Tag Archives: Hawthorne Family series

Chapter One of Heartbreak in Rio and a Giveaway!

I can’t believe it’s almost time for the release of Heartbreak in Rio! June 1st is right around the corner. The novella is part of an anthology called Endless Summer Nights, and all the stories take place in Rio de Janeiro. I can’t wait for you to meet Sidney and Rodrigo and experience their love story.

What can you expect?

The usual passion and chemistry between the main couple. And being the foodie that I am, you know I had to mention Brazilian dishes in the book. If you want to see some of my pictures of authentic eats in the Brazilian part of Atlanta, check out my Facebook photos. I was doing “research” while writing Second Chances, the first book I wrote with Brazil as the setting. (It was a difficult job, but somebody had to do it.)

About the couple
Sidney is the sales rep for a fashion house called Haute Moderne. Rodrigo is the head of a large clothing retailer in Brazil. What Sidney doesn’t know is…well, let me not spoil it for you. Read the blurb and Chapter One below. Afterward, enter the contest for a chance to win an autographed copy of the anthology.

Cover_Heartbreak in Rio

 

BLURB

Sidney Altman and Rodrigo Serrano once shared a scorching affair before he returned to Brazil to take over his family’s fashion empire. Now she’s in Rio on business—and Rodrigo intends to win her back and prove that his biggest regret was ever letting her go….

Chapter One

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Sidney Altman sighed contentedly, taking in the sparkling waters of Copacabana Beach from the terrace of her sixth-floor suite, across the street from where a promenade ran parallel to the water’s edge. The luxurious art deco building where she stayed contained four restaurants, including a piano bar she had visited last night to wind down with drinks after her long flight. After she concluded her business in the next two days, she planned to take full advantage of the hotel spa and the famous beach, where she currently watched with envy as tourists and cariocas sunbathed and frolicked in the waves.

Well-rested, she was now ready to face the buying team in her first meeting with Belo Fashions, a small Brazilian retailer that sold everyday fashions for the average woman.

Hearing her cell phone ring, she went back inside. The room had ceiling-to-floor olive-green drapes that hung over the windows. In the sitting area two chairs covered in a gold-leaf pattern and the matching love seat surrounded a glass table with plastic flowers in vibrant hues of magenta, lemon-yellow and lavender.

She picked up the phone. “Hello?” “How’s it going?” The voice of her mother, Agnes Altman, came through the line.

“Mom, you can’t keep calling me every five minutes,” she chided.

“I’m not. I just know how important this deal is to you. You’ve worked so hard to get where you are.”

Her mother was her biggest cheerleader. “Stop worrying or you’ll make me worry.”

Agnes laughed. “I’ll try not to. I don’t want to jinx you.”

Apparently one of Belo Fashion’s assistant buyers had remembered Sidney from Coterie, an international fashion exhibition in New York, but for the life of her she couldn’t remember meeting any of their buyers from that event. Regardless, the company wanted to work with the Haute Moderne fashion house and had specifically requested Sidney as the sales rep to make the presentation.

Belo Fashions had been very accommodating. They had provided a suite, first-class airfare and a driver as part of the deal to entice Haute Moderne to present next season’s evening wear to their buyers. This type of accommodation was highly unusual, but she took it as a sign that they were very interested.

Their interest couldn’t have come at a better time. After losing a major contract last year, this deal was make-or-break for Haute Moderne, and its success or failure rested squarely on her shoulders.

“I probably won’t have much to tell you even after the meeting,” Sidney said. She slipped on her shoes, a pair of coal-black pumps as comfortable as tennis shoes. “This is a totally different culture from ours. They prefer to take their time and establish a rapport with anyone they do business with. I can’t rush them.”

“They’ll fall in love with you. I’m sure of it.” Agnes paused. “Are you okay?” she asked quietly.

Sidney understood her mother’s concern and a rueful smile touched her features. “Mother, the chances of me running into him are almost nonexistent. We already discussed this, remember?”

“I know, but I wanted to know how you felt about being in his country, knowing he’s there somewhere.” Sidney set her coffee mug on the dresser and swallowed the painful constriction in her throat. The “he” her mother mentioned was Rodrigo Serrano, the CEO of Moda. Moda was owned by the Serrano family and as a much larger retailer than Belo, it dominated the country’s competitive clothing market. It had been a year since she and Rodrigo had parted ways, and still just the thought of his name made her heart ache.

They’d met in New York and their affair had been brief and intense. After an argument, Rodrigo had left in anger and she’d never heard from him again.

She unsnapped her briefcase to double-check the contents. “Mom, I’m fine. What happened between me and…him is in the past.”

She couldn’t even bring herself to say his name. It was still too painful. She could still see his dark eyes and hear his husky male laugh every time she closed her eyes for longer than a second. And because he often invaded her thoughts, he was still very much a part of her life.

“You know I had to ask and make sure you’re fine.” Ever since Sidney’s father had passed away when she was in high school, she and her mother had become even closer and were more like sisters than mother and daughter. “Stop worrying. Anything you want me to bring you back?”

“Bring me back one of those hot Brazilian men.” “Mom!” They shared a laugh. “What am I going to do with you?”

“Sweetie, I know things you know nothing about.” Sidney laughed again. “Don’t have too much fun while I’m away. I can’t bail you out of jail from all the way down here.” She snapped the briefcase shut. “All right, I better get out of here. The driver will be waiting for me.”

“Make sure you have a little bit of fun while you’re down there, okay? You work too hard. Knock ’em dead, baby. Love you.”

Sidney checked her appearance in the mirror one last time before she grabbed her briefcase and took the elevator downstairs. Outside, a black sedan with tinted windows waited. While it was wintertime, cold and snowing in New York, it was summer in Brazil. She lifted her face and embraced the warmth of the sun.

It would be nice to live in a place like this, where the weather didn’t have such extremes, she thought.

“Bom dia, Javier.” She greeted the driver, who’d stepped out of the vehicle and opened the door upon seeing her. She chose to say “good morning,” a simple phrase to show that she’d at least made some effort to learn a few words of Portuguese.

“Bom dia, senhora.” A welcoming smile creased his leathery tan face.

Javier didn’t say much on the short ride to Belo headquarters, which gave Sidney a chance to run through the introductory speech in her head. This morning would be a preliminary meeting with the buying assistants and the senior buyer who oversaw all purchases for the women’s department. Tomorrow would be a follow-up to address any concerns and hopefully close the deal. Her main contact was an assistant by the name of Gilberto Ribeiro, whom she’d been in constant communication with from almost the beginning.

Belo headquarters was located in Centro, the city’s historic and financial center. While there were no views of beaches that tourists could flock to, there was still plenty to see and do in that part of town. Centro was an interesting mélange of churches dating back to the eighteenth century and tall, modern buildings housing banks and other businesses. Javier dropped her off in front of the Belo building and she took the elevator to the top floor. When she stepped into the reception area, a dark-skinned older woman wearing glasses greeted her.

“Senhora Altman, bemvinda. Welcome. My name is Nelza Correia. I will take care of you today.”

“Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.” Sidney gave the woman a warm smile and they shook hands.

“Please have a seat.” Nelza motioned to a row of cushioned chairs along the wall.

Nelza spoke to a young woman behind the reception desk and then came back to Sidney. “Senhor Ribeiro is in a very important meeting with one of our business partners, and it went longer than expected. I will take you to the conference room to wait.” Her expression was apologetic. “May I get you anything to drink? A cafezinho, perhaps?”

Brazilians were known for their potent cups of coffee. But she’d already had her morning fix, so she declined.

Nelza led her down a long hallway, past offices on both sides where employees sat hunched over computers. The conference room itself was at the end of the hall and opened up into a large, bright room with an oak table that seated eight. At the end of the table was a projector and a screen pulled down from the ceiling. In front of the windows, a trio of mannequins wore three different designs from the Haute Moderne evening wear collection in red, black and ivory.

“You should have everything you require in here,” Nelza said. “If you happen to need anything else, you can use the phone over there to dial the front desk and someone will assist you.”

“Thank you, Nelza.” Sidney looked around after she left. The tan-and- brown furniture designs had a soothing effect, for which she was grateful. Her stomach was currently tied up in a series of knots. She always had a bit of nerves right before a major presentation, but once she launched into her speech and hit her stride, it was smooth sailing.

She plugged her flash drive into the computer and made sure the video was ready—a two-minute presentation of models walking down the catwalk, wearing their dresses in a display of flashing colored lights. She froze the frame on the first dress, a little black sleeve- less number, the symbol of their Bonne Soirée line.

She placed catalogs, line sheets and color cards in front of each of the chairs. She then set fabric swatches next to the projector within easy reach, so she could pass them down to the attendees when the time came. Now it was a waiting game.

Sidney helped herself to a glass of lukewarm water from the pitcher sitting on the credenza against the wall. She was about to take a sip when she heard two men talking, their voices coming through the slightly open door. She froze with the glass halfway to her mouth and angled her head to hear better. One of the voices was heart-wrenchingly familiar.

She couldn’t understand the words, but there was no mistaking the tone; a sound she’d never be able to forget for as long as she lived.

It can’t be him, she thought even as her heart hammered a rapid beat under her ribs. Surely her ears were playing tricks on her.

The men continued talking but their footsteps came to a halt somewhere down the hall. With ears perked up and heart thumping wildly, Sidney stood frozen, clutching the slender glass. It had to be some cruel trick of the mind. She simply hadn’t expected to see him. Wasn’t at all prepared to see him.

The men started moving again and they came closer, and closer, until they pushed open the door and her stomach bottomed out. Her fondest dream and worst nightmare stood only a few feet away.

Rodrigo stood by the door talking to Gilberto Ribeiro. Both men were so deeply engaged in their conversation that they didn’t notice her standing by the window. Finally, Rodrigo happened to look in her direction, but still she couldn’t move. Dark eyes nailed her in place and she suddenly stopped breathing.

He had the kind of look that made women swoon and men envious. His swarthy skin, naturally tanned, was even and smooth. With a symmetrical face and prominent nose passed down from his Portuguese ancestors, he looked as though he should be on the covers of magazines.

Slowly, Sidney set her glass on the credenza. “Hello, Rodrigo.” Was that her voice, sounding faint and breathless?

“Sidney…?” His voice echoed the same shock that filled her.

Before she could respond, Gilberto rushed forward. “Ah, Senhora Altman. I apologize for keeping you waiting. But it seems you are good, yes?”

Rodrigo came toward her, his steps measured, his eyes never leaving her face. His movement was graceful, fluid. The type of movement that came not only from his affinity for sports, but from the quiet confidence that whispered of growing up with copious amounts of money at his disposal and all the privileges that came along with it.

“What are you doing here?” he demanded. “Senhora Altman is a sales representative from Haute Moderne, a small New York fashion house,” Gilberto answered, looking confused by their reaction to each other. “They have the line I mentioned we were interested in purchasing.”

“You never told me the fashion house was Haute Moderne.” His words were meant for Gilberto, but he continued to stare at her in disbelief.

He spoke with perfect diction, hinting at his affluent background and years in private schools where he’d learned to speak Spanish, English and French in addition to his native Portuguese. The cadence of his cultured voice sent heat feathering across her skin, and it was all Sidney could do not to close her eyes and indulge in the sound.

Her nose caught a waft of his cologne, a very masculine scent that was a mixture of amber, citrus and sandal wood. You couldn’t get it in the States. You couldn’t get it anywhere, in fact, because it had been specially created for him. That was the kind of life he led, where manufacturers of cologne would create a signature scent for him that no one else could have. Her heart constricted painfully at the familiarity of it. She’d done so well since they’d said goodbye to one another, but her hard-won composure threatened to desert her with his unexpected appearance.

He inspected her from head to toe, the leisurely stroll of his gaze generating heat wherever it lingered. On her waist. On her breasts. On her throat where she swallowed nervously to maintain some level of control over the out-of-control response of her body.

Rodrigo was not the kind of man to hide his appreciation for the female form, and he had a habit of doing just that. It was typical of men of his culture, to offer such a frank appreciation of women. It had always made her feel deliciously feminine, and the same tingly sensations resurfaced in the pit of her stomach.

“You look well,” he said, a grudging note to his voice.

“Thank you. You look well, too.” Her voice softened as she tried to maintain her professionalism. “You do business with Belo?”

“You could say that.” His cryptic answer gave her pause.

Gilberto spoke up. “In the past few weeks, Moda and Belo have become partners. We haven’t made a formal announcement to the media yet, but we feel this is a good marriage. Moda bought all our stores and now, with their high-end fashions and our everyday clothing lines, we are most certainly the largest retailer in Brazil.”

Gilberto’s smiling face indicated that he had no idea of the devastating news he’d just delivered. “You… you’ve been bought by Moda?” She squeaked the words out.

“Yes.” Gilberto nodded vigorously. “We were concentrated in a few key cities in the country, but now Haute Moderne’s clothes have the potential to be in stores all over Latin America!”

His excitement was palpable but not contagious. A wave of panic seized Sidney as she realized what was happening. If Moda had taken over Belo Fashions, that spelled trouble for the deal she was trying to strike with them. There was no way Rodrigo would agree to the sale—not when he knew that she was involved. From the smug look on his face, she knew he’d connected the dots.

Still in disbelief, she had to ask to make sure. “You own Belo now?”

“That’s correct,” Rodrigo said. No, no. This can’t be happening. “I will be sitting in on this presentation,” he continued with deliberate slowness, “and we’ll have to make sure the line is a good fit for the stores before any contracts are signed.”

Sidney felt the deal she’d been so confident about only moments before quickly slip through her grasp.

Preorder your copy at the following links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble All Romance Ebooks | Kobo | iTunes | Amazon.ca | Amazon.uk

***FREE BOOK***

The Temptation of a Good Man is the first book in the Hawthorne Family series. If you haven’t had a chance to sink your teeth into that series yet, now is your chance to get started at $0.00. You can’t beat that price! If you’ve already read it, pass on this info to your book-loving friends.

Below are the links to where you can download the book for free for a limited time. Unfortunately, it’s still not free at Barnes & Noble, and I don’t know if it will be before the free promotion is up. However, if you have a Nook, you can download an epub file from Smashwords or All Romance Ebooks and side load it to your device.

Download your free copy now:  Amazon | All Romance Ebooks | Kobo | Smashwords | iTunes

***CONTEST***

I’m giving away copies of Endless Summer Nights! I know I have a few international readers and you’re often overlooked by us authors because of shipping costs, but I’m including you in this one and have set aside three copies just for you. Here are the details on the contest:

Prizes:  Eight lucky winners will receive an autographed copy of the Endless Summer Nights anthology; 5 copies will be awarded to entrants in the U.S. and 3 awarded to international entrants.

Eligibility: You must be a subscriber to my blog.

How to enter: All you have to do is leave a comment. You can tell me who is your favorite hero from any of my books or anything else you like. International entrants, please include your country of residence in your comment.

Deadline: May 25, 2014 at 11:59 PM EST

Winners will be chosen by random.org. Their names will be posted in the comments and an email sent to notify them. Winners will then have 48 hours to respond with a valid mailing address to receive their book.

Good luck! Or as they say in Portuguese, boa sorte!

Giveaway: Hawthorne Family Series in Print

The Goodreads contest has wrapped up and as promised, I’m doing a giveaway of the print books for my blog followers, too! You have another chance to win autographed copies of Volume 1 and Volume 2 of the Hawthorne Family series in print.

Cover-Hawthorne series 1

THE TEMPTATION OF A GOOD MAN

Can true love be found after one night of passion?
Celeste Burton goes out with her girlfriends to celebrate turning thirty and winds up spending an unforgettable night with the man of her dreams. One week later, as a favor, she attends a wedding with a friend as his date and is shocked when she sees Roarke again.
Roarke Hawthorne despises cheating. Cheating tore apart his family years ago. When the physics professor sees the woman he spent the night with show up at his sister’s wedding on the arm of his brother, he knows he should keep his distance. But because of the night they set fire to the sheets in his hotel room, he can’t resist the urge to be close to her–nor can he resist the temptation to have her back in his bed.

A HARD MAN TO LOVE

Hating him is easy. Loving him is hard.
Derrick Hoffman never quite got over not having a relationship with his biological father. The woman he was seeing is pregnant, and there’s no way he’s going to let her raise his child without him–even if it means coercing her into marriage.
Eva Jacob made the mistake of falling in love with Derrick, a man she knows is incapable of love. After their breakup, she discovers she’s pregnant. When she agrees to a loveless marriage, she tries to shield her heart from further pain. But she soon discovers that the heart wants what the heart wants, and her heart wants Derrick’s love.

Available at: Amazon | Createspace

Cover_Hawthorne series 2

HERE COMES TROUBLE

Who doesn’t love a bad boy?
Lorena Vega knows better than to have anything else to do with Matthew Hawthorne. Then he comes to her and asks for her help in writing a proposal for a grant to benefit the community center where he volunteers. She agrees to do the work, but she has her guard up, because having Matthew in her life again is a problem she doesn’t need.
Matthew still carries some guilt from when he hurt Lorena. Seeing her again for the first time in months makes him realize what a huge mistake he made, and he wants another chance to be the kind of man she deserves. He’s determined to win her back and prove he’s not the player he used to be, and nothing will stand in his way.
Not even the new man in her life.

FOR BETTER OR WORSE

Will her actions save her marriage or destroy it?
As a publicist for professional athletes, Antonio Vega is used to solving problems and spinning stories to the benefit of his clients. Yet he can’t seem to convince his wife that he has been and always will be faithful, and her lack of trust tests the limits of his patience.
Cassidy Hawthorne-Vega grew up in a home rocked by infidelity. When she suspects her husband is hiding something from her, she takes drastic steps to uncover the truth. Her actions result in a confrontation that threatens the bond of their marriage. It’s only when she reveals a painful secret from the past that Cassidy learns to accept the love her husband freely gives.

Available at:  Amazon | Createspace

****GIVEAWAY****

Prize: Four readers will receive autographed copies of Volume 1 and Volume 2 of the Hawthorne Family series, giftwrapped to your doorstep! (Note: copies may arrive after the holidays.)

Eligibility: You must be a follower of this blog. Open to international entrants.

How to enter: Submit your email address using the form below.

Deadline to enter:  December 14, 2013 at 11:59 pm EST. Winners will be chosen by random.org, announced in the comments and contacted via email.

Excerpt: For Better or Worse & Contest

Good morning!

The final installment of the Hawthorne Family series is around the corner. I’m not sure when or if I’ll do a blog tour, but I definitely want to give away some copies of For Better or Worse. I’ll give away six (6) advanced e-copies in the format of the readers’ choice. In addition to a free copy of For Better or Worse, one grand prize winner will also receive two bookmarks, a Delaney Diamond t-shirt, and a Delaney Diamond keychain.

How to enter: Fill out the form below.

Eligibility: You must be a follower of this blog.

Deadline to enter: Friday, February 22nd at 11:59 pm EST. Winners will be announced on Saturday before noon and receive your copies.

About the story

This is Cassidy and Antonio’s story, a young married couple whose marriage is experiencing some ups and downs after one year. Just like in the other stories, you’ll find out more about how the Hawthorne parents’ marital problems and death affected Cassidy and play a role in her current relationship. Now let me tell you a bit more about these two.

Their personalities

Cassidy is impulsive and emotional. She’s also jealous and suspicious. She drives Antonio crazy, but she takes care of him in and out of the bedroom. Antonio’s temperament is the opposite of his wife’s. He tends to be calm and even-tempered, and Cassidy is the only person who can push him over the edge. And he’ll do anything to protect her and make sure she’s happy.

Their professions

A character’s profession may or may not play an important role in a story, but in For Better or Worse, you’ll find that their jobs play an important role.

Despite her theatrics, Cassidy is a whiz at computers. She’s what’s called an ethical hacker. Wikipedia’s definition: An ethical hacker is usually employed by an organization who trusts him or her to attempt to penetrate networks and/or computer systems, using the same methods as a hacker. One of my male friends works in this field and gave me information that was interesting but waaaaay over my head. I peppered the story with details about what they do, but nothing to where your eyes would glaze over like mine did.

Antonio is a sports publicist, and what an interesting life they live! My research unearthed some raunchy first-hand confessions that make their lives sound just as exciting as the athletes they represent. They get propositioned all the time because groupies are always trying to get close to their clients. They work hard to generate positive press about their famous clients (who don’t always make it easy), but they can make good money for all their trouble.

The relationship

You’ll enjoy reading about these two. There’s drama – mostly because of Cassidy and her untrusting nature. But Antonio doesn’t play when it comes to his wife, either, and he causes a bit of drama on his own.  Let’s just say something happens at a club that does not fit with the personality of someone who is supposed to be even-tempered. Outside of the dramatic events, Cassidy and Antonio are cute and lovey-dovey with each other, too, and you’ll see clearly why their relationship works and why they love each other.

I’ll post Chapter One on release day, Monday, February 25th. Until then, enjoy the following short excerpts.

Blurb:

For Better or WorseWill her actions save her marriage or destroy it?

As  a publicist for professional athletes, Antonio Vega is used to solving problems and spinning stories to the benefit of his clients. Yet he can’t seem to convince his wife that he has been and always will be faithful, and her lack of trust tests the limits of his patience.

Cassidy Hawthorne-Vega grew up in a home rocked by infidelity. When she suspects her husband is hiding something from her, she takes drastic steps to uncover the truth. Her actions result in a confrontation that threatens the bond of their marriage. It’s only when she reveals a painful secret from the past that Cassidy learns to accept the love her husband freely gives. 

Excerpt 1:

Pressing his palms against the cool tile, he bowed his head under the spray and let it wash the stress of a long day and even longer night down the drain. The water poured on his head and swept down his skin in rivulets.

In a distant part of his brain, he heard the bathroom door creak open, but he didn’t look up, keeping his eyes trained on the swirl of water racing away at his feet. He assumed Cassidy would enter and leave and remained so lost in his thoughts, he didn’t notice her coming to the shower stall until the door slid open. She’d pinned her thick hair in a bun on top of her head.

She watched him uncertainly, as if she expected him to tell her to get out. He probably should, but he didn’t. He wanted to be stoic, but she was naked. She stepped in and slid the door shut.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“I came to take a shower.”

“I’m in here.”

She shrugged. “I guess we’ll have to share.”

Excerpt 2: 

“I’m jealous?” Cassidy huffed, placing her hand on her hip. She knew she was but didn’t like being called on it. “What about you? The last time we played the pickup game, you got into a fight.” Antonio seldom lost his temper, but that night, his anger had exploded in an uncharacteristic way.

To spice up their relationship, they’d played a game a few times where they went out and pretended to be strangers, and she let Antonio pick her up. She had a collection of wigs she used to change her look from time to time, but they’d served the dual purpose of spicing up their sex life by allowing her to become different characters as part of the game.

“First of all,” Antonio said, “he shouldn’t have put his hands on you.”

“He didn’t know we were together.”

“When I told him we were, that should have been the end of it. Anyway, the reason I hit him is because he called you out your name when we started walking away. I couldn’t allow that.”

Cassidy preened with pleasure and rubbed his back. “Thank you, baby, for defending my honor.”

Antonio’s thoughtful gaze scoured her face. “What have we here?”

“What?”

“You’re horny, aren’t you?”

Cassidy playfully sighed. “I can be affectionate without wanting to jump your bones, Antonio.”

“No, the way you’re rubbing on me this morning . . . I think you want some more loving.” A lazy smile lifted the corner of his mouth, and he reached around to cup her bottom in his big hands. “I didn’t give you enough last night?”

Cassidy laughed and pushed against his chest, feeling the insistent prodding of the appendage between his legs against her stomach. He’d gone from flaccid to hard in seconds. “You know good and well we don’t have time for this.”

Antonio bent his head to her ear and drew her closer. “It won’t take long, I promise,” he said in that low, sexy voice of his. His warm breath wafted against her sensitive ear and neck, making her insides quiver with longing. “I’m already hard. I’ll just lift your skirt like this . . .”

She shoved away his hand. “If you wrinkle my skirt, I’ll—”

Her tirade broke off when the other hand popped the button at the back and started to lower the zipper. She’d forgotten how fast her husband moved. She swatted away his hand and took several steps out of reach. With trembling fingers, she refastened her clothes. It was difficult to keep her frown in place because she did want to stay and make love, but she had to go to work.

“You’re the one who’s horny, and I’m leaving.”

“So you’re just going to leave me here like this—in this condition?”

Antonio spread his arms wide. Tufts of curly hair stood out at odd angles on his head, making him look adorably sexy. He stood there in his birthday suit with a shadow of a beard on his face, a mischievous grin, and his erection pointing toward the ceiling. She almost wanted to take a picture because he looked so gorgeous. Moments like this made her realize that her silly overreacting created unnecessary friction between them.

“I didn’t do that,” she said.

“Well, I sure didn’t do it.”

She giggled and hurried from the bathroom before he came after her.

“I’m gonna make you pay for this. You know that, don’t you?” he called out.

Cassidy smiled, picking up her satchel and phone.

She hoped so.

If you’d like to catch up on the series, here are the first three books in order and where they can be purchased.

The Temptation of a Good Man: Amazon, B&NKoboSmashwordsAll Romance EbooksDieseliTunes

A Hard Man to Love: All Romance EbooksAmazonB&NKoboSmashwordsDieseliTunes

Here Comes Trouble: All Romance EbooksAmazonB&NKoboSmashwordsDieseliTunes

____________

Being an ethical hacker was an interesting profession to me. What other unusual or interesting professions have you read about in other novels? 

Release Day and Excerpt: HERE COMES TROUBLE!

It’s the official release day of Here Comes Trouble! If you missed Monday’s excerpt, here’s the link: Excerpt. Below is Chapter One. Enjoy!

Blurb

Who doesn’t love a bad boy?

Lorena Vega knows better than to have anything else to do with Matthew Hawthorne. Then he comes to her and asks for her help in writing a proposal for a grant to benefit the community center where he volunteers. She agrees to do the work, but she has her guard up, because having Matthew in her life again is a problem she doesn’t need.

Matthew still carries some guilt from when he hurt Lorena. Seeing her again for the first time in months makes him realize what a huge mistake he made, and he wants another chance to be the kind of man she deserves. He’s determined to win her back and prove he’s not the player he used to be, and nothing will stand in his way.

Not even the new man in her life.

Excerpt: Chapter One

The phone rang in Lorena Vega’s office. By the double ring, she knew it was Rahab, the receptionist. Seated at her desk, she answered.

“Hi, Lorena.” The Kenyan transplant’s accented voice came over the line. “Matthew Hawthorne is still waiting out here. What should I tell him?”

Lorena shoved her black wire-framed glasses higher on the bridge of her nose. “Tell him I’m still on a conference call.” She hated asking the receptionist to lie, but she had no interest in seeing or speaking to Matthew. She never wanted to see him again, and he knew that, but he’d still shown up uninvited.

Rahab agreed and hung up.

With a sigh, Lorena rested her forehead in her hand. She’d leased this office in a building east of Atlanta, in Decatur, where she lived. Not only was she happy because she could walk to work, but the offices were conveniently located near restaurants and public transportation. She and her office mates shared the costs of a receptionist and meeting rooms, which turned out to be at a fraction of what it would cost her to lease space on her own.

Now, without notice, Matthew had arrived to disrupt her day. She’d put off talking to him for weeks, but she’d listened to every voice mail and read every text and e-mail in his constant efforts to try to reach her. She’d been somewhat amused as, over time, the tone of his communication changed from polite to cajoling to irritated. Ignoring him had given her great pleasure. After the way he’d dumped her, he was lucky that was all she had done.

She’d really wanted to key the paint off his precious Lexus SUV, or smash a brick through one of the tinted windows. Instead, she’d kept her fiery temper under control and worked out her frustrations on her regular runs.

Getting involved with him had been a huge mistake, and she wished she could go back in time and erase her actions. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t known he was no good for her. She simply hadn’t cared. Unfortunately, there were no do-overs in life, and she had to live with the consequences of her behavior.

If she could have a do-over, she would have steered clear of him at the holiday party late last year where they ran into each other. She wouldn’t have had so much to drink that he felt obligated to see her home safely. She wouldn’t have let him help her get into bed, and she wouldn’t have suggested he stay, wrapping her arms around him so he couldn’t leave. She wouldn’t have woken up the next morning, with their bodies entwined in an intimate embrace, skin touching skin and heated flesh practically melting the clothes off of their bodies. And she definitely wouldn’t have let him make love to her, even though she’d secretly pined after him for years.

The phone rang again.

“I think he’s gone.”

Lorena frowned. “What do you mean you think?”

“He asked me where the restrooms were, but I never saw him come back out to the lobby. He must have slipped out while I was on the phone or my back was turned.”

Lorena worried the inside of her lip with her teeth. Matthew knew where the restrooms were because not only had he helped her move into this office, he’d returned numerous times. She turned 180 degrees in her chair and peered out the white horizontal blinds to the parking lot below. His SUV still sat outside. She pursed her lips and frowned. “I’m sure he’s gone. He should’ve gotten the hint.”

“Of course you know you have to tell me what the story is between the two of you.”

Rahab Mugwanja had been working there only a few weeks. She and Lorena hit it off right away. Compared to the last receptionist, Rahab was a godsend. She was professional, efficient, and always had a bright smile for visitors. Her infectious laugh could often be heard as she chatted with the other business owners in the halls.

“Maybe one of these days I’ll explain. But do me a favor—if he calls or comes by again, make up an excuse for me, okay?”

Rahab tutted her disapproval. “Okay, but what did he do? He’s so fine. It couldn’t have been that bad.”

Lorena smiled wryly. “Trust me, it’s bad. And forgiveness, well…right now, I don’t have it in me.”

After she hung up, Lorena stood and walked over to the single window in her office. Through the blinds, she saw Matthew’s black vehicle in the parking lot, glimmering from its most recent wax job.

She folded her arms across her chest and waited. She was over him, of course, but foolishly, she wanted to see him, looked forward to a glimpse from several stories up. He should make an appearance soon. Anticipation built inside of her as the seconds dragged by.

“Looking for me?”

Lorena’s heart leapfrogged into her throat at the familiar voice. She whirled around to see Matthew standing with his left shoulder resting against the doorframe.

How unfair, he looked amazing—as usual. At a few inches over six feet, he towered over the average woman and was taller than the average man. Because he regularly worked out, his hard, muscular body hadn’t changed since his college days when he played football.

He always took great care with his appearance. From his weekly barbershop visits to make sure his Caesar haircut stayed low-cut and finely trimmed, to picking out the right clothes and sending them out to be cleaned and pressed. Almost everything he did was for one purpose: to capture the attention of the opposite sex.

“What are you still doing here?” she asked. “Rahab thought you must have slipped out when she wasn’t looking.”

“She was wrong. I know you see my truck is still out there. That’s why you’re standing at the window, isn’t it? To see when I leave?”

****

Patches of color tinged her caramel cheeks. “Don’t flatter yourself. What do you want?” she demanded.

His body had tightened the minute she turned her brown gaze on him. He’d missed her, but he hadn’t realized the extent until he saw her again. He’d been enjoying the view from behind, the tailored slacks hugging her trim waist and covering what he knew to be toned runner’s legs. Her lean body was muscular, but managed to be soft and feminine at the same time.

Damn, she looks good, he thought. Why had they broken up again?

She was all buttoned up in her very proper silk blouse with pearl buttons down the front. She’d pulled her curly hair away from her face and pinned it up, bringing attention to her features—a button nose, full lips painted a becoming peachy color, and the biggest, prettiest brown eyes he’d ever seen on a woman. Those eyes had once been filled with hope and trust whenever they looked at him, until he snuffed it out of them.

Almost breathless at the sight of her, he managed to maintain a nonchalant demeanor leaning against the doorframe. If he didn’t get his thoughts under control soon, she’d have a pretty good idea of the images running through his mind, which included bending her over the desk, as he had when she first moved into this office space. The memory of her hoarse cries as his fingers bit into her hips still made his gut clench.

They’d made use of every flat surface in there—the wall, her desk, and the floor—on more than one occasion. He almost smiled as he recalled one particular time kissing her skin to ease the sting of the carpet burns on her back.

Reluctantly, he came back to the present. “You’ve been avoiding me.”

“I haven’t been avoiding you. I’ve been busy. I have a young business, and it takes a lot of my time.” Her eyes challenged him, daring him to disprove what she’d said.

“Did you bother to listen to any of my messages? I have a job for you.”

“I’m too busy to take on new clients.”

“You’re not that busy.”

“I don’t need your money.”

“My money’s green and spends the same as everyone else’s.”

“Well, I don’t like you. Is that better?” she snapped.

“Now we have that out of the way,” Matthew began, straightening, “do you think you can put aside your feelings for a minute and hear me out?”

“No.” She waved her hand toward her cluttered desk. “As you can see, I’m very busy. So, if you don’t mind…”

“I do mind.”

****

Lorena watched in dismay as Matthew closed the door. Her first instinct was to run and hide since being rude to him hadn’t worked as she’d hoped. Of course, that was impossible now that he’d set his eyes on her. She reminded herself she had nothing to fear from him. He was, after all, just a man. A giant of a man with a powerfully muscular physique, a strong jaw, beautifully broad nose, and smooth skin the color of espresso, but still a man. He couldn’t cause her any more pain than he already had. She wouldn’t let him.

He came forward with a slow, rolling walk, as though he had all the time in the world. She wanted to be immune to him, but she’d had a crush on him ever since they met four years ago, and he’d been the object of many fantasies since then. Their relationship, though short-lived, had impacted her greatly.

Right now he looked like every woman’s fantasy, despite what he wore. Who else but Matthew could wear a pale-gray-and-pink striped shirt with a pink tie beneath a sweater vest and still look so masculine?

Swagger. That was the only way to describe his walk and his appeal. He had an abundance of it.

He came to a standstill a few feet in front of her, next to her desk, making the one-window office seem more like a broom closet. He’d been in her office two minutes, and she was already heating up. Her nerve endings trembled with awareness because he looked at her with those dark-brown eyes as if he was mentally undressing her. Knowing Matthew, he probably was. It made her feel naked, and it made her think of the other times he’d looked at her in the same way and what they’d ended up doing right here in this office.

“I don’t need your money.”

“We both know that’s not true,” he said in a low voice. When he lowered his voice to that pitch, she could hardly think. “I haven’t seen you around in a while.”

His sister, Cassidy, who happened to be Lorena’s best friend, was the wife of her brother, Antonio. Normally, their families interacted on a regular basis, but ever since she and Matthew had stopped seeing each other, she hadn’t participated in any more get-togethers she knew he’d attend.

“Like I said, I’ve been busy.”

“So busy you can’t hang out? I miss you.”

Lorena laughed, shaking her head, pushing away the spurt of joy that filled her chest. They were empty sentiments from a smooth-talking player who wanted to get his way. She had to remember that, no matter how much pleasure the words roused.

“I don’t believe you for one minute.”

“I need your help.”

“I don’t care. I don’t want to have anything to do with you. Not on a business level or on a personal level. I wouldn’t have anything to do with you if you were the last person on earth and I needed your money so I wouldn’t lose my business.”

“That’s a bit extreme, isn’t it? The last person on earth?” His boyish grin made her heart flutter.

She had to hold it together. “That’s what I said. The last.”

“Look, I know you hate me, but could you set aside your anger for a minute and listen to what I have to say?”

“Why should I? I don’t owe you anything.” She crossed her arms over her chest, but when his eyes lowered to how the movement plumped up her breasts, she unfolded them and dropped them back down to her sides.

“I know you don’t, but—”

“Well if you know, why ask?”

He rubbed the back of his neck in frustration, the movement flexing his biceps, bringing them into more prominence beneath the dress shirt. “Nothing I say will make any difference, will it? I’ve already apologized for what I did, but it doesn’t matter to you.”

“You’re right, because you’re an insensitive jerk.”

He had the gall to roll his eyes toward the ceiling. “Yes, I know. I heard the message you left after we broke up.”

“After you broke up with me via text, you ass!” Lorena said between gritted teeth. “A day before my birthday, after your little rendezvous with one of your other women. Now you walk up in here and think I’m going to help you? No way. Get out of my office, and find someone else to help you with your grant proposal.”

She placed both hands on her hips and glared up at him. At least he had the decency to grimace with embarrassment after her outburst. What he’d done had destroyed her, sending her through three stages of grief as if she’d lost a family member.

The denial stage had been first. She’d texted him back in disbelief, asking him if she’d done something wrong, practically groveling to figure out how she could fix whatever had happened, although she’d suspected the reason. Their relationship had changed the night they lay in bed together and she whispered her dreams about sharing a future with him. It had slipped out after a particularly tender bout of lovemaking.

Right away she’d sensed his withdrawal. “I’m not the settling down type,” he’d said, and even though she’d been crushed by the words, he’d only told her what she’d known already. She was one of many notches on his bedpost. She’d lasted longer than most—three whole months. That knowledge had lulled her into a sense of contentment. But while she’d been secretly picking baby names, he’d been contemplating the next conquest in his love-’em-and-leave-’em lifestyle.

So she hadn’t been surprised he’d broken up with her, but the way he’d done it had been particularly ugly. He hadn’t even had the guts to tell her to her face. A text. Right before her birthday, within days of her smelling another woman’s perfume on him. Lilacs. She couldn’t forget the cloying scent.

After the denial stage had come the period of wallowing in self-pity and the pain of rejection. She’d been particularly good at it, cutting off her friends, including Cassidy. Especially Cassidy, because being around her reminded Lorena too much of Matthew.

She was in the third stage now—anger. And she loved it because it energized her and got her out of bed every morning. She would not go to the fourth stage. She would not get depressed. She refused to let him have that much power.

“I’m sorry, Lorena. How many times do I have to say it? I’ve said it a hundred times. Yes, you’re right, I’m an ass. I’m an insensitive jerk. I’m a pendejo and all those other insults you yelled at me in Spanish that I don’t know the meaning of, but I’m pretty sure they all mean ‘jerk.’”

Lorena had lived in the United States most of her life, but having been born in Puerto Rico, Spanish was her mother tongue and the language she spoke with her parents. From time to time, when she got very angry, she resorted back to it.

“What do you want from me? Do you want me on my knees?” he asked.

“I don’t want anything from you. I’m over you. I’ve moved on.”

“Well if you’ve moved on, why won’t you communicate with me?”

“Because I don’t want to. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to. If you want a grant writer, find someone else to help you.”

“I don’t want someone else. I want you.”

Her heart jolted. Did he have to use those words?

“You can’t have me.”

He threw up his hands. “Come on, Lorena, you can’t be this bitter. I’m practically begging. This is important. The community center really needs some help. Funding has been cut, and people aren’t giving like they used to. I want to make sure they keep this place open, and I want you to work on it for us. What will it take?”

She narrowed her eyes. “You want to know what you can do? Tell them to pay me double what I charge my other clients. Then I’ll do it.”

“You can’t charge them double,” Matthew said patiently. “You’d be discriminating against a minority organization.”

“I’m not discriminating against them because it’s a minority organization. I’m discriminating against them because I don’t like you. There’s a difference.”

With glee, she internally turned cartwheels, watching as his nostrils flared with aggravation. However, she stopped the inner acrobatics when he took two steps toward her, forcing her to back up into the window, crushing the blinds. The temperature in the office plummeted with the level of icy calm he exhibited.

“You can hate me all you want to. I get it, and I accept it, but you’re going to help me get this grant for these kids, or I’m going to contact your buddies down at the Foundation Center and strongly suggest they reconsider sending you any more referrals because you won’t work for people you don’t like.”

“You’d better not.” She should have never told him her old coworkers sent her referrals.

“Think I won’t?”

Furious, their brown gazes locked, both of them refusing to look away. Perhaps if they had, the frigid tension in the little office wouldn’t have mutated into something familiar. The air became charged, and insidious warmth, slow and sneaky, crept through her limbs.

“For someone who’s over it, you sure are mad at me,” Matthew whispered. “Makes me wonder if there’s something else behind all the anger.”

“There is. Hate.”

“Nah. I don’t think so.”

Without warning, he reached out and removed her glasses. Lorena grabbed at air as he lifted them above her head. “I need those.”

“You only need them for reading. You can see me just fine.” He stepped closer again, and this time she could feel the heat from his taut, hard body.

“Stop. Right now.”

“Don’t look at me like that,” he said.

“Like I hate you?”

He didn’t even flinch. “No. Like you want me.”

“It’s your imagination.”

He lowered his gaze to her lips. “I wasn’t lying when I said I miss you.” His voice had dropped lower, deeper.

He was doing it again. Making her weak. Melting her bones, her muscles, her willpower to resist him. Three months wasn’t enough time to get past her feelings, and they were so easily reignited by him.

I hate him. I hate him.

She internally chanted the words in vain. Because she could smell him now. His drugging masculine scent, overlaid by the subtle tone of sandalwood in his cologne, had her stomach bunched up.

His pupils expanded, and she couldn’t look away. “God, I miss you,” he said, as if to himself.

He lowered his head to hers, and his thick lips came within centimeters of her own. If she raised up a fraction, their mouths would connect.

“Get back.”

“I miss you, baby,” he whispered, his voice rough and dark. His warm breath swept lightly across her lips, and he reached up and gently traced her jawline.

Sparks flared on her skin where he touched, and her heart constricted as she struggled against the awakening of feminine desire. He still had the same effect on her. Slowly but surely, he was hypnotizing her, and if she didn’t do something fast, she’d be lost. He’d gain the upper hand.

How dare he? How dare he do this to her?

With his mouth positioned temptingly above hers, she did the only thing she knew to do. She did something drastic—sure to break the spell and drag her back into sanity.

She brought her leg up and kneed him in the groin.

_______________

Remember when I said on Monday Matthew pays his dues to win Lorena back? This is just the beginning. Heh-heh.

Click the links below to purchase your copy. If you have a Nook, Kobo, or other ereader, you can download the compatible epub file at All Romance Ebooks. I’ll add the links for B&N and Kobo when the book is available at those locations.

If you know other romance lovers who would like to read a sensual romance, share this page on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms.

Thank you!

______________________

Buy it now: All Romance EbooksAmazonB&N, Kobo

Excerpt: HERE COMES TROUBLE

It’s almost time for the release of the third book in my Hawthorne Family series, Here Comes Trouble. Is it me, or is the year zooming by? It seems I just released A Hard Man to Love the other day, and here it is the end of June already!

If you’ve noticed, each sibling’s relationship hang-ups stem from what happened between their parents years ago. In this story, you’ll find out more about the day Matthew’s mother died and how it affected him. He blames much of his behavior in relationships on the fact that he’s too young to settle down because he’s busy being a player. He’s the kind of man who juggles multiple women at the same time, never sticking to one. Even if he does, it’s not for long.

There’s another side to him, though. He volunteers a lot of his time at a community center, helping to coach and mentor the young men who come there every day. That’s why he needs Lorena’s help. The community center is struggling financially. Lorena has years of experience writing grants, which she used to do for a non-profit before striking out on her own.

Lorena Vega is the best friend of Matthew’s sister, Cassidy. She’s a long distance runner, so she has a toned runner’s body, as opposed to the soft, curvy body of many of the women she sees Matthew with. She’s been in love with Matthew almost from the time she met him, but she felt she wasn’t his type. Hah! She couldn’t be more mistaken.

She and Matthew have a short-lived fling that doesn’t end well. The problem is, Matthew doesn’t realize how important Lorena is to him until he’s lost her. By the time he comes back into her life, she’s dating another man.

I think you’ll enjoy watching how Matthew not only pursues Lorena, but what he has to go through to win her back. Believe me, he pays his dues!

I’ll post Chapter One on release day, Friday, June 29th. Until then, enjoy the following excerpt.

Blurb:

Who doesn’t love a bad boy?

Lorena Vega knows better than to have anything else to do with Matthew Hawthorne. Then he comes to her and asks for her help in writing a proposal for a grant to benefit the community center where he volunteers. She agrees to do the work, but she has her guard up, because having Matthew in her life again is a problem she doesn’t need.

Matthew still carries some guilt from when he hurt Lorena. Seeing her again for the first time in months makes him realize what a huge mistake he made, and he wants another chance to be the kind of man she deserves. He’s determined to win her back and prove he’s not the player he used to be, and nothing will stand in his way.

Not even the new man in her life.

Excerpt:

This excerpt contains material of a mature and adult nature that may not be suitable for younger readers. You must be at least 18 to read the excerpt. 

In the scene below, Matthew comes by Lorena’s office to drop off two boxes of documents, photos, etc. that will provide background information on the center for when she’s writing the proposal. 

“You look nice,” he said, keeping his voice neutral. “That color suits you.”

“Thank you.”

He hated the sound of that frigid tone.

Positioned in the corner where the credenza and desk met, she wasn’t even looking at him—simply staring at some spot on the desk, as if she wished he wasn’t there. He wanted a reaction. He needed to know something of what they’d shared hadn’t completely died because of his inconsiderate treatment of her. He needed to know he still had a shot at making her his, despite the slick new man in her life.

When he moved to step away, he let his arm brush against the side of her breast. His movement almost backfired. A wave of lust crashed over him, and he bit down on his lower lip to force back a moan and cursed his swelling penis as it ached even more to get at her.

****

Lorena drew a sharp breath. “You did that on purpose.”

“Did what?” Matthew asked innocently. As if he didn’t know.

“I’ve warned you already.”

“Yes, you have,” he agreed. “I’m so doggone hardheaded.”

“Yes, you are.” Lorena swallowed hard. His touch had rattled her. Her nipples ached from the slight contact, and it took tremendous effort not to rub up against him to soothe the tightened buds. She lowered her gaze and fiddled with the pencil in her hand, needing to look away from him for a moment to bolster her nerves. Reinforced, she looked him right in the eyes. “You’re not allowed to touch me.”

Why did saying the words “touch me” suddenly make her suffer from shortness of breath? Perhaps it was the heat that flared in the dark pools of Matthew’s eyes because he’d felt the intimacy of the words, too. He walked slowly over to the opposite wall, shoving his hands into his pockets, and casually leaned back against it while his gaze devoured her in the deafening silence.

“I’m not?” he asked.

“No, you’re not,” she said firmly. She had to set the ground rules for this to work.

“I think we have a problem then. Because I’ve been here all of two minutes…” His tongue dragged along the seam of his mouth, moistening his thick lips. His gaze settled on her breasts, and her nipples tightened even more. “And I keep wanting to touch you. I keep wanting to get up under that dress.”

The pencil snapped in two with a loud pop. His gaze dropped to the pieces in her hand, and a faint smile appeared on his lips.

“Get out,” Lorena said, tossing the halves on her desk before they dropped from her trembling fingers.

__________________

So what do you think? Can you tell Lorena has her hands full?

Lovestruck Giveaway Hop

Welcome blog hoppers! For the Lovestruck Giveaway Hop, I’ve got two sexy heroes to introduce you to that will definitely make you fall in love! The first is the hero in Monica McCarty’s Highlander Untamed.  Swoon-worthy scene: When he saves her from being raped by one of the members of a rival clan. 

Blurb for Highlander Untamed

Rory MacLeod is a bold and powerful Highland Chief with only one allegiance–to his clan. He vows revenge against the rival MacDonald clan, though duty demands a handfast marriage to Isabel MacDonald–a bride he does not want and has no intention of keeping. But Rory couldn’t have anticipated the captivating woman who challenges his steely control, and unleashes the untamed passion simmering beneath his fierce exterior.

Blessed with incomparable beauty, Isabel MacDonald is prepared to use every means possible–including seduction–to uncover her husband’s most guarded secrets. Instead Rory awakens Isabel’s deepest desires and her sweetest fantasies. Now Isabel has found the happiness she’s always dreamed of with the very man she must betray, and discovers that passion can be far more dangerous than revenge.

Comments

Here are my comments from when I rated the book on Goodreads: I absolutely fell in love with this book! And what’s not to love about the hero, Rory MacLeod? He’s big, strong, a warrior, and the chief of his clan. Because of his position, he also has a strong sense of duty to his family and everyone who depends on him. This duty clashes with his burgeoning feelings for his enemy’s niece and his handfasted bride, Isabel MacDonald.

From the moment I opened the book and read the heart-rending prologue and saw how Rory’s sister was mistreated by the cruel SOB Sleat (Isabel’s uncle), I was hooked. The book takes you through the entire year of their handfast marriage. At first Isabel entered into the marriage under false pretences, but she grew to love her husband, and he grew to love her.

The love scenes were sensual and aptly portrayed the depth of their feelings for each other. Eventually, of course, they’re able to sort through the problems of enmity between their clans and find love, but not before a near rape and a seeming betrayal on the part of Isabel. The icing on the cake was reading the author’s note in the back and finding out that much of the story was based on historical fact.

This one’s a keeper.

Excerpt for Highlander Untamed

Click the link to read an excerpt on the author’s site: Excerpt.

Available on Amazon.

__________

The second hero is Roarke Hawthorne, from my novel, The Temptation of a Good Man. Swoon-worthy scene: When he and the heroine are caught in a rainstorm, they have a hot and heavy makeout session in the doorway of a jewelry store.

Blurb for The Temptation of a Good Man

Can true love be found after one night of passion?

Celeste Burton goes out with her girlfriends to celebrate turning thirty and winds up spending an unforgettable night with the man of her dreams. One week later, as a favor, she attends a wedding with a friend as his date and is shocked when she sees Roarke again.

Roarke Hawthorne despises cheating. Cheating tore apart his family years ago. When the physics professor sees the woman he spent the night with show up at his sister’s wedding on the arm of his brother, he knows he should keep his distance. But because of the night they set fire to the sheets in his hotel room, he can’t resist the urge to be close to her–nor can he resist the temptation to have her back in his bed.

Comments

What can I say? Intelligence is sexy on a man. Roarke Hawthorne is a physics professor and can carry on a conversation about almost any subject. Not only that, he’s good-looking and just an all-around nice guy. Which is part of the dilemma for him. He has a conscience. He’s not he love ‘em and leave ‘em type, so when he falls for Celeste and thinks she’s involved with his brother, it bothers his conscience. He already has a poor relationship with his brother, so he can’t risk alienating him anymore, and he certainly doesn’t want to continue seeing Celeste. That would make him a cheater, like his father was.

Eventually, the truth comes out about Celeste and her platonic relationship with his brother, but not before some familial issues come to a head in a heated argument between Roarke and his brother.

Excerpt for The Temptation of a Good Man

Click the link to read an excerpt on my site: Excerpt.

Available on All Romance EbooksAmazonB&NKobo

Giveaway

I’m giving away three prizes! All prizes are available for international contestants:

First place: An e-copy of Highlander Untamed, an e-copy of The Temptation of a Good Man or another one of my books, two bookmarks

Delaney Diamond Bookmarks

Second place: An e-copy of The Temptation of a Good Man or another one of my books, two bookmarks

Third place: An e-copy of The Temptation of a Good Man or another one of my books

To enter: All you have to do is type your contact information into the fields below.  For each place you follow me (Facebook or this blog), that earns you an extra entry.

If you don’t already follow me, just LIKE me on Facebook and/or subscribe to this blog and receive updates on future giveaways and notices of new releases.

Deadline: You must enter no later than 11:59 PM EST on June 22nd. The winners’ names will be posted in the comments below before 5:00 PM EST on June 24th, with instructions on how to claim your prizes.

Winners will be chosen by random.org.

Good luck!!

The next three stops on the list are:

Tami Brothers

Romancing Rakes

Sandra Bunino

Or click Under the Covers to go back to the full list.

Hawthorne Family Series Trailer & 12 Places to Promote Your Trailers

Every now and again an author will ask in a forum whether or not it’s worth it to do book trailers. Do they really help sell books? I view book trailers the same way I view any other type of promotion. You don’t have to do it, but it’s another way to get your name out there and promote your books and your brand.

Authors have limited time and resources, so a book trailer may not fit into your overall plan, and that’s okay. I used to think I’d do a trailer for each release, but that’s simply not realistic for me.

What I decided to do this time around was create a trailer for my Hawthorne Family series instead of the individual books. My hope was to get potential readers interested in reading the stories. I also wanted current readers to get an update on when the next installments in the series will be available.

Tips

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on creating book trailers. However, I have a few ideas about what works and what doesn’t. Here are a few suggestions that I think every author should consider when creating one.

  1. Don’t make it too long. No more than two minutes is ideal, and I suggest staying closer to a minute and a half.
  2. Don’t try to tell the story. It’s a commercial, so hit the highlights. This will also enable you to keep it short. If you don’t, you risk losing the viewer’s interest. The trailer is to get the viewer interested enough to seek out the book, where they’ll get more details from the synopsis and excerpt.
  3. Get good music. If you can find good free music, great, but don’t be too cheap to spend a few dollars on royalty-free music. It’s worth it.
  4. Insert your website address into the trailer. Since you’ll share the trailer at other websites, make sure readers know where to find you and your books.

What to do with a book trailer

If executed well, I do believe trailers can result in book sales. One of the ways to ensure that is to not limit the trailer to your own website. Authors should seek out other venues on which to share the video.

There are a ton of places where you can promote your book trailer online, but I’ve listed the ones below that I’m most familiar with. If you like looking at trailers, you’ll love these sites. If you’re an author, check them out to get more exposure.

Paid venues:

The Romance Studio: http://www.theromancestudio.com/advertise.php#video

Kimberly Killion: http://kimberlykillion.com/writers.asp#booktrailers (a list of places where you can upload trailers)

Long & Short Reviews: http://www.longandshortreviews.com/ads.htm#BookTrailer

Between Your Sheets: http://www.betweenyoursheets.com/content/advertising-opportunities

The Romance Reviews: http://www.theromancereviews.com/

Book & Trailer Showcase: http://booktrailershowcase.com/

Free venues:

You Gotta Read Reviews: http://yougottaread.com/

Kimberly Killion: http://kimberlykillion.com/writers.asp#booktrailers (a list of places where you can upload trailers)

Add the trailer to your Facebook fan page. With the new PIN feature on fan pages, you can pin it to the top of the page for a week.

Add it to your Facebook profile page. With the new PIN feature on fan pages, you can pin it to the top of the page for a week.

Add it to your GoodReads author profile.

Add it to your Amazon author page.

Barbara Vey of Publishers Weekly has a Saturday matinee where she features book trailers: http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/beyondherbook/

What other tips do you have for creating a compelling book trailer? Do you know of other sites where authors can advertise their trailers for free or a small fee? Please share.

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Mark your calendar or subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss the first installment of my serial short story, The Ultimate Merger, on Friday.

ENJOY!


Release Day and Excerpt: A HARD MAN TO LOVE!

It’s the official release day for the second book in my Hawthorne Family series, A Hard Man to Love! I say “official” because within hours of uploading the file to Amazon, the book was released. They’re getting faster over there. Imagine my surprise when I arrived home to see the confirmation email a couple of nights ago. I was even happier when within the first twenty-four hours, it cracked the top 50 on the Multicultural Romance bestsellers list!

This story is about Derrick Hoffman and Eva Jacob. Derrick is the angry half-brother I introduced you to in the first book, The Temptation of a Good Man. For years he felt a bitter resentment toward Roarke because Roarke Sr. chose Roarke Jr. and his mother over Derrick and his mother.

In this story you’ll learn a bit more about Derrick’s experience with his father and why he feels the way he does. Because he didn’t have a relationship with his father, he wants his child to know how much he loves her and insists the only way to do so is to be part of her daily life and coerces Eva into marrying him. In his mind, he’s doing what’s best for his child and their father-daughter relationship. But of course we know he wants Eva, too, right?

Oftentimes in romance novels, a strong, ruthless, alpha male is pitted against a heroine with an equally strong personality. In this case, I decided to do the opposite. Eva is no pushover, but while he’s ruthless, she’s compassionate. He calls her Pollyanna, she says he has a heart of stone. She’s affectionate, but he likes his space.

I feel like she was the kind of woman he needed. She gets through the protective armor Derrick has around him, and as the story progresses, you’ll see the growth in their relationship. Halfway through the story one of my critique partners told me, “So far so good even though I’m having a hard time loving Derrick, which fits the title perfectly.”

So if you hate him in the beginning, that’s great. That was my intent. But I promise you, by the end of the story, you’ll love him almost as much as Eva does.

Blurb:

Hating him is easy. Loving him is hard.

Derrick Hoffman never quite got over not having a relationship with his biological father. The woman he was seeing is pregnant, and there’s no way he’s going to let her raise his child without him–even if it means coercing her into marriage.

Eva Jacob made the mistake of falling in love with Derrick, a man she knows is incapable of love. After their breakup, she discovers she’s pregnant. When she agrees to a loveless marriage, she tries to shield her heart from further pain. But she soon discovers that the heart wants what the heart wants, and her heart wants Derrick’s love.

Excerpt: Chapter One

As Eva Jacob left the house to go to work, she said a silent prayer of thanks that she hadn’t thrown up her breakfast of buttered toast and ginger tea this morning. At almost four months pregnant, she was finally getting a bit of relief. Less than a month ago, she could hardly keep down any of her food.

Before her passing, her mother had told her stories about her own pregnancy with Eva, and she had worried she’d find her pregnancy equally as difficult. She was relieved her doctor’s prediction she would feel better soon had finally panned out.

The drive to the clothing and accessories store in Pier Village on St. Simons Island, the largest of the Golden Isles off the coast of Georgia, took ten minutes. The village was the central location for cultural activities and commercial businesses on the island. Antique stores, souvenir shops, clothing stores, and restaurants lined the main street and the waterfront.

As Eva entered the store, the manager, Ms. Elsie, greeted her with a smile.

“How are you feeling today?” the older woman asked.

Eva started working for Ms. Elsie in February, after the hotel chain she’d worked for laid her off at the beginning of the year. As regional events coordinator, Eva had overseen all their special events in the southern part of the state of Georgia. Now she earned a fraction of her previous salary, and because she worked part-time, she didn’t have any benefits. Ms. Elsie wanted to bring her on full-time, but the business didn’t support such a move.

Eva walked behind the display case and placed her purse under the counter. “Better than usual. I think I might actually keep food in my stomach this morning. That’s three days in a row.”

“Bless your heart. It’ll get better, sugar.” Her sympathetic gaze lowered to Eva’s stomach.

“She’s not making it easy on me, that’s for sure.” Eva rubbed her belly, which didn’t show any signs of her pregnancy.

Ms. Elsie laughed. “They never do. Just think, this is only the beginning. You still have the toddler stage, puberty, and the dreaded teen years to look forward to.”

Her exaggerated shudder brought a smile to Eva’s lips. “Don’t rush me. I already have my hands full.”

They chatted amicably as they went through their morning routine, preparing for the annual end-of-summer sale. Eva was in the midst of writing sale signs in a neat script to place throughout the store when the wind chime on the door tinkled an alert that a customer had entered.

She noticed the shift immediately as an intangible force stirred the air. The next stroke of the black marker in her hand remained suspended as she lifted her eyes toward the direction of the sound. A tall male figure stood in the doorway.

Derrick Hoffman.

She became a bundle of nerves as soon as she saw him.

Ridiculously beautiful, he had full lips and deep-set eyes that didn’t miss a thing, and that je ne sais quoi all men wanted but most lacked. It oozed from his pores and had the ability to surmount the halfhearted objections of any woman. Make her forget her upbringing and drop her panties without a second thought and deal with the consequences later. She’d been one of those women.

The smoky blue-gray of his eyes, inherited from his white mother, found her brown ones. After putting down the marker, she rested her hands on the glass of the display case and asked, “What are you doing here?” at the same time Ms. Elsie inquired, “May I help you?”

For a moment, his eyes shifted to the older woman several feet away, but they slid back to Eva almost immediately. “You know why I’m here.”

Eva willed her trembling fingers to remain still as she squared off against him behind the safety of the case. “No, I don’t. Even if I did, right now isn’t a good time. I’m working. Can we talk later?”

Eva could feel her manager’s gaze and wondered what she thought. If Ms. Elsie guessed this was the father of her child, then she was correct. The last conversation with Derrick hadn’t gone well, and she could only imagine why he’d decided to show up unannounced.

Derrick walked further into the store, his stride confident and sure. He planted himself in the middle of the dark carpet, feet set apart, as if he owned the place. He looked polished, elegant, and wore one of his pricey suits from London’s famous Savile Row, hand-stitched to fit his muscle-packed body. The light complexion of his skin contrasted sharply against the black curls on his head.

His sharp eyes remained on her. “This is important. I’m sure your supervisor won’t mind if you step out for a few minutes before the store gets busy.”

His luscious mouth curved upward into a disarming smile, exposing a set of flawless white teeth. She knew from experience his warm smile concealed a cold heart, a point her quivering belly had forgotten. It only remembered how those same lips had kissed a path from her navel and lower, how for hours at a time he could make her forget the outside world and live only for the moments in his arms.

“I have no problem with it at all,” Ms. Elsie confirmed. Her admiring glance remained riveted on Derrick’s profile. Even Ms. Elsie had easily fallen under his spell.

Eva swallowed. “I’ll only be a few minutes,” she said to her boss, though the words were more for him than Ms. Elsie. She wanted him to know she had no intention of wasting a lot of time talking to him. They’d said everything they needed to on the phone.

She rounded the display case and self-consciously smoothed both hands down her dress. Derrick’s eyes followed the movement, but his face remained expressionless. He was a master at the art of concealing his thoughts.

They last saw each other in May, when he came into town for his sister’s wedding. He hadn’t invited her to go, and the lack of invitation made her realize she had to accept the true nature of their relationship, no matter how much she longed for more. They would never have the kind of relationship she wanted, because Derrick didn’t want a serious one. Even now the pain tore through her, the same as it had when she realized his feelings were nowhere near the extent of hers, and she’d made the foolish mistake of falling in love with him.

Eva swept past him, holding her head high and getting a good dose of expensive cologne. The citrus scent hurtled her back to more pleasurable times they’d spent together holed up in a villa on the beach during his visits to town. What a fool she’d been, holding on to the thought that somehow she was special, when she wasn’t even worthy enough to meet his family when they visited the island. He’d kept her hidden, like some kind of terrible secret. It was her own fault for agreeing to a nonexclusive relationship, but it still hurt like hell.

The town hadn’t fully stirred awake yet. Some of the shops were open, but most would remain closed for at least another hour. Eva stepped in front of the closed store next door so her boss couldn’t see them as they talked.

Derrick squinted down at her. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine.”

“You don’t look fine.”

“Thank you.”

As if she didn’t feel bad enough, he had to insult her. She ran her fingers over her slicked-back hair. Her go-to hairstyle nowadays was a ponytail. It made life easier since she no longer had any disposable income to go to a hairdresser regularly. Had she known he would be coming today, she may have tried to look more presentable by fixing her hair and putting on a more attractive outfit.

“I didn’t mean it as an insult. You . . . Are you taking care of yourself?”

“Of course I am.” She stared out at the street and did her best to harden her heart because the sound of his voice did strange things to her insides, filling her with a raw, basic need that always surfaced whenever he came within ten feet of her. His concern tugged at her heart, and she felt weak, but she didn’t want to feel weak because Derrick was strong, and she needed all her strength to handle him. Whatever had brought him here, it couldn’t be good for her. “It’s been hard, that’s all.”

“Hard how?”

“I haven’t been able to keep down much food for the past couple of months. I actually lost weight.”

He made a noncommittal sound of frustration. “You need to take care of yourself. You’re pregnant.”

“I’m shocked at your concern.” She leveled an angry glare up at him. Her head came only to his shoulder. “I didn’t know you cared since you didn’t even believe I’m carrying your baby. The first words out of your mouth when I told you were ‘Whose baby is it?’ Followed up by my favorite, ‘So I’m supposed to believe it’s mine?’”

He rolled his neck, something he did whenever he wanted to alleviate tension. “It’s not the first time a woman’s tried to pin a baby on me, Eva. It comes with the territory when you have money.”

“Oh, poor Derrick. Is this the part where I feel sorry for you because you’ve been victimized by my gender? Well, I don’t. If you think everybody’s out to get you, that’s your problem, not mine.” She clenched her fingers into a fist. “What do you want? You must want something because like I told you over the phone, I never wanted to see you again, and I don’t want anything from you. My baby and I will be fine.”

“It’s my baby, too.” He spoke quietly, but his thinned lips showed his aggravation.

“And when did you come to that conclusion?”

He didn’t answer right away. “Once I had time to think, about you, about us.”

Us. Her short nails curled into her palm, shutting down the pain of her lost dreams. She’d learned the hard way the kind of pain loving a man like Derrick could cause.

“I realized you’re not the kind of person who would try to pass off another man’s baby as mine.”

“Lucky me, more than two weeks after you insulted me, you came to the realization that I told the truth. What took you so long?”

A sorrowful look entered his eyes. Within seconds, it disappeared. “I had to bury my father.”

Eva’s fingers flew to her mouth. “Phineas?” His father was the only member of his family she’d ever met. She’d met him once when she visited Derrick in Atlanta. He’d told her how Phineas had adopted him and raised him as his own after he married his mother, a woman thirty years younger than him. “I’m sorry.” The mumbled words seemed inadequate, especially when she wanted to reach out and put her arms around him in a comforting gesture.

He would never accept it anyway. In fact, the day after he’d told her the whole sordid story about Phineas, his mother, and his biological father, she tried to broach the subject again. He’d shut her down swiftly, letting her know the topic was off-limits, erecting the invisible walls again.

“That’s why I’m here,” Derrick continued.

Confused, Eva stared at him. “I don’t understand.”

“The past couple of weeks have been crazy since his death, but I finally feel like I’m getting my head above water. One lesson his passing has taught me is that life’s too short. I don’t want my child out there in the world, not knowing how much I want them.”

“Derrick, I would never keep the two of you apart,” Eva said in an earnest voice. “I told you as soon as I knew I was pregnant.”

Eva had thought she couldn’t have children, and coupled with irregular periods since puberty, she didn’t even suspect she was pregnant for the first three months. Only after she went to the doctor, complaining about tiredness and nausea, did she learn she was having a baby.

“Good, I’m glad to hear it. So you shouldn’t have any problem with my suggestion.” He stepped closer, eyes filled with purpose. Eva inhaled sharply, overwhelmed by his commanding presence. “I want my child to be with me at all times. I want us to get married right away.”

She gaped at him, thinking her hearing must be going bad. If she didn’t know better, she’d say he just asked her to marry him, but that would be ludicrous. A chuckle of disbelief broke past her lips, and she clamped her hand over her mouth when his face hardened.

“Did I say something funny?”

“I’m sorry, I could have sworn you asked me to marry you—sort of.”

“I did.” His solemn expression swiped the smile from her face.

“You—you can’t be serious. People don’t get married nowadays because they’re having a baby.”

“In case you didn’t notice, I’m not ‘people.’ No kid of mine is going to grow up without knowing me.”

“I agree, but I don’t see why we have to get married to ensure it.”

“Because I’m not satisfied with occasional visits. I want my son or daughter in my house, and I want to see them every day—not when it’s convenient for you.”

Eva stepped back, putting her hands up in a defensive motion against him. “Wait a minute. You’re serious about this?”

“I’ve had plenty of time to think, and it could work.”

“No, it can’t!” She swallowed to calm her frayed nerves. She sounded hysterical, while he remained as cool as a tall glass of iced tea. Before she would have welcomed a proposal—such that it was—but a wedding because of her pregnancy was the last option she’d ever considered.

Lowering her voice, she said, “We don’t have to get married. Besides, we don’t even—” She stopped, finding it difficult to say the words, but managing to muddle through. “We don’t love each other. We were already broken up when I told you I was pregnant. I don’t want to marry you, and you don’t want to marry me. Having a baby is not a good enough reason.” She took a deep breath and gradually released it. “We need to come to another arrangement.”

“All right,” he said, which only unsettled her nerves even more. She had a feeling she wouldn’t like his next words. “Then would you be willing to let me have the baby after it’s born?”

Her eyes widened, and she recoiled from him. “You really are insane, aren’t you?”

“What’s so insane about a man wanting his child?”

“Nothing, but—”

“Let me guess, a father’s not as important as a mother, right?”

“I never said that. I know how you feel because I never knew my father, either.” A common thread between the two of them, but whereas she’d seen it as a pain they could share, he never wanted to discuss it. “But a child needs its mother.”

And its father.”

His implacable expression worried her, and she tried to mollify him. “And you’ll have all the access you want.”

“I don’t want access.”

“Well, if you think I’m going to hand my daughter over to you after she’s born, you are sadly mistaken.”

He froze, staring at her. “Daughter? You know for sure it’s a girl?”

Eva paused and nodded. “Yes. This week I found out I’m having a girl.” She’d chosen to get a 3-D ultrasound done to determine the gender of the baby.

His gaze lowered to her stomach. “A girl.”

He seemed stunned, as if hearing the sex of the baby really brought home the fact that a life was growing inside her. He ran his hand down the back of his head, across the black silk of his hair—hair she’d lovingly caressed with her own fingertips. She could almost feel the texture of it.

Eva’s voice gentled. “Derrick, I know why you’re saying these things, but you never have to worry about me cutting you out of your daughter’s life. She’ll know you love her. The relationship you didn’t have with your biological father has no bearing on your relationship with our daughter.”

He lifted his cool gaze to her face. “How much?” He pulled out his phone.

She frowned. “How much what?”

“How much will it take for you to give her up once she’s born? I can be very generous. I have my accountant on speed dial, and with one phone call, I can have any dollar amount you request transferred into the account you choose within minutes.”

He couldn’t be serious. “Wait, what?” Eva shook her head in confusion. “Did I hear you correctly? Did you just offer to buy my baby?”

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If you like what you read, the buy links are below. If you know other romance lovers who would like to read a sensual romance, share this page on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms.

Thank you!

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Buy it now: Amazon | All Romance Ebooks | B&N | Bookstrand

Could You Be Happy in an Open Relationship?

English: Newt Gingrich at a political conferen...

The Wrong Way: Newt Gingrich Style

I have to admit, when Newt Gingrich’s ex-wife said last week that he asked her for an open marriage after 18 years, I chuckled to myself. Why? Because, assuming she’s telling the truth, I couldn’t believe the audacity he had to ask his wife such a question, and after he’d already been having an affair! It seemed as if getting her permission was an afterthought. Or was it really an ultimatum?

 

Famous open relationships

From what I understand about open relationships, the key to making them work is to have honesty up front. This means you tell your partner/significant other about your desires before you get involved with another person.

Since Newt did it the wrong way (allegedly), if you go about it the right way, can an open relationship work? Here are examples of famous open relationships that work(ed):

  • Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner had numerous girlfriends before he narrowed it down to three and shared the relationship on the reality show “The Girls Next Door.”
  • Actress Tilda Swinton has been in an open relationship with two artists for about eight years. Her lover, with whom she has two children, also has a girlfriend.
  • Actress Shirley MacLaine was married for 30 years, to a husband who lived abroad. She’s said to have lived with other men while married to him.
  • Andrei Kirilenko, a player for the Utah Jazz, gets a pass from his wife one night per year to sleep with another woman. According to her, as long as she knows about it, he’s not cheating.
  • Will and Jada Smith have an open marriage (rumored to be getting a divorce), and according to an interview Will gave years ago, they omitted the words “forsaking all others” from their marriage vows.
  • Comedian Mo’Nique said she and her husband have an open marriage, and if he had sex with another woman, it wouldn’t be a deal breaker for her.
  • Hollywood legends Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee were married for 56 years. In their joint autobiography they let us know ‘that extramarital sex was not what really destroyed marriages, but rather the lies and deception that invariably accompanied it—that was the culprit. So we decided to give ourselves permission to sleep with other partners if we wished—as long as what we did was honest as well as private, and that neither of us exposed the family to scandal or disease.’

 

My answer

Could I be happy in an open relationship? N-o. No! 

I don’t want to share my cheeseburger, much less my man. I’m selfish and jealous, and frankly, the whole thing sounds icky to me. But just because it won’t work for me, doesn’t mean it can’t work. Based on the examples above, it’s possible to have such a successful relationship, and there are a number of people in our culture and other countries living this alternative lifestyle—and doing so happily.

How about you? Could you share your spouse or the person you love with others? Does the fact that you know about the other person(s) beforehand make a difference?

Giveaway

In my February 3rd release, A Hard Man to Love, when Derrick and Eva started dating, they had an open relationship. As their feelings for each other grew, jealousy reared its ugly head. I think for most of the population, that would be the norm.

I shared mini-excerpts on my Facebook fan page on Friday and had a couple of giveaways, so I’ll do something similar here. Below are three mini-excerpts from the book. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think about open relationships, whether or not you think you could be happy in one, etc.

Prize: The choice of one of my ebooks from my back list.

Eligibility: You must be a member of my fan page or a blog subscriber to win. The contest ends on Tuesday (1/24/12) at midnight EST. Random.org will choose the winner, and I’ll post the winner’s name on Wednesday morning. They will have 48 hours to email me with the title of the book they’d like to receive. After 48 hours, I’ll choose another winner.

Mini-Excerpts

Excerpt 1:

Eva was in the midst of writing sale signs in a neat script to place throughout the store when the wind chime on the door tinkled an alert that a customer had entered.
She noticed the shift immediately as an intangible force stirred the air. The next stroke of the black marker in her hand remained suspended as she lifted her eyes toward the direction of the sound. A tall male figure stood in the doorway.
Derrick Hoffman.

Excerpt 2:

His eyes drew her in. Blue, but not blue, gray, but not gray–an interesting combination of the two. His skin, the color of sand, had golden undertones, and the thick, wavy hair on his head made her fingers tingle with the desire to play in the strands. Like she’d noticed from afar, he had inviting lips that curved upward in a most seductive way when he smiled. She could tell he had money, despite being casually sexy in a black turtleneck and black jeans. He had an air about him.

Excerpt 3:

Derrick tossed back the last of the champagne and set the flute on the bar with unwarranted force. He didn’t answer to anyone, and he wasn’t in the mood to explain himself to Roarke. He rose from the stool.
“It doesn’t matter now, does it?”
Roarke cast a speculative look up at him. “No, I guess not. Except. . . I was thinking—”
“Stop thinking.” He’d grown weary of this conversation real fast.
“If you hadn’t married her, you would still be free.”
If he hadn’t married her, so would she.

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Remember, to enter the contest, leave a comment below and let me know what you think about open relationships, whether or not you think you could be happy in one, or whatever is on your mind. Good luck!

Two New Releases & Book Covers!

I’m so excited! February is shaping up to be a very good month. It turns out I’ll have two releases in February—just in time for Valentine’s Day. Below is all the cover hotness and the blurbs.

A HARD MAN TO LOVE

A Hard Man to Love, Book 2 of the Hawthorne Family series, will be released on February 3rd!

I can’t believe I released the first book back in September. Time sure flies. I’m very happy with how readers have embraced the series, and I can’t wait to see what you think of the second book.

This book tells Derrick Hoffman’s story. If you recall, Derrick is the second oldest of the siblings, and he has a different last name because he’s their half-brother and was adopted by the wealthy businessman his mother married.

Well, Derrick is not a candidate for the Mr. Congeniality prize in the first book, Temptation, and he doesn’t get much closer in his own story. But I think I managed to redeem him in time for you to love him as much as Eva does.

Blurb:

Hating him is easy. Loving him is hard.

Derrick Hoffman never quite got over not having a relationship with his biological father. The woman he was seeing is pregnant, and there’s no way he’s going to let her raise his child without him–even if it means coercing her into marriage.

Eva Jacob made the mistake of falling in love with Derrick, a man she knows is incapable of love. After their breakup, she discovers she’s pregnant. When she agrees to a loveless marriage, she tries to shield her heart from further pain. But she soon discovers that the heart wants what the heart wants, and her heart wants Derrick’s love.

PRIVATE ACTS

Private Acts, Book 3 of the Hot Latin Men series, will be released on February 10th!

What can I say about Private Acts? It’s been an albatross around my neck. The bane of my existence. The…well, you get the idea. I struggled with this book for some reason. It was actually supposed to be the second book in the Hot Latin Men series, but I was never satisfied with what I wrote. I got up to 15,000 words and stopped because I simply hated it. I then focused my attention on Fight for Love, which came out last May.

One year later, I think I finally got it right. I really like Miguel and Samirah, and once I got into the groove, the words just flowed. Samirah is funny, adventurous, and free-spirited. And Miguel…well, he’s sexy, alpha, and Latin. Need I say more?

The 15,000 words I wrote last year were not a total loss. Some of them I was able to use, and some could possibly be used in another work(s). A lot of writers, me included, never throw away prose because you never know when it could come in handy for another story.

Blurb:

Miguel Delgado fell hard the first time he saw a beautiful woman on stage during a karaoke competition at a bar in Ecuador. Interested in a short, casual affair, he turns on the charm. But she won’t give him the time of day.

Samirah Jamison has met her match—in the form of a tall, hard-bodied sculptor who won’t leave her alone. She’s not running scared. She’s just trying to keep a level head and stay out of trouble for once. But it’s really, really hard to be good…when you’re used to being bad.

THE TEMPTATION OF A GOOD MAN

As I mentioned in my Quarterly Recap & What’s to Come post, I had the cover of The Temptation of a Good Man tweaked. The reason I did this is because I decided I wanted all the books in the series to have a similar design. Here’s the new cover, and I’ll be uploading it to the various online retailers over the coming weeks.

By the way, Temptation is an Amazon bestseller, although two of the three categories are incorrect. For some reason it’s a bestseller in Nonfiction and Health, Fitness & Dieting…? I contacted Amazon to point out the error, but they haven’t changed it yet.

In the meantime, I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Being on three lists instead of one means more publicity, so I’ll take it. :)

WORTH WAITING FOR 

My first sweet romance is doing amazingly well—even better than I expected. For the past two weeks I noticed it’s been on Amazon’s multicultural bestsellers list. I’m pleasantly surprised to see so many people enjoy reading sweet romance.

I have some additional news about the book. Before publishing it last year Astraea Press removed the Epilogue I’d written. Over the holidays, I communicated with the publisher and was able to convince them to put it back in. As of January 7th, anyone who purchases the book will get it with the Epilogue. If you purchased it before then, I’ve posted the Epilogue on the sweet page, and you can also access it here.

It’s only a few pages, but I feel that the story wraps up neater than it did without it, and I appreciate the fact that Astraea Press agreed to put it back in.

Whew. This was a long post this time, but I had so much to tell you.

THANK YOU

Thank you all for your support and for helping my books to reach the bestsellers lists at Amazon and All Romance Ebooks. I appreciate every copy purchased, reviewed, rated, and/or raved about to friends!

Mark your calendars for the February 3rd and 10th release dates of my next two titles. And keep an eye on this blog for teaser excerpts coming soon.

Leave your comments below. You know I love to hear from you.

Happy MLK Day! Have a great week!!

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