I am extremely pleased to welcome today’s guest. Brooke Taylor and I have been friends for years and I adore her. She stopped writing for a while but myself and others continued to encourage her and she was once more bitten by the writing bug. Her manuscript released this week and it’s fantastic!! She’s visiting today with an interview with her hero. Enjoy…
Valentine’s Challenge with hero- Nikolas Steele
Here’s our story: Nikolas Steele & Thea Gale
How’d you guys meet? We met at a gas station, but she’d say we met when she was under a gas station. There was a tornado. It was kind of a thing.
First Date? Was it a date? Still not sure it was a “date” but we had pizza up in the mountains above Estes Park, Colorado.
How long have you been together? 4 days, but feels like much longer
Married? Not yet
Age difference? 7 years
Who was interested first? Me, she was kind of busy running for her life
Who is taller? Me, by at least a foot
Who said I love you first? Me
Most impatient? Her dog Titan
Most sensitive? Titan
Most stubborn? Titan
Falls asleep first? Thea. I rarely fall asleep.
Cooks better? Look, my dad’s survival soup was all I had to work with.
Better morning person? Me- being in the Military will do that to you.
Better driver? Me, but I haven’t seen Thea drive yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if she were a better tactical driver when she remembers how.
Most competitive? Thea
Where do you eat out most as a couple? So far, we’ve hit an all-night diner, hard, and “Bone Me” night for bone-in ribeyes.
Who is more social? Me, she’s a fugitive, so she can’t really socialize.
Who is the neat freak? Me
Where was your first kiss? On my couch, but I had to get out of there- fast.
Who initiated your first kiss? Thea- but I had already gone much further in my head
How long did it take to get serious? Two seconds
Who picks where you go to dinner? So far me
Who is the first one to admit when they’re wrong? The bad guys
Who wears the pants in the relationship? We both do, but we both are pretty good at getting the other one out of their pants, too.
Who has more tattoos? Me
Who sings better? Too soon to tell, probably her
Hogs the remote? Haven’t had a chance to find out
Spends the most? Thea. Unless it is a store with weapons, then me.
Did you go to the same school? Nope
Who drives when you are going somewhere together? Me
Where is the farthest you two have traveled together? Kansas to Estes Park, Colorado. But we’re embarking on more adventures.
After a tornado drops a feisty fugitive into the arms of a steel-hearted warrior, she must convince him to help her and her not-so-little dog evade a wicked enemy.
When a tornado drops Thea Gale and her not-so-little dog Titan into the arms of a steel-hearted warrior, she has no idea the trouble she is in. Lucky for her, the battle-scarred Navy SEAL who comes to her rescue knows a few things about evading wicked enemies.
Nickolas Steele is certain the right thing to do is to turn the filterless fugitive and her overprotective canine in to the authorities. But is the captivating amnesiac really a threat or is she the one whose life is in grave danger?
Nik can’t shake the feeling Thea’s past has come back to claim her, and discovering who she really is might be more deadly than either of them is prepared for. In order to enlist Nik’s help, Thea must not only confront the trauma of her former life but also penetrate the carefully forged armor protecting what’s left of Nik’s heart.
Wicked Games Series Info:
Seeking to heal wounds from their past, three couples must risk everything, including true love, as they journey to an oasis where adrenaline and adventure abound but danger and deception rule in this modern, realistic spin to the Wizard of Oz!
Brooke Taylor lives and writes from her country home in Oklahoma where her pets are a constant, but happy, distraction. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys horseback riding, going to the lake, and traveling.
Brooke has worked extensively in the travel industry, from dude ranches to ski resorts to cruise lines. Her many overseas adventures include sky diving in New Zealand, scuba diving with sharks, sailing through hurricanes, and having her tent attacked by wild animals in the Mara game reserve in Kenya. Due to current health insurance rates, Brooke is letting her characters do most of the risk-taking from now on.
Please help me welcome Claire Marti with a new release and a fabulous giveaway!! Enter for your chance to win a $15 gift card, just for liking her Facebook page!! – https://www.facebook.com/ClaireMartiAuthor/ (Winner chosen in approximately 1 week)
Returning to Laguna Beach after four tours in the Middle East, Christian Wolfe leaves the military behind and buys a wine bar, vowing to keep his life simple. He fights to keep his devastating PTSD a secret and refuses to burden anyone else with his baggage. When stunning Kelly Prescott and her red stilettos saunter into town, she drives him past the bonds of his self-control.
Successful in her father’s stuffy law firm, Kelly’s too compassionate to survive in the cutthroat world of corporate litigation. Leaving behind both family and courtroom drama, she moves to Laguna to become general counsel for a nonprofit veterans’ organization.
She didn’t bargain on a gorgeous modern-day Heathcliff, and in Christian, she sees another kind of challenge—one she can’t resist.
She’d restrain her natural tendency to fill the silence with words. Cool, calm, and collected. She leaned forward and selected a heavy-metal-rock station. Metallica barked out it was time for the sandman to enter.
“Nice choice.” He aimed a sidelong glance at her but still hadn’t smiled.
She grinned. Someone who could appreciate her eclectic taste in music. “Thank you. It’s my ‘get fired up to kick ass in court’ music. The courthouse parking attendant used to crack up when I rolled in dressed in a navy suit and pearls, blasting rock and roll.”
“Nice. So why did you move up here?” He kept his gaze on the road, his long tanned fingers gripping the steering wheel.
“Oh, it’s a long story. I don’t want to bore you.” Or reveal too much about my soap-opera family.
“We’ve got time.” He glanced at her again and smiled a crooked smile.
Had she noticed he had a dimple in his right cheek? “Okay, Reader’s Digest version. My father’s kind of a shark.” Actually, he’d make the shark in Jaws look like a tadpole.
He nodded and gestured with one strong hand for her to continue.
She sighed and glanced out the window. Savored the brisk breeze on her face cooling her now warm cheeks. Here goes nothing.
“I was expected to work for the family firm and take it over when my father retires. Let’s just say the clients and the cases began to wear on me.” She rolled her now tense shoulders back and kept her gaze fastened on the passing scenery. “Everything is about making money or destroying and dismantling what others created. I hit my breaking point last month.”
“A particular client or case? Or just in general?” His quiet voice encouraged her.
“In general—for years, actually. I realized I just didn’t care about those battles. They seem so meaningless, all about money. I’d always hoped to use my law degree for justice, to help people, to create, to rebuild.” She braved a glance at him. He hadn’t stopped the car and run for the hills yet. She took a deep breath. She didn’t want to divulge too much.
“So you were too idealistic for corporate law, right?” He smiled again.
“Well, in a nutshell, yes. And recently the corruption of some of the clients became too much. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror.” She’d had “idealistic woman” tossed at her by her father on countless occasions. He’d used it as an insult, though. Christian made it sound like a strength.
Claire Marti started writing stories as soon as she was old enough to pick up pencil and paper. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English Literature, Claire was sidetracked by other careers, including practicing law, selling software for legal publishers, and managing a non-profit animal rescue for a Hollywood actress.
Finally, Claire followed her heart and now focuses on two of her true passions: writing romance and teaching yoga. At Last in Laguna is the second book in her Finding Forever in Laguna series from The Wild Rose Press.
Please help me welcome Kryssie Fortune, with a fun interview and a HOT new release…
Firstly, I’d like to thank Alicia for letting me drop by.
I’m Kryssie Fortune, writer of erotic romance. I retired last year, leaving much loved friends behind on Emmerdale, Britain’s best TV soap. I’ve moved from Leeds to Bridlington on the Yorkshire coast. When I’m not writing, I’m walking on the beach with my husband or attending the local literary group. It’s good to study classic books occasionally, but I’m sticking to writing about shifters or sexy Doms.
Last summer Loose id put out a special call for three linked stories. My mind went instantly blank. Six weeks before the deadline, I had an idea for my Heroes of Westhorpe Ridge series. I’ve never written so fast in my life. Thankfully Loose id liked my stories. The first book, Marriage, Mobster’s and the Marine came out at the beginning of December. The second, Sex, Scandal and the Sheriff was released on my birthday December 19th. It’s a stand-alone romance featuring the Sheriff from book one. Book three came out on Valentine’s Day.
I knew from the start that my heroes would all be ex-military. Since they all handle guns, the books needed to be set in the USA. That made things hard for me as I’m a Brit who has never left Europe. Fortunately, most of my Facebook friends live in America, and they put up with my constant questions. The only way I could imagine Westhorpe Ridge was to mentally move the Yorkshire town of Whitby to North Carolina. Although I often write paranormal, this time I left Bram Stoker and Dracula behind.
What do you want readers to come away with after they read Sex, Scandal, and the Sheriff?
I’d love a reader to finish my books and be half in love with the hero. There’s no deep message, just hot and steamy romance tied to a story that hopefully my readers can’t put down.
What actors would you cast in the main roles of your book if it were made into a movie?
If Sex, Scandal, and the Sheriff were made into a film, I’d love Owen Wilson to play my sheriff hero, Sean Mathews. Owen’s mix of blond good looks and cheeky charm make him perfect for the role. My heroine, Jazz, actually says she wants Jennifer Lawrence to play her in a movie so that’s an easy pick. Besides, Jennifer Lawrence is a natural beauty with a smile sweet enough to hook Sean at the soiree that descends into an orgy.
What genre have you never written that you’d like to write?
I’d love to write a complex, Dan Brown style mystery. I’ve got a few ideas, but I’m letting them grow at their own speed.
What is your favorite quote?
“I would rather be happy than dignified.” Charlotte Bronte in Jane Eyre
If you could be a character in any of your books, who would you be?
Mandy Devlin. She pops up in all three Heroes of Westhorpe Ridge novellas, but her story is told in Desire, Deceit and the Doctor. Mandy’s had a hard few years, but she’s kind hearted, hardworking, willing to give any one a helping hand and a great mom. When killers target her and her son, she gets a second chance of love.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
A bit of both. I start off thinking what makes them unique then think of someone who fits them. For example, one of my reviews compared the hero of one of my books to Indiana Jones. I wasn’t surprised since that’s who I thought of when I wrote him. Of course, my characters usually take on a life of their own and refuse to fit in any boxes I’ve assigned them.
What do your friends and family think of your writing?
My son’s a stick-in-the-mud banker. He has no imagination and he’s horrified that I write erotic romances. My daughter is proud of me, but won’t be my Facebook friend in case my posts embarrass her. Since she’s a deputy head teacher, I quite understand. My husband is amazingly supportive and very proud of the things I’ve achieved. I couldn’t have a better cheerleader.
Starting over in Westhorpe Ridge wouldn’t be easy, especially since she’d already enjoyed a spanking and a one-night stand with the sheriff.
Jasmine Stewart (Jazz to her friends) falls for the blond stranger when he spanks and seduces her at a Washington soiree. Later, when she discovers her flatmate is trying to draw her into a spy ring, she goes to the authorities. The ensuing publicity costs her her job, her security, and her future. Starting over in Westhorpe Ridge is her only option.
Sean Mathews, former SEAL and Westhorpe Ridge’s sheriff, can’t forget the woman he spanked when he visited Washington, but he thinks she’s a spy. When she turns up in Westhorpe Ridge, he tries everything to make her leave town. Despite their misunderstandings, though, they can’t keep their hands off each other.
As Year’s Eve looms, the spy ring resurfaces. Jazz will need all of Sean’s SEAL prowess to survive. But because his wounded leg cost him his speed in the water, will it be enough?
Note: A stand-alone romance this is the second story in The Heroes of Westhorpe Ridge series, featuring Sean Matthews from Marriage, Mobsters and the Marinesand Jasmine Stewart (Jazz to her friends).
“New start. New life. New ambitions,” she told herself as she drove away from her dream of being a teacher.
By the time the winter sun crept over the horizon, she’d passed the halfway point between Washington and Westhorpe Ridge. She made good time, but fifteen minutes from her destination, the car handling changed. Praying nothing expensive had happened to her trusty vehicle, she pulled over to take a look. She got out the car, walked around to the rear passenger side, and sighed when she realized the tire had blown out. Damn, my spare’s in the trunk, beneath my suitcases and bedding. Shaking her head, she heaved her first suitcase onto the grass verge. It hadn’t felt so heavy when she’d packed it.
A police car pulled up. “Sheriff Mathews, ma’am. Can I be of assistance?”
His voice flowed over her like molasses, rich, thick, and so sweet she wanted to taste its owner. Instead, she panted slightly but kept moving. “I’ve had a blowout, but my spare tire’s under all my stuff. Don’t worry. I can manage, thank you.”
When she turned back to the car, Jazz’s eyes widened. The man in the uniform looked enormous, blond, and way too familiar. Handsome didn’t come close. In his long-sleeved fawn shirt and standard-issue brown trousers, he looked like a sex god come to earth. And are those handcuffs dangling from his belt? I can find a way to put them to good use.
Given their history, drooling over him felt wrong. Despite what the doctors had told her, traces of the spies’ lust drug must still linger in her system. Her heart beat faster. Even breathing seemed hard around him. “Ethan Mathews? I thought you were a scientist involved in some hush-hush stuff, not a sheriff. Why are you in Westhorpe Ridge? I thought you were some high-flying scientist. And isn’t impersonating a police officer a criminal offense? Shit, you’re driving a real police car. Are you really a sheriff?”
He did a double take, glowered right back at her. “Jazz Stewart? What the hell are you doing here? Have you jumped bail? Keep your hands where I can see them while I radio in and run a check on you.”
Jazz shivered despite the winter sunshine. Everyone except the CIA had made her out to be the bad guy, her former employer included. The damn sheriff was treating her like a criminal, but he’d been at that damn party too. Judging by the way he’d climbing on his high horse, he probably believed everything he’d read about her in the papers. Out of everyone she knew, she’d wanted the man she’d been dreaming about since the soiree to be on her side. He’s even sexier than I remembered, but what’s with this running a check on me? Surely he knows the truth by now. She hated the way he smirked at her, but she couldn’t resist taunting him. “So, Sheriff, spanked any other females lately?”
Kryssie is active on Social media and would love to hear from you
**** Winner of the FREE ecopy of Dances of the Heart is Teressa Mirault. Congratulations, Teressa!
I am pleased to welcome Andrea Downing and her latest, a Wild Rose Press romance. Looks like a great one! Take it away, Andrea…
Hi Alicia, thanks so much for having me here today and helping me share the release of my new book, Dances of the Heart.
Where did you get the idea for your story?
Strangely enough, the idea for Dances of the Heart came from the Texas Two-step; Texas Two-Step was its original title until I discovered there were numerous books with that title so opted to change it. It just made me think of writing a story about two couples, mother and daughter/father and son, which took place in Texas. Quite honestly, I have no idea how it evolved from that.
Why did you choose this genre (is it something you’ve written in before)?
I’ve never written a contemporary book before; all my work has been historical, and this effort was really rather frightening. I have no idea why I’m so much more comfortable in the 1800s, but I was once told I was born in the wrong century! Obviously, in some ways, contemporary’s easier—you don’t have to think that much about language and the way they lived and how they would be dressed and so on, although I did have to have a Texan check my dialog to make sure it sounded right.
What was the most difficult thing about this book in particular?
As I just mentioned, getting the language correct, making the Texas characters sound ‘Texan.’ I’m from the northeast and have lived most of my life in Britain so, for instance, I never say “I’m fixin’” to do anything!
What’s the main thing that you could get rid of in your life that would give you more writing time?
PROMOTION It is such a time-suck, it isn’t even funny any more. The book world is swamped now, and it’s difficult to know what to do, what works and so on, to sell books. I hate it. I would also like to get rid of waiting time in doctor’s offices. For some reason, doctors seem to think their time is more valuable than ours. To give you an example, I had a 3 pm appointment last week and was called to please come in for 1.30 pm because the doctor had a meeting in the afternoon. So, what happened? I still wasn’t seen until 3pm… I have a couple of medical issues at the moment and the amount of time I lose in doctor’s offices doesn’t bear thinking about, although it’s good reading time.
Would you rather have a bad review or no review?
If push comes to shove, I’d rather have a bad review than none at all although, having said that, I, myself, have opted out of reviewing a book I didn’t like rather than give it a bad review. For me, I’d like to know why people don’t like my work, what annoyed them—I want feedback from readers basically. If you don’t receive a review at all, you’re left wondering whether the reader just gave up or what the heck happened. But, for goodness sake, you want a sensible, intelligent review, good or bad.
If you could change something about one of your books that’s already released, what would it be?
Oh, I’d love to re-write Loveland and fill it out into a saga. There is a lot that happens ‘off stage’ in that book, particularly when Lady Alex and Jesse are separated and she is in England, I would love to fill out. And I would like to finish their story and tell a bit more of it.
What is your favorite quote?
It comes from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig, and readers can find more of his amazing made-up words online. Here’s my favorite: Sonder:
“Realize that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own – populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries, and inherited craziness – an epic story that continues invisibly around like an anthill, sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousandsof other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.” John Koenig
What is your most prized material possession? Why?
I’m really not attached to material possessions. I mean, I like having a computer to write and I like to look at photos in our old albums, but if you ask me what I’d grab in a blazing fire, I’m not sure. If pushed, I guess I’d have to say it’s a portrait I had done for my daughter’s 18th birthday; it’s the two of us sitting by the piano, which is a big part of my daughter’s life. When I had it done, the young artist, Alastair Adams, was virtually unknown; he has since gone on to become President of The Royal Society of Portrait Painters and paint such notables as Tony Blair, whose portrait by Alastair now hangs in The National Portrait Gallery. I doubt I could afford his work now! But anyway, the painting captures the two of us and our relationship so well. I hope it remains in the family for generations.
So I’d like to know from readers here what their most valued possession is, and why; I think I’m going to ask to discount photo albums because so many people say that. And I’ll choose one person to receive a free digital copy of Dances of the Heart. Thanks so much for having me, Alicia. It’s been great to discuss these things with you.
It’s been a pleasure having you, Andrea. I enjoyed the interview…congratulations on the new release!
Blurb: Successful, workaholic author Carrie Bennett lives through her writing, but can’t succeed at writing a man into her life. Furthermore, her equally successful but cynical daughter, Paige, proves inconsolable after the death of her fiancé.
Hard-drinking rancher Ray Ryder can find humor in just about anything—except the loss of his oldest son. His younger son, Jake, recently returned from Iraq, now keeps a secret that could shatter his deceased brother’s good name.
On one sultry night in Texas, relationships blossom when the four meet, starting a series of events that move from the dancehalls of Hill Country to the beach parties of East Hampton, and from the penthouses of New York to the backstreets of a Mexican border town. But the hurts of the past are hard to leave behind, especially when old adversaries threaten the fragile ties that bind family to family…and lover to lover.
Excerpt: Ray pointed to his pickup, smirking slightly with the knowledge of what her reaction would probably be.
“You must be joking.”
He could hardly hear the mumbled comment, but it was exactly what he’d been expecting.
She glowered, a brow definitively arched in query. “What year is this thing?”
He attempted to wipe the amusement away from his face with a hand that rubbed his stubble in a satisfying scrape. “Sorry, I left the Cadillac at home this time.” A raised brow questioned if she took him seriously. “It’s an ’89, and still runs as smooth as the day I got it.”
“Which was, what? Last year?”
Ray shook his head and proceeded to the passenger door. “You have the key, sweetheart,” he said, patiently standing and waiting.
“Listen!” Carrie put her hands out as if to stop any further conversation. “First off, I am not your sweetheart. And second, if by any chance you think you just may have gotten lucky tonight–”
“Whoa, whoa now.” Ray was truly mystified at the turn events were taking. “Not that I wouldn’t be honored and damn well pleased, but I sure as heck wasn’t thinkin’ along those lines…and truth be told, you know, I’m hardly up to it.” He considered this for a second, a fog clearing for a moment’s view of the road. “And I don’t mean I need Viagra either.” He noted her staring at the key as if it might turn into something else. “No, it doesn’t open automatically,” he informed her at last.
She shoved the key into the handle and got the door open, climbed up into the cab and reached across to unlock the door for him. Her gaze ran over the dashboard, uncertainty scrunching her face like a bitter fruit.
Ray folded himself into the passenger seat and slouched back, tipping his hat over his eyes. “Just let me know when you give up. I’ll be right here, darl…” Yeah, better not. He could almost feel her indignation, listening as she squirmed around and adjusted the seat.
“It’ll be a cold day in hell, mister, before I give up!” The key turned and the truck sputtered to life, then died again.
“You ever drive manual before?” he mumbled from under his Stetson, and sensed Carrie eyeing him. “That’s what I thought,” he answered to her lack of response. “Put your foot on the clutch, move her into first, release the brake, and get goin’, slowly releasing the clutch.”
“Who the hell drives stick shift anymore?” she muttered as she followed his terse instructions. The truck lurched forward as she spun it off the grass toward the road.
“Right,” Ray directed, feeling suddenly nauseous with the pitch of the car. Bile rising, he opened the door and spat before yanking it shut again. “Can you get the damn thing into second? Foot on the clutch, move the shift and let’s go if we’re going.”
“Fine! You don’t have to yell at me.”
Ray sat up, shoved his hat back from his eyes and glared at her, reining in his frustration and anger. “I was not yelling at you, but you know dang well we’d be far safer with me drivin’. As it is, I’m gonna need a new transmission.”
The truck staggered again. “I know no such thing.” She bent forward to swipe at the windscreen to clear it. “We haven’t got seatbelts on,” she murmured.
“We’re not going fast enough to need them.”
Carrie ignored his last remark and appeared to concentrate on keeping the truck moving. It sputtered again, and Ray let out a sigh of resignation just as flashing blue lights appeared in the side mirror. She pulled over, and the motor unceremoniously died.
“Damn!” she cursed, reaching down for her bag at Ray’s feet. “Let me get my license.”
Bio: Andrea Downing likes to say that when she decided to do a Masters Degree, she made the mistake of turning left out of New York, where she was born, instead of right to the west, and ended up in the UK. She eventually married there, raising a beautiful daughter and staying for longer than she cares to admit. Teaching, editing a poetry magazine, writing travel articles, and a short stint in Nigeria filled those years until in 2008 she returned to NYC. She now divides her time between the city and the shore, and often trades the canyons of New York for the wide open spaces of Wyoming. Family vacations are often out west and, to date, she and her daughter have been to some 20 ranches throughout the west. Loveland, her first book, was a finalist for Best American Historical at the 2013 RONE Awards. Lawless Love, a short story, part of The Wild Rose Press ‘Lawmen and Outlaws’ series, was a finalist for Best Historical Novella at the RONE Awards and placed in the 2014 International Digital Awards Historical Short contest. Dearest Darling, a novella, is part of The Wild Rose Press Love Letters series, and came out Oct. 8th, 2014, and Dances of the Heart, her first contemporary novel, comes out in February, 2015.