific recipes for staying warm and sharing a romantic and cozy evening with your special loved one. So, first let’s settle in with a toe-curling warmer-upper drink:

Positano Winter Sunset Recipe

Relax with this popular drink direct from sunny Italy.  It's just right for a cold winter's night and may inspire dreams of a Mediterranean vacation.


1 1/2 oz. Malibu coconut-flavored rum
1 1/2 oz. white crème de cacao
1/2 oz. Tia Maria
Warmed whipped cream (the canned variety works)
Warm chocolate syrup


Warm up your can of whipped cream by immersing it in a pot filled with medium-hot water for three to five minutes. (Water should cover at least half of the can.)

Combine Malibu, crème de cacao and Tia Maria in an old fashioned-style glass.

Stir gently.

Remove whipped cream can from medium-hot water and top drink mixture with whipped cream.

Drizzle with hot chocolate.

Serve with a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie on the side. OR, one of these yummies:

Cinnamon Sugar Nutella Crescent Rolls

1 (8 oz) can crescent roll dough
1/2 cup Nutella spread
2 TBS butter, melted
3 TBS granulated sugar & 1/4 tsp cinnamon, combined


Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Lay crescent dough triangles flat and spread with Nutella. Loosely roll and place on baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Using a pastry brush, brush with melted butter and sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until dark golden brown.

So, there you have it – a delicious Valentine’s evening treat! Enjoy!!

If you’d like to add a romance to that cozy evening, how about a sweetly sensual tale of the magic of Roma, Italy… where dancing and sophisticated verbal fencing can lead you to love of the everlasting kind… This one is available in a love audio version, as well as eBook formats, and I will give one lucky commenter a copy of the audio book!!

Bella Signorina

Amazon  •  Barnes & Noble    Amazon AUDIO    iTunes    Audible   

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?

Amazon  •  Barnes & Noble    Amazon AUDIO    iTunes    Audible

Continue on the romantic journey with these wonderful authors:

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Discover Evanthia’s Gift @EffieKammenou @PumpUpYourBook #RomFantasy

Evanthia’s Gift

About the Author:

Effie Kammenou is a first generation Greek-American who lives on Long Island with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not writing, or posting recipes on her food blog, cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com, you can find her cooking for her family and friends.

Her debut novel, EVANTHIA’S GIFT, is a women’s fiction multigenerational love story and family saga, influenced by her Greek heritage, and the many real life accounts that have been passed down. She continues to pick her father’s brain for stories of his family’s life in Lesvos, Greece, and their journey to America. Her recent interview with him was published in a nationally circulated magazine.

As an avid cook and baker, a skill she learned from watching her Athenian mother, she incorporated traditional Greek family recipes throughout the book.  

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University.

For updates on the release of Book Two of The Gift Saga 
Follow Effie on Twitter, Facebook, or contact her via E-mail.

For More Information
About the Book:

Title: Evanthia’s Gift
Author: Effie Kammenou 
Pages: 548
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Contemporary Romance


In the year 1956, Anastacia Fotopoulos finds herself pregnant and betrayed, fleeing from a bad marriage. With the love and support of her dear friends Stavros and Soula Papadakis, Ana is able to face the challenges of single motherhood. Left with emotional wounds, she resists her growing affection for Alexandros Giannakos, an old acquaintance. But his persistence and unconditional love for Ana and her child is eventually rewarded and his love is returned. In a misguided, but well-intentioned effort to protect the ones they love, both Ana and Alex keep secrets - ones that could threaten the delicate balance of their family. 

The story continues in the 1970’s as Dean and Demi Papadakis, and Sophia Giannakos attempt to negotiate between two cultures. Now Greek-American teenagers, Sophia and Dean, who have shared a special connection since childhood, become lovers. Sophia is shattered when Dean rebels against the pressure his father places on him to uphold his Greek heritage and hides his feelings for her. When he pulls away from his family, culture and ultimately his love for her, Sophia is left with no choice but to find a life different from the one she’d hoped for.

EVANTHIA’S GIFT is a multigenerational love story spanning fifty years and crossing two continents, chronicling the lives that unify two families. 

Magnificent 5 Stars
Exceptional, outstanding and award worthy were the first words that popped into my mind after I finished reading this book. A surface description of this story could be easily stated by saying; it’s a 50 year generational Greek family saga that’s filled with multiple love stories, devastating betrayals and heart breaking secrets. That depiction alone would be enough for anyone to be drawn to this book. But the essence of “Evanthia’s Gift” is held within each character created in this masterpiece; that is the true heart and soul of this book. I could feel the struggles within each to come to terms with their past mistakes, recognizing their self-worth, all the while staying steadfast to their beliefs and for some, finding inner peace. I started reading this book late one evening with the intent of reading a few chapters and then going to bed. I found myself incapable of putting the book down… several hours later I was wiping away the tears to get through the last chapter.
This superbly written emotional story comes full circle in the end, which reminds us all just how precious love and family really is.

--Stephanie Lasley, from The Kindle Book Review

For More Information

Book Excerpt:

The air was unusually chilled for early November in NYC, but despite the dropping temperature, sweat trickled down the back of Anastacia’s neck. Unable to wish away the nausea that was taking hold of her and too ill to sit through her last class, she’d left the NYU campus, hopping on an uptown subway to return home for the day. She’d been lightheaded and queasy the past few days, but nothing as violent as what she was currently feeling. Waiting at the crosswalk, the aroma of garlic and cheese permeating from a nearby café antagonized the volcano that was about to erupt in her belly, and she prayed she would get home without incident. 

At last, Anastacia ducked into her apartment building, closing her eyes, and offering a silent thank you to the heavens for the safety and comfort of her home. Once inside her foyer, she removed her coat, hung it in the closet and glimpsed herself in the mirror hanging over the Bombay Chest. Pale skin and sunken eyes replaced her usual olive complexion and healthy glow.

I just need to sleep off whatever this is.

Her husband, Jimmy, was not expected home from work for several hours, and she hoped to be feeling better by then.  

Suddenly, the sound of voices startled her. She walked through the living room, following the noise. She almost forgot the motion sickness that forced her home earlier than usual as the guttural sound of rhythmic moans grew louder, interrupted only by a woman’s shrill laughter. Anastacia forced her legs to follow the cacophony and found herself at the doorway of her bedroom. She stood there frozen. Seeing, but not believing. Tears sprang to her eyes and dripped down her cheeks, and she began to shake uncontrollably. Anastacia attempted to speak, but bile rose to her throat, rendering her incapable of uttering a word. Then, a cry that seemed to escape from her very soul, revealed her presence. 

In that second, they knew she’d witnessed their betrayal. Anastacia was taken aback by the look of pure satisfaction that flashed across the naked woman’s face. A face that held not even a hint of guilt or remorse.

Her husband’s face told a different story. Shock, fear, maybe regret. For getting caught. It couldn’t have been more than a few seconds, but so many thoughts bombarded her mind that it was as though she were moving in slow motion. But then, the impact of it all slammed into her, and she ran.  

Jimmy jumped up, wrapping himself in a bed sheet.

“Ana! Wait!” He pushed the woman off him. “Get off me! Move! Get out of here.” 

Barely making it to the bathroom, Anastacia leaned over the toilet, expelling the contents of her stomach.

“Ana,” Jimmy pleaded, coming up beside her.

“Get away from me.” She wiped her mouth with a towel, straightened up and gathered all her strength to push past him. 

Jimmy blocked the doorway. 

“Ana mou, I’m sorry. Please. Let me explain.  Sagapo. I love-”

“Don’t touch me or ever say that to me. You’re disgusting. You both are.” She ducked under his arm, but he grabbed her wrist.

His touch seared her to the bone and she pulled away. She was shamed, shaken—broken, but there was no way she was going to let him see it.

“I said don’t touch me. Never come near me again.” 

“It’s not what it looks like. She… it was all her. I never meant to… Ana, please.”

“It looked like it was both of you. Now let me pass,” she spat. He lifted his hands in surrender and stepped aside as she pushed her way past him through the narrow bathroom doorway.

In the hallway, the woman stood, watching, gloating. Although she and Anastacia both had dark brown hair and similar Mediterranean features, she lacked the poise and grace that Anastacia exuded.

“Get out of my home,” Ana ordered her. “I never want to see you again.” Anastacia stormed out her front door, slamming it behind her. Doubling over, she thought she might heave again, but she drew in a deep breath and continued down the hall to Soula’s apartment. She frantically knocked on the door. When she opened it, Soula took one look at her best friend and she hugged her. 

“Ana mou, what is it? 

Between gasps and cries, Anastacia relayed the entire humiliating scene, as well as Jimmy’s despicable attempt to explain the unforgivable.  

“What do I do now?” 

“We go upstairs and talk to your uncle,” Soula said. “He will know how to handle this.” 

“How can I tell him? What will my parents say? How could I be so stupid? What will Uncle Tasso think?”

“Of you?  Nothing different than before. Of them?  They will get what they deserve.  Come. We will go together. I will tell your uncle if you cannot.”

An Interview with the Author:

Has writing been something you always did, or was it a discovered talent that came to you at a later point?

I know that many writers say that they always knew they wanted to write, and they’d done so even as a young child. I can’t claim that to be true. All I ever wanted as long as I could remember, was to be an actor. I even majored in theatre in college. But I ended up working in the optical field for over thirty years. My need for creativity was satisfied in several ways. I wrote and directed a couple of children’s play for my church and my children’s class. I love to bake, so I took it to the next level, designing cookie favors for special occasions, and finally, writing my own food blog, sharing recipes, traditions and stories. I wrote a few articles for a regional magazine, but it wasn’t until my mother passed away that I sat down to write a full length novel.

Do you remember how it felt when you were offered that first contract? What emotions stand out in your memory?

I am still waiting for that first contract. I’m self-published. I feel very passionate about this book, and it has been received well. I can tell you how I felt when fans of the book began contacting me. I was overwhelmed with emotion. I was relieved, of course. But more than anything I felt a great sense of accomplishment. Not only because I’d completed the book, but more because I had touched readers, and they were responding.

Is this a first book, part of a series, or the latest in a long line of many?

Evanthia’s Gift is the first book in The Gift Saga. There will be three books and possibly a companion cookbook.

What is the oddest thing that’s happened to you since you chose to become a professional writer? Will it ever make it into a book, or is that a secret?

Nothing really odd has happened. Everything has been quite awesome. I’ve had people contact me that I hadn’t spoken to in forty years to tell me they loved the book. I had a woman find me and come to my job so that I could sign her book. I was chatting with a woman one day, and I mentioned I wrote a book. I gave her my card and she said, “That’s you’re book? I just downloaded it on my kindle.” This was very exciting for me.

Do you have your next book underway, or other titles in the planning stages?

I am currently writing book two. I have no idea what the title will be, though. Originally, Evanthia’s Gift had a completely different title. It wasn’t until my last revision that I changed the title. I won’t know the title of Book Two until it is completed.

Do you have a favourite genre and why? Is it one you write in, read in, or both?

Women’s fiction is the genre I read more than any other. I knew that my basic story was a love story, but I wanted it to have substance. With women’s fiction, I was able to combine a love story, a family saga and the real life struggles women encounter. The splashes of history, culture and heritage make it more interesting, as well as relatable to many readers.

What, to you, is the most exciting part of the writing process? Does it change from book to book or remain the same?

When I get an idea, I can’t wait to get it down in writing. This is my first book, so I have no idea if it will change, but I imagine the actual story and character development will always be the most satisfying part of the process.

If you could co-author a book with anyone, who would you choose and why? What kind of book do you think would come from the collaboration?

As much as I love the classics – Steinbeck, Austen, and Shakespeare, I am going to name a contemporary author. Sylvain Reynard. His poetic use of language and his beautiful descriptions are breathtaking. He is an Old World romantic in a contemporary world. He brings culture, art, literature and history to his beautiful romances, elevating them to something greater than the genre implies. Together, we would definitely write a romance with a backdrop of tradition, and the struggle between good and evil.

Where can readers find you on the web?

Media Contact:

Dorothy Thompson
Pump Up Your Book
P.O. Box 643
Chincoteague Island, Virginia 23336

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The magic and romance of Italy... Bella Signorina #RB4U #MFRWauthor #RomFantasy

Bella Signorina

Amazon  •  Barnes & Noble    Amazon AUDIO    iTunes    Audible   

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?

Exclusive excerpt:

            Stefano kept a close eye on the pretty dancer even as he walked to the small caffè. She was lovely, and he’d seen her many times, always enchanted by her presence, but never inclined to find out if the outward beauty was all there was to her. If she was another vain and brainless girl, he didn’t want his illusion shattered. The romanticism of the thought made him smile. He wasn’t as jaded as he pretended to be if he was still protecting his heart with illusions.
            Less than fifteen minutes after he’d left her, he rejoined her and handed her a steaming cup of coffee.
            “It’s so different here at night,” Bianca noted, her eyes scanning the area. In a matter of hours, thousands of people would begin their daily movements, passing over the steps, not noticing anything but the need to be wherever they were headed. “There’s peace here now.”
            “Is that why you dance, to find peace?”
            She sipped her coffee and considered an answer. When it came, it surprised him.
            “The music is freedom, and the motion is passion. Sometimes the only passion that matters.”
            “All passion matters, bella,” he commented. “It’s what gives us life.”
            “Or burns it out of us.”
            He turned on the steps, faced her fully. Then he touched her chin and made her look at him.
            “Who abused your love so fully that you can believe that?”
            “People destroy each other for love,” she replied after a lengthy pause.
            Stefano shook his head. “Love is the only gift there is worth having, Signorina. It’s what men live and die for.”
            “Who are you, Signor?”
            He was startled again, twice in less than five minutes.
            “Would you like to walk?”
            She laughed in the growing darkness, and Stefano felt it ripple the length of his spine, as though cool, flawless silk had glided over him.
            “Where are we to go, Stefano?”
            “I think you’ll like the place,” he observed, with a hint of irony texturing the subtle undertone of his voice.
            She eyed him for a few timeless moments, then nodded and rose.
            He smiled when she offered her hand, and he curled his fingers around hers in a loose, but firm grip.
            “So, is there a wife hidden somewhere?”
            He laughed. “No. What about you? A husband who will come looking for me before dawn?”
            She shook her head and sipped her coffee. “How does a man with so much passion not have the woman of his dreams in his arms every night?”
            “I could ask you the same question,” he pointed out. “Why are you alone?”
            Her laughter washed over him again and she stopped walking to look up at him. “No one I’ve met has inspired the things I need to feel.” She shrugged. "I've been too honest with too many, and it scares them away."
            For a moment he said nothing, weighing her surprising confession. “What do you need?”
            “To be respected for who I am, what makes me unique.” She tilted her head to one side and held his level gaze. “I need to be given all the things I’m expected to provide, and that seems to be something quite beyond many men. Real men, who understand the value of a smart woman, also see that her beauty is in her wisdom, and her spirit.”
            “And her ability to be all things without effort, because she is all things naturally,” he concluded, genuinely pleased at the startled flicker of surprise his words lit in her eyes. “We’re here,” he announced, indicating the building they’d reached.
            She looked up, and her smile was radiant in the soft glow of the nearby streetlight. “La Galleria d'arte di Idillio,” she murmured. “I love this place.”
            “It’s mine,” he told her as he dug out the key that would unlock the doors to the small gallery.
            There was enough real shock in her voice to make him stop as he held the door for her to go inside. “Why does that surprise you so much?”
            “I’ve come here a number of times, and I’ve never seen you,” she replied, once he’d locked the doors and turned on the lights.
            “I’ve never seen you,” he noted. “Except at the caffè.”
            “I’ve always felt this place was a tribute to love, and romance.”
            “It is. My father began the collection for my mother.”
            “Your father was a romantic?”
            “My father was a gentleman, in the truest sense of that word,” Stefano said with a familiar sense of loneliness and pride combined. “He lived la dolce vita,” he smiled, “with the passion of a man who loved all life had to offer him, good and bad.”
            “He’s gone?”
            A curt nod was all he could offer without revealing how deeply the loss still affected him. He set his coffee on the reception desk, hung his jacket on a rack then did the same with Bianca’s things. Then he took her arm and led her to a small area that had been his work for the past year.
            “This is my latest addition to the collection.”
            Bianca wandered the area, studying the beautiful collection of photographs. Each one was in a different area of Italy, and the women smiling and lovely, but each one as unique as her surroundings.
            “What do you see?”
            “Beauty. Romance.” Bianca stared at the photographs for a few moments longer, considering them with serious thought, then turned to face him. “In every photograph, they are not looking at you, but at the camera. They’re seeing the opportunity, but not your reason for wanting them.”
            Something fluttered against Stefano’s chest from the inside, an excitement he hadn’t felt in a very long time. He let his gaze drift, cataloguing the woman in front of him. Standing next to him the top her head was at his chin. She had long, waving hair, dark brown with a distinct tint that caught the glow from the lights and turned her thick mane into a mass of warm, burnished auburn. She had eyes that resembled Chinese jade, and a wide, full mouth that curved upward, as though a secret hid behind her smile. She was curvaceous and feminine, effortlessly graceful, and with minimal makeup, appeared very much without artifice of any kind.
            “What is my reason for wanting them?” He forced his tone to calm and curious, sincerely interested in her reply, but also caught in the spell she was exerting. Part of his mind was still watching her, measuring the emotion and internal workings of her mind as she analyzed his photographs with real interest. Her teal-colored dress was simple in design, flared skirt unevenly cut at the hem, swirling around her shapely legs as she walked, pausing often to peer intently at the images on the walls. The upper half of the dress clung to luscious contours, and the silver crucifix, her only jewelry, drew his eyes to the shadow between her breasts. He wanted very much to touch her, and instead stuffed his hands into his pockets and went to join her as she stopped at one of the last photos, then looked at him over her shoulder.
            “She loved you.”
            “So she said.”
            “You didn’t love her?”
            “Not the way she thought I should.”
            “You wanted love from every woman here, yet not one of them saw who you really are,” she observed softly, sadness evident in her tone.
            His eyebrow rose. “Who do you think I am, bella?”
            “How honest do you think I should be?”
            “I admire honesty, Signorina,” he told her. “I respect the courage it takes to offer it to anyone.”
            “But do you respect it if the object of discussion is you?”
          “Now you’re beginning to worry me,” he teased with a smile. He was fascinated by her intelligence and her insight. She looked past his appearance and his presence to probe his secrets, and whatever she was seeing made her even more alluring to him.
Want to know more? The dance is only beginning for Bianca and Stefano, drop by Eirelander Publishing and indulge the fantasy more…

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