Sharon C. Cooper

Just thinking…

Hump Day Hook and Giveaway

Today I’m joining in with other authors, who share little teasers /excerpts from their work in the Hump Day Hook. Click here for more information.

For this weeks hook, I’m sharing another excerpt from Rendezvous with Danger, book 2 of the Reunited Series. I’m also giving away a $5 gift card to one lucky commenter (details below).

Rendezvous w-Danger - Book Cover

Description

Alandra Pargas, ex-CIA counter-intelligence officer, plans to wreak vengeance on the people who tried to kill her. A little rendezvous with danger is not what scares her, though. It’s seeing the tall, dark, and dangerously sexy man she vowed to love forever that has her running for cover.

Former U.S. Special Operative, Quinn Hamilton, left the world of covert operations after the love of his life died in his arms during a black op. Three years later, he still loses sleep wondering if maybe he could have done something more to save her – until Alandra shows up on his doorstep. With her lies and betrayal, he wants nothing to do with her, yet, his heart won’t cooperate. It’s not until unknown enemies come after her that he must decide if he can leave the past behind and protect the woman he’ll always love. Will they survive this last mission and rekindle the love and passion they once shared?

Excerpt

Alandra stripped out of her clothes, took off the wig and stepped into the shower. Tears she fought back blended with the tepid water and all she wanted to do was wash tonight, and the last three years of her life away. Quinn probably thought she was crazy running out of the room and leaving him standing there, but she couldn’t deal with him right now.

Deep sobs racked her body as defeat and frustration mingled at the thought of all that she’d lost: a job she enjoyed, freedom of not looking over her shoulder at every turn, and most of all, Quinn. She would never love a man the way she loved him and someone took that away from her. Instinctively, she touched the five-inch scar on her chest near her right breast, the result of the gunshot wound she had obtained that night in Tzbekystan. Looking back, there were so many things she should’ve done different, but when she heard Quinn needed her, she reacted before thinking.

Too exhausted to do much else, she closed her eyes and stood under the powerful spray, praying for relief from the pain in her heart. She placed her palms on the wet ceramic tile, her head bowed, and water rolled down the back of her neck and over her spine. Her shoulders shook violently and she gulped hard trying to stop the tears. She couldn’t do this anymore. No more chasing leads, no more looking over her shoulder and no more yearning for a man who may no longer love her. It was time to leave Chicago, and head back to California where she could start new. But would she be able to leave Quinn now that she had found him?

“Lan.”

Alandra jerked around, one hand still on the tile and the other over her pounding heart. So caught up in her thoughts, she hadn’t heard Quinn come in. His height and broad shoulders dominated the small space, but it was the look of concern shadowing his features that immobilized her, keeping her glued to that spot. Despite her nakedness, all she could do was look at him through the warm water pounding down over her head.

He stood outside of the shower, a bath towel held open for her, and love glittering in his eyes. When she didn’t make a move to step out, he reached in and pulled her out. Securing the towel around her, he shut off the water and hugged her close to his body and she cried all over again.

“Shhh, it’s okay.” He kissed the top of her wet hair, then her cheek and then her lips. Pushing curls away from her face and out of her eyes he said, “Everything is going to be all right.”

They stood that way for several minutes, him whispering sweet sentiments and her unable to control her tears. Alandra eventually pulled back and looked at him, her vision blurred. She searched his eyes, then touched his face, and zoned in on his delicious mouth. Those tempting lips. Lips that had brought her more pleasure than she ever thought possible, and lips that had kissed plenty of bad days away. If he said everything would be all right, she believed him.

Te extrañe mucho,” she sobbed. “These years have been the worse years of my life…because…I didn’t have you.”

His large hands cradled each side of her face. “I know, baby.” He wiped her tears and stared into her eyes. “I know.”

Though she tried, she still couldn’t stop crying. It was as if someone had turned on the faucet to her tear ducts and they were stuck in the on position.

“Lan, baby, you’re killing me here. I promise you we’ll get through this. No more tears all right?”

She nodded and then cried more. Without another word, he lowered his head and captured her lips. His arms coiled around her waist and he pulled her closer. The gentle, slow kiss was like no other between them. They had always had a powerful connection, but this, this was different. He tossed out a lifeline to her and she grabbed hold, allowing him to reel her in. He hadn’t spoken the words – I love you – but she felt it through every stroke, every probe of his tongue and through the warmth of his hands on her body.

She pressed against him when his kiss became harder, more demanding, his body melded to hers, and her heart thumping against her chest. Oh how she’d missed him. The way he held her, the taste of his sweet lips, and the power behind every thrust of his tongue made her forget everything else and savor the feel of his well-built body against hers.

“I want you.” He yanked the towel from around her without warning, and she gasped when his large hands palmed her butt and he lifted her off the floor. All she could think about was how much she needed him at that moment. He pressed her back against the wall and her breath caught when he kissed her with a raw, scorching need, sending electric jolts throughout her body. She swung her legs around his waist and clawed at his shirt, ripping it open, buttons flying across the room, all so that she could feel his muscular chest beneath her hands. She moaned when he ground his stiff erection against her, but this wasn’t enough, she wanted more. Her pulse accelerated and her body shivered from sheer ecstasy. She wanted him like a starving woman wanted food. Horny and wet, she needed him inside her.

*

Want to read more? Click here to get your copy today!

Giveaway Details

What you will win: $5 Amazon.com gift card

What you have to do to win: Leave a comment in the comments section below by 9p.m est, today, May 29, 2013

Winner will be chosen: A winner will be randomly drawn from those who leave a comment. I will announce the winners (in the comments section below) the morning of May 30, 2013.  The winner will also be contacted via email. Note: Those who are subscribers to my blog or follow my Facebook Fan Page, names will be entered into the drawing twice. Good luck!

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May 29, 2013 Posted by | Hump Day | , , | 26 Comments

Book Spotlight – Mail Order Man by Heather Gray

Mai Order Man CoverVisiting my blog today is author Heather Gray! Check out her new release, Mail Order Man.

Blurb

A well-meaning friend places an ad to find a mail order husband for Sarah, the proprietress of Larkspur’s stage and mail office. Sarah, who is generally quiet and reserved, doesn’t know about the ad and has no idea what to do with all the people that are showing up in her community. Before long, the town is overrun with men and mail alike. Sarah is trying to avoid some men who have accosted her on the street when she stumbles into Samuel. Through long days spent together at the stage office, some very adventurous pots of coffee and a shared faith, the two become friends.

Sarah knows that Samuel is hiding something from her, something important, but that doesn’t stop her heart from leaping wildly into love. Lacking the confidence to trust her heart, Sarah wars with herself over the feelings she can no longer deny. When some of the men who have come to town show their true intentions, a shootout follows. Sarah finally gets answers to many of the questions circling through her mind. One question remains, though. Where will her mail order man go when the dust settles?

Excerpt

Right then Claudio and Cesar came through the door. Both boys chimed a “Good morning!” in Sarah’s direction as they headed straight for the coffee on the stove. Sarah saw their intent and inwardly cringed. Not only was she not sure about how many scoops of grounds she’d put in, but the coffee had been percolating much longer than normal because she got distracted with the letters.

Samuel had his back to the stove and did not see the boys as they each poured a cup of coffee. Sarah was about to warn them as Claudio, the middle boy at age sixteen, took a big swig of the hot brew while Cesar, the youngest, opted to blow on his first. Claudio’s eyes grew wide as he swallowed. “Miss Sarah, I do believe that’s the best coffee you’ve ever made. That’s the kind of coffee vaqueros drink!”

Samuel visibly perked up at the mention of coffee. Sarah was sure he couldn’t know a vaquero was a Mexican cowboy and that they drink their camp coffee strong. If he understood what the boys were saying, he definitely wouldn’t be in a hurry to get a cup of his own. Cesar finally took a drink of his coffee. Sarah could see him trying not to make a face as he swallowed the brew. “Vaquero coffee for sure, Miss Sarah. Papa would be proud.”

Sarah had barely started to warn, “Uh, Samuel…” when he took a big gulp of the coffee Claudio had poured for him. She watched the shock on his face as he first paled and then grew red. His eyes flew wide as he tried desperately to swallow the coffee. He finally ran out the front door and spit the coffee out over the edge of the stage platform.

The boys could not contain their howling laughter as Samuel walked back into the stage office, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

*

Get your copy!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo Books

About Heather Gray

Aside from her long-standing love affair with coffee, Heather’s greatest joys in life are her relationship with her Savior, her family, and writing. Years ago, she decided it would be better to laugh than yell. Heather carries that theme over into her writing where she strives to create characters that experience both the highs and lows of life and, through it all, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her.

Here’s how you can contact Heather:

Website | Twitter | Facebook

May 27, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Breaking News: New Harlequin Kimani Romance Authors

It’s official, in the last few months, Harlequin Kimani Romance has signed on three new authors…guess who! Ahh, you’ll probably never guess, so I’ll tell you. Yours truly, Sharon C. Cooper and my dear friends, Candace Shaw and Delaney Diamond have recently signed with Harlequin! Woo hoo!

We’re all very excited about this new endeavor and are looking forward to working with Harlequin Kimani Romance! Note: make sure you stop by Candace and Delaney’s blogs to congratulate them and to learn more about their exciting news (just click on their name wherever it appears in this post).

Harlequin

How I arrived here:

About a year ago, I did a blog post entitled “My Three-book Deal” where I announced my “self-made” three-book deal, promising to self-publish three books in 2012. Well, imagine my surprised when a few months after publishing my first novel, I was contacted by the senior editor of Harlequin Kimani Romance! Yeah, I know, I was shocked too! Long story short, I now have a two-book deal with Harlequin Kimani Romance and the first book will be released Spring of 2014 and the second book – Fall of 2014.

I won’t go into great detail about how this came to be, but I will tell you this – when I first talked with the editor, I had to ask, “How in the world did you find me?” I’m thinking she probably gets thousands of submissions daily, but nothing from me…so how did she find me? The editor said (her exact words), “I was hanging out on Barnes and Noble’s website and ran across your book Something New.” I’m telling you this part of the story because if you’re an aspiring author, and you haven’t considered self-publishing, you might want to reconsider. Apparently, sending submissions to traditional publishers is not the only way to get discovered.

Okay, so a year ago when I created my “self-made” three-book deal, I never imagined that post would turn into so much more! Not only am I writing for Harlequin, but I will continue to self-publish other titles. So stay tuned as I carry on through this exciting writing journey.

BTW, if you have subscribed to my blog, website or have LIKED my Facebook Fan Page, you’ll get first hand information as well as sneak peeks of all my upcoming novels and book covers.

Last, but not least, to all of you who have supported and have encouraged me during this past year (no matter how big or small) – thank you so much! You have a special spot in my heart and I truly appreciate you!

May 22, 2013 Posted by | Good News | , , , | 33 Comments

In Search of a Healing Place – Nikki Walker

Nikki Walker -book coverIt is with great pleasure that I welcome the author of Redemptive Acts, Nikki Walker, to my blog! Today Nikki is telling us a little about herself, and she’s introducing her soon to be released novel – In Search of a Healing Place. But first, let’s get to know Nikki better.

Nikki, tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up in Newark, NJ.  I had one sister who died young and have one younger and one older brother. I have always loved reading.  Actually, I loved reading so much that my mom as well as the teacher that ended up skipping me from the 6th to the 8th grade would threaten to take away that privilege if I rushed through my home and schoolwork. I am now a stay at home wife and mother of an eight year old (eight is the new pre-teen).

What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?

 I now do both.  If my flow is effortless, I fly by the seat of my pants. When I start to feel blocked, I begin to outline the scenes.  This helps when I can’t find the words to convey what I’m feeling.

What is your greatest accomplishment as an author so far?

I love the feedback that I have gotten from my book Redemptive Acts.  I have gotten reviews from a mom who gifted it to her college age daughters as a cautionary tale.  I also received a review from a woman who said it encouraged her to overcome some of the fears in her life. This surpassed any of my expectations and gave me great joy.

That’s wonderful, Nikki! I know how rewarding it is to hear from readers who are encouraged by your work! Makes it all worthwhile, whether you’re helping one or one hundred.

So tell me, what are your pet peeves?

It’s very sad to me that more authors aren’t as supportive as they could be to each other.  I am grateful to have a few friends in my life that are consistent in their support regardless of what project they are working on or what is going  on in their lives. 

What are your favorite types of movies to watch?

I like action adventures, romance and some comedies. 

Which heroine from your books do you most closely identify with and why?

I actually have to name two, Naya and Cherise.  I name them both because I’m not as strong as Naya and I’m not as weak as Cherise.   I guess I am a twist between the two in having to build self-esteem late in life and finally realizing that I am loved and thereby lovable. (smile)

Like both of them, I cherish and appreciate my marriage. Like Naya and Marcus, my marriage was given a second chance and my husband and I remarried after a two-year separation—now bringing our marital years to a total of 22.  Like Cherise and Jonathan, my husband is truly my best friend.

Wow, 22 years, that’s Awesome! I wish you both many, many, many more years together!

Okay, Nikki, I have enjoyed stopping by your blog for book chats, what inspired you to create Nikki’s Book Chats?

I thought creating a blog would give me a space to connect with readers.  It has proved to be a great platform and more recently, I have enjoyed interviewing a number of authors.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

Don’t give up on your dream.  Be prepared for the business side of writing.

What do you do for fun?

I enjoy spending time with my husband and daughter.  We enjoy getting together with others occasionally.  When I am home in VA, I enjoy getting together with my girlfriends. These are truly diamond friendships—rare and priceless. I will be seeing them at the end of the month. I moved away from VA a year and a half ago, so going home for a visit makes getting together with them mandatory.

How do you celebrate each book release?

With Redemptive Acts, I had a contestI am still considering what to do for In Search of a Healing Place.

Tell us a little about your soon to be released – In Search of a Healing Place

This is second in my Redemptive Series, the follow up to Redemptive Acts. Tyrone has some major adjustments to make. He is fresh out of jail and has been turned away from the life of luxury that Wheeler Industries, the family hotel chain, used to afford him.  His days of being the spoilt younger son are over.  He transitions from jail to working for his father as a Mail Department Manager.  Not exactly what he envisioned while serving his time.  Nor did he think he’d be living in a rental that he would have to pay for out of his new, greatly-reduced salary.  Farryn Grant, his father’s personal assistant, has been assigned to help him transition to a much simpler life.  Neither of them anticipate how this arrangement will affect their hearts.

Most importantly, Tyrone has to figure out how to make peace with the pain he has caused his brother and sister-in-law, Cherise whom he raped during a frat party.  This assault continues to fracture his family, who are in the process of healing.  None of them have quite figured out how to deal with the fact that while he is the father of Diamond, the child that resulted from the assault, it’s his brother who is raising her. This story leaves one wondering if there can be redemption for Tyrone.  Will he and his hurting family ever find a healing place?

 What was your inspiration behind – In Search of a Healing Place?

Many things. Date rape in the media I am sure planted a seed in my subconscious mind.  It made me think of how many women, my mom included, have survived traumatic events and gone on to build a productive and enjoyable life.  Also like Cherise, I know what it’s like to feel unloved and at one time in my life believe I was unlovable.  I wanted to take all of these things and show how a person can use principles of faith to help them to cope with life as they find the path to happiness. Tyrone is the antagonist in this book.  He is the person that rapes Cherise. I wanted to believe that there was something redeemable in his character.  With the encouragement from Nia Forrester, I began to realize Tyrone had a story as well.  It has been an unexpected joy to chronicle his growth as a person, as a man and as a father.

Excerpt

Tyrone looked at him expectantly.  He slowly stood in front of Jonathan.  “So, you wanna hit me Jon? Wanna beat me down? Go ahead. I know I deserve that and more. As long as you understand that when you’re done, nothing will be changed and Diamond –well she’ll still be my daughter.”

“You’re right Ty—nothing will have changed.”  He drew back his fisted hand and slammed it into Ty’s jaw, knocking him backwards. “But I sure feel a lot better!”  Jonathan yelled as Tyrone slid down the chair onto the floor. Then he nursed his now raw fist. “You know what Ty? I wish I’d done that a long time ago! I hate how you just waltzed through life in a nonchalant bubble, popping in and out of people’s lives while you burn everything down around you. Without a care in the world, you took away Cherise’s trust, her innocence and her ability to accept that she is loved!  That’s what I’m left with trying to fix!” He turned away from Tyrone, disgust burnishing his features.  He walked over to the wall and snatched the largest portrait of Diamond, slamming it down to the floor.  He moved to reach for another when Tyrone scrambled up and ran at Jon head first, knocking him into the entertainment stand, sending the books, pictures and sculptures his mother sent crashing to the floor.

Jonathan grabbed Tyrone around the neck and began battering his fist against his face repetitively.

Tyrone stretched his arms in vain to get Jonathan to relinquish his hold.  Finally, he elbowed Jon in his gut.  Once Jonathan loosened his hold, Ty pulled his arm back and slammed it into Jonathan’s jaw sending him sprawling onto the floor.

Tyrone walked over to where he lay.  His jaw and eye throbbed as he looked down at his brother. Through the clenched teeth of an aching jaw he said, “I wish I could go back in time and fix everything Jon.  My heart aches from what I did to Cherise and I am sorry about how it has affected you.”

“Oh shut up!” Jonathan yelled as he used the armchair to pull himself up from the floor.  He slumped back against the chair cushion.  “Get me some ice! You need some too.” He growled leaning his head back against the top of the chair before closing his eyes.

*

Whoo! I definitely want to see how these brothers fix their differences!

In Search of a Healing Place is coming soon. In the meantime, check out Redemptive Acts on Amazon!

More Books by Nikki Walker

Nikkis books

Nikki, how can readers connect with you and keep up with future book releases? 

They can reach me at any of the following:

Twitter

Facebook 

Google+   

Goodreads

Blog/Website: Nikki’s Book Chats

Amazon  

Nikki, thanks for stopping by and sharing a little about yourself! We’re looking forward to reading, In Search of a Healing Place!

May 20, 2013 Posted by | Blog Guest | | 13 Comments

Author Interview and Giveaway – Sandy Appleyard

It is with great pleasure that I welcome Sandy Appleyard, author of Blessed and Betrayed, to my blog today! Not only is she sharing information about herself and her latest release, The Wife of a Lesser Man, but she is also giving away a $15 Amazon gift card AND a copy of The Wife of a Lesser Man! I’ll tell you more about that shortly, but first, let’s get to know Sandy better.

The wife of a lesser man - cover

Sandy, tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a Canadian mom of two and wife to a very supportive husband.  My first two books, which are memoirs, pretty much outline what my life is like.  But essentially I’m an animal lover, avid reader and writer, a clean freak and a health fanatic.

What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?

I do a combination of both.  Story ideas, titles and subplots come to me at strange times, so I record notes and input when time permits.  Because I’m a mystery writer, I generally have to follow an outline so my clues mesh together properly.

Okay Sandy, I know you’re not supposed to show favoritism but who’s been your favorite character to write?

I actually love writing all my characters, but I really enjoyed writing about the minor characters in ‘The Wife of a Lesser Man’.  My favourite is Constable Nelson and mostly because he’s a newbie, still wet behind the ears and so sweet.  Nelson tends to get the simple jobs because he’s new, yet he nails them and proves himself after each task is complete.

Do you have critique partners or beta readers?

I have wonderful beta readers, but one in particular helped me so much with this book that I owe him a world of gratitude.  Beta readers are so important in the final phase of editing; I can’t even tell you.  If it weren’t for beta reading, this book would have ended so flatly; readers would have been disappointed. 

What do you do for fun?

Well, they say if you find something you love doing, you don’t work a day in your life.  Writing to me is fun; so is reading.  I guess I’m a bit of a geek.  Exercising and physical activity (including cleaning my house) is also fun.  I’m weird.

Tell us a little about The Wife of a Lesser Man.

‘The Wife of a Lesser Man’ is a romantic suspense about a married police chief (Mark) who suffers a heart attack right before a serial killer strikes.  He is left impotent and just as he begins to track down the killer; he realizes his wife (Shelley) is having an affair.  The story has many twists; one involving a co-worker of Mark’s who is hiding his wife’s grave illness despite cutting corners in the murder investigation.  Shelley’s single friend Sarah proves to be both a rose and a thorn; she’s supportive during Mark’s convalescence, but she’s also the one who encourages Shelley to flirt and socialize with other men, leading Shelley into temptation.

What was your inspiration behind this book?

I was inspired to write this book after having a ‘what if’ conversation with a dear friend about adultery.  A few days later I had enough notes to start writing, and the book just took off from there. 

If you were going to cast the characters of your book, what actors would get the part?

The main characters Mark and Shelley would be portrayed best, in my opinion, by Liam Neeson (closest character role-Taken) and Michelle Pfeiffer (What Lies Beneath).  Shelley’s best friend Sarah by Marisa Tomei, and Mark’s partner Richard by Brad Garret.

Description – The Wife of a Lesser Man 

They were deeply in love, their days and nights filled with scintillating romance and passionate love making—even after 20 years of marriage. Then fate delivered a hammer blow when a heart attack led to Mark’s impotency and Shelley’s unbearable frustration.

Encouraged by a friend, Shelley becomes flirtatious and unfaithful, finding those moments of glorious intimacy for which she hungered with another man. Mark, a police chief, suspects nothing as he channels all his time and energy into tracking down a serial killer. But when the murderer leaves a terrifying final clue too close to home, only Shelley can solve the case

Excerpt

“I’m so sorry.  I don’t mean to take this out on you.”  Shelley squeezed Sarah’s hand.

Sarah half laughed.  “That’s okay.  Why are you being so apologetic?  I’m your best friend and if I can’t be your punching bag once in a while then what am I good for?”

“What exactly are you scared of?”  Sarah asked, letting go of Shelley’s hand.

“I know it sounds terrible because I should be so thankful that Mark is still with me.  But…I miss him.  I miss his touch and the way he used to look at me.  We used to make love at least a couple times a week, more when we were younger.  Before his heart attack we used to have quickies even at lunch time or whenever we felt the need.  He was so passionate and very ready and able to go. I never needed to ask.”  She took a sip of wine.

“Well give it some time.  I’m sure he’ll come around soon.”

“You’re right.  I know.  But I don’t know why I’m worrying so much.  I mean, it’s not like we’re twenty anymore,” Shelley said, half laughing and waving her head from side to side.

Sarah looked directly at her,  “Shelley.  You’re allowed to feel.  Being afraid and worrying is perfectly natural.  Freaking out under the circumstances is okay.  You held it together miraculously when Mark had his heart attack.  You were bound to lose it some time.”  She paused.  “I’m just curious.  What exactly made you freak out during yoga?  Was it really because I was talking to Michael?”  She took another sip.

“I don’t know.  Maybe you were right about me being jealous.  It is true that you can have sex whenever you want.  I guess it made me realize that with Mark I can’t feel that way anymore.”

Sarah smiled and patted Shelley on the hand.  “Don’t kid yourself honey.  Remember: I’m not twenty any more either.”

Shelley guffawed.  “Yeah, but you can still get hotties like Michael whenever you want.”

Sarah waved off her comment.  “Yeah, but look at that hottie that was checking you out!”

Shelley waved off Sarah’s comment.  “I was just looking at his tattoo.”

“What was that anyway?  A lion?”  Sarah asked.

“Yeah.  It’s his astrological sign.  He’s a Leo.”

Sarah lifted her eyebrows, swaying her hips from side to side and commented in a sultry voice, “I wonder if he goes in like a lion and out like a lamb.”

*

Here’s where you can get your copy of The Wife of a Lesser Man

Amazon (US) 

Amazon (UK)

Giveaway and Blog Tour

The wife of a lesser man-banner

What you can win: A $15 Amazon gift card AND a copy of The Wife of a Lesser Man

To enter for a chance to win: Click here

Sandy, how can readers connect with you? 

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

LinkedIn

About the Author

Sandy appleyardThis is Sandy’s fourth self-published book and her second novel. Her first romantic mystery, Blessed and Betrayed was received very well by readers and reviewers and was given an average of 4.25 stars on Goodreads and Amazon.

Sandy wrote her first two books, which are memoirs, while her children were infants. The Message in Dad’s Bottle is about her father, who tragically passed at the age of 41 from alcoholism, and I’ll Never Wear a Backless Dress tells Sandy’s personal story about her life with Scoliosis.

Sandy is a full time writer and when she isn’t writing she’s reading, exercising, playing with her children, her cat, or obsessively cleaning her house.

May 14, 2013 Posted by | Blog Guest | , | Comments Off on Author Interview and Giveaway – Sandy Appleyard

The Perfect Choice

It is with great pleasure that I welcome Libra Rajani, author of Soul Custody to my blog today! She’s sharing an excerpt from her latest release, The Perfect Choice.

Libra R - book coverDescription

Tanya Campbell is full figured, full of life, and has no business on a ‘let me fix you up’ Caribbean cruise. But when Isaiah Scott promises to be the man of her dreams she is intrigued. However, once on board she discovers that he can’t make it after all. Thus, when a mysterious stranger approaches her and asks her to spend some time with him she feels she has nothing to lose and agrees.

Malik Anderson has reservations about playing investigator for Isaiah, but he owes him a debt and giving him daily reports on Tanya Campbell is the least he can do. However, when he finds himself falling for her, text messages to Isaiah become few and far between. How can he choose between the mentor who shaped his future and the woman that he longs to be with?

When Tanya discovers Malik’s betrayal she heads back to Florida and is determined to give Isaiah the opportunity he missed. Even though the handsome Isaiah is generous, funny and promises to give her the world; his critiques, negative assessments, and other strange discoveries give her pause.

Will Tanya’s anger cause her to settle for something less or will her heart rule her head and compel her to forgive Malik’s betrayal and build the relationship she deserves?

The Perfect Choice – Excerpt

Tanya sat in the Florida home of her friend Simone Holiday and listened to her go on and on.

“Tanya Campbell,” she said with a pointed finger. “I’ve heard everything about your horrible history with men, but after you meet Isaiah Scott, I promise you that this will be the year you say, ‘I do’.”

Tanya rolled her eyes and poured more of the Mojito cocktail into their glasses.

Simone glanced up as she raised her glass. “What?”

Tanya nudged her forward. “What do you mean what? If you’ve listened to anything that I’ve said, you know damn well that marriage is not on my vocabulary list. As I told you when I moved to Miami six months ago, I’m focusing on my career as a fraud investigator. If I can have some fun in the process, that’ll be even better.” She watched her friend shake her head and take another sip of her libation. She laughed. “Don’t look at me that way. Most people don’t find their soul mate in high school and if they do they don’t stay with ‘em. My girl Gabriella can attest to that.

“I know I’ve been fortunate on the love front, but you can too if you just give yourself a chance.”

Tanya nodded and knew that Simone Holiday’s was well intentioned. For the past three months, she’d listen to her brag about her half-brother Isaiah Scott. Her mother remarried an up and coming real estate broker. When good investments paid off, her mother never had to work and Simone wanted for nothing. She worked as a volunteer at a hospital. That’s how they met. Tanya sprained her ankle trying to climb one of those rock walls. But for the most part, Simone had nothing but time on her hands. Now, her main objective in life was to find all of her single friends a husband. Tanya was next on the list. All she heard was, “Isaiah’s so wonderful. He’s such a good catch.” Simone didn’t even know what he looked like let alone who he was. Her mother was never married to her biological father who lived in Chicago and when Simone was two years old, he later moved out of Illinois all together. Simone never knew an Isaiah existed until a year ago.

According to Isaiah, when his mother recently died, he looked through some of her papers and discovered their wayward father had another child. He was elated and immediately looked Simone up. They’d been emailing once a month ever since. Simone was just as ecstatic and through the correspondence, discovered that he was the product of a previous relationship his father had, five years before her birth. Isaiah was a lifetime Chicagoan and the notable founder of a youth program there. As a result, he was the recipient of several awards and doing well for himself.

In any case, meeting Isaiah was the reason for the girl’s night. Simone was trying to convince her once again to go on a cruise so that everyone could finally meet. Isaiah relayed to her that he was looking to settle down. She in return, relayed to him that she knew the perfect woman. He was more than eager to jump aboard.

“Tanya, what harm is it going to do? If you don’t like him, you can go on about your business and I’ll leave it alone.”

“I’m not going,” she said after a long pause. “Because of you and your bragging, everyone expects us to meet, hook up, and live in marital bliss. I hope you kept your word and didn’t tell him any of my business. I don’t tell most people that I’m a fraud investigator.”

“I didn’t tell him anything that I know you’d want to tell him yourself. I just told him that you were a very good friend of mine in the finance business who was looking to meet someone nice and settle down.”

Tanya doubted that. She’d seen Simone in action and if she knew you, she had something to say about how she could improve your life. They’d become good friends, but Simone was the type of woman that shared everyone’s business with everyone else. She didn’t see any harm in it, but in Tanya’s eyes, if Simone were gossiping about everyone else, she was gossiping about her as well. That was why she only shared her deepest thoughts with her mama and her best friend Gabriella. “That makes me sound desperate. I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to hook your brother up with someone else. Blind dates put me right there on front street. He hasn’t seen me and I may not be his type. Hell, he’s probably not mine either.” She stared in the mirror on her left and slid her hand across her stomach that was now two inches wider than it was six months ago. “Some men don’t appreciate all I have to offer.”

“That’s ridiculous, besides, you can lose that by the time we go on the cruise.”

That evening was several weeks ago and unfortunately endless debates wore her down. Before she knew it, she was booked on eight-day ‘let me fix you up’ Caribbean cruise and she was now sitting in the seat of a Southwest Airlines plane.

It was already off to a horrible start. While studying to become a CPA, she found that aiding companies who suspected fraud fascinated her. Because the work was tedious, she had to attend many seminars. She also had to obtain her Certified Fraud Examiners License. Her supervisor scheduled a meeting for the week after the cruise, but due to an unfortunate mix up, she had to travel to Chicago the day before. It wasn’t too bad because it was her hometown, but it caused her to arrive a day later than the other cruisers. She couldn’t do anything about it considering it focused on the new inventive ways an employee could defraud a company. That was something she could embrace. She closed her eyes and thought about the uncertain week that was to come.

“Excuse me, is this seat taken?”

She looked up at an older man with salt and pepper hair and beard.” No, it’s not taken sir. Have a seat.” She smiled and moved her purse. “I’m Tanya. It’s nice to meet you.”

He sat down with his newspaper in hand and squeezed her into the window. “Likewise, I’m Franklin. I don’t mean to bother you, but I don’t like sitting in the rear. I’m a nervous flyer.”

She nodded. “Don’t apologize. It’s perfectly fine. I don’t like the rear either.” She looked around at the crowded plane. “I guess everyone is taking advantage of the low rates this time of year.” A screaming baby disturbed her. She looked down the aisle and put her index finger to her lips.

“You don’t like kids?”

That question always gave her pause. Should she lie to appease him or tell the truth? It wasn’t that she didn’t like kids; she just didn’t think children were in her future. That didn’t sit well with some people. When Gabriella asked her to be her daughter’s godmother, it was enough for her. “I don’t have a problem with kids,” she finally said. “But I’m not in that space. I’m focusing on my work.”

He smiled. “My daughter is around your age and she used to say that too, but like I told her, you have plenty of time to change your mind. I have four children myself and two grandchildren. They’re the best things in my life.”

She smiled. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be rude, but I have some work to do and then I’m going to try and take a nap.”

“I have my newspaper.”

She looked out the window as the ground disappeared and the plane rose above the clouds. Maybe Simone is right and this vacation won’t be so bad. Maybe Isaiah will turn out to be a nice guy who 

*

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About the Author

I am Libra Rajani and I am a romance/women’s fiction writer. Libra Rajani is a pen name I selected because occasionally I write erotic romance and my husband leads a slightly public life. I picked Libra Rajani because it defines me, Libra (searching for balance), and Rajani (the dark side). I definitely have one.

I am from Chi-Town, born and bred. I am the only female of three children born of my parents. I attended the University of Illinois, studied psychology, and married my high school sweetheart; we have been married for twenty-eight years, and have three sons.

When I’m not writing, which is only twenty-five percent of the time, my husband and I love to sample unique dishes and travel to different countries, which is a great inspiration for my novels.

May 13, 2013 Posted by | Blog Guest | , , | 8 Comments

An Interview with Author M.J. Kane

It is with great pleasure that I welcome fellow author, M.J. Kane to my blog! M.J is the author of A Heart Not Easily Broken, book 1 of The Butterfly Memoirs Series and she has recently released book 2, Jaded. But before she tells us about her latest release, lets find out a little about the writer behind the books.

MJ - photo

Okay M.J., tell us a little about yourself.

Well, the person behind this pen, (or keyboard!), is a stay-at-home-mom with a very over active imagination. I once thought it was because of being an only child and spending a lot of time making up stories to entertain myself. But since I am an adult with four kids, a hubby, and six dogs, I now see storytelling as a gift! I am also a stroke survivor, and by that I mean I really survived. After nearly dying in in 2006 and recovering from partial paralysis, every day is a blessing. Discovering I have a talent I wasn’t aware of before has aided in my recovery.

Wow, you’re truly a walking miracle and it’s wonderful to hear that your writing talent has aided in your recovery!

Now M.J., your featured book is Jaded, where did you get the idea for this story?

The idea for Yasmine’s and Zack’s story came from a song by Kem called Love Calls. I’d finished writing A Heart Not Easily Broken where Ebony and Brian found their HEA, but I’d left Yasmine hanging by a thread. I knew I wanted her book to be about her journey back to love, but was not sure how to write it. One day, I was cleaning house and listening to my iPod and the song came one. I have the tendency to listen to the beat only and lyrics last. That day, I actually listened to that song over and over and over again. In fact for the rest of the week that was pretty much the only song I listened to. The lyrics are about a person who’s had a bad experience in love before and fears taking the risk to be hurt again. Knowing Yasmine’s past history was fraught with disappointing relationships, I decided to create a male lead that had the same past issues. Putting two people together who want to love and be loved, yet play the game of being ‘just friends’ interested me. And of course, friends-with-benefits relationships are nothing new to books, television, and movies, so I added a twist. The book isn’t just about two people unable to fight the attraction and avoid a relationship. I wanted to focus on if the relationship would continue to bloom or if it would fail once the HEA was reached, and real life issues snuck in. How far would one go to keep what they thought they would never have? When do you know you’re making the right decision? How much can you trust someone with your heart and know that despite mistakes, what you have is real? Those are the issues faced by the characters in Jaded.

How long have you been a writer and what keeps you writing?

I didn’t start writing until 2009, after my husband suggested I pull out a short story I’d written as part of a fan fiction challenge. He challenged me to complete it, and from there, my interest in writing and character development took flight.

Well, I for one am glad he challenged you! Are you working on any other writing projects? 

As of now, I am working on the third novel in The Butterfly Memoirs Series, Lonely Heart. This story follows the third friend, Kaitlyn Rodgers, that was introduced in A Heart Not Easily Broken.

JadedTell us about Jaded.

A devastating breakup leaves Yasmine Phillips in shambles. Unable to trust another man with her heart, she focuses on the one thing she can control—starting her own business.

When her computer crashes, taking months of hard work with it, she must rely on computer genius Zachariah Givens to save her. A complete opposite of men from her past, she doesn’t expect the passion that ensues. But just as she finds happiness, she learns the truth about the other women in Zachariah’s life.

What makes your characters unique?

Allowing my characters to tell their story by writing in 1st Person, and not only following the female leads story, but developing a story that is just as deep and life changing for the male lead makes my characters unique. Also, the issues that challenge them are everyday problems that readers may have experienced or can relate to. Doing so makes it easier for readers to relate to them and become emotionally invested in the story.

Excerpt from Jaded:

I closed my eyes in an attempt to find pieces of the wall I built around my heart. It was impossible; Zack had chiseled them away in the short time we’d known each other. The pain plaguing me from past relationships was easily forgotten while in his arms.

“Yasmine,” his whisper husky, the laughter from earlier gone. “Look at me.”

I did.

Never had a man’s gaze pulled me in this hard. Desire replaced reasoning, a feeling so strong it could not be ignored. How did this happen? Was it the theme of the day, the alcohol consumed, or the fact this man seemed to have eyes only for me?

Zack gazed hungrily at my mouth and licked his lips.

Panic built inside. This could not be happening. I couldn’t ignore the fact I wanted it.

Maybe even needed it to happen.

“Yasmine…”

My lips parted of their own volition as Zack lowered his mouth to mine.

The moment our lips connected the world stood still. Breathing ceased as desire exploded inside of me, drawing me deep into forbidden territory.

Who knew a kiss this simple could be this earth shattering?

I pressed closer, my hand slid over his chest; the heat of hard flesh through fabric drew me in to accept everything he gave.

The first slid of his lips was a soft contact, testing. The second, an exploration of the water, dipping a toe into the pond.

The third was so much more. My mouth opened involuntarily and Zack’s tongue caressed mine.

He tasted like the wine he’d taken from me. I gripped his shirt as an uncontrollable whimper escaped. Zack responded by releasing my other hand and slipping his to the nape of my neck, holding my mouth hostage to the onslaught of his kiss.  We no longer moved to the music.

All control was lost. The desire to pull him the short distance to my bedroom to ease the ache in my heart and the need to have his naked body against me was the only thing on my mind.

This was not supposed to happen. We were friends, not lovers. I valued his friendship. Our relationship was perfect. With no strings, no attachments, and no commitments, neither of us risked being hurt.

We were supposed to be platonic.

Then why did his mouth feel so good? Why did his controlling grip cause my body to weep for more?

I forced myself off this natural high and focused on his response. My eyes closed, I listened to his breathing as he continued his assault on my senses.  It was as ragged as mine. Damn, he felt it, too.

I pulled away from his mouth, struggling to be free of his arms. “I can’t do this…”

“Yasmine,” he held firm, “don’t leave.”

“Let me go, damn it, Zack, let me go,” I was unable to keep the panic from my voice.

Zack stilled, his brow lowered. “I wasn’t trying to hurt you.”

I looked away, not wanting him to notice the tears about to hit. “I know…just…I can’t, please,” I implored.

“Yasmine, we need to talk about this.” When I looked back, his expression seemed as pained as the way I felt.

I shook my head, “I can’t.”

He lowered his gaze and loosened his grip, allowing me to wiggle free.

I avoiding the festivities by slipping into my room by way of the patio.

“I’m sorry.” Zack’s apology drifted over as I slid the door closed behind me.

*

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May 8, 2013 Posted by | Special Guest - Interviews | , | 11 Comments

Hump Day Hook and Giveaway

Happy Hump Day!

Today I’m joining in with other authors, who share little teasers /excerpts from their work in the Hump Day Hook. Click here for more information.

For this weeks hook, I’m sharing an excerpt from Rendezvous with Danger, book 2 of the Reunited Series. I’m also giving a $5 gift card away to one lucky commenter (details below).

Rendezvous w-Danger - Book Cover

Description

Alandra Pargas, ex-CIA counter-intelligence officer, plans to wreak vengeance on the people who tried to kill her. A little rendezvous with danger is not what scares her, though. It’s seeing the tall, dark, and dangerously sexy man she vowed to love forever that has her running for cover.

Former U.S. Special Operative, Quinn Hamilton, left the world of covert operations after the love of his life died in his arms during a black op. Three years later, he still loses sleep wondering if maybe he could have done something more to save her – until Alandra shows up on his doorstep. With her lies and betrayal, he wants nothing to do with her, yet, his heart won’t cooperate. It’s not until unknown enemies come after her that he must decide if he can leave the past behind and protect the woman he’ll always love. Will they survive this last mission and rekindle the love and passion they once shared?

Excerpt

Two days after Alandra’s reappearance, Quinn sat in the parking lot of the hospital where she worked. Dark clouds with the threat of snow hung low, and Bonnie Raitt’s, Since I Fell for You, played through his truck speakers, adding to his already crappy mood. He couldn’t get Wiz’s words out of his head. Had Alandra really risked her life to protect him? If so, why? Though Wiz didn’t have concrete proof, he had a good argument to back up his theory – Alandra was in Tzbekystan that night because of something or someone she felt was a threat to him.

Quinn shook his head. It didn’t make sense. He was a trained assassin. What did she think she could accomplish by being there?

He inhaled a deep breath, released it slowly and rested his head against the headrest. Seeing Alandra again had aroused old feelings and unease he thought he had put behind him the day he found out she was dead. Could he be near her again without giving into the longing, the ache that had left his heart frayed and battered years ago?  

He focused his attention on the hospital entrance. He had been sitting in the lot for fifteen minutes hoping to catch her before she went in to work. Either she was late, or he had gotten her work schedule wrong.

When her four-door Honda tore into the parking lot his chest tightened. An odd reaction for a man who told himself the night before, he wanted nothing to do with Alandra. Why should he help her when she didn’t care enough to let him know she was alive? He rubbed his forehead. I’ll help her with whatever mess she’s involved in and then move on. What was it about her that made him want to protect her? He’d been with plenty of women, but no one else took his breath away like her, or tempted him to throw caution to the wind just to be with them.

Alandra stepped out of her car. Rust caked the bottom of the doors. There was a noticeable dent near the front bumper, and the driver’s side door was gray where the rest of the car was brown. The thought of his wife driving around in that death trap made him sick. My wife. He had a wife. Was he ready to reclaim her as his wife? He shook his head. How could he when he still couldn’t believe she was actually alive? And part of him felt there was something she wasn’t telling him. He could feel it in his gut.

Alandra grabbed a black messenger bag from the backseat of her car and rushed toward the entrance. Quinn jumped out of his truck and hurried to meet her.

“Alandra!” he called out.

She stopped and her back stiffened before she slowly turned around. The look she gave him would’ve made a weaker man turn and hightail it out of there, but he was no ordinary man.

“What do you want?” she snapped, her voice low and frosty.

Her attempt at intimidating him with her coldness had the opposite effect. She was sexy as hell when she was angry. Her cheeks, crimson red, burned with anger and the nostrils on her delicate nose flared. A vein in her long, tempting neck twitched and those hypnotic eyes that he had lost himself in plenty of times grew dark and insolent. Oh yeah, she was pissed. The only thing missing was her speaking Spanish, which she used to do when she was angry or making love.

“We need to talk.”

“Oh, so now you want to talk?” She looked at him through narrow slits and inched toward him. “The other night you didn’t want anything to do with me. You kicked me out of your house like I was some two-bit tramp that you screwed and was tired of looking at.”

He sighed and pulled his wool cap lower on his forehead. Apologizing had never come easy for him and now was no different, but if he wanted to find out what was going on, he’d better come up with something, and it had better be good.

When several people exited the hospital, Quinn attempted to pull her off to the side, but she jerked out of his grasp.  “Look, I’m sorry, all right?” He tossed up his hands. “You shocked the hell out of me the other night. I was confused, angry, and shit…I didn’t know what to think.”

She glared at him, pulled her lightweight jacket closed and tugged her bag strap higher on her shoulder. She turned and walked away, moving to a small alcove just shy of the hospital entrance. Quinn followed.

“Since you want to talk, talk, because I have nothing to say to you.”

“Look, Alandra.”

Her head snapped up and her chin jutted out. “Stop calling me that! It’s Velvet.” She shoved her hands into her jacket pockets. “My name is Velvet Aguilar.”

Quinn cursed under his breath and closed the distance between them with one determined step. “Alandra,” he repeated, emphasizing her name. “I don’t know where you got that other name from, but I’m not about to refer to you as anything other than Alandra Pargas…Hamilton.”

She looked about as shocked as he felt by his words. One minute he wanted nothing to do with her, and the next he claimed her as his wife. What the heck is wrong with me? The sudden vulnerability he saw in her eyes made Quinn want to pull her close and cover those sweet pouty lips with his own. The magnetic pull they once shared was stronger than ever and by the look in her eyes, she felt it too. He so wanted to kiss her, but that would be a mistake since he knew from experience that one kiss from her wouldn’t satisfy him.

“Quinn.”

Her voice quivered and Quinn wasn’t sure if it was from emotion or if it was from the cold gust of wind. He shook out of his leather jacket and wrapped it around her shoulders. Holding on to the lapels he pulled her close, their faces within inches of one another.

“Listen to me. I’m not here to argue with you. I don’t know what brought you to Chicago, but I want to help if I can. You have to tell me what’s going on.”

She shook her head, tears suddenly lacing her eyelashes. “I can’t,” she mumbled. “I—” Her voice cracked.

“I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what you’re involved in.”

“No. Just stay away from me. I can’t explain, because there is so much I don’t know, and it’s not safe. Please, just stay away.”

Instead of fighting the urge to wrap her in his arms, he placed his hand on the back of her head and with a gentle tug, captured her lips with a hunger that rocked him to the core. The kiss immediately exploded into something more powerful than he could imagine, and dragged his memory back to what once was. His arm snaked around her waist and hers circled his neck. He didn’t care about the thirty degree weather, or that she was late for work. All he wanted was to recapture a little of what he had missed. He would face the consequences later.

Want to read more? Click here to get your copy today!

Giveaway Details

This drawing/giveaway goes from May 1st – May 5th (9pm est). I will be rewarding a $5 Amazon.com gift card to a randomly drawn commenter in the comment section of this post (don’t forget to include your email address). The winner will be announced May 6th in the comments section. Note: Those who are subscribers to my blog or follow my Facebook Fan Page, names will be entered into the drawing twice. Good luck!

May 1, 2013 Posted by | Hump Day | , , | 21 Comments