Here’s a puzzle to enjoy while I’m away! Un-puzzle it and send me good vibes!
Each man has had his own personal experience with danger.
Now they are guardians of your safety and always there when you need them.
Finding Redemption is Book #5
Her son was kidnapped and there is no trace of him anywhere. The one man who can help her is wrapped in his own dark misery. Can she convince him to help?
She shook herself at the sound of Josh’s voice.
Lisa looked at the man across from her. She’d seen him a few times, in very brief situations, but this was the first time she’d had the chance to study him.
At thirty-eight he looked at least ten years older. He had thick black hair peppered with grey, worn long enough that he tied it back with a leather thong. His beard looked more like the result of not shaving rather than a deliberate plan, and dissolution had added extra flesh around the jaw line and pouches under his eyes. His skin was an unhealthy, ruddy color, probably from the amount of alcohol she heard he drank with regularity. Although he carried a few extra pounds, she bet that in his best days, he was lean and mean.
If this were, as the fairy tales said, once upon a time—before Charles had killed any interest she had in men and before Ethan Caine had destroyed himself—she could see herself being drawn to him. Now he just offended her, and she resented any latent spark of attraction he ignited in her.
But then she saw his eyes and something stabbed at her. Although they were alert, studying both the Taylors and his surroundings at the same time, they were a bottomless black filled with so much pain it hurt to look at them. What had this man seen and done that caused that much personal misery? Was this the kind of man she could trust to find her son?
She shook herself at the sound of Josh’s voice. “I’m sorry. My mind tends to wander these days.” She pasted what she was sure was a grotesque mockery of a smile on her face. “Than you very much for coming, Mr. Caine.”
“Ethan. Don’t thank me yet.” His voice was deep but not smooth, more like the scraping sound of gravel falling on cement. “Right now we’re just having lunch.”
“That’s true.” She nodded, willing her hands to stop their incessant tremors.
“So, why don’t we order and you can tell me what this little meet and greet is all about.”
Find all Buy links here:
Book #1 Moving Target
Book #2 Silencing Memories
Book #3 Killing Lies
Book #4 Running Scared
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I’m heading off to join a writers’ retreat! I’ll be away Saturday to Saturday, but have no fear! I have guests lined up who will keep you entertained while I’m away! I’ll poke my head in now and then—I can’t help myself. However, the focus for the next week will be WRITING, something that has taken a backseat over the last months, what with all the turmoil (my father’s loss, illnesses in the family, etc.) in my personal life and my heavy editing schedule.
I’ll be working on a SEAL book, writing my little stubby fingers into stubbier little nubs. I’ll post a puzzle, a contest, just to keep you coming back, but remember, I’ll have guests! Make sure they feel welcome, y’all!
I’ll be joined this week by my sister, Elle James, Cynthia D’Alba, Parker Kinkade, and Mandy Harbin. I’m sure there will be lots of great food, a few drinks, and tons of brainstorming! My MacAir will get a workout!
So, here’s me bidding you adieu, but not for long! Wish me luck with the words!
How can a writer cope when her publisher closes? Over a span of fewer than four years, three long-running publishers have folded under me. Fortunately, I found an excellent new home for one batch of horror, fantasy, and paranormal romance novels (plus my nonfiction monograph Different Blood: The Vampire as Alien) with Writers Exchange E-Publishing. They don’t handle erotic romance, though, so what to do with the stories, novellas, and one erotic paranormal romance novel originally released by Ellora’s Cave? That’s where the Kindle self-publishing program came to the rescue, and I found it surprisingly easy to navigate, even for a non-techie person. I’ve sometimes used the Amazon cover creator and sometimes covers designed for me by a friend, with free stock images.
Publisher closure has at least one advantage to offset the negatives: The opportunity to edit older material to correct small errors, update obsolete references (if desired—in some cases, I’ve thought it better to keep a story set in its original time period), and make any other needed adjustments. For instance, I’m revising my erotic paranormal romances to tone down the level of graphic sexuality from erotic to spicy or steamy. Also, I’m deleting words that used to be labeled “unprintable” (in my youth, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth), many of which I didn’t care for anyway, but the publisher assured me readers of erotic romance expected them. Addressing a different type of issue, I realized that the portrayal of a walk-on character in one of my early vampire novels was rather cringe-worthy, and I was thankful for the chance to fix the problem. A scene in another vampire novel contained elements that might have seemed physically implausible, which I tweaked in accordance with research I’ve done since the original writing.
In addition to publishers going out of business, I’ve been hit by online magazines shutting down and anthologies going out of print, venues where I’d expected my works—given the long life of electronic media—to remain available into the indefinite future. So I’ve compiled two collections of my stories from the webzines Sorcerous Signals and Lorelei Signal and the Marion Zimmer Bradley estate’s “Sword and Sorceress” anthologies.
Harvest of Magic:
Wanting to present those two volumes as sort of companion books, I used the same Amazon stock cover image for both.
Another thing I’m free to do with stories and novellas now under my control is to combine related or similar works into themed collections. For example, Vampire Heat bundles two novellas in my “Vanishing Breed” vampire series that focus on characters from the novels Dark Changeling and Child of Twilight—although these novellas can easily be read on their own with no knowledge of the novels—along with a third, stand-alone story in the same universe.
Earlier this year, in a completely unexpected move, the publisher of my first vampire novel, Dark Changeling, and its direct sequel, Child of Twilight (which had taken over the books from their original publisher, Hard Shell Word Factory), announced its closing. After light editing to correct some flaws in those older books, I combined them in a two-novel omnibus called Twilight’s Changelings:
My one full-length erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave, Love Unleashed, was a paranormal novel about a man cursed into the shape of a Saint Bernard, aside from a few hours in human form each night. I toned down the explicitness of the sex scenes a bit but otherwise left the book substantially the same. It was published recently enough that the technology mentioned in the story wasn’t blatantly outdated. I enjoyed being able to include a new cover, because I wasn’t really satisfied with the original one. My husband and I have owned several Saint Bernards, and the dog the artist chose for the EC cover wasn’t a particularly good-looking specimen of the breed. I like the image on the current cover much better. Also, I changed the title. It’s mind-boggling how many books listed on Amazon have the title Love Unleashed! My novel is now called Enchantment Unleashed, which, as far as I could discover, is unique.
My next self-publishing Kindle project will be a themed collection of former Ellora’s Cave novellas, all featuring heroes who are shapeshifters or otherwise a blend of animal and human. Since “Beauty and the Beast” is my favorite fairy tale, and a couple of those stories actually follow the plot pattern of that tale, I plan to title the compilation Beasts and Their Beauties.
Although losing a publisher is often a severe blow, preparing older works for re-release can actually be rather fun.
Please explore love among the monsters at Carter’s Crypt: http://www.margaretlcarter.com
All over the U.S. we will be enjoying various kinds of fireworks displays on July 4th.
Fireworks were not unknown during the Georgian/Regency eras, and were used for grand effect in public celebrations in London.
Green Park was readied for a grand fireworks display in 1763 to celebrate the Treaty of Paris, which ended the French and Indian War in North America. Green Park was also used for a national park in 1746 to celebrate the end of the War of Hanoverian. The royal family arranged a great fireworks display and commissioned the composer, Handel, to write music for the Royal Fireworks. A vast Temple of Peace was built in the park to store the fireworks. But early on a stray rocket hit the temple. Three people died and 10,000 fireworks were destroyed in the fire that followed.
Another cause for creating massive fireworks was the long reign of George III. How spectacular these illuminations must have seemed extravagent to people at a time when candlelight was rare and expensive.
When the Napoleonic Wars came to an end, famed rope walker, Madame Saqui, could finally cross the English Channel in 1816 to perform at Vauxhall Gardens for the first time.
‘In the midst of a great burst of fireworks, Bengal lights glimmering faintly in the clouds of smoke, Madame Saqui stands on a rope, sixty feet up, and follows a narrow and difficult path to the end of her journey. Sometimes she is completely hidden from all eyes by the billowing waves, but from the way she walks, so self-assured, one would think an Immortal was walking peacefully towards her celestial home.’
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!
To Gamble on an Earl
The Men of Waterloo Series – Book Two
Evan, the Earl of Foxington, had only one mistress, Lady Luck. When she deserted him at the Battle of Hougomont he was left scarred in more ways than one.
Lady Phoebe Collins has loved Foxington since she and her best friend, his sister, dogged his footsteps as children. When she received a request from him for a tryst at a ball, what seemed to be the answer to her dreams turned out to be a nightmare.
Will Foxington be able to overcome the thrill of gambling to earn Phoebe’s trust? Will Phoebe ever learn to feel safe enough to love again?
Lady Phoebe Collins backed into the alcove, stopping when she bumped against the floral wallpaper. She was safely hidden in the shadows, away from the ballroom and its dancing couples. She took the note from her reticule and her heart skipped a beat as she read the words written in a strong hand, “Meet me in the sitting room, two doors beyond the stairs, at half past eleven. —Fox.”
Putting the note back into her reticule, she smiled at the familiar form of address in the signature and moved down the hall to the specified room. Why did Foxington want to meet her? Was he having regrets about what had happened when they’d been snowed in on Christmas Eve? Or was he planning to continue what they’d started on that magical night? His nickname, “The Fox” implied an intimate relationship, and her pulse fluttered again at the thought. She walked down the hall, her mind going over every detail of the night they were trapped together by a snowstorm one year earlier.
Foxington approached offering to escort her home after a dinner party where Ravenstone had surprised everyone by asking Lady Lettice Durham, Foxington’s sister to marry him. The trip home had gone terribly wrong, an unexpected storm piling so much snow on the road that they’d had to unhitch the horses and finish the journey to Elkhorn Hall on horseback.
Foxington had taken her up behind him, and the intimacy of the situation had encompassed them, lingering after they’d arrived and been cared for by the intrepid housekeeper, Mrs. Brown. Food and dry clothing had been provided for everyone, including Foxington’s aunt, who had also been in the carriage as chaperone.
After Foxington’s aunt departed the room, Phoebe walked around the space, picking up pillows from the sofa and fluffing them, only to put one down before picking up another.
“I would say this evening was a success in regards to Lady Lettice and Lord Ravenstone. You accomplished what you set out to do. Your sister is now betrothed, and to a fine gentleman.” Phoebe looked up at Foxington with a smile.
The earl moved swiftly toward Phoebe, reached for the pillow she was holding to her chest, and threw it back onto the sofa before placing one arm around her waist. He cupped her cheek, bent down, and kissed her.
The urgency in his kiss surprised them both, and for a moment she didn’t react. Then, as if giving in to some inner debate her body relaxed against his, she returned the pressure of his lips, and her legs moved against the confines of her gown to arch slightly against him.
He paused slightly, then kissed her once more, gently. He set her back from him with his arms stiff and his breathing ragged.
“Phoebe?” he asked softly, his deep voice thick. With concern, she’d thought.
She stared at him, realizing he was just as shocked as she at their encounter.
“You—you kissed me,” she whispered.
“I certainly did.” A devilish grin quirked at his lips. “And by all accounts you kissed me back. Care for another one?”
From The Author
I have been reading romance novels since the age of fourteen and never turned back. I have my Mom to thank for my interest in romance novels and my Dad for my love of history.
When I am not reading (or writing the stories which dance around in my head) I enjoy the joyful moments with my growing family, the ballet, long walks, travel and romantic movies.
Writing has always been a great passion of mine and I am glad to be doing what I like best. Connecting with readers is a bright spot and always a happy moment for me knowing my books touched someone and they took the time to let me know. Each and every reader is the reason I continue to write Regency Historical romances and you are the ones who keep me at it.
Visit Me At:
Something special for you patriotic puzzlers…
My latest book, Colton’s Mistaken Identity, is Book 7 in the Coltons of Roaring Springs series from Harlequin Romantic Suspense. While each book in the series is standalone, meaning you don’t have to read any of the previous, it’s a richer read when you have. My heroine is an identical twin and poses as her (missing? kidnapped?) twin during a film festival in the idyllic setting of Roaring Springs, Colorado. Phoebe works at her parent’s Chateau resort, giving the setting a very Aspen/French Alps feel. Phoebe is attracted to the bigtime movie star Prescott Reynolds, but can’t even contemplate a sexy rendezvous or two, not with her sister’s mysterious disappearance and the festival to run. Of course, lots of scary suspense and life-threatening action ensues, along with intimate, intense sexy times. It’s why it’s called romantic suspense. What keeps me happily writing Harlequin Romantic Suspense is the depth of characters and the emotional honesty of their relationships. I hope you’ll enjoy them, too.
Colton’s Mistaken Identity
The wrong twin…or the right one?
A Coltons of Roaring Springs romance
Marketing exec Skye Colton suddenly disappears, putting the Roaring Springs Film Festival in jeopardy. Enter Skye’s identical twin, Phoebe, who poses as her sister. In her starring role, Phoebe catches the eye of A-list actor Prescott Reynolds, and she can’t deny the electricity that erupts between them. With Skye still missing and a stalker at large, this is the worst time to fall in love, especially with danger racing toward them…
A flash of red, the distinct shade he’d first laid eyes on this morning in the copse of aspen trees, caught his attention. The same woman he’d seen on the trail walked past him and began to climb the stairs to the grand ballroom. He knew where the impressive stairs led, as he’d already memorized the layout of the hotel. His privacy had necessitated he know every nook and cranny to escape to if the paparazzi became rabid.
She wasn’t in running clothes any longer, and her hair was styled to show off the unique hue. From her profile he saw that she was wearing makeup, a little much for his taste, but he was used to being around women who enjoyed dolling themselves up. It was all part of being an actor.
This woman intrigued him when she shouldn’t. And yet as she’d walked by, oblivious to him, he’d caught a whiff of floral perfume that captured him like a trout in a net. The sight of her profile again, this time with makeup on and offset by the backdrop of the luxurious resort, struck a chord deep inside him. Prescott wasn’t a stranger to immediate attraction but this took it to a new place for him. Besides the obvious physical pull of her beauty, he sensed the potential for something deeper, more meaningful, between them.
What the heck was going on with him?
She wasn’t wearing anything exciting, and her business suit didn’t show off her curves as well as her workout clothing had. Still, in the view he had of her backside, there was no denying her very feminine shape under the jacket and dress pants. Insta-lust made him pause, not wanting to get an erection in public.
You’ve been alone too long.
After what he’d been through with his ex, he knew better than to even look twice at this stunning woman. But he couldn’t help himself. Truth be told, he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her. Nor how relieved he’d felt when he’d realized she wasn’t trailing him. It was always in the back of his mind that Ariella could show up again, and her penchant for ugliness wasn’t something he relished. He’d been drawn to Ariella’s intelligence and quick wit. And it had worked for a while, until her true nature of career-climbing at the expense of the men in her life reappeared. Or maybe he’d simply come out of his denial about her dark side. Either way, it had been a rough go of it for his dating life ever since.
But the redhead… His gut told him to go after her.
He didn’t entertain the rational side of his brain that told him he was out of his league. That not everyone was impressed by actors, not that he ever consciously used his job or status to seduce a woman. He believed more in allowing an attraction to grow organically.
This inexplicable urge to talk to the stranger, the only redhead he’d seen at The Chateau, was definitely organic on his part. But would she think he was odd?
What if she wasn’t available? Preston stopped midway up the staircase. He hadn’t even considered that she might be with someone already. Hell, she could even be married.
Prescott hadn’t had to go after a woman in years. And he missed it. The constant attention from the opposite sex had been heady when he’d arrived in Hollywood and been cast in his first roles ten, twelve years ago. But it quickly grew old, and he didn’t want to spend time with someone who only saw him as an actor. The redhead clearly worked here or had a role to play in the film fest, so she was probably used to celebrities. Would she see past the Caribbean-blue eyes that had become his trademark? Not that he’d ever expected to be known for his eyes. His dream wasn’t even so much to be recognized for his acting as to be give the opportunities to bring meaningful roles to life. He wasn’t a fan of the celebrity culture that came with it but he understood it was all part of the gig.
Except when he wanted a woman to see him as more than a contender for a tabloid’s annual sexiest man.
He walked through open, massive carved oak doors and into the hotel’s pièce de résistance—the grand ballroom. The floor was entirely parquet but covered with a huge red carpet that ran into its center, where the area delineated for dancing remained clear. Hundreds if not a full thousand round tables framed the open area, the crystal chandeliers catching the fading sunlight, their bulbs still dim. Soon they’d be bright and the room a cacophony of press, actors, studio executives and the teams of people it took to make it all happen.
It was that rare quiet moment before a major event launched. Right now it was hushed as workers rapidly set tables and moved last-minute lighting equipment into place. A DJ set up in a far corner of the room, her control panel as large as any he’d ever seen in a concert. But in another hour and a half, it would burst to life with an entirely different personality.
Prescott liked the quiet anticipation before an event. As much as he enjoyed the slow build of desire as he met and wooed a woman into his bed.
The redhead stood alone in the middle of the room, silently moving her lips as she read from her phone. Her running clothes were gone but she hadn’t upgraded her look that much, wearing easy black pants and a simple pale pink silk shell. Her skin was dewy, and as he’d already noticed she liked her makeup heavy, but on her stunning features it only emphasized her beauty.
His running shoes, silent on the plush carpet, hit the parquet floor, and a loud squeak sounded. The woman gasped as she startled and dropped her phone onto the carpet. Her caramel-brown eyes lasered in on him, and he knew how a bug felt under a magnifying glass. But it was more like an ant under a sunbeam as heat immediately flared in his chest, rushing toward his groin. The woman was so damned beautiful, from her glorious red hair to her full lush lips, down to her full breasts and hips. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been so smitten, from the get-go.
Because you never have been.
He held up his hands. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.” He bent down and retrieved her phone, on which he saw notes displayed before he handed it back to her.
“I-I’m not…scared.” She cleared her throat, and he had to consciously force his gaze from the creamy skin of her neck to her eyes. He swore he already knew what she’d taste like, how her soft skin would give under the pressure of his lips.
“What can I do for you?” She’d been surprised by his appearance but recovered quickly. The immediate shock in her brown eyes was already replaced by cool assessment. Yup, definitely someone used to working with celebrities. And not easily impressed, he’d guess.
“I know who you are, Mr. Reynolds. Is there something you need before tonight’s premiere?” Her tone burst with brusque efficiency, but all he could see was the way her pink-glossed lips formed the words.
“You didn’t notice, but this morning we were both on the hiking trail.”
“You mean the running path?” She bit her lower lip, and her cheeks flushed under the makeup. Why did she have an expression of guilt on her feminine features? “Sorry, but I’m not a runner. You must have seen my twin sister, Phoebe. She, ah, goes for a few miles every morning. I’m more of a night owl. Did you enjoy your time on the property?”
“Yes, of course.” He waved his hand around, motioning at the room. “This entire place is amazing. It’s easy to feel like I’m in the middle of Normandy or Burgundy while I’m here.” Too late he realized what a snob he sounded like. His global travel was a direct privilege of his celebrity status, and the Iowa farm boy inside him cringed at his careless mention of a destination so few ever afforded.
“Thank you. I’ll pass that on to my parents. Is there something else?” There was an air of impatience, no, make that desperation about her as she repeated her question. Maybe she had to practice red carpet introductions, or there had been some last-minute disruptions to the festival’s launch gala.
“Actually, it’s me who’d like to do something for you. What did you say your name was?”
Most women were impressed enough by this point to at least show a spark of appreciation in their gaze. But not this woman. She actually hesitated before she answered, as if reluctant to let him know anything so personal. Talk about the tables being turned.
The warmth in his center from her nearness exploded into something he hadn’t felt in a long while. Joy.
Prescott realized that he’d sorely missed having a woman turn him on his head. Maybe this film festival wasn’t going to be the laborious weeklong junket that he’d resigned himself to.
“I’m Skye Colton, the resort’s marketing director.” She held out a slim hand, and he took it. As they shook he was again distracted, this time by the silky softness of her skin that contrasted sharply with the firmness of her grip. “Pleased to meet you.”
“Not as pleased as I am. Call me Prescott, please.” He loved how she grasped his hand like a boss. She’d be incredible in bed, he instinctively knew. But what stunned him was that he wasn’t interested in that, not right now. Well, maybe he was completely enthralled by how seductive her mere presence was, but he was feeling something very different from first-meet attraction. Something more palpable.
All Prescott wanted was to get to know Skye Colton better. Suddenly his seven-day junket in Roaring Springs felt as if it was already half over. There would never be enough time to know this woman the way he wanted to.
But damned if he wouldn’t give it his best shot.
Phoebe knew she gripped Prescott’s hand too tightly, but to his credit the man didn’t even wince. She’d had no choice, as there was no other way to hide her nervousness. Thank goodness she’d wiped her palm on her pants before she’d shaken his. Otherwise he’d have known how rattled she was.
The photos and films didn’t do this man justice. Not even close. She’d never had a zing of awareness when she’d seen him on the big screen, nor had she grown wet with pure feminine need as she’d watched his performances. Standing so near to him, it was a shock to her that his star status wasn’t at play. She felt as she would with a non-celebrity man she was attracted to. Except her reaction was so far over the top. Between his deep voice, his words that made her feel like she was the only woman in the room, and the confidence in his posture and body language that hinted at his athleticism, her knees felt like her mother’s pepper jelly. All wobbly but with heat washing over her skin, making her want to run away before she did what her hormones were begging for: to kiss Prescott Reynolds right here in the ballroom and tell him to follow her to her room.
This must be what groupies feel like, and why they go after movie and rock stars.
This had to be some kind of sexual overreaction due to the morning’s upheaval caused by Skye’s disappearance.
Prescott flashed his familiar white-toothed I-leave-hearts-crushed-with-every-footstep grin that she recognized from his film promos and it snapped it out of her sexual trance.
It was nothing like the smile she’d witnessed in her favorite work of his—an historical period piece where he’d played a struggling artist amid the French Revolution. While his smile was part of his trademark good looks, as he looked at her, she was aware that there was more to this man than his celebrity. And he knew how to turn it on and off, not a virtue of many people she’d met who lived in the spotlight.
“Okay, then. Nice to meet you, Prescott.”
“Nice to meet you, too, Skye.” Phoebe didn’t like lying, ever, yet as she stood in the middle of the grand ballroom, her hair and makeup perfectly done in Skye’s signature style, it was surprisingly easy to fall into the role. Save for Skye’s effervescent presence. And extreme comfort around attractive, powerful men.
“You must be very excited for tonight. I’ll be announcing each of you, I mean the VIPs, as you arrive.” She’d watched from the sidelines as her twin had handled actors over the past three years since they’d both left college. Skye made it look so easy, but Phoebe was drained at the mere thought of having to play “happy to meet you” with countless actors.
He shrugged, his tall, muscular frame formidable in measure but his energy anything but. He made her feel as though she were the only person he wanted to be with. No doubt all part of his practiced Hollywood charm.
“It’s a thrill to know the world’s going to finally see something I worked so hard on, but to be frank, I left this film’s set almost a year ago. My mind is on other…projects.”
She couldn’t help but laugh, his flirting was so obvious. “I’ll bet it is.” It seemed silly, but she went ahead and batted her eyes anyway. And immediately felt like Skye. She wanted to tell him that she wasn’t really her twin, please forgive her, and would he call her Phoebe?
But she couldn’t. So she smiled, content to soak up his aura of good cheer as pseudo-Skye.
He smiled back, but it wasn’t the predatory grin of a man on the prowl. She’d watched plenty of actors behave poorly over the years, and this wasn’t it. Prescott seemed relaxed, and there was a special light in his eyes that she couldn’t attribute to the chandeliers, as they weren’t fully lit yet. She didn’t know the man, but if she had to name it, she’d say he was happy. A man in his element. Exactly where he wanted to be.
About the Author
Geri Krotow is the bestselling author of the Silver Valley PD series for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, and the Bayou Bachelors series with Kensington Lyrical Caress. A U.S. Naval Academy graduate and Intelligence Officer, Geri left her Navy career to pursue writing. Geri enjoys creating sexy contemporary romances and tingling suspense.
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