Monday, September 22, 2014

NATURALLY YOURS by Adele Downs, Cover Reveal!

I'm excited to share the cover art for my upcoming contemporary romance!

NATURALLY YOURS arrives October 7, 2014 from Boroughs Publishing.

Available wherever digital books are sold.

"You can't go wrong with Adele Downs." ~ Will Work for Books

Here's a glimpse of the story:


Who will save a man who saves the world?

Paramedic Mickey Kendall hasn’t slept a full night since his return from Iraq. He rescues victims by day and protects the innocent after dark. Mickey doesn’t do it for glory; he wants absolution, not admiration. He lives by the rule: No personal contact after a rescue. That code meets the ultimate test when Mickey saves a child’s life on a roadside and declines the parents’ invitation to dinner at their upscale restaurant.

Master chef Amanda Greer lives by the principle that delicious food and good company build bridges. When she learns Mickey has refused her business partners’ hospitality, she persuades him to change his mind. The handsome paramedic visits her restaurant and Amanda joins him at his table. Their unexpected chemistry turns kinetic and leads to a passionate kiss.

In Amanda’s arms, Mickey finds relief from the stressors that haunt him, but resists falling in love. When Amanda challenges him to face his demons and accept the love she offers, Mickey arrives at a crossroad. The war-weary paramedic must first save himself to claim the woman who reignites his passion for living and revives his wounded heart.

Adele Downs writes best-selling contemporary romance inside the office of her rural Pennsylvania home. She is a former journalist, published in newspapers and magazines inside the USA, UK, and Caribbean.

Adele is an active member of Romance Writers of America and her local RWA chapter where she serves as a past-president. She has written several articles for RWR magazine (Romance Writers Report) and has presented workshops for writers.

When Adele isn’t working on her current project, she can be found riding in her convertible or reading a book on the nearest beach. 

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

New Release - The Brass Octopus

The ugly duckling is a favorite fairy tale of mine.  I've seen the ugly duckling plot in a lot of books
brass octopus and films. I use it in The Brass Octopus.

The so called duckling was never young at all she was just with the wrong family. If she'd been with a family of swans no one would have ever used the word ugly. That's what happened to my heroine Piety. Her verbally and emotionally abusive mother called her ugly. As she grew up, Piety protected herself by not drawing attention to herself - dressing drably and throwing herself in to her work. Her work - her profession - is head librarian at London's library. The story is set in the Victorian era. So a  prim and proper Victorian librarian transforms into a beautiful sexy woman. What makes my version different?
I'm going to get to that.

First, let me tell you about the hero. Blake Blackmore is bad boy, a rich rogue who spends his nights gambling and womanizing. I'm sure you've already guessed once he meets Piety he's willing to give all that up for her.

Now, back to the earlier question. What makes The Brass Octopus different is - in The Bras Octopus, Piety lives in alternate dimension in which inventions depicted in Jane Loudon's book the Mummy have been created. So even though it's Victorian London, there is some advanced technology, woman wear pants, and tinkering or inventing gadgets is a favorite pastime for proper Victorian woman along with decoupage, scrapbooking, and painting china. Piety's sister, Polly, has  created a beauty machine called The Brass Octopus.

Blurb: Spinster Librarian Piety Plunkett is happy alone with her books, until her sister Polly transforms her with a bras octopus beautifying machine. With her new look, the librarian catches the lusty attentions of London’s most notorious rogue. Blake Blackmore enjoys the favors of beautiful women from the brothels of London to high society’s most fashionable debutantes but only the spinster librarian consumes his mind night and day. Piety insists she will not wed but devote her life to her position as head librarian, but Blake will stop at nothing to win her. He takes matters into his own hands and tutors her in carnal pleasure in three passion filled lessons. Now that she is sharing her body, instead of just her books, Piety is shocked yet pleased at how naughty she can be under Blake’s personal tutelage. But if anyone finds out about what goes on in the library after closing time, her reputation would be ruined. Is that Blake’ ultimate plan?

“That is why we cannot waste a moment more.” Polly dropped her arm from Piety’s shoulders and grabbed her sister’s hand, pulling her into the dressing room. “Wait until you see my latest invention.” She pointed to a large brass octopus standing in the corner.
Held on a brass stand, its bottom was fashioned in the shape of an x, with a thin straight pole to the back of the head jointed to another rod so it could be adjusted. Two molded eyes on the side of its head stared at her. Eight long arms reached out from the tiny body beneath its gleaming head, and directly underneath stood a brass stool.
“This will make you even more beautiful than you are.” Polly walked over to the brass sea creature and reaching up, she patted its large head.
“Is it the pregnancy? Is that what has caused you to lose your mind?”
“This machine is fabulous.” Polly gestured to her to sit on the stool. “Try it.”
Piety scratched her head. “It’s good the Queen encourages all housewives to develop their creativity by crafting gadgets like the ones in Loudon’s book, to make life easier for them and their families, but I fear you’ve taken it too far.”
Each of the eight burnished arms held something in the suction cups attached on the end, where hands would be on a human. An open tin of rouge in one arm, the second, grasped a cosmetic brush and powder puff, in the third lay a tin of powder, an unwrapped silk paper container of red lipstick in the fourth, the fifth arm clutched a small bottle of hair oil, the sixth held a hairbrush, while the seventh grasped a fancy glass container of French perfume and the eighth arm lay empty.
Polly took Piety’s spectacles off.
“I need those.”
“For reading. You don’t need them right now or at the ball. You’ll be dancing, not reading books.”
She sat on the stool with the octopus behind her. “What is this?” Her upper back rested against its small, brass body.
“You will see. Just sit still so the machine can work its magic.” Polly pressed the ruby button on top of the octopus's head.
The clanking, churning sound caused an on-edge sensation in Piety. As the hand holding the oil moved toward her, she grew shaky. She braced her toes on the floor, ready to lunge off the stool and make a run for it. The hand holding the oil reached her head, tilted slightly, then straightened after pouring some of its contents on her hair. Her scalp tingled from the warm liquid.
“It tickles, but feels quite nice. What does it do?”
The hand clutching the brush in its suction cup moved toward her. Piety grimaced, fearing it might hit her. She let out a pent up breath, relaxing her neck and shoulder muscles as the brass octopus brushed her hair, spread the oil to her roots and through the strands, and then swept her hair into a pile on top of her head.
“It helps it curl.” Polly grinned as she shoved a wayward blonde strand of her hair out of her face.
The octopus’s hollow head, which ran along the brass pole in back, rose, separating from its body, then swung forward, hovering over Piety. It lowered, inch by inch, until it dropped over her head, covering her hair and forehead.
“This is daft. It has swallowed me.” She cringed as tiny things, she didn’t know what, gripped sections of her hair and twirled it. “What is happening?”
“It curls hair better than any lady’s maid.”
“I do not want my hair curled by a brass octopus.“
“It’s guaranteed to bring out the beauty in everyone. Isn’t it marvelous?”
Before Piety could answer, the arm clutching the powder puff dipped it in the large round tin held in another arm. She had to shut her mouth as the octopus powdered her face.
From inside the octopus’s head, it squirted liquid on her scalp. “It sprayed me.”
“I have always liked your hair, but you say it’s drab. Now it will be a different color. That should make you happy.”
The octopus seemed to be baking her scalp. “Why is it hot?”
“It’s battery-powered rather than clockwork. I needed it to heat to curl hair fast and tight.”
“A battery. Like the galvanic one in The Mummy that resurrected Pharaoh Cheops?”
“Smaller and not as strong. It’s just a lead-acid battery. Remember when Father took us to the seashore for holiday and we flew in the balloon-coach? It’s the same type of battery that powered the lights on in the carriage at night.” Polly flashed a toothy grin at her sister. “It doesn’t bring anything alive except your hair.”
“How fabulous,” she said with full sarcasm. “My head itches.” She wished this would all be over soon. “What color will it be?”
“We won’t know until it’s finished, but whatever it is will be the best color for you.”
“Of course, everyone knows if you need beauty advice, just ask a brass octopus. Polly, my only sister or not, I shall kill you when I escape the clutches of this confounded contraption.”
      ~             ~            ~
Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 21 published books. She writes Celtic Romance and Steampunk Romance. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus. Her latest Steampunk Romance is The Brass Octopus.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Fun With Rick and Jade

What’s Eromcom? It might be a word I made up myself. I do that sometimes. 

I like to laugh. I want a side of laughter with my romance, suspense and westerns. As I wrote in a manuscript recently—I’ll paraphrase—the ability to laugh has gotten me through some not so freakin’ funny chapters in my life. It still does, and hopefully always will. When someone tells me they enjoyed one of my books, I ask, “Did it make you laugh?” 

But does comedy have any business rubbing up against erotic like a kitty in heat? It wasn’t that long ago no one would have considered mixing peanut butter with chocolate. What a tragedy. If it weren’t for those klutsy folks on the candy commercial, our lives would be PB&C free. Me, I like popcorn and M&Ms, but that’s a topic for another day. The point is I like a few giggles with my sex. 

What say you? Sex and belly laughs? The title of my erotic novel Fun With Rick and Jade, kind of says it all. It is a fun romp with some laughs along the way. You might tear up once or twice too.



Jade Li only wants what’s coming to her from her high-profile baby
daddy—some child support and she’ll stay out of his life and off his radar. Committed to being a good mother, she’s left her high-priced-call-girl lifestyle behind and wants a fresh start. But because of her sordid past, she’s terrified of losing custody. What she needs, according to her attorney, is a husband.

Enter Rick Jette, younger brother to Jade’s attorney. Rick could use a wife and child for a business deal his future hinges on. Plus, he owes his brother a huge favor that not even marrying a sexy ex-call girl could repay. Marriage is not what he’d expected. At. All. The good, as they play house, was better than he’d ever dreamed. The bad—having feelings for his instant family—turns out to be worse than he ever could have imagined.


Rick Jette pushed the doorbell firmly. He heard it chime in some stately arrangement. Ding-dong-ding. His brother Bob thankfully called out, “I got it!” Thankfully, because Rick never knew what to say to Bob’s wife, Candy.

First of all, she was gorgeous. Second of all, she wasn’t too bright except about fashion, celebrity gossip, and proper martini mixology. Lastly, Rick couldn’t look her in the eyes, especially knowing she used to be a hooker. Correction—escort. Don’t want to make that mistake again. Note to self: avoid the subject of prostitution.

The door opened. Bob smiled wide. “Bro.”

Two things Bob had lots of, money and teeth. Rick wasn’t sure he came by either honestly. He’d probably brokered some back-alley deal in exchange for veneers.

His brother was ten years older than Rick. The only things they had in common were a mother and a last name, because their mom never married either of their fathers. She did eventually marry a guy Rick and Bob both referred to as Dickhead, but the union never stuck like the name had. Even their mom called him Dickhead. The nail in the coffin of the doomed marriage. With a marital example like Mom, it was a wonder either son could make a relationship last longer than a one-night stand.

“Bob,” Rick replied. They hugged, including a manly back pat.

When they broke apart, Bob shoved the door closed and waved him along. “Girls are in the kitchen.”

Girls? He swallowed a lump that lodged in his throat.

What choice did he have but to follow? Looking back toward the closed door, it felt too late to run. He’d brought with him his appetite and a bottle of wine he clutched by the neck. Home cooking did not happen every day, at least not in his world. In the kitchen, the aroma of roasted garlic mixed with a lemony scent. Add cooking to Candy’s repertoire. Go figure.

She greeted him with a double-cheek kiss. “Jade, meet Rick.” She waved her hand elegantly in the direction of what looked to him like living, breathing perfection. “Rick, this is my friend Jade. She’s staying with us temporarily.”

“Pleasure.” She bobbed her head in his general direction, but her tone denoted boredom along with annoyance and a hint of dread as well.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Life Goes On...

I used to love watching Empty Nest and Golden Girls when they played back to back. I doubt I was the target audience at the time but I absolutely loved both shows. I still catch episodes of Golden Girls whenever I'm flipping the channels and come across it.

Why the theme from Empty Nest? Because that's how I'm feeling this month. From the start of August until now, things have been hectic with moving from Hawaii back to Maryland. Yes, yes, we moved to Maryland from Hawaii. No I don't miss Hawaii. The weather -- yes. The island where everything cost more and the answer to getting certain products was online ordering with really high shipping -- no. I went from $4.08 gas to $3.29 gas. I went from cups of Chobani that cost $1.28 per to $0.89 per. Enough said.

I figured after cleaning the house in Hawaii, packing up me and the cats, and flying to Maryland would be the end of the hectic. I was totally wrong. My house, which had a tenant and a fire back in Aug 2013, isn't done with renovations. I'm currently living in my finished basement until the hardwood floor in the living room and on the stairs is redone.

Being in the house is great but the hubby and I keep finding things wrong. My Facebook statuses are full of everything that's been happening since I landed in Maryland on 29 August. It's wearing on my normally upbeat nature. Okay. Upbeat might be exaggerating a little but I tend to be more on the smiley side of things. But, as the song said, "life goes on." I'm doing what I can and trying to ignore what I can't so I can get back to writing. I haven't written anything since early August. That's a really long time for me to go without when I'm not taking a break to recharge.

"Life goes on" and "This too shall pass" seem to be my mottoes for the foreseeable future.

Zenobia Renquist
Discover Different and Unique Romance & Erotica

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Comfort Food

I’m sick with the usual ickiness. So, I’m going to share a recipe with you all. I love cooking, wine, reading foodie magazines. When I shop, I’d much rather shop for kitchen gadgets and household decor that clothes and shoes.
As we leave the bbq’ing season and head indoors for fall and winter (ugh) this recipe is one you might want to give a try. Comfort food. It will challenge you a little bit, but it’s worth the effort.  Each time I make it, it gets better and easier. And when you do serve it, you’ll impress the heck out of your guests :)

Give it a try and enjoy!

Easy Beef Wellington

It really is easy and don’t let it intimidate you.  Have everything ready beforehand and read the instructions first so you know what you’re supposed to do when.  The puff pastry is probably the trickiest part, but don’t sweat it.  Make sure surface is floured just enough to keep it from sticking and the pastry will get sticky if it gets warm, so you do have to move quickly with it. 

2 tsp canola oil
2 lb centre cut beef tenderloin, trimmed and string removed
½ tsp each salt and pepper
1 pk whole bella mushrooms, or portabella finely chopped (the finer the better) in processor or with knife
1 tsp unsalted butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves chopped – hold one end of the stem and run your nails down the stem gently pull against the leaf so they come off in your fingers – easy way to get them off
3-4 slices prosciutto
1-2 tbsp flour
1/g package puff pastry, thaw according to pkg directions
1 egg for egg wash
1 tbs water
½ tsp kosher or coarse salt

Take a deep breath and have a glass of wine handy
·       Heat 1 tsp oil skillet over med-high heat.
·       Season beef with half S&P on all sides and sear in skillet, cooking 2 minutes on each side until brown. Set aside on a towel lined plate and refrigerate to cool
While beef cools
·       Add 1 tsp oil and butter to used skillet – cook shallots til soft and fragrant but not browned
·       Then add mushrooms, rest of S&P and sauté stirring constantly until mushroom give up their liquid and brown slightly
·       Stir in thyme and put in small bowl, cool completely – put in frig if you have to and stir it around to cool
Once everything is cool...probably about half hour to 45 minutes – so have a sip of wine!
·       Lay out a larger piece of plastic wrap and lay prosciutto evenly
·       Spread mushroom mixture – proper term for this is duxelles (pronounced dook-SEHL J)
·       Dry bottom of meat with paper towel and place in centre
·       Pick up one edge of plastic wrap and roll it around the meat to make a cylinder, twist ends and refrigerate
Now the tricky part: puff pastry – which really isn’t so tricky if you RELAX
·       Beat egg and water together to use as a glue for the pasty ends and for a wash and set aside
·       Dust work surface with flour and roll pastry into a rectangle as best you can about 1/8 inch thick
·       NOTE- it has to be big enough to cover the meat completely and extra inch or two around
·       Place meat in centre of pastry
·       Paint ends with the egg wash and wrap around the beef, if it’s too big, trim off but make sure there is a slight overlap
·       Tuck ends in
·       Place seam side down on parchment paper lined baking tray.
·       Cover and chill minimum 20 minutes or up to two hours – this helps to stop the pastry from getting soggy during cooking – note mine still did a bit and I think next time I would put it on a broiler type pan with holes still using the parchment paper and poke holes in the paper so the juices drip through to the catch pan
Time to cook!
·       Preheat oven to 425°
·       Paint chilled pasty with remaining egg wash
·       Cut 3 diagonal slits across the top with a sharp knife and sprinkle with coarse salt
·       Roast on 2nd rack from bottom
·       45 minutes for medium or until thermometer reads 160°
·       Let meat rest for at least 10 minutes and if possible not in its juices because that means a ‘soggy bottom’
·       Cut into 1 inch slices using a serrated knife. Don’t push down the pastry. Put your forefinger and middle finger on one side of pastry and thumb the other lightly and the knife between your forefingers...saw gently until cut through. 
·       Plate it
·       Ta da!

You can find me at:

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bundle Bonanza!

Isn't it funny how things seem to happen all at once? Earlier this year, I teamed up with year on a few boxed sets that were irresistible. Guess when they're all releasing--this month! The Vampire romance bundle came out yesterday and Highland Shifters one today. Seduction: One Fortune at a Time came out on September 2nd and has been getting great reviews. Make sure you get any or all that interest you at their intro price of only 99 cents.

THIRST: Tales of Vampire Romance Boxed Set

Thirst: An EIGHT Author Vampire Bundle of Edgy Vampires that THIRST for the one. Deliciously inhuman, paranormal sexiness!
Are you THIRSTING for the unusual? Try thousand-year-old vampires, Latin and French vamps, vampire Earls, sexy Native American vampires and even berserker vampires! This bundle will slake your THIRST for otherworldly, hot and sexy, unique vampire stories.
EIGHT creative and original stories that prove, one little seductive bite doesn't hurt.
Vampire Berserker by Carl East: A vampire that needs to feed on other vampires in order to survive.
The Vampire and the Rose by Yvonne Anthony: Rose’s mother has often warned her to stay away from dark places—especially at night, but curious Rose will ignore the warnings, jumping headlong into danger with startling consequences.
Dark Velvet by Lisa Carlisle: Savannah is thrilled for her residency at an art colony where she meets the sculptor Antoine. She discovers his dark secret, putting her life in jeopardy.
Vampire Lords of Blacknall by Shirl Anders: Only a creature of the night can save her. Lady Beth never stays home in the evenings. She fears her evil stepbrother. Then a monster stalks her in the dark and she cannot tell beast from savior.
The Vixen Torn by J.E. & M. Keep: Anjasa has been through the worst parts of hell and come back from it wounded but stronger. A trained assassin and courtesan, she’s seen the worst in others… and herself.
When Comes the Night by Anita Dobs: Trying to leave a troubled past far behind, Stacy escapes to England, but gets more than she bargained for when she meets Rafe Hawkins, the mysterious C.E.O at the renowned Sirius Advertising Agency.
Ash: Before Dawn by Skye Eagleday: Ash drank deeply of the blood of his enemies at Custer’s Last Stand. Now the beautiful Native American Vampire hunts in the gay bars of Seattle, where he will face an ancient Vampire far more deadly than the troops at Little Big Horn. Will he and his new human lover be able to use his powers of seduction and warrior skills to survive until dawn?
Love Blind by Claudia D. Christian: 1978. Rio de Janeiro. Josephine made a desperate bargain with a vampire named Julio Alberto. Her life for another. Kept in a gilded cage, will she ever allow herself to truly love her charming captor?
Buy now for only 99 cents. Only available for one month until it's gone forever!

HIGHLAND SHIFTERS: Paranormal Romance Boxed Set

Releases September 17th
12 scorching hot shifter romances for only $0.99!
NO cliffhangers!

Find out what's under that kilt in this collection of steamy shapeshifter romances! NY Times and USA Today bestselling authors such as Selena Kitt, Michelle Fox, Tabitha Conall, Adriana Hunter and Liliana Rhodes offer stories featuring hot alpha shifters in kilts. Most of the 12 stories in the collection are brand new! 

Are you ready to peek under the plaid?
Her Scottish Alpha by Tabitha Conall: In the midst of trying to figure out their mating, Alpha werewolf Lachlan and dragon slayer Keira have to find Keira's missing sister, fight a war and save Lachlan's life.

Liulf by Victoria Danann: For two thousand years the Scotia werewolves have enjoyed the protection of the Fae Monarchy, but the world is changing and the tribe must adapt or face extinction. Or move.

Highland Wolf Pact by Selena Kitt: Englishwoman Sibyl Blackthorne escapes her arranged marriage to a cruel Scot only to find herself in the arms of something even more dangerous - and discovers only one wild heart can claim another.

Kiss the Dragon by Michelle Fox: A cursed dragon finds his maiden is already claimed by the future. If he can't save her, she can't save him.

By the Light of the Scottish Moon by Red Phoenix: Bryn, the pack leader, is so lost in his own pain he can't see beyond it. Freya is dying & has come home to say goodbye. Her fate lies in his hands - but to save her he must kill her.

The Highlander's Mate by Liliana Rhodes: Centuries after an ancient curse on his clan tore werewolf Bran MacCulloch away from his mate Ainsley Drummond, he catches her scent on the breeze. But how can it be her?

Highland Moon Rising by Sarah Makela: When wereleopard Caitlyn returns home to see her werewolf half-brother after he’s rescued from scientists, she’s imprisoned by the Pack. Will the Alpha who hungers for her be the protector she needs?

Knights of Stone by Lisa Carlisle: Gargoyles, tree witches, and shifters have divided their Scottish isle. When a witch breaches into another territory, she's tempted by a forbidden attraction that may affect the future for all.

The Zrakon's Curse by Linda Barlow: Sea dragon shifter Colin Malloch's need for a mate draws a woman from another world into grave danger. How can he keep her safe when his own brother demands her life?

To Tame a Highlander by Adriana Hunter: Curvy nurse Aspyn Montgomery's night takes a sudden turn when a patient she watched die suddenly turns up at her apartment desperately needing help. Can fated love triumph over the threat of war?

Roots and Fang by Skye Eagleday & Ripley Sage: When McKay takes a male Fae lover it triggers the deadly jealousy of the powerful Pooka shape-shifter the Fae abandoned. Can love conquer all when only one of you is human?

Midnight Hunt by Arial Burnz: As Broderick unravels the mystery of why Monika reminds him of his late wife, his quest for answers causes a chain of events, starting a witch hunt, dooming them both to the fiery stake of judgment.

Order at:



Lisa Carlisle
Dark heroes, spirited heroines, scorching stories

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Whatever life throws your way...

Here I sit, on a dreary, rainy Monday morning, having had to call in to work and tell them I can't make it.  No, I'm not truck is!  I was all dressed, had packed lunch and a snack because it's a double-shift day for me, working both jobs, and as I turned the key in my truck...nothing happened.  I waved my husband down as he was pulling out of the driveway.  He drove back up and pushed my truck down to where he could park next to it, then he attached the jumper cables.  Nothing.  Still tells me, "Check charging system."  Sigh.  Called work a second time and told them they'd have to find a replacement for me, since even AAA's towing company can't promise more than they'll be here in a hour or so.

Thought about driving my oldest son's car, since he doesn't have to be at work until the swing shift, much later in the day.  But woke him up and he confirmed the worst: no one is covered by his insurance to drive his car except him.  And AAA was going to balk if he was the one to be here with my truck, because he's not a member.

Great!  A truck just showed up.  Bummer!  He's already got a car on his flatbed, and since my truck is 4-wheel drive, he can't just hook it up and tow it, so he'll have to drop off the other car then come back for me.

So now, I've lost a day's pay, in addition to whatever it's going to cost at the dealership to fix whatever is wrong with my truck. Tow-driver thinks it's the starter. I take it to them for all of my routine maintenance, so hopefully it's something fairly inexpensive, which with vehicles, is a quickly sliding scale that only heads upward.  We'll see.  But these are the moments that make me hate being an adult.  It was so much easier when someone else was responsible for taking care of emergencies for me.  Instead, now it's my job and I don't like it! My kids have told me the same thing, at different time, when the weight of personal responsibility crushes them, making them wish they could punt their problems back to me again. But they're young adults and while I help when I can, they have to learn to do things for themselves. I do give them permission to dislike it as much as I do. And I remind them of my late father-in-law's sage words: "Insure everything and hope for the best."

This is the same kind of idea that we use in our books: throw a monkey wrench into someone's normal routine, then watch how they deal with the result.  Of course we make the problems our fictional people are dealing with a bit more interesting than a truck that won't start.  Having to lose a day's pay isn't exactly riveting reading, and I realize I've probably gone on more than long enough about it. But I've always told my kids that we can't choose the hand we're dealt in life, only how we play the cards.  This applies to big things with lifetime repercussions, as well as the small stuff that merely aggravates for the short term.

That's why romances always end with the happily-ever-after part.  If we're honest with ourselves, we know that the happy couple at the end of the book will have to deal with many things that will test their commitment to each other.  Plumbing will back up, appliances will break, kids will act up, jobs will be lost, illnesses will crop up, and yes, vehicles will refuse to start.  All of these things make up the reality of our lives.  If we're honest about our fictional people, we know they'll have their own set of problems that will challenge them, making them disagree and argue out of stress and irritation, and sometimes they'll question what they ever saw in each other. As readers, we hope that they will remember what attracted them to each other in the first place, and they'll realize they truly do belong together for the long-term. Because happily-ever-after is possible even in real life.

Thanks for reading. I write contemporary erotic romances, with a couple of paranormal books tossed into the mix. In my books, my characters deal with stresses both small and big.  They are spies risking their lives to help save the free world, and they're firefighters.  They're therapists and they're vampires. They're living their lives, or undead existences,  when suddenly, WHAM!  They're faced with an attraction so undeniable that nothing else matters until they can connect with that person. And just when they think everything has been settled to their satisfaction, the unexpected occurs.  Just like in real life.

Find out more at:

Important update: The problem was squirrels who were building a nest in my engine compartment!  Almost $500 worth of damage!  Tell me again how cute you think they don't!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Love Comes Around

Love Comes Around releases September 19, and is the fourth story in the Senses series/  It was one of the hardest stories for me to write.  This book has so many emotions wrapped up in it that they tended to carry me away.  As a writer those are the experiences that I love the best.  It can make it hard to get the words on the page sometimes because the emotions seem so important and the words need to be just right.   But when it happens, it can be magical. 

Dan was a throwaway child and learned to take care of himself in foster care. As an adult, he devotes his life to the business he started and his heart to raising children no one else wants. Dan has already adopted six-year-old Lila, who walks on crutches, and then decides to adopt eight-year-old Jerry, who suffers from MD and is confined to a wheelchair.

Also abandoned as a child, Connor ended up on his own and retreated into himself. He works as a carpenter and woodcarver and is the perfect man to ensure Dan’s home becomes wheelchair accessible.

When Dan hires Connor, neither of the men are ready to open their hearts to the possibility of love. As they learn how much they have in common, both of them must weigh the possibility of family and a future against the risks of getting hurt again.

Purchase an advance copy:

Dreamspinner Press:



CONNOR BOUNCED up the stairs of the Pleasanton Home for Children and pulled open the door. He knew that “home” was a more modern way of saying orphanage, and whenever he got a call to come here and make repairs, he always rushed over and made sure he had extra time to spend with the kids. Inside, he took a few steps into the hall, and the door thunked closed ominously behind him. That sound always struck him as having a note of finality about it, as if the door only worked one way and then there was no turning back.

“Connor O’Malley,” the woman behind the counter said as she looked up from her computer. “They told me you’d be in today. The railing on the main staircase is loose, and we’re afraid one of the kids might get hurt. This old place is held together with duct tape, super glue, and whatever magic you seem to be able to work.”

“Hey, Maggie,” he said with a smile. “I’ll take a look and then go get what I need.” He went toward the back and to the main staircase. The boys in particular loved to slide down the old thing. Connor had to admit it was a great banister for sliding, and if he were younger, he’d give it a try. He climbed the stairs, testing the banister as he went. He found the weak spot and searched for the source. Two spindles in a row had given up the ghost. He looked for more and found nothing else.

“How bad is it?” Maggie asked when he approached the desk.

“Just two spindles. I’ll have to go back to the shop and fabricate them for you. I don’t have anything to match. But I’ll get some temporary replacements and have them in place within the hour.” He smiled at her and she returned it. Then her phone rang. Connor headed toward the door, letting her answer it. He had things to get done and his to-do list kept getting longer. He got in his truck and drove to the hardware store, where he picked out two standard turned spindles he could use to shore up the banister. He also bought the wood he would need for the final ones he’d fabricate, along with the other items he needed for projects he had underway back at the shop.

He parked in front of the home and carried the supplies he needed inside. He waved at Maggie as he passed the desk and headed right to the stairs. It didn’t take him long before he had the old spindles out and had placed the temporary ones. He’d use the ones he’d removed as the models for the new ones. Then he cleaned up everything and began carrying his tools back out to his truck. “Why is it so quiet?”

Maggie smiled. “We don’t have many kids right now, thank God.” She was a kind, sweet soul. Connor remembered her from high school. She was smart and always willing to help others, no matter what. Maybe that was why she was working here. “But it never stays that way.”

The front doors opened and a man strode in, pushing a child in a wheelchair. “Hey, Jerry. Honey, did you have a good time?” she asked, directing her question to the boy in the chair.

“You bet,” he answered brightly, his eyes huge. When he smiled, it was a little lopsided, and his teeth were extremely crooked, but Connor couldn’t help but see the joy and sparkle in the kid’s eyes.

“Why don’t you go on down to your room, and I’ll be in to see how you’re doing in a few minutes. I need to talk with Mr. Harrington.” Maggie smiled at him, and Jerry headed down the hall before turning around in his chair.

“Thank you, Mr. Harrington. I had a great time.”

Connor watched as Jerry disappeared down the hall. Then he carried his tools out to the truck and stowed them in the back. He knew the man inside from somewhere, but he just couldn’t place him. He pushed it out of his mind and went back inside for the rest of his things. He smiled at Maggie, who was still talking to the man in the perfectly pressed pants and shirt. He looked like something out of a magazine, with his hair done just so.

“It was so kind of you to take Jerry for a few weeks. He really needed some time away from here,” Maggie said. “The chances of him being placed are so small….” Connor forced his legs to continue moving as anger welled inside him. How in the hell could someone take a kid like that for two weeks and just bring him back? What was he—a used car? No, he was a child. Connor picked up the spindles and the last of his things to carry back to his truck.

“I’ll see you later, Maggie,” he said when he saw she was still talking to Dan. That was it, Dan Harrington. Connor remembered him from school, but he hadn’t seen him in years. He stopped and let his gaze roam over him for a few seconds. He remembered Dan as really smart in school, but very quiet. Dan had only been at Pleasanton High for a year. Sophomore year, if his memory served. Their junior year he hadn’t come back. From the looks of him, he must be doing very well. Not that it mattered. Connor reminded himself of what he’d just seen and continued on his way out to his truck. He had a job to do, and it was to help make sure these kids were safe. Maggie returned his wave as Connor left the building; he needed to get back out into the sunshine and clean air. After taking a few huge breaths, he placed the old spindles in the back of the truck with a clang before hurrying around to the driver’s side and taking off toward home and the work waiting for him—and there was plenty of it.

Connor drove out to the edge of town, where he lived, and around to the back of the house. He then parked outside his workshop. He got out and slammed the truck door behind him. Connor knew there was really no need for him to get upset. Maggie didn’t seem angry or disappointed, and he could always tell with her. But that little scene with Jerry had touched a nerve in him, one he thought had healed a long time ago. Connor took a deep breath and tried to put that out of his mind. He walked around to the back of the truck and pulled down the tailgate with more force than was necessary.

His phone rang and he was tempted to ignore it. Connor pulled it out of his pocket, knowing that if he didn’t, she’d only continue to call. “What’s up, Maggie? There isn’t something else you need, is there?”

“Nothing other than to know why you took off out of here like a bat out of hell. You usually stay and do things with the kids.” She didn’t say that they’d been asking, which Connor was grateful for.

“I have a lot of work out here that I need to get done.” That wasn’t a complete lie. He did have plenty of work, but nothing was pressing other than completing the banister work, and he’d get to that first. The rest were commissions and jobs he had time to finish.

“Please. I know you, remember? You always leave extra time when you’re here, and when was the last time you didn’t finish something early?” He heard mild scolding in her voice. “You spend hours in your shop, working way past when most folks are in bed. When was the last time you went out and had some fun?”

Connor thought for a few seconds. “I enjoy my work. It’s fun for me,” he countered.

“It’s still work. You need to go out, find yourself someone, and start a family. There’s more to life than just work.”

She was probably right, but Connor was settled. He’d bought the property he had for many reasons, including the fact that it was set away from other people and he could work all he wanted without being disturbed. Besides, he wasn’t interested in women and, well, he’d learned that it was best if he stuck to himself and did what he loved. No one got hurt that way, and some of his first lessons in life had been how not to get hurt. “Maybe, but it’s what I love. There’s nothing like working with your hands, taking wood, forming and shaping it with care in order to bring your vision to life.”

“Okay, I understand. You want to be alone and you don’t want others to bother you. That’s fine. But I won’t stop pestering you, and when you come in next time, I expect you to have a few minutes for a cup of coffee.”

The tension in his back and arms began to release. “I certainly will, just the two of us.” He added the last part because Maggie had a habit of saying they were going for coffee and then he’d end up with her and one of Maggie’s girlfriends that she’d push his way. He wasn’t interested in anyone, women especially. He didn’t want to hurt her feelings—she was a good friend, if pushy—but he just wanted to live his life peacefully and without a million emotional complications.

“Fine, I get the message. But someday, Connor O’Malley, I am going to send just the right person your way and you are going to thank me for the rest of your life.” He heard the smile in her tone.

“You can be as delusional as you want. I’m happy the way I am, and I don’t intend to change.” He sounded more gruff than he intended.

“Now who’s delusional?” Maggie retorted.

“You’re just blissfully happy because you finally got Ethan to ask you to marry him.” He couldn’t help smiling. Maggie and Ethan had been high school sweethearts. He’d moved away for college, but she’d never given up on him, and after she’d gone to school herself, he’d returned, and Maggie had pursued him with the tenacity of a mother grizzly. The story had been all over town, especially when it had a happy ending. Connor, on the other hand, had listened to her bemoan her fortunes in the romance department the entire time Ethan was gone, and even for a while after he returned. That had firmed up his belief that romantic entanglements only complicated things and were definitely something he didn’t need.

“Yes, I am. We haven’t set a firm date, but it will be about this time next year.” She paused, and he heard her talking to someone else. “I have to go, but I’ll see you when you come back to finish the repairs.” She spoke in a soft tone generally reserved for Ethan or one of the children. “And for God’s sake, don’t work too hard.” She hung up, and he shoved the phone back into his pocket, then unloaded the back of his truck into the workshop.

Connor turned on the lights and put everything away in its place. He set the old spindles on the side of the workbench and then unloaded the dowels of pristine wood he’d use to replace what had worn out. That was what he loved most—taking what was old and damaged to work on it and bring it back to life. He also designed and made custom furniture that he sold through a few furniture stores downstate. That part of the business paid for most of the other things he wanted to do. He had a number of pieces in various states of completion. Most of them were at the stage where they needed time for glue to dry or were ready for finish. So he decided to start work on the spindles right away and then finish up construction so all the finishing could be done at the same time.

Connor got to work. When he was in the zone, time always seemed to get away from him, and today was no exception. He planned how he was going to make the spindles and then measured the old ones, cut the dowels to length, set up the lathe for turning, and prepared the wood. When he was done with what he could do on each project, he moved on to the next one, slowly progressing through the process from raw wood to a finished project that he could be proud of.

After hours of thinking only about the task at hand, his stomach interrupted him. Connor looked at the clock above his workbench and grimaced. It was nearly ten at night, and he hadn’t eaten since lunch. He set the projects aside, pleased with his progress, and went through the process of cleaning up. Then he turned out the lights and closed the shop door behind him before walking to the back door of the house.

It was silent once he shut the back door. No one greeted him. He’d thought of getting a dog, but the poor thing would starve for hours while he was working. Connor tended to forget everything, including to feed himself, let alone another creature. Connor turned on the light over his old kitchen table and opened the refrigerator. He pulled out the stuff for sandwiches and began making himself stacks of ham and salami on rye bread. Once he had his sandwiches made, he reached into the refrigerator for a can of beer, but decided on milk instead. He hadn’t had any today, and if he didn’t drink it up, it would spoil. After pouring a glass, he closed the refrigerator door and went into his living room.

For a man who made furniture into works of art, his own living room looked like something out of a grandmother’s attic. Connor didn’t even notice it any longer, but the pieces were mostly things he found at secondhand stores or things he’d gotten because he thought he might restore them someday to their original splendor. Instead, they remained in their tatty state and graced his living room. Not that it mattered to him. Connor sat down in his favorite chair and turned on the television. He set the plate and glass on the table next to him, and then watched and ate without paying much attention to either.

Like he did most nights, Connor took his dishes to the sink, rinsed them, and put them in the dishwasher, which he ran once or twice a week. After returning to his chair, he turned off the lights and sat in the dark watching whatever was on, and eventually he closed his eyes.

At some point, he woke up, looked at the old flip-number clock near his chair and groaned. He stood up and worked the crick out of his back from falling asleep in his chair again. Then he turned out the light and walked down the hallway to the bathroom. He cleaned up and got undressed, then threw his clothes in the full hamper. He told himself he had to do a load of laundry in the morning. Then he padded across the wood floor to his bedroom, pulled down the covers, and climbed in. He closed his eyes and expected to quickly fall to sleep. But he didn’t.

Connor kept thinking back to what he’d seen and heard at the home earlier that day, and his anger rose once again. He had no reason to be angry, per se. It was just that to take a kid for two weeks and then return him like he was an unwanted toaster drove him crazy. He knew what it felt like to be passed around and not know where home was. He knew about a lot of the things those kids in the Pleasanton Home lived every day. Thankfully they had Maggie and Gert to look after them.

Gert Hansen was a middle-aged, grandmotherly type who, along with Maggie, was one of the kindest people he’d ever met. She could also stop a kid running down the hallway at full speed with only a look. Then there was Jerry. Just the thought of the boy’s curled hands and legs, huge eyes, and crooked smile made Connor’s eyes fill with tears. He’d thought of adopting from the home—he’d even considered taking Jerry—but he couldn’t. Those kids deserved better than him. A real family. Not a single guy who…. Connor sat up and shook his head, trying to get all these thoughts out of his head. He wanted them to stop. All that was behind him, and he’d made a life for himself, such as it was. Yes, he was alone, but he didn’t depend on anyone for anything, and no one depended on him.

Connor assuaged his rambling thoughts and what-ifs by promising himself that when he went back to make the repairs, he’d be sure to spend some extra time there, and he’d stop by the bakery and get a big box of cookies for all of them. He settled back on the mattress and took a deep cleansing breath. His mind quieted, and he closed his eyes once again.

A pair of shiny shoes flashed into his mind, followed by a set of legs in crisp pants. His view traveled to where the man leaned slightly forward, his butt filling the seat of his pants. Damn, that was a sight to see. He smiled and let his imagination run. It had been a while since he’d allowed himself the simple pleasure of fantasy, and it felt nice. His body tingled a little with excitement. The man turned around. Tight pants clasped his narrow hips, his hand worked at the opening, lowering the zipper just enough that Connor caught a glimpse of lightly olive-toned skin. He let his mind wander upward. The shirt that had been there was now gone, and Connor let his mind ghost over a pair of tight abs and the full chest that had once filled out the shirt. The man stroked over his chest, plucking his nipples lightly. Connor slid his own hand over his chest, making the same motion as his fantasy man. They liked the same things. He increased the pressure and pressed his head back against the pillow.

A smile formed on the full, thick lips of the man, and Connor wondered how they would feel kissing him. He slid his hand down to his cock, wrapped his fingers around it, and stroked lightly, just to get things warmed up. Then the rest of the face came into view and he groaned. What the hell was he doing fantasizing about Dan Harrington? Connor knew he needed an outlet for his repressed lust, but him?

He pulled his hand away and rolled onto his side, giving up for the night. What he needed was a good night’s sleep and not to be thinking about Dan and Jerry and orphans. Because as soon as he did, he’d start thinking about his childhood, and he’d be damned if he wanted to go there. Jesus, most nights he slept well, but now he was all worked up.

He needed to keep his mind occupied with something else, so he threw back the covers and pulled on a pair of old sweat pants, a T-shirt that had seen better days, and an old pair of sneakers. He walked through the dark house, grabbed the flashlight beside the back door, and left the house.

Instead of walking to his workshop, he headed across the yard to the building next door. He used the flashlight to illuminate the lock on the building and set the combination. When it sprang open, he opened the door and went inside. He didn’t bother switching on all the lights. Instead, he turned on the lamp he’d used the last time, grabbed his set of carving chisels and mallet, and got busy. Soon he had exactly what he wanted. His thoughts centered on his work.

Hours passed, and he made good progress on the curl he’d been trying to get right. It looked perfect, which made him smile. Once he was done, he stood up and admired his progress before turning out the light. After locking the building, Connor went back to the house to bed. This time he had dreams, but they were different, filled with happy music. He loved those dreams.