Please give a warm welcome to D.C. McMillen. She’s here with her latest release, The Wedding and she’s sharing a crazy wedding experience of her own. Before I hand it over to D.C. I have to say how much I love this cover. So pretty. 🙂 Okay, take it away, D.C.
by D.C. McMillen
Released: April 5, 2013
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Since my latest release, The Wedding, involves a girl who would rather suffer from mild to moderate intestinal issues than actually attend one of these stuffy, boring affairs, I’ve decided it would be fitting for me to share my most heinous experience in relation to a wedding.
A few years ago, a good friend invited me to attend a wedding in Istanbul. The paper invite was written in Turkish so my friend preceded the formal invitation with a phone call. It did not exactly take a lot of convincing for me to agree. Finally, a wedding I could actually look forward to! I hung up the phone and went online to book our flights. Things sort of went downhill from there. Here is a list of things that went wrong, in chronological order:
The groom’s appendix burst one week before the wedding and all guests were warned that he might not get out of the hospital in time for the ceremony. The boyfriend and I decided to risk it instead of cancelling the flights.
The airlines cancelled and rebooked our flights no less than six times. The morning of the flight, they were still sending me notifications that my flight schedule had been rearranged.
After making it to my stopover in the US on a US based airline without incident, Turkish Air had no record of me in their system. They had my boyfriend’s seat booked but not mine. Apparently, the US airline neglected to book my connecting flight with them after their final schedule change that morning.
One and a half minutes before the flight was scheduled, after they had closed the doors and told me there was no way they could seat me until their next evening’s flight, they worked something out, re-opened the doors and let me in.
I arrived in Istanbul a million years later but, of course, my luggage did not. My suitcase held my outfit for the Turkish version of a shower as well as both my boyfriend’s and my outfit and shoes for the wedding, and the toiletries.
After choosing random brands of new toiletries, I discovered that I was allergic to the deodorant. A red flaming rash on my underarms appeared.
A lovely friend of the bride lent me an outfit for the shower. Unfortunately it was about two sizes too small in the bust and about one size too small in the waist. Muslim grandmothers glared and clucked their tongues at my overflowing breasts and tightly clad body.
The boyfriend and I attended the wedding ceremony in casual clothes.
My luggage arrived to the bride’s house right before the reception. We rushed though Istanbul (rushing through Istanbul, btw, is insanely difficult. It is HUGE and very congested) to get to her house and hurriedly scrambled into our clothing. I did my hair slapped on makeup and headed down the stairs. The wedding party clapped and complimented my dress. For the first time in days, I felt pretty. My unique dress was a brilliant blue fading to a deep purple at the bottom. My breasts were fully secured and no cleavage could be seen, thanks to the high neck and criss-crossing straps. The A-line skirt cut off below the knees and my silk shawl, purchased in Istanbul, fit in with the occasion and culture. The Muslim grandmothers visibly approved. One pinned an evil eye charm to the inside of my dress to help me ward off evil spirits.
We went back across town to attend the reception. My dress was like no other and many of the local women came over to compliment and touch it. I made friends quickly and started to relax.
The only other Canadian female guest showed up about ten minutes after I arrived. She wore the same dress as me. Now, I bought this dress at a boutique downtown so the chance of this happening to anyone else is practically zero. I’d met this girl twice in Canada and thought she was nice but now I hated her, and the dress. I hated her and the dress even more when she laughed, pointed out our faux-pas to every English speaking person within earshot and suggested we take several photos together. I hated her so much when I found out at the end of the evening that she had brought a pretty short-sleeved silk knit top that she could have worn all evening and, because of the fading colours, it would have looked like we were wearing two different outfits.
So that, folks, is just one wedding that I’ve attended where everything seemed to go wrong for me. Now it’s your turn. What was your worst experience at a wedding? The most spectacular story will win a copy of The Wedding! And speaking of The Wedding, here is a little more about my latest release, which is a follow up to The Rental. Don’t worry; The Rental is not a definite prerequisite to The Wedding. It is, however, a fun and entertaining read for those of you who are dying to know how Karen and Allen met.
Karen is not the type to attend a wedding with a guy she’s only slept with once but, in a rare display of empathy, she agrees to accompany her new landlord Allen to this sure-to-be-boring function. Fortunately, Karen knows how to have a good time, and she’s pretty sure she and Allen can make their own fun…even if they have to do it in the outdoors just steps away from a couple hundred stuffy wedding guests.
The Wedding, mini-excerpt:
The car rumbled to life and he pulled from the roundabout into traffic. He seemed at ease, his hand alternately resting on my thigh and the shifter. As we neared our destination, however, his comfort steadily dissipated. His fingers tapped against the wheel and he smoothed his other hand along the thigh of his dress pants. Jesus, I hope he’s not going to act like this all night. There better be an open bar.
“So, uh, like I said,” he said finally. “My ex-best friend and his wife won’t be there.”
“Uh huh,” I said, distracted. Who doesn’t have an open bar at a wedding these days? No one, that’s who. God, I hope the champagne is good. I need an overflowing glass of expensive champagne, like, ten minutes ago. Since when does Karen Valentine go to weddings as someone’s date?
D.C. McMillen enjoys writing about dirty sex in questionable places but has been known to write about other subjects, on special occasions. She is featured in MuseItHot’s Short & Spicy line up with The Rental, The Wedding and A Decent December. D.C.’s short stories and flash fiction can be found in several anthologies and other print and online publications. She is obsessed with Twitter and invites you to look her up at @mcmillendc, on her blog, or Facebook.
I have a treat for you today. Char Chaffin is here with her latest release, Unsafe Haven. I was so excited I told Char to talk about anything, turned out to be a smart move on my part. I have all her details up top, below you’ll also find the blurb, excerpt, and trailer for Unsafe Haven, plus her bio AND she’s giving away one ecopy of Unsafe Haven to one lucky commenter. Take it away, Char.
Hi, everyone! I’m Char Chaffin, displaced Alaskan, writer/editor, and romance hound. I’m thrilled to be chatting with SJ today on her fab blog.
When I asked SJ what sort of blog she preferred, she gave me leave to write about anything. I should have told her that’s a dangerous thing to do, give me “leave” without any guidelines. Heaven only knows what my brain would come up with and then force my fingers to type!
Tell you what: since you don’t know me very well, I’ll go easy on you. But after we’ve had a few ‘dates,’ then look out. ☺
As I mentioned, I’m a displaced Alaskan. Wasn’t born there, but adopted Alaska when my hubby moved our family north in 1988 and we ended up living in Fairbanks for sixteen years. We’re now in Upstate New York on a farm, and we enjoy every acre. But boy, do we miss Alaska.
Of all the states in the Union—and all of them are beautiful—Alaska has that fascinating edge to it. Two and a half times as large as Texas, and with less than a million residents statewide, immediately you understand there are enormous regions in Alaska where people just can’t go. That’s because mountains, rough terrain, miles and miles of tundra, and bodies of water keep getting in the way of civilization. It costs a lot of money to build a road over those mountains and across that spongy tundra, even if the State of Alaska would allow it in the first place. Wisely, they choose to Just Say No. As a result, there are roads and some expressways around cities like Anchorage, Fairbanks, and all the smaller bergs in between, but you can’t drive out of places like Juneau and Sitka. Of course, those places are so beautiful, why would you ever want to leave? ☺
Alaska’s roads often head on out of the city and then just stop. It’s a nifty feeling, knowing you can only drive so many miles before you have to turn around and retrace yourself, and not because you’ve suddenly reached the ocean. ☺ The more remote areas are especially road-starved, such as Southwest Alaska, the setting for my latest release Unsafe Haven. Southwest has so many lakes, rivers and rough/impassable terrain, the population remains very low even by Alaskan standards. Tiny, predominantly Native Alaskan villages, often without electricity or plumbing, dot this dangerously gorgeous region of the Last Frontier. It’s the perfect place to hide, as my heroine, Kendall, finds out.
I created the fictional village of Staamat as a haven for the abused Kendall, on the run from her sociopath ex-fiancé. These villages are fly-in only, and the bush planes that service the villages are flown by rugged, experienced pilots who often risk their lives to provide the small clusters of villagers everything from food and medical supplies to something as whimsical as a prom dress or a wedding cake. If you’ve ever seen the cable show Flying Wild Alaska, then you know what I mean. I have a lot of respect for the Tweeto family, who run their bush plane service in some of the most forbidding weather and terrain I’ve ever seen.
So, now you have a woman on the run, the wild, remote region she runs to, and the creep she got away from. She finds sanctuary in Staamat, and a chance at not only a new life but a new love: my strong, patient, endlessly charming and dedicated hero, Denn. He’s Stammat’s only law enforcement, has a young sister with health problems that he’s devoted to, and from the moment he sets eyes on Kendall, he wants to cherish and protect her. But Kendall’s got a lot of baggage and she’s very gun-shy. Then again, Denn is so very patient with her.
So far, so good, right? My H/H seem meant to be together, once Kendall lets Denn into her heart and her place in Staamat catches a firm hold. But, you know, in a love story there are always snafus. And even in remote Alaska, danger is only one jealous woman away. ☺
I had a wonderful time writing Unsafe Haven. I got to infuse it with so many things I love best about our forty-ninth state: the endless, yet short, summers. The lovely mountain ranges, snow-capped behemoths that nestle in the distance surrounded by rolling tundra. A town moose named Molly, mosquitoes large enough to carry off a small dog; twisted, surprisingly elegant looking black spruce trees, trading posts and gravel roads, Alaskana and totems. A life so far removed from what any of us are used to, and yet so achingly familiar when you take into consideration family and life goals. This book brought on its own share of happy memories and poignant moments from my time there that often resulted in the sting of tears as I wrote.
As I await my release date for Unsafe Haven, (Wednesday, Sept. 5, YAYYY!!), I keep myself busy by trying to eke out time to write on novel number three, in between acquiring submissions for Soul Mate Publishing, and editing several contracted manuscripts due for release in the next six months. Editing is time-consuming and detailed and has its own special reward.
These days I’m often asked what advice I would give the newbie writer just starting out. The best advice I can give is really the simplest: never stop writing and never give up! Write every single day even if it’s only a few pages. Read every day, too. Each time you pick something up and read it, you’re strengthening the writer in you.
Learn to accept a few realities:
You’re not a perfect writer. In fact, I don’t think there is such an animal. Get help and support from other writers. They know things you haven’t a clue about and they’re happy to share that knowledge.
Learn how to be humble. Your talent will take you places but not if you go around thinking, “I’m so great.” Believe me, you’re not. You will be, someday. But right now? Nope. You still have too much to learn.
The writing biz is one of the most competitive and toughest out there. But agents and editors are on the lookout for new books all the time, so be aggressive and smart and savvy. Most of all, be available. And always, always LISTEN.
Join the right organization to help you learn how to grow as a writer. Whatever you write, there’s an organization that can support you. Take advantage of what these groups have to offer. Attend meetings, conferences, workshops. Soak it all in, and then retain what you’ve absorbed.
Promote yourself! Don’t wait for others to do it. Set up a marketing plan, a blog, a Facebook fan page. Get your identity out there before you even finish a book. And let your family and friends know what you’re doing so they can talk you up to their friends, which will result in a chain reaction of people knowing you’re writing a book. And remember: if you think letting friends and family in on your writing goals is a shameful or embarrassing thing, then why do you want to write in the first place? Be proud of your goals and desires. Don’t hide it under a bushel.
Say, ‘Thanks,’ when something good happens to you. Thank the people in your life who helped you attain your victory, because you didn’t do it by yourself.
You’re a WRITER. Start calling yourself one. It doesn’t matter if you’re not yet published. When someone asks you what you do, tell them you are a writer. I’d lay money you’ll get asked about your writing because people are often fascinated by the idea that someone’s a writer. When they ask, tell them what you’re doing and don’t feel shy about saying you’re seeking publication. For all you know, they have a cousin who’s an agent for Kensington or Harlequin who just happens to be acquiring what you happen to write. But you’ll never know unless you let others know.
Thanks to SJ for hosting me today, and for all of her readers who stopped by. My second novel, Unsafe Haven, will be available on Wednesday, Sept. 5, at Soul Mate Publishing, and then at Amazon and Barnes & Noble by the end of the week.
For Kendall Martin, a small, remote village in Southwest Alaska seems like a good place to start over. On the run from an abusive relationship, she leaves everything familiar behind and begins a new life as owner of a small souvenir and sportsman trading post in picturesque Staamat.
Denn Nulo knows everyone in town: he’s the Chief of Police in Staamat. He’s lived there all his life, except for his college years, spent in Anchorage. Originally planning on practicing criminal law and living in Anchorage permanently, Denn is forced to change his plans when he receives word that his widowed mother has passed away, leaving his young sister, Luna, alone. Denn comes back to Staamat to care for Luna.
When Kendall meets Denn, she begins to believe there are truly good men in the world. Denn is everything she wants: strong, loving, dedicated to family, protective. . .and patient. There is instant attraction between them, but Kendall is leery of men, and Denn craves a serious relationship that includes marriage and children. Their courtship is a conflicting mix of hesitancy and passion, with Luna, desperately needing a mother figure in her life, cheering them on.
As Kendall learns how to trust again and her romance with Denn grows more intense, a local woman who’s had her eye on Denn for years releases a torrent of damaging jealousy. . .and the nightmare from Kendall’s past discovers where she’s hidden herself.
Denn parked in front of the Four Hills and swung out of the high cab, then slipped his hat on. Though he wouldn’t spend much of the day in the office and Stevie was covering for him there, Denn stayed armed and in uniform. He stepped up to the porch just as Kendall opened the door. She froze in the doorway, stared at him, then blushed.
Damn, she’s cute.
He sent her a delighted grin but his voice remained sedate. “Morning, Kendall. You ready to go?”
She frowned at him. “Go where?”
His grin got wider. “Wherever you need to go. Out to the Post, over to New Mina. Wherever. I’m your taxi today.” He gestured toward the truck.
Her eyes rounded in surprise. “But I—you need—what about your Suburban? Isn’t it still being fixed?”
He reached around her and shut the front door, careful not to spook her. “I told you, the truck is yours. I’ll have mine back later on today. Stevie’s covering the station and the citizens of Staamat can survive without me for a while. Where do you want to go?”
Unsmiling, she eyed him. “I don’t like being railroaded, Denn.” He noticed one of her hands opened and closed into a fist. Nerves, tension. Poor girl, she probably had both. He tilted his head as he studied her. What made you so damned mistrustful, Kendall? Was it a man?
He had an awful suspicion she’d escaped from an abusive relationship, though he had no proof whatsoever. He wanted to ask her but feared alarming her any further.
Maybe someday she’d trust him enough to tell him her story. For now, he caught her hand and dropped the keys into her palm, then closed her fingers around them. “Turn left out of Puffin Circle to Singleton, then stay on Singleton for seven miles. Bear right at the entrance to the zinc mine, drive two more miles. You’ll end up in downtown New Mina. There’s a grocery store on Main. They’ll have whatever you need and they won’t bankrupt you. Balto General is two doors down from there and they sell everything from furniture to grass seed. What they don’t have in stock, they can order.” He stepped back, tipped his hat to her, and started toward the sidewalk.
“Wait. What if I get lost?” Panic spiked her voice. She rushed off the porch and took the steps in one bound, landing on the sidewalk next to him.
Denn struggled to keep the satisfied smile off his face as he turned to her. “Oh, you won’t get lost. Just watch out for moose.”
“Sure. They’re everywhere. Sometimes they stand in the middle of the road. Don’t worry, just honk the horn and they’ll eventually move. I wouldn’t roll down the windows, though.” He rubbed his chin in a thoughtful manner.
“What happens if you roll down the windows?”
“Oh, they’ll poke their noses in and sometimes they—well, that won’t happen to you.” He’d go straight to hell for messing with her head, but he couldn’t help himself.
“Sometimes they what?” Now she gripped his jacket sleeve with white-knuckled fingers.
He couldn’t stay serious one more second and barked out a laugh. “I’m pulling your leg, Kendall. Honest. There are moose but they won’t come up to the car and usually they move pretty fast if they’re in the road. You don’t have anything to worry about.”
She released his sleeve with a pent-up breath. “That was a mean thing to do, Chief Nulo.” But a smile curved her lips and her eyes had brightened.
He had to fight the impulse to sweep her into his arms and cuddle her. Instead he merely replied, “Yes, it was. So, you want to drive or should I?”
She dropped the keys into his hand. “You drive. I’ll look at the scenery.”
* * *
From the window in the front parlor, Wendy Chang clutched the lace curtain in tense fingers as she watched Denn drive away. She’d thought he would come in as he usually did and chat with her before she started her morning housekeeping. She looked forward to having him to herself a few times a week, even though he never stayed more than fifteen or twenty minutes. It was better than nothing.
Instead, he took off with her newest paying guest. Wendy tossed the curtain aside, scowling at the wrinkle she’d made in the delicate lace.
She poured a second cup of coffee, then stood in the middle of the kitchen and sipped it as she pondered the changes she could already sense in her relationship with Denn. She’d been in love with him for years, ever since he returned home from Anchorage. Back then she’d been so confident she’d get him, so sure of herself and her ability to attract him. But from the beginning he’d treated her as a friend, nothing more.
God, he was gorgeous. She’d never known another man who melted her into a puddle the way Denn could. Those glowing, dark-gold eyes. Those full, luscious lips. She’d look at his mouth and imagine what his kiss might taste like. She’d daydream about the breadth of his shoulders and the strength in his arms. He’d never given her a single reason to think he might see her as a woman instead of a buddy. She hated it, but she’d made a vow to herself that one day Denn Nulo would fall for her. It was just a matter of time. In a small town like Staamat she didn’t have to worry about competition, and Denn never showed interest in anyone else.
Until Kendall Martin showed up.
Wendy prided herself on being levelheaded and sensible, yet aggressive enough to attain the things in life she wanted the most. Her determination and business acumen kept the Four Hills afloat even in an unstable economic environment. She went after her desires and never apologized for being tough.
Perhaps she ought to apply those same methods to snaring Denn. Maybe she’d let things slide for too long. After all, she’d never told him of her love. How could he act on something he knew nothing about?
After she took her empty cup to the sink and rinsed it out, she wandered into the powder room off the kitchen and stared at herself in the mirror. Great eyes, a nice smile. She’d always considered herself pretty.
She’d worn her short, black hair spiky for years, preferring the style with her angular, narrow face. Easy to care for, but hardly feminine. Picturing Kendall’s long, golden brown curls, Wendy grimaced.
Without giving herself time to think about it, she flicked on the faucet, scooped water into her palms, and sluiced it over her hair, rinsing out the stiffening gel. She rinsed it again and again until her hair was limp and plastered to her cheeks. The minuscule amount of eye makeup she’d carefully applied a few hours ago had also washed away.
A change to her looks and style would soften her edges, make Denn notice her. She had nothing against Kendall Martin, but neither would she give up her man so easily. She smiled at her reflection. Denn would see her differently.
* * *
Denn glanced at Kendall for about the tenth time and sniggered. She glared at him.
“It wasn’t funny.” She crossed her arms and pouted. If she’d been standing instead of riding in a truck, she’d have stomped her foot along with the pout.
“It was freaking hilarious, admit it.” He slowed down to swerve around a jagged pothole.
Her lips wanted to quiver into a smile. She wouldn’t allow it, damn it.
A few minutes ago, the impossible—well, impossible in her experience—happened. A moose lumbered onto the narrow gravel road, on her side of the truck, and stood there, as obstinate as any mule. Muttering something to the effect that someone else might come along and not bother to swerve out of its way, Denn slowed down and honked the horn. The animal wouldn’t budge, and just stared at them with those huge eyes and preposterously long eyelashes.
Caught between fear and fascination for the enormous beast, she’d gaped at it. She hadn’t realized she’d pressed her face to the passenger window until she saw the moose do the same on the other side of the glass. The immense creature had moved right up to the truck and nosed the window. As he choked from laughing so hard, Denn commented that from his angle it looked as if they were trying to kiss.
“That moose could have yanked me right out through the window, you know.” Of course it couldn’t, but it was the principle of the thing.
“Yes, I can see it now. The moose would use the button on the outside of the window, roll that sucker down and just reach in and grab you,” Denn replied, straight-faced.
“Don’t make fun of me.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it.” He slowed again and signaled, then turned onto another gravel road. “Actually, it’s probably a town moose.” He jerked his chin toward the smattering of cabins on either side of the road.
“There are town moose? Where do they live?” As soon as she said it, she realized how idiotic she sounded.
Denn loosed a strangled garble as he pointed to a cluster of buildings on the left. “North Star Apartments. They offer free HBO.”
“Shut up.” She was enjoying herself despite having her dignity stomped on. The realization rather stunned her. Still, she stuck her nose in the air. “At least I didn’t roll down the damned window and call here, moosie moosie.”
“To my everlasting relief.” He eased onto a narrow street cluttered with assorted four-wheelers, a few trucks, and dirt bikes. “Start looking for a parking spot.”
With interest, she stared out the window. After Denn’s talk of what was available here, she’d expected a town twice the size of Staamat. However, New Mina wasn’t much bigger, and certainly not as attractive. She noticed very few trees and more dust. But the downtown area seemed busy enough, if the packed wooden sidewalks were anything to go by.
“There’re a lot of people walking around.”
“Everyone comes to town in the spring and loads up on supplies.” Denn scanned the street for a place to park.
A burly man in thick rubber boots loaded bags of feed into a small trailer he pulled behind his four-wheeler. His tangled beard hit him at about mid-chest. “Is that a sourdough?” She pointed toward him.
“Definitely. He comes into town when he runs out of food for his team.” At her raised eyebrows, he said, “He’s a musher. Runs a dog team in the races. Iditarod, Yukon Quest, some of the local races. You want to meet him?”
Before she could demur, he’d shifted into park, climbed from the truck, and strode around to her door, then opened it and helped her out. “Come on. Bear’s a real character.” He caught her by the hand and led her across the street. “Yo, Bear!”
The man’s head came up, his face wearing a fierce frown, which lightened into a surprisingly attractive smile when he spotted them. “Well, I’ll be go to hell. Hey, Nulo!” He boldly looked Kendall over. “What’s that ya got attached to ya, there? New girly?” He sent her a wink lusty enough to heat her face from chin to hairline.
“As a matter of fact, yeah.” Denn shocked her when he curled an arm around her waist and anchored her to his side. She gaped at him and he put a finger on her chin to push it up until her teeth clacked together. “She’s kind of shy, aren’t you, baby?”
Baby? Her eyes fired and she raised her hand to push at him, but he caught her fingers and pressed a kiss on them. “Meet Kendall. She’s spoken for.” He avoided the elbow she tried to grind into his ribs, and clasped her tighter. “Honey, this is Jim Bernard, otherwise known as ‘Bear.’ He’s even shyer than you.”
While Bear snorted, Denn gave her a squeeze, and the protest died on her lips when she caught his subtle headshake. Something must be going on. Whatever it was, she’d find out. For now, she might as well play along.
“It’s nice to meet you.” She couldn’t help but notice the way Bear’s dark eyes glowed when she offered him a smile and her hand to shake. “Why do they call you ‘Bear’?”
He let loose a guffaw that made his beard tremble and cradled her hand in both of his. “Because I got paws like a bear, honey-pie.”
His grip felt odd. When she glanced at his hands, she gasped. The tip of every finger was gone. “Oh my God.”
“Wasn’t God, sweetheart. Was my own stupidity.” He patted her hand as he held it. “I came here from West Virginia, thought I knew all about winter survival. Spent my first summer building my cabin and my first winter getting drunk and climbing Little Staamat. Got trapped during a climb and wasn’t wearing decent gloves. Three days later they found me.”
He winked at her, and she was struck by how good-looking he might be without all the facial hair. “I got enough left to hang onto my sled leads, and that’s the main thing, honey-pie. But frostbite ain’t nothing to mess around with, best remember.”
He released her hand, slapped Denn on the back. “She’s a pretty little thing, ya lucky bastard. Don’t let her go, or else I’ll come steal her away.” With a nod to both of them, he climbed onto his four-wheeler and gunned the engine, roaring away with a wave.
She whirled on Denn. “What was all that about? Why pretend we’re a couple?”
“Bear lives his life by a different set of rules. He came up here in the first place because he was in trouble with the law. He’d brought a girl with him against her will.”
At her swift intake of breath, Denn nodded. “True story. They’d dated for a while and Bear wanted more than she was willing to give. She broke it off but he wasn’t ready to call it quits, so he dragged her up here with him after she slapped a restraining order on him.”
“Good Lord, what happened?”
“Oh, she got away from him and came to town. Told everyone what he’d done. Troopers went out to the cabin to arrest Bear, but she ended up not pressing charges, and they sent her back to West Virginia. They let Bear off with a warning. There wasn’t much else they could do. But Bear still won’t take no for an answer when he sees a girl he wants. He’s pulled the same stunt twice more, once on a local girl and once when he was up in Fairbanks, nosing around. And sooner or later he’d have come into The Post and caught a glimpse of you.” Denn shrugged as he opened her door and retrieved her purse, while she stood there and tried to process what he’d told her.
As he ushered her down the sidewalk, he added, “Bear won’t poach, though. If he meets a girl and she’s spoken for, he leaves her alone. You’re not in the Lower Forty-Eight any longer, Kendall.” He squeezed her elbow as if to emphasize his warning. “Some places in the Last Frontier have rules of their own, which is often why people move up here.”
“Are you saying not everyone I meet will be a safe bet?” For heaven’s sake, she wasn’t a two-year-old. She wrenched her arm away but he caught hold of her again and brought her closer.
He spoke in her ear. “I’m saying not everyone you meet is a nice guy. I’m saying a lot of folks around here have their own agendas.” He guided her toward a compact café wedged between two rustic wood cabins. “Let’s get some lunch before I take you shopping. Betty’s Place has the best burgers in Alaska. She makes them with ground reindeer.” He pushed her inside and nudged her over to the closest booth.
She sank onto the cracked vinyl seat without protest. Was he pulling her leg? People actually ate reindeer? The cute little Rudolf-looking animals?
“I can see the gears turning in your head.” Denn sat across from her. “Yes, people eat reindeer. Or caribou, which is technically what they are. It’s no different than eating venison.”
“I don’t eat red meat. Ever.”
He frowned as if she’d confessed to slaughtering fuzzy bunnies for sport. “What, never? You a vegan or something?”
“No.” She pressed her lips together firmly and refused to say more.
Denn stared intently at her for a few seconds. “Well, it’s up to you. But moose, bear, and caribou are plentiful and you’ll find it easier to obtain than chicken, I guarantee.”
She considered his words as she absorbed the café’s décor. Calling it ‘rustic’ would be a kindness. Six round tables, a motley assortment of chairs, a floor littered with peanut shells, and windows grimy from years of grease smoke. But the smells coming from the tiny kitchen beyond were heavenly.
You’re in Alaska now. Time to grow up.
With a sigh, she capitulated. “Does it taste like venison or beef?” The sooner she assimilated the local way of life, the better. But all she could see in her head was Santa and his flying sleigh.
“It’s very similar. Reindeer might be a little sweeter. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it.” He waved to the woman who came through the swinging half door behind the counter. “Hi, Betty. Two of your specials, loaded.”
“Denn, where you been?” Smiling, the woman brought glasses of water to their table. She appeared to be in her late thirties, short and round, with the most beautiful hair Kendall had ever seen. So black it had tones of blue in the highlights, it fell, thick and straight, to her hips. She tossed a hunk of it over her shoulder and nodded toward Kendall. “You want the special or something else, honey? Denn here gets uppity when he brings a date to lunch. He forgets she can order for herself.” She pointed to a chalkboard handwritten with various menu items.
Kendall gave the menu a quick study. Just about every item had either ‘reindeer’ or ‘moose’ in the title. She shook her head. “No, I’ll try the special.”
“There you go.” Betty fished two straws from the pocket of her apron and handed them to Denn. “So, when did you get in? Did you see Molly? That damned brat, never stays home like she should.” She laid out napkins and silverware as she spoke.
“We saw a cow outside of town. Too big for Molly,” Denn replied.
“Cow? I didn’t see a cow.” Kendall frowned at him, confused.
Betty poked Denn with her index finger. “Molly’s all grown up, Nulo. Still a brat, though. She ate up my lobelia the other day, right out of the greenhouse. I’ll have to start locking the damned door. Well, I’ll have your order up in a jiffy.” She strode toward the counter.
“What cow?” Kendall wanted to know. “And I’m not your date.”
“Female moose are cows, too.”
Her eyes widened in understanding. “The huge moose that wanted to eat me alive is someone’s pet?”
“Yep. Betty’s right, Molly’s grown a lot. But she’s about as tame as a dog. Betty’s had her since she was a calf. Legally you’re not supposed to keep wildlife for pets, but around here, nobody cares.”
“She’s enormous. Couldn’t she hurt someone?”
“Maybe, if she had calves of her own and someone got between her and her babies. Moose are ferocious mothers. I guess I’ll have to talk to Betty, remind her to fence Molly up so she doesn’t sneak out and get herself into trouble. Though by the looks of her, she’s old enough to come into heat and let some bull have his way with her.”
“I can’t believe we’re talking about moose sex.” But it was all Kendall could do not to laugh. This was the unexpected adventure, the new life she wanted for herself. Sitting in a café in the middle of desolate Alaska with a drop-dead handsome man across from her. Waiting for their reindeer burgers and discussing moose romance, of all things. Too surreal.
I’m having a great day, after all.
She grinned at Denn and caught her breath when he grinned back at her.
Char Chaffin started reading romance, science fiction and horror at a very young age. Her love of books is directly responsible for her overflowing bookcases, and the bounty stored on her Kindle threatens to eclipse her entire paper collection. Char currently writes mainstream and contemporary romance filled with family, rich characters and engaging plots. For her, it all comes back to the love.
Char began her writing odyssey as a poet, crafting Victorian-style poetry, then went on to writing short stories. She found her niche when she began writing longer and longer short stories, until she wrote her first novel. It might never see the light of day, but writing it taught her a lot. Over the years she worked a variety of jobs, from farm hand to costume designer to fiscal accountant, before deciding a writing career was her true focus.
A native New Yorker, Char lives Upstate on a sixty-acre farm with husband Don, rat terrier Daisy Mae and two barn cats who constantly slack off on the job of keeping the barn free of varmints. The Chaffin extended family is scattered all over the United States and Alaska.
When she’s not pounding away at her keyboard or burying her nose in books and Kindle, she tends a huge vegetable garden and helps Don maintain their farm.
GIVEAWAY! I’m gifting an ebook copy of Unsafe Haven to one lucky commenter! Just include your email in with your comment if you want to be entered in the giveaway.
I’m excited to have in the ehouse today a fellow flasher and teaser, Dianne Hartsock. This post is full of all kinds of good stuff. You saw all the links just above to all things Dianne. I also got Dianne to answer some questions, she’s sharing an excerpt from her latest release, Shelton’s Homecoming, AND Dianne is giving an ecopy of Shelton’s Homecoming to one lucky commentor. You have until the end of the day Saturday, August 4th to comment and then random.org will select the winner.
Thank you so much Sidney for having me as a guest on your lovely blog today!
Question #1 Picture your favorite place in the world. Now, can you tell us a little bit about the place you’ve pictured?
Dianne: I’d have to say my favorite place is Crater Lake in Oregon. My husband and I spent a long, sexy and fun weekend at the Crater Lake Lodge last summer. A beautiful lodge but the lake itself is breathtaking! A crystal clear blue where the sky is mirrored perfectly. We were sitting on a bench outside of the lodge looking down into the water far below us (it is a crater, remember!). The reflected clouds made it actually appear as if we were looking down into the sky. Amazing and magical. Love that lake. We went back there this summer just to see it again.
Question #2 What was the first book to make a lasting impression on you?
Dianne: Okay, I have to confess that I’ve always been a hopeless romantic, even at fifteen! The first book that ran away with my heart was ‘Little Women’. It had everything! Love and tragedy and joy and sorrow. I was madly in love with Teddy, and being a struggling writer myself, ahem!, I totally related to Jo March. I think that’s when I decided all my stories would need to have happy endings.
Question #3 What was the last book you read that made a lasting impression on you?
Dianne: One Small Thing by Piper Vaughan and M.J. O’Shea
This is my review on Goodreads:
Big happy smile! I’m not going to go on and on about how much I adore these characters and how the story made me laugh and cry then laugh and cry some more. But I will say it’s one of the few books I plan on rereading. Maybe tomorrow.
Question #4 Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
Dianne: My biggest challenge was taking criticism with a smile! My first book to be published was my paranormal thriller novel ALEX. I tried lots of publishing houses, with no luck, then stumbled upon an editor willing to help me. Oh gosh, we ripped the story apart chapter by chapter, line by line, while she pointed out all my mistakes but also telling me the changes I needed to make to create the story it finally became. Very painful process, let me tell you!
It took months of reworking the story, but when we were finally done, it took only three months from when I started submitting to having a contract in my hands. My advice? A good editor is invaluable.
Question #5 Can you tell us about a criticism you’ve received that pushed you into a better writing place?
Dianne: Once upon a time I was criticized for using other authors’ voiced in my work and not my own. And it was true! I thought that if I wrote like my favorite authors, I should be able to get published. Wrong! It took awhile for me to find my own voice, but now I couldn’t imagine writing any other way. I wouldn’t know how!
Question #6 Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Dianne: Shelton’s Homecoming is an m/m erotic contemporary, the fourth in the series, so yea, pretty much all of it is based on real life experiences, either my own or family members and friends. It also covers social issues that are important today.
Question #7 Which one of your characters would you NOT like to meet in real life?
Dianne: I like all of the characters in Shelton’s Homecoming. In the third book, Shelton’s Choice, there’s a man named Andrew that would give me the creeps immediately. He has a ‘thing’ for Shelton and can’t seem to take no for an answer. I wouldn’t want anything to do with him.
Question #8 Which one of your characters would you most like to meet in real life?
Dianne: Oh, that would have to be my Shelton. I’ve known him for a year now and have come to admire him. He’s a very loving, gentle man who can be strong when he needs to be and gives his heart wholly to his friends. He also makes a very sweet boyfriend. I think it would be fun to be neighbors with him and Nevil.
Question #9 How did you come up with your title?
Dianne: Titles are easy for me! Of course, my titles are also very simple ones. I called the first book in this series Shelton in Love, because it’s about Shelton falling in love. I was going to call the second book something else, but my publisher said using Shelton’s name again was the better way to go, so there you are.
Question #10 Tell us a bit about the projects you are working on now?
Dianne: While I’m writing this interview, I only have one project I’m working on, another m/m erotic contemporary with all new characters. I’m quickly falling in love with it! I’m also waiting for edits on a fantasy novella I’ve signed a contract for with Etopia Press and am waiting to see if an m/m Regency of mine has been accepted. Oh, and I’m plotting out several sequels and have an old novel to revamp.
Shelton’s coming home, but after seven months of living apart, can he and Nevil pick up from where they’d left off?
Shelton’s grown tired of living a life separate from Nevil. So when Nevil is hurt in an accident at work, Shelton comes home for good. Feeling closer than ever to his lover, Shelton’s ready to make a lasting commitment to their relationship. But is that what Nevil wants? Nevil is less than enthusiastic when an old flame marries, leaving Shelton wondering if he’ll have to keep his dreams on hold indefinitely.
The doctor returned as promised; checked Nevil over; and discharged him.
“I left a prescription at the nurse’s station for you to pick up on your way out. Pain meds for the headache I know you’re hiding; and you can also take them for your arm.”
“Thank you, Andrew,” Nevil said with his charming smile.
Shelton gave the love of his life a dry look. Always the flirt. He shook the doctor’s hand and took the copy of the release papers from him. “Thank you for taking such good care of him. I have to tell you it was a relief to find him here rather than in ICU.”
“It was my pleasure. Take care.”
Nevil collected his prescription at the front desk and they made their way to the elevators. A soft rain fell as they emerged from the hospital entrance and made a dash for the train depot. Deep in thought, Shelton chewed his lip while they waited.
He glanced at Nevil beside him and noted the white set of his lips. “I could take you home first if your head hurts. There’s no reason I can’t retrieve the car myself later and pick up your prescription.”
Nevil gave him a smile and slipped his warm hand into Shelton’s. “Let’s pick it up together. I feel like I’ve just been released from prison. I want to be outside for a while.”
“Just don’t get chilled,” Shelton said, and then he groaned. “Please ignore me. I think I left my brain back in Colorado.”
Nevil chuckled. “As long as your luscious body is here,” he murmured and smacked his lips together.
Shelton glanced around quick. No one paid them any attention so he gave Nevil a light kiss; then wished he hadn’t as every nerve in his body ignited. He wanted Nevil wrapped around him–now; withNevil’s gorgeous cock buried deep inside him.
He jerked his gaze down the tracks; embarrassed and aching. He hoped Nevil hadn’t noticed the tremble in his hands. They would pick up the Prius and go home; where Nevil would take his meds and go to bed. Shelton would have to content himself with a shower where he could get rid of the hard-on he’d suffered all morning. The idea made him feel alone and without a thought he squeezed Nevil’s hand.
Nevil leaned close to whisper in his ear, “Don’t forget … you promised to let me ‘do’ you.”
Shelton laughed, breathless. He turned back to Nevil and touched his lips with an unsteady finger. “I’m holding you to that,” he said, then sucked in air when Nevil’s velvet soft lips closed over his fingertip. He watched in captive fascination as his digit disappeared bit by bit between those pale lips. He felt the roughness of Nevil’s tongue in the moist, hot depths; then Nevil pushed the finger to the roof of his mouth and started to suck on it. God! Shelton’s prick hardened more with each draw as Nevil’s tongue undulated around his finger; his balls were tight and ached.
“Damn, Nevil … stop! You’re going to get us arrested,” he panted in his lover’s ear. He knew that at any second he was ready to drag Nevil behind the hospital and fuck him senseless.
Nevil’s throaty laugh made him shiver with bliss. “The train’s coming.”
Shelton dropped his head on Nevil’s shoulder and fought to calm his unsteady senses. Nevil didn’t play fair. He almost sobbed when Nevil’s body heat wrapped around him and teased him closer when it was time to pull away.
“Come on, Love. It won’t take long to get the car and then we can go home,” Nevil said with encouragement and he tugged on his sleeve. Shelton boarded the sleek train car; but chose to stand when Nevil patted the seat beside him. He couldn’t tell where Nevil’s fingers would roam if he sat down. Nevil gave him a delighted smile in answer as he read his mind with ease. Shelton scowled and looked out the window as the train gathered speed. His errant mind pictured Nevil’s mouth on him as they swept along the tracks; and he had to stifle a moan in his throat.
Thank you, Dianne, it was so much fun to have you here today. Don’t forget to comment, one lucky commentor will receive an ecopy of Shelton’s Homecoming. Congratulations, Dianne, on your latest release.
Hold onto your hats folks I have a fantabulous fellow Friday flasher in the house today. She is Katie Harper and her debut, Never Say Just, is about to rock out from Decadent Publishing. Click away my friends, add the book to good reads, visit Katie’s blog by clicking on the sweet cover on the left or check out her links below her bio (including Facebook and twitter, okay here too). To start we have a fun Q&A session from the stars of Never Say Just, the Rat Bastards, followed by a bit about Katie, the blurb and an excerpt. Take it away Katie…
As the creator of the Rat Bastards, I totally get why very single one of them is in need of some serious therapy, possibly electroshock. Since none of my characters would agree to seeing a counselor, I have decided to allow the Rat Bastards to interview each other, kind of like group therapy. I expect the sessions will end in bloodshed, but really that just makes for good blogging.
*The Rat Bastards sit on various chairs and couches in the library of Hell Kat’s house, affectionately known as the Kat House. Hell Kat slouches, arms folded over her chest, pissed that she’s about to be questioned.*
Horndog: *Rubs his hands together sporting an evil grin* Hell Kat, enquiring minds want to know, were you ever actually a human with human emotions or have you always been an android?
Shooter: Dog, cut it out. Ask a serious question.
Hell Kat: No, I’ll answer. If you’re asking if I’ve ever cried at a Hallmark commercial, the answer is a resounding no. If you’re asking if I’ve ever felt guilt, remorse or sorrow…only when I want to. Next question.
Doc: We were all there when you tortured the man who’d had a hand in kidnapping your daughter. My question is, have you ever killed someone you were “interrogating”?
*Shooter growls low in his chest.*
Hell Kat: Yes, but I brought them back to life. I wasn’t done with them yet.
Martinez: I’m not gonna do it.
Horndog: Yes, you are, as an uninitiated member of the Rat Bastards, you have to do our bidding.
Martinez: I’m not asking that question.
Horndog: The hell you say. You will or you’ll never be a real Bastard.
Martinez: If I ask your question, she’ll kill me.
Horndog: Then you’ll be awarded Rat Bastardhood posthumously. You took an oath Marty, are you going to go back on your word, your word to the Rat Bastards?
Martinez: She’s a Rat Bastard and she doesn’t deserve to be asked this question.
Hell Kat: Oh, will you just ask the damn question already!
Martinez: I hate you guys right now. *sigh* Hell Kat, you’ve seen Horndog and Shooter naked, who has the better, fill in the blank, I’m not gonna say it!
Hell Kat: Shooter, and not just because I have to say that, Horndog tips to the left, if you know what I mean. *Everyone snickers. Hell Kat points at Horndog and shoots a glare through him.* That’s for making Martinez ask such a stupid question.
Tongue: Ouch! Horndog, you really should have seen that one coming. OK, now me. When we were kids you slept with a pink Care Bear. Do you still have the bear and do you still sleep with it?
Hell Kat: No.
Shooter: LIE! You keep it on the side of your bed and whenever you have a problem you can’t work out you grip that thing like it’s your life raft. I’ve seen you do it.
Hell Kat: You are in so much trouble.
Shooter: What are you going to do?
Hell Kat: I’m planning on replacing your favorite appendage with a piece of cooked spaghetti.
Shooter: You wouldn’t do that love.
*Shooter’s holds Hell Kat’s chin between his thumb and forefinger*
Switch: All right, cut it the hell out. I don’t want to see the two of you go at it on the floor. Sam is waiting for me and I want to get this kumbaya circle over with. Hell Kat, on the docks a couple months ago you killed a guy by breaking his neck, what is your favorite way to kill?
Hell Kat: I don’t have a favorite way. If someone is going to be surrounded by an army of body guards, a long distance shot is best. If they let their guard down around pretty women, dressing as a tramp and carrying a garrote is preferred. If the target has a family, an injection of succinylcholine looks like a heart attack. Most of the time you won’t have a family member hunting you down for vengeance. Every situation is different and besides, you don’t want to develop a modus operandi, it’s tactically stupid.
Shooter: My turn, we’ve spoken to the killer Hell Kat, I want to speak with the woman Kat Boudreaux. Mrs. Boudreaux, the people of Bayou Boudreaux have no idea how much you impact their daily lives. You pay for every child to have a private education, when someone’s spouse dies you pay off their house, Bayou Boudreaux has zero unemployment because you give everybody a job, when a child is born you start a college fund in his name with a generous donation, I could go on all day. Why do you do this and why do you do this anonymously? *Hell Kat shifts in her seat* It’s OK they’re Bastards, you can trust them.
Hell Kat: I have done terrible things in my life. I have killed, tortured and destroyed lives. I have to prove to the world and to myself that I’m not a monster. Yes, I can do things that would make most people fall into a catatonic stupor, and I agree that sometimes those skills are necessary, but I have to prove that I’m more than that. That’s the whole reason I started Archer International, to use my talents to save people. To fight for people who can’t fight for themselves. I know you guys tease me about what I’ve done and what I can do and I hate that it’s true. The sad fact is the world needs people like me, people who are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Why can’t I do whatever it takes to save a life?
Shooter: And that’s why I love you.
Horndog: And that’s why we haven’t fed you to the alligators for the sake of humanity.
*Shooter smacks Horndog on the back of the head.*
Katie Harper started writing when two people showed up in her head and wouldn’t leave until she told their story. They had a party, invited a few friends over. Now she spends her days doing the bidding of imaginary people. She lives in a city made for sin on the edge of a desert with her daughter, no pets and enough lemon bundt cake to feed a refugee camp.
BLURB: Haunted by her past of murder for hire and skinning people alive to gather vital intelligence, Kat Boudreaux wants nothing more than to hide away in her sprawling mansion with the love of her life–her daughter. But then Private Gump and his band of Bubbas land on her doorstep. Her brother and his unit of misfit Marines insert themselves with the misguided need to protect her from someone hell-bent on vengeance.
For Shooter, it’s love at first sight, though he wouldn’t be caught dead admitting it. When Kat is nearly fatally injured while saving his life, he knows he’s found the woman for him. Together, they fight side by side to get to the bottom of the threats. Kat’s daughter is kidnapped and this ex-assassin mom reverts back to old habits to save her. Saving Kat and her daughter is easy, taming the shrew that is Hell Kat Boudreaux might meaning losing his favorite appendage.
EXCERPT: Shooter leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Bar?” Oh God yes. Yeah, this evening will be brought to you by Jack Daniels and Jim Beam. I ordered a shot of whatever was closest and downed it. Shooter handed me a mint julep while he sipped his scotch. Bless that man. I scanned the room for the enemy. I had honed this skill over several missions for GSA. It’s amazing how quickly things come back to you when you were threatened.
My gaze fell on the first threat, Louise LaLourie. Why her parents had named her Louise with a last name like LaLourie was completely beyond me. Of course she had sported several other last names over the years but she always returned to LaLourie. At one time she desperately wanted to be known as Louise Boudreaux. But, I was married to my husband at the time and he had shown her the no trespassing sign right away. Louise held a flute of champagne in her hand, her cunning eyes searched for the next Mr. LaLourie. Her sights fell on me and she stalked forward. I’m not kidding, she stalked, like a lioness, toward me. I looked over at Shooter. I needed to warn him that the most bedded woman in New Orleans was on the prowl. He was busy at the bar fighting for his constitutional right to get good and shit faced completely missing my look of caution. Since I knew Louise watched me I smiled and prayed the words “die, bitch, die” were not tattooed on my forehead.
“Oh my gawd Are you finally out of mourning?” Her accent was so thick you could cut it with a K-Bar. “I understand grieving, but honey you can’t put yourself in cold storage for the rest of your life. But you are looking great. Look at you. I was afraid you’d locked yourself up in that big ole house and either ate or drank yourself to death. I am so relieved to see you looking as good as ever. Who are you wearing, darlin’? You look positively wonderful.”
Of course her compliments were about as real as her boobs, but I smiled back and said, “Versace.”
“Donatella?” Louise asked with pity in her voice.
“No, Gianni. It went up for auction at Sotheby’s a few years ago and I just had to have it. Though this is the first time I’ve worn it.”
Edna could look forward to a big, fat Christmas bonus this year. The envy on Louise’s face was priceless. It was worth coming to this damn ho down, and I mean ho down, just to see her face turn a lovely shade of green. She would have given a lot to own an original Gianni but she didn’t and I did. Take that you nasty bitch.
Shooter took that moment to turn around and hand me another cocktail. His eyes went big and he tried to take a step back but the bar was in the way. I hadn’t taken in what Louise wore until that moment. She wore a black, too tight to breathe, strapless Dolce and Gabbana that made her boobs spill over the tops. Truth be told I had that same dress in my closet at home. But I would never choose to accessorize it with a purple leopard bra that poked strategically above the neckline. Her lecherous eyes zeroed in on Shooter. She had the sniper in her sites and he was about to feel the full force of Louise’s slut-o-matic up close and personal.
“Well, hello. You must be Kat’s brother?”
“No, Louise,” I interrupted, “This is my date.” I choked on the last word.
Louise didn’t care. She wouldn’t care if a man was in bed with his wife on their wedding night, she believed all men were available. “And what is your name, gorgeous?”
“Shooter,” he smiled and leaned into her gaze a slight come and get me smile smeared across his face. I seriously wanted to pop his eyes out with a shrimp fork but I reigned in my rage.
“And what is it that you do, Mr. Shooter?” Translation: Can you afford me? She said as she pressed herself up against his body shamelessly exposing all her voluptuous assets.
He raised his hand and extended a finger. Shooter pushed the tip of his long thick finger into the center of Louise’s forehead forcing her to take several steps backward. His gaze had gone from playful to deadly. “I kill people,” his whisper was sinister.
I have a special tiny treat for you today, a look inside Josee Renard’s latest in the Enchanted series. One lucky commenter is also going to win an ecopy of Enchanted Spring! I’ll be randomly selecting the winner first thing Wednesday (6/13/2012) morning…and we have a winner, see the comments below.
Connie twisted her hands in her lap. No service job was going to pay her enough to stay here, to pay her back taxes, to go back to the life she’d had just six weeks ago. She had to tell Dorothea the truth.
Holding out the letter with her notice and apology, she tried to hide the tears that welled up in her eyes.
Dorothea waved off the letter. “You’re not leaving,” she said, with a quick glance at Deborah, and Connie wondered yet again whether the women had a touch of the sight, because otherwise, how the hell did they know what Connie was going to say?
Half an hour later, Connie had a new job helping with some promotional work they were having done—at least they thought she did—and a reduction in her rent. And nothing she’d done or said could sway the two women.
But Jamieson Smith?
She’d been drooling over him since she’d moved onto Courtwood Street, even knowing she’d never have a chance with him. The women—the many, many women—he dated? They looked like runway models. Rich runway models.
But what choice did she have? If the sisters had their way, she was going to be working with him on a promotion campaign for MatchMagic and, from the martial look in Dorothea’s eyes, Jamieson Smith would have no choice about hiring her. Didn’t matter how tough he was, no one could deny the sisters.
* * * * *
They had summoned him to another meeting. He hadn’t even had time to wrap his head around a campaign for a dating Web site—he, Jamieson Smith, the last man who knew anything about true love and romance—and yet here they were, demanding his presence already.
He laughed as he opened the door to MatchMagic. He could hardly wait to see what they had planned for him this afternoon. Just the thought of them, so much like his family, made him happy. Maybe not the work so much, but those three women? They were great.
What he hadn’t expected was to see the woman he watched walk by his home office every morning, the woman he’d lusted after for months. Oh, he knew he couldn’t have her—just that daily glimpse of her told him that she wasn’t his type. Too sweet, too short, too curvy. But there was something about her that tempted him, even though he was pretty sure she’d want a relationship. But he couldn’t stop staring, couldn’t keep from making certain that he was at his desk each morning at seven o’clock when she left for work.
He was obsessed by her… and that’s why he’d promised himself he’d never meet her in person.
The three witches—as he’d dubbed them to go along with the name of their Web site, and damn, that was a pretty good way into a spring promotion blitz—were waiting for him. This time, though, there were four women around the boardroom table, and his eyes—and his nose (she smelled like spring)—locked on the fourth one.
“Jamieson?” Delia’s voice jolted him out of his reverie.
He shook his head to clear the scent of Connie and focused on the witches. “Sorry, I had an idea for your promotion. Just let me jot it down.” He took out his notepad and wrote a few words down: Witch. Magic. Spring solstice.
When he looked up again, all four sets of eyes were on him. He felt his cheeks flush and couldn’t remember the last time that had happened. These women, especially that woman, were getting to him.
“Jamieson Smith, this is Connie Stanton. She’s going to be helping you with the promotion you’re doing for us. She’s spent years working as a technical writer and assistant. Add her services to your account.” Dorothea sounded as regal as a short, almost-seventy-year-old woman could sound.
He started to shake his head, but Deborah broke in before he could speak. “We have a feeling about this,” she said. “We want you and Connie to do this together.”
Josee Renard writes women’s fiction, magic realism, paranormal and erotica. She writes short fiction, poetry and novels. Josee blames her good friend Anna Leigh Keaton for getting her into writing erotica – she loves Anna Leigh’s books and wanted to try one herself – now she can’t stop. She blames her mother and her two grandmothers for her reading and writing obsession – all of them were avid readers, and they passed the books and the obsession on to her.
Publisher: Bradley Publishing ~70 pages ~Release date: May 18, 2012
Today I am honored to have Sandra Bunino in the Maylee ehouse. She’s in the middle of celebrating her second release, Sara’s Smile. I was introduced to Sandra’s writing six sentences at a time. That’s right, Six Sentence Sunday has introduced me to many writers and Sandra’s 6s were one of my very first favorites. So I leaped at the chance to have her here today. Below I have a few thoughts to share about Sara’s Smile, Sandra answers some questions (including the blurb, an excerpt, and what’s next for Sandra), and at the bottom are Sandra’s dets. Don’t forget to leave a comment. One lucky commenter is going to receive an ecopy of Sara’s Smile!
S . J.’s Review: I’ve read Sara’s Smile and I highly recommend that you do too. It’s most certainly a 5-star book. Sandra’s writing made my heart smile. Do you remember the first time you fell in love? This book brought back all those lovely feelings, transporting you to a magical time. I fell easily for Sara. Sandra certainly has the ability to write characters you understand and want to root for. It’s a short extremely enjoyable read, get your hands on it today and start your week off right.
Now, let’s ask Sandra a couple questions…
What inspired you to begin writing romance?
I wrote a cute Valentine’s Day inspired short story for a creative writing assignment in high school (my first romance story). It was about a girl who was crushing on a boy and hoped he would notice her on Valentine’s Day. The day went by without even a second glance from him. Dejected she opened her locker at the end of the day to find a long stem rose. She turned around to see him smiling at her and you guessed it – it ended with an HEA. My teacher suggested I submit the story to a writing contest. I didn’t take her advice, however her suggestion gave me the confidence to continue writing. Here’s a fun fact: Roses are written into every story I write!
How do you feel about being a romance writer?
I love writing romance but my pet-peeve misconception about romance writers, especially erotic romance writers, is that we are all consumed with sex. This is simply not true, I mean, I’m sure I speak for many of my peers out there when I say – yes, we like sex. You really cannot effectively write about it if you didn’t. But obsessed and fixated on it? No. My answer to those clueless people who give me the quizzical look when I try to explain is simply, “Do you think murder mystery writers are running around killing people, chopping up their bodies into little pieces and dumping the remains in the woods? Uh, no, I don’t think so.”
What has surprised you the most about writing and becoming a published author?
It surprised me that bringing a book to market was such a meticulous and time consuming process. Writing was the easy part! There is a lot of back and forth correspondence with the publisher, editor and cover artist. Edits take a long time to clear. I usually clear my calendar and work non-stop for days on my first set of edits. After the book is in its final form, the promotion starts. Marketing and promotion also takes a lot of time, energy and scheduling. I have a great time doing it as I get to meet so many great authors, reviewers and readers.
Can you tell us a little about your new release, Sara’s Smile?
I’m such a romantic and have always been a sucker for a love lost/love found reunion story. My sensual romance, SARA’S SMILE is my second release but it’s actually my first story. I treat my books like my children and I just wasn’t ready to send this one out into the world as my first release. Instead I debuted my erotic romance, MAROONED IN MIAMI, to blaze the path for Sara. Now that warm weather is approaching, it’s the perfect time to introduce SARA’S SMILE as a sweet summer read.
There’s nothing like your first love, is there? Spanning five years, SARA’S SMILE will take you from young love found on the carefree beaches of Martha’s Vineyard to rekindled passion in the heart of New York City.
As an architect who specializes in restorations, Sara Wiley is a genius at returning neglected structures to their former glory. But when it comes to her own life, she has no idea how to reclaim the ruins, which are all that remain of her first true love.
When the biggest opportunity of her career and a sexy contractor comes her way, she’s thrilled…until she learns that the client is the long-ago boy who captured her heart and continues to invade her dreams. Is it a bittersweet coincidence or might there be a chance, after all, for Sara to revisit the mistakes of her past and build the future she has wanted for so long?
Why am I doing this? she asked herself when she climbed into the cab, the next evening. Having dinner with him certainly isn’t going to help me get him out of my dreams.
As she got out, in front of O’Reilly’s, she was startled by her own reflection, and silently thanked Cat for assembling her outfit of dark skinny jeans, pink chiffon top with spaghetti straps and strappy silver sandals. At Cat’s insistence, she had worn her hair long and loose. She had added her favorite dangling silver earrings and a matching chain and pendant just before she walked out the door. If clothing was armor, she was as well equipped as she could manage for the coming conversation.
She found Will at the crowded bar, where he kissed her on the cheek and gave her his seat.
“What are you drinking?” he asked.
“I’ll have whatever you’re having.”
He ordered two martinis, and they began talking about the Hanson House. From there, the conversation turned naturally to their jobs. As Sara had expected, Will explained that he traveled all over the world and spent only a few weeks out of the year at his apartment in Santa Monica.
While he spoke, she stared at his mouth, remembering how his kisses felt on her lips. A glance at his hands awoke her memory of the way they had encircled her waist as she made love to him.
Stop it, she ordered herself sternly, and shook her head.
“Are you okay?”
Oh shit. I didn’t say that out loud, did I? “Y-yeah, I’m fine,” she answered with a laugh.
“Now that we’ve made a dent in these martinis,” he said, looking down at his glass, “I have to tell you… You broke my heart, that last night we were together. I really loved you, Sara.”
Would you like to share what the reviewers are saying about your book?
5/5 Stars. Be prepared to fall under the spell of this fantastic story that will win you over with its charm.
Sandra Bunino delivers a heart-warming story about lost and found love. Not just any love, but first love.
In Sara’s Smile, she does an excellent job in bringing out the thrill of that first love. Through her amazing characters, she makes you revisit memory lane and relive what it felt like to fall deeply in love for the very first time. She reminds you of what it felt like to hold hands, to be held, that sweet first kiss, and how magical that first time was.
The decisions her characters face, and the emotions they go thru, make them come alive for you. It is not just about the thrill of that first love, and the thrill of doing everything for the very first time, it is deeper than that. It is about that unconditional, no questions asked, kind of love.
Sara’s Smile is such a moving story, don’t be surprised if it brings tears to your eyes, it will touch that soft spot in your heart, and it will take your breath away.
How many books have you written?
I’ve written two other novellas and two short contributing stories for anthologies.
Marooned in Miami (A Sensual Short Story), published by Bradley Publishing in January.
Lusted in Las Vegas (sequel to Marooned in Miami), releasing July 2nd from Bradley Publishing
The Satin Rose Experience (erotic romance/light BDSM), contributing story to the Keyboards and Kink Anthology by Evernight Publishing releasing June 8th.
The Fountain Pen, contributing story to the Felt Tips Anthology (all proceeds will go to charity) coordinated by author Tiffany Reisz. Felt Tips will be released on December 12th.
I have a few WIPs in the works! First, I’m writing an erotic fairytale I hope to submit for consideration soon. Next up is a novella based on The Satin Rose Experience short. I’m also working on Michael’s story from Sara’s Smile. I decided he needs his own HEA! Lastly, there’s this little modern day pirate story set in the Caribbean rolling around in my head.
Sandra Bunino began a love of romance stories while penning a creative writing assignment in high school. The story ended with the heroine receiving a long stem red rose in her locker on Valentine’s Day. Since then, all of her stories feature the hero presenting the heroine with roses. Sandra is constantly searching for different ways to achieve a heart-pumping, stomach-flipping, breath-catching reaction from her readers.
These days, Sandra lives on a wooded mountaintop not far from New York City with her family.
Connect with Sandra here: Email: sbunino (at) gmail (dot) com
I’m excited to have the beautiful Leslie C. Ferdinand at my blog today. Check out that cover, so sensual. Clicking on the cover will take you to her page on Amazon. Below you’ll find the blurb, her picture, bio, and the trailer. You can find Wicked Allure at Amazon, Smashwords and Lulu, however one lucky commenter is going to win an ecopy of Wicked Allure! AND WE HAVE A WINNER…SEE THE COMMENTS BELOW…THANK YOU TO ALL WHO ENTERED!!!
But First, we have a Q & A from the stars of Wicked Allure. Please help me welcome Zachary Steele and Madigan DeLeon.
Zach, Madi, tell me a little about yourselves.
Zach: I’ve led a very privileged life as one of the sons of a well-known businessman. My mother was the glue that kept the family together. When she died, our world fell apart.
Madi: I have also led a very privileged lifestyle. I’m the youngest daughter of a socialite mother and a businessman father. I have two older sisters and we’ve been labeled everything by the media.
Zach: Most of which isn’t good. They need to get their stories straight before it is reported.
Madi: You’ve said yourself that, before you met me, you believed a lot of what was being circulated.
Zach: And I learned my lesson.
Zach, watching your father grieve must have been difficult. How did that affect you?
Madi: It nearly wrecked his life.
Zach: After watching my father suffer after my mother’s death, I equated love with pain and heartache. I didn’t want a family and I didn’t want children. I decided to live for the moment and to lose myself in any type of pleasure I could find.
Do you think your well-documented past affects people’s perception of you?
Zach: Certainly. I’ve made mistakes in my life but I make no apologies for who I am.
It is well known that Zach was addicted to sex, drugs, parties, excessive luxury, fast cars, adventurous vacations…
Madi: Zach lived on the edge for a very long time. His reputation as a bad boy is well-earned.
So you’re saying he’s tamed now?
Madi: He’s domesticated but never tamed.
Zach: You wouldn’t want me any other way, love.
Madi: Not at all.
Does it ever concern you that Zach might return to that lifestyle?
Madi: Not any more. And, after what we’ve been through, I have complete faith in him.
Why did you start using drugs in the first place, Zach?
Zach: It was there and available to me.
As were women.
Zach: Yes. I love beautiful women. I’ve been blessed with one of the most beautiful.
Did you give up using and women because of Madigan?
Zach: Women, yes. I refuse to disrespect Madigan and all that we have by sleeping with another woman. As for drugs, no. I’d stopped using long before I met Madigan. I had to straighten up after my father’s death. I had to step up to the plate and run the family company.
Madigan, your mother asked you to run her sex club. What kind of a mother would ask that of her own daughter?
Madi: A woman with very little motherly instincts. I don’t recognize her anymore. She isn’t the woman who raised me.
You didn’t have to agree to run Wicked Allure. Why did you? Was it because of Zach?
Zach: Of course.
Madi: He’s so full of himself, isn’t he? He was only part of the reason. My mother threw down a challenge and I wanted to prove myself to her.
You did use again recently. Why?
Zach: To exorcise thoughts of Madigan. I regret the use that night. I’ve made a pact to myself to never do that again.
You two have agreed to a no-holds barred interview. So let’s turn to one of your favorite subjects, Zach.
Madi and Zach: Sex
Madi: Subject? I think you mean activity.
Zach: I don’t recall any complaints from you, Madi.
Madigan, Zach is twelve years older than you. You hinted that he wants control in every aspect of his life. Does he dominate you in the bedroom?
Madi: That is one part of our lives that I don’t mind him controlling. He’s an expert lover. He has tutored my body for his pleasure.
Does the age difference bother you?
Madi: It never bothered me.
Zach: It was a big concern of mine. I didn’t want to corrupt Madigan.
Madi: You corrupted me the moment I met you.
Did he now? Was it his bad boy reputation that first attracted you to him?
Madi: A lot of women love bad boys, thinking we can somehow reform them but there was a connection between Zach and I from the moment we met.
Why was it so hard for the two of you two overcome one another?
Zach: Madigan has never been afraid to express her opinions to me or about me. I admired her determination and spirit.
Madi: Zach can be extremely ruthless. He wants what he wants when he wants it and no one will stop him from getting it. Beneath everything, he has a very vulnerable, tender side and he loves his family.
Do you think you and your mother will ever reconcile, Madigan?
Madi: One can only hope.
You’re a grown woman with a life of your own and yet you returned to reconcile with your mother. Some may see that as a weakness.
Madi: Family is very important to me. I don’t let my mother dictate my life. Not in the least. But, yes, I would like to have an amicable relationship with my mother. I think a lot of people will understand that.
What’s next for the two of you?
Madi: Everlasting love. A lavish wedding and a very bright future.
Zach: Spoiling Madigan. Planning a very extravagant honeymoon and untold happiness as long as Madigan is at my side.
I want to thank both of you for sitting down for this very enlightening conversation. We wish you much happiness in the future.
How much fun was that! Now for the Trailer, blurb, bio and Leslie’s pretty picture. Thank you so much Leslie for stopping by today. Thanks to Medi and Zach too 🙂 Now don’t forget to comment for your chance to win an ecopy of Wicked Allure.
What Does A Man Say to the Woman He Betrayed But Never Stopped Loving?
Three years ago, Zachary Steele refused to entertain thoughts of permanency with any woman. A hedonist at heart, he didn’t want to corrupt the much younger, Madigan DeLeon, by continuing his affair with her. With the hidden scars of his past, he didn’t believe in happily-ever-after. By the time he realized how much Madigan meant to him, he’d driven her away. Then, one night, after being clean for a number of years, Zach briefly falls off the bandwagon. He believes his lovemaking to Madi is a drug-induced hallucination. The resulting consequences tell another story.
What Does A Woman Do When the Only Man She’s Ever Loved Hurt Her So Deeply She Feared She’d Never Recover?
Three years after her affair with Zach so abruptly ended, celebutante, Madigan DeLeon, is thrust back into Zach’s life by her mother’s machinations. Brought home under the false pretenses of repairing her damaged relationship with her mother, Madi instead finds herself running a private sex club called Wicked Allure. Forced to confront her anger at his betrayal and grief at the loss of what might’ve been, Madi faces the realization that she’s never stopped loving Zach.
Can Two Broken Hearts Set Aside Anger and Betrayal to Find True Love Once and For All?
Searching the deepest recesses of their hearts, in a place where pride and pain has no room, Madi and Zach must decide if their bond is strong enough to take a second chance at love. Or if resuming their sexual relationship is an irresistible wicked allure and the ghosts of their former relationship will finally, and forever, sever all ties between them.
Leslie C. Megahey and Shirley H. Ferdinand have been writing together since 1991. Under their Christine Holden pen name, five books were released by Berkley/Jove between 1998 and 2001. Their last book, Dearest Beloved, had a foreign edition in Dutch. They’ve appeared in New Orleans Magazine, the Times Picayune, RT Book Reviews, the Fort Bend Herald, Fort Bend Lifestyles, and the Natchez Sun. They were also included in Kathryn Falk’s 1998 How To Write A Romance For The New Markets and Get it Published and May McGoldrick’s Marriage of Minds: Collaborative Fiction Writing in 2000. They’ve made appearances on television stations in New Orleans, Lake Charles, Lafayette, Beaumont and Toronto. Leslie has also made an appearance on the Rachel Ray Show and is founder of Inside Rose Rich Magazine. They currently have literary representation with D4EO Literary Agency. This is the team’s first erotic romance.