Lila DiPasqua ends our Blogoversary with…

‘The Duke’s Match Girl – A Fiery Tale Novella’

A romantic, steamy spin on the classic holiday fairy tale, The Little Match Girl—-this erotically charged, emotional historical novella is part of the acclaimed Fiery Tales series!

OUT NOW for 99 cents ONLY! 

BUY LINKS: Amazon / B&N Smashwords

????????????????????????????????????????BOOK BLURB: As childhood friends, Leopold d’Ermart and Suzanne Matchet were inseparable. One unforgettable Christmas Eve, their relationship changed from the best of friends…to lovers. But the heir of the Duke of Mont-Marly isn’t supposed to fall in love with the daughter of his family’s physician. Or vice versa.

Is this a second chance at first love?

Years later, Suzanne is dreading her first Christmas without her father. The heartbreak Leo caused when he left seven years ago is a distant memory. And she prefers to keep it that way. The last thing Suzanne expects is for tall, dark, and sinfully seductive Leo d’Ermart to show up at her door and announce he wants her back in his life. And in his bed. Worse, the now celebrated libertine is even more devastating to a woman’s senses than ever before…

Or are they playing with fire?

The only woman Leo, Duke of Mont-Marly, has ever yearned for is the adorably unconventional, intelligent beauty who got away. He discovers Suzanne creating and selling matchsticks, elixirs for the ill…and is still so damned alluring. Leo is determined to show her the depth of his desire, win back Suzanne’s heart. And give her a Christmas beyond her wildest imagination…

The Duke’s Match Girl          Three Reckless Wishes

Undone

An emotionally charged retelling of Rapunzel.

A Midnight Dance

A sizzling Cinderella retelling.

Fiery Tales Anthologies

           

Three wicked fairy tale retellings in each of these books.

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*1 eBook & 1 signed print copy/2 Winners! 

Giveaway International [unless prohibited]!

Won’t you join our celebration by:

1) Telling us which book would you like and why…

2) Subscribing to our Blog…

3) ‘LIKE’ -ing us on our Facebook!

All 3 required for a TRIPLE chance at the Grand Giveaway!

If a follower & FB buddy, just COMMENT!

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Lila DiPasquaAUTHOR INFO: Lila DiPasqua is a multi-published, national bestselling author of historical romance with heat. Her novels are published by Penguin/Berkley, as well as having self-published works.

She is best known for her critically acclaimed Fiery Tales series. Her books have been featured on Doubleday and Rhapsody Book Clubs. She lives with her husband and three children in Canada and is a firm believer in the happily-ever-after.

Social Media: Website / Blog / Facebook / Tweeter / My Space /

Amanda Scott stops by b2b…

Now on eBooks….

The Border Trilogy

book book book book

The Dangerous Series

book book book book

The Highland Series

book book book book 

 The Bath Trilogy

book book book book 

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*1 eBook Series/1 Winner gifted by b2b! 

Giveaway International [unless prohibited]!

Won’t you join our celebration by:

1) Telling us which Series would you like and why…

2) Subscribing to our Blog…

3) ‘LIKE’ -ing us on our Facebook!

All 3 required for a TRIPLE chance at the Grand Giveaway!

If a follower & FB buddy, just COMMENT!

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAAUTHOR INFO: A fourth-generation Californian of Scottish descent, Amanda Scott is the author of more than fifty romantic novels, many of which appeared on the USA Todaybestseller list. Her Scottish heritage and love of history (she received undergraduate and graduate degrees in history at Mills College and California State University, San Jose, respectively) inspired her to write historical fiction.

Credited by Library Journal with starting the Scottish romance subgenre, Scott has also won acclaim for her sparkling Regency romances. She is the recipient of the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award (for Lord Abberley’s Nemesis, 1986) and the RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award. She lives in central California with her husband.

You can reach Amanda: by Email here. 

Anna Campbell stops by b2b …

‘Midnight’s Wild Passion’

ACBOOK BLURB: London’s most notorious seducer, Nicholas Challoner lives solely for revenge…

The dashing, licentious Marquess of Ranelaw can never forgive Godfrey Demarest for ruining his sister—now the time has come to repay the villain in the same coin. But one formidably intriguing impediment stands in the way of Nicholas’s vengeance: Miss Antonia Smith, companion to his foe’s unsuspecting daughter.

Having herself been deceived and disgraced by a rogue—banished by her privileged family as a result and forced to live a lie—Antonia vows to protect her charge from the same cruel fate. She recognizes Ranelaw for the shameless blackguard he is and will devote every ounce of her intelligence and resolve to thwarting him.

Yet Antonia has always had a fatal weakness for rakes . . .

Buy Links: Amazon / B&N / Book Depository

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Hi Melanie, Leah and Connie! Thank you so much for having me as your guest today on bookworm2bookworm and a big mushy mwah on your third birthday! Congratulations! What a fabulous achievement!

Book pushing is something I love to do. I do reviews once a month over at the Romance Dish of older books that might have gone under people’s radar. I was originally going to do that here, but then I decided to talk about a book of my own that I’ve always had a particular soft spot for.

MIDNIGHT’S WILD PASSION came out in 2011 as my take on the classic Regency romance that I’d grown up reading, most memorably from Georgette Heyer. It has elopements and glamorous Regency parties and duels and frumpy companions with shady pasts to hide and a hero who tries very hard to be a wicked man, but can’t quite manage it once he falls, very much against his will, in love.

Here’s a short excerpt from the scene where ruined lady in disguise Antonia is very close to succumbing to the rakish Lord Ranelaw, much against her better judgement.

Bascombe Hailey, Surrey, Spring 1827

When she rounded the side of the building, Antonia glanced across the silent lake. Stars shimmered on the still blackness, turning it into an inverted sky.

“Good evening, Antonia.”

She wasn’t surprised to look back at the summerhouse and see Lord Ranelaw watching from the shallow flight of steps. His presence seemed part of the enchantment. Or perhaps she was so tired, she drifted in a blur where nothing seemed quite real.

“Lord Ranelaw,” she said softly. A breeze across the lake ruffled her loosely arranged hair.

“Nicholas,” he said equally softly. He leaned against one of the four Corinthian columns that supported the portico and folded his arms.

“Nicholas.” His name signaled a concession they both recognized.

Starlight glimmered on his white shirt—did the man never go decently dressed in coat and neckcloth?—but she discerned few other details. She didn’t need to see him. His image was etched on her heart. Handsome, careless, wicked.

Precious…

“I knew you’d come.” He sounded calm, sure.

The darkness sharpened senses other than sight. She heard the rustle of the trees, smelled the slight dankness of the lake behind her, felt the evening breeze cool against her skin. Skin flushed with awareness.

“You waited three days.”

“I can be patient,” he responded steadily.

She bit her lip. Had she expected to see him? Did her presence mean they’d make love? Somewhere she’d already said yes.

“Are you going to run?” he asked in a casual voice, as if consent or refusal were all the same to him. But even in the shadows, she saw he tautened with anticipation.

“I should.”

He straightened and prowled down to the bottom step. She knew he waited for her to flee like a frightened bird. Like a woman with an ounce of self-preservation.

He became preternaturally still. His voice was low, coaxing, thick and deep as velvet. “What’s it to be, Antonia?”

“Don’t bully me, Ranelaw,” she said sharply.

“Are you pretending you’re just out for an evening walk?”

That’s what she’d told herself. Not even she believed it.

She’d left the house, wandered toward the summerhouse, because she knew Ranelaw waited. She admitted that to herself. She wasn’t quite ready to admit it to him. “I didn’t realize you’d be here.”

Her eyes had adjusted enough to see the glint of his teeth as he smiled. “Yes, you did.”

What use struggling to preserve her pride? He’d soon know she was helpless to resist him. He knew already.

“Yes, I did,” she answered almost soundlessly.

The words lay between them like a challenge.

She poised in breathless suspense for him to sweep her into his arms. Across the several yards separating them, she couldn’t mistake his urgency. The silence developed a vibrating quality. Even the breeze dropped in expectation.

Why hadn’t he touched her yet? They both knew she wouldn’t fight.

He turned his face to the glittering sky then he stared directly at her. Through darkness, that regard burned.

“Why?” The question cut through the night like a blade.

You can read another excerpt on my website.

I’d love to give away a copy of MIDNIGHT’S WILD PASSION (print or e-book, international) today. Just leave a comment! I’d love to know what was the book that got you hooked on reading historical romance.

AAUTHOR INFO: Australian ANNA CAMPBELL has written eight multi award-winning historical romances for Grand Central Publishing and Avon HarperCollins and her work is published in sixteen languages. Anna has won numerous awards for her Regency-set romances. Anna’s latest release is Book 2 in the Sons of Sin series, A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS, which has just been nominated as best sensual historical romance of 2013 in the RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice Awards.

Social Media: Website / Twitter / Facebook / GoodReads

Victoria Vane stops by b2b…

‘The Sheik Retold’

TSR VV2The Desert Was Never Hotter! Pride and passion vie for supremacy in this steamy retelling of E.M. Hull’s romance classic.

A haughty young heiress for whom the world is a playground…

A savage son of the Sahara who knows no law but his own…

When pride and passion vie for supremacy…

Blistering desert days are nothing compared to sizzling Sahara nights…

“There will be inquiries.” I choked out. “I am not such a nonentity that nothing will be done when I am missed. You will pay for what you have done.”
“Pay?” His amused look sent a cold feeling of dread through me. “I have already paid… in gold that matches your hair, my gazelle. Besides,” he continued, “the French Government has no jurisdiction over me. There is no authority here above my own.”
My trepidation was growing every passing minute. “Why have you done this? Why brought me here?”
“Why?” He repeated with a slow and heated appraisal that made me acutely, almost painfully, conscious of my sex. “Bon Dieu! Are you not woman enough to know?”

BUY LINKS: Amazon / B&N

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EXCERPT 1:

Sick with apprehension, I watched as he bent over my luggage, rummaging around until returning with a silken scarf that he wrapped around my head and over my eyes. I wanted to scream and sob aloud, to grovel for my release, but I knew it was pointless. My courage had faltered; even my pride had finally failed me. A feeling of despair came over me and with it a sense of unreality, for the truth seemed too impossible, the setting too theatrical.

Blinded and bound to his bed, I lay quiet and still, as silent tears scorched my cheeks. I was supremely defenseless, and I hated and feared this utter vulnerability.

Doucement, doucement,” he repeated in the same soothing tones he had used on his fretful horse. “It is not what you think, ma chère .”

I could not think at all. I trembled. I raged. I wept. But rational thought was far beyond me. My brain was completely numb, but my senses seemed only to sharpen. I was tense, drawn taut, every nerve thrumming on full alert, keenly aware of him—the soft tread of his feet, the rustling of his movements.

With my vision hampered, I was more acutely attuned to every scent—the smoky smell of burning lamp oil and the hints of nighttime in the Sahara, accompanied by the sweet pungency of desert flowers. Most taunting of all to my nostrils was his unique, musky bouquet—a distinctly mysterious and masculine essence hinting of ambergris, sweet incense, and tobacco that combined to simultaneously attract and repel me.

I also felt everything more intensely—the vibrations in the air at his approach even before his weight sunk into the mattress. The gentle touch of his hands on my feet. The pads of his thumbs massaging the ball of one foot and then the other. A sharp scraping sensation on the arch of my foot that the moist fan of hot breath confirmed as his teeth. The smooth sweep of his fingers over my calves, followed by the light abrasion of his beard bristle. The sensation of his hot, wet tongue lapping the hollow place behind my knees.

I was no longer afraid, but drank in every sensation. My body was on fire. I could not help myself given my voluptuary nature. I had lived my entire life indulging my senses with all things beautiful—art, music, food, wine, perfumes. I had never refrained from handling anything or feeling whatever I chose. Nothing had been out of bounds to me. My wealth allowed me these singular privileges, but I had never before indulged my receptors to another’s touch. I had long ago shunned the need for such physical contact as a contemptuous feminine weakness, but he had forced my submission to it.

The Sheik3I told myself I was only too weary to fight him, but the truth was that his all-out sensual assault had made me a victim of my own senses—of my own suppressed nature. And now awakened, I was starving for more. I relaxed by degrees as he moved up my body. My anticipation had become impatience fired with an eagerness I fought to hide while I drank it all in—secretly reveling in the fluttery feeling of his fingertips, the moist heat of his open mouth, the scoring sensation of his teeth across my skin. I burned. I ached. A haze of helpless need settled over me, causing me to throb deep inside.

I was not ignorant of the mechanics of coitus, but I had never before experienced even an inkling of sexual desire. I had believed it nonexistent in me. But now it grew in response to him, blooming inside, making me breathless, blurring my mind of all but the ceaseless ache in my loins.

A puff of hot air blew over my mound. His voice was muffled in my nest of curls. “Yes, it is as I suspected. My lamb has the loveliest golden fleece.” He nuzzled deeper, and a whimper emerged from my throat. “Is this your revulsion that cries out, ma chère?”Diana Mayo

I could visualize the mocking twist of his mouth. He plied that same mouth to my flesh, working hot open-mouth kisses low across my belly from one hip bone to the other, skirting just above my mons. My body quivered. He raised his head from me. “Shall I desist all this nasty unpleasantness now?”

My skin was damp with perspiration, but my mouth was parched. When I tried to respond, a soft, strangled noise emerged. He had sworn to make me revel in that which I most despised, and once more, the power of his will had proven superior to mine. Yet I still swore to deny him the satisfaction of this knowledge.

I set my teeth and stiffened my limbs, but my body betrayed me, belying my sham of repugnance when he slid his fingers between my legs to find the inside of my thighs damp with desire. I was wet with undeniable and unadulterated want and shuddered with ripples of pleasure as he dipped into my wetness and stroked the length of my nether lips.

He chuckled lowly, a smug and self-satisfied sound. “Say it, ma chère,” he softly demanded. “Tell me you want this above all things. Tell me you want me.”

I did. Desperately, but it was only the fleeting lust of the flesh that I craved—not him. Never him. “You have forced this upon me,” I hissed in a rage of frustration. “This means nothing—proves nothing.”

The Sheik“As you will…I can be a patient man—when I choose to be.”

His weight shifted away from me, and then it was gone from the bed. He removed the blindfold and gave a single tug on the silk cord binding me to the bed. My arms instantly released from above my head. Just as suddenly, he freed my legs.

I scrambled to my knees, dragging the silken coverings up around me as if their thin shelter were a protection. “Are you finished with me now?” I asked breathlessly.

“Finished?” His expression was mixed mockery and mirth. “Par bleu! I have hardly even begun.

EXCERPT 2:

My eyes tracked upward to rest on his sun-bronzed and lightly bearded face. Harsh and angular in the lamplight, it was at once the handsomest and cruelest face I had ever seen. He regarded me fiercely with scornful eyes. Those eyes! Surely I had seen them before.

I gasped. It was him! The man from the party who had eyed me with such insolence. Even now he gazed at me as no other man had ever dared—in a way that made me acutely, almost painfully, conscious of my sex.

Diana Mayo6“Who are you?” I asked hoarsely, speaking in French without thinking.

He replied in French as well, “I am the Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan.”

The name conveyed nothing. “Is it money that you want? Are you holding me for ransom?”

He regarded me for a long and silent moment with an expression of contempt. “I have no need of your money.”

“What then?” I demanded, but deep down I already knew it was not a question of ransom. The way he looked at me was far too revealing and made my stomach churn. “Do you think that you can keep me here, you fool?” I lashed out in growing panic. “Do you suppose I can vanish into the desert and that no notice will be taken of my disappearance? That no inquiries will be made?”

“There will be no inquiries,” he answered me calmly.

“There will be inquiries,” I choked out. “I am not such a nonentity that nothing will be done when I am missed. The English authorities will make the French government find out who is responsible. You will pay for what you have done.”

“Pay?” His amused look sent a cold feeling of dread through me. “I have already paid…in gold that matches your hair, my gazelle. Besides,” he continued, “the French have no The Sheik4jurisdiction over me. There is no authority here above my own.”

My trepidation grew by the second. “Why have you done this? Why have you brought me here?”

“Why have I brought you here?” he repeated with a slow and heated appraisal. “Bon Dieu! Are you not woman enough to know?”

Understanding descended upon me in a nauseas wave that flooded me with heat, filling me with a horror that made each separate nerve in my system cringe. Instinctively, I shrank back. My gaze fell away from his, darting to the flap of the tent, but he read my mind, catching me in his arms before I could flee. My limbs quivered, and he laughed softly, his breath hot in my ear. His mirth was more frightening to me than anything he had said.

I averted my head, refusing to look at him, but he forcibly turned my face to his. I set my teeth and squeezed my lids shut, but I could not block out the vision of his eyes burning into me, nor the feeling of his hot, moist, mint-scented breath fanning my skin.

“I wanted you from the moment I saw you, my golden one…And now,” the backs of his long brown fingers brushed my hair, “you are mine.”

Diana Mayo3You are mine. His whispered words sent a wave of shock jolting through me.

“Damn you to hell!” I cried. “I am my own woman! No one owns me!” I knew he intended to force himself upon me, and the anticipation made me shudder with fear and revulsion. I could not win, but still I fought, writhing in an effort to free myself. When this attempt failed, I slumped in his arms in a feint of submission.

Unfazed, his lips neared mine. He murmured low and dark, his breath hot and faintly sweet against my face, “On the contrary, my gazelle, I do. I exchanged a large sum in gold with your would-be murderer. I bought your life. You are mine to do with as I wish.”

I willed myself to remain passive as his scorching lips met mine and his scalding tongue invaded my mouth, but the urge to escape resurfaced, reanimating my numbed nerves and galvanizing me to act. In a sudden surge of strength, I stomped the heel of my boot onto his instep. He drew back with a fierce curse, his grip loosening just enough for me to spin in his arms, yet when I tried to lurch free, the union with his bigger and stronger body remained. It was my valiant last stand…and it had failed.

“You will not get away with this,” I babbled. “Mustafa Ali or one of the caravan men has surely given the alarm in Biskra by now.”

imagesAO6E3MKM“Mustafa Ali will not give any alarm in Biskra…or anywhere else for that matter.”

“Why not? Have you murdered them all?” I asked in a choked whisper. Myriad tales of ruthless Arab cruelty surged through my mind.

“No. I have not murdered them,” he replied. “There was no need when all had been arranged. When you come to know me better, you will realize that I leave little to chance. Of course, all things are with Allah, blessed be his name, but it is well to remember that Allah does not always concern himself with the affairs of men.”

My head swam dizzily at his reply. “What are you saying, that you planned all of this?”

He smiled slowly. “Voyons! It was all very simple. You engaged a caravan in the charge of Mustafa Ali to travel in the desert. You set out from Biskra, with the intent of traveling northward to Oran, where you would dismiss the caravan. From there you were to cross to Marseilles, then on to Cherbourg to embark for America where you would join your brother.” His slow, casual voice detailed my itinerary with the quiet certainty of perfect knowledge.

The Sheik6I swayed on my feet and whispered with dry lips, “H-how can you know…all…this?”

He replied with a blithe half-smile, “I wished to know.”

“But why?”

“I have told you, my dove. As to how, you paid Mustafa Ali to guide you into the desert. Your brother paid him even more to leave you for dead, and then I paid him even better to lead you to me. Well enough indeed to make him content to remove himself from Biskra, where awkward questions might be asked. Indeed, well enough to retire to a place where he no longer has a need to make his living as a caravan leader.”

To my amazement, he released me. I was too stunned to run, yet my mind raced with all he had revealed. Though I tried to reject it all as lies, tiny glimmers of truth broke through the darkness. I recalled vividly waking in my hotel room to a fleeting vision. There had been someone there. My revolver had been tampered with. I had not missed my shots; they had been substituted with blanks. Mustafa Ali’s shifting eyes, his desire to hurry from the oasis where we had rested at mid-day, his tone, were all explained. He had acted his part to perfection right down to the imaginary wound that had toppled him from his saddle. My faithless and deceitful guide had led me to a man who had bribed him to betray me. Even the horse I rode was trained to this sheik’s whistle. I could not deny that at least part of this absurdity was indeed truth.

The knowledge that I had been duped filled me with impotent rage, but the suggestion of Aubrey’s complicity was ludicrous! Nevertheless, seeds of doubt took root in my mind. Could this be why Aubrey had reacted so uncharacteristically the night before? Suddenly I recollected the last moments before our parting. What had he and the guide been discussing just before my departure? Had he really planned to kill me? But why? Aubrey lived a life of extravagance. Could he be in need of funds? In the event of my death, my entire fortune would be his.

I recalled the strange look in his eyes. Was it a pang of guilt over the murder he had planned? Had he had second thoughts at the last minute? Had Aubrey really paid the guide to kill me? My hands gripped my throat. My God! It could not be true!

“I don’t believe a word you say!” I gasped. “You are a brigand and a liar!”Diana Mayo2

His expression grew grim. His eyes shone cold, hard, and black as onyx. He came close behind me, placing his hands on my shoulders and then slowly slid them up to rest around my neck, where his thumbs caressed my pulse. His voice was low and soft. “Were you a man, I would slice your throat for such calumny. Do notever disparage my character again.”

My heart stood still. “But why me?” I choked out.

He dipped his head to murmur in my ear. “It was fated. I saw you once before—in Paris. You were surrounded by your panting lapdogs and would have none of them. It was then I knew that I alone would have you. The rest was Allah’s will,” he continued matter-of-factly. “You came to Biskra. You arranged a tour in the desert. You were bored and wanted adventure. I have granted that wish.” He flashed a feral smile. “And now you will grant mine.”

EXCERPT 3:

We moved in silence through the curtains. It was if he knew my mood and that any further words might break the spell that bound us. The tented bedchamber was dimly illuminated by a single lantern, yet we stood close enough that I could clearly discern his face. I studied his every move and expression as intensely as he had earlier watched me.

Once the curtain dropped behind us, his large warm hands came to my shoulders. I still wore my gown of green silk and nothing beneath. The heated look in his gaze told me that he remembered that as well. He slowly peeled away the thin layer of fabric from my shoulders, and the entire thing slid down my body in a whisper of silk, to pool at my feet. I made no move to cover myself but rather tilted my head to meet his gaze.

The Sheik1He smiled a look of intense satisfaction. I parted and wet my lips, and his pupils flared bigger. Blacker. Although I was an arrant novice at this game of seduction, his reaction to my efforts filled me with a sudden and strange sense of empowerment—as if the menacing tiger had become my prey.

He did not ask me this time if I wanted him. He did not insist as before that I confess my desire. Perhaps he knew that also would break the spell. I would not have given voice to the words anyway. Instead, I let my body speak. Leaning into him, my naked breasts against his linen-clad chest, I removed his headdress and slid my fingers into his silky hair. His breathing came harder, faster, as we stood there, immobile, with the length of our bodies pressed against one another. I could feel him growing more aroused by the second, yet he held back, watching me, as if daring me to make my next move in our new game of seductive chess.

My gaze was at the level of his chin. I slanted it upward an inch or two to study a mouth curved in bemusement. I darted higher to his eyes. There was a hint of challenge in them, nuanced with disbelief that I would take this any further, but he was mistaken if he thought I would back down.

No, on the contrary, I was more emboldened. I felt much like I had the first time I donned that daring green gown, venturing out in shyness and trepidation, but once I knew how well the garment suited me, I wore it unabashed and proud. So it was with my new mantle of seductress, I would wear it brazenly or not at all.

I did not wait for him to claim the kiss from my lips but took what I wanted from his. I had spent the last decade fending off rather than initiating kisses, but he had already shown me what he liked. And I was ever a quick study.

I was amazed at my own temerity. Though my heart beat wildly, I marshaled my resolve. Without prelude or the least sign of timidity, I darted out my tongue and licked it slowly across the smooth, soft, sensitive seam of his mouth. I then sucked his lower lip between mine, catching it between my teeth and biting down gently, relishing the feel of Diana Mayo1this pliant little piece of his flesh, but this tiny bite only sharpened my hunger for much more of him. I was dizzy with the pure headiness of being in control—or at least with the brief illusion of it, as he quickly demonstrated.

My sheik, for I had already decreed that he would be mine in precisely the same degree that I would be his, opened his mouth and ravaged mine, invading with his hot, wet tongue. With it he swept my mind clean of every thought but his body and mine. His hands came around me roughly, sliding down my back to squeeze my buttocks and then jerking me hard against him. There was no question of his arousal. It surged between us thick and hard.

“You have had a change of heart, ma belle?” His tone was rough and guttural. There was an equally savage flicker in his gaze. “It is a dangerous thing to tempt the beast.” With his hands on my arse, he guided me, ensuring that I felt the full length and breadth of his erection. “I would have been patient and gentle with you, but it appears the tigress has come out to play.”

My teeth scored over my lower lip. He would not be gentle with me.

But when had I ever done anything in my life gently? Or genteelly? The thought was almost laughable. I rode hell-for-leather, never shirking the highest fences. I hunted big game. I set out alone in the Sahara. I was no longer the cowering creature I had recently become. She was someone else, someone I despised. No, I was fearless. I was Diana Mayo.

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*1 eBook/1 Winner! 

Giveaway International [unless prohibited]!

Won’t you join our celebration by:

1) Telling which EXCERPT did you like and why…

2) Subscribing to our Blog…

3) ‘LIKE’ -ing us on our Facebook!

All 3 required for a TRIPLE chance at the Grand Giveaway!

If a follower & FB buddy, just COMMENT!

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Victoria VaneAUTHOR BIO: Victoria Vane is an award-winning romance novelist, cowboy addict and history junkie whose collective works of fiction range from wildly comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance.

Victoria also writes historical fiction as Emery Lee and is the founder of Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers and the Romantic Historical Lovers book review blog.

Look for Victoria’s Contemporary Cowboy Series coming summer 2014 from Sourcebooks.

Social Media: Website / Blog /  Facebook / Tweeter /

Julianne Lee stops by b2b …

‘The Scottish Play Murder’ by Anne Rutherford aka Julianne Lee

TSPM ARBOOK BLURB: The first production of The New Globe Players was marked by murder. Now Suzanne Thornton’s company dares to mount the most cursed of plays…

When charming Scotsman Diarmid Ramsay asks to play the titular role in Macbeth, he sets off a flurry of excitement among The New Globe Players. Despite protests from the company director that performing the “Scottish play” will lead only to disaster, Suzanne decides that the show must go on—with herself acting the part of Lady Macbeth, opposite the handsome stranger.

Rehearsals begin—but then rumors about Ramsay arise, implicating him in the death of a sailor found behind the Goat and Boar. Is the man a murderer, possibly involved in a plot against the newly restored king? Suzanne refuses to believe it, until another murder connected to Ramsay occurs.

It seems the curse of Macbeth may have been unleashed, leaving Suzanne no choice but to use her wits and her wiles to determine if Ramsay is a gifted actor—or a murderous villain.

BUY LINKS: Amazon / B&N / iBookstore

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EXCERPT: 

He said to the voice, “Tell your business.”

“Louis, let him in. I can’t hear him out there.”

With a show of reluctance, Louis hauled the door wide enough to allow the visitor to enter. In stepped a man in a skirt. Not just a skirt, but a checkered one that barely covered his knees. The woolen fabric of it overflowed his belt so lavishly that he threw the excess over his shoulder like a cape or shawl. Suzanne had seen a kilt once before, but that had been a dull brown with black threads running through it. This luxurious garment was a stunning red with green, black and yellow criss-crossing in large squares. The fabric was clean and appeared new, a rare thing in this neighborhood, and in her experience almost an oddity in a Scot. Beneath the kilt the visitor wore a clean white shirt that was equally stiff and fresh. His belt was dyed shiny black and bore a large, silver buckle wrought so finely as to bespeak a great deal of wealth. As did the sword that hung at his side from a black leather baldric. A utility dagger with a plain wooden handle was thrust into his belt without scabbard. For shoes he wore only soft leather without ornament or heel, and no leggings at all. It begged the question of what linens he might be wearing beneath the kilted wool, and though there had once been a time when Suzanne might have simply lifted the hem to find out, today she refrained for the sake of proving herself no longer a tart. At her age, that sort of behavior was less than amusing to most men and should be left to women far younger and comely than herself.

And besides, this man’s face caught her attention and held it. He had the black Irish coloring she’d always found appealing, with jet black hair, pale skin, and warm, ruddy cheeks. His mouth was red, and appeared to have the sort of habitual smile that made some people seem happy all the time. In addition, this man was actually smiling. His charm was palpable, and Suzanne felt if she stood in his presence long enough she would soon be covered in it, like spring pollen.

He looked straight into her eyes and said, “I’ve come for an audition.”

Suzanne blinked, surprised. This man appeared far too wealthy to need employment as an actor. Theatre was something one did when desperate and only when without skills other than lying. Certainly that was how she herself had ended up here. In the general scheme of things, acting was thought by most people as one step down from military service, one step up from thievery, and just around the corner from murder for hire. The wealth and beauty she saw standing before her was almost never found onstage.

Their visitor continued, in a rich, rolling brogue, “My name is Diarmid Ramsay, and I’ve been told you’ve a need for someone to play the title role in Macbeth.”

This was news to Suzanne. That play was one the troupe had not yet addressed, and she’d not heard mention of it from Horatio. She turned to call him from the ‘tiring house, and found he’d not left the stage. He was still there, staring at the brightly dressed Scot as if fascinated by the busy tartan wool. “Horatio!” she called. “Have you put out an audition notice regarding Macbeth?”

“I expect you mean the Scottish play.” An odd stress in his voice puzzled her, and he crossed himself as if she’d uttered a curse. When he kissed the wooden crucifix he wore around his neck, she knew she’d truly frightened him.

Oh, right. Nobody ever called that play by its proper name. Bad luck, or something. Horatio was a stickler for taking no chances with theatre superstition, going so far as to ban whistling in the ‘tiring house though he’d only just that year heard it was bad luck. “Very well, then, if you like. The Scottish play. Are we casting for it?”

“No, and we will not ever. ‘Tis terrible luck and I won’t have it.”

Suzanne turned to Ramsay. “I’m sorry, kind sir, you seem to have been ill informed. We’re not casting Mac…that play.” She took a glance back at Horatio.

“Are you certain?” asked the would-be Macbeth.

Horatio called out from where he stood, “We are most certain. No Scottish play for us. Every troupe that has performed that play has failed and dispersed soon after. ‘Tis bad luck.”

Suzanne frowned, thinking, and turned back toward Horatio. “Well, it seems to me the luck is not so much luck as simply timing. Everyone knows that a failing company performs popular plays to increase attendance. And you can’t deny it’s a popular play.”

“You’ll recall in the old days, the time Cromwell’s soldiers attacked us we’d just performed that play.”

“We were performing The Twelfth Night when they came.”

“But the day before it had been the Scottish play.”

“And you think we were cursed by Shakespeare?”

“’Twas the witches. The witches cursed us.”

“You mean the Double, double…”

“Stop!” Horatio pressed his palms to his ears and shut his eyes tightly. “Do not say it!” He crossed himself again, then quickly returned his right palm to his ear. He crouched, as if awaiting a blow.

Louis said mildly, “I’d like us to do Macbeth.” Horatio flinched, but Louis ignored him. “I’ve always enjoyed that play, all dark and mysterious like. I prefer the spooky ones. Witches and ghosts and all that there suchlike.”

“A young man such as yourself would know no better than to flirt with the powers of darkness. So exciting for yourself, but not so merry for those of us who know the ways of the world and how badly they can go awry. ‘Tis bad luck, I say. You can have your mystery, Louis, and keep it.”

Matthew said, “Not so mysterious, I think. Ambitious woman eggs on her husband to do murder, they both go mad with guilt, and everyone ends up dead.”

“Not everyone.”

“Everyone who deserves it, and then some. A crowd pleaser, that one.”

Suzanne allowed as she did rather like Macbeth, and thought it would be a good addition to the repertoire. Indeed, one might think it a necessary addition, being a crowd pleaser. “I think we should do it.”

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 give away a print copy of ‘The Scottish Play Murder’

Julianne LeeAUTHOR INFO: At twelve I began to write for fun, which I think is the only real reason to write fiction. Daydreaming with a purpose, and gradually I realized I could gain approval for the very thing teachers used to criticize me for in class. When I was thirty I decided to write for money and bought a copy of Writer’s Digest.

Twelve years, twelve completed novel manuscripts, and eight proposals for uncompleted novels after buying that Writer’s Digest, I sold a novel. Son of the Sword was my thirteenth completed manuscript. Lucky thirteen. Since then Berkley has published two time travel series set in historical Scotland, and two straight historicals set in Tudor England. I also write historical mysteries set in Restoration London, under the pseudonym Anne Rutherford.

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Deborah Doucette stops by b2b …

BG DD‘Bad Girls’

BOOK BLURB: Rebecca Griffin only ever wanted one thing: to be a good wife and mother.  Her own domineering Italian-American mother, as well as the rest of her big-hearted, opinionated, wild and wonderful Italian family, had been telling her how to do just that since she was little and wanted to marry Roy Rogers.  Now, it’s the 90’s and Rebecca has everything she ever dreamed of.  But she suspects her husband is having an affair and fears her daughter, Dana, is going bad; hurtling dangerously out of reach toward a self-destructive calamity.

Then Rebecca learns of the mysterious death of a distant cousin long ago at the prison bordering the small, idyllic New England town where she lives.  It’s a story she can’t shake.  Questions about the young woman’s fate nag at Rebecca as she desperately tries to reclaim the little girl she once knew, while hanging onto the ragged remnants of her marriage.

Rebecca, her troubled daughter, Dana, and an enigmatic woman from the past, embark on a journey of discovery both distinctly their own, and shared. Each must wrestle with the demons that nip at their heels propelling them headlong, until all three collide one desperate, enchanted autumn night. 

Bad Girls, at its heart, is a story about family.  The origins, variations and connections that shaped them – even the places they came from – set these women on their path.  As the unlikely travelers come to the end of their journey, they find new paths revealed in the most unearthly of places by the most innocent of messengers.   

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EXCERPT: 

 “Twisted.”  That is the word Rebecca’s mother, Eva, uses to describe the shoes. It’s a word, an image that drops into Rebecca’s memory; a haphazard seed, taking root.  “Twisted,” Eva says while wringing her hands as if she were squeezing the life out of a wet washcloth.  Rebecca pictures black lace-up oxfords with thick soles and a hard raised heel – prison shoes.  In her mind, they are contorted, cartoonishly, into corkscrews.   

Rebecca imagines the girl in the shoes when they were new, shiny.  Or, maybe they had been worn by others before her and were beat. Perhaps they were too tight and pinched the girl’s toes, or too loose and caused her to shuffle her indignity across the floor.  Rebecca sees her in a loose, rough cotton shirtwaist with button tabs where the waistband should be.  A dress the color of schoolroom walls, holding areas, of bus station lavatories – numbing and anonymous.  Her dark hair spreads out stark and alarming against the Vaseline green of the fabric; shocking in its refusal to lie flat and quiet, it coils and curls wildly, too obvious,  dangerous.  She is stocky and square; she is sturdy in her shoes. And angry.  Her face is…her face is…?  Familiar.   

Rebecca’s mother stands in front of the white porcelain sink in her new kitchen.  The last project Rebecca’s father completed before his addiction to nicotine claimed him.  The last time her mother would flirtatiously wish for something, the last time Joe would take up the challenge. That was the essence of what they were to each other.  Even at the end, Eva was his princess, his damsel in distress, his girl; Joe was her rescuer always, her hero. The white countertops, cabinets, white tile floor – every surface shiny as a silver dollar – were her mother’s idea; he grumbled that the color was impractical.

“It’ll look like a goddamn hospital.” He glowered, menacingly and threw his tools around, kicked an old cabinet door, splintering the dry wood, causing his children to scatter like mice to the four corners of the house.  Eva stood by passively, patiently. She cajoled him, babied him, pampered him, and got her way as usual.  It was a lot of work for Rebecca’s mother, this vision of husbands and wives, this version of marriage.  She labored much more strenuously plotting, playacting, and preening than he did at sawing, nailing, and painting.  Eva would sigh in the end, smiling like Mona Lisa. 

Oh God…Beauty and the Beast, Rebecca would think as her eyes reflexively rolled in their sockets.  The beast magically changes into a prince through Belle’s saintly patience, simpering affection, and blind love.  Rebecca was certain that’s the way Eva saw her role, and what prompted these tidbits of advice imparted ever since Rebecca could remember: “Never contradict a boy. Play hard to get.  Play dumb.  Always let them win.” Rebecca ignored the advice. 

She loved racing the boys at recess when she was a little girl and often won.  How the boys felt about it  was of no significance to her whatsoever. 

Rebecca hated the games her mother played; “I won’t do it,” she told her mother, once she was old enough to figure out what was going on.  After a while, she lost patience with Eva, “That is so insulting!  Archaic!  Times have changed, you know.”  Eva would shake her head, lifting one shoulder in a half-hearted shrug, “Men never change,” she had said.  Now, with the way things have gone in her marriage, Rebecca thinks maybe Eva was right.                        

Eva tipped her head back as steam rose, billowing up from the pot of pasta she emptied into a colander.  Her short black hair, professionally coifed once a week and carefully maintained in between, was in some danger of wilting.  With the back of her hand, she pushed at few curls that tried to relax over her forehead; they won’t  dare reappear there.  She wore her house uniform: shapeless worn shift, clean, but irreparably stained, and canvas sneakers with holes frayed through at the toes, the bleached-white laces tied into a tight bow and double knotted. This is what she cooks, cleans, and gardens in.  She does laundry in it, mows the grass in it and wears it while carrying on lengthy, involved telephone conversations with her sisters. 

Over the years, her children have given her designer loungewear, sweat suits, brand new Keds, and soft leather moccasins.  No one knows what becomes of them.  Throughout Rebecca’s childhood, they all thought this getup was the reason she scurried into the bedroom to hide when anyone knocked at the door.

In truth, Eva had no use for neighbors, distrusted strangers.  She had her family and that was enough, that was everything. Her Anne Klein’s and Ralph Laurens, her silks and linens, her expensive leather pumps and matching handbags wait in dark, perfumed closets for bi-weekly shopping excursions with her sisters, and for lunch at restaurants with invariably disappointing fare: “I make better at home.”

She tossed the pasta with the tomato sauce begun early this Sunday morning, simmering for hours with olive oil, garlic, basil, bay leaf, oregano, meatballs, a few sausages. A ritual that keeps the world, for her family, turning on its axis.  The kitchen workspace is small, two short steps from the stove on one side to the sink on the other.  Stir, taste, lift, pour, tip back, shake the colander, empty contents into the deep bowl, two steps back to the stove, ladle in a little sauce, toss.  A ballet as old as generations.

EXCERPT continued here.

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Deborah DoucetteAUTHOR INFO:I began writing professionally after some soul searching galvanized me to reflect on where I was in my career and what I really wanted to do. I knew that answer was, write! Soon, I was writing articles for local newspapers and looking for other opportunities.

Personal circumstances focused my attention on the issue of grandparents raising their grandchildren which led me to writing my first book, a non-fiction work, RAISING OUR CHILDREN’S CHILDREN, now undergoing a revision to return as, ROOM IN THE HEART, Spring of 2014.

My Women’s Contemporary Fiction novel, BAD GIRLS, just released, is a story about choices women face, family, a mystery and a little magic. Currently, I am a Blogger for the Huffington Post and working on a new novel.

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Saralee Etter stops by b2b…

LCC SE‘Lydia’s Christmas Charade’

BOOK BLURB: Dutiful, practical Lydia knew that her father, a wealthy commoner, planned to announce her engagement to a nobleman at their Christmas house party. But she didn’t expect her prospective fiancé to be in love with another woman!

Anthony wasn’t usually so reckless. But something about the unknown lady’s sweet manner and pansy brown eyes made him want to share a bit of juicy gossip with her. Everybody knew Lord Danville needed to marry an heiress to save his family from financial ruin. Nobody but Anthony would mention it to the heiress herself.

To fix the mess he’s created, Anthony must woo Lydia on his noble friend’s behalf—and Lydia will have to decide between duty and desire.

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EXCERPT:

“Miss Lydia Potts closed the door of the small Rose Parlor behind her and leaned her back against it. She shut her eyes. She would not cry.

Through the door she could hear the lively sound of the Sir Roger de Coverley, the country-dance now in progress. A babble of voices and drumming of dancing feet softened the sharp sound of the fiddles.

She would not cry. She had no reason for it. Perhaps she was feeling unwell. But it could not be because of the lavish dinner or the strong spicy scent of pine and ivy garlands wound around the grand staircase. That, at least, had all been perfect. Mr. Potts had spared no effort to entertain his Christmas houseguests—only the best of everything for the gentlemen and ladies who made up the cream of the Ton.

No, her distress had been caused by what she’d overheard a moment ago in the ballroom.
“So, Lord Danville is to offer for Miss Potts? Well, she is quite dazzling! Her dowry is, at least. How her golden guineas must sparkle,” said young Lady Agatha to another debutante as they waited their turn in the dance. “Far brighter than her eyes, since she’s barely passable to look at.”

The other girl sighed behind her upraised fan. “The poor man! Everybody knows that he has been in love with Juliana Stenwyck for years.”

“Oh, well, that would never do! The Danvilles and the Stenwycks haven’t a penny to bless themselves with. But to be forced to marry someone whose papa is In Trade!” Lady Agatha had shuddered delicately.

That was when Lydia had told her dancing partner—what was his name?—that she had been feeling unwell and slipped off to the Rose Parlor, which for tonight had been designated as the Ladies’ Retiring Room.

But she would not cry. Lydia was perfectly fine.”

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Saralee EtterAUTHOR INFO: I love to read, and always knew that writing was the only career for me. I day-dreamed constantly, so it sounded wonderful just to think up stories all day long.

Sadly, however, I couldn’t see a way to make a living writing the romantic and exciting stories that filled my head. Instead, I wrote other things: Newspaper articles, public relations releases, legal briefs.

Now I’m a work-at-home mom, writing the stories I’ve been dreaming about for so long. They’re mostly light-hearted and fun. I’m an armchair time-traveler, so writing stories set during the English Regency period is the perfect way to enjoy history, romance, and delightful adventures all at once.

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