Friday, May 26, 2023

#Preorder Upcoming New Anthology: PIRATE GOLD

C.L. Hart is my guest today and she wants to tell us about an upcoming anthology she's part of. Her story THE QUEST FOR CAPTAIN SAMMY'S TREASURE, appears in PIRATE GOLD, which releases July 31, 2023 for the pre-order price of $1.99. Pre-order your copy now!

Character Interview with Captain Sammy

Please introduce yourselves to our audience.

I’m Salty Sam the Plunderer, captain of the Cabo Wabo, the Montrose, and the Red Rocker. I am the Robin Hood of the High Seas, stealing from the rich and giving the bounty to the poor.

Do you have a merry band like Robin Hood?

For many years after becoming a spirit, I went at things on me own. But now I’ve got me new mates Rilpu and Zkauba. Rilpu is a sharp young sorceress who used to be a snake, and Zkauba is a wizard from a planet called Yaddith. I imagine most folks think us a bit of an odd trio, but that don’t matter. We go together just like fish, chips, and ale.

What is your greatest regret?

Ain’t no sense living with regret, or wandering through yer afterlife filled with regret.

To which social class do you belong?

I had a hardscrabble upbringing. When my pappy came home from the sea, he used my ma as his punchin’ bag. We slept in the orange grove on Whispering Willow Grange sometimes. I could hear the Cerenarian Sea lapping at the shores of Hlanith while I looked up at the sky and dreamed of having me own ship one day.

What is the one thing for which you would most like to be known?

I’d like folks to know that Captain Sammy is a man of his word! He’s the kind of ghost you can depend on. He ain’t the sort of spook who wastes his time hanging around tombs or haunting houses.

Are you right-handed or left-handed?

Both about equal since I’ve been in spirit for around 500 years, but I was right-handed in life.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I never wanted to be anything but a sailor. I fell into the pirate life by chance.

Book Blurb, PIRATE GOLD:

Treasure is within reach.

Nineteen original tales of swashbuckling glory are at your fingertips in this anthology. From pirates lured into traps, treasure hunting gone wrong, and epic battles on the open sea. From vengeful ghosts to gruesome mutinies. Living on the edge comes with high costs.

Featuring stories by Paulene Turner, James Romag, Maeve A. Baird, Matthew Fryer, Isa Ottoni, Bianca Breen, Charles Kyffhausen, Allison Tebo, Douglas Allen Gohl, Edgar Mahaffey, Jennifer Strassel, Stephen A. Roddewig, Robert Allen Lupton, K. Anders, Barend Nieuwstraten III, Melody Bowles, and C.L. Hart.


Five centuries ago, Captain Sammy buried his treasure in an unlikely location before letting the sun burn his body to ash to avoid becoming a vampire. Now the spectral pirate is back in the Jungle of Kled to reclaim his treasure, accompanied by two unusual friends.

Rilpu is a young sorceress born as a serpent but transformed into a humanoid female by a spell. The wizard Zkauba hails from the doomed world of Yaddith. They are soon joined by an impressive companion: Yadira, the daughter of Nyarlathotep. However, it is possible that even Nyarlathotep's daughter may not be able to defeat the abomination standing in the blighted clearing under the pedestal where Captain Sammy's treasure is hidden.

Do the ghostly pirate captain and his friends have a chance of reclaiming the treasure and continuing their mission to save the Cosmos from destruction or are they destined to fail?


Darkness and ominous silence dominated the Jungle of Kled. Strange towering trees moving in ways that defied explanation cast shadows that shimmered and danced. Each rustle in the darkness represented a potential threat, and every shadow teemed with unseen danger. A network of twisted vines snaked through the underbrush, their thick tendrils blocking any light that might have penetrated the canopy above.

A palpable sense of dread filled the air as strange and terrifying cries echoed from the shadows. The flapping of massive leathery wings could be heard as monstrous creatures ascended into the dark green sky. Insects of enormous size buzzed and crawled across toxic flowers. The feeling of being watched was ever-present, a sense of malice stalking every step.

It was into this scene that three peculiar travelers fell from an ovoid of light the color of key lime pie filling. Despite the bumpy landing, the first of the trio seemed unperturbed. This sturdy, mature gentleman quickly righted himself, doing a jaunty jig in the air, his silver and gold curls bouncing as he moved. A beam of moonlight passed through him, revealing his ethereal nature.

Pre-Order Link:

About the Author:

C. L. Hart, the owner and sole employee of Naughty Netherworld Press, is spoken of in hushed tones. She is described as The Mad Scribe of the Northeastern Colorado Plains, The Terrible Old Woman, and The Author That Should Not Be.

When not penning sanity-destroying works of dystopian fiction, Lovecraftian fantasy, or old-school horror with the occasional sweet romance thrown in to upset the cosmic apple cart, Ms. Hart enjoys creating baked goods she hopes will be considered palatable.

Ms. Hart shares a home in a remote rural town of 134 souls with her adult son and three cats. Her sense of fashion is best described as Early Twenty-First Century Unmade Bed. This disabled former nurse can usually be found arguing with herself about subplots or rehabilitating eldritch horrors.

Follow C. L. Hart:

C. L. Hart Amazon Author Page

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Friday, May 19, 2023

#NewRelease from Lisabet Sarai: THE EYES OF BAST

 Lisabet Sarai is my guest today with a new shapeshifter erotic romance called THE EYES OF BAST. This 27,500 word novella was previously published by Totally E-Bound and this new edition has been revised and re-edited. Welcome Lisabet!

Plausible Enchantment

The notion of finding one’s soul mate—the one individual in the universe whom you’re destined to love—is possibly the most fundamental romance trope. I can understand the appeal of this concept. It’s both reassuring and thrilling to imagine a lover perfectly attuned to your needs, your ideal complement and companion, a person who makes you whole and vice versa. 

I find it hard to write stories about soul mates, though. I’m always aware that reality is much messier than romantic fantasy. Mostly I create contemporary stories where the relationships are realistically complicated. My heroines are frequently unsure about their own feelings. Sometimes they’re attracted to more than one person, in different ways. That’s one reason my back list contains so many ménage tales, I think, to save my heroines from having to choose whom they should love!

But paranormal romance frees me from the constraints of realism. In a world infused with magic, I can suspend disbelief about forever-after perfect matings. Magic imposes structure and symmetry on the tale. Perfect love may be kindled by enchantment, or may reflect age-old connections. Old souls, old lovers, may meet again in a new life. A quest, a struggle against evil forces, may bind two characters together for eternity. 

In paranormal erotic romance, you can recognize your soul mate by the transcendent and irrational lust he inspires. That’s certainly true in my shapeshifter paranormal romance The Eyes of Bast. The instant Tom touches her, Shaina is overcome by irresistible desire. The connection is instantaneous, taking over both her body and her heart. 

I don’t explain why Tom and Shaina are soul mates. I don’t need to. It’s obvious that magic is involved. They are under one another’s spell, an enchantment that can’t be broken. That’s enough to allow me, and hopefully my readers, to believe that these two belong together.


When instinct tells Shaina to visit the feral cat trap she’s set in Central Park, she listens to that inner voice. She discovers she’s caged a magnificent black tom, but the cat inexplicably vanishes after she tends to his wounds. Seeking the missing feline, Shaina encounters instead a handsome stranger whose slightest touch sets her body on fire. As the day dawns after a night of ferocious passion, her mysterious lover is forced back into his true shape—the tomcat she rescued.

Born a cat, Tom was transformed into an unwilling shape shifter by a sorceress who craved a human plaything to satisfy her perverse lusts. Centuries old and irresistibly powerful, Delphine Montserrat will stop at nothing to find her runaway familiar. Shaina vows to do whatever is necessary to defeat the vicious but seductive witch and save the man she believes is her soul mate—even though it might mean losing him forever. 

The Eyes of Bast was previously published by Totally E-Bound. This new edition has been revised and re-edited. 


“Hey there, kitty.” I crouched down on the grass beside the steel-mesh cage, my straight skirt riding up my thighs. “Are you all right?”

The massive black tom in the cage bared his teeth and hissed. I felt his rage and frustration. I wanted to reach into the trap, scratch behind those huge ears and comfort him, but I knew better. 

“Shh! I won’t hurt you, kitty. It’s going to be okay. Tomorrow I’ll take you to a nice, warm place where you can have plenty of food.” I played my light over his body, which was lean but not emaciated. Although his fur bristled, overall he looked clean and healthy. Then I noticed a wound on his left flank. It gleamed, wet and oozing, in the beam from my torch. 

“Oh, dear! What happened to you? That’s a nasty gash.” I stuck the light into my jacket pocket. I only had two hands, and the mace was more critical. The cat’s menacing growl turned into a whimper as I picked up the trap, jostling him against the mesh. “Sorry, kitty. We have to get you home and dress that. That will make you feel better.” 

The combination of the cage and my quarry must have weighed at least twenty  pounds. “You’re a big guy,” I commented as I picked my way along the tree-hung path back to the street. Once my eyes adjusted to the dark, it wasn’t too difficult. I glanced into the cage a few times. The tom’s eyes glowed as though lit from within. 

Getting him up five flights of stairs was another story. I paused to catch my breath on the fourth story landing, resolving yet again to find a better paying job.

Finally, I wrestled the cage into my studio apartment and set it on the floor near the window. My feline guest huddled in a corner of the trap, watching me with wary eyes as I stripped off my work clothes, donned an old sweatsuit, and went to fetch antiseptic, antibiotic ointment, cotton balls, gauze, tape and a towel from the bathroom. I sat cross-legged on the worn carpet next to the cage. Now came the hard part.

“Pussycat, I need to take you out now. I know you’re scared and upset, but please, don’t fight me. This is for your own good.”

The cat’s solemn expression suggested that he understood me. Slowly, trying not to alarm him, I unlatched the door of the trap. I wrapped the towel around both my hands and reached in to grab him. I expected him to yowl, hiss or scratch. However, he didn’t resist at all. I pulled him out, cradling him in my lap. Normally, I’d swathe a feral’s body in the towel to immobilize him. This guy seemed so calm and quiet, though, I wasn’t sure it was necessary.

I soaked some cotton in betadine. “Sorry, but this is going to hurt,” I told him, holding his forelegs in my left hand while dabbing at his lacerated hip with my right. He winced but didn’t try to escape. In fact, he lay completely still in the hollow of my folded legs while I doctored him. In no time, I’d bandaged the injury, wrapping the gauze around his upper leg and securing it with surgical tape. The snow-white stripe across his haunches was a stark contrast to his jet-black fur.

He gazed up at me, his eyes glittering like paired jewels. I ventured a scratch behind his ears and was rewarded by a low purr. “You’re going to be fine, puss. But now I have to put you back into the cage.”

“Rowrr!” His sudden growl startled me. I managed to capture him in the towel before he could run. “Pfftt! Rrr-owl…!” He raised his voice in obvious protest as I tried to bundle him back into the trap.

“Hush, puss! Shh! Do you want to get me evicted?” My lease said no pets. I reasoned that the ferals I occasionally kept here overnight didn’t qualify as pets, but I wasn’t eager to test this theory.

“Rowrr!” my guest insisted. I scratched his ears again then smoothed the fur under his chin. He settled into my arms.

“You really don’t want to go back in, do you?”

“Mrrow.” His meaning was obvious. 

I was so tempted to agree to his wordless plea for freedom. I could imagine how awful it must be, to be locked up when you were used to roaming free. Of course, given his willingness to let me touch him, he might not be feral at all. He wasn’t wearing a collar and it was clear he hadn’t been neutered, but still, the shelter should check to see if he’d been microchipped.

He rubbed his cheek against my arm. His hefty body vibrated with his purr. Then he stretched out his neck so he could lick the back of my hand. His warm, rough tongue sent a delicious little shiver up my spine.

“You’re very hard to resist. Do you know that?”

“Meeow.” I could have sworn he was smiling.

“Okay, you win.” After all, it was one room. The doors and windows were locked. Where could he go? 

Buy Links:

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About Lisabet:

Lisabet Sarai became addicted to words at an early age. She began reading when she was four. She wrote her first story at five years old and her first poem at seven. Since then, she has written plays, tutorials, scholarly articles, marketing brochures, software specifications, self-help books, press releases, a five-hundred page dissertation, and lots of erotica and erotic romance – over one hundred titles, and counting, in nearly every sub-genre—paranormal, scifi, ménage, BDSM, GLBT, and more. Regardless of the genre, every one of her stories illustrates her motto: Imagination is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

You’ll find information and excerpts from all Lisabet’s books on her website (, along with more than fifty free stories and lots more. At her blog Beyond Romance (, she shares her philosophy and her news and hosts lots of other great authors. She’s also on Goodreads, BookBub and Twitter. Join her VIP email list here: 

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

THE GIRL MOST LIKELY #onsale for #99cents!

  My contemporary romance, THE GIRL MOST LIKELY, is on sale for .99 cents at Amazon until May 26! Get your e-copy now!

Cara McLeod, the girl voted most likely to have the perfect marriage, is now divorced and, in her own words, “fat, frumpy, and over forty.” The thought of facing former classmates—and the ex-husband who dumped her—at her high school reunion terrifies her. Cajoled into attending by her kids and her best friend, Cara enlists help at the gym to lose weight and look great for the reunion. Personal Trainer Finn Cooper is more than willing to help—but does he have to be so to-die-for gorgeous?

Finn thinks Cara is perfect just the way she is. She’s everything he wants in a woman, except for one thing—she can’t get past the fact that he's eight years younger. To Finn, age and weight are just numbers. But can he convince Cara the numbers she worries about add up to only one thing for him—love?


He chuckled. “Jessica better watch her back. You could give her a run for her money.”

He heard Cara’s throaty laugh, and various parts of his anatomy tingled in response. “Yes, that’s my evil plan. Take over Rochester Noon, then the world.”

“If you set your mind to it, I’m sure you could do it.”

“Thanks Finn.”

“For what?”

“For believing in me.”

“Are you going to be okay now?”

“Yes, I’m fine. Thanks to you.”

He wanted so badly to tell her he loved her, adored her, thought she was the most amazing woman in the world. But fear stopped him. Was she truly over her ex-husband? Why else would losing weight for the reunion be so important to her if not to impress Peter? 

“I’ve got to run. Thanks again. I’ll talk to you later at my condo, right?”

“Absolutely. I can hardly wait to hear about your big TV debut. Break a leg. Isn’t that what they say in show biz?”

She laughed. “Yeah, that’s what they say. Bye.”

Finn replaced the receiver and closed his eyes. He hoped everything went well with this interview. Cara deserved to realize how amazing she was. 

If she did come to that realization, would there still be room in her life for him?

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Friday, May 12, 2023

Order of the Dragon Knights Series Celebration and Sale by Mary Morgan

Historical paranormal romance writer Mary Morgan is my guest today. She's celebrating ten years as a Wild Rose Press author. To mark this special anniversary, Mary is offering the first book in the series, DRAGON KNIGHT'S SWORD, for .99 cents for a limited time. Get your ecopy today! Thanks for being my guest, Mary.

Hello, Jana! I’m thrilled to be on your lovely blog today to celebrate my 10 years with The Wild Rose Press. I’ll never forget when I signed the contract for Dragon Knight’s Sword (Order of the Dragon Knights, book 1) so many years ago. They took a chance on this new author and fulfilled my dreams of becoming a published author. The other books in this 5-part series soon followed, and the rest is history. 

I’m sharing a special scene from this first book along with the hero’s (Duncan MacKay) favorite sweet.

Snippet from Dragon Knight’s Sword ~

His stomach growled as he sought out the kitchens, nodding to a passing guard.

The smell of baking hit him as he rounded the long corridor. Closing his eyes, Duncan inhaled the aroma. “Damson tarts.”

The plum and currant tarts were a favorite of his and he smiled inwardly knowing Moira had not only prepared them for the feast of Samhain, but for him, too. 

His stomach rumbled, and he quickened his pace.

When he entered, Duncan’s heart slammed inside his chest at the vision before his eyes. One of the tables was laden with many tarts, yet it was the scene in the corner by the fire which undid him. He leaned against the wall for support and gazed upon the beauty.

Brigid was slumped in a chair with plum juice staining her hands and mouth. In her lap curled up against her was Nell—both sound asleep. A slight snore escaped from Brigid, and Duncan smiled.


2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup finely chopped almonds 

3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into small pieces

1 egg yolk

2 pounds firm, ripe plums, pitted and quartered lengthwise

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Combine the flour, almonds, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and the egg yolk. Mix by hand or with an electric mixer, until crumbly.

Press 1 1/2 cups of the crumb mixture in an even layer into the bottom of a 9 1/2-inch springform or tart pan. Arrange the plums in the pan, skin side down to form a flower pattern; begin at the outside and work your way in.

Sprinkle the rest of the crumb mixture evenly over the plums. Bake the tart for 40 to 50 minutes, or until it’s lightly browned and the plum juices are bubbling. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and transfer tart to flat plate.

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

**Damsons are a small purple-black fruit similar to a plum.


Order of the Dragon Knights ~

They were an ancient order, descended from the great Tuatha Dé Danann, the Sidhe, or in simpler terms: the Fae. Half-human and half-fae, each knight blessed with mystical powers. Given to them were holy relics from the Fae and guardianship over their Dragons.

They were known as the Dragon Knights.

However, some believed the Order had too much power and they tried to possess it for themselves. They were evil and twisted, and their plan succeeded one fateful night. The brothers of the Clan MacKay—Dragon Knights, fought a battle. Blood spilled onto holy ground, bringing forth the wrath of the Fae. Their relics were taken, and the Order was banished—each name stricken from the hallowed halls of the Fae.

The Clan MacKay is no longer.

The Dragon Knights have scattered across the land.

Yet out of the darkness, they will each fight for redemption, and the women they love.

For a limited time, Dragon Knight’s Sword is on sale for 99¢ from Amazon. Or collect them all!

Available at AMAZON

( )

Book Trailer for Dragon Knights: 

About the Author: 

Multi award-winning romance author, Mary Morgan resides in Northern California with her own knight in shining armor. However, during her travels to Scotland, England, and Ireland, she left a part of her soul in one of these countries and vows to return.

Mary's passion for books started at an early age along with an overactive imagination. Inspired by her love for history and ancient Celtic and Norse mythology, her tales are filled with powerful warriors, brave women, magic, and romance. Now, the worlds she created in her mind are coming to life within her stories.

If you enjoy history, tortured heroes, and a wee bit of fantasy, then travel back in time within the pages of her books.

Connect with Mary here ~


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Thursday, May 4, 2023

#NewRelease from Diane Scott Lewis: WW2 Romance

Diane Scott Lewis joins me today to talk about her newest release, OUTCAST ARTIST IN BRETAGNE, which came out on May 1, 2023. In this World War Two romance, a man and woman from opposing sides of the war fall in love. But love in a time of war is fraught with danger, especially for enemies. Sounds like an exciting story! Thanks for visiting, Diane!


Unwed and pregnant, Norah Cooper flees England to hide with her cousin in Brittany just before Germany’s 1940 invasion of France. After her baby is stillborn, she's trapped under the Occupation as war expands across Europe. Norah grieves and consoles herself by sketching wildlife. When she’s caught too near the coast, she comes under scrutiny of the German commandant, Major August von Gottlieb.

August loathes what Hitler is doing to his country and France but is duty-bound to control the people in his jurisdiction. The lively young Englishwoman piques his interest. Is she a spy? He questions her and asks her to sketch his portrait so he might uncover the truth.

Soon, their relationship evolves into a passion neither of them can deny. She endures taunts from the villagers. His superiors warn him of not being harsh enough—he could be transferred or worse. He plans to sabotage a major war machine of the Reich, while she secretly helps the Resistance. Both acts are fraught with danger while kept secret from one another. Will their love ruin her and end in heartbreak? Or will they overcome the odds and survive the surging threats on all sides?


Norah is approached by the commandant at the open market:

Norah stuck the package in her basket, wanting to move away. “It’s because you…the Germans buy up most of the food before we have a chance.” She sighed inside. There was her wayward tongue again.

“Ah, I see.” He scanned the scattering of booths again. Then smiled at her. “Hungry soldiers are a problem. I wonder what can be done.”

The Major’s half-smile sent a flutter through her belly—so wrong! What was the matter with her? She stepped to the side. Would he do something about the food?

“How is your young cousin after his unfortunate experience yesterday?” He walked beside her, and she forced herself not to be rude. Tall for a woman, Norah’s five-foot seven-inch height barely cleared his shoulder.

Several women stared and whispered.

“Jean is fine, thank you again.” She was careful not to gush. She didn’t dare take the children back to the church. Her cousin had been distraught over what happened with Jean.

The Commandant bowed his head. “It was only fair, Fräulein Cooper. I’m a reasonable man.”

His caring about fairness surprised her.

“If you’ll excuse me, I need to take this fish to my cousin.” She moved in that direction.

“I can see you’re anxious not to be seen with the enemy.” The Major put his hands behind his back, his smile wry. “Since you’re English, are you registered as an enemy alien?”

Her stomach plunged. “I suppose I should, but we’re so far removed.” She’d tried to blend in with her French cousins and hated to call attention to herself. Would he demand that she comply?

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Author bio:

Diane Parkinson (Diane Scott Lewis) grew up near San Francisco, joined the Navy at nineteen, married in Greece and raised two sons in Puerto Rico, California, and Guam. She's a member of the Historical Novel Society and wrote book reviews for their magazine. She’s always loved travel and history and has had several historical novels published. 

Diane lives with her husband and one naughty dachshund in western Pennsylvania.

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Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Return Visit from J. Arlene Culiner:#NewRelease DESERT ROSE

J. Arlene Culiner returns with another new book in the Blake's Folly series. DESERT ROSE releases May 3, 2023 from The Wild Rose Press. Welcome!

Once upon a time, I found myself in a clapboard, rusty trailer, semi-ghost town in Nevada, where an ever-buffeting wind dragged dust across the frozen ground, rattled grasses, and set the doors of abandoned shacks tapping. The hotel I stayed in was a rundown has-been: ceilings soared high, and the lumpy, almost colorless wallpaper was surely a century old. 

In the hotel’s bar, a talentless band whined out bad country music, and eccentric locals dished up tall tales, wry humor, and suspicion. It was a singular community, quite magical, and I’ve recreated it as Blake’s Folly, the setting for my three romances: A Room in Blake’s Folly, All About Charming Alice, and Desert Rose.

In the late 1800s, Blake’s Folly was a silver boomtown that boasted three mining companies, a railway line to Reno, a lot of cash, many saloons, and quite a few brothels, but the glory didn’t last. When the silver ran out, those sane enough to do so, pulled up stakes.

Today, it’s a backwoods community of shacks, wooden sidewalks, and one saloon set in an unrelenting flatland. Who would live in such a place? Odd independent characters and rebels, people who would never fit into neat houses with tidy gardens. 

In Desert Rose, my half-Paiute hero, geologist Jonah Livingstone, takes great pleasure in sighting the other inhabitants of this territory: mule deer, bobcats, desert tortoises, sidewinders, rattlers, and little gray lizards. There’s another attraction, too: the lovely Rose Badger. How does Rose feel about Jonah?

Well… that’s the problem. Both Jonah and Rose are secretive people, and that makes them mysterious as well as intriguing. Secretive folks are very disciplined, and they often have a wealth of knowledge and experience that they keep hidden (Rose has a very complicated secret life). It’s hard to know what they’re thinking, or feeling, so forming close, trusting relationships is a definite challenge for them—even though the dazzle, the zip, and all the necessary the magic is right there, just waiting to be discovered!


Secrets are the best protection against love

Rose Badger is the local flirt, and if the other inhabitants of backwoods Blake’s Folly, Nevada, don’t approve, she couldn’t care less. With a disastrous marriage and a dead-end career far behind her, settling down is the last thing she intends to do. Newcomer Jonah Livingstone is intriguing, but with his complicated life, he’s off limits for anything other than friendship. Besides, Rose has a secret world of her own—one she won’t give up for any man.

The last person geologist Jonah Livingstone expected to meet in a semi-ghost town is the sparkling and lovely Rose Badger. But Rose, always surrounded by many admirers, doesn’t seem inclined to choose a favorite. So why fret? Jonah keeps his personal life well hidden…and that's the best way to avoid disappointment.

Excerpt from Desert Rose:

“I really enjoyed going out to the Winterback Mine,” said Rose. “Thank you for inviting me to come along.” She sounded sincere.

“My pleasure.” He knew he meant that too.

“I didn’t really think you’d keep your promise to show me fossils and—” She stopped and caught her bottom lip in her pearly teeth, as if she had said too much, had confessed something she’d rather have kept hidden. He didn’t want there to be secrets between them. He liked her too much already, and he wished he could tell her that. Knew he couldn’t.

How well did he know her? Not at all. How much did they really have in common? He’d offered her friendship the other night, yet knew perfectly well his attraction was also sexual. He was willing to admit she fascinated him; a little inner voice warned him that, if he let himself go, the feeling might run deeper than that. Was that what he wanted? Why had he been so determined to see her again so quickly? Why had he invented the story about needing to be out at the mine this morning?


She watched him from under her lashes. “And…well, I guess I didn’t think you’d remember you’d made the promise.”

He snickered. “I admit we geologists have the reputation of being absent-minded. We deal with time sequences of a hundred million years or so, so we have some difficulty with small-time quanta such as centuries and decades. Some of us refer to ancient civilizations as ‘all that recent crap on the top.’ As for deadlines, we’re absolute duds.” He put down his spoon, leaned back in his chair, smiled at Rose. “But I never forget a promise.”

“Good to know.” She leaned forward slightly. “Tell me, since you love the desert bleakness so much, what sort of place do you live in? A house with a huge garden? Or a place on a hill, overlooking the city?”

“Neither one. I live in a high-rise apartment. And yes, it does overlook the city.” He stopped. It was a place that was convenient, too. Wasn’t that why he’d chosen it? Convenient and impersonal. A series of rooms, not a place to get attached to.

“Oh. That’s not what I imagined…” Again, she paused, and her cheeks flushed a delicate pink.

So. She’d been thinking about him too, had she? Imagining what his life was like in the same way he’d been thinking about her since they’d first met. There was a big difference, though: he was the one who did most of the talking when they were together. She was the one who asked all the questions, the one who knew how to keep the conversational ball rolling without giving out much information about herself.


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About the Author:

Writer, photographer, social critical artist, and impenitent teller of tall tales, J. Arlene Culiner, was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe on foot, has lived in a mud house on the Great Hungarian Plain, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave dwelling, a haunted house on the English moors, and on a Dutch canal. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest, where, much to local dismay, she protects spiders, snakes, and all weeds. She particularly enjoys incorporating into mysteries, non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities, and her conversations with very odd characters.