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Lizzie Ashworth: Men, men, men, men…
Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

One of the most heartfelt parts of writing romance, for me, is the male character. I have no idea why this is the case, except that I’ve always had a soft spot for guys. In high school, I enjoyed hanging with a group of guys, not that I didn’t also have female friends. I did. But with the guys, I felt more relaxed.

There was also something about the conversation with males that I preferred more than conversation with females. It’s hard to exactly pin down what specifically annoyed me about chatting with females—maybe that there seemed so little substance to it. With guys, conversation tended to be more to the point. And the point seemed more substantive. And there was less conversation overall, which suited me fine.

Throughout my life, I’ve found less to like about women than about men. Women can be unbelievably cruel, vindictive, and easily provoked to violence. Verbal violence, that is, things like character assassination, gossip, and vicious bad-mouthing.  I seldom see the same kind of hatred spewed by men that I’ve seen from women.

I’m sure both sexes dish out their share of ugly remarks, but in my experience, men tend to just walk away from that kind of confrontation whereas women can’t get your face long enough to suit them.

Maybe there’s some truth to the theory that while early man was out silently stalking game, women were talking up a storm around the campfire. By necessity, women had to develop words for every aspect of their close-knit lives that centered around children, food, and textiles. That setting bred endless options for intrigue, jealousy, nitpicking, and other traits for which women are famous.

Men didn’t need words to signal other hunters about the elk he spotted or to carry dead animals back to the cave. If he used words, it would spook the game he planned to eat for dinner. Once he dragged the carcass home and turned it over to the women, and as long as everybody played fair, male tribal members just wanted everybody to get along.

When things went wrong, however, men did what was necessary to defend his home and family. Physical violence was the language that mattered in those confrontations. Maybe a few words would be thrown down just to clarify his intent to kill your ass if you didn’t let go of his wife or his best bow and arrow. Otherwise, brother, it’s open season.

When I write or read modern romance, it’s not difficult to spot all the ways those primitive patterns remain in force today. Women swoon over men who have the same assets as men of long ago—muscular physiques capable of killing an elk and dragging it home. We still value the warrior mentality, men who would sacrifice their lives to defend his home and family.

Likewise, women in our romance stories tend to have a cluster of friends who gather to talk about—what else?—men. Well, maybe also chat about the latest acquisition of shoes, clothing, or accessories. Or maybe a new recipe.

While the 20th century saw a lot of progress for women in gaining the right to vote, the right to control her body and reproduction, and the right to a professional career, the majority of women tend to see marriage as the most important accomplishment of her life, soon followed by the production of children although children have become somewhat a priority than in past centuries. There’s no big ceremony with fancy dresses when a woman becomes a lawyer or a doctor, no engraved invitations to friends and family when she gets promoted to vice president.

Men tend to judge themselves—and other males—by the success of their elk hunting—er, their ability to provide a living for his family. In modern times, the old routes to male success are mostly obsolete. No more stalking wild game. No more daily interactions with animals or endless hours plowing the back forty. Men aren’t well suited to sitting behind desks and dealing with minutia. This contributes to my sympathy.

Still, things seem so much simpler with men than with women, at least, that’s how I see it. Maybe that too is part of my sympathetic affection for men. I tend to write my male characters that way, big, charming galoots with not much to say but determined to follow his heart. Not complicated, not conniving, not spun out over the least assumed slight, not changing his mind or mood every fifteen minutes.

Maybe I’m a minority of one in seeing guys this way. Do you have a different take on all this? Do you consider men as more conniving than women—or at least the same? Which of the two are more trustworthy? More dependable?

Would love to hear your comments!

P.S. Just throwing out some photos here—hunky guys who embody the male I’m talking about.

About the Author

Lizzie Ashworth lives in the wilds of the Ozark Mountains with three cats, two hound dogs, and too many deer in her yard. She’s been writing her entire life and wants her readers to know how much she enjoys sharing her naughty stories. When she’s not writing, she’s staring out the window or washing dishes. They tend to pile up…

Sign up for her free monthly e-newsletter. Liz’s Hot News – Free monthly newsletter with excerpts, freebies, pre-release deals, and much more. Sign up at http://eepurl.com/bHOyS9

Follow Liz for free erotic short works, hot photos, and the occasional rant on her blog at http://lizzieashworth.com/

Like Liz’s Facebook author page for updates on other nice and naughty works https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLizzieAshworth/

Enjoy some amazing eye candy? Check out her outrageous Pinterest pages! https://www.pinterest.com/ashworthlizzie/

Enjoy a sneak peek inside ONCE IN A BLUE MOON, coming Thursday!
Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

I’ve always loved reading books with magical worlds, especially when those worlds exist inside our own. So, when I sat down to create my Beaux Rêve Coven series, I combined all the things I love…magic, the Louisiana bayou, alpha heroes, clever witches, and great sex. :)

Once in a Blue Moon comes out this Thursday from Amazon, so be sure to get a copy. The story will be available in Kindle Unlimited for only three months, then it will be available at all the usual places.  Read the sexy excerpt below…

Once in a Blue Moon 

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…

Bryn Cavanaugh and her coven like that the community they live in is isolated thanks to a storm that destroyed the bridge between them and the outside world. Now the state wants the bridge rebuilt. When the construction crew checks into the inn, Bryn begins to suspect something about the crew’s boss isn’t quite…human.

Bridges are Ethan Thorne’s thing—after all, he’s a troll—so building a simple span over a remote canal in backwater Louisiana shouldn’t be this much of a problem. When he follows the pretty little innkeeper to a midnight rendezvous, he discovers why his crew keeps running in to trouble. Bryn and her coven are casting spells in the moonlight.

As a troll, Ethan feels the sting of his low place in demon hierarchy. But finding an unprotected coven of witches in the middle of the bayou could lead to all sorts of adventure. And it’s better to keep your enemies close…

Pre-order your copy here!

Read an excerpt…

(Here, the heroine still thinks the hero is human. This is not the hottest scene…)

The kitchen door whooshed inward, and she glanced back. “I can handle the dishes on my o—”

Ethan stood behind her. “Let me dry.”

She didn’t want him to dry. She wanted him to make her very, very wet. She swallowed hard and faced forward. “Towels are in the drawer beside the stove.”

He walked closer and bent to reach beyond her into the drawer. His proximity wasn’t necessary, but her body wasn’t complaining. Her breasts felt suddenly fuller, her hips looser. Fingers touched the small of her back, and then he moved beside her and began to empty the rack.

“Dinner was terrific.”

She’d made shepherd’s pie with a fluffy crust, fresh bread rolls, and grilled string beans topped with sprinkles of crisp bacon.

“You don’t have to go to so much effort.”

“Cooking’s not a chore.”

“You love it,” he said, smiling.

“I do.”

“Well, I appreciate the results.”

“You’re welcome.”

She rolled her eyes at her stilted responses. Still, he loved her cooking. Warmth filled her chest. “You don’t have to help me with the dishes. You put in a full day’s work.”

“I prefer the company in here.”

She glanced to her side, gave him a small smile, and then finished the last of the cutlery. “These can air-dry.”

He set aside his towel and moved behind her, bringing his hands down on the edge of the counter, trapping her between his thick, muscled arms. His warm breath stirred the hair beside her ear. “Town’s small. Where does a guy take a girl if he wants a little privacy?”

To her bedroom, but she guessed that would seem a little too forward. “He might ask her to walk in the garden,” she said softly. “There’s a gazebo in the back…”

He nuzzled his nose through her hair, skimmed his lips over her neck, and she couldn’t resist tilting her head to allow him a little more access to her bare skin.

“Come with me.”

Not a request. Not that she minded at all. She was eager to be alone with him. She let him take her hand and pull her toward the kitchen door. They slipped out onto the porch, and he let her lead him with their fingers intertwined past the raised-bed herb garden, past tall beanstalks and sweet corn. She led him to the trellised gate, overhung with hyacinth. “It’s not much farther,” she said, glancing back.

His expression was closed, his dark eyes shadowed. But she wasn’t afraid. He tightened his hand around her fingers. He was growing tense. Just like she was—from anticipation.

Excitement quivered through her. Every sense was alert. Just the air brushing her bare arms and legs felt erotic. The scent of honeysuckle and roses teased her nose. The sound of his heavy tread thudded like her heartbeat. Just ahead, the latticed sides of the gazebo were like silver interwoven bones in the moonlight.

Beautiful. Frightening as well, because there in the darkness they cloaked awaited the possibility of intimacies shared—with this man who had managed to consume her thoughts from the first moment his glance had landed on her. Just yesterday. How could that be?

Already, when they weren’t together, she was obsessed with thoughts of him. When he was near, her body awoke. Her breasts ached for his touch. Her sex throbbed with building heat. She was constantly wet. Constantly ready. If he wanted her this night, she wasn’t going to refuse. Her body was too painfully aroused to ignore.

They entered the structure, and he tugged her to a halt. She stood facing away, trying to catch her breath. But her breathing was so shallow she was nearly panting.

He let go of her hand and settled both of his at her waist. His grip was light but insistent, and he pressed against her back. His chest was a brick wall. And below, she felt the nudge of a long, hard column against her buttocks.

Silently, he was warning her. This was what he wanted. She could refuse, ease away from the pressure, and he would accede, perhaps giving her kisses and caresses through her clothing. Nothing more than she was willing to accept at this moment.

But she was greedy. She wanted everything he had to give, and she wanted it now. Lifting her hand, she shifted her hair from her neck. “The zipper’s right there,” she whispered.

She heard a loud swallow and was glad he showed a little surprise. Was he as nervous as she was? It had been so long since she’d been intimate with a man. Nearly five years. And then she’d been in Merrick’s thrall. His to switch on and off like a light bulb when he needed release or a spell.

Ethan’s hands left her waist. Tucking his fingers under the neckline of her dress, he slowly lowered her zipper, and then pushed her dress downward until it puddled at her feet.

She stepped out of it and moved it away with a toe. Now she stood, still facing away, in just her lacy panties and bra.

Within seconds, he unhooked her bra and dragged it off her arms. Her nipples puckered instantly in the night air. He smoothed her panties down, kneeling behind her, his cheek against her ass as he waited for her to step out of her underwear. There was no way he could miss the scent of her arousal.

He slid upward, gliding his body against hers and holding still for a moment before stepping away. The shuffling sounds of clothing being dragged off made her smile, because he was hurrying. His belt clanging on the wood floor was the final sound before he reached around her to cup her breasts. His bare cock pushed impudently against her backside.

“I apologize for the rush,” he said, a lovely growling texture to his deep voice.

“Apologize only if you make me wait.”

His laugh was short, pained. “Then I’m sorry. I don’t want to take you on the hard floor.”

She pointed to the seats tucked against the latticed walls. “The cushions,” she said, her own voice lowering, sounding foreign it was so husky.

He stepped around her, his head bent downward, concealing his expression as he grabbed cushions and arranged them on the floor. When he’d made a bed for them, he stood behind her again. “Let me do this my way.”

His way meant she would be on hands and knees. His callused palms urged her downward, arranging her knees, sinking the center of her back to tilt her bottom upward.

She didn’t mind that he treated her like a doll, that he took charge, his body blanketing hers as he set the width of her hands just so. He was warm and hard and surrounding her. His cock glided on the backs of her thighs, nudged her buttocks, and slid along her wet folds.

And his cock was huge. A blunt instrument. Rock solid as the rest of him.

When he was satisfied, he moved away. Her head bowed toward the floor. She hoped he’d take her. Sink his many inches inside her. However, the first flick of his tongue against her folds sent an electrical charge through her.

She must have been wound too tight. Nearly on the verge of orgasm for it to affect her so. She steeled herself against the pleasure, not wanting to disappoint him by leaving him in the dust.

He teased her with more flicks to her outer folds. Then he suckled there, drawing her inside his mouth for gentle nibbles. His whiskers raked her sex and inner thighs.

Not that she minded the abrasion. He could scour her skin off so long as he found her center. Which he did, dipping his tongue inside her and swirling. A deep groan vibrated against her sex.

When he pulled away again, she whimpered. She didn’t need foreplay, she needed the main event. But the nips he gave her fleshy ass made her jerk, escalating her sensitivity to his every touch.

Fingers parted her then swirled around her entrance. They eased her open, stretched her, one finger added at a time until she was beyond full. He spent so much time preparing her for his girth, she began to wonder if she’d underestimated just as how large he was.

The moment he prodded her with the blunt knob of his cock, she knew. He spread her folds and pressed against her, apparently gripping himself to circle her entrance and ease himself inside with precision and insistent pressure.

She’d dreamed about the way it would feel. Now, pleasure was edged with worry that he wouldn’t fit. But she was wet, and more liquid seeped from inside her to coat his heavy cock. At last, he breached her entrance.

She sagged, her arms already shaking. Her body was too tight, too excited for her to slow her heart or reactions. “Ethan,” she whimpered.

The pressure relented. He held still. “Am I hurting you?” His voice sounded as though he were grinding rocks between his teeth.

“Yes,” she hissed, but she didn’t want him to stop. She wanted the pressure and the pain. “More, please.”

His laugh was choked. He gripped the notches of her hips to hold her immobile and worked himself inside in shallow, pulsing waves, in and out, deeper and deeper—until Goddess, he was touching her womb.

She felt a pinch deep inside her. A quiver of core-deep delight. This could be the moment. If only he didn’t realize he’d taken her unprotected and pulled free at the last.

Bryn sank her chest against the cushions and reached far beneath her, past his cock, to his balls. She gripped them, massaging them, sending out a flash of witch’s heat.

“Fuck, Bryn. Don’t…” He dug his fingers hard into her fleshy hips, pulled back, and then slammed forward.

She released his balls, certain he wouldn’t stop until she’d achieved her goal. She’d unleashed his passion.

His hips moved faster, his cock cramming deeply, whipping back and shoving forward again. The sheer fullness made her want to shout. Her back arched, and she pushed backward, trying to break his hold, but he began to move her, bringing her back as he thrust, pushing her away as he withdrew. He hammered her. Jostled her. Roughly, so deliciously, she was on the verge of exploding.

And then he began to move his hands on her skin. He reached up one hand to grab her hair and force her back to arch more, gliding another on her skin, raising gooseflesh. Her hair was lifting and prickling on the back of her neck. Static charged the air, and her eyes widened.

She knew at last why he’d been so attractive, why she’d been inexorably drawn to him. Why she’d craved this union.

Demon! she screamed inside. But it was already too late. Heat swept through her, electricity crackled. Her core convulsed, her orgasm exploding outward, weakening her limbs, stealing her mind.

She slumped against the floor as he thrust twice more, and then his seed jetted inside her. His shout as he came was filled with triumph.

When at last he grew still, he released her.

She crawled forward on her hands and knees and rolled to stare up in horror as he braced his hands on his thighs and met her stare. Her heart thudded dully against her chest.

His eyes glowed green in the darkness.

Not just demon. Troll!

Elaine Reed: Ear Worms
Monday, September 11th, 2017

There is something about the piano in The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah” that catches my ear. Likewise, the trumpet in Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” gets my attention every time. (Yes, Davis is a legendary trumpeter, but from all of his music, from all of jazz, that particular performance resonates for me.) I can’t explain what it is about these pieces of music that takes up space in my brain, but I am glad they do.

Music has been a tremendous part of my life for as long as I can remember. I have a personal soundtrack: songs that remind me of seminal moments, important people and my own growth.  It inspires me and motivates me. A simple song selection can help me move through deep emotions, or get through twenty minutes on the treadmill. The right beat can speed up my productivity or help me fall asleep.

As a reader, I love books that have a playlist. The songs give me a deeper connection to the characters. The music makes their struggles and victories hold that much more resonance. That may be why I chose to write about musicians in my first novel. In fact, creating the playlist was as much fun as writing their story and when I stumble upon those songs on the radio or TV, I get a moment to visit with some of my favorite people. It’s one of the many gifts of music.

Excerpt from The Girl U Want

“You’re making D.J.s famous?” Brad asked.

“You wanna be famous?” Sue tilted her head, holding his gaze. “I’ll make you famous.”

She caught him off guard. It took Brad a few seconds to put together a reply. “Man! There was some heat in that!” He took a swig of beer. “I’m already famous.”

“You’re not famous. You’re the most popular barfly in Detroit. You have a decent following in Michigan, but get away from the Great Lakes and you’re just another guy with a guitar.”

“This woman is mean, Tom.”

“Sue is painfully honest,” Tom clarified.

“And she knows her shit,” Axel added. “She researched tonight’s bands weeks ago. She knew exactly how to promote you before your names were even on the marquee. It’s too bad this isn’t Baltimore or Philly. Sue’s twenty-five and she’s already sent three D.J.s to top tier markets. She could run radio if she wanted to.”

“You just want to be famous. I—” She pointed at herself with both hands “—can make you the disdain of parents the world over.”

He didn’t even try to stop the grin. Instead, Brad pushed Axel out of the way so he could put an arm around Sue. “Come work with us. I don’t want to be famous. I want to be super famous. I want to be the enemy of every father, and more than a few husbands. Tell me how you’ll do it.”

About Elaine Reed

In between organizing her music collection and searching for the ultimate chocolate and tequila pairing, Elaine writes about people with big ambitions and bigger senses of humor.  She lives in South Carolina.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/elainereedwrites/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/_elainewrites
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/writeelaine/
Newsletter: http://www.elaine-writes.com/newsletter/

Miguelina Perez: The Vicar’s Deadly Sin
Sunday, September 10th, 2017

I remember being in my early teens and hearing voices in my head. Good thing these voices were stories. Stories I told my little sister to put her to sleep. And they were stories of heroines in trouble and the heroes who came to their rescue with the much required happily ever after endings.

In my high school’s library, I discovered Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney. They were my introduction to romance and mystery and from there on I was hooked.

As I got older the voices quieted down. Then one day they started up again. All types of adventures. Still I ignored them for I did not know what they meant.

Then in my thirties I discovered Nora Roberts and Jane Austen. Love the regency period. Voices came back. After meeting with several authors, I realized the voices were stories waiting to be told.

I loved the retelling of Jane Austen’s stories so I decided to create my own, especially when I could hear Lady Jane Bartholomew and Miss Margaret Renard wanting their stories told. This brought about The Vicar’s Deadly Sin.

The Vicar’s Deadly Sin

A Touch of Romance…A Touch of Regency…A Touch of Murder…

Lady Jane Bartholomew and Miss Margaret Renard have been friends since the age of twelve. Together they share their dreams, hopes and a love for reading. However, it is their wild imagination and a penchant for solving mysteries that will test their abilities when the Vicar of Dover is found murdered.

The young ladies are joined by two gentlemen, also eager to find the murderers and prove to the ladies that detecting is a man’s job, though the gentlemen find their beauty, wit, and pride more troublesome than solving a murder.

Get your copy here!

About the Author

Ms. Miguelina Perez is a writer and jewelry artist. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of the District of Columbia. As a jewelry artist one of her lariats was showcased in the San Antonio Express-News. She has won several awards including a critical Writing award for an essay on the gender roles of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.

It was during her high school years at the school’s library that she first encountered her first romance mystery writer – Ms. Victoria Holt and then Ms. Phyllis J. Whitney.  Her love of romance novels stems from those discoveries, especially the Romance mystery genre.

Several of her poems have been published in anthologies, and she was named “Poet of Year in 1995”. She finished her first book, The Vicar’s Deadly Sin – a Regency romance mystery, the first of a seven-part serial based on the Seven Deadly Sins.

Currently, she is in editing mode with “Angel’s Lust” from her Seven Deadly Sins series and working on “A Hero of Her Own” a contemporary romance thriller, about a serial killer terrorizing New York.

Ms. Perez is a member of the Romance Writers of America and two of its chapters:Washington Romance Writers and Maryland Romance Writers . As newsletter editor for WRW, she contributes articles about writing and author interviews.

Originally from Brooklyn, NY, Ms. Perez resides in Gaithersburg, Maryland and can be reached at: miguelinaperez@miguelinaperezauthor.com. You can also follow Ms. Perez via twitter at: @MPerezAuthor.

Just in time for your weekend reading pleasure…. (Contest – 3 Winners)
Saturday, September 9th, 2017

UPDATE The winners are…Katrina Whittaker, Gail Siuba, and Jana Leah!

* * * * *

For those fans of the Night Fall series, here’s another tale—slightly removed from the timeline by a few centuries… You honestly don’t have to read any other story in the series to enjoy The First Knight. And isn’t that cover droolworthy?

The story is set back in Merry Old England, in a musty old castle. My heroine’s plucky and determined to trap her former betrothed in marriage, but he has brought back an “affliction”, which makes his lust a dangerous thing to tempt. And once the deed is done, another problem presents itself that only a naughty ménage can solve. Of course. Ahem. I do love my job. Enjoy! ~DD

The First Knight

While hiding her true identity, Maddie must seduce the mysterious Lord Garon to cement their marriage contract and ensure she won’t be returned into her lecherous stepfather’s care.

Fresh from Crusade in Palestine, Lord Garon has a secret he must hide, a hunger that must be fed, and a dark and uncertain future. Having shed himself of a fiancée he’d never met, he’s home to lick his wounds. The only thing he wants is a warm-blooded meal—but the new housekeeper is strangely insistent on giving him so much more.

Maddie’s seduction doesn’t progress without complications, but one secret from her own past might put an end to the love she nurtures for her dark, tempestuous lover.

Get your copy here!

Contest

To celebrate the release of The First Knight, I’m giving away copies of Night Fall stories, one each to three winners! All you have to do is answer two little questions!

Do you like ongoing series? How many sequels do you prefer? 

Sm(b)itten Truly, Madly ... Deadly Knight in Transition  Knight Edition

Night Fall On Dark Mountain Frannie and the Private Dick Sweet Succubus Truly, Madly...Werely (Night Fall Book 9) Bad to the Bone

And excerpt from The First Knight

Maddie shivered at the creaks and groans the portcullis made as it slowly rose. The rain-laden wind carried the noises and filled the silences in between with a howling that sounded like the hounds from hell had arrived at the castle gate.

Shouts outside the curtain wall had alerted them only minutes before of Lord Garon d’Albermarle’s arrival. With only a bliaut covering her sleeping shift, Maddie stood on the first step of the keep, holding a tray with a goblet of wine, ready to offer a proper greeting to her overlord.

“Are you sure this is the way you wish to go about this, M-Maddie?” Egbert asked, fidgeting at her side.

She swallowed against the sudden dryness in her mouth and nodded.

“It be on your head then,” he said, his always-mournful tone as dire as one of Father Ansel’s Sunday sermons. She sent thanks above that the cranky priest was away, or her deception wouldn’t last past the introductions.

The clatter of dozens of hooves on the cobbled bridge beyond the gate filled the castle yard with thunder. From the encroaching darkness, the sounds were as ominous as the dark shapes looming on the gatehouse walls. The torches she’d ordered lit sputtered and flared, distorting and elongating shapes, so the men riding through the entrance appeared as tall as giants.

Already tired and on edge because she hadn’t slept since a messenger had arrived, warning the castle of his lordship’s arrival days before, Maddie’s fevered imagination painted them darker and larger still.

“Be they devils?” Egbert asked, his narrow shoulders shaking. “No one travels on a night with nary a speck of light in the sky.”

“Hush!” The storm whipping at her clothing and the fatigue from months of worry over this very moment combined to make her hands shake and blackened an already foul mood.

The horsemen entered the bailey, and a large figure separated from the contingent who approached the keep. As he drew closer, her fears weren’t eased one whit. The warrior sat atop a huge black destrier, forcing her to raise her gaze quite high to seek his face.

He wore a helm that left only his square, stubbled jaw exposed. The darkness cast by the metal nose guard concealed his eyes. Only his mouth gave a hint of his mood—a thin, straight line with the corners crimped downward.

Under his stare, Maddie’s knees trembled, but her tray never rattled. She squared her shoulders and shot a glance about her at the castle folk. “Stephen!” she called to the stable master. “See to their horses.”

In moments, boys scrambled to accept reins, and the creak of leather and the clank of iron filled the air.

The stable master himself approached the dark warhorse at the foot of the steps, but the mounted warrior’s gaze never left Maddie.

She licked dry lips with an even drier tongue. “Lord Garon?” she asked, although there could be no question who led this contingent. All gazes remained on his intimidating figure. “Please come inside, milord. Your people will see to the comfort of your men.”

His mouth twisted. “And who will see to mine?”

Maddie’s heart leapt to the back of her throat. “I will, milord.”

A long pause indicated he looked her up and down. “And who might you be, madam?” he asked, his voice a deep, hollow rumble.

Maddie remembered to curtsy, and then straightened, girding herself to speak the lie aloud. “Your housekeeper. I take care of things now.” The latter, at least, was the truth.

Lord Garon grunted. Without a glance at the stable master, he tossed down his reins and dismounted.

When he turned toward her, Maggie’s breath caught. Lord, he’s a tall man. I thought it was just the horse.

Maddie lifted the ornate chalice from the tray to deliver her much-rehearsed welcome.

Instead, his lordship’s lips pressed into a tighter line, and he brushed past her.

She was left gasping on the bottom step. “What a rude ogre!” she exclaimed, annoyed he hadn’t fallen in line with the first step of her plan.

“Watch your tongue, madam,” an accompanying knight said tersely as he followed the lord up the steps. “He has exceptional hearing.”

“M-Maddie?” Egbert said, nodding toward the door.

She shoved the tray at his belly and grasped her skirts high to rush up the steps.

The plan had seemed so simple. All she needed was to get him alone and addle his sight with a little wine or ale, so he’d not care she wasn’t the comeliest creature in the keep. Then she would seduce him.

And the sooner, the better. The longer she took losing her virginity, the greater the risk he would discover her identity. The truth was, she would rather copulate with the devil himself than be returned home.

However, this business of copulation, which had seemed a simple, messy, perhaps even enjoyable act—according to the cook—now promised to be a daunting trial.

The lord of the keep had turned out to be a giant and as dour as a priest at confession. The thought of being naked with him and accepting his manstaff into her body frankly petrified her.

She rushed through the massive doors, hoping her preparations would meet with his approval. Nothing else could be allowed to mar her well-thought-out plan.

His lordship stood in the center of the hall, his hands fisted on his hips. Unlike his men, he wore no chain mail, only a leather hauberk to protect his body. He’d removed his headgear, revealing hair as black as midnight and a face as hard as carved granite.

He was everything she’d remembered and more—more frightening, more imposing—and more beautiful because of the differences. Thanks be to God, he hadn’t recognized her.

His gaze narrowed on the hall, and she looked around to see what might already have displeased him.

Around him, servants scurried, delivering warm food to the men-at-arms as boys eagerly divested them of their armor. If she hadn’t been observing him so closely, she might not have detected the change in his posture. He scarce seemed to notice the din of activity. His mouth lost a little firmness, his hands unclenched on his hips, and his chest rose and fell deeply.

In that instant, Maddie lost a measure of her fear. Here was a man savoring his first night home after a long absence. He had a heart and cared for something at least. Perhaps he wouldn’t be a complete troll when making her his wife.

C. B. Clark: Bitter Legacy
Friday, September 8th, 2017

Earlier this summer I attended an outdoor professional rodeo. I haven’t watched one in years. I used to go to rodeos all the time, and I’d forgotten how much fun they are. Sitting in the stands on a sunny afternoon watching handsome men in tight Wrangler jeans, flashy shirts, chaps, cowboy hats and high heeled boots punishing their well-toned bodies on top of wild, bucking broncs and two thousand pound, angry Brahma bulls is pretty thrilling. Their skills, stamina and courage are awe- inspiring. The excitement in the stands is intoxicating.

Along with clouds of dust, the overpowering smells of manure, beer, fried onions, and cotton candy hang in the air. I love everything about rodeo…the sleek animals with their gleaming coats, the rodeo clown’s corny jokes, the bravery of the pick up men and bullfighters, the country-western music blaring over the loud speakers, and the heart-attack-inducing food. (Who doesn’t love good old southern barbeque? Or deep fried Oreos?)

I don’t know why I stopped going to the rodeo, but I do know I’m going to go to another one. Soon. Who knows, I may even become a buckle bunny.

Bitter Legacy

Sharla-Jean Bromley returns to her hometown after a seventeen-year absence with vengeance in her heart. From the very beginning, her plans go awry when she meets devastatingly handsome Josh Morgan, the man to whom her father left half of his multi-million dollar lumber mill.

Josh, suspicious of Sharla-Jean’s reasons for returning to town after such a long absence, vows to keep control of the company he feels is rightfully his. She is equally determined to prove she can run her father’s mill, even though it means working side-by-side with Josh, a man whose very presence evokes an attraction that is increasingly difficult for her to ignore. In the process, they must overcome a villain who’s determined to destroy both the lumber mill and their lives.

Will Sharla-Jean succeed and heal the anguish that has long filled her soul? Wills he and Josh find the passion of a lifetime?

Excerpt:

Sharla-Jean Bromley had wanted only two things in life—a red dress and her father’s death. She’d waited years. Hell, she’d prayed for this moment. Why then, wasn’t this a celebration? Why was a ball of acid churning through her stomach? Taking a deep breath, she climbed out of the taxi and smoothed the skirt of her figure-hugging, red, silk dress over her hips.

The crowd of somber mourners stood in clusters on the sweeping steps outside the old stone church under the late-October, overcast sky. The damp air was ripe with the familiar sweet-sour smell of freshly cut Douglas fir. Over the hill behind the church, steam trailed in white plumes from the two lumber-drying kilns at the mill. A wind gusted, marshaling scattered piles of gold and red leaves into the gutter.

Goose bumps riddled her arms, and she fought back a shiver as she strode forward, knees quaking, jostling through the crowd on the wide sidewalk.

A collective gasp filled the air, and her name swept over the mourners in a rising crescendo. “It’s her! Sharla-Jean. Big Jim’s daughter.”

Buy Links:
Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZZVR5LJ/
Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bitter-legacy-c-b-clark/1126254341?ean=2940157509132
Kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/bitter-legacy-4
The Wild Rose Press http://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/5061-bitter-legacy.html
iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/bitter-legacy/id1231855938?mt=11

Social Media Links:
Blog https://cbclarkauthor.wordpress.com
Twitter https://twitter.com/cbclarkauthor 
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/cbclarkauthor/
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15029617.C_B_Clark
Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/C.-B.-Clark/e/B01BK61TQG/

About the Author

Broken Trust is C.B. Clark’s fourth romantic suspense novel published by The Wild Rose Press. My Brother’s Sins and Cherished Secrets were released in 2016, and Bitter Legacy in 2017. C.B. has always loved reading, especially romances, but it wasn’t until she lost her voice for a year that she considered writing her own romantic suspense stories. She grew up in Canada’s Northwest Territories and Yukon. Graduating with a degree in Anthropology and Archaeology, she has worked as an archaeologist and an educator. She enjoys hiking, canoeing, and snowshoeing with her husband and dog near her home in the wilderness of central British Columbia.

Kris Bock: What Made the Wild West so Wild? (Free Read)
Thursday, September 7th, 2017

The Old West is full of true stories of bandits, shootouts, and lost treasures. Many people attempt to divide historical figures into heroes and villains, lawman and outlaws. In reality, most people are more complex than that, and few famous people from the Old West led blameless lives.

Wyatt Earp is often regarded as a heroic lawman. However, he spent only six years in law enforcement. He also worked as a gambler, buffalo hunter, stagecoach guard, and Teamster, among other jobs. He was arrested for stealing a horse, but he escaped from jail.

Like many famous Western figures, Wyatt Earp wound up in the famous town of Tombstone, Arizona. Wyatt Earp and Ike Clanton allied to find a group of cowboys who had robbed a stagecoach, but the alliance fell apart—possibly because the Clantons were involved in the robberies. This led to the famous shootout at the OK Corral and the deaths of Billy Clanton and the two McLaury brothers, known cattle rustlers. Soon after, Wyatt’s brother Virgil was seriously wounded in a shooting, and their brother Morgan was killed in a shootout. The attackers were unknown, but Wyatt and his gang killed several suspects. He fled town to avoid prosecution.

Many movies have been made featuring Wyatt Earp, most of them romanticizing his life. The truth is more complex.

A Deadly Killer

Curly Bill Brosius, on the other hand, was pure outlaw and a close friend of the Clantons. He was supposedly a crack shot who could hit running jackrabbits and shoot out candle flames without breaking the candles. His idea of a practical joke was to make a preacher dance during a sermon by shooting at his feet. He forced Mexicans at a community dance to take off their clothes and dance naked. He killed at least one man in a robbery, escaped from prison, and led a gang of rustlers in Arizona Territory.

In 1880, in Tombstone, Curly Bill killed popular Marshal Fred White. The Marshal was trying to take Bill’s gun and it went off, hitting White in the groin. Wyatt Earp then knocked Bill unconscious with his gun. White said he didn’t think Curly Bill was trying to kill him, but he died from his wound the next day. Curly Bill was also implicated in some revenge killings and at least one death during a bar fight. He was implicated in the murder of Morgan Earp, but without proof he wasn’t charged.

Violence in the Desert

Curly Bill also might have been involved in the Skeleton Canyon Massacre. Here history and legend get muddled. Some people claim that Mexican bandits looted Monterrey, Mexico, and escaped across the border with a treasure worth $75,000, or $2 million, or $8 million. Others claim there is no evidence of such a heist in Monterrey, and that it’s doubtful such a treasure ever existed in the first place.

Regardless, violence came to Skeleton Canyon, a shallow canyon in southeastern Arizona, not far from the Mexico border. An American gang ambushed a group of Mexicans—possibly the bandits, or else merely vaqueros (cowboys). One story says Curly Bill’s gang shot the Mexicans out of their saddles, which caused their mules to stampede. The bandits then shot the mules to keep them from running away with the treasure, but with the mules dead, the men had no way to transport the loot. Two men from the gang, Zwing Hunt and Billy Grounds, hid the treasure somewhere in the canyon. When they were killed, the location of the hidden treasure was lost.

Curly Bill had been wounded six weeks before the Skeleton Canyon Massacre and was supposedly still recovering. Was he involved or not? Was the violence over a treasure that would be worth millions today, or merely over some cattle? The debates continue, and some people still hunt for the treasure.

What is most likely true, but is still challenged by some people, is that Wyatt Earp killed Curly Bill in a shootout in 1882. Bill was in his thirties, which considering his lifestyle was a surprisingly long life.

Unsolved Mysteries took a look at the Skeleton Canyon Treasure.

Tombstone is now a popular place for tourists to visit.

History (and Legend) As Inspiration

My adventure novel, The Skeleton Canyon Treasure, was inspired by the legendary treasure. In the novel, set today, Camie and Ryan are hunting for Ryan’s uncle, who disappeared while hunting for the historical treasure. The clues take Camie, Ryan, and the feisty cat Tiger on a trail through the Southwest. Their quest takes them to historic sites such as Tombstone and eventually into the remote canyon, where danger awaits.

The Skeleton Canyon Treasure is a light, breezy action/adventure/romance that’s perfect for summer reading.”

If you love suspense and romance, try this gripping adventure!

The Mad Monk’s Treasure is the first of the Southwest Treasure Hunters novels. The Dead Man’s Treasure is book 2 and The Skeleton Canyon Treasure is book 3. Each novel stands alone and is complete, with no cliffhangers. This series mixes action and adventure with light romance. The stories explore the Southwest, especially New Mexico.

The Mad Monk’s Treasure, “Smart romance with an ‘Indiana Jones’ feel,” is currently free at all e-book retailers.

What is your favorite historical era to read about or explore? Does visiting the real location today help you picture the past?

About the Author

Kris Bock lives in New Mexico, where she enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and watching the sunset from her patio. Her home office looks out on nature, complete with distracting wildlife such as roadrunners and foxes. Her BFA in photography is used mainly to show Facebook friends how lovely the Southwest is.

Kris writes novels of suspense and romance with outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. Whispers in the Dark features archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. What We Found is a mystery with strong romantic elements about a young woman who finds a murder victim in the woods. In Counterfeits, stolen Rembrandt paintings bring danger to a small New Mexico town.

Fans of Mary Stewart, Barbara Michaels, and Terry Odell will want to check out Kris Bock’s romantic adventures. “Counterfeits is the kind of romantic suspense novel I have enjoyed since I first read Mary Stewart’s Moonspinners.” 5 Stars – Roberta at Sensuous Reviews blog

Read excerpts at www.krisbock.com or visit her Amazon page. Sign up for the Kris Bock newsletter for announcements of new books, sales, and more.