Showing posts with label Historical Romance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Historical Romance. Show all posts

April 22, 2016

Book Promo! Dilemma in Yellow Silk, The Emperors of London #5 by Lynne Connolly


Ever ready to do the right thing, The Emperors of London act bravely—and when it comes to matters of the heart, impetuously…

Despite her cover as the daughter of the land steward for Lord Malton, Marcus Aurelius, spirited Viola Gates is tied by birth to the treacherous Jacobite legacy. Not that this keeps her from falling for the dashing Lord from afar. Despite his staid demeanor, Marcus is devastatingly handsome—and hopelessly beyond her reach. Then Viola’s father is mortally wounded and her secret identity revealed, sending her straight into danger’s path—and Marcus’s arms…

For years, he’d only known her as a wild child, the tempting—and forbidden—daughter of his trusted steward. But when Viola’s life is threatened, Marcus must act as duty—and his barely contained passion—dictates. Ferrying the bold beauty on an eventful journey to safer quarters, he offers her the protection of his name. Their tempestuous union might succeed in vanquishing their enemies, but will the chivalrous lord and his unsuitable wife surrender to the power of love?





I write sensuous historical romance as Lynne Connolly, and contemporary and paranormal romance as L.M. Connolly

I was born in Leicester, England, and lived in our cobbler’s shop with my parents and sister. It was an old house and most definitely haunted, but I didn’t find out until I left that my great uncle had hung himself in the living room! But I think our ghost might have been older than that. It was built on the site of the old Roman cemetery, and the land had been constantly inhabited, being in the centre of town. Then, when the council bought the house from us to build a road, my grandfather retired and my father went and worked for the Post Office. My mother was a sample machinist; that is, she worked with designers on the prototypes (models or samples) of garments. So I was very well dressed! We bought a relatively modern house in the country, and my mother was blissfully happy. It’s all very well living in a large old house, but it’s a dreadful task to keep it clean and warm!

My mother’s side of the family are Romany gypsies, although sadly we haven’t any of the old trailers that are so astonishingly beautiful. I was taught to read the Tarot cards, and I usually use two packs; the Rider pack for simple readings and the Crowley Thoth pack for the complex stuff.

I’ve always had an interest in the paranormal and it’s been a delight to be able to put some of this into my novels.

My other huge interest is the historical. I love all periods of history, but my favorites are the Tudor and Georgian eras. I research and research, because I love it. I will travel miles to see a new variation on the Palladian mansion! I am fascinated in finding out how people lived then, and creating a credible story with people who lived in past ages.


March 22, 2016

Excerpt & Giveaway! The Vampire's Daughter by Leigh Anderson


When Ethan discovers that the love of his life, Victoria, is actually the child of a monstrous beast and must marry another man to save her family, he retreats to a monastery to live out the rest of his days alone. But the Church has other ideas. Ethan’s mentor asks him to lead famous vampire hunter Dom Calmet back to his home village to rid the town of the vampires that plague it. Ethan must then take a journey, emotionally and literally, back to the town of his youth and choose between love and faith when he once again meets The Vampire’s Daughter. Containing many tropes of a classic Gothic novel combined with the sensuality of a passionate romance, The Vampire’s Daughter will leave you gasping for more.




Victoria rode her horse Gregory toward the village at a steady pace. She was looking forward to seeing Ethan, and Gregory was glad to be out of the barn. As she got close to the village, she could sense something was wrong. She could hear the faint sound of a woman crying. Sorrow seemed to hang on the air. As she got closer, she could see a few people moving about quickly and quietly. Some were boarding up their windows; others were reinforcing their animal enclosures. Riding through the town, the usually cold people looked at her with disgust. In one house, she saw a little child pointing at her until the mother came up to close the drapes. A group of older women gathering firewood stopped and mumbled as she got closer. She dismounted at the blacksmith’s and greeted the man with a smile, but he did not repay her in kind.

“Thank you for watching Gregory for me for a few hours, sir,” she said as she tied him in his usual stall.

“No need to thank me,” he replied as he untied the horse and gave her back the reigns.

“Why?” she prodded, confused.

“You should not be here,” was all he said as he headed inside.

She led her horse back out into the street and looked around. There was hardly anyone about. A few prying eyes watched her from the houses.

“I have just as much right to be here as any of you,” she thought to herself as she held her head up high. She felt herself getting mad, but she wasn’t sure why. Why were the people staring and pointing at her? Why would the blacksmith say she didn’t belong there? What had she done to any of them? She decided to go to her future home and see if Ethan was there.

She tied her horse to the hitching post at the end of the walk. She approached the house and ran her fingers through what looked like claw marks on the oak front door. She did not remember seeing them there before.

“Hello?” she called inside as she opened the door. A small fire was going in the fireplace, telling her Ethan had been there and most likely would return. She felt herself calm down and her anger at the people melt away. The room was warm and safe. She closed the door and looked around the cottage. It already looked so homey, fully furnished with curtains on the windows and rugs on the floors.

She ascended the wooden steps to the second floor and opened the first door to a room on the left. It was small with equally small furniture - most likely a child’s room. She imagined that one day, her and Ethan’s children would be playing on that floor looking up at her with wide-eyed wonderment. Then their eyes reflected fear, and she thought of how the townspeople reacted to her today and how, even now, she was an outcast. She sighed, frowned, and shut the door on the frightened children she imagined were there.

She opened a door on her right and found the master bedroom. She entered the room, took off her cape, and hung it on a hook by the door. She walked over and placed her small hand on the large pine spindles of the bed. She walked to the far side of the bed, running her fingers over the covers. A multi-colored crotched blanket overlaid a beautiful pink and ecru quilt. She folded the blanket back so it only covered the foot of the bed and the quilt could be more fully seen. The quilt was so soft to the touch. She bent down and put her cheek to the fabric. She sighed in delight. She looked at the door and listened to see if anyone was there. When she only heard silence, she took off her shoes, climbed up onto the bed and laid long ways across it. It was a large bed. She stretched her hands way above her head and still could barely touch the other end. She laughed at herself and how she found such delight in such a simple thing.

“What are you doing?” a voice asked.

“Ahh!” she screamed and sat up straight and turned toward the voice. “Ethan! You startled me!”

“I startled you?” he asked. “What are you doing in my house?”

“Your house?” she asked. “I thought this was our house.”

Ethan began to laugh as he put the wooden club he was carrying by the door. “You should see yourself,” he said. “Why were you so afraid? I did not mean to scare you.”

“Oh, I do not know,” she replied, settling herself down. “Everyone was just acting so strange when I got here. I guess I am just on edge...” she trailed off, noticing the club. “What is that for?”

“Oh, well, do not worry about that,” he said, taking off his coat and sitting on the other side of the bed. “Everyone is a little nervous. Some wolves came into town on Sunday night and killed a man.”

“Oh, my goodness,” Victoria said, putting her hand to her mouth. “That is awful. Who was it?”

“Mr. Stanek,” he said. “We just had the funeral this morning,”

“I am sorry I missed it,” she lamented.

“It’s all right; you had no way of knowing about it.”

“Still, I feel awful.” She laid back and placed her head on one of the pillows.

Ethan looked at the sorrow on her face. He knew Father James was wrong about her. She cared and felt deeply for every person.

“Wait!” she said, sitting straight up again. “You said ‘wolves’ as in many of them? Is that what clawed the front door?” she asked.

“Yes,” he said. “There were five by my count, but some people saw more.”

“A whole pack attacked the town?” she asked. “That is like something out of an old legend, back when werewolves ruled the woods at night.”

“I know,” Ethan said. “The whole town is worried about the next full moon. Everyone is boarding up their windows and reinforcing their doors. I’m sure they are overreacting, though. Werewolves. How silly. They were just normal wolves. This cold weather probably has them desperate for food.”

“You actually saw them?” she asked. “My God, are you all right? You were not injured, were you?” She crawled over to him and put her hand on his face.

“No, no, I’m fine,” he said, chuckling over the fuss she was making. He liked how much she cared for him. “I’m fine,” he whispered, looking at her beautiful face. His face turned stone serious and he exhaled slowly.

She could tell by the way he was looking at her he wanted something. He turned his body to face her, reached up and pulled her toward him. She closed her eyes and let him kiss her. He stood up to kick off his shoes. She lay on the bed with her head on a pillow. He crawled up next to her and just looked at her for a moment. She pulled her feet up under her gown in a fetal position and put her hands under her cheek on the pillow. Ethan reached over and took the pins out of her hair, letting it frame her face. She looked so innocent, so pure. Her white skin was flawless and her dark eyes were glossy. She was not evil. If anything she was godly, angelic. He leaned over to kiss her, but she pulled back.

“Ethan,” she said. “Do you…would you mind if…maybe we…” She didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but she needed to ask him something.

“What?” he asked. He reached a reassuring hand to her and rubbed her shoulder. “What is it?”

“It’s …maybe we could not do that today. I still have not confessed from last time, and it has been a bad couple of days. Things have not gone well at home. I don’t need any more sin on my conscience right now.”

“Oh, sweetie. That’s all right,” he said. “Don’t worry about it. I don’t want to do anything you’re not comfortable with.”

“Have you talked to Father James yet? I really need to see him.”

“Oh, yes. I did speak to him…” He didn’t want to tell her what Father James had said, but he did not want to lie to her, either. “He was not happy, as expected,” he said. “He still wants me to go to Rome, of course.”

“Of course he would,” she agreed.

“He is still upset; I doubt he would absolve you of anything right now. Or me for that matter. I actually never confessed after last time either. Don’t worry, though, I am sure that in a few days, he will calm down and see that we are doing the right thing.”

“I hope so,” she said.

“Did you tell your father?” he asked.

“No, I have not been feeling well; I have not even seen him since Sunday. I think my nerves are making me tense. It has only been a couple of days; there is still plenty of time.”

“We have all the time in the world,” he said and smiled. His tone and happy demeanor calmed her so much she almost forgot about the wolves, and the priest, and the way the people in town were acting, and the women back home. All she wanted was to be with him forever. She leaned over and gave him an enticing kiss.

“I thought you were feeling guilty!” he said, pushing her gently away.

“If I die without confessing my already many and egregious sins, I suppose it makes no difference if I have one more added to the list, does it?”

“No, I suppose it doesn’t!” he said, climbing onto her, wrapping his arms all the way around her, holding her just as close and tight as he could. He rolled over and let her lay on his chest as they kissed. She straddled him to keep from falling over. She ran her tongue down his neck and kissed his chest. He reached down, pulled up her dress and caressed both of her legs. He ran his hands up to the top of her thigh-high stockings and touched her soft skin. She put the full weight of her body on top of him and he kissed her forehead. He slowly removed one of her stockings, feeling her bare, exposed skin from her thigh to her toes. He then removed the other stocking, a little more quickly this time.

Victoria breathed heavily; the room was hot. Ethan was burning for her. Ethan’s hot breath on her skin was almost more than she could handle. She reached a hand under his shirt and touched the skin of his rigid stomach. The sensation of her cold touch on his skin made Ethan gasp, but he took it as a sign that the shirt needed to be removed. He sat up and removed it while she still straddled his lap. He suckled and bit her neck and chest and caressed her thighs while she ran her fingers through his hair. The way his muscles had a slightly moist sheen in the subdued light filtering in from the window dressings excited her.

She reached around her back to try to find the many buttons that ran from her neckline to her waist. Ethan’s hands followed hers and realized what she was trying to do. He laughed a little, out of surprise and joy. He had an easier time removing the buttons from their loops than she did. He only got about halfway down when he thought the dress would be loose enough to take off. They both got up on their knees and he helped pull the heavy gown over her head. His face sank for a moment when he saw the full-length shift she was wearing underneath a fully laced corset. She laughed when she saw his expression.

“You did not think it was going to be that easy, did you?” she asked.

“Sorry if I seem a bit eager,” he said.

She felt relieved; she could breathe better and she felt lighter with the gown off. Ethan kissed her while she ran her fingers down his naked back. He reached around her and began pulling at the laces on her corset. She did not protest. She did not care if Helena noticed the lacings or not. She did not care if her father found out. What could he do about it after it was already done? If she gave herself to Ethan, let him have her most prized possession, it was hers to give. Ethan removed the corset and laid himself fully on top of her. She undid the top button on his pants. She moved her fingers deeper inside his pants to undo the next one and he groaned in anticipation.

“Victoria,” he said, propping himself up and looking at her. “Victoria. I love you so much.” He reached up and brushed some stray hairs away from her face. “Are you sure this is what you want?”

“I want you, Ethan,” she said, running her hands up his back. “I love you.”

He leaned back down and sucked on her neck. She held him tightly to her. He moved both of his hands to her legs and pulled her chemise up almost to her waist. He kissed her so strongly and his tongue prodded her mouth so deeply he almost gagged her, but she did not dare protest for fear he would stop. Her breath quickened. He did not want to go too quickly. This was the first time for both of them. He wanted to make sure it was perfect.

She was about to tell him to take her when a terrible feeling flooded over her. It was as if someone inside her head told her to run. She froze, trying to listen to the voice.

Ethan felt her tense up. He stopped because he was afraid he had hurt her or that she had changed her mind. “Victoria?” he began.

“Shhhhh!” she said, holding up a hand to silence him. Her harsh tone shocked him. She did not mean to sound cruel, but something was certainly wrong. He saw a disturbed look on her face. All of her senses seemed to come alive - she could see and hear everything around her. Hushed tones, the light clang of weapons, the smell of the cold air wafting in through an open door.

“Ethan!” she said, letting go of him and sitting straight up. “Someone is in the house!” She had a feeling it was more than someone simply looking for them – they were in danger.

“What?” he asked as he got up, closed his pants, and moved toward the door. She stood on the far side of the bed, pulled down her undergarment, and looked around for something she might be able to use to defend herself, but there was no time. As Ethan reached for the door, an unimaginable sense of danger overwhelmed her.

“No!” she screamed.

He stopped, but it was too late. Someone kicked in the door, and several of the village men entered the room followed by Father James.




Leigh Anderson is an American author and editor living and traveling in Asia. She has a master’s degree in English and her thesis was on Gothic imagery in vampire literature. You can learn more about her at her website LeighAndersonRomance.com.



March 1, 2016

Release Day Blitz! Excerpt & Giveaway: America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie


In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy. From her earliest days, Patsy Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate, protector, and constant companion in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France. It is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that fifteen-year-old Patsy learns about her father’s troubling liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age. Meanwhile, Patsy has fallen in love—with her father’s protégé William Short, a staunch abolitionist and ambitious diplomat. Torn between love, principles, and the bonds of family, Patsy questions whether she can choose a life as William’s wife and still be a devoted daughter. Her choice will follow her in the years to come, to Virginia farmland, Monticello, and even the White House. And as scandal, tragedy, and poverty threaten her family, Patsy must decide how much she will sacrifice to protect her father's reputation, in the process defining not just his political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.





   


“And what of our future . . . ?” I asked.

Mr. Short smiled. “If you could give up all thoughts of the convent, our future depends upon the orders your father is awaiting from America. Your father has asked that in his absence, I be appointed in his place as chargé d’affaireswith commensurate salary. If I receive such an appointment, then I can present myself to your father as a worthy suitor. Otherwise, I’m afraid he’ll consider me a wandering wastrel without employment.”

“He would never!”

Mr. Short chuckled mirthlessly. “You think not? I have in my possession a letter from your father lecturing me on the need to build my fortune. The most memorable line reads: This is not aworld in which heaven rains down riches into any open hand.”

How churlish of Papa, but had I not, from the youngest age, also received letters filled with his lectures? “You mustn’t worry, Mr. Short. If my father requested your appointment, then it’s sure to come. But until it does, how can I be sure of your intentions in asking for my love?”

I didn’t expect him to laugh. “You’re Jefferson’s daughter, to the bone. You want evidence. Well, give me the chance and I’ll give you the proofs you require—both of my love and of the world you should love too much to abandon even for God. I wouldn’t have you enter a convent, much less love, in ignorance.”

“What do you think me ignorant of?”

With mischief twinkling in his eyes, he stopped, drawing me into a grove of trees. Beyond us, in the ditch, we heard boys playing a ball game in the dim lamplight. Somehow, in the dark, Mr. Short’s fingertips found my cheeks, and his mouth stole over mine. This first kiss was soft and tender. As if he feared frightening me. Nevertheless, it shocked me. It was like my heart was a loaded cannon he’d held fire to, and it threatened to shoot out of my chest. But I wasn’t frightened and I didn’t pull away. Instead, it seemed quite the most natural thing to kiss him back, mimicking what he did, glorying in every soft, sweet sensation.

At the feel of my lips teasing softly at his, he groaned and pulled back. “Oh, my heart . . .”

The sweet taste of him still on my lips, our breaths puffing in the night air, I asked, “Have I done something wrong?”

He held my cheeks in his hands. “The error was all mine. I’d beg your pardon if I could bring myself to regret it, but I never want to regret anything with you, so tonight I must content myself with one kiss.”

Only one? I wanted to lavish a thousand kisses on his face. His lips, his cheeks, his ears. The desire was a sudden hunger, a desperate plea inside me echoing like the cry of peasants for bread.

“What if I’m not yet content? Wasn’t kissing me meant to be the proof of your intentions?”

“No, Patsy. Kissing you, then stopping before satisfaction, is the proof of my intentions, which I hope you’ll see are honorable and directed toward your happiness.”

  


 

STEPHANIE DRAY is an award-winning, bestselling and two-time RITA award nominated author of historical women’s fiction. Her critically acclaimed series about Cleopatra’s daughter has been translated into eight different languages and won NJRW's Golden Leaf. As Stephanie Draven, she is a national bestselling author of genre fiction and American-set historical women's fiction. She is a frequent panelist and presenter at national writing conventions and lives near the nation's capital. Before she became a novelist, she was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the stories of women in history to inspire the young women of today.



Laura Kamoie has always been fascinated by the people, stories, and physical presence of the past, which led her to a lifetime of historical and archaeological study and training. She holds a doctoral degree in early American history from The College of William and Mary, published two non-fiction books on early America, and most recently held the position of Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy before transitioning to a full-time career writing genre fiction as the New York Times bestselling author of over twenty books, Laura Kaye. Her debut historical novel, America's First Daughter, co-authored with Stephanie Dray, allowed her the exciting opportunity to combine her love of history with her passion for storytelling. Laura lives among the colonial charm of Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and two daughters.


     

February 19, 2016

Sale Blitz, Exclusive Excerpt, Author Interview & Giveaway: Finding Gabriel by Rachel L. Demeter



Colonel Gabriel de Laurent departed for the war intending to die. After a decade of bloodstained battlegrounds while fighting in Napoleon’s army, Gabriel returns to the streets of Paris a shattered and haunted soul. Plagued by inner demons, he swallows the barrel of his flintlock pistol and pulls the trigger. But fate has a different plan. Ariah Larochelle is a survivor. Orphaned at twelve and victim to a devastating crime, she has learned to keep her back to walls and to trust no one. But when she finds a gravely injured soldier washed up on the River Seine, she’s moved by compassion. In spite of her reservations, she rescues him from the icy water and brings him into her home. Now scarred inside and out, Gabriel discovers a kindred spirit in Ariah—and feelings he imagined lost forever reawaken as he observes her strength in the face of adversity. But when Ariah’s own lethal secrets unfold, their new love is threatened by ancient ghosts. Can Gabriel and Ariah find hope in the wreckage of their pasts—or will the cycle of history repeat again? Perfect for fans of Gaelen Foley’s Lord of Ice and Judith James’s Broken Wing, Finding Gabriel features all the dark romance, searing passion, and historical intrigue of The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables. 

PURCHASE FOR ONLY 99¢!




Ariah stood beneath the immeasurable night sky as she admired the breathtaking view. She lost herself within the constellations, allowing those luxurious diamond strands to coil around her heart. Numberless stars reflected within the Seine’s glassy surface and set the water afire. Breathing deeply, Ariah reached out and folded her hands atop the stone balustrade. 

This is where she’d found him. Her heart picked up speed as memories of that fateful night invaded her mind and body. Down below, water lapped against the embankment and infused the atmosphere with a soothing lull. A flashback of Gabriel’s motionless form materialized within the shadows . . . and Ariah’s chest constricted as she relived his every kiss and touch. 

Then – 

A gentle pressure whispered against her back. Gabriel’s unique aroma filled her spirit while strong arms enfolded her from behind. Somehow, some way, she’d known he’d be here tonight. 

She sighed deeply and relaxed within his protective embrace. One hand lost itself in her curls and delicately sifted through the strands; the other applied subtle pressure to the base of her spine in a ghostlike caress. Breathless and at peace, she spiraled into a decadent trance. She drank in each sensation . . . the mesmerizing caress of his fingertips against her scalp, the wind’s crisp breath, the Seine’s haunting lamentations . . . 

Gabriel brushed away the swarm of curls, exposing her ear to the night, and breathed against the fine cartilage. This was the moment she’d feared for weeks – the moment of their parting. Then he sang to her – his voice rich, warm, and sultry, and all other thoughts fell away. 

“The gentle breath of winter sings, 

It cools my brow and furls my wings. 

And when the dusk at last descends, 

I shall keep my hope, steel my heart, for never will thy love depart. 

Now you are come all my grief is gone, 

Let us forget those nights that never dawned.” 

The rich cadence of his voice seduced her into calmness. Fighting to hold back tears, she rotated in his arms, never once leaving the security of his embrace. Indeed, she’d stay with him until the very end – and they wouldn’t part a moment sooner. She tilted her chin up and met his expressive gaze. The nearby oil lamp shone brightly behind Gabriel, silhouetting his strained features. She directed his body to the side, needing to see his eyes, directing the shadows from his face. 

“You remember.”Gabriel shook his head while a riot of emotions crossed his features. “I shall never forget.” 






Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Rachel L. Demeter, author of Finding Gabriel. 

Rachel, welcome on Mikky’s World Of Books. 

-Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

Thank you for having me on your lovely blog, Mikky! I live in beautiful Sunny California with Teddy, my goofy Polish lowland sheepdog, and my high school sweetheart of thirteen years. Richard and I began dating during our freshman year and have been together ever since – and he recently popped the big question! He’s truly my soul mate and greatest inspiration. I’m so grateful to have found him at such a young age! 

I graduated from Chapman University’s film school with a BA in Screenwriting. Even though I’m primarily a novelist, film school deepened my love for crafting fiction tenfold; it taught me to concentrate on plotting, dynamic characters, and effective pacing, as well as the importance of visual storytelling. I wouldn’t trade my college education for anything in the world! 

Aside from writing like a madwoman, my interests and pastimes include researching history (especially nineteenth century France and the Middle Ages), reading, singing, cooking, health and fitness, playing the violin, videogames (I’m truly a bit of a nerd at heart), philosophy, and animals. 

-What is your story, how did it all start? Was writing something you always wanted to do? 

Absolutely. Writing is my life’s blood, my passion, and my greatest obsession. It has always been and always will be. I’ve actually been a writer before I physically learned to write. As a child, one of my favorite pastimes was imagining stories and characters while my mom would record them for me, Now, at the age of twenty-seven, my passion for creating dynamic worlds is stronger than ever before. 

Honestly, I could be nothing else but a writer. 

-Do you have a favorite author or authors? 

Oh yes! I have countless favorite authors, and I love discovering new voices every day. To name a few: Gaelen Foley, Stephen King, Diana Gabaldon, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, Lisa Kleypas, George R. R. Martin, Amy Harmon, J.K. Rowling . . . the list goes on and on. I definitely draw inspiration from these authors and am influenced by their ability to balance emotion, character, world building, and plot in a powerfully effective way. 

-Where did you get the inspiration for Finding Gabriel? 

My lifelong love for tortured heroes/heroines, dark romances, and nineteenth century France. And Finding Gabriel truly embodies my passion for all three. 

I had yearned to create a pair of imperfect, emotionally and physically scarred protagonists whose deep affection for each other could triumph over seemingly impossible odds. And Colonel Gabriel de Laurent is very much a haunted soul. His twisted past has hardened his heart and driven him to the brink of desperation. Ariah’s gentle nature and ability to persevere presents the ideal counterpoint to his darkness. Though, like Gabriel, she also suffers from a tragic past. 

Nineteenth century France has always been a great passion of mine. It was a time of conflict, political intrigue, art, clashing social norms, and romance. While England’s glittering ballrooms present an elaborate atmosphere, I personally feel these settings can become a bit stuffy and repetitive for readers. In my opinion, Paris lends itself to a darker, freer, more liberating and passionate environment. The characters aren’t as tied down by social norms, and the settings are more rustic and real. Also, I was raised on Paris-set musicals, such as Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera—and they continue to inspire my imagination and characters. 

Writing Finding Gabriel was a deeply personal experience and a true emotional rollercoaster. At times, the subject matter forced me into uncomfortable and often brutal territories–and the road to Gabriel and Ariah’s Happily Ever After is certainly paved with an abundance of loss, discovery, hope, and, of course, searing passion and relentless love. 

Every word emerged straight from my soul; I was connected to both Gabriel and Ariah on such a profound level . . . more than I ever imagined possible. When I typed “The End,” I broke into tears. They were no longer characters, but real people and beloved friends. 

I hope that Gabriel and Ariah's journey through darkness touches your heart as much as it did my own. 

-What is the most difficult part of writing to you? 

I’m going to cheat a list a few: 

~Sticking to a strict routine (for me, this is hitting a minimum word count each day), despite not “feeling it” or experiencing a lack of inspiration. Writers write, regardless of the blocks – and I’ve learned that you really can’t wait around for inspiration to hit. 

~Getting the word out about my books and finding unique ways to connect with readers. And yet, every time I’m able to interact with one of my readers, it’s a truly beautiful and rewarding moments. It makes all the tireless hours of outlining, writing, and beating against the infamous writer’s block worthwhile. <3 

~Negative reviews and feedback. I’m a very sensitive gal. And yes, I do skim negative reviews with caution (just to see if there’s any helpful criticism). Sensitive + Edgy Writing Style = not an ideal mix! 

-Who was your favorite character to write in Finding Gabriel? Why? 

Can I cheat again and say both the hero and heroine? Gabriel was an absolute thrill to write, since his characterization contains so much sexy darkness and transient light all wrapped up in one rugged package. 

But Ariah is also multilayered, and was fascinating to bring to life. Many facets of her character were inspired by my mom (who is my personal heroine). She’s the strongest, most loyal, compassionate, independent, and sincere person I know–and I worked hard to incorporate these traits into Ariah’s persona. Like Ariah, she always protects the ones she loves at all costs and is willing to sacrifice everything for her family and what she believes is right. 

-Any advice for all the aspiring authors out there? 

Write because you need to, because it’s your passion and calling. Forget money and fame – a true writer writes even if her stories would never be published. She writes because she can’t not write. 

Further down the road, teach yourself to regard writing as both a passion and a business endeavor. 

Always write what’s in your heart and nothing less. Don’t chase “the flavor of the month” – not only may it be gone next month, you’re writing won’t be as genuine. 

And in the words of the great Stephen King:“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut.” 

So read and write every day–and stay inspired (whether it be through Pinterest, a motivational writing calendar, finding new locations to write in, etc.). 

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions.

Read our review of Finding Gabriel HERE!! 


ALSO BY RACHEL L. DEMETER








Rachel L. Demeter lives in the beautiful hills of Anaheim, California with Teddy, her goofy lowland sheepdog, and her high school sweetheart of eleven years. She enjoys writing dark, poignant romances that challenge the reader’s emotions and explore the redeeming power of love. Imagining dynamic worlds and characters has been Rachel’s passion for longer than she can remember. Before learning how to read or write, she would dictate stories while her mother would record them for her. She holds a special affinity for the tortured hero and unconventional romances. Whether crafting the protagonist or antagonist, she ensures every character is given a soul. Rachel endeavors to defy conventions by blending elements of romance, suspense, and horror. Some themes her stories never stray too far from: forbidden romance, soul mates, the power of love to redeem, mend all wounds, and triumph over darkness. Her dream is to move readers and leave an emotional impact through her words. 





January 25, 2016

Release Day Blitz! Excerpt & Giveaway: A Pirate's Revenge by Meg Hennessy




Rayna de La Roche once lived a privileged life of a Spanish royal until her brother dragged her to America. In order to return to Spain, she must find a hidden treasure somewhere in New Orleans. She pairs up with a rugged American mercenary, whose mere touch unleashes her deepest desire.

Captain Zachary Nash has been accused of a murder he did not commit. On the run, he’s hired to protect Rayna. As much as he wants her, Zach cannot hope to have her, for she sees him as a common criminal. But keeping his hands off of her while they hunt down the treasure may be his toughest task yet.

As the passion sizzles between the royal and the captain, they’ll have to decide if the treasure is more important than love…



He turned toward his rescuer. “Ah, the princess pretends to sleep.”

“Sí, seems I have to sleep light these days.” She released the hammer of her pistol and hung it on her brace. “I have a magical knight. Sometimes you see him, sometimes you don’t.”

“But you did not sleep. Why?”

“Because I could not with a man in my room.” She sounded irritated, like she really had sacrificed sleep.

“For some reason, I don’t believe that was the first time you’ve had a man in your room.” He didn’t know what made him say that, except seeing her in those formfitting clothes reminded him of every time he had stood too near to her, touched her, and had to deny his feelings of wanting her. The days and nights of watching her from afar, in Cadiz, on Donato’s ship, and now here, she was the most desirable woman he’d ever seen.

“I amend, señor.” This time the princess laughed. “The first time I had a strange man in my room who was not sharing my bed.”

“You’ve had men share your bed.” He stated rather than asked because he was curious, having suspected the woman was…experienced. But hearing her say it niggled beneath his skin with just a tiny nip of jealously. To sleep in her bed, how would a man earn that right?

A smile arrested her entire beautiful face. “Again, a position you’ll never enjoy.”

He stopped walking beside her. He shouldn’t care, and knowing the Roches like he did, why would he be in the least bit curious? “Because I’m an American and you’re royalty?”

She honored his halt with a spin of her own, facing him. 

“Capitán,” she began in that thick Spanish accent. “I could have any man I desire. I have been bedded by kings, princes, dukes, and marquises. Why would I choose a barbaric common American?”

Maybe it was her upturned face catching the moonlight that enticed him, or the slight curve to her lips that interested him, but it was the deep lust he saw in her eyes that made him reckless.

“Because you want to.” He snagged her wrist, twisted it behind her back and brought her flush against his chest. He could feel her breathing. Her breasts pushed against his body with every inhalation in an age-old rhythm. Her lips parted slightly. He caught the flicker of her tongue as she moistened her lips—anticipating.



Award winning author, Meg Hennessy, lives amid rolling hills of the Kettle Moraine in Wisconsin and got the bug to write while in college studying Nursing. Besides being a Registered Nurse and Clinical Hypnotherapist, Meg turned her attention to her writing career. With her father born and raised on Mississippi’s gulf coast, Meg grew up immersed in the culture of an old Southern family and writes with a strong Southern flavor. It was her sense of wonderment when visiting her grandmother’s home as a child that now bubbles upward into her writing of today. She likes to create high-energy characters against historically rich backdrops, offering her readers a vivid peek into the lives and loves of yesteryear. Her first novel, SHADOWS OF A SOUTHERN MOON, was awarded the EPIC award for Best Historical Romance in 2010, WHISPER OF GOLD, wasa finalist for EPIC’s Best Western Romance. In 2011, she contracted with Entangled Publishing to write the Secrets of the Bayous Trilogy. The first book, DARK SECRETS, DEEP BAYOUS, was awarded the 2015 HOLT Award of Merit and was a finalist in the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Book two of the trilogy, A PIRATE’S COMMAND, was released July 2015, and Book three, the final book of the series, APIRATE’S REVENGE, released January 25, 2016.


January 7, 2016

Excerpt & Giveaway! The Highlander Who Loved Me by Adrienne Basso



A HIGHLANDER IS ALWAYS WORTH WAITING FOR

Scottish Highlands, 1329. Sir James McKenna, second son of the powerful McKenna Chief, knows he has found his destiny when he falls in love with sweet Lady Davina Armstrong, niece of the Armstrong Chief. Orphaned in childhood, Davina has always felt like an outsider, and with James finally feels that she belongs. But their plans for a happy future are shattered after a brutal attack by a band of rogues. Horrified, Davina’s overprotective family quickly shelters her from everyone—including James…

Five years later, James is a changed man. His fighting skills sharpened to perfection, he is hardened by the war and destruction he’s endured as a Scottish knight—and by the loss of Davina. Weary, he returns home—and is shocked to find Davina there. Is it too late for them to start anew, or will the past dare to lay claim to their future once more?


***
Davina awoke with a cry, gurgling and gasping for breath. Merciful God! It had been many months since she had been tormented by such terrifying dreams. No doubt the notion of leaving the safety of Armstrong Castle had brought them roaring back to life.

She closed her eyes and took several small, steadying breaths. She could feel the moisture gathering behind her lids, yet Davina refused to allow the sobs to come, knowing if anyone heard them, they would tell her aunt and uncle, proving that she was not strong enough to make this journey.

Her breathing still ragged, Davina slowly got to her feet. She walked across her small chamber—nearly tripping over her packed belongings—settled herself into a chair, and bowed her head. Are Aunt Isobel and Uncle Fergus right? Will leaving home cause the fear that lurks so close to the surface to consume me?

Wincing, Davina lifted her head and glanced at the small wooden box tucked into a stone shelf in the corner of the chamber. Inside the box was a bottle of the medicine she took whenever her nerves became overset. ’Twas a brew the clan healer had created especially for her. Encouraged by her aunt, she had taken it several times a day after the attack, welcoming its mind-numbing effects, drinking bottle after bottle for months on end.

Gradually, however, Davina realized she was becoming far too dependent upon it. At first,’twas impossible for her to abandon it completely, for her fears were so vivid and strong, yet she managed to discipline herself to use it only when her need was most dire. The hardfought results were gratifying and she was proud of the fact that not a drop of the potent brew had crossed her lips for many, many months.

Feeling agitated, Davina walked to her small window and pulled back the leather cover. The cold air hit her square in the face, but the bracing wind was not enough to clear her head. Hastily, she moved away, glancing again at the box. I need it or else I’ll never find the courage to leave in a few hours.

Lips pursed, she allowed her feet to carry her across the chamber. Staring hard, she waited a long moment before lifting the lid and removing the bottle.

Only one wee sip.

The medicine tasted bitter on her tongue and theurge to take a large swallow was strong, but Davina resisted. With a determined shudder, she pressed the cork tightly back into the neck and was rewarded with a feeling of control. Yet instead of returning the bottle to its proper place, Davina slipped it carefully into her small trunk.

The first day of her journey to McKenna Castle passed quickly, with little incident. Uncle Fergus and Aunt Isobel were silent and stoic as Davina bid them farewell. Though Davina hated to see the hint of hurt upon their faces, she pointedly ignored their disapproval and acted as if all was fine. Davina’s knuckles were white beneath her leather gloves as she approached the gates of the castle. Five years. Five years since I have been on the other side.

Gritting her teeth, Davina pressed her knees against her horse’s flanks, encouraging the mount to increase its speed. An icy quiver of unease prickled up the nape of her neck and she felt every eye in the bailey staring at her, but Davina kept her gaze forward and her back straight.

“Well done, milady,” Colleen whispered. 

Davina turned to the older woman riding beside her and gave her a small smile. The breath she had been holding released in a rush. I’ve done it!

The urge to shout the news with triumph overcame her, but Davina tempered her response. ’Twas only the first of many challenges she would need to conquer. Still, it felt rewarding to have success and the boost to her courage was much appreciated.

Quietly, Davina savored her victory, thankful also that Sir Malcolm was busy ordering his men into formation and therefore unaware of the swirling tension surrounding the significance of her passing through the gates of Armstrong Castle.

The weather was cold, but free of snow. Davina wore her warmest gown and heavy woolen cloak, yet the occasional gust of wind tore through her with a chill that reached her bones. Sir Malcolm rode at the head of the column, leading his men, though every now and then he would turn to look over his shoulder at her.

Each time his gaze met hers, her heart would nervously trip over itself, yet she managed to bestow a pleasant smile upon him, hoping to convey that all was well. She appeared to succeed, for Sir Malcolm would then nod his head and return his attention to the road. After a few hours they made a brief stop to water the horses and eat a bit of crusty bread and cheese, washed down with wine. Sir Malcolm approached as Davina pulled her aching body back atop her mount.

“We must travel until nearly dark in order to reach Montgomery Abbey, where we will take shelter fer the night,” he explained. “Will that pose any difficulty fer ye and yer companion?”

“Nay, we shall be fine,” Davina muttered, averting her gaze so he could not see the doubt in her eyes.

It had been many years since she had ridden for so long and her cold, stiff muscles were already protesting. But she refused to complain, refused to slow their progress.

’Twas only after hearing Colleen groan as she settled herself upon her own horse that Davina felt a pang of worry.

“Och, how thoughtless of me, Colleen, fer not asking how ye fared before answering Sir Malcolm. Shall I call him back?”

Colleen shook her head. “Nay, milady. I might be older, but I am used to riding in the cold weather. Far more than ye.”

The truth of those words rankled, but Davina lifted her chin. “I fear ye are right, but ’tis past time I became used to it again.”

Her determined words, and many fortifying deep breaths, gave Davina strength to endure the bone-jarring afternoon. Taking her at her word, Sir Malcolm paid her no heed, turning his attention to other matters. For that, Davina was grateful, for she was uncertain she could adequately hide the extent of her physical discomfort if he scrutinized her too closely.

After what felt like an eternity, salvation arrived. Bathed in the glow of the setting sun, Davina caught a glimpse of the spires of the abbey, admitting they were the most welcoming sight that she had seen in a very long time. Spirits buoyed, she stretched the soreness from her back and shoulders and urged her mount onward.

The abbot stood in the yard, ready to greet them and Davina realized that Sir Malcolm must have sent one of his men ahead to make certain all would be ready. ’Twas a small thing, yet showed surprising consideration.

James would have done the same. The truth of that notion brought a wistful smile to her lips. Sir Malcolm leaped gracefully down from his horse, then turned to assist Davina. A bolt of alarm sank into her gut. She started shivering, mostly from the cold, but also at the notion of Sir Malcolm placing his hands upon her.

She attempted to scramble off the horse on her own. Sir Malcolm noticed her trembling and, assuming it was due to the cold, insisted they get inside at once. Without waiting for a reply, he reached up and encircled her waist. She jumped, but his grip was firm and never faltered.

She swayed slightly when he set her on her feet, her heart drumming so loudly she was certain he heard it. She raised her arms, struggling with the intense urge to bat his hands away. Fortunately, he released her before it was necessary.

Still, she could feel his eyes upon her, staring at her, and she could only imagine what he was thinking. Hoping to distract him from her odd reaction, she gave him a quick smile of thanks, but inside she felt wooden. The physical contact had left her with a feeling of panic so severe it nearly robbed her of breath.

Perhaps this was a colossal mistake. Leaving the shelter and familiarity of her home was too much for her delicate nerves. No doubt she would make a fool of herself many times over before they even arrived at McKenna Castle. And the good Lord only knew what else she would do there before the visit ended.

As they walked into the section of the abbey reserved for overnight travelers, Davina considered feigning an illness and requesting that she be brought home in the morning.

Yet as quickly as the thought appeared, Davina dismissed it, clenching her fingers into tight fists, angry with herself for having such cowardly thoughts. Nay, she would not flee. She would see this through and fight for her independence. 

But not this evening.

“We are grateful fer yer kind hospitality,” Davina said as the abbot showed her the simple chamber that she and Colleen would share. “We shall partake of our meal in here and then go directly to sleep.”

The abbot looked momentarily stunned, but recovered quickly. “We are not a restricted order. Women are welcome to join us in the hall for the evening meal.”

Davina felt herself blushing and she turned her head away. Sir Malcolm’s eyes were practically boring a hole into her, making her even more determined to avoid him. 

“Thank ye, but I fear we are too tired to be good company. I bid ye all good night,” she said hastily, before fleeing to the safety of her chamber, Colleen following obediently behind her.

***

Adrienne Basso is the author of over ten Zebra historical romances. She lives with her family in West Plainfield, New Jersey. Readers can visit her at adriennebasso.net.