Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Quick Book Tuesday :)

Hi, everyone! Sorry I've been lax on the blog lately-- my oldest got a concussion last week and life has been spinning out of control between that and my looming deadline.

Today, I'll be quick as I'm about to dash out to my local B and N and pick up three books I have been WAITING for for what seems like forever-- JR Ward's Lover Mine, Nora Roberts's Savor the Moment and Christine Feehan's Wild Fire! I'll let you know what I think of them after I finish reading them (probably by the end of the week).

Anyway, what books are you anxiously awaiting? Or are you all waiting for the same ones I am?

Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Giveaway at Borders Blog

Hi everyone! Sorry about the confusion yesterday with Book Binge-- Casee and I got our dates confused. But I am blogging-- and doing another giveaway-- over at Borders True Romance blog today, so stop by and comment on your favorite city for a chance to win!


Monday, April 19, 2010

Guest Blogging Again Today

Hi, everyone! I'm over at The Book Binge today, giving away one more copy of Tease Me and talking about coming of age in New Orleans, if you'd like to stop by and comment!

Happy Monday!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Just wanted to let everyone know that Shayla Black and I will be signing books in Austin, TX on Sunday, April 18th from 2-4.

We're signing at Lakeline Crossing Barnes and Noble (near Lakeline Mall in North Austin) and would love to see you :)

A Really Good Drink (And It's Pretty too)

So, I'm in the middle of an obsession with any and everything Pomegranate (as is the heroine of the erotic romance I'm in the middle of writing) and I ran across this drink. I'm always in the middle of an obsession for champagne, so when I say this I had to try it. And after that, it was so good, I had to share the recipe with you guys. The best part-- it's incredibly simple.

Take one part good pomegranate syrup, 2 parts Cava-- or champagne.
Add a splash of pomegranate juice and a couple seeds (they look really pretty bouncing around in the bubbly champagne) and enjoy.

Seriously, yum!

So, anybody have any quick, fun drink recipes? I've got a couple big conferencescoming up and it's always fun to see if the bartender will whip us up a new drink ...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wolff Wednesday: Striking a Balance

So, last night I was at my local RWA meeting and NY Times Bestselling author Julia London was speaking-- on ten pitfalls of being a writer. A number of things she said struck home to me, but one of the ones that hit me hard was when she talked about how hard it was to find a balance between work and home.

Because most writers work at homr (me included) she said it's very difficult to keep home from encroaching on work and vice versa and boy, could I relate to that. Currently, my office is a small, 200 square foot alcove off the upstairs game room (where my three boys have every gaming system known to man plus a whole bunch of toys. The two rooms are connected by an archway and I don't even have a door--which means if they're playing Wii or watching Iron Man or fighting with lightsabers, I know all about it. It also means I know about every disagreement, argument, fight, injury, whatever that they and/or they're friends are involved in-- while it is happening.

This makes for a very unconducive work environment, especially since when my husband isn't traveling, he works at home as well. And no matter what boundaries I set up, none of the four men in my life seem to understand them. They think that because writing comes fairly easy to me that it isn't really work-- that the fact that I've written three books this year and have two more to write by June 1st means I'm fast, not that I'm a total maniac. And they all have a tendency to think that they're dinner/snack/crisis/schoolwork/football game/karate lesson/ art class whatever is a reasonable excuse to interrupt my work-- yet if my husband is working the whole world has to come to a stop. It's frustrating in the extreme.

At the same time, I know I'm guilty of not separating family and work time. Very often in the evenings-- after I've made dinner and played with the kids-- I can be found typing away instead of hanging in the game room playing a game or watching a movie with the rest of the family, which annoys all of them. I try not to feel guilty about it, but it's hard. At the same time, it's hard to get my words every day when I'm constantly being interrupted-- so often, it feels like I'm in the middle of a vicious cycle. If I don't get my words in, I have to work at night. If I work at night when the kids want my attention, they're more likely to interrupt me the next day to get what they want. And on and on it goes ...

Now, I'm a relatively new writer, my first book hit the shelves less than eighteen months ago, so I'm hoping that a lot of these problems will work themselves out with time-- I just need to find what works best for my family and me. Plus, once my youngest goes to preschool next year, I figure things will get a lot smoother during the day. But I have to admit, with summer looming and four books to write by September, I'm a little leary about how this whole thing is going to work. After all, last summer was an unmitigated disaster!

So my question today is this: do any of you have trouble balancing work and home commitments or am I the only one who can't seem to find that balance?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Book Tuesday: Hunting Ground

Yes, I'm finally back to the regularly scheduled events-- or at least I think I am. We'll see how long it lasts. In the meantime, I'd really like to thank everyone who stopped by and supported Shayla and me during the Delicious Tease Contest. It was great to meet so many romance readers!

Today, I'm going to talk about an author who is relatively new to me-- Patricia Briggs. I first ran across her when I read her novella, Alpha and Omega, in the On the Prowl anthology I picked up for Sunny's story. After that story, which I loved, I picked up Cry Wolf and was just sucked in to the writing and the action of the story. Which led me to today's book, Hunting Ground. It is the third book in the series and in my opinion, the best of the three (which is saying something as I loved the first two).
In Hunting Ground, Briggs does more than just tell a great werewolf story-- she adds in fairy and fae folklore, trolls, Native American folklore, vampires and somehow manages to combine them all into a fascinating story that revolves around one werewolf couple, Anna and Charles. I read the whole book in one evening (or should I say night as I was up until 3 a.m. last night finishing it) and enjoyed every second of it.
Next trip to the bookstore, I'm picking up all the Mercy books ... I can't wait to get started reading them.
Patricia does a really interesting job in this book of combining the Arthur legends, the Lady in the Lake legend, and the troll under the bridge with modern day versions of vampires and werewolves. So my question for you today is this-- what would you like to see in a new paranormal series that you haven't already seen? What would you like to see more of that you really like?

My Crazy Blog Tour

Hi Everyone:

I'm blogging all over the place today-- and giving away copies of Tease Me, so stop by and visit at:

http://lea-closetwriter.blogspot.com/ and

http://romrevtoday.blogspot.com/ and


for a chance to win!

Thanks for coming by :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Delicious Tease: And the Grand Prize Winner is ...

So, today's the last day of the Delicious Tease contest and I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who stopped by, commented, spread the word and otherwise supported us and the authors we featured.

It was so wonderful getting the chance to read comments from each of you everyday, to get to know a little bit more about you and share some of who I am with you. I really do appreciate all the support and hope you will continue to stop by regularly and let me know what you're up to-- I do a giveaway almost every Fun Friday, so reember to come by for those as well.

Shayla and I had a lot of fun sharing our future projects with you-- an FYI, here’s a list of our remaining titles for 2010:

Tracy Wolff/Tessa Adams-
July – Dark Embers, NAL
July – Beginning with Their Baby, Harlequin
December – Unguarded, Harlequin

Shayla Black
October – “Her Fantasy Men” – FOUR PLAY anthology, Berkley
November – ENTICE ME AT TWILIGHT (Doomsday Brethren 4), Pocket Books
November – “Mated” (a Doomsday Brethren novella) – HAUNTED BY YOUR TOUCH anthology, Pocket Books

And without further ado, our grand prize winner is…JEN X!!! Confetti all around! Contact me at tracy@tracywolff.com for instructions on receiving your new iPod Touch!

And yesterday's winner of my erotic backlist is: Cheeky Girl!

Thanks again for all your participation! Come see me again soon :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Winner Day #51

dyockman is the winner of Lauren Dane's Coming Undone! Congrats. Drop me your snail mail at tracy@tracywolff.com and I'll get it to Lauren.

Delicious Tease Day #52: Tease Me is Finally Here

Yay! Today, Tease Me hits the shelves and I am soooooo excited. It feels like I've been waiting for this book to come out forever ;) Thanks, everyone, for following along with Shayla's and my contest for the last 52 days-- I had a lot of fun and hope you guys did too. Don't forget to stop by tomorrow and check to see who won the iPod Touch-- remember every comment made throughout the contest gives you one entry into the drawing for the grand prize, so comment away today. And check out my brand new website-- it should be up and running sometime this afternoon. I've got a contest going on over there, as well.

For today's prize, I thought I'd give away signed copies of my entire erotic backlist-- Full Exposure, Naughty Bits and Tie Me Down. So comment away for a chance to win :)

The “edgy and erotic” (Shannon McKenna, New York Times bestselling author of Tasting Fear) author of Tie Me Down and Full Exposure offers another steamy novel of sex, lies, and sultry games.

Burned once too often, true crime writer Lacey Richards has sworn off love. Instead, she explores her deepest desires through her anonymous- and very provocative-blog. Anonymous, that is, until her dark and ultrasexy neighbor discovers her dirty secret.

Stockbrocker-turned-carpenter Byron Hawthorne gave up life in the fast lane, hoping to start over in a new city. When he learns his alluring neighbor is the one writing the sizzling blog that keeps him up all night, he can’t resist offering to fulfill her fantasies in the flesh. But Byron isn’t the only man provoked by Lacey’s writing. Now Lacey doesn’t know who she can trust-and who she can dare to tease.
“Hey, Lacey, wait up!” Lacey turned, surprised to see Sandra barreling through the crowds toward them, her boyfriend, Tony, behind her.
“Hey, Sandra,” she said as her friend approached.
“I thought that was you. We’ve been trailing you two for three blocks.” Sandra turned her baby blues on Byron and batted them for all she was worth. “And who is this?
“This is Byron Hawthorne—he’s my neighbor from across the courtyard.”
“How nice to meet you. I’ve been trying to set Lacey up with a guy for months, but she keeps refusing. Now I know why.”
“Come on, Sandra.” Tony weaved a hand through hers, pulling her closer to his side. “Leave the poor guy alone—he’s not used to you yet.”

Lacey shot him a grateful look before asking, “So, what have you been to?”
“We’re about to check out that new club, Voodoo Heaven. It’s supposed to be fabulous.” Sandra paused. “Why don’t you two come along?”
“Oh, I don’t think so. We were just heading home.”
“Come on—we’ve still got a couple of hours before things slow down. Let’s go dance.”
She glanced questioningly at Byron, who nodded amiably. “Sure. If you want to dance, let’s go.”

It’s not that she wanted to dance so much as she wanted to wipe the feel of the strip club from her brain and body. Part of her wanted to head home, climb in the shower and have crazy, mad sex with Byron under the pounding spray. But another part of her didn’t want to bring the bone-deep stink of that club back to her apartment. She wanted to put a little time and distance between her home and the images she’d just seen.
As they slipped into the noisy club, Sandra grabbed her arm. “Why don’t you guys go get some drinks? Lacey and I are going to go dance.”
“Already?” she asked as Sandra pulled her toward the tightly packed dance floor.
“Is there a better time?”

The new Beyoncé mix started just as they hit the floor, and Sandra laughed. “Come on! I love this song!”
As they danced to the song and then another, Lacey found herself laughing right alongside her friend. But Sandra was like that—fun, happy, with an enthusiasm that was completely infectious.
By the time Byron caught up to her three songs later, Lacey was drenched with sweat and feeling much better about life in general. “Dance with me?” he murmured against her ear as his arms circled her waist from behind.
“Sure.” She started to turn toward him, but he held her in place—his chest against her back, his erect cock nestling against the curve of her ass.
As if on command, the music turned slow and dreamy, and Lacey let her body relax against the hardness of his. He splayed his right hand across her abdomen, to keep her hips flush against his, and cupped her right breast with his left hand. His thumb glanced over her nipple—once, twice, then again and again.
Her nipple pebbled tightly under his attentions, her pussy growing damp as he pulled her ass more firmly against his cock and began to move. She’d never danced this way before—her body pressed against his from shoulder to thigh, but facing outward.

She liked it. Liked the freedom it gave her to look out over everyone; liked even more the feeling of being trapped against him as people danced all around them. They were in a hugely public place, but completely shielded by the crush of bodies on the dance floor.
Relaxing her neck, she let her head loll on Byron’s shoulders as she arched her back so that her breast fit more completely in his hand. The music was loud, so she didn’t hear his groan, but she felt it in the vibration of his chest against her back and the whisper of his breath past her ear.
She felt her own breath catch, felt desire humming through her bloodstream as she rubbed her ass against him. He was hot and hard and felt so good it was all she could do not to beg him to take her right there. To fuck her in the middle of the throbbing crowd, and to hell with public-decency laws.
His hand tightened on her breast, his fingers squeezing her nipple until she gasped—proof that he was as affected by what they were doing as she was. She whimpered at the pressure, and liquid pooled between her thighs.

It was a whisper, but somehow he heard her. Pressing his mouth to her ear, he said, “Do you want to get out of here?”
She nodded, even as she prayed that her shaky legs would carry her that far. He must have read her mind—or maybe he was just as anxious as she was—because he said, “I’ll go flag down a cab.”
“I’ll go tell Sandra we’re cutting out, and meet you out front.”
He turned her around until she faced him, took her mouth in a brief but bruising kiss that had her fingers tangling in his shirt as her knees buckled. “We’ve got a table against the back wall. Don’t be long.”
“Believe me, I won’t.”
She watched him walk away, his broad shoulders cutting a swath through the gyrating bodies as he headed for the door. He was eventually swallowed by the crowd, so she started making her way in the direction he’d pointed. She’d made it off the dance floor and halfway across the room when she felt a hand grab her elbow.
Expecting it to be Sandra, she turned around with a smile—and found herself looking at a guy who made Grave Digger look like a friendly, neighborhood Smurf.
“Hey, let go!” She spoke loudly, but when he made no move to show he understood her, she tried to yank her arm away. His grip tightened to the point of pain.

A ripple of unease went through her, though she told herself she was being ridiculous. What could he do to her in such a crowded place? The thought might have comforted her more if she and Byron hadn’t just engaged in some heavy petting without drawing anyone’s notice.
“I mean it. Stop it.” She yanked harder, but his grip still didn’t budge.
“Leave me alone!” She raised her voice to a yell, but the current song was heavy on the bass, extremely popular and extra-loud. Nobody paid any attention to her.
The man started propelling her toward the back door of the club, his long legs eating up the ground as he dragged her in his wake.

“Help!” She screamed it now, but he’d made his move at the right time. The area around them was dark and nearly deserted as people flocked toward the dance floor to groove to the song.
She tried to dig her heels into the carpet, but the guy was huge and any resistance she put up was barely noticed. As they passed close to a table, she grabbed on to a chair. Surely someone would notice a huge guy towing a woman towing a chair and screaming.
But he simply shook his head and grabbed her other arm so hard that her fingers went numb and the chair clattered harmlessly to the ground.
“Look, lady.” He let go of one arm and leaned down until he was close enough for her to hear him. “If you’re going to cause trouble, I’ll just knock you out and carry you out of here. Everyone’ll think you passed out.”

His words exacerbated her fear, and pure instinct made her go for his eyes. Curling the fingers of her free hand into rigid claws, she slashed at whatever portion of his face she could get at.
She didn’t know who this guy was or what he planned on doing with her, but there was no way she was leaving this club with him without kicking up the mother of all protests.
“Fuck!” For one brief second his grip loosened as he tried to protect his eyes, and she yanked herself free. Without looking back, she ran for the dance floor and relative safety. This time, when a hand grabbed her from behind, she screamed her head off even as she started swinging.
“Get away from me!” she screamed, kicking out at the bastard. Smiling when she caught him in the shins. Glancing up, she nearly sagged in relief as she saw Byron barreling toward them.
“You bitch.” His fist came up and headed for her jaw, and she braced herself.
“What the fuck is going on here?” Byron roared, putting himself in front of her and taking on the jaw the punch meant for her.
Remember to comment for a chance to win my erotic backlist! Happy Tuesday :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Winner Day 40

Congratulations, Sindy! You won yesterday's giveaway :)

Delicious Tease Day #51: Lauren Dane

Today, we have the amazing Lauren Dane visiting us (who is an incredible writer and a wonderful person). I fell in love with this series with the first book, Laid Bare, and was just as enamored with Coming Undone-- I can't wait for Cope's story to come out in a few months. For those of you who haven't had a chance to read her newest Heats, Lauren is giving away a copy of Laid Bare-- so leave a comment for a chance to win.

Brody Brown has always been responsible for others. After his parents’ death, he gave up a promising artistic career to care for his younger brother and sister. Now, with his siblings grown, Brody owns his own business, has a nice house, makes a nice living, and for the first time in years he’s on his own.
Elise Sorenson has come to Seattle with her young daughter to find peace. After years as a world-famous ballerina—(and just as many years in a marriage-gone-bad)—she’s looking for neither love nor attention. But she finds both in the handsome, honest man who befriends her with no strings attached.
More than friends, Brody and Elise discover in each other what they need—wild, physical passion without commitment. But it’ll take a shadow from Elise’s past to make them look beyond what they need—to what they truly desire.

Chapter One
Even at the close of the day, the sun was enough to make the ride home from work totally perfect. He took the scenic route, settled onto the seat of the Harley he’d splurged on the summer before at Ben’s urging. Best impulse buy ever.
The joy of it was enough to bring him the long way home, down surface streets, a bit south and then back north again. He leaned back, the weight of his body balanced just so. The warmth on his thighs, against his back, eased him away from work and into leisure. The light of the often absent sun after the darkness of winter gave him an easy mood. Happy. Satisfied. The thrum of the engine vibrated, humming into his bones.
Late spring in Seattle and people began to emerge from their squall jackets and endless layers. The city came alive with color as flowers burst from ground that had been barren for months; the trees exploded with leaves and blossoms.
Other than early autumn, this was his favorite time of the year. He loved the glimpses of feminine skin as women started going bare-legged again when they wore skirts; loved the emergence of cleavage. He liked winter for all the vibrant, tight sweaters. But in spring and summer, women went softer, showed skin, wore dresses and floated around in his vision. All these things made every day a fine day in his life.
He’d go home, drink a few beers and sit on his back deck to watch the sunset. Maybe he’d even order a pizza if he could be bothered to get up and deal with the front door. Having made his mind up, he stopped in at the grocery store to pick up some hard lemonade for his sister, Erin, in case she showed up. Knowing his siblings, he expected one or both to roll in and demand food, so he liked to have the things they enjoyed on hand.
The slow ride down his street enabled him to catch all the activity on that early evening. People did yard work and washed cars and boats. He hoped they were all using that special soap to do their washing, or Mrs. Cardini, accompanied by her dog, would storm over and yell at them for being irresponsible with the environment.
The woman was in her nineties, and she ruled the entire block—both sides. She and her dog—one of the ugliest things he’d ever seen and always decked out in some special dog outfit—would make their way up one side of the street and down the other, doling out advice and lectures as she saw fit.
He grinned when he pulled into the driveway and keyed the bike off, only to hear her lecturing his immediate neighbor to the right about the shabby state of his trash cans. Grabbing the groceries from his side bag, he waved quickly and headed to his door before she got to him. God knew he had to be responsible for some kind of violation or other.
Once inside, he kicked off his boots, hung his jacket up, put the groceries away and turned the stereo on. It was fully time to get his leisure on, and his deck and the sunset beckoned. He cracked open a beer and shuffled out toward his favorite spot to unwind.
Brody arched his back, stretching himself as he reclined in the big, comfy Adirondack chair. He’d had a lot of clients that day in his tattoo shop, and he was getting old. Old enough and been tattooing long enough that his body reminded him at the end of each day.
The sky burned soft and bright in shades of blue, purple and bright, nearly neon orange as the sun set. He relaxed into his chair and tipped his bottle back, letting the cold beer ease his day and his back strain. His eyes drifted closed as he simply let the twilight settle in.
“Thought we’d find you back here.”
Raven. A friend who used to be more way back when. While there’d been times on and off since they’d ended up in bed during her visits, they’d kept their relationship to just friends. Despite her quirks, she’d become a part of his extended family. He knew her in ways she’d never allow others. He wished she would soften a bit, let someone in. But it was her way and he respected that.
“Got enough for me?”
And his sister, Erin.
He smiled, his eyes still closed; for a few moments he held in his mind the vision of the cotton candy clouds bathed in an explosion of color. He’d known not to expect solace for very long. It was rare when he didn’t see one of his siblings at least once a day. He liked that he was a touchstone for them both. They certainly were for him.
“You know where the fridge is.”
He listened to the happy sound of his sister and Raven chattering away in his kitchen and making their way back out to his deck.
“Why are you here?” he asked, opening his eyes and looking to his sister.
Erin dropped a kiss on his forehead. “Thanks for the lemonade. Am I so transparent?”
“I knew I’d be seeing you one night this week, so I wanted to be sure you had lemonade to drink.”
Her teasing smile softened. “You’re a big, huge marshmallow. I won’t tell anyone, but just know that I know. As for why I’m here, I wanted to see you. Duh. Todd says hey. Ben may be over in a while. I ordered pizza. Meatball, green pepper and mushroom, so don’t get that face.”
All that without an extra breath. Brody had always been amazed by his baby sister’s boldness, the way she took life on. Still, a man had standards when it came to pizza. “Pagliacci?”
She snorted. “Where else?”
He nodded, approving her choice. “Don’t tell anyone I said so, but you’re made of awesome.” Today her hair was fire-engine red with yellow streaks. On any other woman it would have looked ridiculous, but on Erin it worked.
She laughed and kissed him again before sitting next to him; squeezing into the space he gladly shared.Totally and utterly content. His life was good. His business was solid, profits were up, enough that he could take fewer clients himself and actually have a day off every week. His house was finally where he wanted it. His sister was happy with her unconventional life and two totally devoted men, and his brother was on tour and had just celebrated yet another record going triple platinum.
“Your garden is nicer than mine.” Erin began to prattle on about her day, and he thought about smoking a cigarette, just half even, but then reconsidered. Raven would complain and Erin would give him that sigh of hers. Yeah, it was bad for him, but a man needed a few vices.
Instead, he listened to two of his favorite women talk and occasionally grunted or responded. All the while, he drank his beer and half-listened to Kings of Leon as they floated through the air from the stereo in the house. Not a bad way to spend the evening.
Forty-five minutes later, the pizza arrived, so Brody let himself be lured inside by the scent and his growling belly.
He stood for a moment, looking around. His dining room table was large enough for twelve—more if he put the leaf in. Even though his siblings were out on their own, Brody enjoyed that his was the place they sought when they needed to reconnect. His couches were comfortable and worn. The media center was state-of-the-art, because while his brother and sister made the music, they weren’t theonly ones who loved listening to it. A big flat-screen plasma hung in his television room downstairs, where he could play on the Wii or the Xbox, and he’d recently picked up a very fine pool table at agarage sale.
In truth, his wilder days had passed and he found he’d rather hang at home in comfort than at a club. If he needed a woman, he could find several with a few calls. If he needed company, the same applied.
Brody enjoyed that most people saw the broad shoulders, the tattoos and the wary eyes, and thought him a rough-and-tumble bad boy. In reality, he liked to watch movies and eat popcorn with his baby sister. One of these days he’d bounce nieces and nephews on his knee and teach them bad habits.
“You’re pretty mellow tonight,” Erin said as she slid a plate laden with pie toward him.
“I have it good. Why not be mellow? Pretty women to my left and right, good music, good beer and good friends.” He tipped his beer toward Ben, who’d wandered in a few minutes before, not so miraculously, when the pizza had shown.
She smiled. “Good. By the way, I thought of a new tat I want you to do.”
“Whatever you say, baby girl.” He shrugged, happy to do it.
He’d done all her inkwork and trusted it would continue that way. Raven handled the piercings and that was fine by him. But Erin’s tats were special, like she was, and Brody wanted to be sure no one he considered inferior ever did work on her.
The predictable argument broke out between Erin and Raven about why Brody should do it instead of Raven, while Ben and Brody looked on before returning to their dinner.
Ben rolled his eyes at the exchange and looked back to Brody. “We need to go for a ride on Sunday. You up for it? The weather should be good. I thought a trip out to the Olympics? We can stop and eat some crab before we turn around.”
Brody respected the man who cared so much about his sister. The guy was good people, and he’d come along at a time in Erin’s life when it would have been a hell of a lot easier to run in the other direction. That went a long way in Brody’s book.
Sunny weekend with bikes and friends? “Yeah, that sounds damned good.”
Leave a comment for Lauren for a chance to win! And don't forgot, tomorrow's the last day to comment for entries into the Grand Prize drawing.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Winner Day #49

Casey is the winner of the Red Garnier anthology! Congrats-- drop me your snail mail at tracy@tracywolff.com and I'll forward it to Red.

Delicious Tease Day #50: Joey W. Hill

Happy Easter! Sorry I'm so late today, but it was Easter Bunny, Church, brunch, egg hunt, kid this morning and I just now got a free minute. Today, we're welcoming Joey W. Hill, whose Vampire books are incredibly popular-- and incredibly good. Today, she's giving away a copy of Beloved Vampire, so comment for your chance to win!

Mason has lived in the Sahara desert for almost 300 years, grieving for a lost love and guarding her tomb. When the tomb is breached, his bloodlust is stirred to raging by the thought of someone disturbing her sanctuary. What he finds is Jessica, a fugitive from his own world. Jessica was the forced second-mark servant of a cruel vampire master. Through an unexpected turn of events, she was able to kill him when he tried to give her the final mark, which would have made her his full servant, bound to him even in death. Because the third marking was not complete, it left her alive…barely.
Drawn by the historic legend of the tomb, not knowing how it intertwines with the vampire world she is seeking to avoid, Jessica’s only desire is to die there, with her hand on the sarcophagus of the woman who’d had an unyielding faith in love. Instead, she finds her desire to live forcibly re-awakened by the vampire who refuses to let her give up. She clings to her hatred, but the more Mason struggles with her, the more determined he is to help her believe in love again. The only catch is he might have to do the same. But can he offer up his heart to another extraordinary woman if he already gave it away centuries ago?

The Sahara had once been green. Lush, a verdant land supporting civilizations. Then the earth’s orbit changed, the sun came a little closer, and the land altered, becoming a desert that swallowed armies. It had happened three or four thousand years ago, barely a blink in the nine billion year life of Earth, but in that blink, Heaven and Hell had switched places. Had it been cosmic boredom, a need for a different perspective? Life giver, life taker.
Jessica wondered which face the Sahara preferred. Since she’d come here to die, it was a point of interest. Barely two years ago, her body had been vigorous and fertile as well. Now it, too, was a barren skeleton that repelled most sensible life forms. She felt almost at home here.
As the largest desert in the world, this was a place one could walk for days—if one had the constitution of a camel—and see no other human life. But the history of the area was still mapped on this wasteland, if one had trained eyes. Though she’d had to study it primarily from within the walls of her prison, she’d done little else of importance in the past months but study her final destination.
She didn’t really count killing Lord Raithe as important. The vampire who’d forced her to be his servant for over five years, and the reason she was dying now, was relatively nothing in the scheme of things. Creatures lived, creatures died, and their bones became sand like this. They all walked over the remains of their ancestors. At least he’d never torment anyone again. That mattered, though in truth, she’d been sick for so long now, she couldn’t even recall why that had been as important as it had once seemed.
In contrast, Farida had remained significant to her. In the midst of a life so horrible Jess often thought she’d already died and somehow deserved Hell—though she couldn’t recall her crime—Farida had given her a spark of light. It had amazed Jess, discovering the body’s desire to live was stronger than anything, even despair. Maybe that was why she’d connected with a woman who had chosen love and then lost everything.
From the very first moment Jess opened the ancient binding and discovered the written memories of the sheikh’s daughter who had lived over three hundred years ago, a bond had formed between them. Farida had spoken in her memoir passionately, vibrantly, of a love worth any torment.
Between being on the run as a fugitive and hoping she had the strength to keep going the next day, Jess had read her words. Hiding in dank places that only society’s forgotten frequented, often there was nothing else to break her thoughts, except the trickling background of an internal hourglass, the sands of her life running out. Her cells were being subsumed in that flow of sand, as if she were becoming part of a place like Farida’s Sahara. But she was okay with that. There were those who believed that the Sahara would return to greenness, that the cycles of climate change would evolve again, the sun getting less hot and the rains increasing. A different way of life would return.
After Jess killed Raithe, Farida’s journal and the diamonds were the only things worth her life to slip back into his house and retrieve. Maybe even then, in her subconscious, she’d realized where she was going to go and what she was going to do with the short remainder of her life. It was no more fantastic than what her life had been for the past five years. And no one would look for her in the Middle East.
When she’d arrived in the Sahara, she realized that those who wrote of it as a desolate place, devoid of life, didn’t know it. There was life here. Not just in the few peoples and creatures that called it home, but in the ghosts that whispered, finding voice through the movement of the sand, a haunting noise like blowing across the top of a soda bottle. She knew what that sounded like, for she’d done it as a teenager, clustered with her friends on the curb outside the Quik-Stop with soda and Cheetoes, eying the boys that came in after school. Boys who eyed them right back.
God, that was a long time ago. She held those memories to her occasionally like a favorite doll, even as she knew the act was closer to that of a mother holding a dead baby.
The three men she’d paid to accompany her this far thought her a madwoman, of course. But she’d paid them enough to indulge her, and there was nothing to lose, no liability. Take a crazy, dying woman out to a remote part of the desert that wasn’t on any map, and she’d eventually tire of her fantasy of finding the marker for a dead woman’s grave or die. They’d be rich men, either way. She’d shown them the jewels, what would be theirs if they helped her. She thanked whatever capricious Deity watched over fools that she’d had the foresight to take the gems while everyone was still out looking for her. Raithe had had a hoard to rival a dragon’s, so they’d never be missed.
Now, as she rolled the comfort of familiar thoughts through her head, a reminder of where she’d been, where she was going, she looked over the endless stretch of dunes. The breathtaking artistry of the wind upon them rivaled the greatest sculptors of the ages, and the sun collaborated, providing a different view with each degree it descended. But even that beauty couldn’t distract her from the fact night was drawing close. God, she hated darkness. But she fingered the compass in her pocket, reassuring herself. The stars would help her find Farida tonight at last.
Reading the words of that diary made her feel as if she were in Farida’s silken tent, where they cuddled on the pillows as girlfriends, pressed forehead to forehead. In the darkest time of night, Farida whispered in her ear. She’d told Jessica that, while everything in life could be taken away by uncontrollable forces, there was always a choice left. Something overlooked, if one did not let fear overwhelm desire.
Farida’s choice had been an incomparable man. Jessica’s would be where she wanted to die. Closing her eyes, Jessica remembered her favorite diary entry, about the night Farida had met Lord Mason…
I was behind the screen when Prince Haytham entered the tent to speak with my father. My father valued my counsel and often allowed me to do this, perhaps because he knew how very restless I became in a woman’s world. Why does Allah create dreams and appetites, the desire to live free and fierce as a man does, if those things are to be denied a woman’s soul? I have often wondered this.
Then I saw the man with the prince. Those longings, banked always against my responsibilities as my father’s daughter, exploded inside me like the brightness of stars, such that they couldn’t be contained. I bit down so hard on my lip I drew blood, though I knew I must fly, sing, dance…all for him.
He had to be a djinn spun from the desert sand, for never has a man been so beautifully made. Face carved with the sculpted beauty of the dunes, but smooth as watered stone, as if a goddess had created him and then lovingly stroked him, over and over.
When they sat for coffee, he removed his robes, showing he wore the brown riding trousers and white shirt of a European. He lounged back on the pillows, a graceful animal. Though he smiled and listened in that relaxed way of men as coffee was prepared, he reminded me of a desert tiger, for his hair was burnished copper, an animal’s pelt. He had it scraped back from his face, so every magnificent plane was emphasized. My fingers wanted to feel that fall of straight silk, tied back from his shoulders.
His eyes were true amber, like the tiger as well, an almost unnatural brilliance to them, as if he carried the fire of the desert within him. A djinn, as I have said. I heard Prince Haytham say later that he suspected Lord Mason was a British spy, for during the time he stayed with us, he was always gone by dawn, and returned at nightfall. He also spoke our language as well as a native, and his accent was not as precisely bitten off as other Englishmen who have met our camp.
The prince said Lord Mason’s purpose was nothing that concerned us, though I imagined him stepping out of view of our camp and dissolving into a tornado of sand, a desert devil spinning across the dunes. He had too much energy to contain in the body of a mortal man. I imagined that he returned to us at night only when his need to exercise his powers was temporarily sated.
But I need to leave off my fancies and go back to that first time I saw him. As I bit down on my lip and tasted my blood, I must have made a sound despite my efforts, for he looked at me, found me behind the screen. Those tiger’s eyes flickered. I saw his nostrils flare, as if he had my scent, knew every shameful thing I wanted. A passing moment, over in a blink. He shifted his attention away, not disrespecting my father by staring at a woman of his house.
But when he raised his hand to perform the salaam, I drew in another unsteady breath, thinking how those hands would feel on my flesh, compelling my surrender, my obedience, my devotion and love throughout eternity. I knew then. From that very first second, Fate tied a gentle but unbreakable tether around my throat and handed the lead to him. I would follow him, no matter what our end would be.
Leave your comment here to win a copy of BELOVED VAMPIRE (or other backlist book of your choice) from Joey W. Hill. Remember, Tuesday is the last day we’re taking entries for the grand prize, and Ipod Touch. All you have to do for a chance to win is comment…

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Winners for Days 47 and 48

Chrystle was the winner for Day #47 and Gabby is the winner for Day #48! Congratulations-- drop me a note with your snail mail at tracy@tracywolff.com and I'll get the info off :)

Delicious Tease Day #49: Red Garnier

I'm thrilled to have Red Garnier back today, this time giving away a copy of the very hot Men of Danger Anthology! Check out her excerpt below, and remember to leave a comment for a chance to win!

This month, I’m thrilled to celebrate the release of my first romantic suspense story, a steamy little novella called Reckless and Yours which is included in the MEN OF DANGER anthology along with sizzling stories from the talented Lora Leigh, Alexis Grant, and Lorie O’Clare!
Romantic Times BOOKreviews pointed Reckless and Yours as one of the ‘standouts’ and said these ‘Four hot and suspenseful stories make for a good read’!

I really hope you’ll enjoy cuddling up to these sexy tales bursting with love, passion, and danger.

There is no future without facing your past…

A lifetime ago, Paige Avery left town after witnessing the murder of her father: and she doesn't remember a thing. Now she returns after her mother’s funeral, oblivious to the fact that her life is in danger - until someone breaks into her house. Rattled by the destruction of the home where she grew up, Paige comes face to face with the stranger who has haunted her dreams.

Zachary Rivers may look like a felon, but what he really is is a cop: a very determined, very handsome cop, who stares at her with eyes that say I will protect you.

Paige may not fully remember what happened between them seven years ago, but she knows she responds to him like she's never responded to any man.

Desperately trying to stay alive, and fighting against a raging passion that threatens to consume her, Paige has to look into her past to get on with her future. And while some things are better left forgotten, others are impossible to forget . . .


Her name was Paige.
So sleepy. She could not open her eyes. Her arms felt as though a building sat on top of them, and an insect-like sensation crawled up her legs under the sheets.
But the sounds… The rhythm was strangely soothing, like a lullaby. A nice, sweet lullaby. Keeping company in the quiet.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
“Mrs. Avery! They said Paige was in a trauma and we had to come—”
“Ohmigod, we’re so sorry about the judge! But what happened? What’s wrong with her—”
“Shhh! Francine, can’t you see she’s sleeping?”
A voice rose above the others—ringing with maturity, authority, “Girls! Please. You can’t all be in here at once! Out in the hall please.”
Again quiet.
Sleep called to her, drew her deeper into its spell even as she fought for consciousness. She didn’t want to sleep. She wanted…she wanted…she didn’t know what she wanted. Maybe she wanted to die.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
A knock came. “Mrs. Avery, I’d like a word with your daughter.”
Mrs. Avery. Poor Mrs. Avery was everywhere. Doctors called her name. Nurses. People. Friends. I’m so sorry, we heard, this is awful…
Mrs. Avery’s voice was tired now. Was she angry? She sounded strained and far away, shuffling to the door. “Officer, this is not a good time…”
The voices faded into the hall, still audible to some degree.
“…shock…head trauma…doesn’t remember…”
They were talking about her. Weren’t they? But she did remember. Didn’t she?
Her name was Paige.
Her mother said to pack. They would leave soon. No one would bother them again. But Father…Father was…
Father was dead?
Paige heard more murmurs out in the hall before she sensed the presence in the room. She could hardly believe the sneer in his words the instant they registered.
“I hear Daddy’s dead.”
Her nostrils flared at the pungent scent coming off his body. He leaned over her. The bed creaked with the weight of his arms, and a tendril of fear took hold in the pit of her belly. He thrust his next words into her ear, words that chilled down to the marrow of her bones.
“Remember what I told you, hmm? Be a good, good girl, Paige, and stay very, very quiet. If you dare open your mouth I swear to God I’m going to break your boyfriend into tiny little pieces. And then I’m going to break you.”
A sound welled in the back of her throat, a cry for help, but it died when he squeezed her upper arm hard enough to cut off her blood supply. He released her. “Good girl. Don’t forget.”
She tossed her head and moaned. Mother. Seconds passed, minutes. Hours?
He was gone—and she did not want to lie here. Felt restless. She needed to do something. Something important. Something she should run to, far and fast and hard, but her stupid legs—
The voice. It struck her like lightning. She fell utterly still, stiller than still. Her lungs froze in her chest and her ears strained for more of that hoarse, male rasp. First she heard footsteps.
Her body tensed at each of the five that brought the speaker closer, and her mind went blank while she frantically waited to listen. Her world narrowed down to that one whisper he uttered—
“Paige, it’s me.”
Unexpectedly, as though this voice was all she needed to set loose a well of emotion, her lips began to tremble. A hot fat tear leaked from the corner of her eye.
A second followed down her cheek, and the moment a flat, callused thumb gently began to swipe it, she impulsively turned her face into that hand. She ached to weep into it. Let "me" catch all her tears.
She began to sob in earnest, and a second hand engulfed her left cheek. She heard a gruff, “fuck,” while he furiously tried to wipe the tears away. He seemed as desperate to stop them as she ached to set them free. “Oh, fuck.” Long fingers spread open to hold her, heels of his palms cradling her jaw. His hands shook.
She willed her eyes to open but they stung. Her lashes felt stuck together with Super Glue and she hated that they would not obey her mind. A sound full of distress and frustration burst from her lips. He tilted her head back a fraction and his warm, ragged breath misted across her forehead. Soft dry lips brushed across one closed eyelid, then the other. "Shhhh. I’m here."
When the hot, moist flick of his tongue lapped the tears from the corner of one eye, her stomach exploded with emotion. The breath shuddered out of her.
His mouth trailed down the other cheek while he rained kisses on her.
A powerful tremor shook her body; that same shudder seemed to run through him too. His hands tightened reflexively on her face and he lowered his head, grazing the shell of her ear with his lips, whispering, “I’ll make it better. Whatever it takes, anything I need to—”
Her mother’s voice sliced through the room like an ice pick.
“Take your hands off her.”
A feeble protest tore out of her as she tossed her head in negation. No. But the hands slowly, hesitantly, left her. She could no longer smell the sun on his skin, the masculine aroma of sand and trees clinging to his clothing; instead the scent of medicine and plastic prevailed.
“I ask you to get out now.”
Her heart thundered in her breast. She could not move. She could not scream. Could not say, No no no. Don’t go, don’t go.
“You’re distressing her, leave now!”
His footsteps echoed on the tile floor. Leaving. Leaving now. And she could not do anything but lie there, afraid, in the darkness, with his fleeting touch imprinted somewhere deep and lonely inside her.
Her name was Paige.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Delicious Tease Day #48: Karin Tabke

Today's guest is the wonderful Karin Tabke, who will be giving away a copy of her novel, Master of Surrender. It is the first in teh Blood Sword Legacy series. Remember to comment below for a chance to win.

Blood Sword Legacy #3-- Master of Craving

"Tabke’s alpha heroes and strong-willed women captivate. Her third Blood Sword Legacy novel is a powerful battle-of-wills love story that resonates with the atmosphere of the era and simmering passion, betrayals and politics that add depth to a stirring tale." — Romantic Times MATER OF CRAVING

"The third book in the Blood Sword Legacy series starts with a captivatingly gripping scene, and each new compelling scenario contains additional attention-grabbing circumstances.. Karin Tabke has created a rewarding masterpiece, one to be savored again and again." –Amelia Singletitle.com


Eight mercenary knights, each of them base born, each of them bound by unspeakable torture in a Saracen prison, each of them branded with the mark of the sword for life. Each of their destinies marked by a woman.‘Twas whispered along the Marches the demon knights who rode upon black horses donned in black mail wielding black swords would slay any man, woman or child who dared look upon them. ‘Twas whispered their loyalty was only to the other and no man could split them asunder, nor was there enough gold or silver in the kingdom to buy their oath. ‘Twas well known each of them was touched not by the hand of God but by Lucifer himself.

‘Twas also whispered, but only by the bravest of souls, that each Blood Sword was destined to find only one woman in all of Christendom who would bear him and only him sons, and until that one woman was found, he would battle and ravage the land… …but the darkest secret whispered was that there was one among them whose violent craving for the one woman he could not have would be the spark that would set an entire region on fire, and nearly bring down a kingdom, with the aftermath to be felt for the next thousand years.


Having survived the great battle of Hereford, Stefan de Valrey lies naked in the wood at a pond’s edge where he has bathed away the battle stench, tended his grave wounds and ponders his next move. For the Normans were slaughtered by the combined forces of the mad Saxon Earl Edric and his Welsh allies King Rhiwallon and Bleddyn. His brother Blood Swords have been captured by the Welsh kings and, Stefan will do anything to see to their safe release. Anything.

Stefan grabbed his sword and rolled over, prepared to do battle, but instead found nothing. Had he dreamt the low sensual laugh? He heard it again, closer now. His blood warmed as he conjured up a face and body to go with such an exotic sound. He hurried to Apollo as fast as his damaged leg would allow, and pushed the huge horse back farther into the thick wood.

He warned him to silence, knowing the horse would stand still until given the command to move. Stefan turned and made his way back to the edge of the thick copse of foliage he hid behind. For long moments he stood, wondering for the second time if he had dreamt the voice. The light sound of footsteps crunching along the rocky path to the secluded pond heralded a visitor. He crouched, wincing at the pull of skin and muscle on his damaged thigh, and rethought his position. As he made to adjust, he stopped all movement.

“Jane, hurry, I must get out of these mud-caked rags!” called a melodic female voice in Welsh.

Stefan crouched lower. Not moving a single muscle, he watched as a wood nymph danced into view. His eyes widened. She was tall, slender, and, as his gaze raked her body, buxom. He smiled. She was undressing in a most uninhibited manner as she hurried toward the inviting pool. And, he could see why. Her emerald-colored gown was covered in mud on one side, as was her long sunburst-colored hair. When she yanked the kirtle from her body, he held his breath.

The soft linen of the chemise beneath molded against her full curves in the soft breeze. “I cannot believe I fell from my horse!”

“You have become too arrogant, milady,” an old woman said, hobbling into the clearing holding a cloth bundle. “’Tis time someone brought you down a peg.”

A noblewoman? A Welsh noblewoman? He grinned wider, and silently thanked Rhys and Wulfson for their tutelage of the language. He would repay them handsomely when next they met. The eager lady did not wait for her maid to help her undress further. She sat upon the stone he had himself just lain upon and unlaced her soft leather boots, untied her garters, then rolled down short white chauses. His body tightened when she stood and pulled the chemise from her body. Heat filled him as he slowly stood, unable to turn away, indeed, could he have.

Transfixed, he took in every sensual inch of her body. She was tall for a woman and majestically golden. Golden hair, golden skin. Her breasts were full and rose high upon her chest. His hands opened and closed, wanting to feel the soft firmness of them beneath his fingertips. He envisioned his large calloused fingers gently brushing across a pink nipple, feeling it come alive beneath his touch. His cock filled as his eyes traveled down her flat belly to her rounded hips and to the blush-colored triangle between her thighs. He hissed out a low breath. She was breathtaking, and at that moment, Stefan knew what it meant to want something so badly that he would give his right arm to possess it.

His cock lengthened at the spectacular sight, and had she been alone, he would have been so bold as to show himself, Adam to her Eve. He wanted to join with her, and mate.

“You are shameful!” Jane scolded. “What if there are bandits in the wood?”

“Keep watch, Jane, I will be but a few minutes. We have been riding hard for days. The dirt of the road clings to me and you know I have not bathed since we departed Dinefwr.”

Dinefwr? ‘Twas where Prince Hylcon resided. This he knew, for the Dinefwr-Castile bloodline was amongst the finest; not only in all of Christendom, but even the Saracens of the Holy Land traveled to Dinefwr to breed their mares to Hylcon’s stallions.

Intrigued, he watched the lady gingerly stick a toe into the cool water. She gasped in a breath at the chill, when she did her breasts rose higher, as did he. He smiled despite the pain it caused him, as she slowly glided into the pool. Her golden skin puckered and her blush-colored nipples tightened.

“Go, Jane, and leave me. Go down the path and make sure that letch Dag keeps his distance.”

The errant lady slid the rest of her long body into the cool, clear water, gasping at the coolness. Stefan squirmed where he stood, the tension between his thighs overriding the tension of his wounds.The servant set her bundle down on the rock and untied it, then spread out clothes and a long linen towel.

“Here are your clothes, you will have to dry yourself. I cannot guard the path and dress you at the same time. Do not dally, milady, we must be back on the road.”

The lady splashed water at her maid and scoffed. “Dag has lost his way, and because of it, we have lost time. I fear we will never get to Yorkshire.”

“He is not the most intelligent of men,” Jane admitted, then, reluctantly, the old woman moved back down the path they had come. Stefan knelt on the soft loamy ground and watched captivated, as the wood nymph swam in the small pool, and as he had done, she grabbed a hunk of springy moss from beneath a fern.

When she stood and the clear water sluiced down her breasts to her belly, glistening like pearls under the sunlight, Stefan stifled a groan.She reached over to the bundle and grabbed a bar of soap, and when she lathered it, he held his breath. Her slender hands smeared it across her breasts and down her belly to her thighs. She tilted her head back, her back arched, those luscious breasts pointed to the sun. Her hands slid across her body with brazen familiarity. He wanted to touch her so. She had no modesty, and he could tell just from the way she touched herself she would be an adventurous lover. She sank deeper into the pool, allowing the water to carry the lather away. When she completely submerged and shot up, her body glistening in the sun, Stefan slowly stood and took a step closer. She put the soap to her hair and vigorously washed it. She went under again, and this time when she erupted from the water, like Venus herself, the erotic image was too much for Stefan. He groaned.

She gasped, and turned crossing her arms over her chest. “Who goes there?”Stefan grinned, ignoring the pain it cost him. How badly he wanted to show himself, and how badly he wanted to lose himself in all of that gold and honey, he could not measure, but even had he the time for a dalliance, he doubted he possessed the strength.

‘Twas a shame, for it had been months since his last woman, and none could he recall as comely as this one frolicking in the water before him. He was just about to move deeper into the wood when he heard another voice. A man’s voice.“Would you like some company, Princess?”Princess? Stefan’s interest suddenly went from his cock to his head. A Welsh princess? Mayhap Hylcon’s daughter?

“Dag! How dare you trespass! Turn your back and return to the others!” she commanded.Stefan eyed the intruder as he emerged from the path into the clearing. Nearly as tall as Thorin, bald, but sporting a full blond beard, hard narrowed eyes, and dressed in the manner of a Norseman complete with battle ax.

A Viking. What was a Viking doing with a Welsh princess in the middle of battle-fatigued Mercia? She had mentioned Yorkshire. An area, despite Hardrada’s defeat last year, still heavily populated with Norse. “I cannot do as you command, Princess Arianrhod. As you have so thoroughly done to my uncle, so too you haunt my every waking thought.” He continued stalking her, as a fox would a plump hen.

“Stop now, Dag! Stop before you do something we will both regret,” she warned, and, though she tried to keep her voice strong and sure, Stefan heard the fear in it.

Dag laughed as if every day he plucked an unwilling maid from the water, and continued his slow, deliberate pursuit. “I will have no regrets. I want you as I have never wanted anything in my life. I will have you.”

The princess backed up to the rock she had undressed on and grabbed the linen from where the maid had set it. She started to stand, to wrap it around her but thought better of exposing herself to the unwanted intruder. Instead, she dragged it into the water, soaking it, then wrapped it around her body.

Stefan shook his head. ‘Twould only weigh her down and show off every curve. She dragged herself from the water on the side of the pond closest to where he hid. He swallowed hard at the display. As forethought, she was a vision, to be sure, in the thin wet cloth. It clung to her full curves, and despite the position she found herself in, the princess’s royal nipples were hard and strained mightily against the cloth.

Slowly, Stefan moved closer to the edge of the foliage that shielded him. And, as was his instinct when trouble brewed, he reached for his sword where it lay on the ground beside him. The Viking nimbly hopped from the shore to one rock, then another, then to the one the princess stood upon. She opened her mouth to scream, but the Viking was quick; he grasped her, slapping his hand across her mouth.

The little hellion bit him and punched him with her fists. The damp linen clung to her between them, but now it covered less than it had a moment ago.Stefan’s impulse was to defend the lady’s honor, but too much was at stake for him to show himself.

And for the giveaway:
Blood Sword Legacy #1: Master of Surrender

The year is 1066. William, bastard Duke of Normandy, has claimed the English throne by right of conquest. To quell the Saxon unrest, William sends out his most trusted knights to secure the land. One of those knights is his cousin, Sir Rohan de Luc, known far and wide for his bloody deeds as The Black Sword. . .
Bold and courageous, Saxon maiden Isabel of Alethorpe is the only one left to protect the people of the manor and its lands. When Rohan de Luc seizes Alethorpe, he offers to spare the life of Isabel’s young squire in exchange for her willing gift of the charms of her body. Betrothed to another, she vows to that while he may take her maidenhead, her heart will remain her own. But even as her lips say no, Isabel’s traitorous body is awakened to desire by the seductive attentions of this potent invader. Can she remain true to her own people, or will Sir Rohan’s skilled touch capture her unwilling heart as surely as his prowess with his sword captured her father’s lands?
Leave a comment for a chance to win.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Winner Day #46

Congrats-- the winner is Incident! Drop me your snail mail and I'll forward it on to Julie/J.K.

Delicious Tease Day #47: Rhyannon Byrd

HQN writer Rhyannon Byrd is with us today, giving away copies of her first three books in the Primal Instincts series. Remember to comment to win!


A beautiful woman he must never possess. A primal hunger that must be fed. . .

Sold into slavery as a child to a cruel taskmaster, tiger-shifter Aiden Shrader trusts no one. Not even his own kind. Yet as a member of the Watchmen—the organization of shape-shifters who keep watch over the ancient nonhuman races—Aiden is fiercely protective of the helpless. Never more so than when he’s asked to guard a little girl with witches’ blood—and her beautiful human aunt.
A woman who arouses all of Aiden’s primal urges. . . urges he must resist.

To small-town schoolteacher Olivia Harcourt, the massive tiger-shifter with the glowing amber eyes is as much a dark mystery as the enemy stalking her. Yet Aiden is her only hope of surviving. Until their intense passion unleashes her own inner tigress with a ferocity that will make the evil Casus rue the day they messed with her family. . . and will take Aiden by seductive surprise.
Excerpt: Chapter One

Saturday morning

He needed a woman. In the worst, possible, gut-wrenching way. And yet, none of the women Riley Buchanan passed on his way through the quaint seaside town of Purity, Washington, fit the bill. None were quite what he wanted. What he craved. The redhead watering plants outside the floral shop was too thin, the blonde swishing her miniskirt-covered ass in front of him too tall, when what he needed was something…
He searched, trying to place a mental hold on the words, but they failed him.
Or you’re just too stubborn to admit who you really want. Even to yourself.
“Shut up,” he muttered to the annoying voice in his head, hunching his shoulders against the blisteringly cool breeze blowing in off the Pacific. The salt-scented air—so different from the dry mountain winds he called home in Henning, Colorado—filled his head, and for a moment he caught a flash of scent that stabbed at his insides, striking him like a physical blow. It was familiar and yet mouthwateringly different, and he stopped in the center of the sidewalk, his narrowed eyes scanning Purity’s bustling Main Street, struggling to discern its source. He stood there gripped in a knot of panic, stunned, while his chest heaved from the force of his breaths. But there was no sweet, surprising face from his past. No big, luminous eyes blinking back at him in stunned recognition. No tender mouth curved in a shy, soft-focused smile. No one that he could pick out in the chaotic swarm of townspeople that nudged his memory, taking him back to a time he’d done his best to forget.
Blowing out a rough breath, he accepted that it was just his mind playing tricks on him, which seemed to be happening more and more these days. He thought he’d shoved that period of his life into an impenetrable mental vault, locking it away forever, but the damn awakening was screwing with his sanity, making him remember things, and people, that were best left forgotten.
And yet, isn’t she the very thing that you crave?
“Not going there,” he rasped under his breath, pissed at himself for letting his imagination get the better of him. Forcing the wave of unwanted memories from his mind, he set off again down the crowded sidewalk, while the edgy, restless need continued to slither beneath his skin. He knew its source—knew from exactly where it sprang, but there wasn’t anything he could do about it. The ancient Merrick blood within his body was coming alive inside of him, and that meant only one thing:
His days were numbered.
Darkness was knocking on his door, but it wasn’t Riley’s life that hung in the balance. It was his soul.
Not that he’d done anything so stupid as to make a deal with the devil—though there’d been times over the years when he’d been tempted. At one point, he’d have been willing to do anything for a chance, the opportunity, to rid himself of the blackness festering within him. A toxic, destructive darkness that had formed the shape of his entire life since the age of seventeen, sculpting the years like an artist manipulating clay.
You’re so full of bullshit. It’s not the darkness twisting you up inside—it’s your weakness. It’s knowing that you won’t be able to handle it when it hits.
Choking back the graveled curse that threatened to erupt from his mouth, Riley shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans, while the gusting bursts of sea wind whipped his hair around his face. Despite the violent weather, Purity, Washington, was a beautiful place, caught between the rugged, majestic beauty of a towering autumn forest and a sheer rock face that looked out over the thrashing fury of the Pacific Ocean. On any other day he’d have been captivated by the town, but then this wasn’t any other day. He and Kellan Scott had just arrived in Purity that morning, their purpose to retrieve the Dark Marker they believed was buried here in the sleepy little seaside community. His sister, Saige, had only just finished deciphering the ancient, coded map that gave directions to the Marker’s location the day before, and Riley had immediately insisted that he be the one to go after the powerful cross. His brother and sister had argued like crazy, but in the end Riley had won with the sheer stubborn force of his will, as well as the threat that he’d simply leave. Just drive out of Henning without telling them where he was headed, if they didn’t shut up and let him get out of there.
He couldn’t have stayed. His awakening was coming on too strong, which meant that he was, more than likely, already being hunted by a monster. A Casus. One of the ancient enemies of the Merrick, and the very things that were causing the awakenings to begin. With each Casus who escaped from the holding ground that had imprisoned the vile race for over a thousand years, it was believed that the primal blood would awaken within a descendant of the Merrick clan. And though he’d fought it, Riley’s turn had finally come. Now he would join the fight against an unholy evil, and hope like hell that he was able to take at least one of those bastards down before he…
No, he didn’t want to think about that. About where he was headed. He needed to focus on the coming battle, so that he could destroy the Casus coming after him. That was why they needed the Dark Markers—beautiful ancient crosses that could be used not only as a talisman for protection, but which were the only known weapons capable of killing a Casus’s soul and sending it straight to hell. God only knew how many of the things were already on his trail, and Riley had no intention of hanging around Henning, where they could pick off the locals one by one just to mess with his mind. That was how the bastards worked, and he’d seen just how evil they could be when the first escaped Casus had gone after his brother toward the end of the summer. It had killed four women in Henning alone, two of them women Ian had dated. Ian had finally used the first Dark Marker that Saige had found to kill the sadistic son of a bitch, but Riley knew his brother was still learning to cope with the unsettling fact that he was now more Merrick than man.
Riley wished he could accept the primal blood that flowed through his veins as easily as Saige had, but he was too much like Ian. A wry smile twitched at the corner of his mouth with the thought. He could well imagine Ian’s reaction to the comparison. Whereas his brother had mostly lived a hard, dangerous life, Riley had done his best to keep himself on the straight and narrow, like a goddamn Boy Scout. And yet, they were more alike than Ian realized.
Though his brother and sister didn’t know it, Riley had lived in fear of his awakening for years. Since he was seventeen. Since he’d turned his back on the life he’d wanted, casting it aside. That was why, from the moment he’d realized the awakenings were actually coming, he’d been consumed by thoughts of the past. It was pointless and stupid, he knew. Regret wasn’t going to save him, and it sure as hell wasn’t going to ease the seething, visceral hunger scraping him raw, tearing at his insides like so many claws. But the two events went hand in hand, impossible to separate. Facing his awakening inevitably made him think about the things that had happened so long ago. The circumstances that had changed his life.
That had shaped him into the man he’d become.
But there was nothing to be done. He couldn’t avoid his future, and he couldn’t go back and change what had come before. The very fact that he was awakening was proof that he’d made the right choices all those years ago, no matter how painful they’d been. No matter how angry they’d made him. No matter the cost. Or how they’d hurt the people who’d cared about him.
Still, he lifted his nose to the air, searching for that scent again, but the violent wisps of the sea-scented breeze were too strong, and he finally gave up.
“It wasn’t real,” he grunted to himself, shaking his head as if to clear it of an alcohol-induced fog. Spotting Kellan coming from the opposite direction, he sidestepped a group of mothers chattering around a circle of strollers, and made his way beneath the awning of a brick-faced hardware store, stepping out of the harrowing wind as he waited for the Watchman to reach him. They’d split up not long after arriving in town, Riley heading to find out what he could about the land where they believed the cross was buried, and Kellan to check the local news database to see if any strange happenings or disappearances had recently been reported. They were almost positive that the Casus, who had briefly held possession of the mysterious maps a few weeks before, hadn’t been able to decode them. But they weren’t taking any chances. Though they didn’t understand why, they knew the Casus were as desperate to get their hands on the Dark Markers as they were.
“Find anything?” he asked the Watchman as he neared.
The younger man shook his head, the sunlight glinting like copper off the deep, auburn strands of his hair, his blue-green eyes glittering with an ever-present spark of mischief. Kellan Scott was a brawny, muscular bastard, which was why he’d been sent along with Riley to find the Marker. As one of the Watchmen, shape-shifters whose job it was to watch over the ancient nonhuman clans, Kellan and his unit had broken with tradition and stepped in to help in the Merrick’s fight against the Casus. Like his brother, Kierland, Kellan’s inner beast was a wolf, and though Riley had yet to see him shift, he had no doubt that the twenty-six-year-old lothario could be lethal when he needed to be.
“What about you?” Kellan asked, while two early twentysomethings strolled past, their bright gazes eyeing them with obvious appreciation. Kellan flashed the blonde a wicked, come-and-get-me smile, before Riley glowered them both away.
“The land where Saige told us to search is owned by the same woman who owns that café we saw when we came into town, out by the cliffs. Her name’s Millicent Summers,” he said, when Kellan finally took his odd-colored gaze off the blonde’s ass and looked back toward Riley’s scowl.
“Millicent. Mmm…sounds sweet. Let’s go meet her,” the Watchman murmured, grinning as he waggled his brows.
“I think Millicent might be a little old for you,” he grumbled, trying to reroute the direction of Kellan’s thoughts. The guy’s mental compass seemed to be permanently pointed toward sex.
Kellan’s smile twitched at the corner as he lifted his shoulders. “Women are like wine, Ri. They only get better with age.”
Riley narrowed his eyes. “Do you remember one word of the lecture Kierland gave you before we left the compound?” he demanded in a gritty slide of words, while Millicent Summers’s name kept looping through his brain, driving him mad, same as it’d been since he’d first heard it from the “Chatty Cathy” at the land registry. Millicent had been the name of Hope Summers’s aunt, but he knew it was just coincidence. One more thing to mess with his mind. Fate couldn’t possibly be that cruel. Jesus, he needed to get a grip before his useless obsession with the past made him lose his focus.
He couldn’t afford to be distracted, damn it. He needed to stay sharp. Alert. Not walking around in a daze, searching for things that weren’t even there.
“Yeah, I remember the lecture,” Kellan offered with a tired sigh, pulling Riley’s mind back to the conversation. The Watchman lifted his right hand and crossed his heart. “Will it make you feel better if I solemnly swear to keep my filthy paws off the lady, no matter how tempting she is?”
Shaking his head at the idiot’s teasing, he grunted, “Come on. We might as well go check the place out.” They headed down the crowded sidewalk, and though Riley was aware of the female attention they were drawing, he ignored it. He could honestly say that he’d never had trouble finding a woman when he wanted one. He wasn’t being arrogant about it—it was just the way that it was. The only difference was that now, when he needed one, he…couldn’t. Couldn’t act on the offers. Even if a miracle occurred and he found what he craved, he wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. Not with at least one Casus on his trail, hunting him down, looking for ways to hurt him, while waiting for him to fully awaken…and more most likely on their way. Until Riley had fed and the Merrick blood within his body had gained full power, they would bide their time. Feed from his flesh too early, and he wouldn’t give the monsters the power charge they needed to bring back more of their kind from the holding ground they’d named Meridian.
“If you don’t want to draw more attention than we already are,” Kellan drawled at his side, “then you need to loosen up, Ri.”
“Not gonna happen,” he muttered, scanning the crowd, bitterly aware that he was subconsciously searching for a thick, healthy fall of long, chestnut-colored hair. The flash of bright, topaz-colored eyes. He struggled to let go of his tension, to find the smooth, easy well of calm that he’d mastered over the years, but it wasn’t there.
“Seriously,” Kellan rumbled, slanting him a worried glance. “I can feel the vibes pouring off you, man. It’s getting bad.”
“I’ll handle it,” he shot back, unsure whether Kellan was talking about his awakening…or his growing sexual frustration, not that it made a difference. He had no intention of discussing either with the cocky Watchman.
A smiling brunette strolled across their path, flashing a lip-glossed smile in his direction, and Riley looked away. Again. Same as he’d been doing for weeks now.
“Look, it’s obvious you don’t have trouble attracting women,” Kellan murmured, while they turned left at the next corner. “So just pick one and get laid already. And I’m not the only one who’s thinking it. Everyone back at Ravenswing is saying the same damn thing.”
“It’s not a case of just picking one,” he said, slipping one hand beneath his jean jacket to readjust his shoulder holster. He’d been out of uniform since finally taking some long overdue leave the week before, and it felt strange. Like a part of him was missing. Thankfully his job as a sheriff enabled him to travel with his piece, so he hadn’t been forced to leave his gun behind when they’d left Ravenswing, the Watchmen compound where his brother and sister were now living. And where Riley had recently been staying, only because they wouldn’t take no for an answer. “Believe it or not, Kell, some of us are actually more discerning than you.”
The Watchman muttered something under his breath, raked one hand back through his hair, then sent him a look of frustrated confusion. “Honestly, man, I don’t know what it is about you Buchanans. Why do you always have to make everything so bloody difficult?”
Riley grunted, knowing exactly what Kellan meant. Ian’s awakening had been far from easy. But unlike his brother, who had been afraid of feeding from the woman who would soon be his wife, worried he’d take too much blood and accidentally kill her, it wasn’t the feeding part of his awakening that terrified Riley. He knew, after seeing Ian and Saige go through the change, that he could take what he needed without harming the woman beneath him. But that didn’t change the fact that he would still have to find a woman willing to let him sink his fangs into her throat, which was pretty damn unlikely. And then there was the issue of the Casus, who would no doubt hunt down anyone he singled out.
Not to mention, you still haven’t found the one that you want…
He knew that, damn it. And he also knew that he wasn’t going to find her. Not when she was on the other side of the country, probably settled down with a brood of children and an adoring husband who worshipped her the way she’d deserved to be worshipped. Hell, even if he did find the balls to track her down, he knew damn well just how Hope Summers would react if she saw him again. He’d either get her hand across his face, or her fist in his eye, and that would be that. No more than he deserved, and no less than he expected.
Gritting his teeth, he jerked his chin toward the gray two-story, wood-shingled café that sat up ahead, nestled between the breathtaking, fenced-off cliffs and the thick, towering forest. “That’s the place up there.”
Kellan read the wooden sign that swung on a post down by the road. “Millie’s. Cute name.”
They set off up the winding stone path that led to the café’s front door, and Riley said, “I heard there are some cabins on the grounds that they rent out, so hopefully we’ll get lucky and be able to take one.” Then they’d be able to search in the woods that lined the café’s back garden, where they believed the Marker was buried, without drawing suspicion.
Thunder boomed out over the churning ocean waters, heralding a coming storm, while the watery sunlight that painted the gray shingles of the café in an ethereal glow disappeared behind a bevy of swollen clouds.
Opening the door of Millie’s, they stepped inside, and Kellan’s rumbled reply was lost beneath the buzzing in Riley’s ears as he drew in a deep breath…and damn near died. There it was again. That scent. Familiar, like something he’d known before…but different. Richer. Sweeter. Deeper than he remembered.
He looked, searching, trying to find the source, his heart hammering like a freaking drum, and then the kitchen door swung open at the edge of his vision. “Hope?” he breathed out, unable to believe it could be true. It was…impossible.
As though she’d heard her name whispered on his lips, the woman now standing behind the gleaming wooden counter slowly turned his way. She blinked a pair of big, luminous, topaz-colored eyes, her chin quivering, as if she’d seen a ghost. As if she couldn’t believe he was standing there, in the middle of the crowded café. She opened her soft, pink mouth, and he took a step forward, accidentally bumping into another customer. She swallowed, staring…her heavy breasts rising and falling beneath a long, baggy sweater.
And then she suddenly let out a bloodcurdling scream of rage.
“What the he—”
Before Kellan could finish his startled curse, Hope Summers took aim and hit Riley smack in the center of his forehead. But it wasn’t a punch she’d thrown at him. No bare-knuckled wallop or open-handed slap. No, he thought, grimacing as the hot, melting mess she’d chucked with deadly accuracy dripped into his eyes, blurring her flushed, furious expression. The woman had slammed him with warm, homemade apple pie.
And fate, it seemed, had found one last way to screw him after all.

Question of the Day: Since we did vampires yesterday, how about shifters? What's your favorite kind of shifter-- I'm partial to Dragons (big surprise ;) and panthers. Leave a comment for a chance to win the first three books in Rhyannon's Primal Instincts series.