Saturday, September 30, 2017

New Release: Hot Pursuit by Julie Ann Walker

So many questions buzzed through Emily’s brain that she felt like she’d shoved her head in a beehive. She had to grit her teeth to keep from asking them.
And why the hell wouldn’t he stop rubbing her hip? Warmth had spread from the skin beneath his hand, and now her whole body was suffused with it.
“Is she the reason you stayed in England after Boss invited you to join him at Black Knights Inc.?” she asked.
The look he shot her had her lifting a brow. “What?”
“That’s the second time today I’ve thought you were either a mind reader or else practicing witchcraft.”
“Really?” The thought delighted her. “When was the first time?” Then reality sank in. Shit, that was question number three. “Never mind!” She slapped a hand over his mouth. “Don’t answer that.”
His eyes sparkled mischievously. He’d tried using her own technique against her, piquing her interest so she’d use up her truths.
“I’m not the only one who fights dirty,” she accused.
“And don’t you forget it,” he parroted her words back to her. Then he placed a hot kiss in the center of her palm.
She snatched her hand away, dropping it into her lap. If he noticed that she curled her fingers, trying to hold on to the heat of his kiss, he gave no indication.
“So out with it,” she demanded. “Is your mother the reason you stayed in England after Boss invited you to join him at BKI?”
“Yes.” His nod was perfunctory. “After I was let go from the SAS, when I was trying to make my way as a civilian, I moved back in with Mum. After Dad died, she didn’t only get soused on the weekends. She did it all day every day. Held on to the bottle like a lifeline. She was self-medicating, of course. When she was pissed, she could forget she’d been the one behind the wheel that night. But miracle of miracles, with me back home looking after her, suddenly it seemed like she was trying to pull her shite together. She stopped spending all her government support checks at the pub and instead started buying decent food for the flat. She even went ’round to the local Jobcentre offices and applied to be placed in a position.”
From the tender age of six, he’d lived with a drunk mother and a dead father.
Snap. Crackle. Pop.
That wasn’t Rice Krispies. That was the foundations of Emily’s walls. Because she got it.
Her parents might not be drunks, but she knew all about addiction. Her mother and father were both addicted to love, addicted to the high it brought them. They’d sought it with single-minded determination, and their searches had, more often than not, left Emily all alone.
“Then one night, about three months after I got back, I found her in an alley,” Christian continued. “She was half frozen, half dressed, and totally piss drunk. And that’s when I knew.”
He stopped there. Didn’t say another word for a full minute, simply stared into space.
Even though she’d used up her three truths, Emily posed a question anyway. “What did you know?”
Christian turned to look at her. There was so much sadness in his eyes that her heart lurched toward him, and her arms were around his neck before she could stop them.
“That I couldn’t change her,” he said, his voice deep and husky. “That I couldn’t help her, couldn’t save her. And she was too far gone to have any hope of saving herself. So, I trundled her off to the best rehab facility in the country the next morning. It cost all my savings to get her in a six-month program. Then I bought a one-way ticket to America. Got on that plane with nothing but a change of clothes in my rucksack and a paltry roll of pounds secured by an elastic band.”
Emily desperately wanted to know what had become of his mother, if she had ever sobered up, how she’d died. But she’d already pushed her luck and gotten one more truth than he’d agreed to give her. So she bit back the questions poised on the tip of her tongue and said simply, “I’m so sorry, Christian.”
Although sorry didn’t come close to describing what she was feeling for him in that moment. She wasn’t sure there were words in the English language that could do her emotions justice.
Then, because he had given her one more truth than he’d agreed to, and because her emotions were running high and she felt she should do something, she decided to answer the last question he had posed. After all, turnabout was fair play. She prided herself on being an equitable woman.
“I can’t imagine what it was like to lose a father so early in life,” she said, playing with the ends of his hair where it brushed the back of his warm neck. “Or to know what it was to grow up with an alcoholic mother. But like you, I’m sort of the collateral damage of my childhood.”
His dark eyebrows slashed into a vee. “What do you mean?”
“You asked me to explain to you what I couldn’t explain to Richard. Why I couldn’t fall in love with him.” Part of her mind was on the ugly truth she was about to reveal; the other part was distracted by the feel of his hair between her fingertips. It was so soft. Strange for a man who in all other respects was the epitome of hardness. Hard body. Hard head. Hard…ahem. “I’m willing to give it a try.”
The look he sent her was guarded.
“But I want to make another deal with you,” she said.
“I’m listening.”
“I want you to let me go back over to the sofa.” His pretty green eyes narrowed. “What I’m about to tell you is important, and I need to be able to concentrate to get it right. To explain it right. I can’t concentrate when we’re like”—she motioned between them—“this.”
One corner of his mouth twitched. “Why not?”
Her pursed lips told him you know why without having to say the words.
Indulge me, his twinkling eyes answered.
She blew out a windy breath. “You’re distracting, okay? You’re all…” She waved a hand to indicate his entire form. “And it’s distracting.”
Not to mention destructive. As in, sitting on his lap, his arms around her, her arms around him—when had that last thing happened exactly?—was destroying her emotional fortifications, ripping them apart brick by brick until it was hard to remember why she was so determined to keep him at arm’s length.
“You do want me.” A satisfied grin kicked up the corners of his mouth. That mouth that she now knew from experience was magic. If she was a witch, then he was definitely a warlock. A sexy, tattooed English warlock.
She clucked her tongue. “Ah, ah, ah. Your arrogance is showing again.”
“Admit it,” he demanded.
“Okay, I admit it. You, sir, are arrogant.” Devilment had her fighting a grin.
“Admit that you want me, woman. I’m not letting you go until you do.”
“Fine.” Her frustration had her raising her hands and letting them fall back into her lap. “I want you. What red-blooded heterosexual woman wouldn’t? You’ve got that whole unholy trifecta thing going for you.”
“Unholy trifecta?” He looked genuinely confused.
“Tall, dark, and handsome,” she explained, touching his chin dimple. She couldn’t get enough of it. “Plus, there’s the accent.”
“I’m not the one with an accent, darling. You’re the one with an accent.”
“Whatever. The point is that it doesn’t matter that I want you; I can’t have you. And I’ll try to explain why if you’ll let me go back over to the damned sofa!”
She clamped her mouth shut, heat flooding her cheeks when she realized he’d gotten under her skin and made her lose her shit. Again. He had an unnatural knack for it.
“Fine.” He opened his arms, letting them come to rest on the arms of the chair. “You win. Your freedom for an explanation. Although, in truth, I’m hardly sure this is a better deal than the last one.”
That Emily should feel so bereft without his strong arms around her, without that thumb drawing maddening circles on her hip, was completely absurd. Which was why she scrambled off his lap and flounced over to the sofa. She didn’t want him to see the truth of her feelings on her face.
Only after she had settled into the corner, drawing her feet up onto the cushion and hugging her knees to her chest, did she dare look at him. “Like I said earlier,” she grumbled. “You wouldn’t know a good deal if it—”
“I’m warning you, Emily.” His expression was so fierce, so focused that she found herself fighting for breath. “If you mention the words bite and pecker in the same sentence again, I can’t be held responsible for what I’ll do. Likely bite you and then try to use my p—”
“Okay!” She screwed her eyes shut and covered her ears. It felt as if someone had tossed a bucket of scalding water over her head. “I get it!”
When she blinked open her eyes, it was to find him reclined back in the chair, a smug half-smile plastered over his irritatingly attractive face.

Friday, September 29, 2017

New Release: One Summer Night by Caridad Pineiro

Nothing about the night had gone quite the way Maggie had pictured it.

Not Connie and Jonathan. Or how all of them had gotten along like a group of long-time friends, maybe because they were friends on some level, considering how many years they’d all known each other. Or how she and Owen were now strolling along the sand at the water’s edge, hand in hand. Silent. Tucked close to ward off the unseasonable chill of the night, their hips and shoulders brushing together as they moved. His presence was comforting, the night peaceful with no need to fill the silence.

After a few minutes and a sharper gust of wind that bit into them with a chill made worse by the damp fog blanketing the shoreline, Owen led them back up toward the dunes that provided some protection from the breeze and from prying eyes. He spread out the blanket and sat. Urged her to rest between his outstretched legs, her back to his chest to protect her from what was left of the wind. He wrapped his arms around her and tucked his face against her cheek, creating delicious warmth from the contact.

They were virtually alone, with only the muted shadows of a few distant beachgoers far down the beach at the water’s edge.

Long moments passed until he said, “You know what they expect us to be doing, don’t you?”
 She peered at him from the corner of her eye. His features were neutral, giving away nothing of what he was thinking.

“I do,” she said, but then plunged onward. “So do we do what they expect because they’re expecting it?”

“In which case are we doing it because of that expectation, or do we really want to do it?” he finished for her, so in sync with her thoughts that it was almost downright scary.

She turned in his arms because she wanted to see every aspect of his face for this discussion. Possibly a mistake. The kiss of moonlight made his hair seem almost impossibly black and brightened the shards of silver in his amazing eyes. The ephemeral light cast shadows on his features but chiseled the sharp edges of that very masculine and handsome face. Gilded the strong line of his lips, so irresistible. She ran her index finger across his upper lip and then down to the spot where she knew that damn irresistible dimple lurked.

Meeting his gaze, she saw how his pupils had dilated with her caress and were now pools of a gunmetal hue. “Do you want to do it?”

He cupped her jaw and skimmed his thumb across the ridge of her cheekbone. “What do you think?”
If he had asked her last night or even earlier that night, before his toast, the answer would have been a resounding yes.

Now, she wasn’t so sure it made sense, although she had no doubts that she wanted him physically. All the signs were there as he scraped his thumb across her cheek again. The little twist of desire between her legs. The heat racing across her body and the tightening of her nipples beneath the sexy lace bra she’d worn in anticipation of tonight. But wanting more than that?

“I think we both want…” she began but faltered.

“I want to touch you. Kiss you. I thought about it a lot since last night and this morning, but I think we need to take it slow, Mags,” he said.

“Slow is always good,” she kidded, although she knew where he was going, and she was actually surprisingly on board with it.

He grinned, and that enticing dimple emerged, prompting her to lean forward and drop a kiss there before shifting to lightly brush her lips all along the edges of his.

“What is this?” he asked.

She chuckled and repeated what he’d said to her that morning, which now seemed like ages ago. “If you can’t tell, I must not be doing it right.”

He barked out a laugh so loud, she feared the others up on the lawn might hear. She covered his mouth with her hand and felt his smile there. Saw his amusement in the silvery glitter alive in his gaze.

“You always surprise me, Mags,” he whispered. “Maybe because we don’t know each other well enough yet to take this to the next step.”

One dark eyebrow quirked upward. “Which is?”

She rolled her eyes and gave a rueful shake of her head. “I don’t think I need to spell it out for you, Owen.”

“S-e-x,” he spelled out, and disappointment slammed into her because deep down, in some part of her, she’d been hoping it would be more than s-e-x. More like l-o-v-e. But maybe s-e-x was a first step to more. To the happily ever after that Tracy was always chasing, Connie didn’t have time for, and Emma just didn’t believe in. She was like none of her friends that way. She’d always thought it would happen if the right man came along. But for lots of reasons, she wasn’t sure Owen was Mr. Right.

He must have sensed the change in her mood. He stroked his thumb across her cheek again, his touch both reassuring and sensual.

“Let’s get to know each other better, Mags,” he said, and before she could agree, his lips were on hers again, coaxing a response. Gentle but demanding. Exploring the edges of her lips with quick little kisses and her bottom lip with a sexy nip that he soothed with his tongue.

She huffed out a breath as her nipples tightened even more, and deep in her center, that intimate bite had her insides pulsing with need.

“Owen,” she whispered and dug her hands into his thick hair, urging him close.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

HOLIDAY SPICE: The countdown is on!!

Do you ever feel like some things take FOREVER to get here?  This is one of those times...

HOLIDAY SPICE is book six in my Shaughnessy Brothers series and oddly enough, doesn't focus on a Shaughnessy brother, but instead, a Shaughnessy sister.  The lone sister - Darcy.   I have been planning her story almost since she first appeared on the page back in book one (MADE FOR US) and I have loved watching her grow and evolve over the course of the series.  Giving her the spotlight this time around has been pure joy.

Darcy Shaughnessy has gotten used to her overbearing brothers chasing away any man she wants to date. But a chance meeting with a brooding — and deliciously handsome — artist is about to make this holiday season one to remember.

There's only one thing Benjamin Tanner loves more than his woodcarving: solitude. Then he gets snowed in with Darcy in his cozy cabin in the woods, and their heated feelings begin to melt the icy barrier between them.

With Ben's need for privacy and Darcy's love of family and social life, will opposites still attract once the snow clears and the holiday festivities come to an end?

Are you ready for more?  Here's a little excerpt:

Darcy turned her head and looked at him with a sleepy smile.

He was in serious trouble.

“Hey,” she said softly.

“Hey, yourself.” Without thinking, Ben simply shifted them until she rolled over and was tucked in at his side. There was so much he wanted to say and yet not. The silence was comfortable, and honestly, he was already letting his hands roam up and down her back and her arms, and the softness of her skin was enough to entrance him.

With a small kiss on his chest, she looked up at him. “So…”

Clearly, she was a talker. But rather than respond, Ben arched a brow at her and waited.

She settled against him. “I guess you liked the cake, huh?”

That was the last thing he expected her to say, and he lost it—completely laughed out loud. When he felt her body shaking with laughter beside him, he decided Darcy Shaughnessy brought something to his life he hadn’t realized he’d been missing.


“Technically,” he began after a moment, “I never got to taste it.”

“There was the icing,” she corrected. “And you did mention how you tend to eat more of that than anything.”

“It’s really good icing.”

Shaking her head, she made a tsking sound. “Clearly, you’ve never had real icing.”

Ben lifted his head and looked at her. “Are you telling me there is something better out there than icing in a can? Because I’m finding it hard to believe. That’s been my dirty little secret for years.”

In a move he didn’t see coming, she chuckled and then shifted to straddle him until they were chest to chest. “Thats your dirty little secret?” She shook her head. “We’re going to have to work on that.”

Now it was his turn to shake his head. “Uh-uh. That’s the extent of keeping secrets for me.” His tone went serious, more so than he had intended. “I don’t do secrets. My life is an open book. I enjoy my privacy, but what you see is what you get with me. No lies. No pretense.” He paused. “No games.”

The playful expression was gone as she considered him.

“I wanted you from the first moment I saw you,” he said, carefully watching her reaction. “It bothered the hell out of me when your attitude toward me changed, but it didn’t stop the want.”

“So this was to prove—”

“No,” he immediately interrupted with an edge to his voice. “This wasn’t about proving anything. This happened because I find you fascinating and beautiful and sexy as hell. This happened because you’re all I’ve been able to think about.” One hand anchored in her tousled hair and gripped it lightly. “And it’s going to happen again, because I love the way you feel in my arms and when you’re completely wrapped around me.”

He pulled her head down and kissed her with a ferocity he didn’t recognize in himself. And when they broke apart, panting, Ben positioned her so her forehead rested against his.

“And I love the sounds you make,” he stated. “And I want to hear them again.”

Darcy’s gasp was soft, her eyes wide. Ben could tell she was trying to come up with something to say, but he didn’t want that. He didn’t want her coming up with something she thought she should say—he wanted her honesty. The kind of thing that would simply slip out unfiltered.

So rather than wait, he kissed her again. Rolled her beneath him.

And did his best to keep her from thinking of anything other than him for the next several hours.

Ooo...just when it was getting good, right??  Well, how about this - how about a giveaway to make up for not giving you more of the story??  How about I give THREE lucky readers, a SIGNED copy of HOLIDAY SPICE???  Sound fair??

GIVEAWAY CLOSED!!  WINNERS ARE Katie Chapman, Glenda & Chelci!  CONGRATULATIONS!!  Please reach out to me on FB to claim your books!!

In the meantime, you can preorder HOLIDAY SPICE right now and it will be out on Tuesday, October 3rd!  

Happy Reading and Good Luck!!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Shall We Dance?

Sometimes as you get older, you discover something about yourself. In the last month, I have realized that I love to dance.

Not the beautiful, stately dances a la Jane Austen, or the romantic waltz that requires a skilled partner to be any fun. Just modern gyrations that make no sense other than they follow the beat (mostly). And they bring me joy.

Now, I am a terrible dancer. I admit this. For those of you who remember Seinfeld, cast your mind to Elaine’s spastic leg kicking and thumb tossing movements. I’m not that bad. I stay contained in my own space for the most part. But I love it.

I have discovered that it is fun to be forty-six years old and no longer give a flip about whether or not I look ridiculous. I am sorry it took me this long, but I am so grateful that it happened.

Whatever your age, if you try to stay open to the moving of your own heart, it may lead you to an undiscovered country. You might sing, you might write a song, you might climb a mountain. You might even dance.

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.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Battle of the Books: First Funny Moment by Gina Conkle

The Midnight Meetings series is growing with a novella and a full novel coming this year. The last time I blogged here, I featured the "first kiss" in both books (you can read "It's in His Kiss" here).

On my blog last week, I featured the "first meet" in both books (the curious can click here to read that one).

In the spirit of firsts, I'm presenting the first "funny moment" between the hero and heroine in The Lord Meets His Lady and Meet a Rogue at Midnight. The game is the same as the last time. Read the entries and weigh in with your vote in the comment section with which one you liked and why, because humor is just as individual as a kiss.

The prize? A $5 Amazon e-gift card.

The Lord Meets His Lady by Gina Conkle
(Midnight Meetings series, book 3)

The Set-Up: Genevieve Turner is a woman of ill-repute turning over a new leaf as respectable housekeeper in the north. She suspects Lord Marcus bamboozled her into working for him because he wants a racy Master-Servant relationship. Genevieve will have none of that. It's her first morning in service, and she's laying down the law.

His new housekeeper roved about his chamber, collecting discarded clothes. “You need a bath, milord. You smell like horse. I’ve already poured one for you.”
He grinned at her bluntness. Master-servant decorum didn’t matter here. He’d mentioned last night he couldn’t remember the last decent soak he’d had. A bath was perfect even if he’d need another one by the end of day.
He checked his chamber. “Where is my bath?”
“In the scullery.” She picked balled up stockings off the floor.
“That’s in the kitchen.”
“Sculleries usually are.” Miss Turner toed the ash pail closer to the fireplace. “Another requirement of mine: all bathing will be done in the scullery. I don’t haul wood or water upstairs.” She gave his night table a nod. The bottom drawer held the chamber pot. “And I don’t clean chamber pots.”
“But you’re the housekeeper,” he sputtered.
Her eyes sparked with mischief over an armful of laundry. “If you wanted a proper housekeeper, milord, you should’ve hired one.”
He was about to ask what kind of arrangement she’d made with Samuel, but someone banged the front door.
“That must be the Dutton sisters.” Miss Turner sashayed to his doorway, her voice light. “I poured your bath some time ago. If you want hot water, you’d better hurry.”
 “What?” His feet hit the cold floor.
Her breezy alto carried from the hallway. “Something to keep in mind, milord. Early risers get hot water.”

Meet a Rogue at Midnight by Gina Conkle
(Midnight Meetings series, book 4)

The Set-Up: Jonas returned home on Christmas Eve after ten years gone. He wants to settle things with his grandfather before leaving England for good. But, he had a unusual Christmas Eve encounter with childhood friend, Livvy Halsey. In this scene he's off to find out what does she do in her tower?

He charged up the meadow’s rise, his lungs bursting with rare good feeling since returning home. Livvy leaned outside the tower window, her copper braid swaying as she huffed in her struggle with the rope. A hulking wooden chair swung merrily at the end.
            Cupping his mouth, he called out, “Need some help?”
            Livvy’s head snapped up. “Jonas? Is that you?”
            He jogged to clear the ground between them, cold air biting his cheeks. Red-nosed and determined, she wrestled with rope and furniture.
He grabbed the chair and looked up. “Have a care, or you’re going to fall.”
A pair of lovely breasts jostled against her bodice. “I’ve done this many times.”
“Of course you have. Doesn’t every Englishwoman hang out windows and haul furniture up by rope?”
            She stifled a giggle. “Don’t be impertinent. You can see I’m in the middle of something.”
Tufts of snow landed on his face. He made an effort to speak to her eyes, not her cleavage. “What are you doing in your tower? Spinning chairs into gold?”
            “In a manner of speaking, yes, I am.” She grinned at him. “You’re in high spirits.”
“It is Christmas Day.”
“So it is.” She focused on the chair and adjusted her grip on the rope. “Well, don’t let me keep you from your celebrations.”
She was giving him the brush-off? 

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To get in the drawing for the $5 Amazon e-gift card, please leave your vote in the comments below (which one made you smile biggest and why). Random drawing will be done noon ET Sept. 30, 2017 and announced here on the blog.

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Keep your eyes open for more "Battle of the Books" blog posts where I feature different romance novel firsts from Meet a Rogue at Midnight and The Lord Meets His Lady.

Gina Conkle writes lush Viking romance and sensual Georgian romance. Her books always offer a fresh, addictive spin on the genre, with the witty banter and sexual tension that readers crave. She grew up in southern California and despite all that sunshine, Gina loves books over beaches and stone castles over sand castles. Now she lives in Michigan with her favorite alpha male, Brian, and their two sons where she’s known to occasionally garden and cook.

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