Saturday, April 29, 2017

On Being a Grandparent...




Everyone said it would be the best thing in the world.

And it is!

Off to write. My weeks are taken up with cuddling with grandbaby, walking her when she's fussy, taking her on buggy walks with her mama, and taking pictures, while trying to get my word count in.

You see--this is the culmination of romance!

Have a great one!

Terry
“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy is reality.”
Connect with Terry Spear:
Website: http://www.terryspear.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/421434.Terry_Spear
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TerrySpearParanormalRomantics
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TerrySpear
Wilde & Woolly Bears http://www.celticbears

Friday, April 28, 2017

Kim Redford Travels to Baja Texas for Inspiration

Inspiration comes in a lot of ways from a lot of directions. I like to take advantage of research opportunities—particularly when they come on gilded wings.

When I started writing my Smokin’ Hot Cowboys series, I had horses and cattle and country on my mind. Out of the blue, or maybe because I’d been whining about my lack of inspiration, the cowboys and cowgirls of the Gee Cattle Companyand a local forestry firefighter who knew all the backroads volunteered to take me deep into the mountains of Southeast Oklahoma. Okay, I admit when Texans call Oklahoma Baja Texas, they hear Texas is Baja Oklahoma in return. If it weren’t for the Red River separating us, then . . . anyway, back to my point, the cowboys believed Gilbert Jones’ famous mustang ranch located near Medicine Spring would inspire me.

  And so we loaded into two big pickups and headed out on a main highway. Pretty soon we turned down a smaller road, crossed a dry creek bed, drove between two houses on somebody’s ranch, splashed across a stream, and . . . are you getting the idea? I’d never have found Medicine Spring by myself. Fortunately, I was on a guided tour, complete with snacks, kids, and country music under a blue sky with fluffy white clouds.

We turned onto a narrow lane, all red dirt shaded by a canopy of green pines and huge oaks. We drove under a tall rusted metal pipe ranch sign that announced “Pure Spanish mustangs and Catoosa Champions.” As we eased down the road, we didn’t see mustangs or anybody. I quickly realized I’d probably missed this ranch in its prime by about fifty years, but even that idea was inspirational.

We parked on a gravel drive near Medicine Spring across from Gilbert Jones’ now empty, former white house with a tall red-brick chimney. As the truck engines cooled, pinging now and again, the only other sound came from the wind in the trees and the trill of birds in the distance. Even on a hot summer day, the air was cool due to the forest. I looked for the famous mustangs, but I didn’t see any, so I tried not to be disappointed since there was so much else to see.

I turned my attention to the spring, since I wanted to feature one in my series. Medicine Spring was an obvious WPA Project. A beautiful round structure of native rock dated 1929 had been built around the ancient spring known for its medicinal qualities. Inside, water tinted orange due to high iron content constantly gurgled into a wide and deep basin before overflowing onto one side of the stone floor and into a stream outside.


We followed the stream to an area of collapsed buildings made of wood and corrugated tin nestled in the shadow of tall trees with insects buzzing here and there. I saw an overturned table with an orange Formica top and metal edge that spoke of a bygone era. Folks had obviously once come here to dine and sleep when they raced horses in the nearby arena. I wished I could’ve been standing on the raised platform to watch the equestrian events back in the day. Of course, at this point I’d have been happy to see a single mustang.

We finally agreed we wouldn’t see horses that day, but we’d had a grand adventure and I’d gotten lots of inspiration. We headed out, taking it easy on the narrow red road. Suddenly, the forestry firefighter beside me slammed on his breaks and pointed across the road. I looked in that direction. Two beautiful mustangs ambled over, eyeing us curiously just as we eyed them. I couldn’t have been happier. My day was complete.



Kim Redford is an acclaimed, bestselling author of Western romance novels. She grew up in Texas with cowboys, cowgirls, horses, cattle, and rodeos for inspiration. She divides her time between homes in Texas and Oklahoma, where she’s a rescue cat wrangler and horseback rider—when she takes a break from her keyboard. Visit her at http://www.kimredford.com.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Writing Spaces

As the weather (finally) warms up in my neck of the woods, I find myself beginning my annual #writingview journey. For all of my writing life, I've had an active and easily bored child by my side. When she was little, this meant I spent a lot of time at mall playgrounds with my laptop in hand. Now that she's older, the mall playgrounds don't cut it, but the need to get out of the house is still very much there.

Which is why, a few years ago, I started documenting all the beautiful, boring, and flat-out bizarre places I get my writing done. Roller skating rinks, trampoline parks, the area in the YMCA overlooking the pool, squashed up in the car during volleyball practice...you name it, I've been there furiously trying to get my word count in for the day.

Sunny days are pool days.

Rainy days are pool days, too.
It's turned into a kind of joke in my family...where has Tamara dragged her computer today? It's like one of those cute garden gnome journeys, but instead of going cool places like France or Australia, I'm staring at a brick wall outside a coffeeshop.

Even though it's not always glamorous, this process works really well for my productivity. Ideally, I'd like to someday have a freestanding summer house in the backyard that's secluded and sunny and dedicated 100 percent to writing, but until that day arrives, I make do with what I have: an active, busy life that requires me to squeeze in the writing wherever I can. 

Plus, this lets you follow along. Check out the #writingview hashtag on my Instagram feed, and you, too, can enjoy poolside writing days and frustrated attempts to find the perfect shady spot.

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STEALING MR. RIGHT is on sale right now for $1.99 at all ebook retailers!


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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Reviews: The good, the bad, and the ugly

In the land of writing, learning to accept criticism from our peers and editors is something we expect from the get go. We know criticism is for the greater good, that at the end of the road we ultimately become better writers. They are akin to kindly guardians guiding us gently through that good night, only wanting the best for us and our precious book babies. But what about book reviews? Do they serve a purpose, or are they little more than a proverbial thorn in our side, destined solely to either make or break us?  

Unlike our editors, agents and critique partners, book reviews are usually written by total strangers. There’s the difference! They will never have to sit across from us at lunch whilst we cry into our soup (or ice-cream if we’ve really lost it), nor do they particularly care if our book is a spectacular flop. They write the review either because they have to, for work etc, or because they felt moved to do so.

Sometimes reviews make us feel bad...
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The first proper review I ever received for the non-Wattpad version of Dating the Undead was a one star essay of everything they thought I’d done wrong (apart from the sex scenes. Those were good apparently. Go me). I felt absolutely broken. I could have handled it if it was my second review or my fifth or my tenth, but to work so hard to have that as my first real review on my first published book cut me to the core. I went through the various stages—shock, denial, anger, before finally accepting it is what it is. After all it was their opinion, what could I do?

Of course, if I hadn’t been such a needy McNeederson of validation, I would never have seen the review in the first place. If I’d waited, I’d have seen the nice ones that came in soon after. The ones that made me smile and feel proud. But that’s the point isn’t it? Writing is exactly like life. We care too much about what other people think of us and our work, when really we should worry more about what we think of ourselves.

Over the past few months I’ve read lots of advice on how to cope with reviews, ranging from simply, don’t read them, to my personal favourite; ‘it’s subjective. Some people even hate Harry Potter.’ GASP! But what I finally learned is that every review has its place, every review comes from a human being who has taken the time to give our work mental and emotional space, and whether it’s one or five star, that’s actually sort of special. Getting reviews may feel like eating onions at times, but in the cutthroat world of writing, those onions are someone else’s waterlilies. Somewhere out there is a writer who would sell their grandmother to be in the position of getting them.

In a way, having a one star review come first was a blessing in disguise. I’ve been to the dark side and I will not venture back. As wise Yoda once said, ‘Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.’

Yoda. Who knew a thing or two about a thing or two.

So next time you read a bad review, don’t fret. Be proud that you’re a writer who warrants them in the first place. I don’t know about you, but my dream was never about getting a great Goodreads rating anyway.


Dating the Undead releases May 2nd! Visit vdateservice.com to read the first chapter and check out the vampires on offer!





Monday, April 24, 2017

Hot Rescue Divers AND a Sale? Yes, Please!

Have you been waiting for just the right moment to dive (heh...yes, I'm a pun-ster) into the Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue series? Now's the time! The first book in the series, Hold Your Breath, is only $1.99 in e-book format. Today's the last day it'll be on sale, so don't wait to grab your copy!


In the remote Rocky Mountains, lives depend on the Search & Rescue brotherhood. But in a place this far off the map, trust is hard to come by and secrets can be murder…

As the captain of Field County’s ice rescue dive team, Callum Cook is driven to perfection. But when he meets new diver Louise “Lou” Sparks, all that hard-won order is obliterated in an instant. Lou is a hurricane. A walking disaster. And with her, he’s never felt more alive…even if keeping her safe may just kill him.

Lou’s new to the Rockies, intent on escaping her controlling ex, and she’s determined to make it on her own terms…no matter how tempting Callum may be. But when a routine training exercise unearths a body, Lou and Callum find themselves thrust into a deadly game of cat and mouse with a killer who will stop at nothing to silence Lou—and prove that not even her new Search and Rescue family can keep her safe forever.



Saturday, April 22, 2017

Earth Day...so?

I used to plant tons of trees, when I had a lot of acreage–I love forests. But I was so disappointed to learn the people who bought my home in Oklahoma clearcut most of the trees. Beautiful pines, helped to stop erosion on the hillside, and they provided homes for birds, beauty, solitude. There’s no prettier sound than wind blowing through a forest and hearing the rustle of branches or pine needles.
We have old forest in and around our neighborhood. Most new home developments, they just clearcut the trees, leaving barren land. But here, I have several old pines. And behind me, one of my neighbors has beautiful oaks. He wants to cut them down. Why? Because they drop leaves and twigs and he has to pick them up. Really? He has to cut the grass too!  Maybe he should dig it up?

In Texas heat, shade trees are at a premium. They’re beautiful. You see them towering a hundred feet above the homes. Why would you want to cut them down??? I had to have one of the pine trees taken down because it had died, but that’s the only reason to do so, or if the roots are getting into the foundation.

But with such a small lot, which I’m thankful for in that it’s much easier to water and maintain, I’m restricted to small shrubs and flowers and such for the most part. Though….I’d like to get some more crepe myrtles, they’re like small trees.

I have planted all of the flowers here, the zinnias from seeds which should turn into flowers soon, the marigolds and daylilies and Mexican heather, the dianthus, and much more. Many will come back next year as they’re perennials. Many will reseed and return even if they’re annuals. I started last year with the daylilies and a few salvia and coneflowers, and the builders had planted coreopsis and snapdragons. So each year, the flowerbeds should be even more beautiful. Oh, and sunflowers.


They’re coming up from the seeds dropped by the birds, but I love seeing them in the garden as they remind me of my father who used to plant them.


What I love about the flowers, besides the color and vibrancy, is that the honeybees, bumblebees, hummingbirds and butterflies love them.


So think about Earth Day, and if you can, plant something to give back to nature.

Have a lovely day!

Terry
“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy is reality.”
Connect with Terry Spear:
Website: http://www.terryspear.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/421434.Terry_Spear
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TerrySpearParanormalRomantics
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TerrySpear
Wilde & Woolly Bears http://www.celticbears

Friday, April 21, 2017

Don't Miss Out on Team Sourcebooks Giveaways, News, and Exclusive Content!

Have you discovered the Team Sourcebooks Facebook page yet? If not, you should head there right away and make sure you click the "Like" button. And because we know how fickle Facebook can be about what shows up in your feed, you should visit the page every day so that you don't miss out on:

  • Exclusive content from your favorite Sourcebooks Casablanca authors. 
  • Author-specific giveaways posted almost every day.
  • New releases and other author news.
  • The monthly giveaway where you can win all the releases from that month. 
You read that right! Every month, we do a drawing for a bundle of books of all the new releases for that month. The April releases giveaway is going on right now and closes on Sunday 4/23 at 8 pm Pacific Time. Enter for your chance to win all the Sourcebooks Casablanca April releases from  Kianna Alexander, Adriana Anders, Sarah Castille, Vivien Jackson, Abbie Roads, Terry Spear, and Julie Ann Walker!


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Real Heroes

My grandfather was my hero. He passed away a few weeks ago, in his own home, his own bed, ninety-nine years young, as he liked to say. Don't be sad for me! I miss him, yes, but he lived. He loved life, and he made sure to experience it to the fullest. He was my greatest influence and the best man I've ever known.
My high school graduation. 

 When I sit down to write, I try to create men like him. Kind. Gentle. Determined. Strong. Ethical. Adventurous. When I read books, or watch movies or shows, I look for the heroes who live by the same principles. He put the needs of others before his own without ever compromising himself in the process. 

He was born at the end of WWI and enlisted in WWII (Army/Air Force) but he never got to fight. He scored so highly on tests that he skipped basic training and went right into intelligence and meteorology. He would predict the weather for flights (and missile tests) and come home (when he got to come home) with a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist (yes, they really did that).
He was stationed all around the world, but his favorite city was Paris. 

Fortunately, he retired before I was born. Growing up,  I never had to be without my Papa. He was the one who comforted me when my older sister got invited to cool parties and I didn't. We went on "dates" to fancy restaurants, just the two of us. I would wear my best dresses and try to impress him by ordering the most unpronounceable thing on the menu. Escargot, frog's legs, oysters on the half shell... I tried them all, and more, before I was eight. I still love trying new foods, the weirder the better.

With my son, his first great-grandchild.

Every October, when the leaves changed, he would tell me the trees were putting on their party dresses for my birthday. When I turned forty, he gave me a card that transformed into a crown so I would know that I was still, always, his princess.
My Papa. December 1917 - March 2017

The world needs more heroes! Or, we need to hear more about real heroes. Tell me about yours! 



 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Have You Heard...?!

Have you heard?!
SEAL for HER PROTECTION is now available in audio!

Rhiannon Angell is the narrator, and she did a fantastic job bringing Navy SEAL hero Chasen Ward and heroine, investigative journalist Hayley Garner, to life! I think you're going to love it!

Dive in… 




*******************************************************************************************************

Are you going to RT? Me, too!
I'd love to meet you!


Where to Find Me:

Inside Look: Amazon Kindle Worlds

Hotlanta Party

A Walk on the Wild Side Party

Spec Ops, Spies, & Speakeasy Roaring 20's Costume Party

Best of Both Worlds - Going Hybrid

Sweet, Sassy, Spicy Atlanta Baby Party

Shifters Between the Sheets

Giant Book Fair

FAN-tastic Day. Frankly, My Dear, Bang! Bang!

FAN-tastic Day - Paige Tyler Signing

See you there! 

*hugs*
Paige

Monday, April 17, 2017

Lost Scenes and the Cutting Room Floor

When you're writing a book, a lot of what you think will fit into a novel simply won't, and the scenes that you or your editor can't use in the final draft end up on the cutting room floor, or in the recycling bin. When I wrote HOW TO TRAIN YOUR HIGHLANDER, this happened as it does for every book. Alex and Catherine from HOW TO SEDUCE A SCOT came onto the scene. Since HIGHLANDER was Mary Elizabeth's and Harry's story, we had to cut it, but I've included it here because I loved it. I hope you love it, too.

Catherine has just discovered that Mary Elizabeth is overly fond of the duke, and she is quick to tell her husband all about it.



Catherine met her husband in their room, feeling clandestine to be closeted away with him in the middle of the afternoon. Alex, it seemed, had no such qualms, and was already trying to undo the tapes on her gown as soon as she closed the door behind her.

“Alex!” she said. “I need to speak with you.”

Catherine felt his lips on her throat, caressing the underside of her ear, and she shivered, for that was one of her favorite places on Earth to be kissed. She felt her resolve wavering, but knew that she had to speak up, for Mary Elizabeth’s sake.
”Alex,” she said, this time a little less vehement, and more than a bit breathless. “Mary Elizabeth has been flirting with the duke.”

To her surprise and chagrin, at this revelation, her husband did not pause in his antics. He almost had her bodice open, and her skirt to falling to the floor. That was when she knew that she must rally, or all would be lost, at least for the next half hour. Catherine drew on her fortitude, and stepped away from her husband’s hands.

Alex, for his part, looked as dumbfounded as if she had struck him. She never before turned down his caresses.

“Shall I fetch the leather gloves you love?” he asked.

Catherine felt herself blush at the very thought of that black leather against her skin, though she was a married woman of almost two months. He saw her blush, and smiled, beginning to cross the room to her, even as she tied up her gown.

“Alexander Waters, attend me.”

“I am trying to, leannan. You keep running away.”

“Alex, listen to me.” Catherine hid behind a large armchair, though she knew it was not large enough to hold him off for long. She needed to be quick.

“Mary Elizabeth has been flirting with the Duke of Northumberland.”

For the first time, Alex seemed to hear her. “The Recluse Duke?” he asked. “No one has seen hide nor hair of him since Mary Elizabeth and Robbie arrived two days ago.”

“I saw him not half an hour ago in the portrait gallery.” Alex frowned to hear it, and she went on. “I may have seen the duke, but Mary Elizabeth has been kissing him.”

Alex frowned like thunder then, and straightened his waistcoat. It was Catherine who had to move fast that time, to get between him and the door.

“Alex, don’t go running mad. We’re His Grace’s guests and we must be civil.”

Her husband set her aside, gently, but with determination. “His High and Mighty Worship set civility aside when he kissed my sister.”

Ever since Christy English picked up a fake sword in stage combat class at the age of fourteen, she has lived vicariously through the sword-wielding women of her imagination. Sometimes an actor, always a storyteller, Christy works happily with Sourcebooks Casablanca to bring the knife-throwing women of her novels to life. A banker by day and a writer by night, she loves to eat chocolate, drink too many soft drinks, and walk the mountain trails of her home in western North Carolina.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Upcoming Release and Cover! by Linda Broday

Riding toward us on a swift horse is THE HEART OF A TEXAS COWBOY! He'll gallop into bookstores and online on May 2nd. But I want to reveal this gorgeous cover. I just love cowboys and this model really makes my heart melt.



Book #2 Men of Legend series features Houston, one of the three sons of Stoker Legend. Houston was a bit of a surprise for me and he turned out to be my favorite I think of these larger-than-life brothers.

After his father loses half of the Lone Star Ranch in a poker game, Houston finds out the only way to get it back is to marry the daughter of the new owner--Lara Boone. He's never even laid eyes on her but he reluctantly agrees to give her baby a name. That's all Lara Boone asks for and that's okay with him. He has closed off his heart.

This marriage of convenience story takes many twists and turns as Houston drives a large herd of longhorns north to Dodge City, Kansas. Lara goes along when Houston can find no one else to fill in after his cook quits. And of course, the nursing baby has to come too.

Two days out, Houston discovers three riders following them. They're soon in the fight of their lives but he's determined to protect his wife and child at all costs. Only two questions remain...can they reach Dodge City before the killers pick them all off?

And will Lara be the kind of wife Houston has always dreamed of finding?

If you like a book loaded with suspense, danger, and a big helping of romance this one is for you. So enjoy the cover and read the short excerpt.



EXCERPT:  This takes place immediately following their forced wedding.

Lara unpacked the food. “I didn’t want to start off my life here bothering people and being the helpless wife.”

This uncomfortable feeling between them was something Houston had to fix. “You’re never going to be a bother so get that notion out of your head.” He watched her sort the items into two piles. In one she put eggs, ham, cheese, butter and a loaf of homemade bread. In the other went the fresh vegetables along with various and sundry other things. Her eyes lit up when she removed the fresh apple pie.

“Since it’s getting late and I haven’t eaten today either, I thought we might scramble the eggs and fry some of the ham,” he suggested, seeing her indecision.

“I haven’t checked to see if we have pans to cook with.”

“We do.” The cooking utensils were left from a year ago when he thought....

“That settles it then. Go talk to Gracie. I might not know much about a lot of things but I’m an expert cook.” Lara’s hand collided with his when they bent to push aside a small curtain that covered the lower shelf. She froze. An awkward silence filled the room.

At last, Houston said, “Let me get the pan for you.”

She nodded and moved back. “I need to check on Gracie.”

Houston retrieved the skillet and set it aside. He stood staring out the window, cursing his incompetence as he bumbled his way through the strange maze of his life with this woman. At the sound of baby babbles, he turned to watch her sit the child on the floor.

Making up his mind, Houston went and gently took Lara’s hands. “We have to find a way to coexist. I can’t live with you frightened of my every move. We can’t occupy the same house without touching or bumping into each other on occasion. It’ll get easier as we go. But for now, trust me.”

“I do, Houston.” Her vivid green eyes held misery. “It’s just that I don’t know what you expect of me.”
           
Her statement caught him by surprise. What did he expect? Certainly not a wife given they were utter strangers. But not a cook and housekeeper either. That wasn’t right. No wife of his would ever fill the role of a maid to be at his beck and call.

Hell! He yearned for a stiff drink.

“A friend.” His answer surprised him probably more than it did her. “I expect you to be a partner. We both have gaping wounds that have to heal and things in our past to forget. I need someone who’ll stand with me in good times and bad.”

Lara’s smile transformed her face. She was a beautiful woman. He felt the urge to let his fingertips brush her delicate cheekbones and drift along the curve of her jaw.

“I can use a friend,” she said. “I’ll try not to ever make you sorry for your decision.”

“You won’t.” The words came out gruff and he didn’t know how he could say them with such confidence. Yet, somehow deep in his being a calm surety settled like disturbed silt back to the bottom of a riverbed.

* * *

Publisher's Weekly - Starred Review

"The exciting plot, rich setting, and superb writing will delight fans of historical romances."


AMAZON  |  B&N  |  iBOOKS




Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Online Dating...Not for the Tinder hearted!

Until last summer, I felt like something of a fraud. You see, I’d signed a three-book deal for a series of romance novels based around an internet dating site (albeit a vampire site but when it comes to dating, what 's the diff?) without ever actually trying it for myself. And not because I’m married or in a relationship either—I’ve been happily single for the past few years. Good old fashioned fear held me back.
Whenever a friend broached the subject, (as they often did) I would wrinkle my nose and snort in disgust. Dick pics! I’d say, giving the single greatest excuse for not giving it a go, because really, unless it’s Alexander Skarsgård sending naked selfies, who wants to see any of that business off the bat?
Alexander Skarsgård - whose naked selfies will always be welcome...
In the end, however, worn down by badgering and spurred on by curiosity, I relented. I decided to try it for a few weeks, just to see. I uploaded a couple of pictures that didn’t make me throw up and put myself out there on the app Tinder.
Now, my self-esteem is not so fragile that I think of myself as a troll under a bridge in the looks department, but neither do I have that pouty, Disney eyes thing going on. I was a nineties girl for heaven’s sake—we spent days drinking cheap lager and not washing our hair. We had Kate Moss as our poster girl. We were about fun and friends and listening to Oasis in the park. If you went home more than a few times a week you were a social failure. I didn’t expect anyone to match with me.
But they did. For those not familiar with how Tinder works, pictures pop up randomly and you swipe right to like them and left to reject. Yes, it’s that ruthless and shallow. But soon I was out there with the best of them, gathering matches like a debutante collecting dance cards at a ball.
Perhaps the best thing about Tinder is that it works on your location. If, for example, you go to London on a day trip, it will deliver, directly to your phone all the single men within whichever radius you choose. This adds a whole to new level of potential to trips away. Instead of the one who got away, no one gets away, not without you swiping left on them first. Cupid, your work here is done! You too, Fate! See you around, *evil laugh.
So, what about the guys? What you have to remember is that Tinder, unlike Match or eHarmony, is free and like anything that’s free it attracts all sorts of people—not all of them particularly sane. I had a guy with a foot fetish who wanted to lick my feet (a polite no thanks) and another who was quite open about the fact he was using the app to cheat on his girlfriend (Er–no).
In other words, roll up your sleeves, because if you want to find that buried treasure, you’re going to have to dig deep into the rubbish heap of human nature.
It’s not for everyone and eventually, with writing commitments needing my attention, I deleted the app. But I did meet a couple of nice guys and one I met up with in real life too. He wasn’t the one, but I don’t regret meeting him for a minute.
Who knows? This summer, I may even try it again. All in the name of research of course ;)
DATING THE UNDEAD, Book #1 in the V-Date.com series launches May 2nd 2017.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

New Release: Back To Your Love by Kianna Alexander

If you like your romances with equal parts sweetness and heat, then Kianna Alexander's Back To Your Love won't disappoint! Check out the excerpt below to see what we mean!

###

Gently, he draped his arm around her bare shoulders. The feel of his touch radiated through her, the growing warmth inside her far exceeding the temperature of the sultry June night. Being in his arms again didn’t feel foreign, the way it should have after so many years. His touch felt as natural and familiar as her own heartbeat. She noticed the rapid pace of her breathing and wondered if he noticed it as well.

The low timbre of his voice broke the silence. “If I’m making you uncomfortable, just say so. That’s the last thing I want to do, Imani.”

So he had picked up on her nervousness. She shook her head. While her mind told her not to let him get behind her defenses, her heart didn’t want him to with- draw his touch. Instead, she answered him but kept her eyes directed at her lap. “No. It’s all right.”

“If you say so. I brought you out here to talk, so let’s talk. What have you been up to these last ten years, other than growing more beautiful?”

She felt the smile creep over her face at the smoothly delivered compliment. “Let’s see. I did undergrad in biology at Spelman, then med school at Meharry, then my dermatology certification—”

“Whoa. Are you telling me all you’ve been doing for the last decade is being a student?”

She shrugged. “I guess so. But I had a goal in mind, and hard work and lots of school were the only ways to reach it.”

That drew a low, rumbling chuckle from him. “I can’t say I’m surprised. You always were intelligent and determined. I’m glad to see you’re accomplishing your goals.”

She took a chance and raised her gaze to his. His rich, dark eyes held the same sincerity she’d detected in his words. “Thank you, Xavier. I appreciate that.”

A silent moment passed between them, their gazes connecting.

When his scrutiny became too intense, she broke the silence. “So, uh, what have you been up to? I’ve read in the paper, and heard from Mama, that you’re doing a lot of good work in the community.”

A broad smile spread across his face. “I’m glad to know Ma Alma speaks of me so highly. When I’m not in the office handling the books for my clients, I volunteer at a youth center in the old neighborhood, and I do a little work at Second Harvest Food Bank from time to time. I’m no saint, but I do what I can for the community.”

“I’m really impressed, Xavier.”

“Thanks.” His smile broadened, dazzling her. “Then I hope I can count on your vote in the city council race. If I win, I can do even more.”

Listening to him talk about his good works in such a modest way, she realized he still had a wonderful heart. In the few weeks she’d been home, her mother had gone on and on about Xavier’s activism. As an all-star athlete and scholar in high school, he could have chosen any career path he’d wanted. But instead of taking some high-paying, high-profile position, he’d chosen to make a modest living so that he could give back to the com- munity that had nurtured him as a child. Yes, Xavier Whitted was a rare bird, and if the look in his eyes was any indication, he was ready to build a nest.

There, beneath his searching gaze, she could feel her very soul opening up. Once upon a time, she’d been certain she’d marry this man. Now, she felt like an inexperienced adolescent. No matter how she tried, she couldn’t look away from him.

The heartbreak she’d suffered at Xavier’s hands had colored her perception of men. He’d been her first love and had shown her a first glimpse of real pain. Maybe she should thank him for that, because it had allowed her to focus on her goals, rather than be consumed by chasing after a suitable mate.

“Imani, I’m going to kiss you. Is that all right?”

She heard his soft words, and even as her brain yelled at her to back away before she lost her heart to him a second time, no words would come. All she could manage was to look into the endless pools of his eyes.

An instant later, his lips touched hers.

###

Title: Back to Your Love
Author: Kianna Alexander
Series: Brothers of TDT, #1
ISBN: 9781492646983
Pub Date: April 4, 2017
Genre: Contemporary

Xavier Whitted, CPA and city council candidate is excited to get away to the Crystal Coast for his best friend’s wedding. He is shocked when he runs into his high school sweetheart there, the only woman he ever truly loved.

Dr. Imani Grant is just about ready to open her own dermatology practice when a serious wrench is put in her plans—in the form of Xavier Whitted. Old feelings resurface along with old secrets from the past. Imani isn’t willing to go there, until Xavier starts a new campaign: win Imani back—no matter what it takes.

Like any good Southern belle, Kianna Alexander wears many hats: loving wife, doting mama, advice-dispensing sister, and gabbing girlfriend. She's a voracious reader, history nerd and craft fanatic. Kianna lives in North Carolina with her husband, two kids, and a collection of well-loved vintage 80's Barbie dolls.