Scarlett Cole | Second Circle Hidden Theme

As authors write, we get the opportunity to include any number of details. Some are vital to the plot of the story, some give us insight into the characters, some simply give us a sense of time and place, and some make us laugh, or cry. But some details are just for the author themselves. So I thought I’d share a hidden theme that runs through all four of my Second Circle stories, including the latest, THE DARKEST LINK, that releases today.

To explain, I need to go back a few years and start with this…I LOVE STEPHEN KING! I started reading horror in high school when it was the cool thing to do. I began with a dog-eared copy of THE RATS by James Herbert, and quickly devoured (pun intended if you’ve read the stories) LAIR and DOMAIN. I’d meet up with school friends every morning, and we’d swap books before the school bell rang. One day I received a very beaten up copy of Stephen King’s PET SEMATARY (…yes, that’s the correct spelling of the book), and from the very first chapter, I was hooked. I worked my way through as many books as I could get my hands on. IT, MISERY, CHRISTINE, CUJO. I never really enjoyed watching horror movies, but books I could read all day. Somewhere along the way, I found romance, and my allegiance switched. Today I don’t read anywhere near as much horror as I used to, but I’ll always make time for Mr. King.

So back to the Second Circle Tattoos series. Every book contains at least one reference to Stephen King’s horror stories. In THE STRONGEST STEEL, Trent loves horror stories while Harper hates them, and Trent is responsible for giving the hero of book two a tattered copy of CUJO. In THE FRACTURED HEART, Brody Matthews, the hero of the story, is nicknamed Cujo after an unfortunate incident after reading the book of the same name. In THE PUREST HOOK, Dred and Pixie watch THE SHINING together after their first date in Toronto. And in THE DARKEST LINK, Lia’s car is a red and white Plymouth Fury that she purchased after watching the movie version of CHRISTINE, which featured a demonic car of the same name.

Those details don’t really change the story. Trent could have loved rock biographies, Cujo could have been nicknamed just about anything. Dred and Pixie could have watched a chick-flick, and Lia could have purchased any car she wanted (although it would still have been red). The truth is, those details were simply important to me, and a little nod to an author who inspired me to read voraciously.

Which author (one name only) has inspired you? Who do you quote frequently? Or reread when you are having a crappy day? Pop your answer below, and one winner will be picked at random to win a complete set of all four e-books in the Second Circle Tattoos Series.

THE DARKEST LINK by Scarlett Cole

Second Circle Tattoos #4

The Darkest Link

When her car breaks down off the side of a lonely highway far from her sunny Miami home, tattoo artist Lia never expected her very own white knight to ride up on the back of a barely street-legal motorcycle…and she never expected to fall for her dark savior. After a string of failed relationships and a bruised heart Lia is not looking for forever, and the hot mechanic, with his sexy scruff and shaggy hair, is simply impossible to resist. He’s the perfect candidate for a mind-blowingly-perfect, no-strings-attached one-night stand.

Reid left his life in Chicago far behind him and hasn’t been back, but he’s never been able to escape the guilt he feels about his own painful role in inviting a monster into his baby sister’s life. A monster who almost destroyed her. Being with Lia is an unexpected gift, one he doesn’t feel he deserves, and their one night together has him wanting more than he should. When he surprises her at her tattoo studio, Second Circle Tattoos, in Miami, he’s in for a shock—and a fist to the face—when his past and present collide.

With secrets coming to the surface, Reid and Lia are thrown into a world of betray and lies that threatens to pull them under, and the last link to his former life may be the darkest of them all.

Romance Suspense [Swerve, On Sale: August 30, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 9781250122070 / eISBN: 9781250122070]

About Scarlett Cole

Scarlett Cole

Scarlett Cole is a writer of contemporary romance and a two-time RITA finalist. Her debut, THE STRONGEST STEEL, has already become an Amazon best seller in romantic suspense, was a Best Debut Goodreads Author Finalist 2015, and Authors On The Air Global Radio Network Contemporary Romance Pick of 2015. The FRACTURED HEART and THE PUREST HOOK were released in early 2016. Look for THE DARKEST LINK, book four of THE SECOND CIRCLE TATTOOS series out August 30th.

When Scarlett isn’t writing, she spends her time reading, hoarding mason jars, and working out to off-set an epic sour candy habit. She likes hot men, cold beer, and expensive shoes.

Having travelled the world for work and fun, Scarlett is a citizen of both Britain and Canada. A true city-dweller, she considers Toronto and Manchester home and likes to set her books in vibrant locations such as Miami and Los Angeles.

Second Circle Tattoos

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Second Circle Tattoos

THE STRONGEST STEEL
The Strongest Steel
#1
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THE FRACTURED HEART
The Fractured Heart
#2
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THE PUREST HOOK
The Purest Hook
#3
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THE DARKEST LINK
The Darkest Link
#4
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Wendi Christner | The Ultimate Retail Therapy

Feeling down? Buy a new book. Seriously. Have you ever thought about the reasons we love to read? Sure, there are several, but lately I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the way stories comfort us.

At our core, we all yearn to connect with others. And we do it all the time. We pet animals. We enjoy being held by and holding those we love. We like to share our energy in a calm, loving way because it soothes us and those we touch.

As a child, did you ever press your fingers against a boo-boo or lie on the grass when you were upset? I did, too. Back then I didn’t think about the nature of energy, but innately I understood there was power within us and within the world. Power that could restore our emotional and even physical peace.

As years passed and life brought me experiences, I explored that energy in different ways. Curious about the power of the mind, I became a certified hypnotherapist. I’ve received the attunements of reiki. I’ve sought healing from acupuncturists, massage therapists, and a shaman, among others. I was raised in Southern churches, have a relationship with God and Christ, and I strongly believe in the power of prayer.

Through all my searching and experience I’ve become confident there are things we don’t understand, but that a powerful, unseen energy is around us, affects us, and nurtures us. People have learned to tap into that energy in different ways and call it by different names, but I believe it all comes from the same source.

What does this have to do with reading? Simply, stories have energy, too, and they offer a connection.

Fictional characters seek relief from suffering the way we all do. None of us are without wounds, and no one wants to feel alone. If we see ourselves in a character, we become inspired by that character’s struggles and accomplishments. On a deeper level, we believe if she can succeed maybe we can, too. That’s how novels empower us. All that is needed is the connection.

Cassidy, the most wounded character in my novel WATER BEARER, accidentally started a fire that killed her parents. Her journey is one many of us can relate to, though the tragedies we’ve experienced are different from hers. We can share her suffering, her hope, and her instinct to survive. We also know forgiving ourselves can be harder than forgiving others.

In the course of writing and revising WATER BEARER, I’ve read the manuscript at least a dozen times, maybe more. Without fail, I have laughed, cried, and fallen in love. Every. Single. Time. But more than that, I’ve been inspired to seek forgiveness of myself and others.

If you’ve sought to ease your personal wounds, no matter your spiritual beliefs, you probably know by now there is only one way to overcome emotional suffering. Forgiveness. Forgiveness of yourself and forgiveness of others is how you find peace. It’s how you make room for more joy in your life.

I invite you to read WATER BEARER. I invite you to laugh, cry, and fall in love. I invite you to feel the connection and share the energy of this story.

Thank you for having me here today. It’s truly an honor.

Water Bearer Blurb

WATER BEARER by Wendi Christner

Southern Skies

Water Bearer

One last summer together forever changes the lives of best friends in a small Southern community. These unforgettable characters and their moving story linger long beyond the final page.

Romance Historical [On Sale: September 2, 2016, Paperback / Kindle, ISBN: 9781535002165 / ]

About Wendi Christner

Wendi Christner

Wendi Christner is the author of Writer’s Digest Short-Short Story Competition winner “Throwing Stones,” a fairy self-help book, and several novels written under various pseudonyms. Her gritty, emotional stories tend to have a Southern voice born of her roots in the Florida panhandle. She currently lives in Tampa with her husband, son, and their fur family.

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Nan Comargue | Brother’s Keeper and Taboo Romance

Years ago I read a romance novel which, based on the title—and yes, I do sometimes judge books by their covers—made me expect a stepbrother/ stepsister romance. The stepsibling romance is a genre subcategory I enjoy reading. I think the book did revolve around a similar type of relationship but transgressing those longstanding boundaries seemed to be treated as humdrum, or certainly not as the illicit-temptation-being-vainly-resisted that usually drives my pleasure in those romances. Because of that (perceived) missing ingredient, I did not like the book. Since then I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a version of that story that pushed the taboo relationship theme to its boundaries. That’s why I wrote my latest erotic romance with Totally Bound, called BROTHER’S KEEPER.

Feel free to judge BROTHER’S KEEPER on its title. I stand by it.

But Alexa and Nik, the main characters in the story, are not stepsiblings. Uh oh. I mean, they are stepsiblings in reality but they were raised…or at least Alexa was raised thinking Nik was her half-brother. She also thinks he’s pretty terrible because he tried to make a move on her a couple years ago. Disgusting, right? Except Nik has always known what Alexa doesn’t, which is that they were not the least bit related by blood. They’re only stepsiblings. If you’re following me, you can see where this is heading.

Imagine your so-called family hiding that kind of secret from you and coming on the heels of that is the realization that your incredibly attractive younger “brother” is really no relation at all. And he wants to make the most of it. And you’re willing to let him comfort you in the middle of your turmoil.

Suddenly you’re in Alexa’s very dark, very disturbing—and so very pleasurable—shoes.

It’s not the actual relationship—which could easily be icky—but the secrets and betrayal that keep Alexa from embracing Nik wholeheartedly. Their history is only the reason for her present hurt and her resistance to Nik comes out of that pain. Dark, I know, but remember that that’s part of the taboo. (Taboo was actually the original working title for BROTHER’S KEEPER.)

It’s hard to explain why I like this romance subcategory so much (I also like the guardian/ ward historical romances). Maybe it’s because to get to the happy ever after, the heroine and hero have to risk blowing up their entire lives. It’s never just the two main characters involved. There are the family members and friends who have also gotten used to thinking of the two of them as stepsiblings. There is the judgmental world at large. And there’s the weight of habit. Sexual attraction is one thing but a romance is about more than that—it’s about building a relationship, and doing that is so much harder when you have to start by destroying a previous relationship edifice first.

The stakes are high in a stepbrother/ stepsister romance. But that makes the ending so much more satisfying.

BROTHER’S KEEPER by Nan Comargue

Brother's Keeper

Alexa spent years believing Nik was her half-brother, even after he tried making a move on her. When she visits for Russian Orthodox Christmas and finds out the truth, their relationship becomes wild and hot. Soon Alexa’s on the verge of committing the ultimate sin—falling in love with her stepbrother.

Nik’s devil-may-care attitude drives Alexa crazy but because he’s her younger half-brother, she has to see him every Russian Orthodox Christmas—even after he kissed her two years ago. This year, the holiday starts with Alexa finding out Nik’s not related to her at all, a fact her family has kept from her for decades.

The revelation sends Alexa into a tailspin and the person who offers her comfort is the last one she expects: Nik. After waking up to find Nik in her bed the next day, that comfort turns into unexpectedly hot sex, which only complicates the burgeoning feelings she has for him.

The last thing Alexa wants is to disrupt her life with a man she can’t trust—a man she already knows she cares far too deeply for. But easygoing Nik proves to be far more determined than she’d ever imagined when their fragile new love is on the line.

Romance Erotica Sensual [Totally Bound Publishing, On Sale: September 6, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 9781786510594 / eISBN: 9781786510594]

 

Nan Comargue writes romance and erotic romance. She has numerous short works of erotic fiction published by Totally Bound and Ellora’s Cave and a contemporary romance with Crimson Romance. She writes all the time, probably when she should be doing something else, and blogs occasionally

Tara Taylor Quinn | Getting Ready for the Holidays

Fall always makes me think of the holidays. Sometimes with anticipation. Sometimes, I’m just plain not ready yet. This year, I have the holidays hitting me upside the head in September. We’re traveling this holiday season and it’s up to me to coordinate between all of the different families vying for our time, to schedule where we’ll be when to best suit everyone, and to find a loving home for our furry friends while we’re gone.

Then there’s Mom’s boutique. It started out as a dream of hers told to me, by her, when I was a kid. She envisioned women working together throughout the year making crafts, socializing, becoming friends that would be a support system when life got rough. She envisioned them selling the crafts at a church holiday boutique and donating the proceeds. Eleven years ago, she made that dream a reality. Her boutique was open in her church social hall for six hours on one Saturday in November and made nearly a thousand dollars that was donated to children’s ministries. The boutique now has so much hand crafted stock and display equipment that it requires a large storage unit. My mother’s garage has been turned into cupboards that store all of the donated supplies. She holds craft night every week in her home. Starting in September, she’s hard at work every single day gearing up. The boutique now runs for two full days the first weekend in November. I’m the cashier, and basic grunt for whatever Mom needs me to do. Last year Mom made more than $11,000.00 in that weekend – still donated to children’s ministries. And the crafters have seen each other through death of a spouse, through cancer, through death of a child. They come together, come to each other, create beautiful handcrafted items and find the love, support and cheer they need to conquer life’s battles.

Crafting

Crafts for charity

I have two holiday novellas coming out this year in two separate anthologies. A HEARTWARMING HOLIDAY and A HEARTWARMING THANKSGIVING. The stories in these anthologies (28 stories in total) are feel goods. They’re about people with true holiday spirit. About kindness and caring for others. They’re fiction. And yet, as I once again help my mother with her boutique (Mom’s 79 now and still going strong with it) I see that the love and holiday cheer that we, the Harlequin Heartwarming authors, are bringing to you this fall, is real. It’s true and strong. It lives in everyday people making kitchen scrubbies and selling them in the church kitchen. The people in our stories are made up, but their acts, the kindnesses they show – and the trials and tribulations they overcome, are all active parts of life. I hope you’ll treat yourself to one or both of the anthologies and enjoy hours of love and good will. I’ll be off crafting…

A HEARTWARMING HOLIDAY

A Heartwarming Holiday

Your favorite Harlequin Heartwarming authors are back with fifteen all new stories set in charming Christmas Town, Maine.

This holiday season, warm your heart with 15 connected sweet, clean & wholesome holiday romances set in Christmas Town from 15 Harlequin Heartwarming authors who are USA Today, national bestselling, and award-winning authors.

There are five connected books in A Heartwarming Holiday. That means each set of three novellas shares characters and storylines! This collection of PG-rated holiday romances are all set in Christmas Town, Maine, a location introduced in the 2014 Harlequin Heartwarming release Christmas, Actually. A Heartwarming Holiday will bring you laughter, tears, and happily-ever-afters (no cliffhangers), for more than 1200 pages.

Holiday | Romance Anthology [IndieWrites, On Sale: October 11, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 9781680160932 / eISBN: 9781680160932]

A HEARTWARMING THANKSGIVING by Kate James, Carol Ross, Karen Rock, Pamela Tracy, Sophia Sasson, Jennifer Snow, Leigh Riker, Liz Flaherty, Tara Taylor Quinn And Colleagues, Amy Vastine

A Heartwarming Thanksgiving

Count down to Thanksgiving with one of our 13 poignant Harlequin Heartwarming short stories. This is a time to get together with family and friends, and reconnect over pumpkin pie and hot apple cider…or read about the stories where heroes and heroines struggle to get their dream holiday!

Romance | Holiday | Romance Anthology [Harlequin Heartwarming, On Sale: October 11, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 9781488024580 / eISBN: 9781488024580]

Julia Justiss | Your First Crush

That sudden fascination…the nervousness of being around him but yet the compulsion to seek out his company… Can anyone forget their first crush, finally understanding why there is so much fuss about “love” and “romance” and “soul mates?” The feeling that there is no place else and no other person with whom you want to be?

For most of us, a first crush is an initiation into the wonder and beauty of being in love, left behind as life goes on. A full understanding of all the nuances of love, and meeting the one who’ll give us our “happily ever after,” generally doesn’t come until we are older. But for some, that first crush matures into a lasting love, the once-in-a-lifetime relationship.

So it is for the hero of my latest release, STOLEN ENCOUNTERS WITH THE DUCHESS. When David Tanner Smith first meets Faith Wellingford, he is a penniless farmer’s orphan, his only assets a bold dream and a powerful sponsor. Faith is a girl trembling on the brink of womanhood, soon to embark on her first Season, whose connections of blood and friendship with all the great families of England guarantee she will be a success.

Over the course of an idyllic summer spent at her cousin’s house, where Davie is serving as secretary to her cousin’s husband, the two become boon companions. Riding or walking about the estate, they discuss everything from art to poetry to philosophy to—Davie’s passion—politics, where his desire to enter Parliament and help make England’s government fairer for all impresses and inspires Faith.

Whereas Faith fancies herself a bit in love, Davie falls hard for her charm, her enthusiasm, and her loving spirit from the very first moment. Political dreamer he may be, but Davie is nonetheless very aware that nowhere in the world they inhabit can the son of a farmer aspire to the hand of a marquess’s sister.

At summer’s end, they part. Faith rejoins her family, has her Season, and marries a duke. Davie goes on to win a seat in Parliament, and joining forces with his Oxford friends, a group of like-minded reformers dubbed “Hadley’s Hellions,” spends ten years working to bring his dreams of a fairer government to fruition.

But he never forgets, or gets past, his love for Faith. So when he unexpectedly meets her ten years later, now an insecure widow beaten down in the aftermath of a abusive marriage, he’s compelled to try to help her become again the bright, optimistic, happy girl he remembers–even though, despite his rise in the world, he still is too far beneath her socially to hope for more than friendship.

Sometimes, love has other plans.

How did your first crush turn out? Did it create the pattern for “The One” or “The Wrong One?” Become a memory to cherish–or something you’d rather not remember? Or was it, as it was for Davie, the beginning of a life-long passion?

STOLEN ENCOUNTERS WITH THE DUCHESS by Julia Justiss

Hadley’s Hellions #2

Stolen Encounters with the Duchess

She would rather burn in his presence than pine in his absence

Faith Wellingford Evers, Duchess of Ashedon, is tired of society’s endless gossiping about her failings and her late husband’s infidelities. Seeking escape one night, she’s attacked by ruffians, but is saved by an unlikely figure from her past!

Having risen from penniless orphan to Member of Parliament, David Tanner Smith is no longer the quiet boy Faith once knew. With the first spine-tingling kiss, their old friendship is transformed. And in its place is an explosive mix of illicit encounters and forbidden desire…

Romance Historical [Harlequin Historical Romance, On Sale: August 23, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780373298969 / eISBN: 9781488004339]

About Julia Justiss

Julia Justiss

Real, intense, passionate historical romance

After twelve years as a vagabond Navy wife, an adventure that took her from Virginia Beach, VA, to Monterrey, CA, to Tunis, Tunisia to Oslo, Norway and back, Julia Justiss followed her husband to his family’s East Texas homeland. On a hill above a pond with a view of pasture land, they built an English Georgian-style home. Sitting at her desk there, if she ignores the summer heat, she can almost imagine herself in Jane Austen’s Regency England.

In between teaching high school French and making jaunts to visit her three children (a Seabee in Gulfport, MS, a clothing buyer in Houston and a mechanical engineer in Austin, TX) she pursues her first love—writing historical fiction.

Regency Silk & Scandal | Hadley’s Hellions | Ransleigh Rogues

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Paige Tyler | Exclusive from HER ROGUE ALPHA

This excerpt is a conversation between the hero, Jayson Harmon, a wounded Special Forces lieutenant, and the deputy director of the Department of Covert Ops, Dick Coleman. While readers (and almost everyone in the X-OPS Series) knows that Dick is always up to no good, Jayson, who is in a bad place in his life right now, sees a different side to him (or at least believes he does). So, when Dick offers Jayson a way to get back everything he lost when he was wounded in Afghanistan, he doesn’t realize the deputy director is using him to get what he wants. While the experimental serum Dick wants him to take could make Jayson practically superhuman, it’s also beyond dangerous. But Jayson’s girlfriend, feline shifter and newest DCO agent, Layla Halliwell, just went on her first mission and he’s insane with worry. He knows taking the serum is risky, but sitting at home worrying about Layla is worse. If taking the serum is the only way he can watch her back, that’s what he’ll do.

“You can’t just go barging in there. I need to announce you!”

Jayson ignored Dick’s secretary, walking past her and pushing open the deputy director’s big oak door. He hated to blow her off like that, but he wasn’t feeling very polite right now.

“Were you serious about what you said?” he demanded as he came to a stop in front of Dick’s desk.

The deputy director looked up from whatever he was writing on the notepad in front of him as if just realizing Jayson was there. Right. Like he hadn’t heard the fuss his secretary had made.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Coleman. He just blazed right past me.” The plump, blond woman gave him a disdainful glare. “I tried to stop him, but he wouldn’t listen.”

“That’s okay, Phyllis.” Dick gave her a nod. “I’ll take it from here. Close the door as you leave, please.”

Phyllis gave Jayson another scathing look, then turned and walked out, closing the door behind her.

“Was I serious about what?” Dick asked, a trace of irritation in his voice.

“Were you serious when you said that if I take your new drug, and it works, you’ll pair me up with Layla?”

Dick sat back in his chair, his expression changing to something between curious and appraising. “Once we’re able to verify the drug has worked— in some kind of field test— then yes, I’d be open to pairing you and Layla up as a team.”

“Then I want to take the drug,” Jayson said. “Now.”

He expected Dick to ask why the sudden rush, but the deputy only regarded him thoughtfully. “Are you sure, Jayson? This isn’t exactly a situation you can back out of once you’ve started.”

Jayson nodded. “I’m sure.”

Dick considered that for a moment, then nodded. “Let’s go, then.”

Getting up from his chair, the deputy director headed for the door. Jayson took a deep breath and followed. He had to move a little faster than he liked to keep up with Dick, which made his back twinge and tighten up, but the deputy director didn’t seem to notice, and Jayson refused to show any weakness.

As they left the operations building and walked down the sidewalk to the facility where the DCO conducted their shifter and hybrid research, Jayson’s heart beat faster. He knew this was rash, stupid, and probably insane, but after everything that had happened last night, he didn’t have a choice. No matter what, something had to change. And taking Dick’s hybrid serum would definitely change things, one way or the other.

Last night had been a complete and total disaster. Not only had he been a grade A asshole, but he was also pretty sure he might have destroyed whatever was left of his relationship with Layla.

He should never have brought up Dick and that damn hybrid serum. He’d known Layla wouldn’t be thrilled with him taking a drug that hadn’t been tested on humans, but when she immediately assumed that Dick was manipulating him into taking it, something inside him had snapped.

He’d wanted to tell her that he was frightened too, but for different reasons. He was more scared of being a cripple for the rest of his life than he was of Dick’s hybrid serum. He was terrified of her going after dangerous international arms dealers without him and scared of her spending more time with another man—even if it was her DCO partner—than she did with him. Most of all, he was afraid of sitting in a chair, watching his life— and the woman he loved— drift away from him.

But he hadn’t said any of that. Instead, only anger and frustration had come out of his mouth, and before he knew it, Layla was gone, slamming the door on him and their relationship. He’d immediately gone after her, but by the time he’d gotten to the door, her phone had rung. He couldn’t hear everything she said, but he’d heard enough to know her mission was a go.

He’d spent the whole night sitting in his living room berating the hell out of himself and waiting for the phone to ring. It hadn’t.

It wasn’t until the sun peeked through the windows that morning that everything became crystal clear to him. One miserable night was all it took to illuminate very clearly that he was never going to be the kind of man who could sit at home and wait patiently for his significant other to come back safely. One night of not knowing and he was ready to explode.

Now he finally realized why none of the relationships he’d tried to have while he was in Special Forces had survived a single deployment. Some people simply couldn’t deal with the stress of knowing the person they cared about was in danger on the other side of the world. Last night, he’d figured out he was one of those people. If Layla was going to be out there, he had to find a way to be with her. If that meant taking Dick’s serum, then so be it. Because living like this wasn’t even an option.

He was so lost in thought that he didn’t realize they’d reached the lab until the familiar medicinal stench smacked him back into awareness. That’s when he saw the DCO’s resident hybrid expert, Dr. Zarina Sokolov, standing there with a guarded expression on her face.

“Is there something I can help you with?” Zarina asked Dick in a Russian accent that could be icy cold when she wanted— like now.

Dick didn’t seem to notice that the temperature in the room had dropped a few degrees. “I need you to get Jayson ready for the hybrid serum protocol.”

Zarina lifted a brow. “I wasn’t aware the DCO’s hybrid serum protocol was ready yet.”

Dick smiled. “I guess no one told you, then. There have been a few breakthroughs in the past couple weeks. I’d appreciate it if you got Jayson ready. I’d like to start as soon as the doctors arrive with the serum.”

Zarina’s blue eyes darted to Jayson, then back to Dick. “And the serum is safe?”

“I’d never let any of our people take a drug that wasn’t completely safe,” Dick said. “Now, if that’s all, I need to make a phone call.”

Dick gave Jayson a nod, then walked out of the lab, leaving him alone with the Russian doctor.

“Jayson, this is insane. You shouldn’t be agreeing to this. You’ve seen what this serum can do to people.” she said.

Jayson had to admit, he was a little concerned that the one person who probably knew more about hybrids than anyone in the world wasn’t involved in the development of this latest serum— concerned, but not enough to make him reconsider his decision.

“I know what the risks are,” he said. “I’m willing to accept them.”

GIVEAWAY

What do you think, would you take a chance to save a loved one? Leave your anwser below, one reader will get a copy of HER ROGUE ALPHA

HER ROGUE ALPHA by Paige Tyler

X-Ops #6

Her Rogue Alpha

HE’LL DO ANYTHING FOR HER
Former Special Forces Lieutenant Jayson Harmon can’t believe that his war scars don’t matter to beautiful feline shifter Layla Halliwell. Why would she saddle herself with a broken man?

But Layla knows that Jayson is a hero to the core, and that only she can heal his wounded soul. So when Jayson is deployed on another deadly mission, no way is Layla staying behind…

Romance Paranormal [Sourcebooks Casablanca, On Sale: September 6, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781492625896 / ]

About Paige Tyler

Paige Tyler

Paige Tyler is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sexy, romantic fiction. Paige writes books about hunky alpha males and the kick-butt heroines they fall in love with. She lives with her very own military hero (a.k.a. her husband) and their adorable dog on the beautiful Florida coast. Visit www.paigetylertheauthor.com.

X-Ops | SWAT | SEALs of Coronado

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Jane Ashford | Best Romantic Advice Ever!

You ask what advice I’d give the hero and heroine at the beginning of WHAT THE DUKE DOESN’T KNOW. Somehow, the question made me think about the whole concept of romantic advice. Do people ever take it? Is anyone really in a position to give it?

Certainly there’s advice flying all over the place today. And I admit I have a mild addiction to advice columns – Dear Abby, Ann Landers, Dear Amy, Miss Manners – any of them, really. I’ll be navigating the internet, maybe to pay a bill or do a bit of necessary research, and I see that headline. Too many times, I have to click:

Happy Feet Are Great Comfort to Bride on Her Special Day. This is about comfortable shoes, yes? What else could it be?

Unexpected Guest for Dinner Party Results in Empty Seats. A skunk got into the house? The dog tried to chase her out. The skunk jumped onto the table and Blam!

Couple’s 40 Years of Marriage Began Later Than Kids Think. So they jumped the gun. It happens. Everybody take a breath.

Surgeon’s Wife Surprised by His Covert Operation. Have to click on that one. I don’t think he’s going to turn out to be 007.

Seeds of Love and Peace Sown by Humble Dandelion. Umm, what? Aren’t dandelions the scourge of front lawns? Whole neighborhood gets together for a mass dandelion hunt?

Wife Says Husband Is Wrong to Claim He’s Always Right. Really? OK, I have advice here. That guy sounds like a jerk.

Woman Searches for Way to Warm Mans Cold Feet. This is a metaphor. Don’t suggest a hot water bottle or a thicker down comforter.

Two headlines not far apart in time. Visiting Grandparents Should Leave Their Pets At Home. Daughter’s Ban of Cat and Dog Peeves Her Pet Loving Parents. Ooh, I can do these – find a nearby hotel that takes animals.

Nudists at Beach Are Not Concerned With Perfection. Wise. (This one turned out to be quite touching when I – yes – clicked.)

Widow Says Husband’s Secret Should Have Stayed Buried. Mystery novel potential here. Incriminating documents stuck in a hole in the back yard? Murdered first wife under patio?

Put The Brakes on Unwanted Advice. Uh oh.

There are all sorts of blogs giving advice or complaining about other people’s habits or behavior, too. Well, first complaining and then offering the “advice” mainly. Which often consists of – stop it and go away! There are a lot of annoyed people out there – many of them poised to come swooping down like virtual vultures in the Comments section. With heavy sarcasm. And insults. And profanity. Yikes! It’s enough to put you off giving advice altogether. However, you asked me. I’ll do my best. Hero and heroine:

  • Be kind. This includes a firm, polite “no.”
  • Be willing to change if you discover good reasons to do so. But don’t assume you can change each other.
  • Take note of what makes your counterpart laugh wholeheartedly. It’s important.
  • Respect is obligatory.
  • Have fun!

Hero and heroine won’t manage all that, of course. Not at first. But the essence of an HEA for me is that they do in the end. After some difficulties. Mostly. Happy reading!

GIVEAWAY

What is the best headline you’ve seen on the Internet that called out for you to respond And bonus round, what was YOUR advice? Prize is a copy of WHAT THE DUKE DOESN’T KNOW

WHAT THE DUKE DOESN’T KNOW by Jane Ashford

The Duke’s Sons #2

What the Duke Doesn't Know

A proper English wife, or the freedom of the sea?

Lord James Gresham is the fifth son of the Duke of Langford, a captain in the Royal Navy, and at a loss for what to do next. He’s made his fortune; perhaps now he should find a proper wife and set up his nursery. But the sea calls to him, while his search for a wife leaves him uninspired. And then, a dark beauty with a heart for revenge is swept into his life.

He can’t have both, but he won’t give up either

Half-English, half-Polynesian Kawena Benson is out to avenge her father and reclaim a cache of stolen jewels. There’s nothing for James to do but protest his innocence and help Kawena search for the jewels, even though it turns his world upside down.

Romance Historical [Sourcebooks Casablanca, On Sale: September 6, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781492621591 / eISBN: 9781492621607]

An adventurous romance with a unique twist

About Jane Ashford

Jane Ashford

Jane Ashford discovered Georgette Heyer in junior high school and was captivated by the glittering world and witty language of Regency England. That delight led her to study English literature and travel widely in Britain and Europe. Her historical and contemporary romances have been published in Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia, Slovenia, and Spain, as well as the U.S. Twenty-six of her new and backlist Regency romances are being published by Sourcebooks. Jane has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews. She is currently rather nomadic.

The Duke’s Sons

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Marie Harte | The Top Five Ways to Keep It Fresh

Thanks for having me at Fresh Fiction. I’ve written over a hundred books. And after writing a hundred romance books, it’s not so easy to keep my storylines fresh. But with some stories, it’s easier than others. Writing contemporary romance can be more difficult, because there’s only so much I can make up in a real city like Seattle, with characters having real careers in real life and death situations.

So here are five ways I kept it fresh with ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE.

  1. Cynthia Nichols, the heroine of the story, is a big, beautiful woman. Yes, she’s big by society’s conventions. But she’s not a cliché. Cyn is not a hot mess. She’s a strong, independent, successful woman. And like all women, she has insecurities about her looks and relationships. I loved making Cyn confident yet needing what the hero gives her—true love.
  2. An Italian family—in Seattle. I’m part Italian, and I grew up in the Northeast where it was pretty easy to spot my peeps. (Think Jersey Shore, only with normal people.) Then I moved out West, and I swear, I’ve never seen more Scandinavians in my life! So I wanted to give my characters some of my background. The heroine’s family cooks big and loves big. The louder the better.
  3. The hero is just a good guy. Period. Foley is sexy, gruff, has tats and muscles, and is well-rounded character. His mother raised him right. Period. No angst, no tormented hero. Yes, he and Cyn have obstacles to overcome, but if anyone deserves some good karma, it’s Foley. Because that’s one guy who treats people right.
  4. Amazing secondary characters. Yeah, I said amazing–and it’s true. All the characters in my Body Shop Bad Boys books rock. (You never know when you might see them in their own books some day. *wink*) The four book series revolves around the four mechancis working the shop. But everyone who says more than a line or two has a real story of their own, even if I haven’t written it out. Rena, oh, Rena. I love her. So does everyone else. And Sam. Lou. Liam… They make the story better and richer for their presence. And they sure as hell like to give Foley a hard time.
  5. A secondary romance—for Foley’s mom. So many romances focus on a central set of characters. There’s nothing wrong with that. But love doesn’t stop when you hit thirty. Older people—and by older, I mean those with adult children—can have romances too. Eileen Sanders, Foley’s mom, deserves her second chance. Not that Foley doesn’t still look out for her, but come on. It’s time she got her happily ever after since having raised that hell-raiser Foley.

You can meet the gang at Webster’s Garage on September 6th, when ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE releases.

Thanks for having me!

Marie ♥

About Marie Harte

Marie Harte

Caffeine addict, boy referee, and romance aficionado, USA Today bestselling author Marie Harte has over 100 books published with more constantly on the way. Writing romance, and in particular erotic romance, across the genres, she’s created stories set on other worlds, among paranormal creatures, and between normal men and women seeking true love.

Marie is a confessed bibliophile and devotee of action movies. Whether hiking in Central Oregon, biking around town, or hanging at the local tea shop, she’s constantly plotting to give everyone a happily ever after. Visit her website and fall in love.

Good To Go | McCauley Brothers | Wicked Warrens | The Works | Ethereal Foes | Best Revenge | Mark of Lycos | Body Shop Bad Boys

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ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE by Marie Harte

Body Shop Bad Boys #2

Roadside Assistance

Underneath the axle grease and tats He’s a gentleman Foley Sanders figured he’ll always be content with a life of cars and casual hookups. Until a run-in with Cyn, a statuesque firecracker with a hate-on for men, leaves him bewitched and intrigued-much to her annoyance.

Maybe Cynthia Nichols was a little hard on Foley, that muscular, tattooed, super-hot mechanic next door. But she’s tired of feeling defensive about her size and has sworn off men. She’s got a new job, new life, perfect plan. Foley has trouble written all over him-no way is she going to fall for his charms.

Foley might look like a bad idea, but underneath, he’s all gentleman. Too bad Cyn’s not buying it. What’s a bad boy to do when the goddess of his dreams won’t give him the time of day?

Romance Contemporary [Sourcebooks Casablanca, On Sale: September 6, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781492630296 / eISBN: 9781492630302]

Elizabeth Michels | It’s Time to Party!

How will I be celebrating the release of THE REBEL HEIR? Well, pull up a chair and I’ll tell you. I’m a fan of special occasions, confetti, parties, and all the happy things in life. So do I take the opportunity to toss some glitter in the air in the name of a new book? Yes. Yes I do.

There are many quiet days in an author’s life, but book release day isn’t one of them. Release day is a time to celebrate the sleepless nights and long days of work that led to the point of a beautiful book sitting on a shelf in a store, waiting to be read. The smell of the ink on paper! The shiny cover! A new story ready to be discovered by readers everywhere! Isn’t it glorious?!

MUST LOVE DUKES

Beginning with the release of my debut novel, I’ve had a tradition. I would go to my local bookstore, and with coffee in hand, I’d smile at my new release while I sipped my grande skinny vanilla latte. Then I’d take far too many selfies with my book, pictures of my book with other books, pictures of my book arranged on the shelf just so… Perhaps it got out of hand, but it’s allowed on happy occasions. It was a great little tradition until one day last winter. That’s when a friend asked me how I was celebrating my upcoming release day. When I told her about my plans, she exclaimed, “I want to come!”

Really?! Seriously?! But yes, she was both real and serious. I’d never considered that anyone would want to join me, but I was thrilled at the idea of having friends with me on my book’s special day! So I invited a few people. And that’s when “Coffee on the Romance Aisle” became a party.

THE INFAMOUS EARL

The Tuesday in March when THE INFAMOUS HEIR came out was the best book release day ever with the addition of a few friends to share in the excitement with me! We chatted all morning over coffee, laughed, and in general had a wonderful time.

Party in the aisle

Of course with every party, there’s a party pooper. It’s sad, but true. And the day’s party pooper came in the form of the—ironically enough—writers’ group who was meeting at the next table in the Starbucks. Apparently we were talking and laughing too loudly and they couldn’t hear while reading to each other. We got shushed and given the evil eye! Just as a side note, any writers’ group that hinges upon reading one’s rough drafts aloud to a group once a week without so much as a single glass of wine involved for nerves is not the group for me. *shudders* But I digress.

Nothing could bring an end to this exciting day, not even shushing. We lowered our voices long enough to make plans to go take pictures on the romance aisle and left the party poopers behind. I signed lots of copies of my book for my friends and for the bookstore. We took far too many pictures. We laughed. We hugged. It was awesome!

So now it’s time to celebrate again! For the release of THE REBEL HEIR, I’m continuing this new tradition of celebrating with friends. Sharing the day with others made the experience of releasing a book extra special. I put an open invitation on my social media for anyone in the area to join me for coffee. I’m hoping to really annoy that writers’ group with our noisy ways this time. *grins* Won’t you join me in celebration on release day?

invite to party

*tosses confetti* How do you celebrate the milestones in your life?

GIVEAWAY

Tell us about your celebrations below and one reader will get THE REBEL HEIR

About Elizabeth Michels

Elizabeth Michels

Elizabeth Michels grew up on a Christmas tree farm in rural South Carolina. After tip-toeing her way through school with her focus on ballet steps and her nose in a book, she met a boy and followed him a thousand miles away from home to Kansas City, Missouri, before settling down in North Carolina.

Tricks of the Ton | Spare Heirs

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THE REBEL HEIR by Elizabeth Michels

Spare Heirs #2

The Rebel Heir

The Spare Heirs Society Cordially Invites You to Meet Ash Claughbane: The Imposter

Lady Evangeline Green is living a lie. To please her family, she masquerades as the perfect debutante…until she meets the wickedly charming Lord Crosby. With him, there are no rules. She’s finally free to do as she desires—but freedom comes with a price, and Lord Crosby is not what he seems…

Ash is not Lord Crosby. He’s a con artist, a noble Spare Heir living off his silver tongue. When the Greens ruined his family, he swore he’d make them pay, and he never doubted his devotion to revenge…until he met Evangeline. Now, caught in a web of lies, torn between duty and desire, what’s a con to do but deceive all of London and steal the one lady who dared match wits with the devil himself?

Romance Historical [Sourcebooks Casablanca, On Sale: September 6, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781492621362 / eISBN: 9781492621379]

Carolyn Brown | It’s Never Too Early for Christmas

Hello to everyone at Fresh Fiction today! I’m so glad to be here for a visit with all y’all today. It was absolutely wonderful to see you guys in California at the RWA Conference this past summer.

At that time the release of A COWBOY CHRISTMAS MIRACLE seemed so far away but it’s on the shelves now. With each book in this series, it became more and more difficult to create something the readers liked as well as the previous book. As the books found their way to the shelves, I kept wondering how on earth I’d end a feud that had been going on for a hundred years between the Brennans and the Gallaghers.

Then in ONE TEXAS COWBOY TOO MANY someone wondered aloud what would happen if a Gallagher fell in love with a Brennan. I’d never written a Romeo and Juliet story but as Declan and Betsy talked to me (yes, I hear voices and they tell me the most wonderful stories) it all started to come together. Betsy wanted to make her cousin happy with a Christmas play at the church. Declan needed to win a bet he made with Betsy’s cousin.

My eyes misted when I finished writing A COWBOY CHRISTMAS MIRACLE. Betsy had a soft side and Declan wasn’t nearly the tough guy he’d been in the previous books. I’d come to love these characters with their feuding and their passion so much that it was hard to end the series. But like one of my readers reminded me recently, the stories never really end because they can be reread over and over again.

To all my amazing, wonderful readers—keep your boots on. There’s more cowboys on the way and a Luckadeau and an O’Donnell are about to vie for a particular ranch down in north central Texas next March in TALK COWBOY TO ME.

And September is triple dippin’ month for my stories. About the time you finish A COWBOY CHRISTMAS MIRACLE, THE LULLABY SKY, a romantic women’s fiction will be on the shelves (Sept. 13). Then on September 27, MERRY COWBOY CHRISTMAS, the third book in the Lucky Penny Ranch series, hits the market.

Two Christmas books in one month, makes me think of Christmas Carols…so get out the holiday CD’s even if it’s still three and a half months to the actual Ho-Ho-Ho day and think snow, hot chocolate, sugar cookies and snuggling up with sexy cowboys!

Do you read holiday books all year or just during the months that they are published? What’s the one that you read over and over again every year?

GIVEAWAY

Tell us when you read holiday books and you may be the lucky winner of A COWBOY CHRISTMAS MIRACLE

A COWBOY CHRISTMAS MIRACLE by Carolyn Brown

Burnt Boot, Texas #4

A Cowboy Christmas Miracle

Fourth in bestseller Carolyn Brown’s hot series: When these two feuding families come together, all bets are off!

CONTEMPORARY COWBOY ROMANCE

When tempers flare during a poker match, Declan Brennan bets Tanner Gallagher that he can sweep the next woman to walk in the bar off her feet. All heads turn when Tanner’s fiery and stubborn cousin Betsy bursts in. Declan isn’t one to shy away from a challenge, but wooing a Gallagher? He certainly has his work cut out for him.

It only gets worse when Declan falls head over heels in love with her, and Betsy finds out about the bet. Now it’ll take a Christmas miracle to put them together and end the hundred-year-old feud between their families…

Romance Contemporary | Western | Holiday [Sourcebooks Casablanca, On Sale: September 6, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781402296147 / eISBN: 9781402296154]

About Carolyn Brown

Carolyn Brown

Carolyn Brown, a New York Times and USA Today best selling author and a RITA Finalist, is the author of more than 60 published books. Fourteen of her books have been published in large print, thirteen have been translated into foreign languages and two have been reprinted in Manga. She has written historical romance and contemporary romance and is very excited about new women’s fiction trilogy. The Blue Ribbon Jalapeno Society Jubilee was published in 2014 and The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off came out in April. The Yellow Rose Barbecue Ball is scheduled for release next year.

She credits her eclectic family for her humor and writing ideas. She was born in Texas but grew up in southern Oklahoma where she and her husband, Charles, a retired English teacher, now make their home in the town of Davis, Oklahoma. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young.

Spikes and Spurs | Cowboys & Brides | Luckadeau Cousins | Honky Tonk | Cadillac, Texas | Burnt Boot, Texas | Lucky Penny Ranch

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