Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Bonus Scene from Hell or High Water by Julie Ann Walker

Happy release day to HELL OR HIGH WATER, book #1 in Julie Ann Walker's Deep Six series. Read on for an exclusive bonus scene from the novel.


 ● BONUS SCENE ●
Hell or High Water

Family isn’t only determined by blood, but by those who stand by you, fightin’ for you. By those you stand beside and fight for…
That was the thought that drifted through Leo “The Lion” Anderson’s head when he looked around the warped wooden table at his men. Correction—the minute those five wild-ass SEALs snapped their final salute to the Navy and followed him to the Florida Keys to join him on his quest for high seas adventure and the hunt for untold riches, they stopped being his men. But they would never stop being his family. If they all lived for a hundred years, the bonds of the blood, sweat, and tears they’d shed together would never come unbound. They were too strong, forged in the fiery crucible of too many wars and missions to count.
“Yo, man!” Brando “Bran” Pallidino leaned close to be heard above the twanging voice and guitar licks of the singer on the stage. The six of them had spent the day in Key West, gathering supplies and finishing up some repairs on Wayfarer I—the leaking, rusty salvage boat Leo had inherited from his father. And now they were enjoying beers and dinner at Schooner Wharf bar, the open-air establishment that saw more than its fair share of revelers, crusty sea captains, and miscreants who’d come to the end of the road in a bid to fall off the map completely. “That brunette in the yellow bikini top and flowery skirt over by the taps keeps giving you come-and-get-me-big-boy looks.”
Leo glanced at the woman and sure enough. Slam! Her gaze collided with his and there was a definite suggestion glowing in her big, dark eyes. “I think she wants you to poke her hontas,” Bran concluded.
Leo scowled at his best friend as a subtle breeze drifted in from the water, mixing the smells of fish and marine fuel with the sweeter aromas of boat drinks and barley hops that continuously flowed from behind the bar. “How long have you been keeping that little gem in your pocket?” he asked Bran.
“Came up with it just this minute.” Bran grinned, wiggling his eyebrows. “My mind,” he continued, “is as nimble and as fertile as a…”
Leo held up a hand. “Don’t finish that analogy. I can already guess what your mind is as nimble and as fertile as.”
“Personally,” Doc said from Leo’s opposite side, twirling the ever-present toothpick in his mouth in a wide circle, “I would have gone with, ‘I think she wants you to engage her in a little gland-to-gland combat.’” Dalton “Doc” Simmons had one of those tough Midwestern faces. But right now it was split in a gleeful grin that made him look almost boyish. It was damn good to see Doc smiling. For too many years he hadn’t.
“She wants you to rock her casbah!” Spiro “Romeo” Delgado piped up from across the table, never one to miss an opportunity to toss in his two bits.
“Churn her butter,” Ray “Wolf” Roanhorse added after plunking his Budweiser bottle down on the table. He turned and slow-winked at the bird in the yellow bikini. Leo watched the brunette’s eyes widen, her head cocking like a cat considering a canary. With his Cherokee heritage, Wolf was the embodiment of the original American warrior. His visage equally fierce and—according to the lady at the hardware store this morning—beautiful. She’d breathed the word while staring all googly-eyed at Wolf.
“And you?” Leo turned to the last remaining man at the table. “What ridiculous euphemism have you come up with tonight?”
Mason “Monet” McCarthy was as big as a mountain, and just as silent. Usually. But even he couldn’t resist joining in. “She wants you to rumble in her jungle,” he said. His south Boston accent making it sound more like rahmble inna jahngle.
And that’s the thing about family, Leo thought with a shake of his head as he slid on his aviator sunglasses despite the fact that the sun had slipped beneath the western horizon. One minute they’re standin’ with you against the world. The next minute they’re bustin’ your balls.
And he wouldn’t have it any other way. Especially since the good-natured ribbing, immature as it might be, was proof positive they were all slowly crawling out from under the thick blanket of mourning that had descended over them, heavy as a death shroud when—
“Yo, man,” Bran interrupted his thoughts. “You better stake your claim. If you don’t, Wolf’s gonna stake his.”
“He’s welcome to it,” Leo said, leaning back in his chair and picking at the label on his Budweiser with the edge of his thumbnail. “’Cause I’m takin’ a pass on this one.”
Bran groaned and took a long slug of his beer.
“What?” Leo demanded, frowning. “What’s that uuuugh for?”
“Just that I coulda guessed as much.” Bran shrugged a shoulder, his holey tank-top accentuating the strength and sinew of his bare arms. According to Bran, if the sun’s out, the guns are out. Bran’s unending supply of tank tops had become a running joke between all of them. Leo’s balls weren’t the only ones that received a regular busting. Every man’s in the group were fair game.
“And why would you have guessed as much?” he raised a brow.
Bran leveled him with a look that called into question the validity of his IQ tests. “You’re kidding me, right?”
“No,” Leo shook his head, feeling his temper flicker to life. What the hell was Bran getting at? Luckily—or unluckily?—he didn’t have to wait long to find out.
“It’s just that this seems to be your new modus operandus,” Bran said.
“What does?”
“Eschewing the soft ministration and willing company of bar bunnies,” Doc interjected.
Leo scowled over at him, then swung his gaze around to each man at the table. They all wore the same expression of agreement.
Okay, and this is one of those times I wish these assholes weren’t my family. Because he could certainly do without them being all up in his goddamn business.
“First off,” he said in his own defense, “after all that runnin’ around today, I’m too tired to sweat, much less do anything else. Secondly, when you start talkin’ bar bunnies, I only have one thought.”
“What’s that?” Wolf asked, only giving him half his attention. The other half was securely focused on Miss Yellow Bikini Top who, having quickly picked up the disinterest Leo was laying down, was now giving Wolf all her come-and-get-me-big-boy looks.
“Hippety hoppety herpes is on its way,” Leo said, his lips twitching when Wolf blanched and swung around to attempt to fry his eyebrows off with a look.
“You really know how to spoil it for those of us not currently hung up on…” Wolf trailed to a stop.
The hair on Leo’s head tried to crawl off his scalp. Wolf didn’t need to finish. Leo knew where he was heading. “I’m not hung up on anyone,” he insisted, disgusted to realize he was trying to convince himself more than the guys. An image of Special Agent Olivia Mortier flashed before his eyes. Black hair. Blue eyes. A slightly crooked front tooth that never failed to make his dick twitch. There was just something about that tooth. That tiny imperfection amidst so much beauty only seemed to enhance her appeal. Maybe because it made her real. A real, live, hot-blooded woman with a mind like a steel trap, a wit that was as sharp as a tack and—
Fuck. Maybe he was hung up on her. The wall he’d built up in his mind, the one that was supposed to keep memories of her at bay, was proving frustratingly weak.
“If that’s what you have to tell yourself, cabron,” Romeo said.
Leo sat there, a muscle twitching in his jaw. He refused to respond for nearly thirty seconds. He knew it was thirty seconds because he calculated that for every two seconds that passed he came up with a new way to assassinate the men at the table. He’d totaled out at fifteen.
“You should see your face,” Doc said, the salty sea breeze causing the ends of his shaggy hair to riot. “You look like someone shoved a cactus up your ass.”
“And yo, man,” Bran slung an arm around his shoulders, “there’s no reason to get all hot under the collar.”
“The only reason my collar is hot is ’cause your sweaty arm is around it,” Leo grumbled, shrugging off Bran’s brotherly embrace and taking a hasty swig of beer. Thoughts of Olivia always made him feel punchy. Talking about her, even obliquely, made him feel…something. It was like if horny and confused got together with uncomfortable and had a threesome his current emotional state would be the unholy offspring of the encounter.
“I was born on a farm where we used lots of fertilizer,” Doc said, seemingly apropos of nothing.
Leo turned to him. “And that’s relevant to this because…?” He made a rolling motion with his hand.
“Because it means I know bullshit when I smell it.”
Bran grabbed his belly, crowing like the idiot he was. “You shoulda known better than to ask, bro.”
Leo was considering the most painful way to wipe the grin from Bran’s face when Mason said, “You fuckers need to back the fuck off and leave him the fuck alone.” The man rarely spoke, but when he did his sentences were littered with F-bombs. Mason once told them that was the Southie way. The word fuck could be used as every part of speech: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs…
“Of course you’re the one to jump to his defense when it comes to rebuffing the babes,” Bran scoffed.
“Now what the fuck’s that supposed to mean?” Mason demanded, the vein running up the center of his forehead beginning to pulse.
“How long has it been since—”
Leo figured he better cut Bran off before he went any further. Number one, because Leo could see the bull’s eye was about to slide off his chest and attach itself to Mason’s. And since Mason had come to his rescue…well, then turn about was fair play. And number two, because Leo knew just how much talk of Mason’s past—and the effect Mason’s past was still having on his present—bothered him. “Gentleman,” he said, “I think it’s best of we table this topic of conversation.” To his great delight, right at that moment their waitress appeared with a tray laden with chicken wings and conch fritters, two of Key West’s official delicacies. “And speakin’ of tables, wait ’til you see what’s about to be laid on ours.”
With a flourish the waitress unloaded the tray. She’d barely stepped back before the feeding frenzy began. As the flavor of buffalo sauce mixed with hops and barley on Leo’s tongue, he once again looked around at the five men who’d been with him through thick and thin. The five men who’d bugged out of the Navy with him after they all made that soul-shaking promise to a dying brother to start living life. Ones that weren’t filled with death and destruction. These meatheads might be a constant pain in Leo’s ass, but they also happened to be a constant comfort and an unending source of entertainment.
Like family, his mind circled back to its original topic. And it gave him a sense of peace. A sense of contentment. A sense of…urgency. Because they were all depending on him to come through with the big score. He felt the weight of that responsibility as surely as an anchor chain around his shoulders. They’d all made that promise, and now it was up to him to help them make good on it.
Letting his gaze skim out over the marina, he watched as the boats bobbed gently with the tide. Their metal fittings caught the rays of the full moon and glinted as sweetly as the treasure Leo and the guys were ready to start hunting. The Santa Cristina, that legendary ghost galleon, the holy grail of sunken Spanish shipwrecks…she was out there. Somewhere.
And come hell or high water, we’re goin’ to find her…

Buy Links:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1IUaIAl
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1HFf0IK
iBooks: http://apple.co/1Hrplph
IndieBond: http://bit.ly/1BP774y 

Monday, July 6, 2015

New Release: A Sword for His Lady by Mary Wine



Title: A Sword for His Lady
Author: Mary Wine
Series: Courtly Love, #1
Pubdate: July 7th, 2015
ISBN: 9781492602477

He’d defend her keep…
After proving himself on the field of battle, Ramon de Segrave is appointed to the Council of Barons by Richard the Lionheart. But instead of taking his most formidable
warrior on his latest Crusade, the king assigns Ramon an even more dangerous task—woo and win the Lady of Thistle Keep.

If only she’d yield her heart
Isabel of Camoys is a capable widow with no intention of surrendering her valuable estate. She’s fought long and hard for her independence, and if the price is loneliness, then so be it. She will not yield…even if she does find the powerful knight’s heated embrace impossible to ignore. But when her land is threatened, Isabel reluctantly agrees to allow Ramon and his army to defend the keep—knowing that the price may very well be her heart.

Acclaimed author Mary Wine has written over 30 works of erotic fantasy, romantic suspense, and historical romance. An avid history-buff and historical costumer, she and her family enjoy participating in historical reenactments. Mary lives with her husband and two sons in Yorba Linda, California.

An Excerpt: 

He lifted one foot and set it on the bottom step.

“What are you doing?”


“I am entering the keep.” His tone made it clear he knew he was invading her home.


“No.” She fought back her breathlessness. “You shall not.”


She backed up, but forced herself to stop in the doorway.


“Why not, my lady?”


He climbed another step and she felt her knees quiver. It was an insane reaction, one that shocked her with how intense it was its intensity.


“You do not belong in the keep. This is my home.”


He frowned but climbed another step to stand on even ground with her. Isabel lifted her chin so she might maintain eye contact.


“I will be making a full assessment of this structure, lady. You may stand aside or I shall remove you from my path.”


She should have lowered herself and gracefully glided out of the doorway. It was the only response the code of chivalry afforded her, but she couldn’t force herself to do it. She didn’t feel in control of her emotions; they were scattering like autumn leaves. Her heart accelerated. He was pressing closer, watching her, gauging her reactions to him. She’d never felt so exposed. Never felt like any man took so much notice of her. He reached for her, his expression full of promise.


“No one enters this keep without bathing.” She spat the words out in a rush and had to pull in a deep breath because her lungs burned when she was finished. At last, relief flowed through her, for she had found a valid argument to use.


The baron’s expression didn’t change. His hands were clenched around his wide leather belt, his knuckles turning white.


“Take yourself off to the bath house, my lord baron.” She was being brazen.


He suddenly grunted, amusement returning to his eyes. “Very well lady, since you wish to offer me your hospitality, I accept.”


She stared at him, uncertain of the flicker burning in his dark eyes. This wasn’t a man who knew defeat, and the muscles in her neck tightened when his lips twitched into a smug grin once again.


An expression that was full of victory.


“I shall enjoy having you bathe me, Isabel. It is certainly a good place for us to begin to learn more about one another.” A gleam appeared in his eyes that sent a shiver down her body.


“I did not offer to bathe you myself.” Her voice was a horrified whisper. He stepped closer, capturing her wrist in a grip that surprised her because it lacked pain with its gentleness. Instead, she felt their connection keenly, so much so, it felt as though that she couldn’t form a single, sensible thought. Logic had always offered her salvation in the past. Before Ramon, it crumbled away, leaving her at his mercy.


“You claim you are no maiden, so it is only customary for you to attend me since you are the lady of this keep.” His voice lowered. “Or perhaps, you would prefer not to act as a lady. In such a case…I will be most pleased to dispense with ceremony.”
Buy Links:
Indiebound: http://bit.ly/1Sb1P7m
 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day from the Casablanca Authors!


Shana Galen
It's the Fourth of July here in the United States. This is one of my favorite holidays, although it's always really hot here in Houston, Texas. One of my favorite traditions is the neighborhood parade. Kids decorate bikes and wagons and ride through the neighborhood while adults cheer. Usually we end the parade at a school or neighborhood center, where there's swimming or a carnival.


Terry Spear
Happy Fourth!!!!


Theresa Romain

Here I am enjoying the Fourth when I was four years old and knew how to rock a hat. May you have a fabulous Independence Day, and may the slices of watermelon be as big as your head. :)





Jane Ashford


I'm in London this week, so no celebrations of July 4th that I know of. Tactless, maybe? Or are we all over that revolution thing? The happiest of fourths to you!



Gina Conkle 

Happy 4th of July to you! This year will be different because I now live in the midwest where fireworks can be bought at a roadside stand. For those of you who don't know, I've lived most of my life in southern California where fireworks are a no-no --- unless you're a pyrotechnical company who file a gazillion permits. This year, my youngest son, who happens to be visiting his grandparents, dove in with delight to the fireworks fun. He started asking for sparklers in April!


This is his haul of goodies. As for me, I'm thrilled to go for walks at night with fireflies.
Here's wishing you and your family a Happy 4th of July! ~ Gina Conkle



Hope you have a Happy 4th!



Friday, July 3, 2015

New Release: The Best of Both Rogues by Samantha Grace


Hi, everyone. I’m Samantha Grace, RITA-nominated author of the historical romance series, Rival Rogues. I’m thrilled to be here to celebrate my upcoming release THE BEST OF BOTH ROGUES with my Casablanca sisters and brothers. (Yes, Sourcebooks has a couple of male romance authors. How cool is that?!?)  

Before we start talking about the characters in this third book in the series, may I whine a little? Writing is my second job, and when I don’t have on my author hat, I work in a health care setting that’s stuck in the 1950s. Well, not medically speaking. My employer is on the cutting edge when it comes to everything except the dress code. Women must wear stockings with dresses.

Okay. It’s not that bad. It’s not en vogue these days to wear panty hose, but I don’t mind the look. My biggest complaint is I can’t find any stockings without control top, active leg support. Even the non-control top hose have a band around the waist that rolls down every time I sit. Thank you, but I don’t want a hug, spandex. Stop being so clingy! If someone would make OUT OF CONTROL top, lazy, and indifferent leg panty hose, I’d buy the whole stock. Seriously, I despise today’s stockings.

Of course, not everyone follows the dress code at my other job, which I admire. I’ve always liked the spunky heroine who thumbs her nose at society. That just isn’t me, so I continue to search the limited selection of hose available in my smaller community and curse the inventor of spandex.

So what do panty hose and THE BEST OF BOTH ROGUES have to do with each other? Nothing directly, but I was thinking about Miss Eve Thorne, the heroine in the story and how she’s a lot like me. She values a peaceful existence and follows the rules as long as no one is hurt in the process. All she has ever wanted was to fall in love, marry, have a family, and to be a partner to her husband. Then through no fault of her own, her reputation was ruined when Mr. Benjamin Hillary jilted her on their wedding day and ran away to India.

For two years, she has held her head high despite the nasty whispers behind her back, because kindness and a desire for a life free of conflict doesn’t mean she is weak. Finally, she encounters Sir Jonathan Hackberry, a delightfully eccentric gentleman with an interest in ancient drums and fascinating tales from his travel around the world. He is smitten and begins courting her. Soon they are betrothed and Eve appears to be on the path to having almost everything she wants, until Ben returns from India and she realizes she is sacrificing her heart’s truest desire—LOVE! Unfortunately, she has already given her word to marry Sir Jonathan, and she can’t bring herself to hurt him by calling off the wedding. She knows what it’s like to be rejected.

Sir Jonathan, however, has a secret past that demands he leave England. Therefore, he and Ben team up to make Eve regret her choice to marry Sir Jonathan with the hope she will cry off. Once Ben’s rival is out of the way, he’ll do anything to win Eve’s heart again. Anything except allow her to help him with his own troubled past or to be the partner she always wanted to be to her man.

I think this story is one of the more romantic ones I’ve written, and I really hope readers enjoy Ben and Eve’s love story. And as always, every rogue will have his day. I’m sure Sir Jonathan will meet a lovely young meant just for him some day.

So, I’m curious what type of heroine you would be. Are you the proper miss who follows the rules, or are you the hoyden who ignores society’s expectations?        

***


The worst thing Mr. Benjamin Hillary ever did was abandon his bride-to-be on their wedding day. The hardest thing he will ever have to do is watch her marry another man.

After two long years abroad, Ben finds Eve every bit as captivating as she was the first time he saw her, and he vows to set things right.

Lady Eve Thorne has a new man in her life, and Ben is nothing but trouble. She is no longer a starry-eyed young woman, and now that he’s back, he can go hang for all she cares. At least that’s what she keeps telling herself…

Historical romance author Samantha Grace discovered the appeal of a great love story when she was just a young girl, thanks to Disney’s Robin Hood. She didn’t care that Robin Hood and Maid Marian were cartoon animals. It was her first happily-ever-after experience and she didn’t want the warm fuzzies to end. Now Samantha enjoys creating her own happy endings for characters that spring from her imagination. Publishers Weekly describes her stories as “fresh and romantic” with subtle humor and charm. Samantha describes romance writing as the best job ever.

Grab your copy!
Amazon
Apple
Barnes & Noble