Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Brave New Earl Nearly Here


It’s two weeks until the release of Brave New Earl, the first book in my new Way to a Lord’s Heart series. This is the story of an earl overcome by melancholy and a determined woman who eventually shakes him out of it.
Widower Benjamin Romilly, Earl of Furness, has given up hope of finding happiness. His wife died in childbirth five years ago, leaving him with a broken heart and a child who only reminds him of his loss.
Miss Jean Saunders, a cousin by marriage, hears rumors that the earl is too bereaved to care for his young son. Her own history has made her particularly sensitive to this story. She arrives on the scene to evaluate his fitness as a father, and if necessary, to take his son away.
Jean's sudden eruption into the earl's household simultaneously infuriates and invigorates him. She may be the only person who can breathe life into his neglected homeand his aching heart.


amazon-app-450x450   ibooks-icon-text  barnes-and-noble-icon  booktopia logo

Monday, July 9, 2018

To Catch a Texas Star Is Here!

To Catch a Texas Star hit bookshelves and online vendors last week and I’m so excited to have it in readers’ hands at last. This story is different from any I’ve written. This is the first time I’ve created a character who’s an author and I kind of liked that.

An Overview of the Story:

Marley McClain is heading into town one morning and spies a man lying just off the road. She sees that he’s in bad shape so she gets him into the back of her wagon and takes him to her family ranch—the Aces ‘n Eights. Roan Penny lies unconscious for two days then as he slowly recovers, he finds an attraction between him and Marley growing. But first, he has to make the men pay who killed his friend and dragged him almost to his death.

Marley knows that he’s a drifter and doesn’t intend to stick around but her heart tells her she’ll have trouble living without him. Roan is everything she’d looked for but never dreamed of finding. A frightening stranger appears along with foreboding. Then a long-held secret that her parents have kept comes out and shatters everything she thought she knew about herself.

Danger, adventure, and deepening, lasting love make this a story you can’t put down. Will Marley and Roan live to see their happy future? It’s anyone’s guess.

“You’re like those shooting stars. You blaze across my life with such a streak of color and pageantry it steals my breath. You’re my Texas star, Marley Rose McClain.”

Marley loves to write children’s stories that she reads to the orphans in her parent’s care. She wants to get them published but doesn’t know how. Roan tells her about an ad he saw in the mercantile and that sets the wheels in motion.

I loved this extra layer that making her a writer added to the story. The children can’t get enough of what she pens and the stories spark their imaginations.

Here a few of the books they would’ve had access to in 1899:

Cinderella – published in 1697
Aesop’s Fables – published 600 BC
Arabian Nights – the 8th century
Mother Goose – 1729
The Swiss Family Robinson – 1812
Ivanhoe – 1819
Rip Van Winkle – 1820
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – 1819
Grimm’s Fairy Tales – 1823
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – 1865
Little Women – 1868
Robin Hood – 1883
Tom Sawyer – 1876
Treasure Island – 1883

There were lots, lots more. Children had plenty to choose from. One of the stories that one little boy loved of Marley’s was about pirates and Jean Lafitte.

Did any of the dates on these classic books surprise you? For me, I didn’t realize that Aesop's Fables went so far back. That's amazing.


AMAZON  |  B&N  |  iBOOKS  |  KOBO






Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Excerpt from Sarah Castille's Strong Hold


Strong Hold, the last book (#5) in the Redemption Series, features the story of Shayla Tanner and Zack Grayson.

Seven years have passed since Zack left Shayla. Seven years of regret and emptiness. Will she ever let down her guard and give Zack a second chance at love?

Enjoy this excerpt from Strong Hold:


 “Christ, Shay.” He scrapes his hand through his hair. “You’ve always been too trusting. Reg Knight is as far from a decent guy as you can get. He’s a piece of scum who plans to use you personally and professionally, and I’m not going to let that happen.”
“It’s my choice. My choice.” I thump my chest, looking away so he doesn’t see how close his comment about being too trusting hit to home. He needs to understand that it’s a decision I have to make, and the price will be mine to pay. “If I want to go out for a drink with him, I will. If I want to fight Gordon, I will. If I want to accept an offer from Radical Power, then I’ll accept the offer, and I’ll be the best damn fighter they’ve ever had.”
“No, you won’t.” He thuds his fist on the low stone wall surrounding the courtyard. “I won’t let him do to you what I’ve seen him do to other female fighters.”
“I don’t need you to protect me.” I struggle to keep my voice low so the people in the courtyard don’t overhear. “I’m not the teenage girl who knew nothing of the world except what you showed her. I don’t even understand what’s going on with you. We’re professional, and then we’re not professional. We’re friends, and then we’re not friends. You’re my coach, and then we have sex, and you run away to Seattle and leave me thinking I’m back to training with Torment and Fuzzy for three whole days.”
“I needed some time to get my head around the fact that all you ever wanted from me was physical.”
My hands curl into fists so tight, my nails bite into my palms. “That’s not fair.”
“That’s what you told me the other night.”
“Right now, I don’t want to get involved. Back then, I wanted everything. I was devastated when you left. I felt like a huge piece of me was missing. I was a young girl in a new city I never wanted to live in, with a new ballet company I didn’t want to dance for, and I’d never been alone before. I always had you.”
“And then you traded me in for him.” His voice rises in pitch. “What were you thinking? I left you so you could have a career, so you could go out and live your life, not tie yourself down to some…what? What did he do? What was so compelling about him that you would get married at fucking nineteen years old?”
Bristling, I throw caution to the wind, giving him information I know I should keep to myself. “He was the company’s artistic director.”
“Jesus Christ.” He groans and tips his head back. “He was your boss.”
“It doesn’t work like that in a ballet company, and you know it.”
I hate this. Zack and I never fought when we were together. We disagreed about things like sports teams—I was a Cubs fan; he supported the White Sox—how long I spent at the studio, or whether my plans to run/jump/ride/dive were too dangerous—yes, they were, and I always did them with Zack by my side.
“I know the artistic director has a lot of power,” Zack says. “I know you don’t get the job in a world-famous ballet company without a shitload of experience and a lot of years behind you. And I know you don’t sleep with a much younger, innocent corps dancer unless you’re a fucking bastard who has no morals and who misuses his power to get what he wants.”
Anger surges inside me. Not because he’s wrong, but because these were the questions I should have asked myself, the red flags I shouldn’t have ignored.
“You didn’t want me,” I shout, the words I have never been able to say ripping from my throat. “What was I supposed to do? It never got better for me. Every day without you was like dying all over again. Even after a year, the pain didn’t fade. I was empty inside, and there was nothing to fill that space, because it was meant for you. Damian was kind to me. He cared. He looked after me, and he helped my career. He wasn’t my soul mate, and he never pretended to be, but in the beginning, we both got something out of that relationship that made us happy.”
If the words that spill from my heart have any effect on him, he doesn’t let me know. Instead, his eyes narrow, and he deepens his tone.
“Do you think I felt any different? Do you think I didn’t feel your loss every fucking day? But I didn’t give up on you. I didn’t throw away a ten-year relationship on the first woman who crossed my path. I still felt you, Shay.” He thuds his fist on his chest above his heart. “Right here. And when I knew I could do right by you, when I could give you everything you deserved, I came for you, and you were gone.”

Friday, June 29, 2018

Every Deep Desire & The History of the Fianna: Part 2


In the Deadly Force series, which includes Every Deep Desire and the upcoming One Dark Wish, a group of disgraced ex-Green Berets are desperate to figure out who's responsible for their dishonor and discharges from the Army while they also battle two disparate enemies.

One of their enemies is known simply as the Fianna. A secretive and brutal army of assassins whose history dates back to pagan Irelend. Last month in Part 1, I wrote about the Fianna from the early Roman invasions up through the time of King Arthur. Today I'd like to jump ahead a bit to more modern accounts of these mythical warriors.



In 1866, a group of Irish soldiers who called themselves the Fianna, assaulted British forts and trading stations in Canada. These are still known as the Fenian Raids. Their goal was to gain independence for Ireland from Britain. These men, after their capture, cited the seven articles of the ancient Fianna army as written in Keating's History of Ireland and Hume's The History of England From the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution in 1688.
 
Since this was during the American Civil War, there's evidence the U.S. turned a blind eye to these assaults and even more speculation that the U.S. government wanted to use these Fianna warriors in unauthorized and unconventional ways. There's no proof these men ever fought for the Union Army, but there is anecdotal evidence that, because of their secretive brutal ways, they were asked to join the Civil War.



Ironically, these attacks were one of the reasons the provinces of Canada decided to form a single country in 1867. Neither the U.S. (who was at war with itself) nor the ineffectual Canadian Militia could take down the Fianna. It wasn't until the 1890's, when both Canada and the U.S. worked together, that they were they able to eradicate the threat.

As late as the World War II, there were murmurings (aka gossip) by German POWs held in Ireland of a brutal Irish underground army known as Na Fianna √Čireann. The Germans assumed they were part of the Fenian Brotherhood, a rebel offshoot of the men who fought in the early 20th century Irish rebellions. But the locals discounted that story and refused to talk about the young warrior men who lived on the outskirts of society. They were simply known as the Fianna.



It was while reading about the Canadian incidents that I first came across the connection of Shakespeare to the Fianna. Shakespeare was purported to be a secret supporter of Irish Nationalism and these captured men supposedly attempted to communicate in Shakespearean verse instead of Gaelic poetry. This is probably made-up gossip, but I thought it was so interesting that I included it in my own fictional Fianna army.

So, does the Fianna exist now? I hope not.

Did they ever exist? Yes. 

And not just in poetry and myth. From the research I've done, the Fianna was the single reason Rome never conquered the Isle and why the Picts and Scots, and even the Vikings, made few forays into Ireland until the late Middle Ages.


There is one documented historical fact written by the Roman Historian Tacitus. In the first century, around 82 AD, Rome's famous military governor Gnaeus Julius Agricola (who defeated Queen Boudica in 61 AD) sought to invade Ireland with 5,000 men. He even had a minor Irish King willing to betray his countrymen and help him overtake the Island. So, despite resources being stretched thin by battles with the Celts and Picts up in Scotland, he invaded with full confidence that he'd win.

The battle details are sketchy, but between battling the Fianna warriors from the moment they set foot on the Island, to an extremely rare mutiny within the Roman Legion ranks, Agricola lost and was recalled to Rome by the Emperor Domitian. After that, the stories say that the Roman Legionnaires refused to fight in Ireland or simply disappeared before they'd face the Fianna.



There are so many myths and poems written about the Fianna that it's hard to distinguish what was real and what wasn't. But that also gave me a lot of leeway when developing my version of the Fianna Army.

In Every Deep Desire, and the upcoming One Dark Wish, the 21st Century Fianna are a constant source of trouble for the men of the Deadly Force series. In the series, the Fianna are considered a myth by most of the world which gives them tremendous leeway and cover to torment my heroes. 

Since the heroes of the Deadly Force series work outside the law, battling an enemy no one believes exists, they're on their own to survive and redeem themselves. While at the same time trying to fall in love. :)


I hope you've enjoyed learning about the Fianna and I'm happy to answer any questions you may have! 

-----------------------------
Sharon Wray is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes about the men in her Deadly Force romantic suspense series where ex-Green Berets and their smart, sexy heroines retell Shakespeare's greatest love stories.

Sharon loves to interact on her website www.sharonwray.com as well as on most social media platforms! 







Friday, June 15, 2018

A Flurry of Fictional Fathers



With Father’s Day coming up this Sunday, I was thinking about fathers in some of my favorite books. There’s Mr. Bennett in Pride and Prejudice, for example. He’s not a great success as a parent, in my opinion. But Elizabeth loves him nonetheless.
A favorite of mine is Jonathan Chawley in Georgette’s Heyer’s A Civil Contract Mr. Chawley is one of her great characters. A vulgar “Cit,” he blusters and rages, but he’s a complete softie inside. He loves giving gifts and can be reduced to blubbering by his love for his daughter. Yet his employees quake in terror at the thought of his wrath.
I created a strong father figure in my Duke’s Sons series. The duke is mostly off screen through the books, but he enters the plot in The Duke Knows Best.

He smiled at her, and Verity’s breath caught. The Duke of Langford’s wholehearted smile was blindingly charming. It subsumed the smiles of all his handsome sons, and surpassed them. “You’re very welcome to our family, you know,” he said. “And we will make sure you get to join us.”
Verity found she couldn’t speak. She coughed to remind her throat of its proper function. “Th-thank you.”
Olivia appeared at Verity’s side. “Will you try Herr Grossmann, Your Grace? He’s ready for another…subject.”
“I believe you almost said victim, Miss Townsend.”
“I would never be so clumsy.”
“Wouldn’t you? Ah, there’s Conyingham. If you young ladies will excuse me.” He gave them an exquisite half bow and walked away.
Olivia watched him go. “You know those tiresome old men who leer at one and say, ‘If only I were thirty years younger’?”
“Yes?” replied Verity.
“Well, if only he was.”
Verity laughed.

Who are some of your favorite fictional fathers?

Thursday, June 7, 2018


The Gunslinger's Vow is the first in a vibrant, sensual historical Western Series, featuring runaway brides searching for freedom in the Wild West.

Having previously published series in Regency England, I'm stepping into the American Old West! Check out the BookPage's article where I explain why I made the change. And...

Enjoy this excerpt from The Gunslinger's Vow!


“Why’d you leave?”

Her blue eyes met his, and the emotion in them hit hard to his gut.

“Boston or Montana?” she asked softly.

Suddenly uncomfortable with how personal the conversation had become, Malcolm shrugged. He wasn’t sure which option might be the less intrusive of the two.

“There was a time I thought I’d live my entire life in Montana. If you’ve ever spent any time there, you’d know it is beautiful country.” Her eyes went dark as she stared into the flickering flames, and her voice lowered with memory. “When I went East, I didn’t want to like Boston. It hadn’t been my choice to go. But I made friends, which is something I didn’t have much of in my childhood, and I started to appreciate the opportunities a big city could offer.”

She laughed, a warm sort of throaty chuckle. “My Aunt Judith scolded me countless times for my curiosity. I had a ceaseless compulsion to explore every corner of the city, the culture, the people. So very different from what I’d known before, but beautiful in its own way. Eventually, I came to love Boston.”

“More than Montana?” He shouldn’t want to know. He wasn’t even sure where the question came from

Her eyes met his. Gold flames danced in the blue of her gaze. “I guess that is what I am hoping to find out.”

Malcolm looked at her. Really looked at her.

Her boots were dusty, as was her split skirt and the shirt she wore under the oiled slicker he’d bought her. She’d pushed the wide-brimmed hat off her head, and it hung down her back by the thin cord around her neck. Her dark hair was just barely secured at the back of her head in a loose knot that allowed fine wisps to fall against her face and neck. She had dirty hands and a weary gaze, yet she displayed the hint of a smile about her mouth.

Despite her dishevelment, the fine Eastern lady who’d boldly strode into the Painted Horse Saloon was still there. She was present in the woman’s elegant posture and the refined way she spoke. In her quiet dignity and feminine softness.

It’s just that Malcolm was seeing something else besides all that. A light of adventure in her eyes, competence in her manner, and a deep, barely perceptible yearning.

There was more to this woman’s story than he’d first suspected. And even more going on in that head of hers than what she shared with her deceptively easy manner and light conversation.

After a few moments of returning his silent stare, she broke eye contact with a flutter of thick eyelashes and an almost rueful curl at the corner of her lips. “What about you, Malcolm Kincaid?”

He leaned back and eyed her with a lifted brow. “What about me?”

“Where do you come from?”

“Are we sharing our life stories now?”

Her gaze flicked back up to meet his. “I don’t need to know everything, but a little something wouldn’t hurt. We are going to be together for a couple of weeks, after all. Is there a reason we must remain strangers?”

Malcolm felt a rush of heat though his blood. Her innocent words reminded him of just how much he’d like to get to know her. Just not in the way she meant. And not in any way he intended to explore.

No matter how badly he wanted to taste that sweet mouth of hers.

He cleared his throat. “I ain’t got much to tell.”

“I don’t believe that.”

“Not much I want to tell.”

She smiled. “That sounds more truthful. You like your privacy. I understand. Perhaps you can just tell me how you came to be a bounty hunter.”

Malcolm shook his head. The woman was relentless.

“I am not going anywhere, Malcolm. You may as well open up a bit.”

Damn him, but he liked the sound of his given name on her lips. “I just sorta fell into it,” he answered gruffly.

“How?”

He tossed her a heavy scowl for her persistence, to which she responded by grinning widely.

“I was looking for someone else when I happened upon a man I’d seen on some wanted posters in the last town. I wouldn’t have bothered with him, but he issued a challenge I couldn’t refuse. He lost, and I claimed the bounty.”

“Why on earth would he challenge you?”

Malcolm shrugged. “He said he didn’t like the way I talked.”

“Idiot.”

He smiled at her incredulous tone. “Why? You like my Texas drawl?”

Her expression lit up at the confession. “I should have guessed. I once met a man from Houston, and you do have a similar manner of speaking.”

“Houston is a far cry from where I grew up.”

“And where was that?”

He stiffened. It had been years since he’d thought about the cotton farm where he’d grown up. He and Gavin had basically agreed when they’d left that there was no reason to ever bring up the subject of their beginnings.

“Doesn’t matter,” he said with a tight jaw.

“But—”

“Leave it.”

She closed her mouth sharply and stared hard at him across the flames. Darkness had fallen while they’d talked, and the night was close around them. The fire lit her face and cast sharp shadows beyond. It was clear that she wanted to press the matter, wanted to insist he tell her everything. The woman’s curiosity ran as deep as her stubborn nature. But his past was something Malcolm preferred to leave alone. There was nothing but pain and loss behind him.

After a bit, she lowered her gaze. “All right, I am sorry for prying.” Her blue eyes lifted again to catch his, and something in her expression twisted around his insides. “But yes, I do like your drawl.”

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Excerpt from Lynnette Austin's Must Love Babies

Must Love Babies, a heartwarming new contemporary romance series, features the Wylder brothers, bachelors who find themselves with unexpected bundles of joy...

Boutique owner Molly Stiles has no time for relationships, but when Brant Wylder is left to care for his sister’s baby, Molly can’t resist helping him. 


Enjoy this excerpt from Must Love Babies

On her way to the store, Molly drove past Annabelle’s Inn. Slowly. No Brant. No black Camaro. She told herself she wasn’t disappointed, that the feeling in the pit of her stomach was relief.

As she walked into the grocer’s, she admitted he was a temptation she’d find hard to resist. And speaking of temptations, Molly tossed a package of Oreos into her grocery cart. Rounding the corner, still working to convince herself she was glad Brant was gone, she almost ran over him.

He hadn’t left town!

Mortified, her hand instinctively flew to her hair. Why hadn’t she taken time to do more than run a brush through it? Or to change into something other than purple leggings and her favorite faded blue sweatshirt?

Brant, on the other hand? Seeing him last night in that black tux, a girl could have melted simply catching sight of him. Today in worn jeans that hugged his hips and butt and a forest-green, long-sleeved T-shirt, he looked rugged, badass, and every bit as delicious. Tux or jeans? How did a girl decide?

A high-pitched squeal caught her attention, and her eyes darted to the grinning baby.

Molly’s shocked gaze flicked to Brant and met his incredible eyes, the color of grass after a summer rain and fringed with the long, thick eyelashes women are never lucky enough to be born with. The baby in his cart shared both.

Her forehead creased in a frown, then her stomach hit the floor as dread filled her.

His sister. Did Brant have the baby because she’d—deep breath—because she’d died?

“Brant? Your sister. Is she okay?”

He nodded, and her world righted itself.

“Molly, meet my nephew, the unpredictable, unrivaled champion sucker of the pacifier, Jax Wylder.”

“Is Lainey doing better this morning?”

“She made it through surgery. While she heals, Jax and I are spending some quality time together, aren’t we, kid?”

Jax’s grin widened.

“Don’t let that smile fool you. The little bugger’s a tyrant,” Brant warned before he shifted his attention back to the baby food section. “Look at this. How can there be so many things to feed a toothless kid? Shouldn’t they just drink milk from a bottle…or from their mama?”

A whimper erupted from the baby, and Molly watched as Brant spun, wild-eyed, to his nephew.

“Oh no, champ, not now. You don’t want to look like a wuss in front of this beautiful lady. Remember what Frankie Valli said. Walk like a man.”

Molly watched, mesmerized, as the five-o’clock-shadowed male picked up the small baby. When he held him close, swaying and patting his back, singing the Four Seasons song, she went all tingly.

Jax quieted, his tiny fingers finding the pocket on Brant’s T-shirt.

Over the baby’s head, Brant shot Molly a look. “Frightening that somebody would trust me with this little guy, isn’t it?”

“Looks like you’re doing fine.”

“Looks can be very deceiving. I’m flying by the seat of my pants—and YouTube videos. Aren’t I, Jax?” He disentangled the baby’s fingers from his pocket and kissed each one.

Molly sighed.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” She blushed. “Nothing at all.”

Brant kissed the top of his nephew’s head. “Right here?” He pointed. “The consequence of sex.”

“Sex?” Her mind blew a fuse.

“Makes a guy think.”

It was making her think, too. And they weren’t thoughts she should be having.

“You can’t leave me alone with all this.” He swept a hand, indicating the mile-long aisle of baby foods and supplies.

Palming a jar of food, he gave it the evil eye. “The label says number two is for a six-month-old. Jax is seven. Do I still buy him a two? Or do I bump up to a three?”

“Brant, I don’t know any more about this than you do.”

“Isn’t it genetic or something? Part of a woman’s DNA?”

She smiled ruefully. “No. I don’t have younger siblings, no nieces or nephews. And before you ask, I never babysat. I have no experience whatsoever.”

“But you must love babies. I mean, who doesn’t?”

Jax let out a loud burp.

She laughed. “I do. Even burping male ones.”

“Quinoa and kale? Seriously? That’s like sending the kid off to some sissy spa. Real men don’t eat this stuff.” Shaking his head, he dropped it into the shopping cart along with a bag of organic pears and spinach mix.

They moved to the diaper section, and Brant groaned. “So does Jax need supersoft swaddlers or sensitive swaddlers?” He moved on to the next box. “Or maybe this twelve-hour protection that promises to keep him snug and dry for that long? That would cut down on the diaper changes.”

He glanced at Jax, who had found a piece of lint on his blanket that fascinated him. “I don’t think so. These must be for older kids with more bladder control.”

“Actually,” Molly said, looking closer at the boxes, “I think they’re sized by weight.”

“Okay, that makes it easier.”

“Do you know how much he weighs?”

“A little less than a car tire, so I’d say about seventeen, eighteen pounds.”

“Seriously? That’s how you figure weight?”

“Hey, I’m a car man. It’s what I do.” His shoulders slouched. “Give me a rusted-out car, and I can make the thing sing. Yet standing here in the baby aisle, I’m practically paralyzed for fear of screwing up.” He tipped his head and scanned the ceiling. “If somebody’s watching this on camera, you have my permission to laugh your butt off.”