Tuesday, August 11, 2020

A Steamy Scene from CHILD OF MINE


Today I'm offering a scene from CHILD OF MINE, book one in the Masonville Small Town romance series. In this scene, long-time friends Lauren and Cole turn to each other on the day of Lauren's husband's funeral. Lauren's husband Billy also happened to be Cole's brother:


Excerpt:

Cole wrapped her in his arms. He held her securely, whispering reassurances.

“It’s all right, Lauren. Don’t cry. It’s going to be okay, sweetheart.”

She clung to him, her face buried against his neck. It felt so good to be held, to be touched. It had been so long—

What was she doing? This was Cole, her friend. She pulled away from him. “I’m sorry.”

“You don’t have anything to apologize for.”

She turned away and tried to wipe the tears from her face. When she got her tears under control, she made herself smile at him. “Do you remember the homecoming dance when I tripped in my new high heels and sprained my ankle?”

“Of course I do. You couldn’t walk, so I carried you from the school gym to Billy’s car, and he drove you home. I remember you were a lot heavier than you looked.”

She swatted his shoulder, hiccupping laughter mixing with her tears. “Very funny. I was trying to make a point.”

He wiped the tears from her cheek with the pad of his thumb, his dark eyes full of tenderness. “So what was your point?”

“You’re a good friend. You’ve always been there when I needed you, and here you are again. Thank you.”

He stared into her eyes, but said nothing. She couldn’t look away. He continued to stroke her cheek with his thumb, the tiny caress acting like a balm to her battered heart. She placed her hand on his cheek.

“Cole.”

They reached for each other in mutual need. He pulled her against his chest, his mouth descending on hers in a hungry, urgent kiss. She sighed against his mouth, and he brought her closer. He wants me. It had been so long since someone had wanted her. Only her.

They shed their clothes in a flurry of restless touches. In minutes, Lauren’s black funeral dress lay on the ground next to Cole’s white dress shirt. He kissed her again, his hands sliding up her ribcage to cup her breasts. She slid impatient hands over his broad shoulders, his muscled back, the curve of his buttocks. His skin was as smooth and hard as glass, but hot to the touch. She wanted more of his heat, more of his touches.

More of everything.

His erection pushed against her stomach, and her body shivered with excitement. The evidence of his desire emboldened her.

“You want me,” she whispered.

“Yes.” His voice was rough with need. “Lauren. Beautiful Lauren.”

He held her close and kissed her, and for the first time in a very long time, she felt cherished. Important.

Loved.

Cole lowered her to the ground, the dried grass and leaves forming a bed beneath them. Then he was inside her, filling all her empty spaces. Joy flooded her heart as her climax built. Each thrust brought her closer to fulfillment, to happiness.

Her orgasm came suddenly, shattering her into tiny pieces. Her body shuddered.

“Cole!”

A moment later he reached his own climax. She held him tightly as tears poured down her face and sobs shook her body. She had no idea why she was crying. What they’d shared had been so beautiful, so amazing. There was no need for tears. But still, they kept coming.

Cole’s body tensed. He pulled out of her and stared into her face. In the fading light, Lauren caught the look of pain in his eyes before he pushed away and began rifling through his clothes.
Her heart sank. He’s sorry he made love to me.

For a moment she thought she’d be sick. Her stomach roiled and her heart banged against her ribs. Cole avoided her gaze, presenting his back to her as he yanked on his clothes. Lauren swallowed and reached for her own clothing, getting to her feet on unsteady legs.

Had she disgusted him by reaching for him today, of all days? She was afraid she’d lost her best and oldest friend.

When he was fully dressed, Cole finally looked at her. “We need to go. You should get back to your family.”

Lauren nodded, unable to speak. She followed him out of the trees, back to the fence where their vehicles were parked. Cole held the barbed wire apart so she could slip through the fence. Once through, she stumbled toward her mother’s car and reached for the door handle.

“Lauren, wait.”

She dared a glance. His expression was full of anguish, and her heart clenched. The last thing she’d wanted was to cause him pain.

“What happened here,” he began, his voice gruff with emotion, “it was…we made a mistake. We were both grieving, maybe a little out of our minds.”

Lauren nodded, desperately holding back her tears. She’d made such a mess of things. Cole must hate her for throwing herself at him the way she had. She hated herself, too.

“I’m sorry,” he said softly.

The stupid tears burned behind her eyes, but she held them back. She fumbled blindly for the door handle, needing to get away before she broke down completely. As she got behind the wheel and started the car, Cole drove away in a cloud of dust.

Lauren rested her head against the steering wheel and cried. She cried for Billy and the loss of the love she’d thought would last a lifetime. But mostly she cried tears of humiliation. Cole must think she was a terrible, terrible person.

And he’d be absolutely right. What kind of woman makes love to her husband’s brother on the day of his funeral?

Blurb:

Lauren didn't intend to sleep with her brother-in-law Cole on the day of her husband's funeral. But now that she is pregnant, she's not sorry. Cole's given her a baby, a long-wished-for miracle. He's been her friend forever, though she never told him or anyone else how unhappy her marriage to his cheating brother was. And she's afraid to tell the small town that considered her husband a hero that the baby isn't his.

Cole's been in love with Lauren since he was sixteen. It kills him that everyone believes the baby is his dead brother's. All he wants is to claim the baby, and Lauren, as his own. Though she marries him, will Lauren's heart ever be his?

Lauren must tell the truth or risk losing Cole. Is her newly-discovered love for him greater than her fear of scandal in her hometown?

Buy Links:




To read other entries in this month's Steam Hop, hop over here: https://mfrwsteam.blogspot.com/2020/08/mfrwsteam-081120.html

#NewRelease from Stephen B. King: WINTER AT THE LIGHT

Australian Writer Stephen B. King makes a return visit to talk about his newest release. Stephen has been on my blog before talking about his psychological thrillers, but this time it's a romantic suspense. WINTER AT THE LIGHT takes place in 1952 on the shores of Western Australia. This looks like an exciting read. Welcome once again, Stephen!



A bit of a Biography, and how did I get to Winter at the Light?


I have eleven books published, and Winter at the Light will be number twelve. I won several short story competitions, published poetry and wrote music and lyrics in my long-haired rock band days as a guitarist, so I have been telling stories most of my, what seems like, very long life.

Winter at the Light is my latest release with my wonderful publisher, The Wild Rose Press of NY. For my first book, Forever Night I was contracted to a UK publisher who shall remain nameless. Before publication that publisher was bought out and the new owners (one of the big four) cancelled the line I was contracted to, which left me in publishing wilderness for a while.

I self-published my next four books until two years later, I signed with The Wild Rose Press to publish Thirty-Three Days. I followed up that with the Deadly Glimpses Trilogy and soon the trilogy will comprise five books – who knew you could do that? I wrote Winter at the Light, while simultaneously completing the fourth Glimpse book, titled Glimpse, the Angel Shot. Two more different tales you could never read.

“How do you find time to write?” Is one of the questions asked of me frequently, my answer is always that it’s easy to find time to do what you love the most.

Another question I’m asked is: “How can you write stories so diametrically opposed such as a serial killer rampage trilogy on the one hand, and a historical romantic suspense story like Winter at the Light, on the other.” Well, I suffer from random though syndrome. I might be driving along, watching a movie, gardening or something, and a weird thought will creep into my conscious mind. When I explore that thought, it sometimes turns into the beginnings of a story. In this case the random thought was: The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter. Expanding that thought further led to this book being written, and I have to say, without a hint of bias, I love it.



I believe any author worth his, or her, salt, should be able to tell a tale in any genre he, or she, is inspired to write. As my more famous namesake once said: ‘It is the tale, not he who tells it.’ Winter at the Light took me way out of my writing comfort zone for a few reasons, and I loved being there.

I had to do some research. Now, hang on, I hear you say, I do research for all of my books. That’s true, but not like this. Firstly, the era, WATL is set in 1952, and Molly my protagonist was a nurse, so I had to study hospital life for nurses in that time. Next: lighthouses and the equipment they had to use before modernization. I had previously visited the Cape Leeuwen Light in Augusta, Western Australia, built in 1895 and is the tallest in mainland Australia and had been fascinated. I gained enormous respect for keepers in days gone by.

Finally, I am a man, and I wanted to tell a story from Molly’s perspective and I was desperate to be true to her thoughts and feelings, and not how a man thought she would think and feel. Did I get that right? I promise you I worked hard at it and had five female beta readers go through it and listened to their critique. They were very complimentary and was validated and delighted to recently receive this review from a female reviewer for Reader’s Favorite, Susan Sewell. In part she said this:

Set on a lonely and isolated island, Winter at the Light by Stephen B. King is a thrilling suspense novel. It is an excellent story containing engaging characters, an intriguing plot, and a captivating storyline. Of all the characters, Molly is my favorite. With natural human qualities, her persona is superbly developed. Despite her fear and naiveté, Molly's will to survive and her inherent strength and courage add an admirable and authentic facet to her character. It is a captivating novel that is sure to satisfy those who love a great suspense story infused with intrigue and an element of danger. I recommend it to everyone who loves a good story with a strong female protagonist. Phew, thank you so much Susan.

“So, who is Molly and what is she about?” Great question, drag over a chair and let me tell you about one of my most favorite female characters I’ve ever created. Molly is twenty years old. Not unattractive, but as she says, she is not one of the beautiful ones, like some of her nurse friends she works with. She is a freckle faced red head who can never get her hair right. Even though she wears it up there is always errant strands falling down over her face.

Her mother was killed in an air raid during the war, while her father, a Chief Medical Officer in a naval convoy which was sunk by a German U-Boat. He was rescued to the news of his wife’s death and he was permitted to resign his commission to work in a British Naval Hospital and raise Molly. After the war they migrated to Australia, and the bond between father and daughter was strengthened because of it.

Molly wants to follow in her father’s footsteps into medicine, but after the war, women going into medical school wasn’t easy, so she became a nurse instead. Molly is sassy, strong willed, doesn’t suffer fools, and has a temper typical of a redhead. She adores her father, and when he leaves the medical field to run a lighthouse so he can find time to write the memoirs of his wartime experiences, she misses him terribly. He injures himself badly and needs to go to hospital and Molly knows she cannot refuse to mind the light for him until he is well enough to return.

Molly is frightened of being alone on a tiny island, many miles off the coast for three months, but can’t refuse else her father will lose the job he loves so much. She must find courage and inner strength as she fears she will go mad with boredom. Molly discovers a lot about herself and finds peace in her solitude, and an appreciation of her own company. But, just when she thinks all will be okay, the storm of the decade arrives and brings with it a man who will bring romance and danger to her. Molly must fight to survive, alone on a tiny island in the middle of a reef, twenty miles off the coast.


Winter at the Light blurb:

Forbes Lighthouse is a dangerous place. Twenty-year-old Molly McLaren agrees to tend the light when her father breaks his leg, so she leaves behind the city and her nursing career. Molly dreads the thought of three months as the sole inhabitant on the tiny island, nineteen nautical miles off the rugged coastline of Augusta in Western Australia.

Molly discovers she enjoys the solitude, and when a massive storm arrives bringing a life raft, Molly risks her life to save the unconscious man inside. On waking, he says he has lost his memory but as Molly nurses him back to health she wonders if he has. When the storm finally clears, Molly has fallen for the man she's nicknamed John, but still has doubts about his honesty.

The real danger arrives with two men who are searching for her mystery man. They want to kill him and anyone else who can identify them, and Molly quickly learns; on a lighthouse, there is nowhere to hide.


Social media links:



Website: www.stephen-b-king.com
twitter: @stephenBKing1
Facebook: @stephenbkingauthor
Email: stephenk8@me.com

Buy link: Amazon: https://amzn.to/3ie7gG2












Excerpt:

Molly reached the rocky shore, where waves as tall as she was crashed at its edge and shot up shards of white foam spray to be flung in her face by the wind. The life raft ducked and dived only a few yards away and was coming closer by the minute. She propped the medical bag between two large boulders, determined to keep it from being washed away in the angry surf, then wondered what she could do next.

The dinghy’s opening in the tent-like awning faced away from her, no doubt acting as a wind tunnel, which helped drive the boat ahead of it, but that meant she still had no idea if anyone was inside or not. She cupped her hands around her mouth. “Hello, is anyone there?” she screamed, trying to be heard above the howling wind, but she feared she wasn’t.

There was nothing, no sound or movement from within, but the boat was coming closer, and she had to decide what she would do when it hit the rocks at her feet. Try to grab it and pull it ashore, I suppose, then look inside the damn thing.

“C’mon little boat, you’ve made it this far, don’t fail me now,” Molly murmured.


The next moment the rounded bow hit a protruding rock, and the wind driving from the rear nearly tipped it end over end. Without a thought for herself, Molly took five steps into the icy cold waves and grabbed the ropes strung along the side. She tried to pull it into safety. “If anyone is in there, get out, I can’t hold this forever,” she screamed, as loudly as she had ever shouted in her life.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

LIES AND SOLACE on Sale Now for .99 cents!



LIES AND SOLACE, book one in my Love at Solace Lake series, is on sale for .99 cents! Get your copy while it's hot. The sale price is in effect only until Friday, August 7.

Blurb: 

She can’t live with one more lie. He can’t tell the truth.

Harper Lindquist is convinced she’s found the answer to her financial prayers. Unless she pours cash into crumbling Solace Lake Lodge, she’ll lose her family’s legacy. Her would-be savior arrives in the middle of a Minnesota blizzard and she’s determined to prove to her reluctant, and trapped, financier the lodge is a sound investment. But Harper isn’t completely honest with him. And she has no idea the lake is hiding secrets of its own. 

Ethan James is a liar, but his money is very real. He isn’t convinced a broken-down inn is a smart investment opportunity. But the more he understands Harper’s dreams and desires, the more he wants to be the man to make them come true. The trauma in both their pasts means neither can fully trust the other. They must find the courage to love, to trust, and to accept, or yesterday’s sorrows will keep them apart.

Buy Links:

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

#NewRelease from Liz Flaherty - SOMETHING NEW


“Something New” is a short and extremely satisfying read in the Last Chance Beach: Summer’s End anthology. I hadn’t intended to consume it one sitting, but once I started reading, I was sucked in and couldn’t stop! Good thing it’s only 9,000 words! Despite the short length of this story, it packs a big emotional punch.

Manhasset Applegate (or Hass, who wins the prize for best heroine name ever) and her fiancé Zeke Merriweather are planning to marry in October. After graduating college, Hass wants one last summer of freedom before settling down to work in her family’s business and marrying Zeke. But as the days roll by in the idyllic oceanside cottage she’s rented, Hass discovers she has second thoughts about the career that’s been mapped out for her. And though Zeke has been her best friend for years, does he really want to marry her, or is he doing what he feels is expected of him? After all, he’s never told her he loves her.

This sweet story about two young people on the verge of the rest of their lives, asks the question “Do we do the safe thing, the thing expected of us, or do we go with our hearts?” Liz Flaherty answers the question with wisdom, common sense and love. I highly recommend “Something New”.


Interview with Zachariah from BLOODBOND by Sydney Winward

Sydney Winward makes a return visit to talk about BLOODBOND, the second book in the Bloodborn series. (Sydney visited last December with a look at BLOODBORN, the first book in the series) I'm intrigued by the idea of a vampire who will not kill. Very unlike a vampire! Enjoy the interview with Zachariah, this most unusual vampire hero. Thanks for being here today, Sydney!


Interviewer: Thanks for joining us today, Zachariah! Let’s get to know you a little better. Do you have any siblings? If you do, what are/were they like?

Zachariah: Adam, my older brother, and I could not be any more different. When our small village held dances beneath a new moon, he would either brood or paint in the corner while I danced every dance. It’s not easy getting him to smile, but even during hard times, I find things to smile about.

Interviewer: I’ve heard of the fierce blood hunter. I can’t imagine much would get him to smile. Where do you live now, and with whom? 

Zachariah: When I came out of my feral state, Adam asked me to come live with him and Willow in the country. But living with a newly wedded couple would be awkward. Especially with my enhanced vampire hearing. Didn’t want to be around that, to be sure. I decided to stay with Dracula in Ichor Knell. After being locked underground for ten years, I wanted to be among my own kind for a change.

Interviewer: Do you work in Ichor Knell? What is your occupation?

Zachariah: I only recently started apprenticing with physicians Enache and Rosetti in the palace infirmary. I am both intrigued and nauseated by the fact that very little can kill a vampire.

Interviewer: Dare I even ask what you are referring to? So you live with Dracula, yet you work as a physician. To which social class do you belong?

Zachariah: As Dracula’s kin, I am awarded certain privileges in elite vampire society. But instead of taking advantage of my position in society, I prefer to earn my own way. If I have to start at the bottom as an apprentice, then I would gladly do it.

Interviewer: A worthy and honest goal! On that note, are there occasions when you lie?

Zachariah: I can’t lie to save my life! There hasn’t been a time when I haven’t gotten caught in a lie.

Interviewer: Do you have any annoying habits, quirks, strange mannerisms, or other defining characteristics?

Zachariah: I am often self-conscious about the fact that I have never killed a human before, which is strange for a vampire. Especially for a vampire that used to be feral. I call myself a scavenger. When I hunt for my food, I make sure the human is already dead before I feed on their cold, stale blood. It’s not entirely satisfying, but it gets the job done. I refuse to kill others just so I can survive. 

Interviewer: That is definitely strange for a vampire, especially considering how long you were feral and locked underground. I’m curious about how much schooling you’ve had if you were locked away for half your life?

Zachariah: Very little. I grew up in a small, pastoral village, and what little I learned, I learned from my mother. I am very embarrassed that I don’t know how to read, but my new tutor, Laurel Covaci, says I’m making good progress.

Interviewer: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Zachariah: Definitely a soldier. I wanted to serve in the emperor’s army and make something of myself. Unfortunately, I have found that I don’t have the stomach for killing. I would have made an awful soldier.

Interviewer: What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you so far?

Zachariah: I painstakingly pressed flowers in a book and gave them to Laurel Covaci. She dumped the entire basket out the window in front of not only a group of nobles, but Dracula as well! My face burns every time I remember the incident.

Interviewer: Speaking of burning faces… When did you have your first kiss, and who with?

Zachariah: Margaret Hurst during the new moon dance back home. It was only days before our village was attacked by vampires and every last person beside me and my brother was killed. 

Interviewer: That’s awful. You two are fortunate to have survived. Last question. Do you believe in the existence of soul mates and/or true love?

Zachariah: The moment I laid eyes on Laurel for the first time, I fell headfirst into love. I believe she’s my soul mate. It’s a shame she doesn’t feel the same way.

Interviewer: That is a shame! I bet you will catch her eye yet. Don’t give up. And that’s it! Thanks for joining us today, Zach. It’s been a pleasure.


Blurb:

Zachariah Degore spent ten years locked under ground as a feral vampire. Now he has to redefine what it means to be healthy and whole. With his human life behind him, he starts anew in the vampire city of Ichor Knell with the vampire shah as his kin. He must prove he is worthy of his place in this new world. 

Laurel Covaci is vampire elite, she would never court a feral vampire. After two hundred years she has yet to find a mate who meets with her satisfaction. She hides the pain of past hurt and abandonment behind a cold façade. Zach is confident that Laurel is the vampire for him, but can he break through her icy walls and convince her he's the mate she's been waiting for?

Excerpt:

She stared at him. And stared. Until it became uncomfortable. 

So he stood and started to pack up his things, but she glared at him and pointed to his seat. 

“Sit.” He did. Who could disobey a tone like that? “You can’t kill?” she asked incredulously. “You only recently came out of being feral, correct?” He nodded. “And you can’t kill? Human blood doesn’t send you into a rage. You refused to drink from the goblet at the service.” 

“Have you been spying on me?” 

She ignored his comment, and her mouth puckered slightly as if in deep concentration. He couldn’t help but stare. He’d never seen her do it before. Another endearing quality he added to the lengthy list of what made Laurel Covaci absolutely perfect. 

“I have searched high and low, but I simply cannot find any answers to this particular conundrum,” she finally said. Heat rose to his ears. She’d been thinking about him? 

He grinned. “Well, well, Lady Covaci. I didn’t realize I was filling up your thoughts.” 

She blushed prettily, and he almost expected her to get up from the table and leave, regretting she even sat down in the first place. But she stayed put. In fact, she stared right back as if challenging him. He enjoyed the eye contact. Her eyes were so blue. So beautiful. They took him back to green fields of his childhood, of staring back at the blue sky as clouds lazily drifted past. 




Author Bio:


Sydney Winward was born with an artistic brain and a love of discovery for new talents. From drawing to sewing to music, she has loved to explore every opportunity that comes her way. At a young age, Sydney discovered her love of writing, and she hasn’t been able to stop writing since. Her active imagination and artistic mind take her away to different worlds and time periods, making every new story a fantastic adventure. When she is not writing (or fawning over animals in the neighborhood) she spends time with her husband and children at home in Utah.

Social Media Links: 


Saturday, August 1, 2020

Tantalize Me Giveaway!

I'm participating in the August - September Tantalize Me Giveaway. Thirty authors are giving away ebooks and gift certificates. For your chance to win, enter the Rafflecopter. It couldn't be easier!




a Rafflecopter giveaway