Sunday, 14 October 2012

Free Reads!

Yes, this blogpost is about stories that are Free and where to find them. I've started it off with my romantic suspense, Night of the Storm. This full length novel is now Free at Smashwords, DieselSony and Apple.

Please share your own Free Reads and where to find them in the comments section of this blog.

Please come and have a look and a browse, too - lots of excellent stories here!

Happy Reading!

Lindsay Townsend

Friday, 5 October 2012

Mickie Sherwood: 'Cutie and the Cowboy Trucker'

Blurb:
Widow Veronica Torres needs something desperately—invisibility. Escaping the clutches of her conniving brother-in-law and traveling incognito in the RV she traded for online sets her on a collision course with her new destiny, and a barreling fiery red 18-wheeler.

Trucker Mike Masterson steams at the close call. First, he nearly sideswipes her. Now, she ends up at the same rest stop with mechanical trouble. Maybe, she deserves to sweat it out in the June heat since she has the attention span the size of a pea. But, the child in her company deserves better. What else can Mike do besides cart them to his garage for repairs?

Will their burgeoning relationship ignite more fireworks than the upcoming Fourth of July celebration? Or will the sparks of six nights and seven days of summertime sizzle—fizzle to an end?

Available September 12, 2012

Pre-Order/Buy: http://www.bookstrand.com/cutie-and-the-cowboy-trucker

Excerpt:
Veronica approached the door and immediately remembered the rattletrap sounds from earlier. She decided to steal a look at the situation.
But first, she kneeled in front of her son for an eye-to-eye chat. “Sammy, Mama’s got to check the roof.” She stepped into the RV for something to hold his and Bingo’s attention for a while, and came out with a big red ball. Strapping the dog leash around his wrist, she instructed, “I want you and Bingo to stay right here and play. Can you do that for me?”
“Where are you going?”
She recognized the tremor in his voice. “I’ll never leave you alone, Sam.” A humongous substantiating hug brought a smile to his face. Veronica kissed him until his giggles chimed on the wind, signifying his acceptance of what she’d said. “Stay where I can see you. Okay?”
“Okay.”
Veronica monitored the scene, checking to see if they’d garnered any unwarranted interest, before climbing up the side ladder to the roof. Looking down on him from the top rung, she reminded Sam, “Stay put.” His acknowledgment sent her on her hands and knees along the hot metal roof, to the troublesome area.
The lid moved easily at the touch of her hand. Screws hung in their holes, giving her the idea of tightening them with her fingers. That worked only so well, not well enough to make a tight seal. Only one thing to do. She maneuvered her way back to the ladder, peered over the edge, and almost had a heart attack.
“Sam!” She screamed his name, and he looked straight at her, then to the man sitting at the picnic table. She looked at the man, too. Veronica scrambled to grab the ladder for a fast descent. A couple of erratic steps nearly cost her dearly as she slammed hard against the side of the motor home when the ladder moved.
She readjusted her grip. “Get over here, Samuel!” she demanded between spastic heaves.
If she thought things couldn’t get any worse, she had another think coming.
A metallic noise captured her attention while she was suspended midway between heaven and Earth. Her eyes widened as she pinpointed the problem. It was the fasteners at the top of the ladder. They popped loose with a scraping sound—one at a time—while she watched.
The feeling of floating washed over Veronica as she steeled herself for impact. At the same time, she thought of her baby boy below, witnessing the scene. Several seconds passed without any pain inflicted on her body, causing her eyes to open. She still clung to the ladder although in a horizontal position, staring up at the deep blue sky, hands glued in place, rear end sagging, and her sandaled toes hooked backward over the rungs.
She scoped out the distance left to tumble to the hard ground, finding a wonderful sight to behold. The bottom of the ladder had stayed anchored even as the metal above bent perpendicular to the RV. Veronica let go and thudded the two feet or so to the grass. She craned her neck as her concern returned to Sam, who, by that time, stood next to her with tears in his eyes. Bingo showed appreciation for the unrehearsed stunt by showering her with kisses.
Veronica laughed nervously.
“Okay, okay, Bingo.”
What caught the breath in her throat as she attempted to regroup were the man-size reptile-skin boots poised behind Sam and planted widely on either side of his little sandals.
“Need help?”
Veronica noticed the cocoa-brown hands clamped on Sam’s shoulders. They bore the pinkish spotted discoloration of healed burn scars. That in itself was an insignificant matter. The sight of his grip arrested any relief she felt at overcoming her close call. Struggling to free herself from her caged position, she scraped to her feet, grinding grass stains into the knees of her jeans, desperate to come to the rescue.
“Take your hands off my son!” She attacked, reaching to snatch Sam away from his clutch.
His top lip curled under the full, neatly trimmed salt-and-pepper mustache he sported.
She backed up a few steps, never wavering under his gaze shielded by mirrored shades and a soft-looking crushable Stetson. Her own disheveled reflection in his lenses broadcast alarm, but not the uncertainty swirling in the center of her abdomen. Her butterscotch complexion deepened as she stared him down. Or better yet, up and down, for even at her five-nine height, he was still head and shoulders taller.
“I’ll take that as a no,” he intoned with a rumble, turned on his booted heels, and stomped away.

Read the entire first chapter at Mickie's Muttterings.


Bio:
I'm a cruise-loving, people-watching, picture-snapping baby boomer with time on her hands. So, I write sweet and spicy relationship-based mainstream contemporary romantic love stories.
Find me at:
Twitter - @MickieSherwood


Mickie Sherwood
~~Sweet, spicy romance – a heartbeat away~~

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Best Pick – 'Torc of Moonlight' by Linda Acaster



It’s great to have our writing appreciated, and a decent review can make our day. A fan letter from a reader can make our week.

So imagine my delight when I opened an email to discover that a reader had not only taken the time to nominate my supernatural thriller Torc of Moonlight for consideration as Indie Book of the Day, but that it had jumped the hurdles and had won the award. Ya-hee!!

Set in the UK, Torc of Moonlight is a gritty paranormal romance dealing with the resurrection of a Celtic water goddess. It features Nick, a college student whose bright-eyed take on life, love and reality receives a serious knock when he meets studious Alice. Is she leading him into a downward spiral of paranoia? Or are they unconsciously linking into a wayward pre-Roman time-line where a man he terms ‘The Other’ is reliving his life through Nick’s actions? One of them is in danger, but is it Alice or is it Nick?
 
In keeping with Celtic lore and the power of three, the novel is the first in a trilogy set in university cities in northern England. Every place, every building, every road mentioned actually exists. Don’t venture there in the dark. Those who do tend to leave 5 star reviews.

Excerpt:

 He’d seduced her, Nick realised. That’s what had happened. Hawkins had seduced Alice, seduced her and used her and thrown her aside.
The bastard. No wonder she didn’t want anything to do with him. No wonder her only outlet was her work and her books. The bastard.
He picked up his glass again, but it was empty. No one was serving. Nick looked round the pine tables, wondering where the barman had gone. His brain seemed to be floating free of his skull. What was the matter with him? He’d only had two.
Outside the door to the McCarthy people swirled about him, clattering up and down the stone steps. He stood a moment in the maelstrom listening to the ebb and flow of their happy chatter. He’d been happy once. Alice would have been happy. Once.
The steps led up to the canteen, offices, and the Sanctuary bar. He ignored them all. Down the long corridor, far down the corridor, Alice’s poster was tacked to the wall. One tug had it free, the single red drawing pin spinning away to the tiled floor. The next moment he was pushing through the door of the HullFire office.
The girl behind the computer screen looked up with a smile that faded to a suspicious frown. Nick slapped the poster across her keyboard.
‘Hawkins,’ he snapped. ‘Who is he?’
The girl blinked, and pushed herself back on her wheeled chair. ‘What?’
‘Hawkins,’ Nick repeated, stabbing a finger at the blacked-out name on the poster beneath Alice’s head. ‘Who is he and where can I find him?’
Her gaze followed his hand, and then took in the poster as a whole. ‘Oh,’ she said.
Nick leant over her desk. ‘Who is he?’
The girl stood, pushing her face towards his, matching his aggression. ‘What’s your problem? Never heard of please and thank you?’ Her eyes flashed. ‘Our lecherous lecturer laid your girlfriend, has he?’
Nick straightened, catching his breath. The girl eased her stance in return.
‘Figures,’ she said. ‘We thought this little interlude was too good to be true. Helen is the one you need to speak to. She did an exposé a couple of years back. Nearly had him turfed out.’
‘Where is he?’
‘Forget it, or you’ll end up turfed out. And that prat isn’t worth your future.’
‘I’ve never heard of him. Lecturer in what?’
‘Forget it. Acting the jilted lover isn’t going to score you any points around here.’
‘Helen, then. Where will I find this Helen?’
‘Right here.’
Behind him the door swung gently on its hinges to reveal an angular woman in her late twenties wearing a mauve silk jacket and a short black skirt. In her heels she was taller than Nick. At sight of the poster she raised a darkly pencilled eyebrow.
‘Mother Earth Society, eh? Not a devotee, are you, desperately trying to be one with nature?’ Her gaze washed over his scarred face. ‘I guess not. Hardly the bardic type.’
‘He’s looking for Harkin,’ the girl told her.
‘Hawkins,’ Nick corrected.
The woman shook her head. ‘Leonard Harkin, our celebrated hippie that never was, chief practitioner of free love and peace, man.’ She swayed, giving an imitation of being stoned. ‘Except he wraps it up with candles and secret invocations.’
The girl shot her a warning look. ‘Helen...’
‘But not everyone,’ Helen continued, ‘only the impressionable ones, the ones he wants to shag. Your girlfriend. Presumably.’
‘Where will I find him?’
‘Now? Pass. His studio’s in Loten. You could try there. Of course, at this hour he could be scraping his reptiles on Cranbrook.’ She looked beyond his shoulder to the girl behind the desk. ‘Time to call it a day, Jenny.’
Nick frowned. ‘This Harkin lectures in…?’
Helen unhooked a coat from the back of the door and passed it over the desk. Jenny flicked the switch on the computer and its incessant hum fell silent in the tiny office.
‘You’re not listening,’ Helen told him. ‘Loten. Studio. You’ll find it if you want to. Can hardly miss it really.’ She gestured towards the corridor. ‘Would you like to go ahead of us so we can lock up?’
Nick stepped by her and kept on walking. Helen followed him out of the office, watching his determined stride with interest as Jenny turned the key.
‘You shouldn’t have done that,’ Jenny said. ‘If he flattens Harkin he’ll get thrown out. If he mentions your name you’ll get thrown out. They’ll bring up that harassment claim he made against you.’
Helen smiled, unperturbed. ‘I hope he does flatten Harkin. I hope he beats the shit out of him. Justice has been a long time coming.’ She narrowed her eyes. ‘Besides, you never can tell. A scapegoat might come in handy.’


Available in both pb and ebook:

Monday, 3 September 2012

Jane Richardson: 'A Different Kind of Honesty'

Always the one who ends relationships before they’ve barely begun, it’s way out of character for Maggie Lawless to take a risk with a man she hardly knows…the man she meets in a seedy New York City diner has a truth about him, a sincerity like no one she’s ever met before. Tony Valentino is an FBI agent fresh from a long-term undercover operation that’s left his life in tatters. His marriage over, separated from his children and with nowhere to call home, he’s frustrated and angry. All that keeps him going is the sweet memory of a brief encounter with a beautiful woman, though it wakes him from crazy dreams that leave his mouth dry and his sheets soaked with sweat. When he meets her again, it’s obvious the fire that burned so briefly between them never really went out...but as their affair rekindles, both Tony and Maggie find the very people they thought they could trust are the first to turn against them.

Excerpt:

“I don't want to lose you, Maggie. Really I don't!”
Detective Sergeant Danny Chang shuffled along the corridor on his knees, his hands clasped over his heart in a frenzy of unbridled passion.
“Please! You want me to beg? Look at me—I’m begging.”
Maggie sighed. “Aw, come on, Danny. You know how much I love you. No matter what happens, we'll still be friends.”
“Ha! You say that now, but when you've finished with me you'll crumple me up and toss me aside like a used tissue. You're just like all the others!” Danny threw himself face down on the floor and sobbed, his shoulders heaving in distress. Maggie stepped over his prostrate form and leaned against the swing doors at the end of the corridor.
“You're a nut, Chang.” She shoved a door open with her shoulder and walked through backwards, laughing.
Danny picked himself up and brushed the dust from his already grubby jeans. Pushing the door open further, he stood aside to let a young female constable pass, eyeing her curvaceous bottom appreciatively as she scuttled by in too-tight uniform trousers. Maggie folded her arms and watched his undisguised lust with an amused smile.
“You never miss a shot, do you?”
“Life's too short,” he answered, flicking his over-long fringe out of his eyes. His sleek, glossy hair gleamed with the black-blue sheen of a crow's back. He watched the WPC’s retreating form as it disappeared around a corner. “So anyway—what's all this crap about you leaving?”
Maggie shrugged and turned away. “I never said I was actually going.” She loosened the belt of her damp raincoat and shook her hair out of the collar as she walked down the corridor. “All I said was I feel like a change. That's all. You know, try something different.”
Danny fell into step with her, slipping off his battered leather pilot jacket to reveal a T-shirt that might have once been white, but had long ago washed out to rain-cloud grey. A ladder of rips ran down the left leg of his jeans. One of the tears gaped open, revealing a knee with every step he took.
“Don't do it, Maggie,” he pleaded. “It won't be the same without you. I'll really miss you if you go.”
“Danny, you haven't seen me in six months.”
“Ah, but I thought about you every day and most nights. Dreaming of running my fingers through your soft auburn hair, losing myself in those beautiful baby blues. What do you think kept me going, up there in Miserable Manchester?”
“You really are a loony, you know. What are you now, thirty-two, thirty-three? You're the youngest dirty old man I know.”
Maggie was only pretending to be serious. She and Danny Chang had been friends since day one at Police College. They'd laughed, cried, and got roaring drunk with each
other, more often than not all on the same night. But never anything more, not even so much as a drunken snog, never mind a chaste kiss. If asked, Danny would have said their friendship was too valuable to spoil. Maggie would have said she’d trust him about as far as she could throw him with the wind behind her. Either way, they were best friends who told each other everything.
Most things, anyway.
Their pace slowed as they turned the corner, where two rows of doors faced each other across the corridor. A particularly evil variety of one hundred percent nylon carpeting covered the floor. After walking across it, you had to be certain to neutralize yourself on a wooden surface before touching another living soul for fear of zapping them half-dead with static shock.
Maggie rapped her knuckles on a mock-teak door with a black plastic nameplate announcing in white letters the lair of Detective Inspector Rachel Arden.
“I wonder what she wants?” Maggie whispered. “She only just caught me, too. I was trying to sneak off early. I haven't had a free weekend in ages.”
“Yeah,” Danny agreed. “And it's Poet's Day.”
“Poet’s Day?”
“Yeah, Poet’s Day. You know. Piss Off Early, Tomorrow's Saturday.”

Buy from MuseItUp

Edinburgh Fog
A Different Kind of Honesty

Friday, 31 August 2012

'Asking Too Much,' Lindsay Townsend. Erotic Romance

My new erotic romance, 'Asking Too Much,' is now available as a pre-order with money off at Siren-Bookstrand.

Categories: Erotic Romance, Futuristic
Word Count: 34,505
Heat Level: SIZZLING

Published by: Siren-BookStrand, Inc.







PRE-ORDER HERE
AVAILABLE: Wednesday, September 5th
This title is offered at a 10% discount. Offer ends midnight CST, September 12th.

offered at a 10% discount. Offer ends midnight CST, September 12th.

[Siren Classic: Erotic Futuristic Romance, light consensual BDSM, spanking, HEA]

In New Athens in 2061, men and women can sell themselves into slavery. Sofia Buccharis, golden, beautiful, and grieving, faced with an uncertain future, offers herself to the man she has admired for years, the former tyrant of New Athens, Theo Leventis. In a daring proposal, she goes further and suggests that they marry. She will be his slave bride—his virgin slave bride.

Intrigued, Theo, a man who has cloaked his emotions in mastery since a devastating divorce, seeks the gentle beauty out again after she has left him to consider her idea. He rescues Sofia from her bullying father and takes her to his private island. Theo courts Sofia, teaching her what lovemaking can be, and she teaches him about emotional intimacy.

In a month's time they will marry—and will Sofia's gamble pay off? Will Theo be a loving master and husband, or has she asked too much of the tyrant of New Athens?
A Siren Erotic Romance

Lindsay Townsend http://www.lindsaytownsend.net

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Guest Blog - Mickie Sherwood: 'BayouBabe99er'

















BayouBabe99er
Genre: Mainstream/Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 25,980
Release: April 24, 2012
Price: $2.99

Blurb: (New)
Suave Drake Cormier looks up at the lady leaning over the railing of the fishing trawler. She is probably one of the many Pauchex Pass inhabitants he is there to help. Will she pluck him from the swirling water? Or will his arrogant answer to her question about his trustability cause his demise?

Lovely Sharlene Mouton looks down at the man floundering for his life in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. She suspects he is as egotistical as they come. Should she throw him a line? Or let him dogpaddle to the distant shore?

Either way, that will be the last she ever sees of him. Or will it?

Buy at: Bookstrand and Amazon


Excerpt:

She kept tabs on the boaters.

The advancing powerboat zoomed perilously close to hitting her, rocking the small trawler like a cradle. Noise blasted passed her ears as the driver whipped the wheel and the speedboat leaned into a cresting curve. The close call left raucous laughter in the air and a body over the side. It was long gone before the splash sounded or the call for help went out.

He bobbed in the wake a good distance away, still shouting and calling names. It wasn’t long before the name calling took a vulgar turn. She watched as he swam to the nearest buoy where he clung for dear life. He swept the horizon with his eyes while circling his life preserver, one hand always in contact. Then—his eyes caught sight of her.

A hand swiped water from his face. “Hey!” his baritone timbre rumbled. That same hand flagged overhead.

The next thing Sharlene knew, he took off in her direction. Strong strokes propelled him within reach of the side ladder in no time flat. That was as far as she permitted for she swung the oar like a weapon. “You’re drunk as a skunk.”

“No, I’m not, Captain,” he countered. “Permission to come aboard.”

“Don’t patronize me, mister.”

“Look around you.” He floundered to stay afloat. “I’m not in any position to patronize anybody. Please.”

She wasn’t feeling very sympathetic at the moment.

“I’m Drake Cormier. I don’t bite.”

Something unexpected happened in her spirit. Laughter bubbled even as she gave him a direct stare. “I wasn’t born yesterday. You’re a man, right?”

“Last I looked.”

His comment sobered her. She disappeared from the side of the boat. It shocked him when the motor started and his lifeline puttered away. To add insult to injury, she slung a life ring overboard and nearly clocked him. Hearing his pitiful cry, she cut the engine.


Bio:
Mickie Sherwood is an author and novice photographer who takes nature pictures right in her own backyard. She loves to engage in her favorite pastime which also incites her creativity. Combine that aspect of her life with the enjoyment of spending time with her family, and cruising vacations, and the development of interesting characters who encounter intriguing circumstances is not very far behind.

Mickie also likes a good laugh. Enjoy the humorous stories she tells about life, at her blog - Mickie's Mutterings.


Tags: Mickie Sherwood, mainstream contemporary romance, interracial romance, Gulf Oil Spill


Mickie Sherwood
~~Sweet, spicy romance – a heartbeat away~~
www.blurbsinbloom.com Sweet-to-sensual romance blurbs compiled just for you! Open for submissions.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Guest blog: L. K. Below - 'Beauty in his Bed'


BIO:

L.K. Below indulges her love of fairy tales a bit in each of her books. From scornful first meetings to heated encounters, she believes that every character deserves a happily-ever-after. The Modern Fairytales series embodies that ideal even more, each centering around a fun, flirty fairy-tale-turned-reality for the inner princess. Visit her online at www.lbelow.net.
                                      

BLURB:

Upon finding a gorgeous woman in his bed, Seb wakes her with a wicked kiss…and it just might lead to forever.

Devastated by a breakup, plus-sized Amy Somers retreats to New Orleans to visit her longtime friend. But when her friend delivers the key to her apartment and sends Amy on ahead, she doesn’t realize that the apartment belongs to someone else.

Upon coming home to find Amy asleep on his bed, Sebastien Babineaux entertains lusty thoughts. Bent on seducing her, he never expects to lose his heart -- or to work so hard to keep Amy by his side.


EXCERPT:

Damn.

Seb propped his shoulder against the door frame to keep from falling to his knees at the sight of the woman lying half-naked on his bed. Was he drooling? Faced with a sight as delectable as her, he didn’t know how his jaw wasn’t lying on the floor.

If only she’d been conscious.

His hands tingled with the urge to strip off the rest of her clothes. After the dry spell he’d been having, he would have considered himself delusional to be handed such a feast. That is, if Monique hadn’t warned him that she’d sent her friend over. Seb needed no help charming women, but with a beauty like the one sprawled out before him, how could he turn her away?

This woman--Amy, he’d been told was her name--had been crafted to fulfill his every  fantasy. She lay oblivious to his presence. Her blue baby doll clung to her large breasts, revealing miles of unconquered terrain. Her auburn hair draped over her chin and part of her plump mouth. One hand was tucked beneath her cheek; the other rested between her lush bare thighs. With her legs curled, he couldn’t tell how tall she would be, but one thing he was certain: before him lay a woman who he wouldn’t have to worry about crushing with his six-foot-tall frame. And one he shortly hoped to know very well.

One question held him rooted in place while his hormones urged him to join her.

Why would a goddess like her be lying half-dressed on his bed?

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz: 'Love Delivery'

BLURB:

A waitress in a donut shop, Ann is happy with her single life and her cat, Mittens, until she finds herself interested in Tom, the handsome man who makes deliveries to the shop.  Unfortunately, Tom comes with some baggage, including five cats; Maria, his vicious ex-wife; and Maria’s adorable daughter he calls Kitten.  

When Maria is hired at the donut shop and learns Ann and Tom are beginning a relationship, she does everything she can to tear them apart.  Will Ann and Tom’s love prevail, or will the evil ex-wife win in the end?  Love Delivery is a sweet romance, which will bring tears to your eyes and a smile to your lips.

EXCERPT:

“Here it is,” he said, steering her to a quiet corner. Candles lit the table. A bottle of red wine stood open. Tom held the chair for her, and then sat close so their knees touched. “Would you like a glass of wine?” he asked, reaching for the bottle.

“No thanks,” Ann said. “I don’t drink.”

Tom poured a glass for himself. “Here’s the menu.” He handed it to her.

“I know what I want.”

“What’s that?”

“Fettuccini Alfredo.” Ann shook out her napkin and placed it on her lap.

“This chicken dish is good,” Tom said, pointing to an item on the menu.

Ann grimaced.  Is he a control freak? I already told him what I want. “I don’t eat meat.” Her voice sounded harsh in her own ears.

“Ah, well, okay, then. Fettuccini Alfredo it is.” Tom called the waiter and ordered the Alfredo for Ann and a spicy chicken dish for himself.

I guess we don’t agree on everything after all. He drinks and eats meat, too. I hope he doesn’t drink a lot. Maybe we weren’t made for each other. Not knowing what else to do, Ann took a sip of water and smiled.

Tom smiled back. “You’ll have to come meet my cats one of these days. Tyra, a gorgeous, long-haired black female, is my bathroom kitty. Whenever I’m sitting in there, she has to be in my lap. There’ve been times when my pants have been around my feet, and she’s curled up in my underwear.

“Then there’s BeeBee. She’s a Siamese. When I first got her, I thought she liked to cuddle, but it turned out she was just scared. It took me a long time, with lots of persuasion, to get her to come close to me. Finally, I was able to pick her up. I had her in my arms, and I put my face down to smell her fur. Suddenly, she turned and bit me on the nose.

“I think my favorite, though, is Loki. He’s the smallest of the bunch. He has allergies, and if I don’t get him to the vet for a shot in time, he loses his fur on his rear quarters, right by his tail. He loves to ride on my shoulders. Looks just like I’m wearing a fur collar.

“Then there’s the two new ones, they’re the kittens. They haven’t developed personalities yet. You should always get two kittens instead of one,” Tom said when the food arrived.

“Why?” Ann asked. Her face hurt from laughing at Tom’s cat stories. Mittens never did any of the things Tom’s cats did.

While she ate, Tom continued to share funny stories about the cats and kittens. “Kittens play with each other so you don’t need to play with them. You can just sit back and watch them. When I have kittens in the house, I don’t even turn on my T.V. set.” Tom twirled pasta on his fork. He lifted the fork halfway to his mouth and stopped. “Looks like we have company,” he groaned.

Ann turned. Maria and a curly-haired blond child entered. Ann watched Maria’s smile turn to a frown. Maria pulled the child toward their table. Ann gulped. Now what? Can’t she leave us alone? How can Tom and I ever get to know each other if she’s always showing up? She pasted a false smile on her face and clutched her napkin tightly.

“So you decided not to listen to me,” Maria spat at Ann.

“Daddy!” the little girl cried, holding up her arms.

“Hi, Kitten,” Tom said, scooping the child into his arms. He gave her a bear hug, and she giggled. “I want you to meet my friend, Ann. Ann, this is Kitten.”

“Hi, Ann. Daddy calls me Kitten, but you can call me Catherine.” The child put her arms around Tom’s neck and hugged him.

“Hello, Catherine,” Ann said, finding her voice.

“At least you could have gone somewhere else, Tom. We always ate here,” Maria accused and pushed
Tom’s shoulder.

Tom moved Catherine to his other knee and glared at Maria. “Do we have to fight in front of Kitten?”

“Hey, Mr. Nice Guy, you’re the one who left us, remember?”

Removing Catherine from his lap, Tom stood up and faced Maria. “You’re creating a scene. Why don’t you leave before things get ugly?”

“Maybe you should have thought about that a long time ago.” Maria poked Tom’s chest with her finger.

Ann watched in fear. Only moments ago, she and Tom were enjoying dinner. Maria’s face now looked hard and dark. She swore at Tom and poked him again. Then she shoved him on the shoulder.

Tom grabbed her hand. Maria spat at him and reached up, clawing his face with her other hand.

“I hate you,” she screamed, grabbed her child, and ran out crying.

Tom turned to Ann. There were bloody scratches on his face. Ann dipped her napkin in her water glass and dabbed his cheek. “I’m sorry, Ann, I guess this spoiled dinner.”

This is never going to work for us, not as long as Maria is in the picture. Ann nodded her head. “Sure did. I’m not very hungry now. I think I’d better just go home.”

BIO:

Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz has published more than 100 articles, 75 stories, two e‑books, a chapbook, and her stories have been included in two anthologies. She writes for both adults and children. Her fiction has appeared in numerous genre and children’s publications and non‑fiction work has appeared in a variety of writing, parenting, and young adult print magazines and on line publications.  She edits for two small traditional publishers.  Visit her web site at http:// pennylockwoodehrenkranz.yolasite.com. Her writing blog is located at http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.blogspot.com/

Her three romance stories: Love Delivery, Lady in Waiting, and Mirror, Mirror are available from MuseItUp Publishing. Her middle grade novels, Ghost for Rent and Ghost for Lunch, will be released by 4RV Publishing. Her short story collection A Past and A Future is available at Sams Dot Publishing.  Two picture books, Boo’s Bad Day and Many Colored Coats are also scheduled for publication with 4RV Publishing.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

'A Silver Sun' by Sandra Freeman: a rewarding relationship read

'A Silver Sun'
Sandra Freeman
Pen Press
ISBN 978-1-78003-287-0
4.5 Stars for 'A Silver Sun'

Recently I was sent a copy of 'A Silver Sun' by Sandra Freeman to review. I found it very original. The novel, set in modern Southern France amongst the British ex-pat community, is touching, wry and full of pathos. The characters are vivid, very human, nicely contrasting, and at times truly startling. I particularly enjoyed Sandra Freeman's deft and realistic drawing of more mature romantic leads, especially Stella, the sympathetic main heroine. The author creates younger characters equally well and I found myself cheering on Ben especially.

'A Silver Sun' is a rewarding relationship read and offers many insights into life abroad, life in a small France village, grief, lost-love and the nature of age.

Lindsay

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Saturday, 24 March 2012

Guest Blog: Barbara Scott Emmett - 'Don't Look Down'


Don't Look Down
by Barbara Scott Emmett


Amazon UK  £2

Amazon US  $2.99


PROMO OFFER:
Free from March 23-25 inclusive.






Read about Barbara's books at http://www.emmettweb.co.uk/bse/index.html 


EXCERPT:

The wodge of blanket parched the moisture from her mouth, the prickly hairs caught in her throat. Lauren coughed and croaked and tried to force it out, pushing it with her tongue. She rolled around, trying to get her arms free, panic rising within her. She couldn’t breathe. She would choke.
The van doors slammed and the vehicle started up and sped across the motel car park. Lauren bounced around in the back as it jounced over the hard snow. She skidded to the right and banged her hip against a wheel-hub as the van presumably turned onto the road. As the speed increased, a wave of anger burned through her. How dare they! How bloody dare they! They must surely know by now she wasnt the person they wanted.
She struggled over onto her side and managed to unwind herself from the blanket a little. Another roll, and another, and she was more or less free of it. Jerking her arms outward, she threw it off and sat up. Her lip was bleeding again.
Hot from her exertions as well as her rage, she swivelled around to look to the front of the van, expecting to see through a gap or a window into the driver’s cab. What she saw instead made her overheated blood run cold as ice.
A man sat with his back up against the cab wall grinning at her. From his hand poked the greyish barrel of a Luger pistol, which she recognised from films. This was her very first encounter with a gun of any kind, never mind one pointed directly at her.
The man was new, not one of the previous goons – though his tanned skin suggested he was the same nationality as Brains and Muscle – whatever that was. Albanian perhaps, like the cleaner. His shining scalp was naturally bald, not shaven. His yellow eyes flat, dead. Lauren stared at him, transfixed. Had she seen him somewhere before? There was something familiar about him...
Without taking her eyes off him, she reached up and pulled pieces of blanket fibre out of the split in her lip. She spat out blood and lint, watching the gunman all the time, her breathing ragged. He watched her in return, a lazy grin hovering about his mouth. Lauren was overcome with hatred. Hatred of the gunman, hatred of all of them, whoever they were. Bitter seething hatred.
Ive already told the other two clowns Im not Katti, she said. ‘Cant you get it into your thick skulls? Youve got the wrong person.
But it is not Katti we want this time, said the man. ‘It is you, Lauren. You.
Shocked that he knew her name, Lauren fell silent. She shivered and briefly considered drawing the blanket around her again. She didn’t have her fleece on, and it was bloody cold. Checking her movement as foolish – she needed to be free of encumbrances in case an opportunity for escape materialised – she glanced around the van.
No, no, no, Lauren, said her captor. ‘No way out for you this time. This time, the professionals are on the job.
 Lauren was aware of a mad drummer doing paradiddles in her chest. ‘How did you find me? How did you know where I was?
Ways and means, Lauren.’ He lifted the Luger. ‘Ways and means.
Who are you? What do you want?
Lauren, Lauren, he said, shaking his head, like an indulgent father who is not prepared to put up with any more nonsense. ‘You are not in a position to ask questions, to demand answers.
I only want to know why you want me. Why me? What have I ever done to you?
The grin vanished from his face. ‘It is not what you have done, Lauren, he said. ‘It is what you know.
But I dont know anything! What do you imagine I know? I havent a clue why youre doing this. Or who the hell you are.
Nevertheless, you know too much about us. You have seen faces. Faces can be recognised. That is not allowed.
Not allowed? Lauren knew her voice trembled and did her best to prevent it. ‘But that’s not my fault. They should have covered their faces. So should you.’
You are absolutely right, of course. Nevertheless, you will have to pay for the foolishness of others.’
What are you going to do? Erase my memory?
The man smiled. ‘In a manner of speaking. The grin spread across his face; even the dead eyes flickered. ‘We are going to erase all of you. That will include your memory.
Lauren knelt on the ribbed rubber floor of the van, facing her executioner. She was very much afraid she was about to beg. Beg for her life.
Look, she said, as calmly as she could manage. ‘I have no idea who you are, who your organisation is, or what all this is about. She shrugged, reasonableness itself. ‘I dont even want to know. Its nothing to do with me. Im only here to visit my friends. Im British, for Gods sake!
The gun pointed directly at her. The man’s smile no longer reached his eyes. Lauren steadied herself as the van sped on.
I just want to go home. Please. I dont care who you are. I couldnt care less. She knew she was cowardly, but who said she had to be brave? Not her. She never claimed heroism. ‘Why dont you let me go? Drop me off somewhere. Anywhere will do. And Ill go home and youll never see or hear of me again.
His smile broadened. He shook his head. A look of genuine regret entered his yellow eyes. ‘If only that were possible, Lauren. If only I could do what you ask. A sigh escaped his lips.
But you can. You can. You dont want to shoot me. Think what a mess itll make of this nice clean van. And itll only be more evidence. These days, you know, DNA, forensics. Lauren heard the desperation in her voice. She knew she was failing. But she had to keep trying. She owed herself that.
Lauren, he said, as though to an obtuse child. ‘If it was my intention to shoot you here in this van, do you not think I would have done so by now?
He shook his head, disappointed in her it seemed: a father studying a bad school report, unable to reconcile it with the bright child he knew.
No, Lauren. Not here. Somewhere private, quiet. Somewhere lonely. I know just the place. And Lauren, he added, viewing her over the top of his gun. ‘Do not trouble yourself about the mess. It will be very very clean.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Guest blog: Frances di Plino - 'Bad Moon Rising'


Bad Moon Rising is a dark psychological thriller.

Brought up believing sex with the living is the devil’s work, a killer only finds release once he has saved his victims’ souls. Abiding by his vision, he marks them as his. A gift to guide his chosen ones on the rightful path to redemption.

Detective Inspector Paolo Storey is out to stop him, but Paolo has problems of his own. Hunting down the killer as the death toll rises, the lines soon blur between Paolo’s personal and professional lives.

Excerpt from Bad Moon Rising

“Please, no. Oh God. No more. Please.”

Excited by her pleading, he pounded his fists into her face. He craved release, but couldn’t give in. Not yet. Not while she could defile him. Only when her swollen lids meant she could no longer see did he allow himself to take her throat between his hands and free her soul.

He waited for her death throes to pass, then relaxed his grip and moved down the bed to suck and caress her breasts. His heart pounded. Now. He had to move now before it was too late. Shifting position, he straddled her body. Arching his back, he emptied his hatred onto her breasts.

Shuddering, he slid from the bed and fell to the floor.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered. “So sorry, so sorry, so…”

His throat constricted. As tears flowed, he screamed. Thrashing wildly, he knocked against the chair holding the woman’s clothes. Her tights fell across his neck and he panicked, clawing himself free.

Fucking whore!

“God forgive me,” he sobbed. “She made me. Forgive me, God. Forgive me.”

Crawling to the corner cupboard, he opened the door and reached for the scourge. He braced himself, then flicked the nine-tailed lash, the tiny spiked ends digging into his flesh.

Each strike lifted him closer to purity, until he collapsed. Exhausted, he slept.

He woke at first light, ready for the next stage. Filling a bowl with water, he brought it to the bed, then scraped under each of the woman’s nails before washing most of her body in the warm water. He swabbed above and below her breasts, careful not to disturb his gift, the sign of her salvation. From under the bed he brought out a small black leather casket. He removed a fine-toothed comb and ran it through her pubic hair, placing the loose hairs in the envelope he’d already marked with a number four.
***

Detective Inspector Paolo Storey hunched deeper into his sheepskin. The cold suited his mood. A biting wind, typical for the dying days of February, gusted across the front of the criminal courts and played havoc with the press microphones. One of the reporters dropped his dictaphone. It bounced once before landing in the gutter. A spasm of disgust crossed his face as he reached down and brought it up, dripping with sludge. For the first time that day, Paolo felt like smiling. He didn’t like reporters, and that one in particular enjoyed knocking the police.

 He couldn’t understand why the press considered it was okay to have a go at the people trying to put criminals away. Lowlife cons had more rights than their victims. He tried to contain his anger but he was too mad at the world in general, and justice in particular.

Paolo and his Detective Sergeant, Dave Johnson, stepped back to allow the solicitor and Frank Azzopardi to pass. The reporters began yelling questions, each determined to be heard. Matthew Roberts stood beside his client, waiting for the noise to abate.

“Seems the bastard’s got away with it, sir,” Dave whispered.

Paolo turned his head slightly to answer; the icy wind was making his eyes water. “Yeah, that tends to happen when the only witness disappears, particularly when she’s also the victim. Ssh, let’s hear what Roberts has to say.”

 “My client, Frank Azzopardi, a well-respected businessman, has been the victim of yet another effort by the police to improve their conviction rates. He has been unfairly targeted, accused of attempted murder and grievous bodily harm, yet not one witness to the alleged attack has come forward. Even the supposed victim hasn’t felt it worth her while to follow up on her original statement. We have been told today that the Crown Prosecution Service cannot find sufficient evidence to bring the case to trial and that all charges against Mr Azzopardi have been dropped. We shall be making a complaint about the harassment he has suffered at the hands of an overzealous police force. Depending on the outcome of that complaint, we will consider our legal options. That is all, we have no further comment.”

Paolo knew they were most probably too far away for Roberts and the reporters to hear him, but he lowered his voice just in case.

“I could’ve written that speech for him,” he said. “He’s like Pavlov’s bloody dog. See a camera – badmouth the police.”

Bad Moon Rising is published by Crooked {Cat} Publishing.

Reviews: Jo Reed: http://joreed.co.uk/blog/?p=60) and Judging Covers Book Reviews: http://judgingcovers.co.uk/reviews/bad-moon-rising

Frances di Plino is the pseudonym of columnist, editor, non-fiction author and writing tutor, Lorraine Mace. Writing as Frances di Plino gives her the opportunity to allow the dark side of her personality to surface and take control.

As Lorraine Mace, she is a gentler creature, being humour columnist for Writing Magazine and a deputy editor of Words with JAM. She writes fiction for the women’s magazine market, features and photo-features for monthly glossy magazines and is a writing competition judge for Writers’ Forum.

She is a fiction and non-fiction tutor for the Writers Bureau, and is the author of the Writers Bureau course, Marketing Your Book. She is also co-author, with Maureen Vincent-Northam, of The Writer’s ABC Checklist (Accent Press).

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Guest blog: Nana Malone - 'Game, Set, Match' and 'Reluctant Protector'


Eleven years ago after reading Bridget Jones’s Diary, I lost my damn mind. Or so everyone told me. I decided I could do that - Put funny words to paper and have people pay me for it. When I told my family, they thought something must have been lost in translation. Oddly, “writer” sounded nothing like Engineer, Doctor or Lawyer. For a young girl from a strict Ghanaian family, writing as a profession wasn’t even an option. It was a hobby at best.

Armed with my laptop and a dream with not a lick of experience, plot, or character development in sight, I started with my first scene. Apparently that’s how these book things start...with a scene. Since then I’ve learned a little something. Or at least I hope have, for won't it be a shame if after the endless worshops on conflict, motivation and goal, plotting with mythic structure, plotting by motivation, character development, I still didn’t get it “write."

It may have taken me a little longer than I thought, but I finally got here. Who knew I wouldn’t write the book in month, sell it the next month and become a NYT bestseller overnight? Please refer to afore mentioned lost mind. Luckily I found some amazing writers over time that mentored me, critiqued for me, sent me mental Godiva to keep my muse going, and sent me mental hugs for every rejection. I must say, that was a lot of hugging.

Alright, so admittedly I was a little naïve. I was one of those people. You know the ones who think that writing romance is easy. I mean all I had to do was craft a lovable heroine, a sexy hero, a page-turning plot. How hard could that be? I didn’t know the hours I would give up because I couldn’t afford not to write, because my characters wouldn’t leave me alone until I told their stories.

And now that the big day is here, there’s elation and excitement, then there are the nerves and the fear. It’s like starting a new school praying somebody eats lunch with me. Then of course comes the realization that I wrote a romance…a hot romance…a hot romance that my mother in law and co-workers will read. *blush* `

Funny thing is, I’ve had more than one person ask me if I think I’ll write another one - Clearly, non writers. My answer, "Hell yes!" I’ve got the bug. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had. It’s demanding. It’s broken my heart. But seeing Game, Set, Match on Amazon, and now Reluctant Protector as well, there’s no way I could not do this as again. It’s too addictive.

Author Bio:

My love of all things romance and adventure started with a tattered romantic suspense I borrowed from my cousin on a sultry summer afternoon in Ghana at a precocious thirteen.  I've been in love with kick butt heroines ever since.  With my overactive imagination, and channeling my inner Buffy, it was only a matter a time before I started creating my own characters.

Waiting for my chance at a job as a ninja assassin, I, meantime work out my drama, passion and sass with fictional characters every bit as sassy and kick butt as I thinks I am.  Though, until that ninja job comes through, you’ll find me acting out scenes for hubby and puppy while catching up on my favorite reality television shows in sunny San Diego.

Game, Set, Match and Reluctant Protector available on Amazon.


Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Fragrance of Violets by Paula Martin

My new contemporary romance, 'Fragrance of Violets’, is released today by Whiskey Creek Press as both e-book and paperback  http://bit.ly/AnU6qV  It will also be on Amazon and Fictionwise shortly.


The title comes from a quote by Mark Twain: Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.

The story, set mainly in England’s beautiful Lake District, is about two people who need to forgive each other and also deal with other issues in their lives.

Abbey Seton distrusts men, especially Jack Tremayne who destroyed their friendship when they were teenagers. Ten years later, they meet again. Can they put the past behind them?

Abbey has to forgive not only Jack, but also her father who deserted his family when she was young. Jack holds himself responsible for his fiancée’s death. He’s also hiding another secret which threatens the fragile resumption of his relationship with Abbey.

Will Abbey ever forgive him when she finds out the truth?

You can read the first chapter on the Whiskey Creek Press website, but here's an excerpt which hopefully will tempt you!

Abbey swung her car into the car park and pulled up beside the shop. After she’d unlocked the side door and switched on the light, she returned to the car and opened the boot.
She’d just lifted out the first box when a voice startled her.
“Want some help with that?”
She spun round in the direction of the voice. It was dark but she didn’t need to see him. Her mouth went dry and her hands tightened on the box.
“No, thanks, I can manage.”
Jack Tremayne stepped into the dim light cast by one of the car park lamps. As her eyes adjusted, Abbey caught her breath. His dark sweatshirt stretched across wide shoulders and broad chest, and mid-blue jeans encased his slim hips and long legs. No longer a teenage boy, but a man whose compelling figure exuded confident masculinity. Something deep inside her turned a double somersault.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Resentment at her involuntary reaction to him lent an extra sharp tone to her voice.
“Welcome to Rusthwaite,” he said with amused irony.
“You aren’t welcome here,” she retorted. “Not by me, not by anyone.”
He shrugged. “Maybe not, but I’m back, and I intend to stay.”
Shock ran through her like a cold shower. “You’re staying?”
“Why not? It’s my home.”
“The home you betrayed,” she said bitterly.
“That was eight years ago. People forget.”
As he took a few steps towards her car, the light spilling from the shop doorway illuminated his face. His blond hair seemed to have darkened to the colour of light sand and was brushed back instead of the tousled look she remembered. But several stray strands escaped over his broad forehead, and her glance took in his handsome features – the blue eyes, the high cheekbones, the well-defined jaw, the perfectly shaped mouth and the cleft above his chin.
A quiver rippled through her but she ignored it. “No, Jack,” she said, as calmly as she could. “This village hasn’t forgotten. People here won’t ever forgive you.”
“What about you?” His eyes challenged her, forced her to remember the night everything had gone wrong between them.
She returned his look with a defiant glare and tried to distance herself from the unwanted sensations inside her that threatened to destroy her composure. “I don’t think you and I have anything further to say to each other. So if you’ll excuse me, I need to unload this shop stock.”
“Are you sure I can’t help?”
“Absolutely sure.”
“Okay,” he said briefly as she turned away and took the box into the shop.
When she returned to the car, he’d gone. She stared through the darkness towards the main road, but he’d obviously walked quickly. There was no-one there.
She made herself concentrate on carrying the boxes into the storeroom and stacking them tidily, ready to be unpacked the next morning. But as she put down the last box, she realised she was shaking.
Meeting Jack Tremayne again had catapulted all her feelings into total disarray.