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Archive for 'Contemporary Romance'



Elle James: Peru, Baby!
Thursday, September 21st, 2017

So, I’m on this little trip. Yeah, I’m in Peru! First time on the South American Continent. I’m hitting one of my items on my bucket list. My husband and another couple are on our way to Machu Picchu, the ancient Inca ruins. And let me tell you, you can’t get there unless you’re specifically going there! No, you can’t fly direct. Hell, you can’t even fly to Machu Picchu. We flew from Arkansas to Houston, Texas. Houston to Miami. Miami to Lima Peru and stayed the night in the  airport hotel and then flew the next morning to Cusco. From there we were picked up and transported by van to the Sacred Valley. From here, we’ll ride a train up to the ruins. Though I’ve been traveling for 3 days, in this modern age of air travel, I have yet to get where I’m going! But it will be well worth it. I have no doubt. Watch my Facebook page for pictures of our trip. We’re surrounded by the Andes snow-capped mountains in a beautiful country. The people here have all be wonderfully welcoming and the cultural costumes are incredibly fun and colorful.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for the next in the Brotherhood Protectors series, you can preorder MONTANA RESCUE now. It comes out November 14th. It’s also a part of the SLEEPER SEAL Series of books written by a fabulous group of authors. So don’t miss this book! Pre-order now!

MONTANA RESCUE

 

 

The Sleeper SEALs are former U.S. Navy SEALs recruited by a new CIA counter-terror division to handle solo dark ops missions to combat terrorism on U.S. soil

Plagued by survivor’s guilt and a bad knee, SEAL Maddog Maddox left the Navy and buried himself in a mountain cabin in Colorado where the only creatures he hunts now are those he puts on his table. Slowly going out of his mind with boredom, he’s on the verge of throwing himself off a cliff when an old friend, his former commander gives him a reason to live. His mission: Team with special CIA operative and assassin to reveal a terrorist on home soil.

Raised by her father in the Crazy Mountains of Montana, Jolie Richards learned to fire guns before she learned to do her hair. When her father was killed by a careless hunter, Jolie joined the CIA to get as far away from Montana and the emptiness of a home without her father. Her skills as an expert marksman land her as an assassin. When she kills one of a pair of brothers radicalized into ISIS, she becomes the target. In order to flush out the ISIS threat, she sets herself up as bait, but takes him to familiar ground in the Crazy Mountains. Used to working alone, she finds she’s been assigned a partner. She just hopes he stays out of the way of her accomplishing her mission.

Together Maddog and Jolie team with the Brotherhood Protectors, a protection agency comprised of former military members, to expose their enemy before he can kill more innocents.

Amazon | Amazon UK | Nook | Kobo | IBooks | GooglePlay

** Montana Rescue ** is part of the Brotherhood Protectors Series. It is also in the “Sleeper SEAL” connected series. Each book can be read as a stand-alone. They do not have cliffhanger endings.

Each book in the multi-author branded Sleeper SEAL series can be read stand-alone, and individual books do not have to be read in any particular order.

Lindsay McKenna: The Hidden Heart (EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT)
Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

The Hidden Heart

Cara Montero had been kidnapped and then rescued by her sister Aly and Ram Torres.  Now free but traumatized, knowing she was going to become a sex slave sold to someone in Asia, she wrestles with PTSD symptoms.  When Ram and Aly have to leave, she feels as if she’s been abandoned, relying heavily on them.

Tyler Hutton, ex-SEAL, is assigned to take over and be there as a bodyguard and support for struggling Cara.  He’s destroyed his marriage two years earlier because of his own PTSD and doesn’t expect to be powerfully drawn into desiring more than a professional relationship with Cara.  He considers himself broken, just as Cara sees herself as shattered.  Can two people who are drawn to one another find a pathway to connect their hearts and openly admit they are falling in love?  Or will the dark past overwhelm the fragile, hidden hearts that yearned for a lifetime together?

Get your copy here!

One soldier had told Cara Montero at the shower facility that she was special, which apparently meant she would get better treatment than the other women imprisoned with her. The Asian male who had bought her wanted her skin in perfect condition, no bruises, her hair and body clean.  Cara was afraid to ask the soldier more, but because he seemed in a good mood, she did.  He said it was because even though she was twenty-four, which was “very old” for a high-class sex slave, the Asian wanted her.  Then, the soldier took a last drag on his cigarette, tossing the butt beneath his combat boot.  He looked at her lustfully, telling her that if his boss hadn’t already sold her for a million dollars, he’d like to get a piece of her for himself.

Now, caged with her companions, Cara huddled with the two women, trying to calm their trembling bodies. She suddenly saw herself back in Tucson with her parents.  How happy she’d been then! She and her sister had grown up so loved, cared for and supported.  Family meant everything to her and yet, here she was, a thousand or more miles away, alone, helpless and afraid.

In another week, the ship to Asia would take them all away, probably forever. And then?  Cara simply couldn’t fathom what would happen to her.  The other three women did not know their fate.  Only she did.  But Cara was sure they had been sold, too.

The door to the villa opened and shut.  Cara’s head snapped up, her eyes focused.  There was the head soldier—she didn’t know his name, but he terrified her. He was even crueler than his companions, clearly enjoying the pain he inflicted on the women.  And he was walking quickly toward their cell.  Only a dark brown tarp lay across the top of it, keeping rain off them when a storm passed nearby.

The soldier, bald, six-foot five-inches tall was a Russian with flat, gray eyes and a four-day growth of bear—and his gaze was fixed right on her.  She often heard the guttural language interspersed with Spanish, and sometimes, English slang.

Oh, no!  Cara slowly stood up, her hands against her roiling stomach.

He opened the door with a jerk and stepped in.  “You!” he snarled in poor Spanish.  “Get over here!”

Cara froze.  They were going to rape her!  She saw the hardness in the man’s eyes and noted his powerful muscles. He had an AK-47 hanging off a strap in front of him.

“Get over here!” he bellowed, and took a threatening step toward her.

Stunned, she forced herself to walk around the two women who were whimpering with fear, holding tightly to one another.  Her heart was pounding so heavily she didn’t know if she could make it to where he stood, his hands imperious on his hips, his glare eating into her like acid.  Cara knew if she didn’t obey instantly, they’d grab her by the hair and jerk her off her feet.  They had never slapped her since she’d arrived. Was all that about to change now? 

Lowering her eyes, head bowed, she walked to within six feet of the soldier. Earlier that day, three cars had driven up to the double wooden doors of the villa.  The soldiers had opened the doors and allowed the visitors into the spacious area.  Cara had seen one man leave each chauffeured car. All three were dressed in expensive business suits, and she could only guess what they were doing here.  In the past weeks since her capture, she’d sharpened her hearing, listening to snatches of conversation from the soldiers.

She’d found out that Emilio Azarola was a Sonoran drug lord who sent drugs across the border to America and kidnapped young girls, some as young as age twelve. They came from various cities, some from the United States, and others from cities and towns in Central and South America.

Azarola’s sex trafficking trade was growing, which was why this Huge cell that was roughly two-hundred square feet, had been built: it was a holding cell for his captives until their ships pulled into the dock.  From there, children and young women would be shipped to the Middle East or Asia.

The soldier glared at her.  “Come with me.”

Shocked that he wasn’t going to grab her or yank her by the hair, she hesitated, at a loss for words.

“Move!” he snarled, making a sharp gesture.

Cara leaped out of the cell and stood.  There was no place to run, to escape this place.  Furtively, she looked around, trying to see if such an escape was possible.  There was nothing to indicate escape.  Disheartened, she saw him looking at her, stripping her from head to toe with his colorless grey eyes.

Now she knew what it felt like to be a mouse about to be pounced on by a coyote.

“Go to that door,” he muttered, walking toward her, threatening her with his height and bulk.

Instantly, Cara moved, but she suddenly felt weak, her knees turning mushy. Oh, Dios….protect me….protect me…

Desiree Holt’s The Omega Team & SEAL Escort!
Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

On Thursday, my good friend Desiree Holt has a brand new set of stories from some terrific authors ready to launch! I’m proud to be among them! If you’d like to join Desiree’s Omega Team Facebook group, just click on the pretty picture above! My contribution to Thursday’s launch is a fun story set in my Uncharted SEALs series, entitled SEAL Escort. Read an excerpt below and get ready for Thursday!

SEAL Escort

When former SEAL, now Charter Group operator, “Snake” McPherson, is assigned to guard a social media star, he’s not pleased. Edgy from back-to-back tours in the sandbox, the last thing he wants it to tail some “selfie-princess.” Worse, the spoiled little rich girl doesn’t want anyone to know that’s his purpose. No, Cat Mikkelson insists he pretend to be her boyfriend for the weekend, a paid escort for a party at some billionaire’s private island. Worse, the woman dresses him like a Ken doll and insists they share the same room at the billionaire’s mansion.

Cat Mikkelson has a secret. Despite her carefree, online persona, she’s frightened. She’s been a prisoner inside her Manhattan apartment since she broke it off with her prizefighter boyfriend. She knows all too well what he’s capable of, so when she’s invited for a weekend getaway, she’s relieved for a chance to escape her prison while her lawyers gear up to serve him a restraining order. Her handsome bodyguard turns out to be a blessing in more ways than one. With him, she feels safe, and for the first time in a long time, she’s ready to play. The more she pushes his boundaries, the hotter their exchanges get.

As things heat up between Snake and Cat, her past pays a visit…

Yup, sexy times! Here’s a short excerpt…

Cat lost herself in his kiss, noting every caress he gave her as his hands roamed her body. She loved the insistent stab of his tongue as he plunged deep inside her mouth. Inwardly, she crowed with excitement. The time was now. No way in hell would he tell her no this time. The way he crowded his cock against her skin, he was telling her, silently, to prepare. She pulled back. “Please, Snake.”

Smiling, he kissed the tip of her nose. “I packed condoms.”

She grinned. “So did I.”

Lacing their fingers together, he tugged her toward the shore.

She needed no encouragement. Already, her nipples sprang against the thin fabric of her bikini top. Warmth filled her chest and belly, and a languid heat licked at her sex. Just as he would. She knew it. Snake wouldn’t leave her behind. Not ever.

And now, she wished she knew more about him than the fact he understood how to please her. She wanted to meet his friends, see where he lived, what car he drove, and how he filled his hours.

She’d give anything to be invited to learn more.

They moved without haste, but her body was already rushing ahead. Slightly behind him, she reached with her free hand to pull at the bow in the center of her back, loosening her top.

By the time they reached the blanket, the strappy number had fallen to their clasped hands.

He glanced downward, loosened his fingers, and let it drop. Then he gazed at her breasts.

Silently, she stood, letting him look his fill, knowing what he saw—flushed rose tips, paler pink areolas. When he reached to lift one, cupping it, weighing it in his hand, she nearly moaned she was so excited. So ready.

His thumb flicked one tip.

Lust hit hard, and she drew a sharp, hissing breath. “The other,” she whispered. “Touch them both, please.”

Snake went to one knee and burrowed his face between her breasts while he massaged the mounds with his palms. When he turned his face to draw one peak into his mouth, she clutched the back of his head to pull him closer.

He went down on the other knee, lowering his head, and then urged her with his hands to drape one thigh over a hard shoulder. Next, he tugged at the ties at the sides of her hips and drew away her bottoms. His hands sank between her legs, fondling her sex. Fingers gliding through her silky warmth and entering as he began to tongue her clit.

As she rocked her hips forward and back, she never wanted this experience to end. This sensation was heaven. She’d never felt more beautiful or been handled as though she was treasure. When his lips closed around her clit, she stiffened just a little, but he was so gentle, she relaxed again and learned to enjoy the gentle pulls as he sucked it.

A finger trailed up her inner thigh then slid inside her, swirling in her heat and drawing down more moisture, which he used to coat another. Now, two stroked inside her. The pressure of fullness felt incredible. Cat gripped his hair. “Snake.”

He gave her mound a kiss then stood and shoved down his trunks.

His cock was darker than his tanned skin and crowned with a slightly purple head. Thick bluish veins stood in relief against his thick shaft.

When she reached out, he caught her fingers. “Another time,” he said, his voice tight. “Please lie down.”

Her legs trembled, so she was only too happy to drop to the blanket then stretch across it. While his gaze roamed her body, she cupped her breasts and teased the tips, tempting him to come quickly and fill her. Her channel already pulsed and was already drenched.

Going to his knees, he slipped between her thighs, waiting.

Anticipation pumped her blood hot and fast as she opened wider and lifted her knees.

He cloaked himself, hissing between his teeth as he rolled it downward.

Then she followed his glance as it dropped, watching as he fit himself, shaped like a blunt cudgel, against her entrance.

A slow flex of his hips pushed his shaft inside. With gentle moves, he used his fingers to pull away her folds, before he could work his thick cockhead inside her.

Once he was past her entrance, he moved forward and back, easing deeper and deeper inside her, his features growing so hard and set, she knew he battled against thrusting fast.

“You’re tight,” he said, grimacing.

“You’re big.” She gave him a weak smile, because she was focused on the delicious sensations of him moving within her body. He crowded her walls, his gliding cock building frictional heat inside her…

Ann Everett: Most Romantic Thing Someone Has Said to You?
Monday, September 18th, 2017

Several years ago I read an article where women listed the most romantic thing a man had ever said to them. The answers ranged from, I wish I’d been your first kiss to I want to put a baby in you! Not sure I’d consider that last one romantic unless it was a guy I’d been with for a while.

However, I thought the question needed revisiting. Times change, right? What we may have considered romantic ten years ago, now might be regarded as creepy.

I recall a friend of my mother’s telling of how she met her husband. He left small gifts on the front seat of her car for a week, before he revealed his identity! Back in those days, secret admirers were considered sweetsexy even.  In today’s world, they’re stalkers!!

Yes, times do change. But I like to think romance remains the same. Two people meet—albeit in the produce section of the grocery store or through one of the many online dating sites. They flirt. Exchange numbers. Talk or text for a while. Meet for coffee or drinks. Eyes connect. Sparks fly. And next thing you know, he wishes he’d been her first kiss, and she wants him to put a baby in her belly!

My husband is not romantic in what he says, but boy is he good at showing it! Things like—making sure my car always has gas. Cooking dinner when I don’t have the time. Warming up my car on cold mornings. When he runs an errand in town, he returns with a Diet Dr. Pepper from my favorite fast food place.

No, he’s not much in the mushy talk department, but he tells me he loves me and wouldn’t want to live without me, and I guess that’s about as romantic as you can get, so I’ll take it. Well, he says a few other things, too, but I can’t repeat them here!

Some like for the romance talk to be sweet. Others, a bit on the dirty side. OR, a mixture of both at just the right moments can certainly make an impression!

I’m curious about what you consider the most romantic thing someone has ever said to you? Let me know in the comments. You might just win a surprise!

One of the most romantic things Rance says in my latest new adult romance, Chirp.

He rested his forehead against her belly. “Don’t ever leave me again. I’ll die if you do.”
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MT7DXF4

Ann’s social media:
Website       http://www.anneverett.com
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAnnEverett/
Twitter     http://www.twitter.com/TalkinTwang
Pinterest   http://www.pinterest.com/loacl/

Opal Carew: Ten Tips for Talking Dirty
Sunday, September 17th, 2017

Hi! Have you ever thought of using dirty talk to spice things up in the bedroom? But maybe you’re not quite sure how to do it.

I used to think dirty talk meant using dirty words, but it’s more subtle than that.

When I started writing erotic romance, I found I liked to have my heroine pushed beyond her comfort level, to say things she wasn’t used to saying.  Often this was because the hero pushed her to express what she wanted in bed. To focus on what gave her pleasure… and not be too embarrassed to ask for what she wanted.

When I wrote my series, Dirty Talk, I delved into this a lot more. With this series, I wrote four erotic audios where a man with a sexy voice is talking to a woman with the express purpose of arousing her. The concept was that the heroine, Sonny, found one of these audios on an erotica site (think Literotica).

I actually hired a narrator to make the audios. They’re each 10-15 minutes long and they are HOT!!! (I include a link to a sample of one of the audios further down the post.)

After creating these audios, I did some thinking about how I worked dirty talk into stories and I came up with these tips. For each, I’ve included some examples that my characters have said in my writing.

1) Use words that push you or your lover’s comfort level.

Examples:

“Please touch me,” she said.

“Where do you want me to touch you?”
“I want you to touch my…” Her cheeks flushed. “Uh… pussy.”

2) Tell your lover what you want to do to him/her, and vice versa.

Examples:
“I’m going to drive my hard cock so deep into you, you’ll scream my name.”

“I want to see your cock. To touch it.”

3) Tell your lover what you want him/her to do to you, and vice versa.

Examples:

“Please fuck me.” “Please drive your hard cock into me.”

“I want to feel your mouth on my cock. To feel it slide between your lips. Then I want you to suck it.”

4) Tell your lover what effect the things you’re doing together are having on you, using language that evokes arousing images and sensations.

Examples:

“Watching you stroke your hard nipples is so fucking hot. My cock is rock hard and aching. ”

“Oh, I’m so wet.”

5) Say things that raise the urgency level.

Examples:

“I need to slide into your velvety warmth before I burst.”

“Fuck me harder. Ohhh, I’m so close.”

6) Tell the kind of things (such as fantasies) that arouse you.

Examples:

“Just the thought of watching my friend drive his cock into you is making my cock fucking hard.”

“I’ve been a bad girl.” She grinned. “You need to punish me.”

7) Try having one of you take control verbally. (This is the D/s type of scenario.)

Examples:
“Don’t come until I tell you.”

“Do exactly as I say.”

8 ) Say things as part of, or to incite, a type of fantasy role-playing that turns you on.

Example:

“Oh, Daddy, that feels so good.”

“This isn’t part of the school uniform.”

He pulled open her blouse to reveal her bra. He ran his thumb over one swollen nub and a shocking jolt of sensation stabbed through her, straight to her core.

“You like it when I touch you there?”

“Oh, yes, I do, sir.”

He frowned. “You are a very dirty girl.”

9) Playful teasing. For example, to build anticipation, to make your lover feel desirable and attractive, or just to make it more fun!

Examples:

“Oh, your cock is sooo big and hard.”

“You want me to drive my cock into you right now, don’t you?”

“Oh, yes. Please, Sir.” She almost cried out when he pulled away.

A slow smile crept along his fave. “Maybe later.”

10) Make sexy sounds. Moans. Soft sighs. Whimpers.

Just do what comes natural with this one! ;)

Want to learn more about talking dirty? Then read my Dirty Talk series and listen to those hot audios!

You can go to my website and download an X-rated sample of one of the audios.

http://opalcarew.com/DirtyTalk1X.mp4

Now you can get the entire Dirty Talk series, including the four erotic audios by buying two ebook bundles.

Sonny has a debilitating fear of men. Tal is a scary looking tattooed bad-ass. Can Tal get Sonny past her fear and help her become whole?

Sonny is haunted by a past trauma that leaves her terrified of being with a man.  A stranger’s voice has been her salvation. She regularly listens to the sensual audio she found on-line, submitting to the man’s voice and allowing him to take her to ecstasy again and again. His sexy yet deeply caring tone makes her experience what it would be like to be truly desired by a man. She’s come to trust that voice.

Despite his scary appearance, Sonny feels an overwhelming attraction to her new next-door neighbor. When she is finally introduced to Tal, and hears his voice, she is shocked to find he is the man from the audio.  She avoids him, unable to face the stranger who unknowingly brings her to ecstasy.

When Tal meets Sonny, he senses in her a kindred spirit. The haunting pain in her eyes draws him, but he flinches every time fear flickers across her face when she sees him. When he finally confronts her, asking why she’s avoiding him, she tells him she heard the audio he’d published on the erotica site and, to his total shock, she tells him that audio saved her life. Then she tells him about her past, tearing his heart in two.

It becomes clear that she is as deeply attracted to him as he is to her. Can he find a way to help her get past her pain and be with a man?

Don’t forget, when you buy the ebook versions, you also get the four erotic audios!

Reviews:

5 stars! Hot does not even come close to this read!!!
“…This read has an added bonus!!! At the end is the most tantalizing audio of the hottest part of the book. It melted my panties and made me hungry for more!!”

5 stars! Short, so sweet, and hot hot HOT!!

I am in love with Tal and Sonny! This series just keeps getting better and better with each book – and more and more intense! And I don’t know how, but the special bonus audios just keep getting HOTTER!

5 stars! Spectacular!!!

Truly spectacular and let’s not talk about the recording, I can’t even say what it did to me. Thanks, Opal.

Buy Links (go to all major vendors):

Dirty Talk, Books 1 & 2:
books2read.com/u/bpWOD

Dirty Talk, Books 3 & 4:
books2read.com/u/bwWvde

About Opal:

Opal is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of erotic contemporary romance. Her books have won several awards, including the National Readers’ Choice Award (multiple times), the Golden Leaf Award (multiple times), the Golden Quill (multiple times), CRA Award of Excellence, and Silken Sands.

Opal writes about passion, love, and taking risks.  Her heroines follow their hearts and push past the fear that stops them from realizing their dreams… to the excitement and love of happily-ever-after.

Website: OpalCarew.com
New Releases: OpalCarew.com/ReaderGroup
Facebook: OpalCarewRomanceAuthor
Twitter: @opalcarew
Instagram: opal.carew
Pinterest: opalcarew
Amazon author page: bit.ly/OpalCarewAmz
Blog: bit.ly/OpalsBlog
Goodreads:  bit.ly/OC_Goodreads

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/

Roxanne D. Howard: The Power of Dreams in Writing
Monday, September 4th, 2017

Hello, I’m Roxanne D. Howard, and I write erotic contemporary and paranormal romance novels. Today I’d like to discuss the power of dreams in our writing.

I know several authors who keep a dream journal in their nightstand, and jot down the dreams they remember upon waking. Paul McCartney once said in an interview that he dreamt the song, Yesterday. He composed the melody in a dream, and upon waking, he played it on the piano. He had to shop it around to friends and family because he believed it was a song from his past or childhood, but as it turned out, it was completely inspirational.

Dreams have the power to inspire us and lay the cornerstones of what can be come worlds in which our characters live. Since humankind has existed, we’ve studied dreams and tried to make sense of them. Sigmund Freud believed that nothing we do occurs by chance, and that every action and thought is motivated by our unconscious. He believed that our urges and desires that don’t fit into societal norms are repressed into our dreams, and that’s how they are released.

So how do we write our dreams? There are times when we wake up that we hardly remember what we dreamt about, which is why it’s important to keep a writing journal, or a memo app on our phones handy. The littlest line or recollected visual description can make the biggest difference.

Let’s talk about writing space. In his memoir On Writing, Stephen King likened writing to a wakeful, dreamlike state. “Your writing room should be private, a place where you go to dream… the space can be humble, and it really needs only one thing: A door you are willing to shut.” As a mom to two rambunctious girls, I can testify that this is nigh to impossible at times when you’re running the kids from school to ballet class, unless you have a lot of time on your hands. What I’ve learned to do is create my own four walls and pseudo room when I open my laptop.

While ideally you can be more creative in a quiet, isolated environment, it is possible to write while the kids are going to town on the playground at McDonald’s or having fun in the bouncy houses at the fun center. If you can create those mental four walls when you have a moment to spare, you can transpose your dreams into a story.

While I’d love to be able to say I had an erotic dream like the ones Lark has in At the Heart of the Stone which inspired the story, Lark just walked as a fully formed character into my mind with a story to tell, and I went from there. However, a lot of lines I get for my novels do come from my dreams, and I’ve learned not to ignore them as they come along.

What interesting dreams have you had which have inspired you?

At the Heart of the Stone

Dreams are the perfect shelter for our fantasies, safe havens to step inside without changing our daily lives. For Lark Braithwaite, all that is about to change. During the last six months, Lark has dreamt of a mysterious Irish lover who knows what she wants and gives her exactly what she needs. In her waking life in busy London, things aren’t as ideal, as her long-term relationship with Charles, her controlling fiancé, has hit a dry spell.

When Lark is called home to Oregon for her father’s funeral right in the middle of a high-stakes corporate merger, she heads back to face the demons from her past. What she doesn’t expect is to meet her dream lover in the flesh. Niall O’Hagan steps straight out of her fantasies and right into her life, and the powerful connection they share rocks her foundation. Although she’s dealing with the bitterness of being betrayed by Charles and his jealousy, Niall soon stirs Lark’s awareness of the superficiality of her existence and reawakens not only her sexuality, but her soul.

At the Heart of the Stone Buy Links:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Google PlayiTunes | Kobo | Loose Id

Excerpt:

How did he get here? He was only her dream lover.

Or was he?

Confused beyond all comprehension, Lark didn’t have any time to contemplate what was really going on. His lips delivered a breath-stealing, soul-shattering kiss, and then they were all over each other. This, ah, this she knew. Lark hooked her ankle over his and put a hand on his shoulder, trying to rid him of his jacket and draw him closer. She clenched her hand in his hair as he devoured her mouth. He tasted the same as her dream lover, and she put her tongue in his mouth to savor more of that tangy sweetness.

They were both making noises they never had in her dreams, little breathy gasps and blasts of air as their mouths met and separated as they sought new angles and depths to their passion.

He made a disgruntled sound as he tried to get more comfortable in the cradle of her hips over the hindrance of clothes, and she realized she really wasn’t dreaming anymore. He nibbled on her lower lip as she opened her mouth to tell him to stop, but then she was carried away in the undercurrent of his large, warm hands, which were caressing the skin of her stomach beneath her hoodie and T-shirt. She continued to accept his kisses but pawed down her still zipped-up sweat jacket. Okay, so she was still clothed. He was rock hard against her, and he ground his hips into her, a disbelieving grunt escaping his lips. Lark rolled her eyes back, shivering at the jolt that went through her.

“Wh— Mmm. Whoa. Stop!” She finally managed to say against his mouth. She furrowed her eyebrows and scrutinized him as he breathed in and out, bracing himself on the weight of his hands above her, his bright green eyes bearing into hers. His face was the face of her dreams—the sensual, bowed lips and cleft chin, the built body, and the thick hair. His hair… She blinked. It was cut at the nape and styled for a day at work. She glanced down at what he was wearing.

“Um, why are you wearing a suit and tie this time?” she asked, squinting against the sunlight. Please, God, let this be a dream. He moved his head, putting her in shade.

This time?” He lifted an eyebrow, perplexed. “You’ll have to forgive me, lass, but I’ve no idea what the devil you’re talking about.” He maneuvered himself off her and sat upright at the end of the swing.

She tucked her feet against her and sat up, unable to do anything more than blink at him in utter disbelief.

“I was coming up to knock on the door when I saw you lying here, and given how you were tossing and the noises you were making, it looked like maybe you were having some sort of a seizure.”

He seemed contrite, and he turned his head as he licked his lips, full and abused from her kisses. Something close to mortification bloomed inside her.

“Erm, you…begged me to kiss you, and then you yanked me down. One thing led to another and, well, that was pretty much the way of it. I am only human, though I know that’s no excuse.” He swallowed and stared at her, his Adam’s apple moving in his throat. “I apologize. I shouldn’t have gone down when you pulled me, but it was strange—like you knew me or something.”

Lark leaned forward and rubbed her eyes. This couldn’t be real. She was hallucinating. She had to be. When she opened her eyes she’d see a man in his fifties with a receding hairline, glasses, and a beer gut. She reopened her eyes, and there he was: The full package. In the flesh. There was an air of intelligence in the way his eyes scrutinized her. She sat up and planted her feet on the porch, then put a hand to her head. The vertigo from earlier returned. “No, I’m sorry. I was dreaming…”

“Excuse me for saying so, but it must’ve been one hell of a dream.”

Lark nodded and tried not to black out as a wave of dizziness came over her.

“You look like you’re dehydrated. Hold on.”

The lilt of his familiar Irish accent soothed her like warm milk. He stood and walked over to a black laptop case propped near the front door that had several thick manila folders sticking out of its open center, one of which she could see said BRAITHWAITE in large, capital letters on an index label. He crouched down and unzipped the front pocket, extracting an unopened plastic water bottle.

“Here,” he said, unscrewing it and holding it out to her.

“Thanks.” She accepted the bottle and took a long sip of the cool water. It almost instantly revived her. She wiped a little water off the corner of her mouth with the top of her knuckle as he watched her. She offered it back to him, but he shook his head and reclaimed his seat next to her.

“Keep it. Drink.”

“Thank you.” She closed her eyes and took several large gulps, the cool liquid a balm to her throat.

“My name’s Niall O’Hagan.”

His voice was deep and pleasant. It sounded different, lighter than the sultry bedroom voice she was used to from her dreams.

“I’m the Braithwaites’ attorney.”

Lark paused in midsip and lowered the bottle in her hands. “You—no.” She laughed, glancing at him.

His mouth lifted at the corners, as if it were dawning on him he was the butt of a joke he wasn’t aware of. “I…what?”

Oh, the irony of dreaming about her father’s lawyer this whole time. Oh my God. She started giggling. This was it; she was officially losing it. She got up and walked over to the top step of the porch, put a hand over her face, and plunked herself down. “I am so messed up.”

A sudden, unwanted flash of Gemma saying “darlin’” to Charles yesterday surfaced, and tears stung her eyes. She went silent and willed them not to fall. It was no use.

After a moment, Niall sat down on the step beside her. “I’d offer you a drink, but I quit ten years ago.”

Lark laughed, despite the tears. “An Irish attorney who doesn’t like Guinness is like an Englishman who doesn’t like fish and chips or something.”

“I know; shameful,” he said with mock contrition. “Don’t hold it against me. I’m doing the world a favor. Trust me. I was a horrible drunk. Seriously, though, are you okay, miss?”

Lark scoffed and gesticulated with her hands to the sky. “It’s Lark. And what a loaded question of the day.” She couldn’t look at him, not after what happened. She clenched the edge of the step on either side of her and stared out at the trees.

“Well, considering we’ve already gone to second base, we might as well be open with each other. Forgive me if I’m candid, but it seems you were having an alleged, eh, intense dream, and you woke up and believed I was him. Is that right?”

Horror dawned on her at what she’d done, and her jaw dropped. “No!” Yes. She glanced at him, and his knowing expression said he knew that was exactly what happened.

“I see,” he said, his tone careful but persistent. “Then why did you kiss me like that?”

“I-I don’t have to answer that.” She lifted her chin with defiance.

He scooted closer to her. “No, you don’t. But I wish you would.”

She scratched her head in frustration and jumped up, moving toward the door.

“I’m sorry to embarrass you,” he said, and she paused with her hand halfway to the doorbell. “I’m decent. I would never— I never meant to take advantage of you at all, please know that. When you kissed me like that, so familiar, I…”

It occurred to her Niall was being a lot more of a gentleman about the whole thing than most men would be, given how horrid the situation was. And she, meanwhile, was being a total bitch. And the poor guy had no clue as to why.

He met her in two quick strides, and his proximity alarmed her. They’d never both been standing in any of her dreams. He was at least a few inches over six feet, well built with wide shoulders and a lithe, muscular frame to complement the height.

He assessed her as well, and his eyes widened with realization. “Wait. Lark? Rick’s daughter? But you’re so little,” he said, surprised. “From the pictures, I assumed you’d be, erm—”

“Fatter?” she asked, glad she was at least back on sure ground. She could always toss jokes around about her heavy days. “It’s okay. You can go ahead and say it. I’ve lost a lot of weight.”

Niall put a hand to the back of his neck. His eyebrows rose. “I think ‘a lot’ is an understatement. Good on you! My mam struggled with her weight too; I know from growing up with her how hard it is to lose it. Well, you look amazing. Wow.”

He rolled his eyes at himself and glanced away. The bizarreness of seeing him act misplaced and common, and not at all like a sex panther, was messing with her.

“I’m sorry.” He laughed. “I sound like an idiot. Listen, I hope you don’t think I’m some leering wanker. This is…awkward.”

“You can say that again,” she murmured with a small smile, wondering what he would say if she told him she’d been having erotic dreams of him every night for the last six months. It was bad enough she’d just made out with the guy.

She held out her hand but didn’t make eye contact. “So listen, how about we forget it ever happened, okay? I’m Lark Braithwaite. I flew in a couple of days ago from London.”

He took her hand and closed his long fingers over hers. “Niall O’Hagan. Pleasure.” He stepped a little closer. “And I’m all for a clean slate, but forgetting’s not on my agenda, lass. I’m taking that one to the grave. Hands down the best snog I’ve ever had in my life. Client’s daughter or no, you can’t take it back.”

About the Author

Roxanne D. Howard is a U.S. Army veteran who has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and English. She loves to read poetry, classical literature, and Stephen King. Also, she is an avid Star Wars fan, musical theater nut, and marine biology geek. Roxanne resides in the western U.S., and when she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband and children. Roxanne loves to hear from her readers, and encourages you to contact her via her website and social media.

Books by This Author:

With Boroughs Publishing Group:
Sonnet Coupled

With Loose Id Publishing, LLC.:
At the Heart of the Stone
Chicks Dig the Accent
The Costa Mesa Series
Costa Mesa 1: Batten Down the Hatches
Costa Mesa 2: Toe the Line
Costa Mesa 3: Overboard

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