Erin Ashley Tanner | Inspiration

Since I was three years old I have loved the written word. There is nothing like getting lost in a good book. Starting in grade school I discovered that I was pretty good writer, but as much as I loved to write I still wasn’t ready to take the leap into seriously pursuing a writing career. And then I discovered two writers who would change my life, Jackie Collins and L.A. Banks.

The first Jackie Collins novel I ever read was Dangerous Kiss, A Lucky Santangelo Novel. At the time I read Dangerous Kiss, it was the most recent in the Lucky Santangelo series. I fell in love with Jackie’s writing. It was descriptive, interesting, and diverse. Jackie created characters from all walks of life, showcasing the real world we all live in.

After devouring Dangerous Kiss, I read the rest of the books in the Lucky Santangelo series before moving on to reading every book Jackie had written. Today I own and treasure them all and am grateful for the lasting influence she has had on me. Jackie would always tell aspiring writers that she was a reform school drop out with no writing background and if she could do it, then so could I.

The day I discovered L.A. Banks my reading world changed forever. The Hunted, a part of her Vampire Huntress Legend series, was the first novel of Ms. Banks’ that I devoured before moving on to reading the rest in her series. She was a one of a kind writer who created a vivid urban fantasy series that featured a minority heroine and hero.

For so long I’d read stories of fantastical worlds in which there were no minority characters. The world Ms. Banks created combined mythologies of the world, the epic battle between good and evil and at the series’ core, the true love between a man and his woman. Ms. Banks was a groundbreaker in the fantasy genre and because she had done it I knew that I could as well.

Because of these two women, I finally took a chance and created my own diverse worlds. Jackie Collins’ iconic Lucky Santangelo inspired me to create my own strong women, Ava Hill from Dirty Little Secrets and Rena Rosetti, the heroine of Devious Little Lies. L.A. Banks’ Vampire Huntress Legend series, inspired my own mythology based romance series, Demi-God Daughters.

Since 2013 I have had five novels published in the genres Jackie and L.A. wrote in. Without their examples I probably still would have continued being just a reader. I never would’ve taken that leap to become an author. Sometimes all you need is a little push and a little inspiration. Thank you to the late Jackie Collins and L.A. Banks for giving me just that.

DEVIOUS LITTLE LIES by Erin Ashley Tanner

Devious Little Lies

Sometimes the thing you want most can cost you everything.

After ten tumultuous years as the wife of a feared mob boss—five of them spent alone, thanks to her husband’s incarceration—Rena Rosetti is tired of watching the men Tony left in charge ruin his criminal empire.

Though she has a fight on her hands, she’s determined to prove that the old-school ways of the Cosa Nostra need to be permanently laid to rest. But power means nothing with no one at her side.

Rena has done her best to ignore the fire Shane Van Adams ignites in her, because…well, he’s her daughter Tricia’s boyfriend. But when Tricia decides she no longer wants him, Rena isn’t prepared for the onslaught when Shane turns those penetrating hazel eyes her way.

Finally, Rena has everything she ever wanted. But all things come with a price, and she’s made some dangerous enemies. Forced to battle mob rivals out to take her down, she must face the harshest truth of all—that the greatest danger she faces is the man sharing her bed.

Warning: Advanced mind games between a sassy broad who bites her tongue for no one, and a younger man who, given the chance, could have been the smoothest criminal of all.

Romance Suspense [Samhain Publishing, On Sale: June 21, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 9781619232662 / eISBN: 9781619232662]

About Erin Ashley Tanner

Erin Ashley Tanner

Erin Ashley Tanner is the creator of stories featuring fierce females and the men who love them.

Prior to journeying into the world of contemporary romance, Erin wrote paranormal romance for Evernight Publishing. Her debut novel, GODDESS OF LEGEND released in October 2013, was an Amazon bestseller and was the first in her Demi-God Daughters paranormal romance series. The follow up, GODDESS BY CHANCE was released in November 2014.

DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS was Erin’s first book with Samhain Publishing. Her latest release with Samhain, DEVIOUS LITTLE LIES, released in June 2016.

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Linda Winfree | Top 5 Songs from the ALL I NEED book soundtrack

  1. All I Need” by Mat Kearney

    A gorgeous song, one which Kearney reportedly wrote after hearing the story of friends’ escaping Hurricane Katrina. The lyrics portray a couple holding on to one another for survival and fighting against overwhelming odds. An incredible song about an incredible love, which Emmett and Savannah find in ALL I NEED.

  1. Whatever It Takes” by Lifehouse

    Although the lyrics seem to be more about an existing couple trying to stay together, the idea of doing “Whatever It Takes” could be Emmett’s theme song in ALL I NEED. He’s in the relationship way before Savannah is, and he’s pretty determined to do whatever he needs to in order to win her heart.

  1. Over My Head” by The Fray

    This one belongs to Emmett as well. What starts as a friends-with-benefits arrangement with Savannah soon has him in deeper than he’s even been with any woman – and he’s a little overwhelmed and unsure once he realizes that:

    He groaned and scrubbed a hand over his face. She was never going to have anything to do with him again and he didn’t know how to—

    This was not the way a guy acted over a woman who was simply a friend.

    When had he gotten this far in over his head? And he’d totally screwed everything up.

  1. Demons” by Imagine Dragons

    Both Savannah and Emmett struggle with experiences in their pasts – for Savannah, the loss of the man she loved deeply, for Emmett, his parents’ dysfunctional marriage and a non-existent relationship with his father. Savannah has to overcome the demon of grief, and Emmett fights to be enough for Savannah when he doesn’t have a model to follow. The dark tone of this song meshed well with the battles both characters faced.

  1. Never Say Never” by The Fray

    The chorus of this song perfectly captured the back-and-forth nature of Savannah and Emmett’s early relationship. They are locked in a constant push-pull of wanting one another, but not wanting more than friendship and physical contact. And they simply can’t stay away from one another.

    Here’s an exclusive excerpt from ALL I NEED:

When it was over, the remaining audience drifted out quietly in pairs and small groups. Savannah remained in her seat after her sister and brother-in-law hugged her goodbye and made their way out with the others. Emmett perched on his stool, one foot on the floor, and packed away his violin, sometimes slanting a smile or a comment at Clark or Troy Lee. She watched him, her heart aching for some reason she didn’t quite understand.

Gates had been easy, the best, the love of her life.

She didn’t know how to define Emmett, but oh, she wanted to.

He eased down from the low stage, when she imagined in another life, he’d have leaped. An adrenaline junkie, an incredible musician, a man with depths she didn’t begin to comprehend.

She wanted to peel all those layers away, until he was laid bare with her.

And what exactly did that mean?

Case in hand, he approached, a slight smile curving his mouth. He took her breath.

That should scare her to death, send her running, and all she wanted tonight was to live, to breathe him in. She wanted him inside her, running through her veins.

His smile widened to a grin. “Haley’s spending the night with Landra, so I can have a later curfew.”

He held out a hand, and she rose to take it, using the leverage to pull him into her, chest to chest, abdomen to abdomen, thigh to thigh. She held his startled gaze and leaned in to whisper at his ear. “I want you.”

A sharp inhale, and he stepped away, his eyes impossibly dark and intense, like the lime pit in the night. “You’ve got me.”

About Linda Winfree

Linda Winfree

How does a high school English teacher end up plotting murders? She uses her experiences as a cop’s wife to become a writer of romantic suspense! Linda Winfree lives in a quintessential small Georgia town with her husband and two children. By day, she teaches American Literature, advises the student government and coaches the drama team; by night she pens sultry books full of murder and mayhem.

Hearts of the South

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ALL I NEED by Linda Winfree

Hearts of the South #11

All I Need

He’s nothing she wants…but everything she needs.

Two years after she buried the love of her life, ER physician Savannah Mills remains buried in her work and keeps her heart under lock and key. But if anyone could tempt her banked desires to come out and play, it’s her neighbor. A couple of casual interactions with the former police officer has her considering a friends-with-benefits arrangement.

Emmett Beck is forging a new career after an on-duty shooting nearly cost him everything. His love life has been in cold storage during his recuperation, but when Savannah proposes a no-strings relationship, his body warms to the idea. After all, it’s just sex. What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty—once Emmett realizes that hot kisses and steamy nights aren’t enough. And that he’s fallen in love with a woman who intends to never love anyone again.

Warning: Contains a younger man determined to be everything his woman needs, in bed and out, and an older woman unafraid to explore her wild side. Also features cops who talk like cops.

Romance Suspense [Samhain Publishing, On Sale: July 19, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 9781619235427 / eISBN: 9781619235427]

JL Merrow | On Being British and Hating Tea

My name is JL Merrow and I—this will be no surprise to anyone who’s ever read one of my books—am British. Painfully so, and nowhere was this brought home to me more fully than on a recent trip to southern Italy. The sun didn’t so much smile upon us as leer down with an evil glint in its metaphorical eye. It was hot.

The Italian women strolled around in the 36 degree heat (that’s high nineties in old money) looking cool and expertly made-up in elegant shift dresses; their menfolk swaggered easily in shorts and open-necked linen shirts; all displayed sunkissed limbs and perfect hair.

I, on the other hand, was a pink-faced, frizzy-haired fashion disaster, not so much tanning in the Mediterranean sun as turning into one giant ambulatory freckle.

Noel Coward sang, famously, that “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.” This, I can assure you, is because in this green and pleasant land, we don’t actually have any midday sun, as a rule. Oh, we get the occasional short spell of warmer temperatures, giving the tabloids an excuse to dust off the Cor, What a Scorcher! headlines and print pictures of amply endowed young ladies sunning themselves. But sustained hot and sunny weather, like really heavy snow, is something that happens in other countries, not here—and when we do get it, we’re hopelessly ill-equipped to deal with it.

Perhaps that’s why our national drink is a nice hot cup of tea: we need it to warm us up. But this is where I differ from my countrymen and women. My official bio starts with the words, “JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea.” I can’t stand the stuff. Hate it with a passion. The only thing worse than tea is milky tea. And everyone in Britain drinks tea with milk.

This has caused a few problems in my life. Particularly among older people, there’s an assumption that of course everyone drinks tea. I’ve been to places where it was literally the only beverage on offer at certain times. I’ve been expected to drink tea at work, at family get-togethers, and even down a pothole in Yorkshire, for goodness sake!

The Germans quaff beer; the Spanish sip sangria. In Italy you can grapple with a grappa, and in France, take flight with la fée verte. In England, we get brackish boiled water with a bagful of dried-up old leaves chucked in. Yum.

Waterhouse_a_mermaid hires

I loved southern Italy. The fabulous coastline; the lemon trees; the roman ruins. But one thing about my recent trip endeared me to the area forever, and no, it’s not the gelato, which is to die for, or the tiramisu, which is divine.

It’s that on the island of Ischia, they’ve found what is, in my view, the perfect use for teapots: as nesting boxes for chaffinches:

teabird

Milk and sugar, anyone?

About J.L. Merrow

J.L. Merrow

JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.

She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy, and her novella Muscling Through and novel Relief Valve were both EPIC Awards finalists.

JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers’ Circle and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Plumber’s Mate

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BLOW DOWN by J.L. Merrow

Plumber’s Mate #4

Blow Down

Death is what happens while you’re making other plans.

The last thing newly engaged plumber Tom Paretski needs is to stumble over another dead body. He’s got enough on his mind already as the reality of his impending marriage sinks in. Not only is his family situation complicated, his heroism at a pub fire made him a local celebrity. Now everyone and their uncle wants a piece of his psychic talents.

Hired to find a missing necklace, Tom and his fiancé, private investigator Phil Morrison, wind up trying to unmask a killer—and there’s no shortage of suspects, up to and including the local bishop himself.

As Tom and Phil try to uncover the truth, they find themselves pulled in all directions by the conflicting pressures of their families and their own desires. But the murderer they’re up against is a ruthless schemer who won’t hesitate to kill again. If Tom and Phil aren’t careful, their love—and all their plans for the future—could be blown down like a house of straw.

Warning: Contains a bishop of questionable Christian charity, a necklace of questionable taste, and a plumber of questionable nationality who may be running out of time.

Mystery [Samhain, On Sale: July 12, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 9781619234611 / eISBN: 9781619234611]

 

Regina Kyle | Aaron Sorkin’s 5 Tips to Writing Dialogue

Hello, Fresh Fiction readers! This is my first time on the Fresh Fiction blog, and I’m super excited to be here. I’m celebrating the release of TRIPLE SCORE, but it’s a bit bittersweet, as it’s the final book in my Art of Seduction series and my final book for Harlequin Blaze.

I’ve loved writing for Blaze. I like the sexual tension. I like the heat when that tension explodes. But most of all, I like the snappy dialogue.

Yep, dialogue’s my jam. I live for lively banter, witty repartee, the perfect parting remark. My idol is Aaron Sorkin, who wrote masterpieces like TV’s West Wing and Newsroom and movies Moneyball and The American President. His dialogue sparkles. It’s musical, reflective, funny, smart. Like this gem from The Social Network:

Lawyer: Mr. Zuckerberg, do I have your full attention?

Mark Zuckerberg: No.

Lawyer: Do you think I deserve it?

Mark Zuckerberg: What?

Lawyer: Do you think I deserve your full attention?

Mark Zuckerberg: I had to swear an oath before we began this deposition, and I don’t want to perjure myself, so I have a legal obligation to say no.

Lawyer: Okay – no. You don’t think I deserve your attention.

Mark Zuckerberg: I think if your clients want to sit on my shoulders and call themselves tall, they have the right to give it a try – but there’s no requirement that I enjoy sitting here listening to people lie. You have part of my attention – you have the minimum amount. The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook, where my colleagues and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing. [pause] Did I adequately answer your condescending question?

Brilliant, right? So I thought I’d share with you five lessons I learned on writing dialogue from the great Mr. Sorkin:

  1. Dialogue isn’t conversation. Conversation is boring. It’s the mundane, inane stuff we talk about every day. Dialogue either moves the plot forward or reveals something important about the characters.
  1. Realistic is different from real. This kind of goes along with the first point. In real life, our speech is filled with “ums” and “ers” and false starts and stops. That doesn’t mean you can’t use some for emphasis, like to show a character is nervous or hesitant. Just use them sparingly, and for good reason. And my personal pet peeve: writers who avoid using contractions in dialogue. That’s how we speak, folks. Use ’em.
  1. Think about who’s talking. Men speak differently from women (usually less, sexist, I know, but true nonetheless). Cowboys speak different from CEOs, 20-somethings differently from 60-somethings. If you’re writing a character type that’s new to you, go hang out where you’d find similar folks. Listen to them. Or if you can’t do that, go on line, watch some YouTube videos. There’s a wealth of information on the world wide web.
  1. Write the spoken words first, then worry about the actions and tags. I find my dialogue flows more realistically when I write it first like a script or a screenplay, just the dialogue. Then I go back and add in actions or tags to help identify who’s talking. And where I can, I like to use actions rather than tags to keep things moving and show how my characters are feeling rather than tell.
  1. Read it aloud. Again, like a script or a screenplay, read the dialogue bits out loud. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can spot the sections that don’t trip over the tongue the right way.

That’s just five quick points. I could wax on forever about the lessons Mr. Sorkin has taught me. Fortunately for you, I won’t. But I’ve got to admit that I get a little thrill whenever a reviewer praises my “witty, intelligent” banter because I know it means I’m that tiniest bit closer to emulating the master.

GIVEAWAY: What author’s dialogue makes you smile? One commenter will get a copy of TRIPLE TIME, the second book in the Art of Seduction series.

About Regina Kyle

Regina Kyle

Regina Kyle knew she was destined to be an author when she won a writing contest at age ten with a touching tale about a squirrel and a nut pie. By day, she writes dry legal briefs, representing the state in criminal appeals. At night, she writes steamy romance with heart and humor.

A lover of all things theatrical, Regina lives on the Connecticut coast with her husband, teenage daughter and two melodramatic cats. When she’s not writing, she’s most likely singing, reading, cooking or watching bad reality television. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America and of her local RWA chapter.

The Art of Seduction

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TRIPLE SCORE by Regina Kyle

Art of Seduction #4

Triple Score

Knowing the score…

Prima ballerina Noelle Nelson needs to recover from her injury and return to the stage. She won’t consider failure…or be distracted by baseball’s resident bad boy, Jace Monroe. His tattoos, wicked smile and deliciously athletic body might drive her crazy, but a media frenzy is the last thing this good girl needs.

Jace is sick with fear that his own injury will never heal, but he’s not about to let anyone notice, especially the gorgeous blonde dancer he loves to infuriate. He’s pushing himself past his physical capacity, putting his future at risk. Still, when it comes to making a play for Noelle, Jace is in scoring position—and he’s not going to back down!

Romance Erotica Sensual | Romance Contemporary [Harlequin Blaze, On Sale: July 19, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780373799107 / eISBN: 9781488000317]

The Art of Seduction

TRIPLE THREAT
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Jaime Jo Wright | When An Animal Becomes a Critical Character

I’ve always loved animals, but never to the degree of extreme devotion and dedication as say . . . my administrative assistant. Her beloved dogs have their own television, and she cooks them homemade macaroni and cheese. I’ve teased her that I’d love to be one of her dogs, and she invited me to do so anytime. (This is why I love her!). But I do love animals. I have two cats, Maddie and Ivy, and they are spoiled in their own right. I did crack some eggs for them this morning to dine upon as they overlooked the woods outside our house. And frogs. We have four frogs. This is what my children gift me with. Amphibians.

But think about it. When animals make their way into stories, it always seems to add depth and a richness that we can all relate to. Some of the great classics are centered around animals. Or at least they’re classics in my mind. Old Yeller, Rascal, Where the Red Fern Grows . . . animals become critical characters in books. They bring an element of endearment, sentiment, and snuggle into a story that human characters often cannot achieve.

In my most recent story, Gold Haven Heiress, part of The California Gold Rush Romance Collection, the animal that made its way into my heroine’s heart is a mouse. Hiding in a gold mining ghost town, Thalia has no human connection, and finding comfort in an independent little mouse wasn’t exactly what she expected. But Ounce the Mouse becomes an integral part to understanding who Thalia is. Ounce brings out some of her deepest fears. With his bright little black eyes and fuzzy little body, he overcomes the stereotype of fear the mouse and instead, brings companionship to a lonely, washed up prostitute who doesn’t believe she’s worthy of companionship. Least of which, from a mouse.

Whether it’s a mouse, a dog, a cat, or a … frog … something about the life that beats in the bodies of these creatures inspires life in a story. Even Finding Nemo inspires us. The courage, overcoming fear, and the necessity to reunite with a loved one. We place human emotion into an animal, and honestly, sometimes I swear, we’re not that far off. As a child, when I was especially sad, my black lab was fast to fix herself by my side. As a teen, my cat Pepper would bring me little “gifts” of – um – food, as though I were her kitten and she must care for me. Strangely, I felt cared for. Loved even. Maybe that is the crux of why I believe an animal deepens a story. Animals love without condition.

This is something we all long for. Unconditional love. And while a good story will often bring that out in its hero and heroine with a story of redemption, saving, protection, and camaraderie, an animal fills those empty places that sometimes . . . just sometimes . . . another human can never quite reach.

GIVEAWAY

What novels have you read that included an animal that touched your heart? How have animals touched your life? One reader will win a copy of California Gold Rush Romance Collection.

About Jaime Jo Wright

Jaime Jo Wright

Professional coffee drinker Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited, turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy Tinkerbell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embarks on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue.

Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimejowright.com.

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THE CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH ROMANCE COLLECTION by Jaime Jo Wright

The California Gold Rush Romance Collection

9 Stories of Finding Treasures Worth More than Gold

Rush to California after the 1848 gold discovery alongside thousands of hopeful men and women. Meet news reporters, English gentry, miners, morticians, marriage brokers, bankers, fugitives, preachers, imposters, trail guides, map makers, cooks, missionaries, town builders, soiled doves, and more people who take advantage of the opportunities to make their fortunes in places where the population swelled overnight. But can faith and romance transform lives where gold is king?

Inspirational Historical | Inspirational Romance | Romance Historical [Barbour Books, On Sale: August 1, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781634098212 / eISBN: 9781634099110]

N.J. Walters | Farmers are Heroes Too

When we think of a romance hero we usually think of a military or ex-military man, firefighter, policeman, spy, cowboy, rancher, or billionaire businessman. How often do we think of a farmer? A reader recently commented that she was both surprised and pleased that the hero of my latest book was an organic farmer. As she put it, “Farmers can be hot too.” He’s also a half-breed werewolf, but that’s another story.

I realized it’s not the first time I’ve had a hero who makes his living as a farmer. That got me to thinking about why I chose that profession for my hero. Of course the easy and true answer is, “He chose it, not me.” That’s how it works for me when I write. The characters tell me who they are and what they do for a living. I’m just taking dictation.

I think there is something intrinsically down-to-earth about a man who works the soil for a living. A natural confidence that arises from working for himself and depending on his own abilities. He must be willing to trust his instincts and adapt to changing situations. So many variables are out of his control and not everything is going to go his way so it breeds resilience and patience, as well as a healthy respect for nature and the elements. He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. Hard physical labor builds not only character but muscles too. But there is a softer side to him. A man who can coax vegetables and flowers to bloom can also cultivate an emotional bond with a woman.

What woman wouldn’t want a man with strong, callused hands, a man who is confident in who he is, a man who knows he can provide a living to those he loves through hard work, perseverance, and skill. And when that man reaches for her in the dark of the night with love in his heart, I don’t know of any woman who would be able to resist.

WOLF IN HIS HEART by N.J. Walters

Salvation Pack #7

Wolf in his Heart

He’s a wolf where it counts—in his heart and in her bed.

Exiled from her wolf pack for rejecting her parents’ choice for a mate, Rina Matheson has been on her own for over a year. Now she’s running for her life from a man who knows what she is and is obsessed with hunting her down.

Sage Gallagher—organic farmer, half-breed werewolf, and member of the Salvation Pack—finds more than a lost hiker while camping in the Great Smoky Mountains. So much more. Instant attraction slams through him with knee-buckling power the minute he sees Rina. His first instinct is to get her home where he and his pack can protect her.

Rina doesn’t trust easily. Especially not half-breeds, who she was raised to consider abominations. But Sage’s quiet strength calls to her lonely soul, and amazingly enough, her wolf responds. As he slowly works his way past her guard, she is soon in danger of losing her heart—even as danger draws closer to taking her life.

Warning: Your heart is in danger of being lost to one very special half-breed werewolf.

Romance Paranormal [Samhain, On Sale: July 5, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 9781619233690 / eISBN: 9781619233690]

About N.J. Walters

N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.

Salvation Pack

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Jennifer L. Armentrout | 5 Paranormal/Fantasy Reads for Summer

  1. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

    This is the highly anticipated sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses. The fantasy hooks you in with realistic portrayals of PSTD, something you don’t often see in paranormal and fantasy books, enough action and adventure to keep you on the edge of your seat, and a super sexy, steaming hot love story.

  2. Wildest Dreams by Kristen Ashley

    I’m a huge, obsessive fan of Kristen Ashley, having read almost all her books, with the exception of her fantasy/paranormal. I read Fantasyland book one: Wildest Dreams, and immediately fell for Frey. Never thought I’d be so attracted to the nickname ‘wee one.’ Featuring a parallel universe, a spunky heroine, and a sexy alpha male, this is a paranormal/fantasy romance that’s a must read.

  3. The Beast by JR Ward

    Those who know me, know I’m the number one Rhage fan in the world. THE WORLD, so nothing made me more excited to know that we were getting another book featuring him and Mary. It’s a great additional to their romance, sexy and sweet. I could spend all summer with Hollywood.

  4. Eternal Rider by Larissa Ione

    No one can world build quite like Larissa Ione, and her Demonica spin off series is just as amazing as its predecessors. I mean, hello, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? Sign me up! The first book follows Ares, more commonly known War, and is unique spin on the Four Horseman. It also has one of the best shower scenes ever. Ever.

  5. Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian

    Lara Adrian’s sexy vampire series kicks off with the Kiss of Midnight, one of my favorite paranormal romances. It’s a large series, so you’ll have an entire summer’s worth of reading if you start this series soon. Her vampires and their partners, both mortal and not so much mortal, have amazing storylines and the novels are full of action.

GIVEAWAY

What are YOUR top reads for the summer? Jennifer is giving away a set of her Wicked books: WICKED and TORN.

TORN by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Wicked Trilogy #2

Torn

Torn between duty and survival, nothing can be the same.

Everything Ivy Morgan thought she knew has been turned on its head. After being betrayed and then nearly killed by the Prince of the Fae, she’s left bruised and devastated—and with an earth-shattering secret that she must keep at all costs. And if the Order finds out her secret, they’ll kill her.

Then there’s Ren Owens, the sexy, tattooed Elite member of the Order who has been sharing Ivy’s bed and claiming her heart. Their chemistry is smoking hot, but Ivy knows that Ren has always valued his duty to the Order above all else—he could never touch her if he knew the truth. That is, if he let her live at all. Yet how can she live with herself if she lies to him?

But as the Fae Prince begins to close in on Ivy, intent on permanently opening the gates to the Otherworld, Ivy is running out of options. If she doesn’t figure out who she can trust—and fast—it’s not only her heart that will be torn apart, but civilization itself.

New Adult | Fantasy | Romance Paranormal [Author Self-Published, On Sale: July 19, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780986447990 / eISBN: 9780986447983]

About Jennifer L. Armentrout

Jennifer L. Armentrout

#1 New York Times and #1 International Bestselling author Jennifer Armentrout lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing, she spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA.

She also writes Adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

LuxCovenant | Wait for You | Dark Elements | Armentrout Wicked Trilogy

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Claire Davon’s Top Five

Hello to all Fresh Fiction readers out there! This is Claire Davon, writer of Fire Danger, Elementals’ Challenge #1.

In researching the Elementals series I found many mythical creatures outside of werewolves and vampires that I thought it might be fun to show five obscure beings that are kicking around in my head as romance possibilities!

I have already written about gargoyles, lamassu, norns, huldufólk, sirens and of course Phoenix, Griffin, Ondine and Sphynx, characters from the Elementals series but there are so many more. You’ll see souls from many myths in those books which I hope enhances the fun.

Without further ado, on to the countdown!

  1. Thunderbird. For anyone who hasn’t heard of the thunderbird, this legendary North American creature flaps its wings and creates thunder, and also controls the upper world. I picture a humanoid who morphs into this amazing being. He could be the protector of a family or families, watching from a distance, until distance becomes impossible.
  2. Banshee. The Banshee’s mythological heritage dates back to pre-Christian times. Imagine your voice powerful weapon that can kill, and is feared by all who hear it. I see a banshee as a kick-ass heroine, her legacy garbled into one of evil. She would be a complex and amazing person and would need a hero as potent.
  3. Gorgon. Medusa was a hideous creature with snakes for hair, but she was one of several Gorgons. Her sisters were immortal, cursed by the gods for excessive vanity to transform into their dreadful shapes. Curses can be broken and immortal beings have a long time to learn their lessons…
  4. Kelpies. There are many horses in legend like Pegasus, centaurs, unicorns, but what about the kelpies? A horse as a main character is something I’ve tackled before in my “Water Woman” story with Kimoni, the two-horned African abada shifter. Kelpies are supposed to kill their riders but what if they were misunderstood, the myth distorted? What if they were just looking for the right…rider?
  5. Wyvern. Dragons are popular and I love them. I grew up on Anne McCaffrey’s wonderful Pern books. Wyverns are smaller than the fearsome dragons we are more familiar with. They have two legs instead of four and are the creatures often featured on heraldry shields. What would happen to a human/Wyvern hybrid? How would they get along in the world?

There you have it! There are so many great beings that this is a mere scratching of the surface. I hope to write about some of these in upcoming books or short stories. Do you have a preference? What tickles your fancy to see in print?

I am also featuring a giveaway where one lucky reader will receive $20 Amazon gift card via email.

Finally, here is a summary of Fire Danger.

All her life, a faint memory of her parents and fire has glowed at the back of Rachel Quinn’s mind. With her parents long dead, there is no one to clarify what it means.

When a gorgeous winged man rescues her from a pack of werewolves, something flares to life inside Rachel. Suddenly she can see the paranormal world around her, a world unseen by mortals. And far more complicated.

When Phoenix’s massive orange-and-red wings erupt from his back, he knows his Challenge-an age-old battle against his Demonos counterpart-is upon him. Heeding Rachel’s cry for help adds a layer of complexity never seen in any previous Challenge.

Rachel, they discover, isn’t entirely human. Like Phoenix, she commands fire. Fire calls to fire, and soon they are succumbing to a fierce attraction. As the Challenge bears down on them, though, Phoenix must discover what the Demonos has in store for mankind. If he doesn’t succeed, the entire world will be swallowed up in darkness-and Rachel along with it.

Thank you for your interest in my blog. Happy reading!

Claire Davon

About Claire Davon

Claire Davon

Claire now lives in Los Angeles, so many of her stories are set there, too. But she is originally from Brookline, Massachusetts, so that location frequently pops up in her work, too. Claire spends her free time writing, doing animal rescue, and enjoying the sunshine. She specializes in writing romances of all kinds and never shies away from the “between the sheets” elements!

The first in her Elementals’ Challenge series, called “Fire Danger” was released by Samhain Publishing on June 21, 2016. It is the first but definitely won’t be the last in this exciting paranormal world!

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FIRE DANGER by Claire Davon

Fire Danger

All her life, a faint memory of her parents and fire has glowed at the back of Rachel Quinn’s mind. With her parents long dead, there is no one to clarify what it means.

When a gorgeous winged man rescues her from a pack of werewolves, something flares to life inside Rachel. Suddenly she can see the paranormal world around her, a world unseen by mortals. And far more complicated.

When Phoenix’s massive orange-and-red wings erupt from his back, he knows his Challenge-an age-old battle against his Demonos counterpart-is upon him. Heeding Rachel’s cry for help adds a layer of complexity never seen in any previous Challenge.

Rachel, they discover, isn’t entirely human. Like Phoenix, she commands fire. Fire calls to fire, and soon they are succumbing to a fierce attraction. As the Challenge bears down on them, though, Phoenix must discover what the Demonos has in store for mankind. If he doesn’t succeed, the entire world will be swallowed up in darkness-and Rachel along with it.

Warning: When the mortal and the Elemental worlds collide, the resulting smoke could cause heart palpitations, teary eyes, and a sudden need to fan yourself. Keep a cooler of cold drinks handy.

Romance Paranormal [Samhain, On Sale: June 21, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 9781619235113 / eISBN: 9781619235113]

Richard Laymon | Exclusive Excerpt ALLHALLOW’S EVE

The ten o’clock news came on, so Clara knew it was time for Alfred to come in. She used her remote to turn off the television, then picked up her cane and hobbled out to the kitchen. She opened the back door.

A chilly wind blew against her. She took a deep breath of the fresh October air, and peered across her yard.

“Al-l-l-fred!” she called.

Generally, she would hear the clink of his collar tags before ever seeing him. She listened, but heard only the dry shuffling of leaves on the graveyard trees.

“Al-l-l-fred?”

Careful not to fall—her broken hip last year had laid her up good and proper for five months—she stepped down the three wooden stairs to the yard. She made her way across the moonlit lawn, and stopped at the edge of her flowerbed. From there, she peered through the bars of the cemetery fence. So dark over there, the trees shading the moon.

“Al-l-l-l-fred!” she called. Much too loudly. She imagined heads rising in their coffins, turning—corpses listening to her voice. Softly, she called, “Here, kitty-kitty-kitty.”

Her eyes searched the darkness.

Saw a solitary figure near the cemetery fence.

Gasping, she took a quick step backwards. Her foot slipped on the dewy grass. She jabbed down her cane, and caught her balance.

“Dear me,” she muttered.

She looked again at the dark figure—the stone angel of a monument she’d seen thousands of times before, in daylight. The graveyard looked so different at night. She didn’t like it, not one bit. She should’ve stayed in the doorway to call Alfred, the way she always did after dark.

“You just stay out,” she muttered, “if that’s your drother.”

She turned away from the cemetery, and started her journey back to the open kitchen door. She hurried. The back of her neck tingled with gooseflesh, and she knew it wasn’t the wind’s doing.

I’m just being silly, she thought. That graveyard’s safe as apple pie. I’m just letting my jitters get the best of me.

Never yet been a corpse crawl out of its hole and go chasing after live folks. It’s not hardly about to start happening tonight.

Fur brushed her leg, and she yelped.

Alfred scampered up the porch steps, stopped abruptly in the doorway, and looked over his shoulder at Clara.

“You rascal,” she said,

She took a deep, shaky breath, and pressed a hand to her chest.

“Scared my wits out,” she told him.

She started to climb the steps.

That was when she heard a quiet, muffled clank rather like a crowbar dropping onto a wooden floor. Staring at Alfred, she hardly breathed.

The cat turned away, as if bored. He disappeared into the kitchen. Clara hurried in after him. She swung the kitchen door shut, and locked it.

Alfred sat down in front of the refrigerator. He looked back at Clara.

“Not just now,” Clara whispered.

Turning off the kitchen light, she limped into the dining room. She made her way past her highboy. The room was dark, but she saw no use in planting herself smack in front of the window where she just might be seen—so she approached the window from its side.

If she just had one of those cardboard periscopes like Willy used to play with… Well, you couldn’t ever see much with that contraption, anyhow.

Bracing herself on the cane, she leaned toward the window. She eased aside the soft, priscilla curtains and peered out.

The Sherwood house, next door, looked no different from usual. The old colonial was just as dreary and forlorn as could be: its driveway and lawn overgrown, its siding sadly in need of paint, its windows boarded over.

Though she couldn’t see its front door from here, she knew it was padlocked shut. So was the brick door. Glendon Morley, the real estate man, had the only keys.

Maybe he’d gone in, for some reason. Didn’t seem likely, though. He hadn’t come by with house-hunters since July, and Clara suspected he’d given up on trying to foist off the place. Who’d want to live there, after what happened?

If it wasn’t Glendon in the house, though, who could it be?

ALLHALLOW’S EVE by Richard Laymon

Allhallow's Eve

This sleepy town may never recover from this nightmare. Every town has as a past but the grizzly murder of the Sherwood family is one the small town of Ashburg barely recovered from. The Sherwood house has remained vacant for years so who is sending out invitations for a party there? The townspeople are intrigued and who can resist a party at the murder house on Allhallow’s Eve?

This title was previously published in 1985.

Horror [Samhain Publishing, On Sale: June 7, 2016, e-Book (reprint), ISBN: 9781619233355 / eISBN: 9781619233355]

About Richard Laymon

Richard Laymon

Richard Laymon was born in Chicago and grew up in California. He earned a BA in English Literature from Willamette University, Oregon and an MA from Loyola University, Los Angeles. He worked as a schoolteacher, a librarian, and a report writer for a law firm, and was the author of more than thirty acclaimed novels.

He also published more than sixty short stories in magazines such as Ellery Queen, Alfred Hitchcock, and Cavalier, and in anthologies including Modern Masters of Horror.

He died from a massive heart attack on February 14, 2001 (Valentine’s Day).

Also published under the name Richard Kelly.

Miranda Liasson | When the Bad Boy’s the Right Boy

Have you ever dated the wrong guy for the right reasons? That’s my heroine Samantha Rushford’s problem in my newest lighthearted, sexy small town romance THIS LOVING FEELING. She craves stability, and all she wants is the white-picket-fence dream of a normal home and family life. She’s dating a man who seems to be “Mr. Right”: he’s ivy-league educated, from an old New England family, has ambitious political aspirations…

The thing I had the most fun with when I wrote This Loving Feeling was toying with that notion—that the perfect-on-paper guy isn’t at all, and the across-the-tracks, biker, tatted-up auto mechanic who got shuffled from one foster home to another for years is actually the Hero with the Heart of Gold.

Here’s why I think Lukas Spikonos (rhymes with the island Mykonos), the “wrong” guy, is really the rightest guy of all for Sam (and I hope you’ll think so too):

  • He’s bold and audacious, which is just what Sam needs, because she’s taken the tame, quiet path in life to make up for her previously unwise choices. At the beginning of the book, Lukas shows up to sing at her high school class’s prom…but then he calls Sam up on stage…to sing! And then kisses her. She’s outraged! She’s shocked! But part of her also liked that kiss…a lot.
  • He charms her school kids by showing up at their car wash fundraiser and singing. He even lets them wash his tour bus J
  • He has no clue how to be a father to his nephew Stavros (Stevie). But he treats that child with love and tenderness—and it’s eventually Stevie who shows him that you don’t have to have a great childhood to be a great parent.
  • He’s hot! He’s got a snake tattoo curled around one arm, a sleeve tattoo on his other arm, and he’s six-feet-plus of pure Greek hotness. Who can resist?
  • He dresses up as a clown for a kids’ birthday party when the regular clown is too drunk to perform so he can prove to Sam he’ll stop at nothing to get near her. He also clowns around with her, but she dishes it right back. That scene is one of my favorites!
  • He’s not above fighting for Sam with all he’s got.
  • Ultimately, Lukas must face the ultimate test. Because he’s a man for whom success means everything. He’s made it on his own by being a tireless workaholic, and he feels that he was a nothing before he made it. But I’m not going to spoil what happens with that…you’ll have to read the book to find out :-)

THIS LOVING FEELING by Miranda Liasson

Mirror Lake #3

This Loving Feeling

Samantha Rushford’s future looks bright: the high school art teacher is getting ready to leave Mirror Lake and move to Boston with her ambitious boyfriend, and she hopes a diamond ring is just around the corner. But her past still has a hold on her—especially the bittersweet memory of her rebellious ex, who kissed her passionately before he left town without a word.

Since then, Lukas Spikonos has parlayed his rebel ways into life as an up-and-coming recording artist. When he shows up for a surprise gig at the high school prom, Sam is more dumbstruck than starstruck—he used the words of a poem she wrote about their breakup to create a number one hit. But Lukas hasn’t returned just to impress students; he’s facing some real-life responsibilities and needs Sam’s help. But she has her own unresolved issues about the life she wants to lead. Will the music—and the pull of true love and family—put their hearts back in harmony?

Romance Contemporary [Montlake, On Sale: July 19, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781503937307 / ]

About Miranda Liasson

Miranda Liasson

Miranda Liasson loves to write stories about courageous but flawed characters who find love despite themselves, because there’s nothing like a great love story. And if there are a few laughs along the way, even better! She’s a former Golden Heart winner who writes lighthearted contemporary romance for Montlake Publishing and also writes series romance for Entangled Publishing.

She lives in the Midwest with her husband, three kids, and Posey, a rescue cat with attitude.

Mirror Lake

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