Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019
UPDATE: The winners is…Booklady!
Click on the covers to learn more about these stories!
Have you read the books in my Beaux Rêve Coven series? The covers are gorgeous, aren’t they? (Thanks, sis!) If you love witches and trolls and werewolves and vampires, and…well, all those lovely beings who inhabit paranormal worlds, you won’t want to miss these stories. I have two more books planned in the series, and hope to get them both out before the end of the year. In the meantime, enjoy an excerpt from Wolf Moon Rising, and comment below for a chance to win a copy of one of the BRC books!
Wolf Moon Rising
In Jefferson Parish, deep in the bayou, is a place called Bonne Nuit. Off the beaten path, isolated by swamp and connected to the sea, there the Beaux Rêve Coven thrives.
Five witches…Too many demons to count…
Aoife is the flightiest of the sister witches, and she has a secret, one her mother warned her to keep close to her heart. Her father was a fairy—which explains her quirkiness and her affinity for flowers. She lives in a cabin on stilts that juts into the bayou, and one of her demon guardians is a werewolf. She’s attracted, but how would he feel if he married her, fathered a child, and that child disappeared into the land of the fae? Desperate to find a solution to her dilemma, she flees her guardian’s protection. Her last hope is to enlist her father’s help. Plead her case. Her happiness, and that of her one true love, Sigurd, depends on whether she can escape this fairy curse.
For Sigurd, acting as guardian to the witch, Aoife, was both a blessing and curse. A blessing, because he’d never known anyone as innocent and pure, and a woman who truly didn’t know her own allure. A curse, because he had to guard her against his own lustful nature.
And again, he was thankful two other demons were assigned the protection detail, because more than anything, he wanted her kept safe. However, he was equally annoyed at having two competitors for her affection.
Of course, many more among the demons living around Bonne Nuit aspired to hear the “echo” of their bonding with a witch. Such a bonding brought power to the lucky demon—and demons were greedy about that sort of thing. They frequented Aoife’s small cabin poised on long stilts above the bayou on the flimsiest of excuses. One needed a fragrant oil to help him sleep. Another needed a healing balm to soothe a bruise. And they were constantly underfoot in her garden and her workshop, interfering more than helping—at least, to his mind.
However, Aoife appeared blissfully unaware of the males’ attempts at garnering her exclusive attention. Her radiant smile flashed indiscriminately upon her pursuers, never mind their unsuitability as possible mates. And despite the fact they’d done nothing to earn the right to call her wife.
Unlike Sigurd, who suffered her proximity and who stood ready to serve her in any way she pleased. Who quietly stood guard over her while she slept, losing his sleep and his pride because she slumbered so soundly, completely unaware of his constant state of arousal.
Sigurd wasn’t naturally a patient man, but he had withstood the torture of being close day in and out for seven months. He was nearing his breaking point. If something didn’t happen soon, he would press their leader, Ethan, to ask his pretty wife for help. Bryn liked him well enough, always turning to give him a wink when “family” dinners took place, and one of Aoife’s admirers fought for the privilege of sitting at her side. Sigurd preferred to sit across from her at the table anyway—the better to glower at his competition. And perhaps raise a lip in a menacing snarl.
Bryn seemed to be in his corner. Perhaps she would be eager to see her sister witch settled. If something didn’t change soon, he’d speak with her.
On this evening, Sigurd wore his wolfskin and lay curled on the wooden floor beside Aoife’s bed. Just before she’d begun softly snoring, she’d reached down and scratched behind his ears. Probably not an act she was even aware of doing. She was kind to all creatures and seemed especially fond of his wolf form, sometimes taking a brush to his fur or giving him a bath in the large metal tub on the porch. He lived for those moments.
He shook his head in disgust. What a sorry excuse for a wolf he was. Wolves weren’t pets. They were pack animals who needed to belong to a family and a mate. A male needed to dominate his bitch, but he didn’t think Aoife would ever agree to be his bitch.
However, the thought did stretch his wolf’s mouth into a feral grin. He laid his head atop his paws and settled with a disgruntled whine.
Minutes passed, and he was nearly drifting off to sleep when the bed creaked and feet softly lowered to the floor. He perked his ears and pushed up to peer over the mattress, just in time to see Aoife slip through her bedroom door.
He followed, freezing when her steps paused, ducking behind corners when she glanced around. Something was afoot, and his hackles rose when she reached for her cloak and a small bag from the hook beside the front door.
Was she meeting a lover? Or were the witches gathering in secret? Somehow, he doubted the latter because Bryn was very pregnant and couldn’t slide gracefully from Ethan’s bed. And Miren would have to escape three mates, and that could never happen. Which reminded him, where the hell were the other two guards?
When Aoife opened the door and crept outside, closing it behind her, he drew up short. He hadn’t considered how he would exit the house, so he quickly shook free of his wolfskin and strode onto the porch. His glance went to the steps at the side of the porch, but then a sound, a soft splash, pulled his gaze to the canal flowing past her porch. She’d taken a boat. The fact she was already on the water meant she’d been in a hurry.
What the fuck?
Footsteps sounded from inside the house. A door creaked open then slammed shut. So much for stealth. Hamdir, also a wolf, walked to his side, scratching his chest. “Where’s the witch? I was sleeping on the couch. Thought you were watching her.”
“I was.” I watched her escape. “Go back to bed. I have this handled.”
“Sure about that?” Hamdir yawned. “Don’t know how you aren’t dead on your feet. You really ought to let us have turns inside her bedroom.” His large hand patted Sigurd’s shoulder. “Driving to New Orleans in the mornin’, or I’d join you on this hunt,” he said with a waggle of his eyebrows.
His gaze followed Hamdir as he stepped back inside. Their group had grown complacent since Ethan defeated the council’s champion in battle and no retribution had been settled upon their unbanded group. Most presumed the mere presence of so many demons, concentrated in their small town, was deterrent enough to rogue demons seeking to steal a witch for a mate.
Sigurd was reminded he’d have to enlist another guard from among the bachelor demons during Hamdir’s absence.
A cool wind wafted against his skin, raising chill bumps. Early Winter in the bayou was mild, but he couldn’t easily follow Aoife on foot. Instead, Sigurd shifted again and fell to his paws. With a single quick yelp, he leapt past the stairs to the bank. Lifting his nose to the breeze, he followed Aoife’s delicious witch’s scent through the murky, shadowed bayou. If he startled a gator, the bastard better move out of his way.
Aoife drew her paddle into the pirogue and stepped out onto the bank. She hadn’t rowed far, but she worried that her guardians would notice she’d eluded their watch. And that couldn’t happen. Tonight, she needed privacy to commune with the moon, and perhaps, coax a stubborn door to open.
As she stepped into the thick forest, she drew deep, calming breaths. She crushed the carnation she’d secreted into the bag inside the pocket of her cloak and whispered a quick, ineloquent spell.
“Goddess, though I walk alone,
your moon’s rays light my way.
Let nature’s bounty, your gift to us but still your own,
do no harm or deter me along my way.”
Despite her prayer, she glanced around the deepening darkness and hoped she’d recognize the tree when she saw it. The canopy above her allowed only dapples of moonlight through to the forest floor. She’d found the oak only days ago when she’d been searching for moss for a fairy house she was constructing to sell online. No one else would have noted it. The tree was old. Its bark thick and rugged. Although shorter and squatter than the lovely old oak in the open field the witches used for their rituals, this one appeared ancient—much more suited to her task. When she’d rapped on its bark to awaken its spirit, she’d felt the old oak shiver its branches and sensed its anger at her intrusion. Only a grouchy old oak would serve her purpose.
With the picture of the squat oak in her mind, she reached into her right pocket and crushed the dried honeysuckle there, letting its sweet aroma rise around her, and sought the oak with her other sight.
When she again opened her eyes, moonlight gleamed brighter straight ahead. She plunged forward but didn’t note the vine on the forest floor. Her foot snagged and sent her toppling to the ground. As she pushed upright, she thought she heard something rustling in the bushes. Not a small animal. Suspicious, she narrowed her gaze and stared in the direction of the sound, sure a certain wolf with better night vision than she had stared right back.
She waited, listening, but when no other sounds intruded, other than the rustling of dried leaves above, she continued her way. If Sigurd were trailing her, he would already have made his presence known. He was forever standing in her path, forcing her to raise her gaze to his. In those moments, she felt as though her lungs constricted, and her voice got very small. She wasn’t exactly intimidated, because she knew he’d never harm her, but his size and steady, all-seeing gaze looked right through her. Like he could read her mind. Which was impossible. Still, she found deceiving him very hard, which was why she’d decided to sneak away in the dead of night. As soon as he’d fallen asleep, she’d crept from the house. Yes, she’d heard the slam of a door in the distance, but she’d been well around the bend in the canal. No, he couldn’t have tracked her so quickly to this part of the woods. If she was successful, he wouldn’t arrive at her destination until it was already too late.
It was well past time she should have had this conversation, and secrecy was of the utmost importance. This situation wasn’t something she could talk to her sisters about. They’d be hurt, because she’d never divulged the truth in all their long acquaintance, despite their shared travails. This secret burned a hole in her belly and made her lose sleep. Worse, it kept her from Sigurd. She could never agree to be his mate—and she knew he wanted that—not until her problem was resolved. Inside her pocket, she crossed her fingers and hoped she’d found the right tree.
The golden light beckoned, growing stronger the deeper into the woods she went, until she entered a clearing. Light from a golden gibbous moon gleamed through the branches of the canopy above. Fireflies, out of season, hovered around the trunk, blinking out and on. Something about the air had changed. It smelled sweeter, and felt…thinner…warmer.
This was the place. It had to be. She’d felt this same trembling excitement the one time her mother led her into the woods to greet an ancient oak and attempted what Aoife had to accomplish tonight.
Closing her eyes, she reached out and laid a hand against the rugged trunk.
“Come fae and fair,
No need beware,
A daughter comes to greet you.
One knock you hear,
Two draws you near,
The third opens the door to meet you.”
Taking a deep breath, she rapped three times. Then she waited.
The wind picked up, dragging back her hood. Light gleamed between the edges of the bark, up and down the tree.
She stepped backward. Her breaths came faster, and then the glowing edges formed a rectangle, wider than an arm span. The dark bark at its center melted away.
Revealed inside the doorway was a tunnel formed by intertwining gold and green vines. She swept up the edges of her cloak and bent to step inside the door. As soon as her feet touched soft moss on the other side, she heard a crackling sound from behind and a long, lonely howl.
Monday, July 1st, 2019
I’m a big person of “living in the time”. It’s July 1st, and I want my Facebook timeline to flood with fun in the sun ideas, 4th of July recipes, and sexy guys in swimsuits with surf boards. I don’t want Halloween countdowns (I’m big into Halloween — in October) or the remaining days until Christmas.
I want to enjoy strawberry shortcake while watching the fireworks, not wonder what to get my grandson for Christmas.
Now, if you are — the person who has their Christmas shopping done by August 4th — have your Halloween decorations ready in April — know your exact Thanksgiving menu on March 23rd — do the entire year of birthday cards on January 1st — you are amazing in my book! The major reason I live in the moment is it stresses (like non-stop binge-eating doughnuts stress) me out to worry about Christmas presents in April.
As a rule, I live pretty much in the moment in all aspects of my life. I’ve been known to wake up and decide to take a 400-hundred-mile road trip. My husband has come home (he’s an over-the-road truck driver) and I’ve redone our bedroom — a couple of times.
This carries over into my writing. I sit down with a basic idea: people will die and there will be steamy sex. And go!
The thought of planning out an entire book makes me want to find doughnuts and vodka. A lot of both!
So, with all this being said that’s why I’m sharing my favorite July 4th drink twist and treat today…for those planners to maybe add it to next year’s 4th celebration!
For a drink that “explodes” like fire works in your mouth – rim the glass with pop rocks 😀 This can be done with adult drinks, ohhhh say, raspberry vodka and lemonade. And kids – they love it! (Of course, I’m not giving them the vodka).
It’s Fireworks in a Cake.
What do you need:
1 (15.25-ounce) box white cake mix
1 (3.4-ounce) box vanilla instant pudding
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk
1 (3-ounce) strawberry and blue raspberry jello
1 32 ounce whip topping
3 packages of pop rocks
What you do:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9X13-inch pan with cooking spray.
2. Using an electric mixer, mix together cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, vegetable oil, and milk until well mixed, about 2 minutes. Pour into pan and bake for 40 minutes.
3. Let cool for 20-30 minutes.
4. Using a serving fork or straw, poke holes all over cake.
5. In a medium bowl, mix Jell-O and pour mixture slowly over cake so that it sinks down in holes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
6. Spread whipped topping on top of cake and top with pop rocks.
The things that makes the world so amazing is that there are planners and fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pantsers, and then, those in the middle. Which are you?
Sunday, June 30th, 2019
I’m just poking my head in the door to remind you that there are 4 ongoing contests, and prizes are still up for grabs!! Be sure to stop by and enter them all! ~DD
- (Ends Tuesday!) Tell me a story… (Contest) — Win an Amazon gift card!
- (Also ends Tuesday!) Delilah’s Scavenger Hunt (Contest, plus freebie!) — Win an Amazon gift card & everyone gets a FREE story!
- Diana Cosby: When A Knights Templar Wakes You, Demanding You Write His Story, You Do… (Contest) — Win a tote and a mug!
- Reina Torres: Insecurity and the Search for Love (Contest) — Win a FREE book!
Saturday, June 29th, 2019
Five Vampire Myths Busted:
- Vampires can’t enter unless invited.
Lock your doors and windows, quick.
- Vampires don’t have reflections.
I get that mirrors supposedly reflect the soul. But shouldn’t their clothes show?
- Vampires can be killed by a stake through the heart.
- Vampires can’t stand sunlight.
This is a modern myth that started in the film Nosferatu. Before then, they could walk in daylight. Ha! And you thought you were safe when you were sunbathing.
- Vampires can be repelled by garlic.
There’s nothing worse than garlic breath before you bite your dinner. Besides, it alerts the victim to the vampire’s presence. They’d run and the vampire would still be hungry.
Since my latest release, Taken as Theirs, features twin werewolves, why am I blathering on about vampires?
Well…guess who the bad guys are…? There’s kudos in being bad. Think about Jessie James or Butch Cassidy. They are the true anti-heroes. I can’t name any of Cowboy heroes, but do know the villains.
Taken as Theirs
As a fertile woman in an infertile world,
no wonder she was TAKEN AS THEIRS.
Amazon USA: https://amzn.to/2AB4Z3l
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2s95Q6O
Amazon Canada: https://amzn.to/2GZLI1f
Amazon Australia: https://amzn.to/2RvViwV
Or READ FOR FREE ON KINDLE UNLIMITED
As a breeder–one of the few fertile women left in a ruined, plague-ravaged world–Cassie would fetch a handsome price at auction, and selling her to the highest bidder was exactly what her captors had in mind… until two fearsome beasts decided to take her for themselves.
Eli and Dane have chosen Cassie for their mate, and when she makes a foolish attempt at escape she quickly ends up tearfully promising obedience as her bare bottom is soundly and shamefully punished. Her body’s response to their stern dominance cannot be denied, however, and it isn’t long before she is screaming out her intense, helpless pleasure as she is roughly and thoroughly claimed. But will Eli and Dane’s pack accept a human girl or will Cassie be an outsider forever?
Publisher’s Note: Taken as Theirs includes spankings and sexual scenes. If such material offends you, please don’t buy this book.
Goosebumps covered Cassie’s flesh. Tingles raced between her legs, tiny electric sparks that warmed her blood. One kind word and her good intentions would crumble—just like her sisters’ chance of freedom if she told this drop-dead gorgeous pair about them.
What with the vampire auction and that nightmare descent of the cliff, she couldn’t take much more. Cassie had been a fool to think she could escape. Completely drained, she was at the werewolves’ mercy
Her imagination worked overtime. Wolves were pack animals. Suppose they decided to share her around the crew? The vampires certainly would have, and she didn’t expect werewolves to behave any better.
She cowered when Eli pulled a knife, but he sawed through the wet rope binding her to his brother. Her legs folded, and only Dane’s strong grip kept her upright. Sheaving his knife, Eli swept her into his arms.
He gave her his best Pepsodent-white smile. “Foolish little princess, so eager to return to the vampires who will abuse you. You’re safe here, despite the unconventional start to our friendship.”
Like a half-drowned kitten, she dripped water onto his trousers. He smelled of summer breezes and crops ripening in the fields. So cold her teeth had stopped chattering, she let go of her fears and let Eli take charge. Heat flowed from his chest to hers, but it wasn’t enough. She felt like an ice cube lost at the back of a freezer.
He carried her through a narrow galley, and into the captain’s cabin. She’d expected twin bunks and a tiny space. Instead, this room reminded her of Nelson’s cabin on the HMS Victory. The back wall consisted of window panes, giving her a view of the distant cliffs. The view fascinated and delighted her but the cabin’s four-poster bed terrified her. It covered more than half the room and had enough room for three if not four.
Dane pulled towels from a trunk then tossed her one of his brother’s jumpers. “Get dry, princess then get into bed and warm up. We’re going to lock you in while we get underway in earnest, but we’ll be back with hot stew and a hot coffee soon.”
After living on half rations for a week, her mouth watered at the thought of a decent meal. That these dominant werewolves cared for her welfare stunned her. Then they offered her a coffee. Utter luxury.
Emotions set in, and tears filled her eyes. She broke into a cold sweat that turned her forehead clammy. She’d never felt so weary in her life—not even when she’d swum marathons.
Dane lifted her chin and gazed into her eyes. “Don’t cry, little human. You’re safe now.”
The intensity in his gaze felt like a shot of energy for her soul. It made her feel hot and tingly inside. She craved his touch, and maybe his kiss. A fresh set of shivers beset her. This time, they were more about her forbidden attraction for the werewolves than the cold.
About Kryssie Fortune
Kryssie lives by the beach and loses track of time when she writes. Her days are full of dashing regency rakes, former soldiers so handsome they make her drool, and the sexiest werewolves ever. The odd vampire makes it in there too, but when he does, he’s drop dead gorgeous.
Her pet hates are unhappy endings and cliff hangers. She guarantees you won’t find either in her books. Her books sizzle with sensual heat, but story always comes before sex. Even when part of a series, her books can be read as stand-alone romance.
Kryssie Fortune Social Media:
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2hA0ZVO
Friday, June 28th, 2019
UPDATE: The winners are…Colleen C and Debra Guyette!
Being someone who has issues with anxiety… correction… I have anxiety issues… everything is a minefield. I don’t like to pick up the phone unless I know exactly who is on the other end of the line. I’m an extroverted introvert, meaning I hide by being outgoing in public situations. I can be the life of the party as long as you don’t look beyond the jokes and see the person inside who is hoping I’m not making a complete idiot of myself.
So what does this have to do with writing and romance?
For me, EVERTYHING!
Finding love is putting yourself ‘out there.’
And OUT THERE is a scary, scary place. Holding out your hand (metaphorically) means that someone can take hold of it or slap it away… and sometimes ignore it completely.
What happens when the most anxiety-ridden person opens themselves up to speak their minds to another person?
What happens when the most self-assured person opens themselves up to ask someone out?
Both situations can end up happy or devastated. It doesn’t matter who you are. Life can be a joy or painful. Ecstatic or tormented.
Life… and love, by extension, are a gamble.
And those insecurities are a big part of “Justice for Miranda”
JUSTICE FOR MIRANDA
Texas Game Wardens don’t just protect the natural resources of the Lone Star State, they protect the people as well. Trace Carson considers every warden as more than just fellow officers, they’re family.
Especially, Miranda Jimenez. She’d gone through the academy when he was on staff, and he was her first in-field training officer. There was no denying that she was a beautiful woman, he’d worked side by side with her and knew that her dedication to upholding the laws of Texas was second only to caring for wild animals and natural resources.
When she decided to leave her job as a game warden to open a wild animal rehabilitation it made perfect sense, but he couldn’t explain the sudden ache he felt at the thought of her leaving. It wasn’t going to be out of sight, out of mind, because he went to her ‘retirement’ party and he kissed her, changing everything.
When her connection with Trace puts Miranda’s life in danger, the law enforcement community in San Antonio pulls together to get her back where she belongs… in Trace’s arms. Will they find her in time to save her and get Justice for Miranda?
Trace is a man driven by duty. Responsible to a fault. He’s the guy that folks are always leaning on. The leader. The one who has trained more than his share of new Game Wardens out of the Academy.
But under all of that buttoned up, efficient, straight-laced law enforcement zeal is a man who’s fallen in love with someone he thinks is out of bounds.
And it takes a few beers and the thought that she’d be out of his life to make him cross that line and kiss her senseless… all before his normal constraints pull him back into his shell. Make him back off. Make him shut off that longing and put it away.
But we all know that’s not going to be enough to keep it in that shell now that he’s let it out.
Trace needs to decide if the dangers of opening himself up and putting his heart on the line are worth the possible failure of that chance. What if she shuts him down right away? What if she allows him in and then decides that a man who had once been her teacher, her trainer, isn’t the man who can hold her heart… keep her interest?
And the absolutely crazy thing about it… what if it works? Having what you want… the woman you want… can be even more scary than not having her.
That’s one of the things I love most about writing and reading romance. When it comes right down to it… the heroes and heroines are brave! They show real courage!
Physical pain is horrible, but emotional pain can drop you to your knees with a look or a careless word.
So, tell me… which characters have you read about that have shown the most courage in reaching out for love… taking that chance to reach for something more… something better?
Pre-sale link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07RZQM21M/
Two commenters will receive their choice of a single-title ebook from my Amazon list – winners selected July 1, 2019!
While her cousin was trying not to spray soda all over her aunt’s countertop, Miranda slipped out of her parents’ kitchen to the porch and leaned back against the wall with a sigh. Lifting the cold beer she had in her hand, she dragged it across her forehead and then pressed it to her cheek.
“I bet that feels good.”
The soft Texas burr came out of the darkness, startling her. She had a good hold on the bottle and didn’t worry about dropping it, but she did worry about the warm flush of color in her cheeks. She knew exactly who it was walking out of the dark.
“Hey, Trace. I didn’t think you were comin’ to the party.”
His laugh was warm and slow and poured over her like honey.
“How could I miss it?” He stepped into the light beside the back door and stepped up against the side of the house, looking down at her. “Especially when you didn’t give me a chance to talk you out of leaving.”
“I didn’t think you’d have much of an issue with it.”
A wind trailed through, lifting the ends of her hair and she felt the subtle touch as some of the strands stuck to her neck. The humidity wasn’t doing her any favors and she knew that after the heavy press of bodies in the house and the rising summer heat, her dress was probably stuck to her in any number of unflattering ways.
“It’s not too late,” his voice was lower, deeper, “I have a bit of an in with the guys in the administration office. They could be convinced to lose your voluntary termination papers.”
If she hadn’t been leaning back against the house, she probably would have fallen back against the wall. The way his voice seemed to curl across her skin made it hard to breathe. Trace Carson ticked off all of the boxes on her dream list for masculine perfection.
Tall, lean muscle, strong hands, handsome like the devil, and that voice. There was something about a man with that deep purring Texas drawl that made her insides shiver and shake and other parts of her… well, she bit into her bottom lip as if she was still thinking through his offer, but she knew she wouldn’t change her mind.
“Why didn’t you come talk to me?”
She laughed and felt a drop of condensation splash against her collarbone. “To be honest,” she tried to keep from sighing but it was hard when she could smell his cologne and see the silver-grey of his eyes, “I knew if I did talk to you I might have let myself be talked out of leaving.”
Miranda saw the happy surprise in his eyes.
“But it wouldn’t have been for the right reasons.”
“So, what are the wrong reasons, Miranda?” He shifted closer, crossing one leg over the other so she could hear the butter-soft rasp of one boot against the other. And set a hand on the wall, less than a foot from her shoulder. “I’m curious.”
She wanted to brush it all off and escape back into the house, but her knees were suddenly weak and the way his scent mingled with the sultry heat of the night air had her breath catching a little each time.
“Miranda?” His arm folded and his forearm pressed against the wall, bringing him closer to her. “What did you think I’d do?”
Close enough that his height blocked out the light from the single bulb shining from the wall.
Her tongue wet her bottom lip before she swallowed and sucked in a breath on a gasp. “I… I-” she laughed, a throaty little sound that made her feel flirty and needy at the same time.
She’d seen other women use their wiles to draw men in, but she wasn’t like them. She was the kind of girl that loved jeans and baggy shirts. And wiles? Ha! She could spell the word and knew the definition, but she had no idea if she could use them, or even if she had any. All of her life she’d spent most of her time in jeans and t-shirts. Even the dress she was wearing had been her mama’s idea.
“Well,” he sighed and she wasn’t sure, but it didn’t sound like he was very disappointed at all, “there’s one good reason that I can think of for letting you leave the service.”
She turned and leaned her shoulder against the wall, clutching the bottle against her chest. That close, she had to look up to see into his eyes and even then, the light was mostly behind him, so she couldn’t see much of his expression. “Yeah? What’s that?” Read the rest of this entry »
Thursday, June 27th, 2019
I fell in love with masks after seeing Labyrinth for the first time. If you haven’t seen the movie there’s a ballroom scene with David Bowie, where all the guests are wearing masks. As a young girl, I found this scene fascinating (and a bit romantic). However, it was the idea behind the mask that intrigued me. Masks carry a sense of magic with them, as if there is mystery built into their very essence.
Used for protection, disguise, entertainment and rituals, masks have been intertwined in our history for centuries. Although I love the brilliant colors of the New Orleans masquerade masks, the ones I found most interesting were the ones used for medical purposes. These so-called “beak masks” were stuffed with dried flowers, herbs, and spices in order to cleanse the disease from the bad air. If you pay attention, these masks also appear in Labyrinth.
In An Imperfect Engagement, Samantha and her family attend the masque in the hopes of cornering the killer, Franklin Morris, and his unknown accomplice. Each character has their own personal reason for donning a mask that evening, including Samantha, whose desire to hide the injuries she suffered at the hands of Franklin is surpassed only by Franklin’s desire to attack her a second time. Franklin’s use of the headpiece to hide his identity allows him to sneak into the gathering and corner Samantha in the center of the maze.
A clap echoed in the night—once… twice… thrice. From the reverse side of the fountain, hidden behind a large statue, a masked man appeared, shuffling slowly toward Sam. He bared his teeth, gnashing them slightly and flashed a pistol which glinted threateningly in the moonlight.
“Miss Hastings,” he purred, “I am delighted to see you again and so quickly after our last meeting. I feared it would be some time before we would be able to rekindle our acquaintance.”
“Franklin,” gasped Sam, stumbling backward. Edward underestimated Franklin’s desperation.
He approached slowly, favoring his right side, holding the weapon in his left hand. Sam wondered about the marksmanship of his less-dominant appendage. She kept her eyes focused on the barrel of the gun, suspecting the pistol was the same one employed in the demise of Mr. Walton.
Inclining his head in a tiny bow, Franklin removed the black mask, an audible groan accompanying the movement of his right arm. His greedy eyes swept over Sam’s delicate throat and the necklace which decorated it. “I see you have found my inheritance.”
AN IMPERFECT ENGAGEMENT is available on all platforms and on sale this week for $1.99.
Get your copy here!
About the Author
USA Today Bestselling Author Alyssa Drake has been creating stories since she could hold a crayon, preferring to construct her own bedtime tales instead of reading the titles in her bookshelves. A multi-genre author, Alyssa currently writes Historical romance, Paranormal romance, Contemporary romance, and Cozy mystery. She thoroughly enjoys strong heroines and often laughs aloud when imagining conversations between her characters. When she’s not writing, she’s in the kitchen making dessert, because that’s the only course she ever cared to learn how to cook.
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Wednesday, June 26th, 2019
When you reflect on freedom, what comes to your mind? What helps you keep your vision alive?
During a heated exchange in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, Lena Younger says to her son Walter Lee, “Once upon a time freedom used to be life—now it’s money.” He responds, “It was always money. We just didn’t know it.”
There’s a world of truth and hurt expressed in what each says to the other. I must admit there are times when I lose my way and side with Walter’s cynicism. I make myself find things to think on that are “true and honest and just and lovely and of good report and virtuous and praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8) so I can stand shoulder to shoulder with Lena’s idealism. One of the things I think on is FDR’s “Four Freedoms” and Norman Rockwell’s depiction of them. (https://rockwellfourfreedoms.org/).
In a 1941 speech Roosevelt gave to Congress as part of the rationale for taking on the fascism then engulfing the world, he urged his listeners to help secure a world founded on four essential human freedoms: Freedom from Want, Freedom from Fear, Freedom of Worship and Freedom of Speech. In 1942, Norman Rockwell was inspired to paint them. In 1943 they were shared in the Saturday Evening Post. The paintings then went on a sixteen-city tour. I get teary as I study Rockwell’s portraits of people with their heads reverently bowed in Freedom of Worship and of the young man standing to speak his mind in Freedom of Speech. My heart yearns for a world where everyone is able to tuck their children into bed or partake of a Thanksgiving meal in safety like those painted in Freedom from Fear and Freedom from Want. I hope I share my longing for and my beliefs in the four freedoms through my art as Rockwell did.
While I lived in NYC, whenever I was tempted to let Walter Lee win, I could go to Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island (https://www.fdrfourfreedomspark.org/#). There on the tip of the island I sat with the United Nations in view on the Manhattan side of the river, gazed out onto the water and reflected on FDR’s words until I could say “Amen” to the truth in Lena Younger’s declaration, the truth that freedom is life. On your next trip to NYC, take the subway or the Roosevelt Tram to Roosevelt Island and experience Four Freedoms Park yourself.
Eleanor Roosevelt referenced the four freedoms as she helped craft the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I’m in the process of writing a set of romance novellas using each of the four freedoms as a theme. For me, justice tempered by love is the driving force in creating a world founded on the four freedoms. I, like FDR, believe that having a world based on them “…is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.”
I hope the romances I write will inspire readers to believe so too.
One Breath Away
Sentenced to hang for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. She’s never been courted, cuddled or spooned, and now no man could want her, not when sexual satisfaction comes only with the thought of asphyxiation. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more.
Wealthy, freeborn-Black, Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing the mysteriously exotic woman is his mate foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex.
Hope ignites along with lust until the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…
Sheriff Ambrose and his posse arrived in a thunder of hooves. Although he assured Mary he and his men were there to insure justice be done, she still worried.
Twilight filtered through the windows as she sat at her kitchen table, wringing her hands. Only the fact that she had saved Eban’s life brought her peace. He sat beside her. His warm, comforting hands clasped hers. Her lips wobbled in an attempt to smile.
“You don’t have to pretend with me.” He patted her hands. “Tell me what you’re thinking.”
“What if Denton dies?”
“There’ll be a new face in hell for breakfast.”
She inhaled deeply to keep the tears back. “No Black who kills a White will be allowed to live. When they hang me this time, they’ll make sure I’m dead.”
Eban took her by the chin, made her face him. “You and I will head for the safety of the border and ports beyond before that happens.”
She closed her eyes. “I don’t want to make you a fugitive because of what I’ve done.”
“If I had killed him, wouldn’t you flee with me?” He pulled her into his arms. “The real shame is this oppressive society makes us fugitives for defending ourselves.”
Mary burrowed against his shoulder. “Will we ever be free?”
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