Did you ever wonder how hot water pipes worked in the early 1800s? The second book in my Way to a Lord's Heart series features pair of Regency nerds who work together getting a bathtub installed in his country house. And then make use of it together!
After his parents’ sudden death, Daniel Frith, Viscount Whitfield, is
struggling to unravel a web of chaotic family records. He is astonished
to learn that his father’s will contains a mysterious legacy: a house
left to a complete stranger. He knows nothing about the beautiful
Penelope Pendleton, and he’s not sure he wants to…until she turns out to
be a whiz at all those nasty tasks involved in estate administration.
Penelope has no idea why Rose Cottage was left to her. But it’s a
godsend after her brother’s reckless actions disgraced her family. She
had planned to stay out of Viscount Whitfield’s way, not grow ever
closer to him. But when they discover how entwined their families really
are, Daniel and Penelope must collaborate to avoid a scandal that
reaches much higher than either could have guessed.
Tuesday, March 26, 2019
The third and final book in the Phoenix Brothers series is releasing today! March 26th. I've been so busy moving I was afraid I might forget!
We downsized to a place half the size of our old house, and it wasn't as painful as I feared. We digitized special photos, gave a lot of things to Goodwill, and shipped a few boxes. One of those boxes contains my author copies of the brand new A Phoenix is Forever! Then we cleaned the house until it looked brand new and packed the SUV. We hired a nice Canadian guy to drive it from NH to Florida while we flew down with our two cats. He met us at the airport, said the drive went well.
I wish we could say the same about flying with cats! Our black cat is a sweetheart. A 'go with the flow' type. He hardly made a peep. The other one is a little hellion anyway, and the sedative didn't seem to touch him. He meowed the whole way! He is fine now, but the poor little guys have been confused for days.
So, here we are, finally living our dreams. Mr. Amazing always wanted to live in a highrise. I wanted to live at the beach. We're so fortunate to have found a place we love that is the best of both worlds. A top floor condo right on one of the most beautiful beaches in the country. (It was recently rated 3rd best.) I think it should be first, but I'm biased.
This picture was actually taken one morning when our unit was above the clouds! (The beach is down there, I promise.
So, back to the book! It's in Mass Market paperback on the new release tower at all Barnes and Nobles! How exciting is that? I no longer live near a B&N store, so I asked my assistant to take a picture for me. If you follow me on Facebook, you're sure to see it soon.
So, here's the short blurb:
Dawn Forrest is a psychic and an ex-gang girl. She may have misused her gift in the past to protect the gang’s illicit activities, but she’s ready to change all that.
Phoenix shifter Luca Fierro is a rookie cop with something to prove. The last person he should get involved with is a woman in a gang—for both their sakes. But when he realizes this psychic can help find a missing child, and the detectives assigned to the case just scoff, what is he supposed to do?
To Luca’s supernatural family, a psychic is normal…as long as she’s not a fraud, and her early predictions prove she isn’t. Why does she have to be so cute? Maybe he should have become a firefighter like the rest of his brothers.
I hope you enjoy the book, and because I want readers to enjoy it, I'll have a contest. Pleas e leave a comment here and I'll choose a random winner for a paperback copy. I hope you're all having a great spring!
Sunday, March 10, 2019
In honor of International Women's Day!
An excerpt from HIGHLAND BETRAYAL. Not only is Maggie a strong Highland lass, she's a warrior woman…
“How much farther today?” she asked as she craned her neck to look up the mountain.
He pointed to the top in the distance, over rocks and shale, which could be dangerous to both them and the horses. “A few more hours to the ridge—that’ll be hard going—then we’ll have several more hours to the cave where we’ll camp tonight. The incline will not be so bad once we’re on the ridge, but the path will be rough. And the lads willna be able to help you once we reach the shale. They’ll need to steady the horses.”
She nodded, but he could see her eyes had dimmed.
Then she sighed heavily and struggled to her feet. “’Tis best we shoot now, then. I doona want my arms shaking so badly I canna aim straight. You’d win by default—the only way, for sure.”
He let her have her fun. Although truth be told, it might not be a jest. He suspected he would beat Maggie only if she allowed him to.
And he'd take it.
Aye, Maggie letting him win would be as good as telling him she would marry him. Until then, he would fight for her hand with everything he had.
“Choose a spot, then, and I’ll go first. I wouldnae want to be accused of following your arrow’s path again.”
She smiled, obviously enjoying herself now as she pulled out her daggers. “Not to worry. We’ll use knives instead. And maybe a moving target.”
The other men had also risen.
“What did you have in mind?” Finn asked, his boyish face alight with excitement.
“I’ll show you,” she said. “You doona mind helping, do you?”
Finn’s smile faded, and he swallowed nervously. “If you think ’twill be safe.”
“Well, I willna miss. But you may want to jump back when it’s Callum’s turn.”
The corners of his mouth dipped down, and Callum took pity on the lad. “We willna aim at you, Finn. Maggie would ne’er risk your life that way. I’m sure she means to have you throw a target in the air.”
“Aye,” Maggie said, her lips twitching. “If Callum’s scared he’ll miss and hit you instead, we’ll do it his way.” She searched the ground, then picked up two flat rocks, both about the size of her palm, and held them out to him. “Choose your target.”
He did, after making a show of looking them over carefully. He just liked being able to hold her hand, his fingers gliding over her soft skin, until she shivered.
And if it threw off her concentration, all the better.
“I’ll take this one,” he said and passed it to Finnian. He reached for his dagger as Maggie passed Finn her target, and the young man hopped across the mountain like a young goat until she whistled.
He stopped. “Right here?” he yelled.
“Aye, lad. We’ll let you know when we’re ready—and keep an eye out for the daggers when they fall!” Callum said.
He turned and saw Maggie flipping her dagger in her hand—almost a ritualistic movement to help her focus. She never once looked at her blade. Instead, she stared above Finn’s head in the distance, no doubt envisioning the shot in her mind’s eye.
Fortunately, the wind was calm, and it would simply be a matter of anticipating and hitting the target.
“Do you want to see him toss it first?” he asked.
“Nay. Let’s just do it.”
His stomach tightened with anticipation—with nerves, even—and he took a deep breath to relax his muscles. The weight of what was riding on this competition sat heavily on him. He was a good shot and would pit his skills against anyone, but he was afraid Maggie might prove his better.
And this was a contest he could not afford to lose.
“I’ll go first,” he said. He adjusted his position, then whistled at Finn. The lad tossed Callum’s target in the air. In a single motion, Callum pulled his arm back over his shoulder and loosed his dagger. It hit the rock seconds later, before the target reached the top of its arc, and the men sent up a cheer.
Callum resisted punching his fist in the air as he switched spots with Maggie, his heart conflicted. Aye, he wanted to win, but he also didn’t want her to feel the shame of missing her shot.
He wondered if she felt the same.
She was grinning from ear to ear when she yelled at Finn, “Now!”
Finnian tossed her target high in the air. Callum expected Maggie to pull her arm back and loose immediately, as he had, but she waited until the target was on its way down.
The men yelled out with concern, but she waited until the very last moment. Only then did she throw the dagger, hitting the target just before it reached the ground a few feet from Finnian.
The men erupted with loud shouts of astonishment and revelry, and this time Callum couldn’t stop himself from punching the air and yelling along with them. His shot had been precise; hers had been a thing of beauty.
He looked over just as she gave the men a deep curtsy. When she straightened, she looked up the mountain, hands on her hips, and blew out a heavy puff of air. “If only this mountain were so easy to beat!”
His pleasure turned to indignation. “You did not beat me!”
“Tell that to the men,” she replied with a saucy grin, then cupped her hands over her mouth. “Finnian, bring my dagger. And somebody help me up this great, bloody rock!”
* * *
To keep her safe, he betrayed his promise.
Laird Callum MacLean vowed to marry Maggie MacDonnell. But when his father's apparent suicide makes him laird of his clan, Callum must unmask his father's killer before bringing Maggie into his dangerous home.
She's a strong Highland Lass. She can save herself.
Maggie's home isn't any safer. When Callum fails to return, Maggie does what any resourceful Highland lass would do. She escapes—and find's herself toe-to-toe with Callum, who's determined to fulfill his promise. Maggie can't bring herself to trust him with her heart again. But with a traitor still at large, they must rely on each other in every way, or their clans—and their love—will be destroyed.
Alyson McLayne is a mom of twins and an award-winning writer of contemporary, historical, and paranormal romance. She’s also a dog lover and cat servant with a serious stash of dark chocolate. After getting her degree in theater at the University of Alberta, she promptly moved to the West Coast of Canada where she worked in film for several years and met her Prop Master husband.
She and her family reside in Vancouver with their sweet but troublesome chocolate lab named Jasper.
Please catch up with Alyson on social media. She loves chatting with her readers!
Friday, March 8, 2019
These are photo composites I've made, something I love to do, along with photographing the shifters. In the first picture, I photographed the Arctic wolf at a wolf reserve and the bottom picture, the jaguar posed for me at a zoo.
If you hadn't had a chance to grab your copy of You Had Me at Jaguar, he's waiting for you!
Coming Feb 26,2019
Are you ready for St. Patrick's Day! I've got to get some corned beef!
Do you celebrate? What do you have to eat for that day?
“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy is reality.”
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Wednesday, March 6, 2019
When I first started writing, I sought out advice from successful authors... thriller writers, fantasy, middle grade, romance, and even non-fiction. One nugget kept coming up over and over again... Write what you know.
Now I don't know about you, but at the time I'd been laid off so I was a stay-at-home mom of three whose greatest daily goal was to fit in a shower. If I tried to "write what you know" I probably would have started a blog about how to clean kid poop off mini blinds (yes, that happened) and what to do when your three-year-old yells the f-word while you're wheeling your shopping cart through Target (he learned it from another kid at pre-school, I promise!)
I was up to my eyeballs in what I knew, and was ready for an escape from the day-to-day. So I set out to write what I didn't know which meant I got to do research. In the first manuscript I wrote (which still hasn't seen the light of day) my main character had an affinity for whiskey. Oh, I enjoyed researching that. Turns out I like my whiskey as a single malt, served neat, just like the star of my novel. She also spent time on the road in a giant RV. I can't tell you how much fun I had looking up recreational vehicle layouts online. Some of those are bigger than my first house! And there's also a very moving scene that takes place at a male strip club. Ahem, I cannot say how I came upon that knowledge...hubby may be reading this. But he's definitely been warned to not pay attention to my Google history.
My point is, I understand what the experts mean when they say to write what you know. In order to create genuine characters I have to be able to put myself in their shoes (or cowboy boots if they're in Holiday, Texas.) But I also love learning about new locations, different careers and experiences that are totally foreign to me. Having the opportunity to chat with someone whose life choices and life lessons are much different from my own is one of the most exciting parts of being a writer.
If I didn't venture out from what I know I never would have come up with Jinx, the blue-haired biker who rolls into Holiday, Texas and steals Cash's heart. And poor Baby Back never would have found her way onto the page as The Rambling Rose's mascot. As much as I begged hubby to let us bring a pet pig into our home so I could get the full experience of pig ownership, he did put his foot down about that (the poor man is allergic to anything with fur, so he does have a valid reason.)
So my advice to aspiring writers is yes, write what you know. But also don't be afraid to venture outside of your comfort zone. Sometimes that's where you'll find your best inspiration, your most memorable characters, and the biggest emotional payoffs. As for me, I plan on racking up as many interesting experiences as I can so I have a huge well to draw from when I sit down to write my next book. And I've learned how to go incognito on the internet...browsers everywhere beware!
They call him Casanova. But can this charming devil of a cowboy teach a good girl how to change her ways?
Small-town preacher's daughter Dixie King is used to having a lot on her plate. Keep tabs on her flighty grandmother? No problem. Handle the honky tonk's first ever Chili Cook-Off? In the bag. Vamp it up to charm a would-be developer into leaving Holiday, Texas for good?
...now there she might need a helping hand.
Enter Presley Walker: Holiday's own Cowboy Casanova and the perfect tutor for a good girl looking to go bad. He's got charm in spades, and he's always seemed like a terrible idea waiting to happen. But as Presley and Dixie work together to save their beloved hometown, these polar opposites might finally see the good in each other...if they can only learn to trust their hearts enough to fall.
To read more about my books, visit my website!
Friday, March 1, 2019
Previously I wrote two blog posts about the history of the Fianna (here and here), the semi-mythical group of Irish warriors who inspired one of the villains in my contemporary romantic suspense Deadly Force series and introduced in my debut novel EVERY DEEP DESIRE.
Since it's March (and almost St. Patrick's Day), I thought I'd give you a brief background on the mythic Gaelic warrior who led the Fianna long, long ago. Before Rome even invaded Britain. This warrior's name is Fionn MacCumhaill.
Fionn was the son of Cumhaill, the leader of the Fianna. The Fianna, a rogue group of young mercenary noblemen didn't own lands and lived on the edges of Irish civilization. They were nomadic warriors who traveled the country, often giving generously to those who had less than they did. Historians also suggest the Fianna knew the entrances to the Otherworld where the Faeries lived.
Fionn was born into violence. His father Cumhaill wanted to marry his mother Muirne who was a Druid. When her father refused, Cumhaill kidnapped Muirne. The High King of the time (Conn of the Hundred Battles) raised a huge army to save Muirne from the Fianna army. After many battles, a warrior named Goll MacMorna killed Cumhaill and took control of the Fianna.
Muirne, who'd given birth to Fionn, left her son in the care of the Fianna warrior Liath Luachra. She instructed Liath to care for Fionn and instruct him in the ways of the Fianna and warfare. She expected Fionn to grow up and take over control of the Fianna. After kissing her son goodbye, Muirne disappeared and was never heard from again.
As Fionn grew, he had a tutor named Finnegas. Finnegas was a Druid poet who'd searched the world for wisdom that he believed could only be found in the "Salmon of Knowledge." One day, while teaching Fionn to fish, Finnegas caught the magical salmon. But as Fionn cooked it, Fionn touched his fingers to his lips and was imbued with the knowledge Finnegas had spent his life searching for. Finnegas was not happy and curses followed.
Now armed with the wisdom of the world, Fionn was ready to fight Goll MacMorna and take over command of the Fianna. But first the Faeries who ruled the Gaelic Otherworld had to put Fionn through many tests. So Fionn traveled to Tara, the High Seat of the Kings of Ireland. There, he met a fierce female faery named Aillen. For 23 years, on every Samhain, Aillen scorched the earth and killed all of Tara's guards. Aillen lured the guards with drink and her singing voice until they slept. Then she'd destroy everything around her.
One of Fionn's tasks was to stop Aillen. Instead of listening to her voice, he pricked his hand with his sword, using the pain to keep himself awake and alert. When the guards fell asleep, and Aillen began to burn things, Fionn attacked and defeated her.
After this huge victory, Fionn returned to the Fianna and challenged Goll MacMorna. Goll knew that only a true noble--the true son of Cumhaill--could defeat Aillen and he stepped aside. Goll even returned Cumhaill's castle (the Hill of Almu) to Fionn.
Fionn and his Fianna army had many adventures, most of which included saving Ireland from invaders such as the Romans, the Picts, and the Vikings. They returned tax monies to the poor, and also demanded protection monies from the nobles. The Fianna army was loved, feared, and hated.
But (not surprisingly) most of the recorded stories are about Fionn's love life. His first love, Sadbh, argued with a Druid priest who turned her into a deer. Years later, while Fianna and his hounds were hunting, the dogs recognized the deer. In return for not killing the deer, she transformed back into his wife Sadbh and bore him a son named Oisin.
(After Fionn's death, Oisin would become an even more famous Fianna warrior.)
Unfortunately, the Druid priest learned that his spell had been broken and returned. He turned Sadbh back into a deer and she disappeared forever.
Fionn had little luck with women. Years later he was supposed to marry the daughter of a High King except she eloped with one of Fionn's Fianna warriors. Fionn found the lovers and allowed them to live. Yet, when the warrior was wounded by a boar, Fionn refused to use his healing powers and let the warrior die. Fionn had forgiven but not forgotten the insult.
The lives of Fionn and his son Oison were originally told in the Fenian Cycle of Irish Poetry (the third cycle of Irish Mythology) most of which is narrated from Oisin's POV. One of my favorite translations is Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry/Cuchulain of Muirthemne by William Butler Yeats. (Yes, that Yeats!)
Fionn's death is still unexplained and many poets believe that he was buried near Dublin and is waiting to rise again to save Ireland from any enemies who may invade.
Regardless of whether or not one believes Fionn MacCumhaill was real, his tales are fun to read. Especially in March when one's thoughts might turn to leprechauns and faeries!
Sharon Wray is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes about the men in her romantic suspense series where ex-Green Berets meet their match in smart, sexy heroines who teach these alpha males that always defeats .