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Maria Elana Alonso-Sierra's THE BOOK OF HOURS & giveaway

Gabriela’s body stilled at the soft sound of her name. For a moment, she stood listening, then shook her head like a wet dog shaking off water. You are such a fool, her mind supplied. Disgusted, she stabbed at the cerulean blue on her palette. Her mind had deceived her yet again. She slobbered the paint on the canvas, realized what she had done, and hissed. Since agreeing with Jean-Louis to call Maurice later that evening, she’d been a nervous wreck. Throughout the noon hour, her brain had staged all sorts of encounters with one infuriating, unforgettable man. Like a dutiful stage manager, her mind had supervised every possible scene, every possible emotion under its tutelage. She’d jumped from rage, to indifference, to haughtiness, but longing had finally won, hands down. No matter how hard she tried to avoid it, she could never escape the terrible need she felt for him, a need that went deeper than the instinct to breathe.

The lyrics from the song she’d impulsively put on swirled around her, teased her. The singer, in his soulful tenor voice, sang about the moment of encounter with his beloved, anticipation heating his blood, nerves tingling in expectation of the seduction. His words mimicked her own guilty longings, her desires. Oh, God. How would she ever get through this day? How would she find the courage to do what must be done?

“Gabriela.”

This time the voice penetrated, took form. It called out to her, familiar and unmistakably real, a living entity that caressed her skin and raised goose bumps on her warm flesh. This was no figment of her imagination, no mistake. She felt him, her nerve endings suddenly electrified, awareness shaking her. Panic sent her heart scurrying. Hope and love made her turn around slowly, ever so slowly.

She blinked, thinking her eyes were deceiving her, but Richard’s tall frame stood static before her, his chestnut hair combed by the soft breeze, his eyes intense, pinning her and caressing her all at once. The embers of irrational hope fanned to life like a conflagration. For an unguarded moment, her eyes reflected her hope, her joy, but especially her hopeless love for him.

Richard watched those powerful emotions play across her face and relief slammed him. Gotcha. She’d always had such an expressive, beautiful face. Now, no matter what she did, but especially said, he would know the truth. The love was there, and it flared like a beacon.

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For artist Gabriela Martinez, psychopaths do strike twice. In The Coin, two star-crossed lovers were cruelly used by fate—and now, in The Book of Hours, destiny isn’t done.

Back then, Gabriela almost lost her life to a psychopath hoping to claim her artwork, her career, her body, and her love. If not for Richard, the operative sent to protect her, she would have fallen victim to his twisted vision.  The dramatic showdown pushed Gabriela and Richard together, even in the face of countless obstacles.

With someone new threatening Gabriela’s life, Richard will risk everything to protect the woman he loves.  But with a new villain on the horizon, bent on possessing Gabriela’s latest work no matter what it takes, she is forced to fall back on old friends, including the man who changed her life not so many years ago.

With an even more dramatic threat looming, and far more to lose, if they don’t stay one step ahead of the danger, their lives, their love, and their future may very well go up in flames.
Maria is giving away an epub or mobi copy of THE COIN and THE BOOK OF HOURS. Two (2) books to one (1) winner!  How do you like your suspense/thrillers?  The tenser the better or easy does it?

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMaria Elena Alonso-Sierra is a full-time novelist based in North Carolina. With Cuban roots, she has lived in many countries, including France, the setting for her first novel, The Coin. She speaks English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German, and reads Latin, Middle English, and old French. She holds a Masters in English literature, specializing in medieval romances, and is currently an active member of the Carolina Romance Writers. She loves to hear from her readers, and always hopes to open a dialogue with her fans.

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Heather Boyd's Top 5 Romance Books vs RL & CAPTIVATED BY HIS KISS BOX SET w/ 2 Giveaways!!

 

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Thank you so much for having me on the Manic Readers blog today. I’m Heather Boyd, Regency Romance author of over twenty books and contributor to the Captivated by his Kiss Boxed Set (January 12th release).

Why do we read romance? Why don’t we? Romance novels are fantasy and nothing like the challenges of finding someone to love. Our real life knights in shining armor just can’t compete and frankly shouldn’t have to. I write romance proudly. I love the thrill of attraction, of seeing two characters find common ground. Perhaps to rewrite a piece of my own history that in hindsight didn’t turn out so well.

Top 5 Romanticized thing in a romance book vs. real life

First Kiss – In a romance, that first tender kiss is always in a romantic setting and leaves you (the heroine of this piece) with an unquenchable longing for more and more. In real life that first kiss can go horribly wrong: smashed lips, the odd tooth nipping the wrong spot, and a tongue that ultimately is supposed to stay inside your mouth and not end up down the throat of that person you’ve just met at that drunken end of year work party. Can anyone say awkward?

First time sex – Finding your sole mate, he’s handsome and attractive, you’re (as heroine) are beautiful and busty. Your lips meet and graze softly, clothes “mysteriously” disappear. You gather in the middle of a lovely comfortable bedroom with a fire roaring and after the deed is done you’re left with a perfect memory. We all wish that might happen but getting those buttons undone and a stubborn bra strap unclipped without bashing each other in the nose can end a romantic lust filled night before it happens.

Meeting the Family – A romance novelist can make the family anyway we need them to be. Difficult or supportive. Kind or cruel. While we love our own families –sometimes a little, sometimes a lot—and they might want only the best for us and to be there whenever we need them to be, it’s truly fun to mess with the dynamic and wreak havoc on the romantic couple. In real life, that just isn’t done and recovered from so easily.

The Influence of Friends – For the formative years of our real life friends often have the most influence over us. When we introduce our ONE to them we think ‘I love him so I know my friends will accept them too.’ That doesn’t always work out so well and one day you might have to choose between the new love and the old friendships. In a romance novel, the influence of friends are not as important as achieving the happy ever after.

For Richer or Poorer – In romance novels you can’t pick up a dozen tomes in the genre without finding a few handsome billionaires just waiting for the love of their life to complete them. In real life, eh, not so common at all. Well, not in my part of the world anyway. LOL

My story in the Captivated by his Kiss boxed set involves and awkward first kiss, nosey friends and an unequal style of living due to a lack of funds. Here’s a bit about Miss Watson’s First Scandal which is part of the boxed set:

Overworked London banker David Hawke had two goals for his week in the seaside town of Brighton: one, recover a debt from a friend and two, relax for his remaining holiday. Marriage wasn’t part of the plan…until the girl next door barges in and turns his life upside down.

#1—–Heather’s Giveaway!!

Heather is giving away a digital copy of Miss George’s Second Chance to one blog commenter. Do you agree with Heather’s list? Anything you’d add or subtract?  Giveaway ends Jan. 27th with the winner announced shortly thereafter.

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About CAPTIVATED BY HIS KISS:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Cheryl Bolen and USA Today Bestselling Author Bronwen Evans are joined by Barbara Monajem, Collette Cameron, Wendy Vella, Heather Boyd, and Lauren Smith in this exciting collection of regency romances. Be CAPTIVATED BY HIS KISS in these seven emotional stories of second chances, scandalous wagers, and the quest for true love. Lose yourself again and again in beautifully written romance.

His Lordship’s Vow by Cheryl Bolen – The exceedingly plain spinster, Miss Jane Featherstone, helps the earl she loves woo an heiress in order to honor the deathbed vow Lord Slade to his father.

To Wager the Marquis of Wolverstone by Bronwen Evans - Marcus Danvers, the Marquis of Wolverstone, is renowned for his cynical demeanor. It’s rumored that long ago, a beautiful woman broke his heart. Now he lives life for pleasure. That is, until the beautiful, as she is deceitful, Contessa Orsini re-enters his life with a wager he cannot resist.

The Christmas Knot by Barbara Monajem – Widowed and destitute, Edwina White takes a job as a governess in a haunted house, and if that’s not trouble enough, her new employer is the one man she’d hoped never to meet again.

Bride of Falcon by Collette Cameron – Faced with spinsterhood, Ivonne Wimpleton takes fate into her own hands, determined to win the heart of her wholly unacceptable childhood love . . . scandal be damned.

Christmas Wishes by Wendy Vella – Desperation makes strange bedfellows, and when the only person left to turn to is a dissolute Rake, Miss Hero Appleby realizes she is about to forsake more than her reputation.

Miss Watson’s First Scandal by Heather Boyd – Overworked London banker David Hawke had two goals for his week in the seaside town of Brighton: one, recover a debt from a friend and two, relax for his remaining holiday. Marriage wasn’t part of the plan…until the girl next door barges in and turns his life upside down.

The Duelist’s Seduction by Lauren Smith – Helen Banks, disguised as her twin brother, fights a duel against Gareth Fairfax but he has other ideas in mind of how to have Helen repay her debt starting with a sinful kiss and a wicked embrace…

Buy at  Amazon     B&N     iBooks    Kobo:

#2—-Author’s Group Giveaway!!!

The authors are giving aways a $100 gift card to one randomly chosen reader.

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About Heather:

Bestselling historical author Heather Boyd believes every character she creates deserves their own happily-ever-after, no matter how much trouble she puts them through. With that goal in mind, she writes sizzling regency romance stories that skirt the boundaries of propriety to keep readers enthralled until the wee hours of the morning. Heather has published over twenty novels and shorter works. Catch her latest news www.heather-boyd.com. She lives north of Sydney, Australia, and does her best to wrangle her testosterone-fueled family (including cat Morpheus) into submission.

Connect with Heather:

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Opposites Attract?

Is this still true? In the world of Match.com and Eharmony, where you answer questions and then are “matched” up with your one true love, is there a I-want-my-exact-opposite question? I don’t know. I’ve been married for sixteen years, so signing up for one of these sites is probably not a good idea. 

My current release His Small-Town Sweetheart has opposites. These two used to be the best of friends until they were fourteen and she had to leave. Now as adults, he’s non-talkative and she won’t shut up. I’m sure you know the types: Strong silent type. Talks to fill the silence. His life has been a little bumpy but it’s been heading in a positive direction, but all he sees is the negativity. Her life is in the crapper from career to relationship, but she’s still sunshine and daffodils. He wants to be alone. She doesn’t mind being alone as long as it’s with him. ;)

But do opposites work in the real world? Or is it just that the differences in the other person bring out the best in us? Say someone doesn’t talk a lot in general but when confronted with the talker finds the confidence to say a little bit more. Or think about that crazy friend of yours that whenever you go out, she’s the first one on the dance floor and keeps trying to get you to come out too. Of course after a few drinks for courage, you join her and have a blast.

Maybe we need opposites in our lives to get us out of our comfort zone and let us expand who we are. Like my dog Lucy and my cat Shade… hmmm… maybe that’s not a good example. They get along okay and even “play” together, but if Shade is getting petted, Lucy butts in. So maybe the opposites also help us develop tolerance and patience.
In books, I love when two people start off butting heads and eventually figure out that they are passionately in love with each other. Of course, mine isn’t enemy to lovers, but I can’t help reading books like that or watching shows or movies like that. Mine is friends to lovers which I find just as fascinating. Especially when that friendship was based on childhood likes and dislikes and now that they are all grown up, besides a shared childhood, what do they have together? Of course even without the dynamics of enemies, the fact that they are opposites should push them away, but then you have little miss sunshine and daffodils (I swear, she’s not that sickening sweet) pulling them back together.

What’s your favorite opposites attract book or movie?
His Small-town Sweetheart

Best Friends…Forever

Twenty years ago, Nicole Baxter left the only home she knew—and the boy who shared all her secrets. Now, with nowhere else to go, she’s back in Tawnee Valley to figure out her next move—and cry on her old friend Sam Ward’s shoulder. Except the gentle dreamer has become a brooding loner who’s gearing up to sell the place he loves most.
When Nikki moved away, Sam lost the best friend he ever had. The beautiful, elegant woman who comes home is a world away from the tomboy with pigtails and skinned knees. And he’s no longer the dreamy kid who believes in happy endings. Until Nikki starts to convince him they share the same dream: a future together right here in their own backyard…

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Between walking her Jack Russell-beagle mix, petting her two cats and driving her two kids all over creation, Amanda Berry writes contemporary romance novels (thanks to a supportive husband). A Midwest girl stuck in the wetlands of South Carolina, she finds inspiration in her small-town upbringing. A list of her current releases and backlist can be found at amanda-berry.com.

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Cate Masters asks....Is love a greater thrill than extreme sports?

I love to write spunky, fearless heroines. In Twice In A Blue Moon, my heroine Melanie Michaels can be too fearless. She named her extreme sports show No Boundaries for good reason—she will perform almost any stunt, and travels the globe to search for exciting places to perform them.

She’s not an adrenaline junkie. She’s just heartbroken after the loss of her fiancee. So she jumps out of airplanes, leaps off cliffs wearing a wingsuit, or dives into mysterious underwater caves.

Me, I’m too chicken to try any of that! But I loved researching the various extreme sports. The story doesn’t delve too deeply into them because once Melanie travels to Sweden, she’s having second thoughts about her life. Though she’s never admitted it to anyone, in that space and silence between worlds, sometimes her fiancee comes to her. Talks to her. She feels more alive in those few seconds than anywhere else.

Until she meets the hero, Joe “Buck” Wright. He seems to know her thoughts before she speaks, and understands her better than anyone after only a few days together. She must decide whether she’s ready to take the biggest leap of all—to love again.

Do you like stories with strong heroines?

TwiceInABlueMoon-MDCan true love strike twice?

After the death of her first love, Melanie Michaels buries her grief in the risky demands of a reality show, where her extreme stunts leave her teetering on the edge of danger. That’s exactly where she wants to be—until she arranges for her crew to traverse the Swedish Lapland in the dead of winter. It’s the one place she shouldn’t go, on the one day she should avoid—her would-be wedding anniversary.

Instead of romantic nights spent in the Ice Hotel or under the Northern Lights, Melanie is stuck with Joe “Buck” Wright, a snarky loner tour guide who loves his sled dogs and nothing and no one else. But Buck is also trying to numb a painful past. Can two people skilled at pushing others away find warmth at the edge of the Arctic? 

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Cate Masters is a hopeless romantic who loves a bit of adventure in her stories, whether contemporary, historical or paranormal/fantasy. Connect with her online at her blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Advance praise for TWICE IN A BLUE MOON

“…a great read. It is fun, it is romantic, it is moving.” – Dan Curnett, 5 stars

“…a quick romance read that will undoubtedly leave them wanting more” – Maria, 4 stars

“… a satisfying and enjoyable read” – Jennifer Schultheis, 4 stars

“I really liked this book! It had a unique setting and a hero with a lot of baggage” – JoMarie DeGioia, 4 stars

Interview w/ William, Earl of Abingdon from Julie Tagan’s STAGES OF DESIRE

Manic Readers welcomes Julie Tagan, author of Kensington’s historical romance, STAGES OF DESIRE. Today readers are treated to an interview with Julie’s hero, William, Earl of Abingdon.

Stages of Desire cover medWilliam, Earl of Abingdon from Stages of Desire

My hero in Stages of Desire is an unwilling earl who took the title after his brother’s scandalous death. He studied to be a physician and is more interested in working in a laboratory than being a member of the peerage. However, duty calls, and part of that involves wooing the daughter of a duchess, although she’s more interested in silk gowns than science. But now the duchess has asked him to find her runaway ward and bring her back to London.

What do you do for fun?

I fiddle in my lab for hours at a time. My dear sister, Claire, suffers from malaria, and I’m determined to find a better cure than what we have now. I know I’d be further along in my research if I wasn’t managing our estates during the day and attend dreary balls and dinner parties in the evenings.

What do you dread most in life?

Truly, I hate the idea of my family’s name being dragged through the mud as it did when my older brother passed away under less than ideal circumstances. Now this ward, Harriet Farley, has run off to find her actor father, bringing shame upon my beloved’s family. Will there be no end to these attacks on reputation?

What’s been the most jarring experience so far?

Trying to convince Harriet to return to London with me. At first, she’d have none of it. However, I believe we’ve reached a reasonable agreement. In the company of a chaperone, we’ll head up to Birmingham and she can straighten out this nonsense with her father, while I’ll be able to meet with an associate who’s also been working on a cure. I can’t imagine anything will go wrong with my plan, can you?

Is there anyone who peeves you?

Definitely Harriet. I mean, Miss Farley. She’s headstrong and won’t listen to logic and her eyes are the same blue as an apothecary bottle. Sorry, I got distracted for a minute. It’s enough to drive any man up the wall. But I’ll straighten her out, I have no doubt of that.

Stages of Desire

To be or not to be — in love . . .

As a ward of the Duchess of Dorset, Harriet can hardly expect more from a match than the ringing endorsement of “from what I’ve heard, the man is financially secure and his teeth are quite regular.” After all, she’s only the lowly daughter of traveling actors, not the actual daughter of the duchess.

William Talbot, Earl of Abingdon is set to marry the duchess’s daughter. After his elder brother’s scandalous death, his family’s reputation is paramount, and he’ll allow nothing to damage it again. But when Harriet disappears to save her father from debtor’s prison, the scandal threatens William and his intended’s family.

The simple task of fetching the duchess’s runaway ward turns complicated when Harriet insists on traveling with her father’s acting company. William’s forced to tag along, and finds himself entranced. The stage transforms Harriet into a free-spirited, captivating beauty. But someone’s been sabotaging the theater company, and instead of facing scandal, William and Harriet discover a threat not only to their growing passion, but to their lives…

Kensington Books, Lyrical Press imprint

Julia Tagan smallAmazon     Kobo     ITunes     Nook

Julia Tagan lives with her husband and goldendoodle in New York City. A journalist by training, she enjoys weaving actual events and notorious individuals into her historical romances. Her favorite activities include walking her dog in Central Park, scouring farmers’ markets for the perfect tomato, and traveling to foreign cities in search of inspiration.

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Parker J. Cole's THE OTHER MAN

BANNER

Title: The Other Man — Book Two of the Sins of the Flesh Series

eLectio Publishing, released December 16, 2014

ASIN: B00PSGEKFW

Genre: Inspirational Fiction/ Romance

About The Author
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Parker J. Cole is a writer and radio show host who spends most of her time reading, knitting, writing, cooking, and concocting new ideas for stories. Her first novel, Dark Cherub, won Best of Spring Reading 2013 from eMediaCampaigns. She lives in Michigan with her husband and their beloved dog, Sarah.

About The Book

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Leah Westwood loves her husband Jacob with all her heart, even as the smoldering glances of her ex-flame Vincent Miller continue to affect her. What she once shared with Vincent threatens to rip apart the bonds she is trying to build with her husband.
Jacob’s heart belongs to Leah, but his body refuses to accept that. Rachel is the one who has been his mainstay at the most difficult times in his life. How could he leave her alone?
Vincent wants Leah back and all he has to do is watch and wait as Jacob and Leah’s relationship unravels.
Ultimately, Leah must make a choice . . . between fantasy and fidelity.

 

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Tour Hosted by: WLN Book Tours

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Kristen Ashley's KALEIDOSCOPE

 

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I looked out my office window, down to the yard, my eyes to the bustling activity, and I did this tapping my phone on my desk.
I should be working but I wasn’t thinking about work.
I was thinking about Jacob.
More precisely, I was thinking about calling Jacob, had an overwhelming urge to do so.
I was also trying not to do so because I had a boyfriend, even though he was a boyfriend I wasn’t all that sure about. He was sweet, he was into me, but he was just… off.
Then again, I didn’t have a lot of experience so what did I know?
Additionally, after my dinner with Jacob last night, within an hour, I’d called him after ten at night and now it was only eleven thirty the next day.
I didn’t want him to think I was psycho, and calling him would imply psycho behavior. Further, when I called him last night, I’d asked him to dinner, which was dinner two nights in a row with a woman he hadn’t seen in nine years, a woman with a boyfriend, and that was semi-psycho.
Okay, maybe it was totally psycho.
I didn’t want Jacob to think I was psycho.
Ever.
But I wanted to hear his voice. I wanted to connect with him on the phone. I’d missed him and I liked having him back. I liked it a great deal.
I also missed him a great deal.
And I needed to ask him something. Further, he was the only one I could ask.
I looked from the yard to my phone. My mind telling my thumb not to do it, my thumb not listening, I found Jacob’s contact and hit go.
I put it to my ear.
“I’m a psycho,” I whispered and luckily finished whispering two seconds before Jacob’s voice sounded.
“You okay?” he answered.
He kept asking that mostly, I figured, because I kept calling when I didn’t need to so he probably thought something was wrong.
Or that I was a psycho.
“I need to know if you don’t eat anything,” I lied.
Actually, it wasn’t a lie. Although I remembered a lot about Jacob (most everything, in all honesty), I couldn’t recall if there was something specific he didn’t like to eat.
I could recall how beautiful he was, how tall he was, how strong he was. I could recall how smart he was and how funny he was. I could recall how cool he was with me. I could also recall how much I missed him. But I couldn’t recall if he didn’t like chicken.
But that wasn’t the only thing I needed to know. I needed to know something else too.
Much like last night, when he didn’t make me feel like a psycho, in fact, the opposite and sounded like he was happy to hear from me and would be willing to talk all night, he again sounded like me psychotically calling him yet again in a precursor to stalker way was no big deal.
“I don’t eat it, I’ll pick it off.”
“You can’t pick it off if I cook with it in it or if the mainstay of dinner on the whole is what you don’t eat,” I informed him.
“You makin’ Indian food?” he asked.
“No. Don’t you like Indian food?” I asked back.
“Love it,” he answered.
“Then why’d you ask if I was making Indian food?”
“ ’Cause I hoped you were.”
I burst out laughing.
No, Jacob definitely didn’t make me feel like I was being a psycho.
When I quit laughing, I told him, “Sorry, honey, I don’t know how to make Indian food.”
“Shame,” he muttered, a smile in his deep, attractive voice, and if I was on an infrared scanner, specific parts of me would have shown up hotter.
You have a boyfriend, Emme! I told myself.
For a while, I answered myself.
Jacob is also your ex–best friend’s ex-boyfriend, Emme! I reminded myself.
So? I asked myself.
I shoved those thought aside, thoughts that, if anyone knew I was talking to myself in my head might prove I was indeed a psycho, and pointed out to Jacob, “You haven’t actually answered the question.”
“I’ll eat what you cook, Emme. Cook what you like.”
He was such a nice guy.
He always was.
Nice. Tall (very tall). Handsome (unbelievably handsome). Smart (so damned smart). Funny. Interesting. Gentlemanly. And a repeat of nice because it was worth a repeat since he was just that nice.
I liked all that about him. I liked that he wore his dark hair way too long. I liked that sometimes a thick hank of it fell over his forehead and into his eye. I liked that he was who he was and didn’t wear designer jeans or put gel in his hair. I liked that, even considering he was extortionately intelligent, in fact, a genius, he never made anyone feel less than him because they weren’t as smart. I liked that he never acted superior or arrogant and with all that was him, looks, body, brains, he was one person who could. And I liked that he liked to do what he liked to do, he did what he liked to do and wouldn’t get pushed into doing something he didn’t want.
Like Elsbeth tried to do.
He’d lost her to that and he’d accepted it. I knew it killed. He’d loved her to distraction. But he refused to be the man she wanted him to be and instead was the man he was.
She should have seen she had it all even if he didn’t make bucketloads of money and thus couldn’t give her the life she was used to getting from her daddy. Country clubs, tennis lessons, vacations in villas in Italy and beaches in Thailand, fabulous homes kept by maids and fabulous meals cooked by cooks.
She didn’t see all she had.
Stupid.

Ashley_Kaleidoscope_MM Kristen Ashley

CANDLE MAGIC with Elodie Parkes

Thank you for featuring ‘Candle Magic’ on Manic Readers today. Thank you so much to all my readers. I write from my heart so you have a piece of it. Happy Holidays.
About the book:
I got the idea for this story very late at night as I shivered in a sudden downpour of rain on my way home from work. It was still summer at the time and although late, the sky was still quite light. That happens in Britain where I live and often dawn comes in at around 3.30
a.m.
How do I know this? I’m often still up writing or playing around with graphics for bookcovers. I’m lucky because my day job is in shifts so often I can grab a few hours’ sleep and still get to work on time.
Here’s the blurb:
When Simi finds a pretty
old candlestick among the discarded props in the company storeroom, she never
imagines it will grant her dearest wish. There’s something mysterious about the
carved candlestick, but Simi is drawn to it. She’s saved a red candle from a
box she bought years ago in an antique shop, and intends to use the candlestick
to hold the last candle and make her solitary Christmas lunch more festive.
It’s Christmas Eve, there’s sleet in the wind, Simi slips, but Jason catches
her. Who is Jason? Where has he suddenly appeared from in the night?
Simi looks into the eyes of
this gorgeous man and sparks fly …
Contemporary erotic fantasy
romance from Siren Publishing and Elodie Parkes
 
 
 
Read an excerpt
PG 13+

Simi opened the door to the small room where the props and items for events were stored. She flipped on the lights and cast a quick glance around with a sigh. Carl left a mess yesterday. She made her way through the jumble of items dumped close behind the door to the compactus storage on one side of the room. When she’d retrieved the office Christmas trimmings a couple of weeks ago, she’d seen some table decorations. Simi wanted them for the buffet trestles. She was in charge of refreshments for the staff party, and as usual, absolutely everything was her responsibility. She heaved on the handle of the storage and set it sliding along on the tracks. I just wish we didn’t have our party on Christmas Eve…The day before would be good…maybe.

The public relations firm had events going all the time, and even over the holidays, one or two of the employees would be off working at various types of events for short periods of time, but on Christmas Eve, theyalways had their own staff party. It was tradition, as was the summer picnic in August and the team-building “getaway” in February. For a brightly creative company, this was a stodgy way to behave, in Simi’s opinion. Not that I have anywhere to be…not that there’s anyone waiting for me to celebrate Christmas. I ought to be grateful I have this party, but I wish I had a boyfriend who would show up looking delicious in a tux. He would dance with me, kiss me under the mistletoe, and help me pack up when everyone went home. We’d take a taxi home instead of the subway and snuggle up. I wish…

 Simi squashed down the sudden rush of misery at her solitary status. Most of her colleagues would bring a partner, girl or boyfriend, husband or wife. She was notoriously alone. Three years of having no “plus one” at the staff party and picnic had designated her “the person who fixed it all.”  She organized, set up, and cleared away. Simi got in a crew for the staff
picnic because of weather and environmental concerns, but the Christmas party would see her coping alone after delivery of the catering.

She looked along the shelf where she’d seen the huge pinecones, all their scales tipped with red, gold, or silver glitter. The cones themselves were spectacular and shone as if they’d been polished. There were squat, transparent candleholders, too, to take lovely, thick candles. Gold threads had been woven into the glass as the candleholders were made, and Simi already knew they looked lovely shimmering on the tables when the candles were lit. She’d used them in the open evening in October when prospective clients were entertained and wooed.

As she carefully heaped her haul into a plastic tub she’d brought into the storeroom especially for the job, she noticed more candlesticks at the back of the shelf. Simi placed the tub on the floor and reached in to check them out. Mostly damaged, one had the chrome peeling from it. It looked to Simi as if these were old event items and she pushed them
back, but as she did, a glimmer caught her eye from the far end of the shelf. She foraged through the bundles of bunting and soft, tasseled ropes to grasp the glistening item. With a small sound of surprise, Simi pulled her hand back. The thing was warm, almost as if it was alive. She peered along the shelf and reached in again. Her hand clasped the item and she drew it out from the back of the shelving.

It was another candlestick. Simi held it carefully. The intricate carving all the down the stem and onto the base gave it an air of antiquity, but it was clean as if new. A tiny white ceramic bowl was set in the top of the stem for the candle. The only indication that the candlestick had ever been used was a residue of wax inside the bowl. The glow Simi had seen in the back of the shelf was no longer there, but the wood had an uncanny warmth, and as Simi stooped to place it in her basket, it gave a strange pulse against her fingers. Simi dropped it into the basket in alarm. She stared at it. It neither glowed nor pulsed under her scrutiny. I must have imagined it.

COPYRIGHT ELODIE PARKES and SIREN PUBLISHING 2014
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, DECEMBER 23 2014 RELEASE
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Elodie Parkes is a British author writing romance, erotic, contemporary, and often with a twist of mystery, paranormal or suspense. Her books are always steamy, cool stories and hot love scenes. Elodie lives in Canterbury with her two dogs. She works in an antique shop by day and writes at night, loving the cloak of silent darkness that descends on the rural countryside around her home.

Rue Toulouse Trailer

 

Check Out This Hot and Sexy Book Trailer!
RUE Toulouse
by Debby Grahl
Sex, Love and Danger in The Big Easy!
Coming January 15, 2015!
Available for PreOrder from 
TWCS and Amazon

 The next novel by Debby Grahl
Release Date: January 15 , 2014

It’s Mardi Gras time in New Orleans. Attending a masquerade ball, wealthy fashion designer Caterine Doucette, dressed as a shimmering ice princess, has her cool façade shattered when she encounters Bayou-born ex-cop Remi Michaud, disguised as the darkly handsome pirate Jean Lafitte. Their true identities hidden, the princess and the pirate come together in an explosion of passion and desire. But when fantasy turns to cold reality, Caterine panics and disappears into the night, unaware this man will soon be sent to rescue her from a killer and will capture her heart.

Orphaned at a young age, Caterine grew up in the home of her beloved grandmother, Miss Dauphine Doucette. Despised by her Doucette relatives for the devotion she received from her grandmère, Caterine suffered years of envy and disdain. The young Caterine learned quickly how easily the love she had to give could be thrown back in her face.

After Miss Dauphine turns over ownership of the century-old fashion house, Ma Chérie, to Caterine, an attempt is made on her life, for there are those in the Doucette family who will stop at nothing to possess what they feel is their rightful inheritance.

Not knowing whom to trust, Caterine goes into hiding. Miss Dauphine, convinced someone in her own family is behind the attack, hires Remi, now working for a private security company, to track her down and unmask her would-be assassin.

Learning that the affluent Caterine Doucette is the beautiful princess he held in his arms at the ball, Remi is torn between his growing desire for her and painful memories of another rich socialite’s betrayal. Caterine finds herself falling in love with Remi, but old embedded pain leaves her afraid to open her heart.

Down in the Big Easy, Caterine and Remi must learn to trust one another if they are to survive in a world of family greed and ruthless revenge.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Debby_002
Debby Grahl lives on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, with her husband, David, and their cat, Tigger. When she’s not writing, she enjoys biking, walking on the beach, and having a glass of wine at sunset. Her favorite places to visit are the Cotswolds of England, Captiva Island in Florida, New Orleans, New York City, and her home state of Michigan. She is a history buff who also enjoys reading murder mysteries, time travel, and of course, romance. Visually impaired since childhood by Retinitis pigmentosa (RP), she uses screen-reading software to research and write her books. Debby belongs to Romance Writers of America, Florida Romance Writers, Hearts Across History, and Lowcountry Romance Writers. Her first novel, The Silver Crescent, was released January 2014.

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LOVE AND RECKONING & Giveaway w/ Gina Danna

Aurelia sat on the lounge cushions, immensely pleased with herself. Now, with that wild man a slave in her brother’s gladiatorial stable,
she could see that mark on his shoulder close up. She halfway smiled as she bit her lower lip, remembering how he looked. Like a beast on the sands—or a god. His skin glowed with sweat, tinted with blood and dirt. How could she forget his chiseled chest and abdomen? Lines defined muscles in his arms and legs. Oh, she heated with thoughts of him, down to her loins.

Even a sip of her wine didn’t cool her. One thought of those golden amber eyes…she licked her lips absently.

“For all of Juno, I believe you’ve met a man!”

She blinked, washing the vision of the Celt from her thoughts. Focusing, she saw her friend, Iana, standing before her, draped in sapphire and white silk, her blond hair dripping in ringlets down her back. Iana laughed.

“You are blushing.”

Even Aurelia knew her friend was right as her cheeks warmed. She sat up and motioned to her slave to bring another goblet of wine.

“I didn’t hear of your arrival,” she said as her friend sat next to her.

Iana took a sip of her wine. “I just got here. I didn’t think I needed to be announced.” She leaned back and smiled. “What had you so hot to occupy your thoughts so? Has your general returned perhaps?”

Aurelia tensed, her lips thinned to a straight line. “Hardly. Last I was told, he was battling some area to the north, or maybe he was in Britannia. I don’t recall.”

But her terse answer didn’t wipe the grin from Iana’s face.

“Some man still inspired you.” Her fingers caressed Aurelia’s cheek. “You blush too much, like you do with men.”

With eyes downcast, she bit to keep the smile back. “Iana.”
“Well, as deliciously handsome as Caius may be, I somehow doubt you’d think of him that way.” She giggled.

“No, no, of course not, he is my brother,” she replied, but she knew her friend thought admirably of Caius. She flirted with him much
too outrageously not to be noticed.

“So it could be your general. He’ll return with all pomp and glory, Rome bending to her knee to welcome a hero.” She sighed, her eyes slanted, portraying the look of youth at first attraction. Years ago for them both…

Titus Livius Rullus, Legate of the IV Macedonia Legion, based somewhere north, if her memory had any thought on it, was her future
husband. Threads of the past, when he was in Rome, painted an unattractive vision in her head. He was tall for a Roman, his service to the Emperor and Rome clearly defined him. His arms and calves were corded with years of hard physical labor, a history of his legionnaire work. As did the cropped hair, turning pepper-like with grizzled grey. His body bore the score of numerous years of battle. Not the type the new slave wore. What a disappointment…

“What new slave?”

Love & Reckoning
Rome 100 CE
 
Conquered, beaten, sentenced to die in the Colosseum, Ganius of Gaul escapes his execution only to find himself enslaved as a gladiator. His rise to champion ensures his life, but does nothing to lessen his desire for vengeance against the Roman soldiers who destroyed all he knew.Locked into a repugnant betrothal, the beautiful Roman Aurelia turns to her brother’s champion gladiator for help. Promising him his freedom if he helps her escape, Aurelia soon discovers she wants not only Ganius’s help, but to capture his heart as he’s captured hers.

In love with his sworn enemy, Ganius realizes Aurelia is the key to his freedom. But to take her with him would risk both their lives, yet leaving her behind to be a pawn in her brother’s machinations is a wretched alternative. Ganius must choose – love of a Roman or freedom to make the Romans pay. This is a fight the champion gladiator might lose...

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Gina Danna has spent the better part of her life reading. History has been her love and she spent numerous hours devouring historical romance stories, dreaming of writing one of her own. Years later, after receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees in History, writing academic research papers and writing for museum programs and events, she finally found the time to write her own stories of historical romantic fiction.

Now, under the supervision of her three dogs and three cats, she writes amid a library of research books, with her only true break away is to spend time with her other life long dream – her Arabian horse – with him, her muse can play.www.ginadanna.com

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