Monday, December 26, 2011

Guest Post & Giveaway: HEAD GAMES by Cassandra Carr


Hi Everyone. Please help me welcome Cassandra Carr to the blog today! She is here to promote her new erotic menage romance, Head Games. Today Cassandra is going to talk about writing menage stories.


Why I wanted to write a ménage story & think a ménage relationship could work in real life (with caveats, of course)
by Cassandra Carr


Thanks so much for having me today! I wanted to talk about why I chose to write a menage story - heck, an entire menage series! Here's why: I love heroes. I'm sure it should be more complicated or convoluted than that, but it's really not.

So what do I mean?

I love men. I love the way they think, they talk, and they feel. They're fascinating creatures - really! That translates to wanting to write lots about them, hence needing a lot of them to write about. Does that make sense?

And really, what woman doesn't like the idea of being sandwiched - literally! - between two hot guys? That fact alone makes for some great, meaty reactions on the part of my heroines.

Now, as for the question of whether or not a ménage relationship can work in reality, I think it can. But remember those caveats I mentioned in the title? Here they are:

1. The guys have to be comfortable with their own sexuality and with exhibitionism. There's no way to have a permanent ménage relationship with a girl and another guy - even with sexual contact between the men - where you're not going to see each other's goods and be in very close proximity to them.

2. The guys must not be jealous types, or, if they are, they need to learn how to deal it. It's impossible for a woman with two men to pay them exactly equal attention.

3. The woman needs to be able to stand up for herself, or there may be a tendency for the guys to take over.

4. They all have to come to terms with the fact their relationship may be exposed and that their lifestyle could be met with derision. The woman, especially, may face scorn.

I'm sure there's probably even more things I haven't thought of, but those were some of the items that came up as I was writing Head Games. 


Thanks for stopping by today, Cassandra. I most definitely would not mind being sandwiched between two hot guys! ;-)

Head Games
Buffalo Intimidators Book #1
by Cassandra Carr
Release Date: November 2, 2011

Leo Laporte and Scott Schaeffer are teammates on the ice and roommates off it who also share women. They’ve been coming into Kelly Chase’s bistro after games for months, and they know they want her. As the attraction grows, the men realize they want more than a one-night stand - they want forever. 

Kelly’s not so sure. Yes, she wants both men. But a permanent ménage relationship? That’s taking giving her heart away to a whole new level, and a chance she’s hesitant to take. Then Leo is injured and Scott’s on the trading block, and she realizes this may be her only shot at true, everlasting love. 

There are so many questions swirling around inside Kelly’s head. Can she believe in Leo and Scott’s love? And will her business and her reputation survive once people find out she’s with two men?


EXCERPT

“Okay, so let’s go over everything again – make sure we’re on the same page here,” Leo urged.

“All right. Can’t hurt. We need to present a united front if we’re gonna do this.”
“Exactly. So both of us want her.” They’d been attracted to Kelly since the moment they’d laid eyes on her, but had come to the realization a few months ago that their feelings ran deeper than simple lust.

Scott nodded; his eyes as determined and focused as Leo had ever seen them. “Yes, we both want her, and the only way that will work is if we share her. But we need to make it clear at some point, maybe not right up front, that we want her more than just sex.”

“And we think tonight is the night?”

“She’s definitely intrigued.” Scott paused and Leo could practically see the wheels turning in his friend’s head. “Even when we mentioned a threesome last week she didn’t run.”

“Yeah, and did you see the expression on her face? She wants it.”

“I think so, too. But don’t forget. We can’t push her too hard. And everything one of us does affects the other. We can’t let her tear us apart and if this thing starts to do that we need to reconsider.”

“Agreed,” Leo answered. He held up his fist. “Even now, even with Kelly, bros over hos, man.” The two men did a quick fist bump and Leo relaxed a little.

A few minutes later Kelly backed out of the kitchen, her arms laden with plates, and both men paused to admire her in her tight chef’s pants. She caught them staring and just shook her head, laughing.

Yes, they were done waiting for her to come around. It was time to put Operation Seduction into action.


Author Bio -

Cassandra Carr is a multi-published erotic romance author who lives in Western New York with her husband, Inspiration, and her daughter, Too Cute for Words. When not writing she enjoys watching hockey and hanging out on Twitter. Her debut novel, Talk to Me, was released by Loose Id on March 22, 2011. Head Games, Buffalo Intimidators book 1, will release on November 2, 2011 from Siren Bookstrand, and Caught will release December 13, 2011 from Loose Id.

For more information about Cassandra:


Giveaway:

1) Cassandra is giving away one set of signed Romance Trading cards to a randomly drawn commenter today. 

**Winner of the Romance Trading Cards is June M! Congratulations.**

2) She is also giving away a $10 gift card to Amazon or Barnes and Noble to one one randomly drawn commenter during the entire tour.  

The more comments you leave the better your chances of winning.
 
To Enter:
Leave a comment or question with your email address.
Be sure to visit the other blogs on this wonderful tour. Click on the tour button below for a list of participating blogs.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Review: ALL THE PLEASURES OF THE SEASON by Lecia Cornwall

All the Pleasures of the Season
by Lecia Cornwall
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Release date: December 20, 2011
Source: Review copy from Publisher/NetGalley

On the first day of Christmas:

Lady Miranda Archer accepts a marriage proposal

On the first day of Christmas and 15 minutes:

Miranda realizes she’s made a huge mistake.

For the next 12 days:

Miranda must find a way out of her engagement, which is harder than it looks, especially when her fiancé is pompous, mean, and desperate for her family’s jewels… and convince her true love that all she wants for Christmas is him...

Lady Miranda Archer has just finished her debut season and has finally made her choice and decided to marry Lord Anthony Stanwood. Out of all of her suitors she knows that marrying the Earl of Kelton is the most advantageous to her and her family. Her sister, Marianne has been pushing for him since day one and she knows her Grandfather, The Duke of Carrington will approve of the match. Although, Anthony is gorgeous and the most eligible bachelor of the season, Miranda can’t seem to dismiss the fact that she is settling for anything less than love. 

The man that Miranda is in love with never asked for her hand in marriage. Gilbert Fielding is the second son of a minor baron with no title, no money and no land. There’s no way that Miranda’s grandfather will approve of a match between the two. It seems Miranda and Gilbert are doomed. Then Miranda’s betrothed is found in a dishonorable situation that opens the door for a possible reunion between the lovers. 

I thought this was a really sweet love story between and high born lady and a regular guy who have grown up together as friends who eventually fall in love with one another. I admired Miranda’s willingness to try to do the right thing for her family by going along with this aristocratic marriage even though she realized that Lord Kelton was a selfish, self-centered, ass who was only interested in her family’s jewels and money. I wanted to strangle Gilbert for waiting so long to go after his girl. But his eventual sacrifices to win her heart back made up for his earlier stubbornness. The Archer family members were not strangers to scandal and that made the story even more interesting and enjoyable. The setting of the story was lovely and I enjoyed the holiday traditions and festivities that took place at Carrington Castle. All the Pleasures of the Season is a lovely holiday novella and will definitely appeal to fans of regency romance.



Thursday, December 22, 2011

Review: THE KING'S PLEASURE by Kitty Thomas

The King’s Pleasure
by Kitty Thomas
Publisher: Burlesque Press
Release Date: December 17, 2011
Source: Review copy from Author


In the kingdom of Himeros, Abigail is despised for her gypsy heritage. Pushed to the fringes of society, she’s forced to break the law in order to help feed her family. When a castle guard catches her stealing bread, he intends to cut off her hand for the offense.

Niall has just taken the throne and is determined to prove he isn’t a monster like his father. Awakened by the cries of a gypsy, he spares her from the guard’s blade and takes her as his slave instead. When he learns she doesn’t understand the kingdom’s carnal ways, he becomes determined to strip her of all inhibitions until her every desire is in service to the king’s pleasure.

* This book contains master/slave, group sexual activity, mild sadomasochism, oral and anal play, exhibitionism, and voyeurism.*

The King’s Pleasure is the third novella in Kitty Thomas’ erotic fairy tale collection. This novella was my favorite one out of all of them. It pushed every one of my dark, erotic, kinky buttons.

I know I’m in for a sexy treat when opening up a Kitty novel. I almost always love her heroes and this story was no exception. Niall was a dominant & dangerous hero with a soft spot for his slave. Abby was a strong heroine who would endure anything to prove her love and loyalty to her master. 

Living her whole life on the fringes of the kingdom, Abby is ignorant of the hedonistic culture of the King’s court. After deciding to take Abby as his slave, Niall begins to teach her the carnal ways of the Himeros society. She gets indoctrinated into the sexually open culture of the kingdom rather quickly as guests start arriving to court and preparations are made for the weekend feasts and festival. And, oh my! What a wicked, sexy festival! Once night falls, children and citizens not wanting to participate in the evening’s orgies leave and the debauchery begins. The author joked that she must have been on horny drugs when she wrote the scene and I think she was! It’s a very intense erotic scene with lots of dirty explicit activities going on.

Shortly after the festival the story takes a dark turn when seeds of doubt are planted in Niall’s mind regarding Abby’s intentions. The latter half of the novella is a bit alarming and tortuous and my heart went out to Abby. I was so caught up in the emotional whirlwind that I worried about how the story would end. 

This was another amazing story from the beautifully erotic imagination of Kitty Thomas. The King’s Pleasure is highly recommended for every erotica fan who likes their stories a little dark and their boundaries pushed. 



Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Review: THE LESSON PLAN by Jackie Barbosa

The Lesson Plan
by Jackie Barbosa
Publisher: Circe Press
Release Date: December 18, 2011
Source: Review copy from Author


Despite her imminent debut, Miss Winifred Langston has no interest in trying on expensive ball gowns, learning intricate dance steps, or perfecting the one piece she can play on the pianoforte. Freddie would rather don a pair of breeches and go target shooting, fishing, or horseback riding—astride—than be anywhere near a ballroom or high tea. Rather than waste the last few days of her freedom on such pursuits, she invites her two closest friends to join her in one final caper.

When Conrad Pearce learns of Freddie’s plans, he decides it’s past time to teach his younger brother’s partner-in-crime a well-deserved lesson. But when he intercepts her, disguised as a highwayman, to demonstrate how dangerous and ill-advised her stunts are, he can’t resist the sensual beauty hidden beneath the maddening tomboy’s exterior. What began as one sort of lesson becomes quite another, as Conrad embarks on a comprehensive erotic tutorial of his surprisingly enthusiastic and adept student.

Now, he only has to convince the irrepressible Freddie to trade her breeches and madcap ways for the gowns and domesticity she despises.

The Lesson Plan was a fun novella with an impulsive, unconventional heroine and a reserved, level-headed hero. I really enjoyed Freddie’s wittiness and fun spirit. As a tomboy, she would rather hang out with her twin brother, Walter and their friend Thomas. But at the ripe old age of twenty-one, Winifred has learned that she will have to travel to and take part in her first London Season. Freddie’s brother Nash has decided it is well past time to get his sister married off and out of his hands. Although, Freddie knows it’s her duty to find a husband and marry – she only has eyes for her friend’s brother, Conrad. But he’s never paid any attention to her or looked upon her as more than Thomas’ little friend. But before Freddie has to leave for London she plots one more outrageous adventure hoping the scandal will reach London and thwart her brother’s plans. She’s decided to take a trip to Miss May’s Pleasure house to “find out what all the fuss is about”.

Thomas spills the beans to his brother Conrad who then tells Nash. Freddie’s older brother is not happy and devises his own plan to teach Freddie a lesson. Conrad is to impersonate a highwayman and hijack the carriage that is to take the three friends to the brothel. They hope to scare Freddie and the boys by kidnapping Freddie and letting her believe that she is to be ransomed. 

Conrad has no intention of compromising Freddie’s virtue, but when she realizes who the "highwayman" really is, she decides to turn the tables and initiate some good old fashion loving. I liked their interactions and dialogue and felt they were perfect for each other. Even though she was the high spirited ringleader to her twin brother and friend Thomas, with Conrad she became tame and compliant. The way Conrad made her submit to him was titillating and the love scenes were hot. The Lesson Plan was a well written and enjoyable novella. This will appeal to fans of historical erotic romance. 



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Review: FREEDOM - THE RAKE AND THE RECLUSE by Jenn LeBlanc

Freedom:The Rake and the Recluse: Part One
by Jenn LeBlanc
Publisher: Iris Photo
Release date: December 20, 2011
Source: Review copy from Author


This is PART ONE of The Rake And The Recluse, it has been completely re edited with new scenes and new images and is being released as it was originally intended, as a six part serial novel. This is NOT a series it is a SERIAL, that means it has to be read in order.

Francine Larrabee woke up on the wrong side of the century. She was fairly certain she went to sleep in her own comfy bed, but she doesn’t quite seem to be there now. Only adding to her problems is that she has no voice, is constantly being glowered at by a large, stunning man who is obsessed with propriety, and she is apparently betrothed to another horrid little man, determined to ruin her, and any other girls that get in his way.
How does she find herself in the past, when she couldn’t even find herself in her present? How does a self sufficient businesswoman survive in a time when women were still considered property for the whole of their lives and what is she going to do with this man who draws her to him so fiercely.

Freedom is part one in this re-released version of The Rake and the Recluse. This first part gives us an introduction to Francine Larrabee an independent business woman living in Denver, Colorado. During a morning cab ride to her office she is unexpectedly transported back to the year 1880. 

Francine’s father was an anthropologist who had written detailed journals theorizing about a time-shift that would occur during an unnamed family’s lineage. Supposedly some people within this family were not born during the correct period of time and the universe would align to get the family member back to their proper time. The last thing Francine remembers is holding her cell phone and a framed picture of a woman with long dark hair named Madeleine who could be Francine’s doppelganger. The cab makes a sudden turn throwing Francine backwards into her seat. In the next moment she finds herself lying on the ground seconds away from being trampled to death by a pair of horses. She blacks out after hitting her head and is taken to the home of Gideon Alrick Trumbull, tenth Duke of Roxleigh. 

After regaining consciousness, she realizes that she is no longer in the same century or country. She has a panic attack and starts throwing things and lashing out at the doctor and housekeeper who are trying to help her. Soon (His Grace) Gideon is summoned and she demands he tell her what is going on. Francine thinks that there is a joke being played on her and insists he take her home. He grabs her and demands that she address him respectfully in his household. While still in his embrace, Francine catches sight of herself in the mirror. Instead of seeing a young woman with blond hair looking back at her she sees herself with long curly brown hair. Madeleine is staring back at her. She loses consciousness for the second time.

Freedom: The Rake and the Recluse flowed very well and was extremely intriguing. With the addition of the photos I felt like I was watching/reading a drama series. I liked all of the characters and can’t wait to get to know them better. The dialogue was interesting as well, with both modern and old English from Francine & Gideon and then some French dialogue between Madeleine’s parents. The budding romance between Gideon and Francine has me in suspense. Francine is adjusting surprisingly well to her new reality. The first part in this serial novel ends with Gideon leaving for London on business and Francine not sure if she will still be there when he returns. I’m looking forward to the other 5 parts of this serial novel and wish I could read them all at the same time. The anticipation is a tiny bit tortuous.




Review: INFATUATION by Melissa Schroeder

Infatuation: A Little Harmless Military Romance
by Melissa Schroeder
Release Date: November 14, 2011
Source: Review copy from Author


To prove her love and save her man, she has to go above and beyond the call of duty.

Francis McKade is a man in lust. He’s had a crush on his best friend’s little sister for years but he has never acted on it. Besides that fact that she’s Malachi’s sister, he’s a Seal and he learned his lesson with his ex-fiancé. Women do not like being left alone for long months at a time. Still, at a wedding in Hawaii anything can happen—and does. Unfortunately, after the best night of his life, he and Mal are called away to one of their most dangerous missions.

Shannon is blown over by Kade. She’s always had a crush on him and after their night together, it starts to feel a little like love. But, after the mission, Kade never calls or writes and she starts to wonder if it was all a dream. Until one night, her brother Mal drags him into her bar and grill and Shannon gets the shock of her life.

Kade isn’t the man Shannon knew in Hawaii, or even the last few years. Losing a friend and being injured changes a man, especially one who had never felt so vulnerable. He still can’t shake the terror that keeps him up at night. Worse, he is realizing that the career he loves just might be over.

Shannon is still mad, but she can’t help but hurt for the man she loves. He is darker, a bit more dangerous, but beneath that, he is the Kade she's known for so many years. When he pushes her to her limits in the bedroom, Shannon refuses to back down. One way or another, this military man is going to learn there is no walking away from love—not while she still has breath in her body.

Warning: This book contains two infatuated lovers, some drunken dancing, a hard-headed military man, a determined woman, some old friends, and a little taste of New Orleans. As always, ice water is suggested while reading. It might be the first military Harmless book, but the only thing that has changed is how hot our hero looks in his uniform—not to mention out of it.

Infatuation: A Little Harmless Military Romance is a good start to this new military themed Harmless series. Shannon is a strong willed independent business woman and Kade is a tough Navy Seal. They have been attracted to each other for awhile and finally seal the deal at a wedding in Hawaii. It is the best night of their lives and seems like it could be the beginning of a really hot relationship. Then Kade is called away to a very dangerous mission. Shannon doesn’t hear from him for months even after she knows that he has returned from his mission. 

Soon, Shannon’s brother, Malachi drags Kade and another friend back to his hometown of New Orleans. Shannon is finally reunited with the man of her dreams but finds that Kade has come back damaged. He’s not the same exuberant, take-charge man she fell in love with. He’s become quiet and introverted and she’s not sure how to help him. She’s still upset that he never called after their tryst in Hawaii but she knows she still has very strong feelings for him and can’t turn her back on him. 

I liked both Kade and Shannon and the secondary characters were likable as well. There was a lot of emotional turmoil going on that made the story a little depressing for me. I was rooting for Kade to heal enough mentally to let Shannon back into his heart. The story flowed very well and I really enjoyed this book. The sex scenes were mildly hot with very light BDSM elements. Infatuation was a good emotional read and will appeal to erotic romance junkies.



Monday, December 19, 2011

Guest Post & Giveaway: ALL THE PLEASURES OF THE SEASON by Lecia Cornwall


Hi Everyone! I would like to welcome author Lecia Cornwall to the blog. She is here today to promote her new novella, All the Pleasures of the Season and talk about her favorite historical time period. 
 
I find endless excitement and romance in history! I grew up reading fairy tales, and then real life history. The Tudors were my first great love. The BBC series “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” came out when I was about ten, and I looked forward to watching it every week (does anything tell people I was born to be a writer better than that?).

Then I discovered medieval history, and people like Eleanor of Aquitaine (she was Richard the Lionheart’s remarkable mother) and Sir William Marshal, the most incredible alpha hero EVER. These real life characters were stronger, wilier, and more intriguing than any fictional characters could be. When I began writing actual books in my spare time, I wrote medieval romances.

My books are presently set in the Regency. It was such an incredible era, and it offers everything an author—or a reader—could want. There are fabulous clothes, larger than life characters and who could resist the grand sweep of world events from the French Revolution to the Napoleonic wars? Society was so structured—but as lovers of Regency romance know, rules were made to be broken. Under all those strict laws of behavior and etiquette, there was a wild, dark, seductive layer. For every proper miss, there was an improper mistress, for every noble lord, there was a spy, a thief, or a rake. The Regency was also a time of huge advancement, with new discoveries in science, great literature, art, and architecture. There was all the celebrity gossip you could want, with the scandalous royal misbehavior of the naughty Prince Regent to Napoleon’s battles, and his tempestuous marriages, family and mistresses.

Stories like ALL THE PLEASURES OF THE SEASON, my Christmas e-novella, offer a glimpse at Regency society, both as it really was and how we’d like it to be. The heroine is Miranda Archer, the granddaughter of a duke. She is expected to marry within her class, adding wealth, prestige, and noble sons to both her family line and her husband’s.

Well-born ladies didn’t make love matches very often. They married according to the advice and authority of the men who ruled their lives, and gentlemen of that time chose a wife as much for her cash value as her beauty (and if it came down to a choice between the two, cash usually won out over looks). But what if a duke’s granddaughter were to fall in love with someone outside her class, someone she could never hope to marry, a man with no money, no land, no title? Gilbert Fielding is a second son, and he’s for the army. Rising above his class by marrying ‘up’ would dismay his father, a simple baron, and scandalize good society.

And what if a lady bows to family pressure and agrees to marry England’s handsomest, most eligible earl, only to find he is less honorable, less interesting, less everything than that plain second son? What would she do? What could she do? Breaking off the engagement was scandalous in her time. Her family would be devastated. She’d get a reputation, though her huge dowry would certainly go a long way to encourage future suitors to overlook it.

It certainly helps that Miranda Archer’s family is a most unconventional clan. They’ve caused and survived dozens of scandals, and they never do the expected. Until now. Miranda is determined to do as her grandfather wishes, and make the best of her marriage, even though it’s starting to look like that might just be impossible. Fortunately, every Archer knows that when they marry, they marry for love, and if their youngest sister is unhappy, then they will move mountains to set things right.

But does Gilbert Fielding really want to put himself in the midst of all this, even for the woman he loves? It would be so much simpler to ride off to war, and do what society expects of him. He could just get on a ship, and let Miranda marry her earl, but he learns a secret about Miranda’s fiancé, and her brother-in-law owns the ship, and he isn’t about to give Gilbert passage without an explanation.

It comes down to choice, dear readers, and a willingness to challenge all those rules and conventions. Will Miranda and Gilbert do the expected thing, or will they risk everything for a chance at happiness? And if they do, how on earth is it going to succeed? Miranda’s grandfather still must approve the match, and he isn’t likely to welcome an upstart into the esteemed family tree.

Thankfully, it’s Christmas, the season of love and miracles, and all they can do is hope for one of their own.

Could this story happen in any other time period? Possibly, but there’s something about the Regency that makes it better. Those rules. Those clothes. Those titles! And of course, those houses. I chose Holker Hall in England’s magnificent Lake District as the inspiration for Carrington Castle. Who wouldn’t want to spend Christmas there? http://www.holker.co.uk/DB/events-3/christmas-at-holker-2.html

Regency Christmas celebrations were fun and festive. The aristocracy spent Christmastide at their country estates. While Queen Charlotte introduced the Christmas tree (Prince Albert later made it fashionable), the medieval tradition of going out and gathering greens to decorate the hall on Christmas Eve prevailed during the Regency. So did the Twelve Days of Christmas, with parties and celebrations lasting from Christmas Eve to Epiphany. Festivities began on Christmas Eve, when a party would go out into the woods and pull mistletoe down from the trees, collect holly and ivy, and rosemary. The gentlemen would find an ash tree and cut it down as the Yule Log. The remains of last year’s Yule log would be used to light the new one on Christmas Eve, and it would burn for the full twelve days. It symbolized luck for the coming year, and a return to the light half of the year.  

With favorite holiday foods, family, carols, parties and games, a Regency Christmas wasn’t that different than our own. And isn’t love and family the best thing about Christmas?

What is Christmas without gifts and surprises? For a chance to win an e-copy of ALL THE PLEASURES OF THE SEASON (remember it’s available only in e-format), tell me one thing you love about your favorite time period in history.

Wishing everyone out there all the pleasures of the season!
Lecia   

*Update* The daily winner of the eBook copy of All the Pleasure of the Season is Shelly B. Congratulations! The eBook will be sent to you.

There is still time to enter for the $25 Amazon gift card, through December 23rd.
All the Pleasures of the Season
by Lecia Cornwall
Release date: December 20, 2011


On the first day of Christmas:

Lady Miranda Archer accepts a marriage proposal

On the first day of Christmas and 15 minutes:

Miranda realizes she’s made a huge mistake.

For the next 12 days:

Miranda must find a way out of her engagement, which is harder than it looks, especially when her fiancé is pompous, mean, and desperate for her family’s jewels… and convince her true love that all she wants for Christmas is him...

Author Bio – Lecia Cornwall

I was born in the wrong century.

Don't get me wrong, I'm devoted to the conveniences of this world, especially modern plumbing and good chocolate, but I long for the elegance, grace and adventures of the past.

I've always wanted to be a writer, and a historical writer at that. In fourth grade, I wrote a story about a Welsh mining pony that takes revenge for the horrible conditions in the pits. In sixth grade, my mother got a letter from the teacher after I wrote a story about a grandmotherly shop owner in occupied Europe who lured enemy soldiers into her shop and made sausages out of them. I was probably the only kid in my class who fell in love with the Masterpiece Theatre series The Six Wives of Henry VIII.

As an adult, I became a direct marketing copywriter. When my children were born, I stayed home with them (the best decision I ever made), worked as a freelance writer, and dreamed of writing fiction.

My big chance came when we moved from Ottawa to Calgary, Alberta. Unemployed, I decided to start downloading the daydreams whirling around in my head. After six years of learning and honing my craft, submitting to dozens of contests and editors and agents, I found a wonderful agent (Kevan Lyon) and sold my first book. I discovered the harder you work, the quicker luck comes calling.

When I'm not writing with a cat by my side, I'm volunteering at my daughter's high school, or corresponding with my son at university. In the afternoon, I can usually be found walking my dog and pondering my latest plot by the beautiful Bow River.

I was born in Toronto, raised my family in Ottawa, and now live in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies with four cats, two teenagers, a crazy chocolate lab and one very patient husband.




Giveaway:

1) Lecia is giving away an e-copy of her novella, All the Pleasures of the Season to one lucky winner today. The winner will be announced on this post.

2) She is also giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one one randomly drawn commenter during the entire tour.  
 
To Enter:
Please tell us one thing you love about your favorite time period in history and leave your email address.
Be sure to visit the other blogs on this tour. Click on the tour button below for a list of participating blogs.



Thursday, December 15, 2011

Guest Post & Giveaway: TRUE SURRENDER by Tracey Cramer-Kelly



Hi Everyone. Please help me welcome Tracey Cramer-Kelly to AsianCocoa's Secret Garden today! Tracey is here to talk about her flawed hero, Aaron Bricewick from her new  novel True Surrender.

Flawed Hero: Aaron Bricewick, Army Officer, True Surrender

Some writers start a novel with a plot outline. I tend to start mine with a character. A flawed character.

Why? Because we all relate to flawed characters. We recognize something in them that is also in us (or perhaps in someone close to us). Perfect heroes are boring!

When I’m in deep imagination about a character, I feel as if I’m getting to know them personally. I even dream about them (often in scenes that SHOW me their character). I ask: “Why is this character like he is? What motivates him?”

I think about what shaped their life to bring them to the person they are. In the case of Aaron Bricewick (hero of True Surrender), his parents’ divorce when he was a pre-teen was a pivotal event in his life. It is the start of his fear of commitment and his need to be in control. The lack of interaction he received from his father contributed to his heightened need for respect from others (which drives him to make personal sacrifices for the sake of his military career).

When I start writing, I try to put myself in the character’s shoes. Because what that character would do in a particular situation is not necessarily the same as what I would do. Sometimes I have the character all figured out and then she goes and does something totally unexpected! In those moments, I stop resisting or trying to place my personal reactions on the character and listen to what she wants to tell me.

For example, when Holly found out about Aaron’s addiction to pain pills, I had intended for her to dole out some ‘tough love.’ Instead, her own insecurities about single parenting surfaced in an unexpected way. When I let go and allowed the character permission to do what she wanted, the scene took an unexpected, intriguing twist.

The second half of the equation, of course, is the situations I put the characters in. In both my novels I was very intentional about this; I chose them expressly to bring out the characters’ flaws (if I didn’t, how would they ever show?) In True Surrender, Aaron finds himself in some unusually intense (and emotional) situations - which lends itself to all kinds of character development.

But that’s a topic for another post on another day!

True Surrender
by Tracey Cramer-Kelly
Release Date: September 29, 2011

When Major Aaron Bricewick is rescued from Afghanistan terrorists, he thinks the worst is over. But his personal journey is just beginning...

The first surprise is the amputation of one of his legs.

The second is the woman he left behind, now a widow with a 4-year-old son - and his new prosthetist (artificial limb maker).

He vows that losing his leg won't derail his career. But maintaining his outward appearance as a got-it-together officer becomes increasingly difficult as he faces one personal demon after another - and sees his career aspirations slipping away. And though he has no intention of expanding his life to include a woman, his heart has other ideas - and he finds himself questioning the very foundation of his personal beliefs.

When violence - and unexpected redemption - touch his life again, Aaron must make a stand. Which will he choose: duty or love?

Excerpt:
His bed was empty.
          Impossible, she thought.
          And then she saw him: motionless on the floor, a dark stain spreading underneath his body. A stain that she recognized instantly.
Blood.
Oh my God, the terrorists found him!
This first irrational thought was immediately followed by a more trained response. She assessed the situation in the few moments it took her to cross the room. She hit the button on the intercom system, identified herself and requested help.
She dropped to her knees next to Aaron. She spoke as she ran her hands across the back of his neck. “Aaron! Can you hear me?” As soon as she was certain he had no neck or spinal injury, she shook him gently. “Aaron, it’s Holly. Talk to me, Aaron.”
His arms snapped up, flailing for a moment before his good hand clamped onto her wrist—hard. His eyes were wide open, and in them she saw terror…confusion… pain…
They engaged in a macabre tug-of war as Holly stated repeatedly, “Aaron, it’s me—Holly. You’re okay. Take it easy.”
After what seemed like a long time, she saw recognition seep into his eyes. But then he shut them tight, and his body went limp. He released her wrists and dropped his hands over his face. “Go away,” he whispered, his chest heaving.
          “I can’t do that, Aaron.”
          “You shouldn’t see me,” he said. “Not like this.”
          Unexpected tears stung her eyes.
          “This isn’t who I am,” he rasped.
          “You asked me to leave once already,” she said. “And I honored that request. Maybe I shouldn’t have. So please…”
          She locked her eyes onto his, which were open again. Surely he could see that she was close to tears, but she didn’t care. “Don’t ask me to walk away again.”

Author Bio:

Tracey’s work fuses writing, music and visual imagery whenever possible, and includes novels, short stories, essays and music videos. True Surrender is her second novel. Her first, Last Chance Rescue, is an Indie Award finalist. Her first full-length music video, The Rose (Surrender Version), includes scenes from True Surrender. Her writing draws from her experience as an Army Reserve paramedic and helicopter pilot. When not managing the family business, Leader Motorcycle Accessories, she enjoys motorcycling and outdoor activities with her husband and two young children. 



Giveaway:

Tracey will be giving away a Fallen Soldier t-shirt (red, size TBD) to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. The more comments you leave the better your chances of winning.
 
To Enter:
Leave a comment or question with your email address.
Be sure to visit the other blogs on this tour. Click on the tour button below for a list of participating blogs.




Monday, December 12, 2011

Interview & Giveaway: Christine Young - HIGHLAND HONOR



Hi Everyone. Please help me welcome Christine Young to AsianCocoa's Secret Garden today! Christine's novel Highland Honor was released last month.

AsianCocoa: Welcome Christine and congratulations on the release of your novel, Highland Honor. It’s a pleasure having you here on the blog today!

Please tell us a little about yourself and why you became a writer.

Christine Young: Writing stories in my mind has always been a part of my life. I made up stories when I played with my dolls and now I make up stories on the computer. Ideas come from everything and anything. Soooo many stories and soooo little time. I became a writer because writing and creating are my passion. 

For the last 35 years I have taught school. Now I'm retired and enjoying all possibilities, including travel and more time to write. I have 3 children and 2 grandchildren who I adore. I spend free time knitting and at the moment remodeling my kitchen. 

AC: Your book, Highland Honor was re-released last month (November 28th).
Would you tell us a little about it? Is this book part of a series?

CY: Highland Honor is the first book in a 3 book series: Highland Honor, Highland Magic and Highland Song.

Highland Honor is set in the rugged Highlands of Scotland. After watching her evil stepbrother and the man she is supposed to wed, Callie flees her home. She means to find the one man she believes her deceased father trusted, Colin "Hawke" MacPherson. Unbeknownst to her Hawke blames her father for the cruel murder of his father. 

From the first they are drawn to each other. But when Colin discovers who Callie is, he is torn between needing her in his arms and the revenge he has sought against the Whitcomb family. 

Their story revolves around the strength of their love and their need to discover the truth about the horrific day Colin's father is branded a traitor to the English King and sentenced to die. Colin's worst fear is that Callie will do something impulsive that will jeopardize her life.

AC: Can you tell us about the research you did in preparation for writing Highland Honor and the series?

CY: The most valuable information for this series came from attending the Highland Games at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham Oregon. I ate authentic food, found many books and two maps of Scotland one a Historical map and the other a clan names map. I also have a travelers map of Britain. Watching men in kilts actually toss a caber made the adventure real. Many visits to the Library is also a part of the research that goes into my work.

AC: Can you describe to us your writing process?

CY: I usually have a story line in my head. After that I begin with my name book and find names that are suited to my characters. Then I go into a detailed analysis of their characters. To create personality conflicts I use the Mind Styles by Gregore. Every character has a detailed past.

A basic plot comes next. And it is very basic because my characters usually take over the story line. My in depth plotting comes with each scene. I write a first and last sentence so I know where I'm starting and I have a page turner at the end of the scene. Within that plot I include, POV, Setting, Internal and External Conflict. Foreshadowing, Motivation, the plot to a twist, to name a few. Then I write the scene.

AC: What genre do you enjoy writing most?

CY: I love historical romance. It doesn't matter if it is a western, a regency or a highland book. I would like to try my hand at steampunk but don't know enough about it yet.

AC: If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

CY: That’s hard because my characters all seem to have a difficult past. If I looked beyond their past and concentrated on the person they become, I would have to say Lainie MacPherson in the last of the Highland series. She overcomes so much. She is smart as a whip and strong in spirit.

AC: Do you have an all time favorite book? What was the last amazing book that you have read? 

CY: I don't have an all time favorite book. The book that launched my romance writing career was A Pirate's Pleasure by Heather Graham. Although an avid reader, I had never read romance until my mother-in–law gave me that book to read. And then I was hooked on romance—and pirates.

AC: What is your favorite supernatural character and why?

CY: Have to go with Superman. Loved Christopher Reeves in the movie.


AC: Who is your favorite sexy actor?

CY: Going to have to date myself and say Sean Connery. 

AC: I know you’re an avid reader of romance and other than writing, what other things interest you?

CY: Swimming. I coached a high school swim team for 13 years. I love to ski, snow and water although I don't get out there much any more. Knitting and needle work are great when watching TV and I've been a fan of Jazzercise for over 30 years.

AC: Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers? Are there any new projects you’re working on? 

CY: I'm finishing an April Fools anthology and I started a regency series several years ago that would entail 12 books. The first three are done and should be released soon and I would love to find time to work on them. And of course there are other stories in my head just waiting to be written.

AC: Thank you so much for visiting, Christine.

Highland Honor
by Christine Young
Release Date: November 28, 2011

Willfully stubborn, innocently courageous, Callie Whitcomb braves a journey through the treacherous highlands to the MacPherson castle. Callie flees from an unwanted marriage as well as her ruthless half brother. Naively she believes Colin MacPherson, the head of the clan, is loyal to her father and will give her sanctuary, protecting her from the vile plans that have been made for her.

As hard and as unyielding as the winter storms that sweep through the countryside, Colin is irresistibly drawn to the impetuous beauty who has magically appeared on his doorsteps. Despite his vows of revenge against her father, she stirs his passion as well as his sense of justice...but to love her would violate all his vows of revenge.


Excerpt:     

"Where are we going?" she asked as they rode side by side across a vivid green meadow. Even before she asked the question, she had guessed his intentions. They were two-fold.

"To find a private spot, a place where we can eat and," he paused thoughtfully as he turned to look her way. Then his roguish smile captured her heart. He could make her heart melt with just a smile. 

"And?" she queried even as her cheeks heated, knowing the answer before he spoke.      
His grin widened, then he winked. "Race ye to the trees." He waited silently for her
to accept the challenge he tossed her way. 

"Ye would like that wouldn't ye? But I won't fall for the bait ye toss my way. We both know who has the fastest horse." 

"And who would that be?" he asked, laughing.

"I do." She had waited long enough for him to drop back a few strides, giving her more of a head start than she knew he would have allowed. She gave a silent command to her horse. The mare lunged forward. 

"Callie--" she heard him cry out her name, laughingly. "Cheater. I'll get my revenge."


Author Bio: 

Born in Medford, Oregon, novelist Christine Young has lived in Oregon all of her life. After graduating from Oregon State University with a BS in science, she spent another year at Southern Oregon State University working on her teaching certificate, and a few years later received her Master's degree in secondary education and counseling. Now the long, hot days of summer provide the perfect setting for creating romance. She sold her first book, Dakota's Bride, the summer of 1998 and her second book, My Angel to Kensington. She is the author of 10 published romance books and 2 novellas. Christine is a retired high school math teacher. Her teaching and writing careers have intertwined with raising three children.  Christine's newest venture is the creation of Rogue Phoenix Press. Christine is the founder, editor and co-owner with her husband. They live in Salem, Oregon.

Links:
http://www.roguephoenixpress.com/

Giveaway:

Christine will be giving away:

* A $50.00 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter for the blog tour. 
* A Clan MacPherson book mark awarded at each stop to one randomly drawn commenter.

 
To Enter:
Leave a comment or question with your email address.
Be sure to visit the other blogs on this tour. Click on the tour button below for a list of participating blogs.



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