Friday, February 27, 2015

Year of Living Blonde by Andrea Simonne Excerpt & Giveaway

A funny and sizzling romp about discovering your inner pin-up girl...

Plain-Jane bakery owner Natalie Anderson has always followed the recipe for a safe life. When her husband dumps her for a seductive older woman, it’s time to throw out that recipe and start from scratch. She cooks up a plan to transform herself from mousy brown to sexy blonde. Meanwhile, she’s trying to expand her Seattle bakery, La Dolce Vita, but runs into an obstacle in the form of her irritatingly handsome landlord.

Astronomer Anthony Novello’s good looks and charm usually guarantees him a free pass with women, though that’s not the case with his new tenant, Natalie. Plain, plump, and persnickety—he’s never met a woman more annoying. But when Anthony returns from a telescope observing run, he makes a discovery of the non-celestial kind. Natalie has changed. He’s amazed to find himself attracted to her. Sparks fly as he tries to convince her there’s more to him than meets the eye.

However, when Natalie’s ex-husband decides to win her back, she’s forced to choose. Is her year of living blonde over? Or is this the start of a new and much sweeter life….

Natalie grins. “And what is this I hear about my cookies in Hawaii?”

Anthony rolls his eyes in mock exasperation. “All right, I admit it. I took a dozen with to Mauna Kea.”

“I’m honored.”

“You should be. It was right after you called me an asshole and I didn’t want go back into the bakery, so I had to ask Maya to buy them for me.”

Natalie shifts uncomfortably. “I apologized for that. Should I apologize again?”

“It can’t hurt.”

“I’m sorry.”

He doesn’t say anything, just puts new coordinates into his telescope’s keypad.

“Can I ask you something?” she asks.


She bites her lip. “Why do you like me?”

Anthony continues what he’s doing, a smile playing around the edges of his mouth. “What makes you think I like you?”

“Because you invited me here tonight. What is it you see in me, exactly?”

“I don’t know.” He attaches the keypad back to the telescope. “In truth, I’ve wondered about it myself.”

“What kind of answer is that?”

Anthony chuckles. “I’m just being honest. You’re not exactly easy to get along with.”

“I’m not sure why I’m always giving you such a hard time.”

“I am.”

“Why is that?”

“It’s because you’re into me.”

Natalie’s face grows warm. “No, I’m not.”

His hand is still on the telescope. He gazes over at her. “Yeah, you are.”

“I’m not.”

Anthony lets go and moves closer. She can smell him again, his woodsy soap. He’s taller than her and she has to look up at him.

“I’m not into you,” she insists, though her pulse quickens.

Their eyes meet. He’s so near now, she can see the dark fringe of his lashes. The stubble of his beard. She shivers with anticipation.

“Yeah, you are, but it’s okay,” he says softly, leaning close, “because I’m into you, too.”

And then he kisses her. Natalie is dizzy with shock.

Anthony is kissing me!

AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Andrea Simonne grew up as an army brat and discovered she had a talent for creating personas at each new school. The most memorable was a surfer chick named "Ace" who never touched a surf board in her life, but had an impressive collection of puka shell necklaces. Eventually she turned her imagination towards writing. Andrea still enjoys creating personas, though these days they occupy her books. She currently makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons.

You can find Andrea at:

You can buy Year of Living Blonde at:

$20 Amazon/BN GC
The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: 
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Exiled Jeweler by Susie Warren Excerpt & Giveaway

Emilia Berceto’s beauty captures the attention of a well-known Italian billionaire, Alex Armanti, when she attends a gala at his mansion in Los Angeles. Images secretly captured of her partially nude are released to the tabloids and her overly protective family sends her far away.

Four years later, Emilia continues to live a secluded life designing custom jewelry for the wealthy. Her family needs her to return home to California when their jewelry empire is near bankruptcy. When she returns, she must face the man who caused her downfall and is threatening to reveal her secret if she is to save her family’s jewelry empire.

Taking a sip of chilled water, she tried to calm herself. It was inevitable that she would need to return to California and deal with the media. The more she tried to hide, the more interested they became.

Liv found her and said, “Are you okay?”

“No, not really. My grandfather is in the hospital after arguing with my father and uncle about selling the business. I think we may lose the Ellerby commission. It has to do with the bad press surrounding recent financial disclosures. We could lose other commissions.”

The two of them walked back to her office and she closed the door for privacy.

Liv said, “I know the problems must seem insurmountable at the moment but they have been building for a long time. You won’t be able to solve them in a few days.”

She drew strength from her friendship with the older woman. Liv was practical and intelligent. At fifty years old, she was marvelously put together: her short grey hair was worn in a stylish cut, complimented by earrings from the shop and a slim-fitting white sundress.

Emilia met Liv’s concerned glance. “I need to see my grandfather, but I don’t know if I’m ready to face the craziness of Southern California.”

 “Going back and facing a past mistake or embarrassment is never easy.” Liv’s voice was kind and she reached out and placed a hand on her shoulder. “But you are stronger than you realize. And your family needs you even if they don’t realize it.”

Emilia perched on her desk. “My grandfather is the creative genius behind Berceto. Without him, it may be too difficult to stage a comeback.”

Liv met her gaze. “Emilia, you are immensely talented. I know you have inherited his genius with design.”

 “I know they love me, but for whatever reason I can’t make them happy. They don’t value fame, and speculation in the media is excruciating for them. They value obscurity. Isn’t it strange… to be in the jewelry business and to be completely repulsed by glitter or beauty?” It gave her a sense of peace to finally understand why they behaved as they did. It made it less personal.

Liv tapped a pencil against the desk. “That doesn’t mean you have to shun the spotlight.”

Looking into Liv’s determined face,  Emilia’s spine unfurled. “It’ll be hard to go back. I should have remained in California and dealt with the speculation. Now the media will dredge the story back up, speculating on my self-imposed exile, and it will be just as painful for my parents.”

Liv dismissed her concerns with a wave of her hand. “There is no point in holding onto regrets. Face the media vultures.”

Emilia looked sharply at her friend.

Liv’s voice rose. “Just brazen it out. You are a beautiful girl. Refuse to comment and let people think what they will.”

AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Susie Warren writes contemporary romance. Besides being an avid reader, she spends much of her free time crafting intense and complex stories about falling in love. When she is not writing, Susie works as an administrator in a small, independent school while caring for three teenagers and keeping tabs on her inventor husband. With the launching of her first book, The Forgotten Heiress, she has slowly begun to navigate the social media realm.

Susie loves to hear from readers and responds to each email and Facebook post. Please reach out to her via Facebook at or Twitter @susiecwarren

For more information on her upcoming releases, new excerpts and other related postings, or to sign up for free promotions, please visit

The Rosa Legacy Series

The first novel in The Rosa Legacy series, Ruthless Perfection, started with the idea of a traditional Italian mother who wanted her only daughter happily married. The mother, Carla Rosa Neri, along with her two sisters, Francesca and Marie, had emigrated from Italy as young girls and each went off to create a dynamic and successful family.

Each of the sisters had an only daughter and they made sure the girls spent time together. They attended the same boarding school in the northeast and visited each other’s homes in the summer.

Ruthless Perfection

Carla Rosa married into the Neri family with a long history in the Carrara marble industry. Her daughter, Isabel Neri, being a filmmaker and wanting to honor her grandfather’s legacy, approaches a reclusive billionaire, Marc Santoro, to ask permission to produce a documentary about the life of a quarry worker. Ruthless Perfection is the story of how they fall in love.

The Exiled Jeweler

Francesca Rosa married into the Berceto family with a long history in the jewelry making business. The Second novel in The Rosa Legacy series, The Exiled Jeweler, is about her daughter, Emelia, who went into seclusion after a scandal tore the family apart. Emelia is a talented jewelry designer who lived a sheltered life and was drawn into a passionate encounter with her family’s rival, Alexander Armati at a gala. Outside in the garden, photographs were taken on them and sold to the tabloid press. Her family was shocked and embarrassed and sent Emelia off to Florida. Four years later, she returns when her grandfather has a heart attack and her parents are deciding to sell the family business.

The Convenient Wedding

Marie Rosa married into the prominent Montgomery family, with a successful background in politics. Her only daughter, Lucia, is fascinated by politics and becomes a campaign aide. The opportunity to work on a senate campaign in Connecticut draws her into the middle of a scandal. Anderson Adams is a dark horse in the senate race yet convinces Lucia to play along with a strategy to save his campaign. The third novel in The Rosa Legacy series, The Convenient Wedding, is the story about how they reconcile their public image with their private life. The Convenient Wedding will be available in February 2015.

Susie will be awarding a Vintage Books Smartphone Case to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. This plastic hard case features a nostalgic photo of book spines of popular books. It’s scratch resistant – made from polycarbonate used for motorcycle helmets. Full colour, high quality image is printed all over the case, available for iPhone 4/4S, iPhone 5, and Samsung Galaxy S3.

An Out of Print Poe-ka Dots iPhone Case will be awarded to a randomly drawn host. It fits iPhone 5 and 5S (or similar case depending on phone). A smart design combines a face of Edgar Allan Poe with a fashionable polka dots pattern. On the inside there is a quote “Calleth the Raven, “Nevermore.” The snap-on, hard shell case is a part of Out of Print collection with iconic book covers. (US ONLY)
The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Queen of Clubs: Cora by Katie de Long Main Characters & Giveaway

The exotic dancers and employees of the Queen of Clubs walk a fine line, with only wits, beauty, and market savvy to keep them from toppling into the shark pit. Ride shotgun through lapdances, romance, and sexual awakenings. Don't worry, these girls won't ask what your hands are doing under the tip rail.

Cora, an adventurous student, finds herself auditioning for a stripping gig...and it comes with more than the asking price, including a very attractive DJ.

Queen of Clubs contains adult content, and is intended for mature readers. Each Queen of Clubs title is a standalone novella length work.

Katie de Long's Fracture Point Perspective on Main Characters:
Queen of Clubs encompasses standalone stories, each one containing a romantic or erotic arc before moving on to a different character's arc. At this point, I've written probably twenty different stories for the series, plus for my other series. And when you're cycling through points of view this fast, it can be a different working.

The first thing is an awareness of how they fit into the bigger picture, since these stories all share the same setting. Sometimes it's cause-and-effect. A side character in a different story needs to take the spotlight, to deal with fallout from a different story. This has gotten to be more and more the case as I've continued Queen of Clubs, since at this point, I have a stable of probably 40-50 dancers and staff moving in the background, and reacting, or engaging a different main character in conversation that really should affect them. The series can propagate itself forever this way, just focusing on those characters. And I add more pretty regularly as needed, to have them positioned and established when I want them.

But in the beginning, it was much vaguer. I didn't have all of that back history to draw on. So instead, I found myself focusing more on key interests, and the superficial aspects of the character, and using that to draw the other experiences that would need to be in their background to define their carriage and outward presentation. I'd start by putting together a playlist that that character would either dance to, or feel friction about not being allowed to dance to, if it was not clubworthy. I'd move on into makeup, costuming, hustle techniques. Someone with a really assertive won't-take-no lapdance hustle is less likely to be someone who has severe social anxiety.

I might find one defining experience for them, write a sample scene with that, and then analyze the writing to look for everything else that would define their character, particularly psychological fracture points, the make-it-or-break-it ideas that define that particular character's experience and struggle. For Cora, it was her exhibitionism, the way that she rebelled to others treating her body as something to be hidden or managed. The rest of her personality-- the attraction to stripping, the dislike of authority, the desire to face the world on her own terms, entirely grew out of that moment when she realized her body was a liability, both personally and professionally, and promised she'd find some way to change that. For her, stripping, having people look at her and accept her-- sometimes even glorify her-- for her body is something that she's denied elsewhere, and that's the key to her confidence in other regards. She's very young, largely unformed, but that willingness to see how far she can go is something that can only have knock-down effects in the rest of her life.
Contrast that with the dancer who follows her in the second Queen of Clubs novella, Malia, for whom exotic dancing is a result of being shut out of the kind of performance she really loves-- ballet-- due to an injury. It's a second best, but she'll still fight to not be separated from it. Her standoffishness toward club policy on footwear, her willingness to look at the club not as some happy facilitator, but as another entity looking to take things away from her... She's defensive, a little volatile, a troublemaker, and entirely too willing to cut everything else out of her life, but it all comes down to that lost love. And that means that she doesn't have to be crass about it-- she can be polite, a lady in carriage and costuming, but also have that aggressiveness, where she feels that her stage time is threatened. She accepts people's stares for her body, because that's the closest she gets to earning them for her dance abilities, and because they remind her of parts of herself she is unable to access any other way.

And then contrast that with Tori, the third dancer in the series, for whom the dance isn't the thing, nor is the adulation. For her, it's a control issue. She dances because there's no way in hell she can ascribe to “the customer is always right” well enough to want or keep a regular job, though she has the talents and education for it. Sometimes, the customer is just an asshole. She chooses to dance because it enables her to pick clients who are likeminded, and set her own parameters. The fact that the men who like her are also ones who see beauty or sensuality in being dominated by a woman doesn't hurt, either. One you realize that she's there to enjoy a world defined only by her boundaries, and not just the sexual ones, it opens up a world of conflicts, where she sees others telling her what to do-- be it family, club management drawing their own lines, regulars or customers pushing for more than she's willing to offer...

When I look into a character, I try to find that one thing that drives them, first and foremost. Sometimes it can take a few sample scenes, or a more thorough examination of the planned conflict (I'm a plotter.) But most of the time, it comes pretty easily. The best plotted story in the world means nothing if you can't find those fracture points to be able to sculpt a reaction and let your character shatter.

I steeled myself, and tapped his shoulder. He jumped, his elbow knocking me back against the wall as he tumbled off the stool into me. In my platforms, I barely kept my footing. I had practiced walking in them for two hours after I bought them, and I had to guess that practice was the only reason I was still on my feet.

“Shit, shit, sorry. Are you okay?” He looked up at me as he got his feet back under him, and prepared to stand. His head was entirely too close to my hips in the tiny space, and I chuckled, imagining him as a giant spider preparing to tie me up. I loved awkward guys. Guys with rough edges, who were interesting to look at not because they were beautiful, but because they were unique. Under other circumstances, Kirk would have been right up my alley. Maybe literally in an alley.

AUTHOR Bio and Links: 
Katie de Long lives in the Pacific northwest, realizing her dream of being a crazy cat-lady. As a kid, Katie flagged the fade-to-blacks in every adult book she encountered, and when she began writing, she vowed to use cutaways sparingly. After all, that's when the good stuff happens. And on a kindle, no one asks why there's so many bookmarks in her library.

Stay in touch with Katie:

Buy Cora:

Queen of Clubs is currently published monthly. Visit for preorder and purchase links, or sign up for the mailing list, to be notified when new titles are available.
Katie de Long will offer a signed paperback of Queen of Clubs: Cora and a swag pendant to one randomly selected commenter and will offer a signed paperback of Queen of Clubs: Cora and a swag pendant to a randomly drawn host (US only).
The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:
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Monday, February 23, 2015

Of Love and Vengeance by Louise Lyndon Creating Setting & Giveaway

Forced to marry Lord Aymon to ensure her young nephew’s survival, English Lady Laila vows undying hatred for the Norman she holds responsible for the deaths of so many innocents. Discovering Aymon has committed an act of treason gives her the chance to seek vengeance he deserves.  But can Laila let Aymon die at the hands of the king once she learns the truth?

A hardened Norman warrior, Lord Aymon has lived through atrocities no man ever should. With the invasion of England over, all he wants is a quiet life and a wife who will give him heirs and obey his every command. Instead, he finds himself wed to feisty and outspoken Laila. But when she learns the truth of his treasonous act, can Aymon count on her to keep his secret?

Creating Setting:
Many years ago, when I first started learning the craft of writing, someone said to me, ‘treat your setting like you would any other character in your story’. At first, I didn’t exactly understand what was meant by that. After all, is setting really that important? Do we really need to give it as much attention as our hero and heroine’s character? Yes, and yes. We do.
You see, setting isn’t just about where the story takes place. Setting, and its characteristics, can really add dimension to your scene and story as a whole. What do I mean by this?
Well, take a forest for example. Yes, it’s full of trees, and you could easily leave it at that. But, a forest is so much more than that. Let’s use the five scenes to create a character for our forest.
Think about what you would see in a forest. There are wild mushrooms, sap crusts, spider webs, and thick underbrush, to name but a few.
What would you hear in a forest? Squawking birds, groaning trees, animal screeches, or the scrabbling of lizards on tree bark. Think back to the last time you were in the forest. What did you hear?
Personally, I love the smell of a forest. It’s richly scented with wild flowers, and the minty, pine, honey scent of eucalyptus trees. But, the forest can also smell unpleasant. There are stagnant pools of water, dead animals, and the foul smell of animal dung.
What about the taste of a forest? Now, before you run off into the forest, in the name of research, to find out the tastes of a forest, just be careful not to pop random berries or leaves into your mouth for obvious reasons! Think about what can be found in the forest? What does a mushroom taste like? Are berries sweet or sour?  And what would pine needle tea taste like?
Have you ever ran through a forest? What did the leaves feel like as they brushed against your sleeveless arms, or as you brushed up against the rough bark of a tree? How does the soft forest breeze feel against your heated skin, or the hot, muggy, thick unmoving air, that makes your clothes stick to your body?
Of course, the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches of a forest in winter will be greatly different to a forest in summer, or spring, or autumn. They will even be different between morning, noon and evening. And do not get me started on a forest in the dead of night. SPOOKY!
Do you see, just by really thinking about each of the senses, our forest that is just full of trees, really takes on a life of its own? It comes alive and your readers will feel as if they are there in the forest with your characters.
One last point. As a rule of thumb, I tend to use at least two (three if possible) of the five senses in every scene.
Here is an example from my own writing. This piece is taken from my latest release, Of Love and Vengeance.
The sun was warm on Laila’s back, and she closed her eyes and sighed as the cool, clean crisp water slipped over her bare feet. The mud, sticky and thick, squished between her curled toes. The low hum of insects and trill of birds filled the otherwise quiet clearing.
She stood poised in the middle of the stream, her skirts hitched up around her thighs and her bow and arrow at the ready, as she waited for tonight’s evening meal to swim by. She winced as the sharp edge of a rock bit into the fleshy under sole of her foot. But she did not dare move.
Now, I could have very easily written the scene as:
She stood poised in the middle of the stream, her bow and arrow at the ready, as she waited for tonight’s evening meal to swim by.
See the difference, aside from the increased word count!
Why not pick out a scene you’re currently working on and think about the setting. How many of the five senses have you used? Can you add more depth to your scene by getting to know your setting?
If you’re feeling brave, why not share a paragraph or two that clearly shows the characteristics of your setting by using at least three of the five senses?
Happy writing!

Laila heard them long before she saw them. Their angry, frenzied shouts and thunderous roars filled her ears. With her hands tied securely behind her, she was dragged up the lane toward Tyburn Gallows, where she was to be hanged for a crime she did not commit. The mob sounded blood thirsty. Large. Frightening.

There was no sign of Aymon. Or Hugh. Had they left her alone to die?

Her chin trembled and her nails dug into her palms.

She suddenly fell to her knees and screamed until she tasted blood at the back of her throat. She kicked out and tried to crawl free as her hair was almost torn from the roots as she was pulled up and shoved along the lane.

Her eyes burned with her tears.

“I am innocent!” Laila screamed.

They came around a corner, and that’s when she saw them. There must have been a least two thousand men, women, and children, hungry for her blood. And when they saw her, they erupted into a wild fever of roars and cries for a slow and painful death. Their thirst had been piqued, and now it must be sated.

Laila was shoved into the center of the clearing.

She glanced wildly around in a desperate search for Aymon’s towering, bulky frame. She could not see him.

But what she could see was the Tyburn Tree. The gallows she was to be hanged from. The executioner, hooded, stood beside the tree as he waited patiently for her. Laila’s mouth suddenly went dry.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Louise grew up in country Victoria, Australia, before moving to England, where for sixteen years she soaked up the vibrancy of London and the medieval history of England. She has since returned to Australia and now lives in Melbourne.

She has been writing the moment she picked up a copy of Diana Gabaldon's first Outlander novel twenty something years ago. She thought to herself, 'this is what I want to do' - not travel back in time, but become a novelist! She has always had snippets of dialogue and scenes floating around in her head with characters screaming at her to bring them to life.

In 2013, Louise won first prize in the Crested Butte Sandy Writing contest – Historical category for her story, The Promise, which is now called, Of Love and Vengeance.

When not writing, she can be found covered in mud, crawling under barbed wire and hoisting herself over twelve foot walls - under the guise of competing in Spartan races all over Australia.


Pinterest: llyndon3513



Louise will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn host.
The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: 
a Rafflecopter giveaway