Thursday, March 31, 2011

Blog Hop Thursday

Genres- What two do you think mix together best? 

This is an easy question for me.  I have to say historical and romance, especially if the setting is in the old west.   For those who know my work, it's quite apparent from my backlist that my favorite genre is western historical romance.  In fact, my latest release, Odessa, adds to my collection and makes my sixth book published in the genre.  Although I am a confessed genre-hopper, I always seem to migrate back to what I love and feel comfortable writing.


Here's a blurb and excerpt from Odessa.  I hope you agree that I can blend the genres together naturally and in an entertaining manner:


The wagon carrying Odessa Clay and her father overturns, killing him.  Alone and scared in the middle of the desert, she faces finding her way to Phoenix and Aunt Susan. Food and water run out, and Odessa is near death when Zach Johnson finds her.  Squinting up into his tanned and handsome face, Dessie believes she’s died and gone to heaven.

Would-be-outlaw, Zach Johnson finds an unconscious woman alone in the middle of nowhere.  Where did she come from?  First glance: she appears young, but the curves beneath the dusty gingham say otherwise.  He didn’t plan to become someone’s hero, but how can he leave her stranded?

Will the promise of Odessa’s sweet lips lure Zach from the secret mission that has his gut twisted into a knot?  His father’s ranch isn’t the only thing at stake—now it’s his heart.

Excerpt:
Bright sunlight and growing heat woke Odessa. She bolted upright, her heartbeat roaring in her ears. How could morning be here already? 
A pain seared along her spine when she moved, and her neck refused to turn. Had she slept in the same position all night and fused all her muscles into a knot?  A bit of discomfort was a small price to pay to wake up safe and alive. If a coyote had howled or a snake slithered across her, she’d not been aware of it.
She stretched her arms over her head, shrugged her shoulders and yawned. Her grandmother had always complained about ague and rheumatism. Was this how she’d felt?  Despite Odessa’s aching body, a ray of hope broke through her despair, if only for a fleeting moment.  She smiled and found hope. Prayer held power; she’d lived to see another day.
After finishing the last biscuit and a bit of salted pork, Odessa took a sip of water. She gathered her belongings inside the blanket, optimistic once again. Even with her stiffened joints and muscles, she’d had a good night’s rest and felt eager to get started before the sun rose higher. After a brief squat behind the rock, she arranged her hair back under Papa’s hat and set off, following a trail that twisted and turned then disappeared from sight.  She hadn’t removed her shoes and socks for days for fear she wouldn’t get them back on again. Each step reminded her how far she’d come.
The heat grew fierce. Odessa’s dress clung to her like bark on the old oak tree next to her house—or what used to be her house. Papa sold the home to the bank for very little profit. His desire to leave Tucson was more important than money.
 Money!  She gasped. She’d left the small amount Papa had packed in his valise. The thought never occurred to her before now. Still, there was no way she’d backtrack to get it. Let whoever found her father reap the reward. Hopefully, they’d earn the few bucks by seeing to his remains. Guilt still gnawed at her for leaving him. She pushed onward, trying to think only of Aunt Susan’s smiling face and welcoming arms.
Odessa’s legs turned leaden. Salty sweat dripped from her brow into her eye and burned like blazes. She knuckled at her closed lid and grimaced. Instead of her usual sip, she whipped the canteen up to her mouth and took a long draw. She felt faint and hoped the water would wash away the feeling.
 Ahead, everything blurred but not from rising heat waves. This was different. Dizziness clawed at her, making her unstable on her feet. Her head throbbed, and her neck sagged to her chest like a melting candle. The ground zigzagged beneath her gaze then rose to meet her. Helpless in a heap, her fingers stretched across the gritty dirt, searching for her rifle. She fought against the darkness that sucked her into an endless hole.


Zach Johnson kept his horse at a steady pace along the rutted trail leading towards Charleston. He’d left Phoenix before sunup yesterday. Swiping a sleeve across his sweaty brow, he arched his back away from the saddle cantle. Too much time had passed since he’d made a long trip by horseback.
  With no end to the cactus and scrub brush, his mind whirred. Was he a fool getting involved with the outlaws?  He had played poker with a friend of Pete Spence, a known fugitive from Texas, when the man passed through Phoenix and stopped at the saloon. He seemed a nice enough fellow, but too much corn whiskey made Zach loose-lipped about needing money to keep the bank from reclaiming his father’s ranch. By day’s end, Zach lost what little money he had in the game, and driven by desperation, accepted the offer to join Pete and his cohorts in a holdup.
The sun raged like a fire in a baker’s oven. Squiggly lines drifted upwards from dirt hardened by lack of rain, then dissipated into the sky. Zach squinted at a strange-looking dot up the trail and shook his head.  People frequently lost their belongings that way. Whatever lay in the road most likely had little or no value. He pulled his canteen up and took a swig.
The spot in the road grew larger as he neared. The image resembled a heap of clothing until he closed the distance and realized he’d found a person. He widened his eyes. The red and white gingham wasn’t just discarded rags. The material was a dress worn by a woman—and a very young one it appeared.  After reining in his horse, he dismounted and yanked his canteen from the saddle horn.
Zach knelt and cradled her head in the crook of his arm, then removed her oversized hat. Blonde hair spilled out and dusted the ground as he fanned her. She still had color in her face, but didn’t move. He bent and put his head to her chest and listened.  Her heart beat slow and steady. Straightening, he released a pent up breath.  She was alive.  His gaze traveled the length of her.
Scuffed, dusty boots poked out from the tattered hem of her dress and the hands at her sides bore scrapes and cuts. Dirt stained the once-white cuffs at her wrists and smudged her cheeks. A rifle lay close by, along with a half-filled canteen, judging from its weight. Where had she come from?  He scanned around for a hint but saw nothing but endless desert.
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Find more  Blog Hop Thursday participating authors by paging down and clicking on their links.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

We View Reviews Wednesday

 Yes, it's We View Review Wednesday again, and I have more snippets to tease you.  In case you're a first time visitor, I'm hoping to make this a weekly occurrence because it serves two purposes:  Readers can find new authors and authors can find new review sites.  So, without further ado...


Diane Wylie

This is where the adventure really begins. Lila's Vow is a fantastic ride through history and a love that would not surrender to the devastation of the most terrible war America has ever knownMs. Wylie captured the Civil War in vivid detail and I believe I learned some things I did not know before I read this book.  Ms. Wylie created a story of great joy and absolute sorrow.  I could not put this book down.  At times the sorrowful events ripped at my heart and, at others, it soared with the ability of the characters to overcome impossible circumstances.  The characters were flawed and beautiful in their strength of purpose and pure grit. Ms. Wilie made me believe in them as if they were breathing people with all the defects and wonderful spirit of humanity. Lila's Vow is an unforgettable story.  I look forward to reading about Jack’s friend, David, in her upcoming book, Jenny’s Passion. Bravo Ms Wilie, Lila's Vow is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.    

You can read the whole review at Talking TwoLips. 

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 Vijaya Schartz

Vijaya Schartz tells a story with plot twists too numerous to list in a short review.  She takes the reader to alternate Earths.  One is an ecological disaster.  The other is a paradise except for a deadly volcano and repressed people. Zania and Svend fight for their lives against other warriors, spurned lovers and a volcano in order to be together.  Can Zania and Svend find happiness when their world is coming apart around them?

Read the whole review at Sensual Reads.

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 Anne Patrick

Brenda Talley @ The Romance Studio gave Sabotage 5 Hearts!  “This was a very suspenseful inspirational romance. I believe it's my first by this author. Ms. Anne Patrick succeeded in changing my mind about the genre. I usually would not read one at all. This definitely changed the way I feel. I had trouble finding stopping places while reading this book. It was an emotionally charged, dynamic book that exposed the main characters' innermost feelings… I can guarantee you will look for other books by this author -- I know I will.” 

Read the entire review at The Romance Studio.


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J.E. Cammon 

What I like most is that this is not a book written for teenage girls, there are no sexy vampires seducing underage females in dark creepy `romantic' rooms. There is the 'Soul Eater' Vampire who thrives on proximity to death, not sinking teeth into fleshy throats; the easy going Lycanthrope that rides his wave of rage like a drug, to the brink of loosing himself in it; the awkward grad student of the occult who accidentally awakens things that should most likely be left asleep, and finally the 'Hunters', who judge others not for their actions, good or bad, but for what they are on the surface.


It's different. It's good. Quick read. Five stars.
Jon Nooner, a Scenic Designer in the Atlanta Theater Community posted the entire review on Amazon.com

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 L.K. Below

"a charming, romantic Irish tale...I cannot wait to see what else this author has to offer." 

This is but a snippet of the entire review which you can find at Got Erotic Romance.




Authors and readers, this feature will continue on Wednesdays as long as authors continue to submit snippets and reviews.  Hope you're enjoying it.
 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Japan Relief Effort - Please Help

New Release - Collective Shivers: Can You Spare a Dollar for Japan?


The entire world has been affected in some way by the terrifying events caused by the Sendai earthquake this past March. News stories continue to add more about these devastating events and the tenuous circumstances in Japan.

Upon being bombarded by these news stories, romance and speculative fiction writer L.K. Below could not bear to stand idle. Rather than indulge her feeling of helplessness, she did the only thing she knew how to do: she wrote. Two weeks after the Sendai disaster, the product is a short fantasy story called Collective Shivers.

Hailed by beta readers as an “out-of-world experience,” Collective Shivers contains an earthquake, a mysterious and resilient people, and one man who suddenly doesn’t feel up to scratch. Who knew that a people so outwardly unfeeling could have touched Gunnarr in such an emotional way?

More information about this story can be found at the author’s website, www.lbelow.net/japan. All proceeds from this book will be donated to the Red Cross foundation to help with relief efforts in Sendai and elsewhere as new tragedies unfold.

So the real question is: Can you spare a dollar for Japan?

Watch this video and get a small idea of the magnitude of the devastation.  

 

Here's a direct link to purchase your copy and make a small donation to the relief effort.   http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/49723

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

 “Any leads in the Flaherty murder?” Captain Angus Squire stood in Clarence O’Day’s office doorway and jingled the coins in his pants pocket.
Clarence detested the man’s annoying habit. He tensed his jaw. “Not yet, but soon, I hope.”
He opened a file and stared at a disturbing photograph of Joseph Flaherty.  

Coming April 7th from Eternal Press.  This is a who-dunnit, or better yet, a what-dunnit.  :)  If you have time, please join me on the 7th in the "Chat" room at Eternal Press as I celebrate my newest release.  I'll be there at 12:30 Mountain Daylight Time, which I believe is one hour earlier than my time here in Tennessee which is CST or 1:30.  I'll have it figured out before the 7th...hope you will too.

Don't forget to visit "Six Sentence Sunday," and view all the other participants in this great promo opp.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Ask Miz Ging

It's time again for my most favorite feature on my blog...Ask Miz Ging.  Go ahead, ask me anything except my weight, and I'll try my best to answer.

Just so I haven't totally blown any promotional opportunity, while you're here, check out my trailer for Odessa, my latest historical western romance from Eternal Press.



Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday Blog Hop

Today's Question: 

Characters- Are the names of your characters in your novels important? What about the titles of your stories

Of course names are important.  Especially when you write historical novels.  Hero and Heroines' names have to fit the era.  You wouldn't usually find a Shiniquewa  in the old west, or even in jolly old England.  Imagine reading about cowboys and having a hero named  Shaquille O'Neal gallop by.   Names need to be pertinent to what you write.  Dukes and Duchesses need regal sounding names, not monikers like Billy Bob or John Boy.  :)

I would imagine Fantasy might give you more leeway.  For instance, in my "Tooth Fairy  Wisdom," I developed characters with names that have "toothy" appeal.  Dentinia is the world they live in, Molnaria is one of the fairies...I think you get the idea.  Here you can sort of use imagination.


For short stories, the same holds true.  Anything you write, even though fictional, you want to at least have believable characters with names that fit the time period.


I'm very lucky in that most of my characters come to me already named and with a title for their book or story.  But yes, character names are very important no matter whether you write full-length novels or short stories.  


If you want to participate in Thursday's Blog Hop, click on the link on the right side of this page.





Wednesday, March 23, 2011

We View Reviews Wednesday

Back with more reviews to help you find new authors you like or discover new sites that do reviews.  Either way, it's a win/win.  I've picked the "glowing" parts of the reviews and given you the link if you'd like to read more.
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C.L. Shore

Shore sets us an exciting mystery where the characters are vulnerable and seeking out the truth is dangerous. What a thrill ride that Shore provides you will leaving you wanting to read this cover to cover. Detective Jed McCracken is called to the scene to investigate what he think is a crime and turns into a hunt to find a killer. One that involves an old friend that is now a nun. Together they will try to catch a killer, but is that enough? Pick up this book to find out. Shore provides interesting characters who are vulnerable and who give us a glimpse into their worlds. Although I found the use of a nun a bit off, Shore does make it work in her favor. I find that sometimes you have to have an open mind to mystery stories and go along the journey wherever it may take you. Those who love a good mystery will enjoy this read and it will keep you on your toes, trying to guess what may befall the detective and Sister Lucie.

Review done by The Pen and Muse.

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 J.R. LINDERMUTH
The complex mystery elements of the plot here are layered in nicely and then brought to a satisfactory conclusion. But, as always, the real treat in reading this series is Lindermuth's use of locale and the colorful cast of characters --- each given distinct and memorable features, even when they are only "on stage" a brief amount of time. Anchoring all of this, of course, is the cast of recurring characters we have been introduced to in the previous books. Spending time with them is like spending time with old friends. And, much to his credit, Lindermuth has allowed this recurring cast to evolve and change as the series progresses. In BEING SOMEONE ELSE, for example, we see the new chief, Brubaker, starting to come into his own, gaining more self assurance and no longer wanting to be so reliant on Sticks. And we see Sticks, a widower since the beginning of the series, nervously on the brink of a new romance and at the same contemplating a career move that seems to bode well for the continuation of the series and perhaps even broadening its scope a bit.

Good stuff all the way around. Highly recommended. - Reviewed on Amazon by Wayne D. Dundee

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MIRIAM NEWMAN
Story: 8.5
Presentation: 9
Total: 17.5
Publisher: Dark Castle Lords Publications
Historical

Blurb: An ambitious young Norman knight, Neel, is seriously wounded at the Battle of Hastings and nursed back to health by a Saxon girl, Rowena. For her, it is only a matter of Christian duty and she is shocked to receive his proposal of marriage in return. She dares not refuse, but how can she love a Norman?

Review: As a general rule…well not really a rule but anyway…I don’t normally read stories about knights and the like. Not sure why. They just never have really jumped out at me from the bookstore shelves. I am THRILLED that I nabbed this one :)

Jam packed with emotion you can feel weeping off the pages. Desperation and choices that will tear you apart. This story kicked it hard.

A strong heroine, a sexy hero and a love that bloomed in the face of war. Knock out :) 

Reviewed by Seriously Reviewed

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  VONN LANE
Lane’s An Ocean Apart has us journey back to 1840′s England. Lane presents to us a love story between two characters who have their love tested and a mad man on the loose who threatens their love. Lane provides us with a wonderful love story that will pull at your own heart strings as you fall in love with both main characters. Both in plot, dialogue, and characterization does Lane bring you back to that time. Lane also provides picturesque scenes that make you fall in love with the time period and not only just the characters. If you are looking for a wonderful, historical, love story that can take you back time then look no further that Vonn Lane’s An Ocean Apart.
http://thepenmuse.net/?s=an+ocean+apart to view the whole review.

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Vivianne Brentanos

Written in Stone is a wonderfully written contemporary romance story by Brentanos. It follows the story of Cassandra Hall who is dumped five days before her wedding. Not wanting to deal with her horrible fiancee and her shattered heart, she takes it upon herself on the honeymoon. She ends up in London and meets James, who is just captivating and sweet. I really did enjoy Cassandra’s character, I admire her although broken hearted taking it upon herself to just get up and go somewhere. Most women might have just dealt with it differently and moped. Meeting James does Cassandra a lot of good, besides friends, she is beginning to like him more, but the sad case is that James is a taken man. It’s not to stop her from admiring him. James although taken has an attraction for the saddened beauty in front of him. Will he want to be more than friends and will he share his secret with Cassandra? Brentanos creates wonderful torn characters and a wonderful structured story. You will not be dissatisfied with this love story of losing love and finding in the unexpected places.  Reviewed by The Pen and the Muse.

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 Sharon A. Donovan

Sharon’s particular forte seems to be writing suspense. In Charade of Hearts
 she really showcases this talent. I absolutely loved this story, but may have developed a certain level of catoptrophobia. The antagonist, Kelekona, uses a triple-paneled mirror. And no, it’s "not" so the heroine can check her make-up. It’s for something far more sinister than helping her correct a make-up faux pas. While I’m discussing the antagonist, let me touch upon characterization. Donovan is really good with character descriptions.
This story packs great characterization with intensifying suspense. A perfectly well-rounded
novella with amazing imagery…I mean it! I felt as if I was swimming among the sea life and admiring the Hawaiian flora on land. I visualized the author’s every word.
Reader Warning:
 Keep your feet off the floor! There’s a dragon moray eel on the loose. And although his owner is this sexy tattooed Polynesian man, he’s as deadly as his pet.
Recommendations:
Recommended for readers who run for their lives when they see a 500 paged novel. Charade of Hearts
 is a novella. Great for readers who over-indulge on romantic suspense, mysteries, Harlequin Intrigues, and anyone who likes a story with a bad guy and the cop who’s trying to stop him.


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Nancy Damato
This book is top notch. The characters are all well rounded and real. We immediately sympathize with our heroine's plight and hope for a relationship with the sexy hero. The plot is complicated and delicious, maintaining a high level of tension from the suspense and the sexual tension between the two main characters. They do more than just feel tense about it and the results are electrifying. The really hot sexual encounters fit seamlessly into the natural flow of the story, the inevitable result of the constant danger and their burgeoning attraction. I enjoyed this book right from the beginning, the action starts immediately as does also the sexual tension. The surprises near the end and the ending itself are wholly satisfying; a story like only Ms. Lloyd can spin. You have to read this one; it's a really, really good book. I highly recommend it. Reviewed by The Romance Studio.

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 Linda Rettstaff
What do you do when you're tired of lying to the boss' wife, tired of being the taxi service, gourmet chef and personal valet for your entire family? You quit! That is exactly what Janet DeMarco does - she quits her job with her husband's brother (gives herself a month's severance pay, too), she posts cleaning, laundry and cooking class schedules for the household and expects results. That's the calm part.
Janet decides her new life needs a new name. She becomes Hope. Hope becomes a blonde, goes walking in the park, meets new and unique people and discovers that her mother-in-law isn't near as foreboding as Hope/Janet once thought. Her grandma-in-law is a wonderful gal, thin, Italian, up for anything. When Hope shows her how to use her new laptop; Carmela immediately puts in "Bad Boy," looking for a horse. That isn't what she gets, believe me!
Finding Hope is one of the best books I've read this year. The scenarios of the family dealing with revolt from Mom, the renaming plan goes much farther than just Janet/Hope—all of it is just wonderful. Not only will you find Hope, you will also find Joy and sofialoren. I would highly recommend this book to anyone wanting a warm, funny story to pass a wintery afternoon with—you'll love it! 
Reviewed by Manic Readers 

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Stephen Wytrysowski
 
It’s an odd, brave book, I said, but a breeze of a read. Wytrysowski’s as disarming as he is discerning, and the trouble he has with big concepts is as reassuring as the covers of those Total Moron’s Guides to Just About Everything.
Humor is a tricky thing to pull off in a novel, but Echterling manages to coax from us, if not outright laughter, an occasional smile of recognition that, yes, in fact, this is how we humans would behave in front of intergalactic company.
Wytrysowski is never quite sure what’s happening, and neither are we; consequently, much of the action feels as if it occurs off the page. His directness is such, however, that we never feel any more left out of the loop than he is, at least, and so the “what-nextness” of the story remains intact. He grapples convincingly with the nature and the substance of what is done to, for, about, and even by him—so much of which occurs somewhere in the sub-basement of his own awareness. We understand almost subliminally that we, too, are learning by incremental leaps and bounds to communicate with those regions of the sentient universe that we experience as alien only to the extent that the “Polishness” of our jokes exposes us to our own presumptuous innocence, to the comfortableness of underacheivement and to the willful suspension of belief in who we are.
Reviewed by Best Damn Creative Writing Blog


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Welcome Jannine Corti Petska

Gypsy Love and Marriage

My latest book, CHARLOTTE AND THE GYPSY, available from www.thedarkcastlelords.com, taught me a lot about Gypsy life. They were a practical people, close-knit, protective of their own. The rigors of the Gypsies' nomadic existence brought about little discipline in the Gypsy child and teen. Growing up, they learned by example. Their parents were responsible for their manners and attitudes as well as their contribution to the camp and their eventual marriage. One thing was for certain: Bachelorhood was frowned upon. Weddings were a time of celebration that often lasted for days. Most Gypsies married in their teens. In Rom society, a male Gypsy couldn't be called a Rom until he was married. So you can see the importance of matrimony in their culture.

Marriages were arranged by the parents. The prospective couple might be consulted, but their opinions didn't count. Usually, the parents of the groom selected his bride-to-be. They measured the girl's worth by her disposition, health, and her family's prestige in their community. She must be strong, enduring, and open to having many children. Then the father of the groom met with the father of the bride to discuss the bride price, which compensated the father losing his daughter. It was a price that covered the cost of raising his daughter from birth. With an arranged marriage, the couple didn't have a formal courtship. Was love ever involved? Rarely...although there was always hope that eventual feelings of love would bring the couple closer.

Gypsies were not allowed to marry a non-Gypsy, although an occasional gaje (non-Gypsy) slipped through the cracks. That couple would be kicked out of their clan. To the Gypsies, outsiders were unclean and couldn't be trusted. These facts made writing this book a bit tricky. I had to balance fact with fiction and come up with a damn good reason a blonde-haired, blue-eyed female lived among the Gypsies.

For Rafael and Char's wedding, I used many different Gypsy customs, which differed from clan to clan. (You'll have to read the book to learn about these customs. ) Marriage by abduction was a possibility, but as you will read in the short excerpt below, Char did not approve of this method. (Of course, she's quite opinionated.)

The Medieval period being a man's society, once the couple wed, the bride belonged to the groom and lived among his family. She basically had no say. Instead, she cooked, washed clothing, took care of the children, and appeased her man's lusty appetite. Poor Rafael. He was born with a large dose of lust. What would a Gypsy hero be if he wasn't hot-blooded? You'll feel a bit sorry for Rafael. Women fall at his feet. Through no fault of his own, he gets into situations that stretches Char's trust and emotions. But in the end, love conquers all. It doesn't hurt that Rafael is gorgeous and a bloody good romp in bed. ;-)

Thank you Ginger for hosting me today. And to all latcho drom (Romany farewell).




Blurb:

Charlotte Nikolos was raised in a Gypsy camp, her pale hair and light skin in stark contrast from the darkness of her family. After she learns she has two sisters somewhere who share her looks and psychic powers, she's determined to search for them and learn why her birth mother sent her away. But where does she begin?
After three years of roaming, Rafael Cazares returns to his Andalusian Gypsy camp to persue the woman he left behind in disgrace. He must win back Char's trust and recapture her heart. He insists on helping her find her true family but soon realizes someone is determined to keep them apart.  When Rafael's deep, dark secret is revealed, he will do everything in his power to protect the only woman he has ever loved. Even if it costs him his life.

Excerpt:
    “Unless you have an apology, I’ve naught to say to you,” she said.
     Her stiff posture and taut features made clear her lingering unhappiness over his impulsive kiss. “I’ll not apologize for our mutual transgression.”
     “Mutual? I think not.” Venom coated her tongue.
     “Why did you run off?”
     “Because you—” she broke off and retuned her gaze to the deserted road ahead.
     “Could it be that you feared your desire for me?”
     She glared at him. “I desired not the kiss but to be left alone to finish my bath.”
     He longed to kiss away that temperamental pucker on her lips.
     “And do not speak of your rights,” she added scathingly. “My lips belong to me, and I’ll share them with the man I truly desire.”
     “Then I shall make you desire me once we are wed.”
     “How dare you continue to taunt me with a wedding I refuse? You would deal better with a woman who will shower her affection upon you.”
      Rafael smiled slyly. What she had conveyed in that exquisite kiss was a desire most women wouldn’t deny.
Find out more about Jannine on her website

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