Friday, October 20, 2017

Friday Feature: Another EXCERPT from DECEPTION

Getting close to the deadline, and close to the finish line of being able to finally type "The End."

After two years and a nearly complete rewrite from where I thought the book was going to go... it's almost finished. Now if my family can just keep their acts together for a few more weeks, I'll be able to ship this off to the publisher and start counting the days until the December release party!

In the meantime...

Here's another scene from the book not previously shared....



Shea saw Kae arrive late to the courtroom, swimming to her usual seat without even a glance around the amphitheater to find him. From his higher position in the grandstands, he watched as she clenched and unclenched her small hands, her silky blonde shining like gold in the morning light, her attention focused on the proceedings. A sad longing filled him, and he wished he sat next to her to calm her obvious anxiety.
Shea wondered what made her late. His stomach twisted into a tight knot as he pictured her with him. With Zan. Despite her protests, Shea knew their breakup had something to do with the sorcerer.
Maybe he’d go visit the guy in the dungeon after all. Was it fair to punch someone if they were already imprisoned?
When the court broke for a lunch recess, he followed the chattering gaggle of princesses toward the exit, still stuck in his own thoughts and paying no attention to their conversation. Prince Azul’s sister Layla kept trying to include him by asking questions, but Shea was distracted, wondering if he’d be allowed to visit Zan in the dungeon, and whether the sorcerer would tell him the truth of what was going on.
A hard tug on his arm caught his attention, but instead of Layla it was Kae swimming next to him. She leaned close, her blonde hair caressing the side of his neck as she whispered. “I can’t believe that sea snake got away with another murder. What did I miss at the beginning of the court session?”
Shea closed his eyes, savoring the feel of her breath tickling against his ear. Had he imagined the scene in the library? Had she changed her mind about breaking up? His hand found hers and twined their fingers for a second before she yanked her hand free as if he’d stung her, putting more distance between them.
A ball of ice formed in the pit of Shea’s stomach, his throat thick with a sudden rush of emotion. “I thought we were still friends.”
“We are. I mean…”
“I get it.” His jaw clenched. Everything he wanted to say to her jumbled in his head, a mishmash of jealous feelings about Zan and a longing to go back to when it was just the two of them alone, walking the beach at Windmill Point. Before all the complications of Atlantis and royalty and sorcerers wedged them apart.
The Pacific mermaids took notice of Kae, giggling behind their hands. Layla pressed close to Shea’s other side, wrapping long fingers around his bicep and giving Kae a dismissive smile. “What are you still doing hanging around the prince? Go away, little mermaid. You had your chance. The prince is moving on to better things now.”
He saw the shock and hurt wash across her face, quickly replaced by something else. Anger.
“Not wasting any time, are you, Layla?” Her eyes flashed at the blue-haired mermaid as the water around them warmed. “I hope by better things you’re not referring to yourself. You’ve already kissed half the merman in our class, and the first term is far from over.”
“If you haven’t even kissed poor Shea yet, no wonder he dumped you.”
“For the record, I broke up with him!”
Layla’s musical laughter sounded overly loud and drew curious stares from other students in the crowd, like a siren drawing her prey. “Why in Neptune’s name would you make up such a ridiculous tale?”
Kae’s hands balled into fists at her sides, her tail fin swishing a fast beat. Shea felt the low hum of magick vibrating the water. “Because it’s true.”
“Then you’re more the fool than I imagined,” Layla purred, running one finger up and down his bare arm, sending a zing of magick along his skin, magick that urged him to stay at her side. His eyes flew wide as he fought against her compulsion spell and slowly backed away.
Layla didn’t take notice, her complete focus now on Kae. “You’re a stupid serving wench. If the prince was my boyfriend, I’d never leave his side. And he’d never want me to go.”
Shea felt trapped, unable to form a coherent thought, let alone sentence, as the two traded increasingly barbed insults. A crowd of their classmates quickly gathered, goading the mermaids on. Several of Kae’s friends darted to her side to denigrate the loose morality of the royal lifestyle, while the rest of the princesses surrounded Layla to jeer at the “plebian class.” The sizzle of magick swirled through the crowd, and he realized each of the mermaids wore transmutare stones and didn’t seem afraid to turn the magick against their fellow classmates.
He found himself pushed further and further from the center of the fight as professors elbowed forward to break up the argument. The crackle of magick dissipated, washed away with the current as if he’d imagined it.
He realized this fight was not about him, not really, but more of a royals versus non-royals, the haves and have-nots. Shea flashed back to similar arguments back at his school in Oklahoma. How the rich townie kids made a sport of teasing Shea and his farmer friends. The ugly words here in Atlantis sounded the same, the only difference the undercurrent of magick in the water.
None of this had mattered on Cape Cod. As far as he could tell, his mother and Kae’s mother were best friends, despite their class differences. Why was it such an issue here in Atlantis? And how had he been so oblivious to it until now?
He swam out into the courtyard, passing the Doric columns at the entrance to his dormitory. He waved to a few mermen who called out to him but didn’t slow. He needed to find answers.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday Book Review: At Last in Laguna, by Claire Marti





At Last in Laguna, (Finding Forever in Laguna, Book 2) by Claire Marti
Published October 2017 by The Wild Rose Press

About the Book:

Alyssa Morgan has secretly been in love with her older brother Nick’s best friend, Brandt Dempsey, since she was an awkward, lonely teenager. When she catches the bouquet at Nick’s wedding, she throws caution to the wind and propositions Brandt to a two-week fling. He’s tried to ignore how Alyssa has blossomed into a strong, talented, gorgeous woman because as his best friend’s baby sister, she’s off limits.

After they share a mind-blowing kiss, Brandt struggles to fight their undeniable chemistry. His tragic childhood scarred him, but he pushes it deep inside, only allowing the world to see a wealthy, carefree entrepreneur. Forced to work together on Brandt’s latest charitable venture, Brandt and Alyssa’s passion cannot be denied. Alyssa knows he’s the one. Can she convince him they belong together?
My Take:

Claire Marti crafts a heartfelt story filled with both longing and self-doubt. The self-imposed barriers keeping these characters from their happily-ever-after are both real and really frustrating, as each struggles to work through their inner demons and find a place of acceptance.

At Last in Laguna is the second book in this sexy contemporary romance series, but can easily stand alone. Both the hero and heroine had supporting roles in the first book, but their story does not depend on the first for context.

Alyssa Morgan is the younger sister of the hero in book one, Second Chance in Laguna.  And yes, she's totally in love with her brother's best friend who thinks of her as the off-limits little sister.

Brandt Dempsey might have considered Alyssa "little sister" material, but ever since a certain Kiss under the Mistletoe, she's been co-starring in all of his hottest fantasies. Except he still thinks of her as a golden girl on a pedestal... so when she propositions him in the first chapter, he's completely caught off-guard.

The third-person narrative progresses in a he said/she said manner. His hardscrabble childhood makes him feel totally unworthy of the attentions of someone like Alyssa, while her struggles with self-worth and eating disorders make her feel unworthy of love, period. The continued battling with inner demons and doubts are enough to make a reader scream "enough" and slap them both silly... Or maybe that's just me.

The sex scenes are panty-melting hot, and the emotions tug hard at your heart strings, so just hold on through all the angst-y self-doubt. Ms. Marti pulls it all together by the end of the story and gives the characters the HEA they both deserve. I'm totally looking forward to the next installment of this series.

Grab your copy on Amazon.


Friday, October 13, 2017

BREAKING THE RULES is available for PREORDER!


The Wait is Over!
If you missed Jake and Abbie's story in the Hunks to the Rescue anthology,
You'll be able to grab the stand-alone version on November 1st!

Or click to Pre-Order for Kindle NOW on AMAZON

Many thanks to Abigail Owen at Authors on a Dime her help with formatting - and they did a totally gorgeous job, adding little touches and flourishes. TOTALLY Recommend.

Here's a sneak peak, just to get you started. And (fair warning) I woke up today in the middle of plotting Abbie's best friend Caroline's story, the next in this trilogy. I'm hoping when all three are finished, I'll put them out as a paperback as well. But first things first.

Excerpt from BREAKING THE RULES:

Recognition jolted through Abbie like an electrical surge. Whatever she was about to say to the captain evaporated from her mind while she stared into the most gorgeous blue eyes she’d ever seen.
What was the hot blond god from the bar doing in her boss’s office? 

Her first thought was that he’d tracked her down, but she quickly dismissed the idea. They hadn’t even spoken last night, something she’d regretted all the way home. She cleared her throat and was about to introduce herself when Captain Nickerson interrupted.

“Abbie, I didn’t realize you’d already met my, uh, nephew. He’s on Cape looking for a job. We were discussing the possibilities with John.”

She furrowed her brow and dragged her eyes away from the depths of the blue pools. “I didn’t know you had any nephews besides my brother, Uncle Charlie.”

Nickerson chuckled and twisted his silver watch band. “Jake’s dad is an old family friend, just like your dad and me, Abigail. When the boy needed to get out of Boston for the summer, his dad requested my help.”

Her eyes slid back over to Jake, appraising him. He looked like he was about her age, give or take a few years. Strong jawline, sculpted lips, wide shoulders, capable looking hands… she drank him in from top to bottom, every nerve ending in her body kicking into overdrive. Well-dressed and clean shaven, he certainly didn’t look like some punk kid whose father needed to call in favors to find him a job. And those eyes… she dared another glance at his face and found him looking straight at her, amusement twinkling within that sea of blue. She could happily drown in eyes like those. She wondered whether he was seeing anyone. Not that she’d had much time to date recently but for the right guy she could make time. Maybe. Her gaze slid along angular cheekbones to the scruff on his jawline… yeah, she should definitely carve out some time to get to know this guy.

She wondered what those sculpted lips would taste like, how they would feel on the sensitive skin along her neck… her cheeks blazed anew at the sudden and intimate direction of her thoughts. Nerves jangling, heart suddenly beating faster, she almost missed the rest of what Uncle Charlie was saying.

“…and at least now he’s learned his lesson about making time with the owner’s daughter. 
Unfortunately, come to find out the man has unsavory connections so we all felt it would be safer for Jake to make himself scarce for a few months. Thanks for offering him a position in the kitchen, John.”

Her eyes widened as she processed the meaning behind the words. “Wait a sec, Uncle Charlie. Let me get this straight. You want to hide a playboy who can’t keep it in his pants at work… hide him from the mob… and put him on my kitchen staff?”

Captain Nickerson chuckled. “Abigail, you’re being overly dramatic. No one calls them ‘the mob’ anymore, like something out of a Godfather movie. Besides, the boy is experienced in the restaurant business. Right, Jake?”

The “boy” in question cleared his throat, looking suddenly sheepish despite his rugged good looks. “I don’t think we need to share quite so many details, Uncle Charlie. And yeah, I know my way around a kitchen.” He kept his gaze trained on her, as if willing her to see it was all some sort of misunderstanding.

A strangled noise of frustration escaped from Abbie, realizing the blond was a player. Of course he was. He probably had lots of practice smiling at women in bars and seducing them with the kind of soul-searing kisses she’d just been daydreaming about. Yeah, totally not the kind of distraction she needed this summer on top of everything else.

Or click to Pre-Order the Kindle version NOW on AMAZON

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Writing Wednesday: Finding the Time

I know some of you who read my Wednesday Writing rants are full-time Writers. You've either already retired from a previous career or have been successful enough at this publishing thing to be able to write full time.

The rest of us still have kids at home. Or full-time jobs. Or both.

Strategies. We all need strategies for maximizing our writing time. Or FINDING writing time amidst juggling all the other responsibilities that come with kids, jobs, husbands, homes.... lives.

I find that life gets in the way a lot. When I first decided to write, I had small children at home and wrote while they were at school. I'd set aside time for that amidst laundry and vacuuming and the rest of the chores mommies tend to do in those golden seven hours between when the bus picks up and the bus brings them back home again.

As the kids got older, volunteering and bake sales and soccer games and after school activities took up so much time all the way through high school, and of course the three kids went in three separate directions - but in retrospect, I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. Kids are only young once. You only get to be such a big part of their lives for such a short amount of time.

So now I have 2 in college, one still in high school, and a full-time job to help pay the ridiculous cost of tuition. And I'm still writing. Struggling to juggle the writing, the work, and the volunteering.

And slipping in my deadlines.

I have to admit, sometimes after a frustrating day, that glass of wine paired with reading someone else's book sounds a whole lot more relaxing than diving into character struggles with my own noncompliant heroines.

So tell me. What's your best strategy for carving out writing time? I'm sure i'm not the only one struggling with a deadline. And we could all use a new strategy to switch it up now and again.

There are no magic bullets, we all know that. But sometimes a little fresh inspiration goes a long way.

Happy Writing to All!