Hot Bayou Nights

I reviewed Hot Bayou Nights recently, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to have Elizabeth here the last couple of days.We have a lot in common – we’re both Gemini’s, correct me, Liz if I’m wrong, but we’re a year and a week apart, right? We’re critique partners, and this fall, we’re both Golden Leaf finalists. Not to mention, we have a blast with each other whenever we’re together. Even when we’re just walking to our cars after critique, we end up standing around talking (on Broadway no less, when we should probably just head to the bar around the corner so we don’t risk getting hit by a car!)

Anyway, I loved this book – when I first heard what it was about and that snakes were involved, I thought, you have to be kidding me. And then I heard some of it. When the book finally came out this year, I grabbed it right away. I’ve made mention of the fact I read while on various machines at the gym – this works out well for the most part – the workouts go quicker than I realize, and lately, I find myself going so fast the machines are telling me to slow down! I like the end results there, no matter how slow the progress.

But I’m rambling again, because the point I’m trying to make is that a book with freaking venomous snakes had me enthralled from the first word I heard and read.So here’s a taste of the book for your enjoyment:

When corporate consultant Carla Saunders’ work takes her from the skyscrapers of Manhattan to a research facility in Louisiana filled with king cobra snakes, she sees her dreams of a job in Paris sinking into the swamp. But unexpected desire burns hotter than a sultry bayou night. The snakes terrify her, but lust for a scorching hot research scientist has her dreaming less about the Champs Élysées and more about being coiled in his arms.
Obsessed with finding a cure for multiple sclerosis, Jackson Rivard’s got zero time for relationships. But when a lush, efficient business advisor sweeps into his lab, zero spikes to a hundred before he can shut off the engine. In theory, no-strings-attached sex is scientifically feasible, but having an ex whose fangs make a cobra’s seem modest brings new meaning to the phrase “once bitten, twice shy.” How can he protect his heart when Carla’s charming it out of hiding?

 Here’s the steamy tidbit sure to leave you anxious for more:


Hot Bayou Nights 


“Don’t look at your feet,” he whispered into her ear. “Look at me.”
She did as he asked, raising her chin to look into Jackson’s blue eyes, and then she was lost. Her breath whooshed out as he trapped her in his gaze, like an insect in a spider’s web. Except unlike the insect, Carla never wanted out. She felt as if she could drown in him. Helpless, her mind drifted to thoughts of what he could do to her. His lips on hers, fingers skating across her naked skin, his body flush against hers on the bed while he held her down, sucking her breasts, his rock hard cock pressed against her thigh. She could reach down between their bodies and take him in her hands, stroking him, teasing, making him even harder. She would hear the ragged panting of his breaths against her skin, ready for her. His fingers would drift downward to slip between the wet folds of her pussy, mercilessly stroking until her hips arched up, so hot for him, and then he would enter
The music stopped, dousing her fantasy like a bucket of cold water. Jackson stepped back to look down at her, smiling.
“Did you like it?”
Ooooh yeah. “Definitely. A lot.” She prayed like mad that she bore no telltale red face from her little mental visit to his bedroom and plastered on a giant smile. She needed to pull herself together and pay no attention to her trembling knees or the throbbing pulses between her legs. Jackson Rivard was dangerous—to her career, her fear assignment, her sanity. She had to remember that.

Here’s where you can get a copy for yourself, and find out more about Elizabeth:

Hot Bayou Nights Buy Links: 
Amazon:
The Wild Rose Press:
Elizabeth’s website:
Facebook:
Blog:

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Welcome Elizabeth Shore!


Today I am very excited to welcome Elizabeth Shore to my blog. I’ve known Elizabeth for several years now and she’s a very good friend as well as one of my most excellent critique partners. In addition, she is a fellow 2014 Golden Leaf finalist for her erotic contemporary romance, Hot Bayou Nights. Today I’m putting her in the hot seat to answer a few questions – about her, writing, and just about anything else you can think of. 
And don’t forget to come back tomorrow to read a steamy excerpt from Hot Bayou Nights! Now, on with the show!
When did the writing bug first hit?
I can’t remember ever not liking to write, so I guess the answer is that the writing bug hit me in the womb. Haha! Seriously, I do remember when I first had the idea for writing romance. I was listening to a talk radio show and on it was a discussion about writing. The host of the program had brought up something about the romance industry and how those editors are always looking for new writers. It was a lightbulb moment, really. I suddenly thought, I could do that!
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a plotter. I think about my characters, and the story around them, and how their relationship develops, and then eventually I come up with an outline. However, it’s not at all chiseled in stone. I firmly believe that if you know your characters well enough they’re going to tell you where they want to go and whether or not you’ve taken a wrong turn. It’s perfectly fine to stray from the outline when your characters lead you that way. But I like having an outline just to remind myself what I’m thinking about for any particular story. I can’t write every day because I have a full-time “day job,” so when I can write I don’t want to spend huge amounts of time reminding myself where I left off and what I’m intending to do.
Do your characters come first, or the story?
I’ve had it go both ways. I’ll see or hear about an interesting person and start thinking, “I wonder how she’d react if this or that happened” and suddenly I’m thinking about a story. Alternately, I’ll envision some kind of story and think about fascinating characters that will add dimension to the plot.
How much of your personal life inspires your writing?
My personal life is pretty unassuming, which is why I find myself thinking up fun stories! But certainly one’s own life is influential in writing. We authors all bring something of ourselves in every story we write, I think.
What (else) inspires you to write?
I’m really pretty fascinated by people. Everyone has a story, and the more time you spend getting to know people the more you find yourself inspired by stories you could write. So, without wanting to sounds like a bad cliche, I’m pretty much just inspired by life. 
What was the most valuable piece of advice you received when you first started your pursuit of publication?

Join an RWA chapter!
Where’s your ideal writing space?
In my office, fingers on keyboard, cat on lap.
What’s your average word count per day/week/month?
I try to aim for 3,000 words per writing session, but there are many times when the words just don’t come. So I really just try to focus on writing something that I think won’t end up in my virtual trash heap.  
What’s your favorite time of the day for writing?
I’m definitely a morning person. Everything is so fresh and filled with promise in the morning. My mind is clear and I’m ready to go. I love the nighttime, but not for writing … 🙂
How do you set your writing atmosphere – with music, lighting or something else?
I have to have something to drink by my side at all times, generally coffee. Sometimes I don’t even drink that much, but there’s something comforting about having the steaming cup there, like a faithful friend. I like my office to be filled with light, and filled with music. Depending on what kind of scene I’m writing, it’s either soft classical or really loud metal. Hey, I’m a Gemini.
What’s the same mistake you still find yourself aggravatingly making from your early days?

Wordiness. Why write one sentence when a paragraph will do?
When you hit that brick wall (as all writers eventually do at some point or another), how do you get through it?

One time when I was young I refused to eat the food on my plate at dinner. My mom, in an effort to make me understand about not wasting food, wouldn’t allow me to get up until I ate at least some of it. I kind of apply that same effort toward brick walls when I’m writing. I just sit there, refusing to get up, until I’ve written at least something. That something more often than not leads to something more and I start knocking away at those bricks.
If you had the chance to do one day in your life over again, which day would it be? Why?
I wouldn’t re-do any days because I like to live in the present. That said, it would be lovely to have the chance to speak to my mom again. We were very close and she died before I got published. I’d love to show her what I’ve been up to and hopefully know that I’ve made her proud.
A giant asteroid is about to hit the planet. What do you want to be doing at the moment of impact?

Spending time with someone I love and who loves me while eating Ben & Jerry’s peanut butter cup ice cream without one single twinge of guilt.
Coffee or tea?

Coffee. Lots of it.
Beer/wine or hard liquor?
Beer. Gotta make my home state (Wisconsin) proud.
Chocolate or vanilla?
I’ll stick with the aforementioned peanut butter cup.
What was the craziest out-of-character thing you’ve ever done?
Modeled nude for a sculpture artist.
How would you react if you lost your cell phone?
Egad. Even the thought of it makes me twitchy. So, I guess I’d get twitchy!
If you had the chance to offer advice to yourself as a newborn baby, what would you tell yourself?
Treasure this gift of life you’ve been given and leave the world in a better way than it was when you entered it.
What’s the one thing you could never live without? (besides air, water, food)
Love.
Great interview, Elizabeth! Thank you for coming by this week. I gotta tell ya, some of your answers surprised me – and inspired a few more! lol But I knew damn well what you would say for some of the other questions! (cough – cell phone – cough)  😉 
And of course, congratulations on being a 2014 Golden Leaf Finalist. I’m looking forward to celebrating with you. 
Here’s where you can find Elizabeth and Hot Bayou Nights:
Hot Bayou Nights Buy Links: 
Amazon:
The Wild Rose Press:
Elizabeth’s website:
Facebook:
Blog:

Exciting News!


I am way beyond ecstatic to share the news that Claimed by the Enchanter, Book 3 in the Bayou Magiste Chronicles, is a finalist in the paranormal category of the NJRW Golden Leaf contest. And I am in good company – my pal and critique partner, Elizabeth Shore, is a finalist in the contemporary category with Hot Bayou Nights. Notice a theme here?

To say I’m excited would be a huge understatement. Many of you are aware of the struggles I went through with a previous publisher, and because of that, this book sat collecting dust for some time while I had to work through all that BS. When the time finally came that I could submit the book to Sizzler Editions, I also wrapped up the nightmare with the other books in the series. When Enchanter was finally released late last summer, with the other two books revised and ready to go, I felt finally, these tales were told the way they were meant to be. Enchanter was the final piece of this trilogy and it killed me to have it sitting on the sidelines for as long as it did.
I really enjoyed Reggie and Cameron. She was a bit like me in some respects, though I suppose all my heroines have some piece of my soul in them. But she was a bit of a wild child, which I was at the same age (and sometimes still am!), she loved horses, though she had the money I didn’t to really make a go of that, and she liked kink. Putting that all together was a hell of a ride, and I had a hard time letting go of her. Cameron is probably one of the nicest of all my heroes, but he was still a very strong Dom, and he wasn’t above using a few underhanded tricks to get his way. For the right reasons of course.
So now the book has been recognized by NJRW as one of the best in paranormal romance fiction. How freaking awesome is that? NJRW is one of the foremost and well-respected chapters of Romance Writers of America. Just to final is a huge honor, in my opinion. Their annual conference, where the Golden Leaf and Put Your Heart in a Book winners are announced, is on a par with RWA’s national conference, and I attend just about every year. This year will be super fun, for obvious reasons, and I really hope this means a lot more people will get a chance to know Reggie and Cameron.
Kindle readers can get a copy of the book here: 
If you don’t have a Kindle or the Kindle app, check out the book page at Sizzler Editions to see where you can get your hands on a copy in every format: 
And of course, I’m including a snippet here, to share some of what the judges thought worthy of recognition. But before I do:  SQUEEEEEEEEE!
Ahem. Now that I’m composed again, here’s the cover, blurb and an excerpt from the book:

Regine Marchand loves being in control—and the role of domme is the perfect way for her to exert that control. An accomplished equestrian, she has her goals of championship in sight and no one will get in her way. Her life and future are in her hands, she doesn’t need to depend on anyone for success and happiness.

Cameron McIntyre is fascinated by the cool façade Regine displays, but he senses the depth of her passion lurking under the surface; despite her protests, he recognizes her desire to submit and be dominated. But when he is forced to suspend her from competition due to performance enhancement spells used on her horse, he worries he may drive her away, instead of into his arms. Believing her innocent of the charges, he vows to help her uncover who set her up while convincing her that submission to him is what she truly wants and needs. Submitting to the tall Irishman brings a new level of pleasure Regine has never known, at the same time making her question everything she knew about herself.

Regine is unaware that an enemy from her past has targeted her for revenge. Together, she and Cameron must discover who wants to knock her out of competition for good, possibly killing her in the process.

And now for the excerpt:

Despite her position in the furthest corner from him, the way-too-small elevator gave her no space, and his presence seemed to surround her.  She watched him warily. What game did he play now?
“You have the most incredible eyes.” His voice remained just above a whisper, deep and with a hint of danger that sent a shiver along her spine.  “They’re almost silver, like shards of deadly ice.”
“Remember that.” She lifted her chin.

“The ice? A sexy biscuit like you? I doubt that.”
“No. Deadly.” Why did she take such delight in knowing he found her attractive?  She pulled her gaze from his. Big mistake, as it landed on his lips.  Full lips, above which, to the right, lay a tiny scar.  She wanted to lick it.
He chuckled, the sound oddly loud in the quiet of the elevator. “I have no doubt you would be deadly, in the right circumstances.  Bet I could disarm you. Leave you helpless as a kitten.”
“You might try.”
“Retract your claws, kitten. No need to draw blood.”
“According to you.”
He smiled, an almost feral grin, and her heart beat in a strange uneven rhythm.
“That doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy feeling those claws on my back, when I’m fucking you so hard, you see stars.”
She gulped, once again at a total loss for words. She lifted her chin, her gaze still held by his.  He stepped closer. She backed up. He repeated his step and so did she, but found any further retreat halted by the wall.  The movement of his arm drew her attention and she realized breathing came a little easier when free of his piercing gaze.  Until she realized what he’d done.
The elevator ground to a halt after he pushed the button, but the expected alarms didn’t sound.
“What are you doing?”
“Testing a theory.” He inched still closer, and she held up a hand.  Unfortunately, because of his proximity, her hand came up against his chest.  A solid, muscular chest, with a heart beating under her fingertips.  She drew away as if scorched.
“Enough nonsense.” She winced at the tremor in her voice.
“This is anything but nonsense.” He angled his head, moving in for a kiss. She started to turn away.
“Don’t move,” he ordered.
She froze, once more caught by his gaze, the knowing glint in his eyes pinning her.
“You take orders well.”
Before she could protest, he covered her mouth with his.  His lips burned.  She lifted her hands to his shoulders, but instead of pushing him away, she tightened her fingers, as if trying to hold on.
He moved slowly, tasting and nibbling, but made no move to otherwise deepen the kiss.  Giddy sensations started deep in her belly, uncurling through her body, settling with a pulsing ferocity in her clit.  When he drew away, she blindly followed, not willing to give up the delight building within.
His chuckle rang in her ears, and her eyes fluttered open.  His smug smile quickly cooled the heat blistering through her veins.  She lifted her hand, intending to slap him, but he caught her wrist, then did the same with the other when she again moved to strike.  All too soon, her arms were pinned behind her back when he pressed his full length against her.  Her heart threatened to explode out of her chest.
“Hitting a dom will get you punished.”
“I’m no sub,” she hissed. “Let go of me.”
He gave a nearly imperceptible shake of his head and she tugged against his grip.  Her attempt seemed weak against the iron hold he had on her.
“I will have such fun taming you.”
“You can try, but you’ll never succeed.”
One dark eyebrow arched, and she attempted once more to free herself.  She couldn’t and remained helpless in his grasp. Liquid pooled between her legs, and her clit ached, needing to be touched.
“It’s obvious you like it when I subdue you.  I have so many ways I’d like to do that.”
Her breath hitched, and his lips curled in a knowing smile.
“So the kitten does like to be caught. I thought so.”
“No, I’m a domme. I get off on being in charge. I do not want to be controlled.”
“Surely you know the sub is the one with all the true power.”
He ran a finger along her jaw and she fought to keep the shiver suppressed.  She failed.
“You have an exquisite fire, one that should be stoked and not extinguished.”
She closed her eyes, wishing she could leave.  Damn her body for reacting this way. She got off on dominating, not submitting.  Then why was she wetter than she’d ever been before?  Her breasts hurt with the need to be touched, suckled.  She groaned, wishing she’d never decided to come to this party tonight.
“Look at me.”
His words held a stern order, and despite her intentions, she obeyed.  She caught his stare a split second before his mouth crashed down on hers.  This time he was forceful, demanding entry with his tongue.  She had no will to resist and allowed him in, her knees buckling as the rush of desire overcame her.  He continued to hold her captive against him as he tasted her, finding every spot that left her a panting puddle, ready to melt at his feet.
Abruptly, she found herself released, and the car once again began to move.  She didn’t dare look at him when she tried to right her coat over herself, patting her hair, and trying with little success to steady her racing heart.
“I can’t wait for the chance to really teach you how to submit:  To me.”

Some More Reviews


Okay, time for some more reviews. I’m certainly getting great workouts lately!I figured I should put my thoughts on these books down while they’re still fairly fresh, and I have more that I’ve read recently. But these are the ones with characters that have stayed in my head, and keep me thinking about them.
This time around, I’m talking about Carly Phillips “Dare to Love” series. The first, Dare to Love, was a great story about Ian Dare and Riley Taylor. Ms. Phillips sure does know how to create characters with lots of baggage, and these two are no exception. As usual, I was hooked right from the start, the chemistry between Ian and Riley was tangible, and the love scenes smoking hot. I liked watching the two of them learn to give in in various respects, though of course, Ian takes longer to get there. Typical man. lol  
In Dare to Desire, Alex Dare meets his match in Madison Evans. Actually, he met her in the previous book, and when Dare to Desire opens, he’s rather a jerk to her. My kind of hero. 😉 He eventually comes around, but is it too late for him to convince Madison to take another chance? Alex is determined, that’s for sure. Again, talk about emotional baggage for these two. It was done so realistically, I could feel their emotions as if they were my own. There was one part of the book that left me a bit disappointed, and I’m not going to talk about it here for spoiler purposes, but the reason being is that I want the characters to get and do everything they want and deserve. Since it is romance fiction, sometimes, when that doesn’t happen, I feel a little blindsided. Other than that one thing, though, another seriously hot love story that I hated to see end.
Dare to Surrender was quite an interesting read. All three of the Dare books contain some aspect of sexual domination, which of course I love and was thrilled to read in these books, but Dare to Surrender dove into it a little deeper. This book is part of the Invitation to Eden series, and you can bet I’ll be picking up more of these titles.
Anyway, back to the review. Dare to Surrender has the heroine, Isabelle Masters’, POV written in the first person. I’m not usually a fan of first person narrative, too often, you don’t get enough of the other characters’ POV, but Ms. Phillips wrote Isabelle perfectly. ASnd we got plenty of Gabriel Dare’s POV, so I was quite happy about that. I was sucked right into her woes, and loved how Gabriel came in and saved the day. Temporarily of course, but when he finally gets Isabelle back into his life, the chemistry between the two is electric. The love scenes were the best I’d read in first person in a very long time. Kudos to Ms. Phillips. I know I could never handle that as well as she did here. I am anxiously awaiting the next books in the series.
A repeat author here, J.J. Rose, has a new novella out, titled Other Options. I really enjoyed this – again first person, but done very well. This is the story of Ala, her mate/husband Kivol and her lover Vivia. Kivol quickly is sent away, leaving Ala confused and longing for both her absent mate and her female lover. But because of the laws of their culture, she cannot be with her lover in her mate’s absence. A really neat world was developed her and Rose really paints a beautiful picture without overcomplicating or overwriting, not an easy feat. The comfortable sexuality in the culture lends to some really beautiful and erotic scenes, and Ala’s emotions are all too real and make me feel for her dilemma. My only complaint – the novella is a little too short! I wanted more! 😉
One of the best rewards I get from reading these awesome books is they inspire and motivate me. I’m hard at work on multiple projects, as usual, but I find the words come easier when I’ve just finished a sexy and satisfying read.

Heroes – Jerks or Nice Guys?


I was posting out on Twitter and Facebook tonight, bemoaning the fact that yet another set of characters has reared their heads and demanded to be written. This book will take some research, like they all do, but even so, the words are flowing out of my fingers at a pace I don’t dare interrupt. When I’m inspired like that, I tend to write like gangbusters, getting as many as 25K words down in a week. Problem is, I have a book I REALLY want (and need) to finish, but it’s just not calling to me. The reason being is that my hero is too nice.
Yup, you heard that right. My hero is too nice. He’s basically a good guy. Nothing wrong with that, but when I write, a good guy is not who I’m looking for. If you’ve read any of my books, you know that my heroes tend to be, well, assholes. At least that’s how they come off to the heroine. Yet, somehow, she sees behind the jerkface façade to the man underneath. And basically, he’s an honorable guy. So why am I having such trouble with the hero who’s the honorable guy from the start?
Couple things I suppose. The fantasy of “taming the bad boy” lurks in many women’s hearts. Because who doesn’t want to be the one who makes him fall in love to the point he’d risk everything he is and has to make her happy? Make him see being the honorable guy in himself is acceptable. Isn’t that what romance is all about?
But here’s the other issue – this nice hero is boring me. He was fun at first, but he quickly became bland to me. I’ve gone back and tried to make him darker, but it’s simply not working. Even when he’s being dominating (cause ALL my heroes are), he’s not daunting enough. I don’t necessarily want him to be evil, or innately cruel, but he has to have something in his past that makes him behave somewhat “un-heroically” at times. He has what he believes is a reason to behave the way he does.  Because if he doesn’t have that reason, and realize at some point that reason may no longer be valid, how can he learn from his mistakes and be redeemed? Right?
My heroes, for all of their meanness, always feel some sort of remorse for their actions, even if they stubbornly refuse to let that regret guide them at whatever moment. The heroine is the one who ensures he learns what he needs to. She teaches him that it’s all right to forgive, accept, admit mistakes. And sometimes, she encourages him, or helps him, take brutal action against his enemies. Showing him that sometimes, being a jerk is perfectly acceptable!
What do you think? Jerks or nice guys? 

My Stab at Reviewing


In an effort to keep this blog from fading into obscurity, I may have mentioned some things I am planning to do with it. I have some author interviews coming up and thought I’d also start including reviews for books I’ve recently read. So to start off, I’ve got a few books I’m going to talk about. 
First, I wanted to give a review of some recent books by Kat Attalla. If you haven’t read any of her books, you really should. Kat writes some of the best dialogue I’ve ever read, and she nails the chemistry between her characters with absolute perfection. In the Married to a Prince series, she has created a Middle Eastern world that I think many of us would like to see actually exist. Book One, A Marriage of Convenience, involves a secret baby and misunderstandings between Honor and Yusef. But even through all that, there is no doubt that these two are deeply in love. I laughed through a lot of this book, and was sorry to see it end. Book Two, An Inconvenient Marriage, Lila learns she was married as a baby to Sami, the heir in line to the throne of Nadiar. She plans to end the marriage, but finds herself falling for the husband she never met or knew existed. Some really tense moments in this one, but as usual the chemistry of the couple just sweeps you off your feet. Book Three, The Prodigal Prince, also involves a lot of secrets. Mona, being the daughter of Nadiar’s emir, needs protection while she studies in Boston. Rashid is the man hired to protect her, without her knowledge. Not to mention, he’s a prince in his own right, even though he’s cut himself off from his father’s family. Mona’s innocence is endearing (and humorous at times) and Rashid’s determination to resist his growing feelings makes for some really comical moments. There are more in the series to come, and I am salivating while waiting for them.
Next up is J.J. Rose’s Shell Game, Volume One and Two (book one is Learning the Ropes and book two is Breaking the Rules) Sarah and Michael are a really intense couple, but they are written so realistically, with lots of human flaws, that I felt as if they were real people I actually knew. I found myself immersed in both books and hated for them to end. I highly recommend reading them for those who enjoy BDSM romance. That aspect is also done very realistically and true to people in the lifestyle, and smoking hot, as well! The supporting characters are also very well-written, and spurred lots of intense reactions on my part. These are two more books that I had trouble putting down until the very end, and was still left wanting more.
Also recently read is a romantic suspense by debut author Kelly Janicello. Remember Me is a spooky tale about two cops hunting a serial killer. Ryli has much more to do with this than either she or Brody realize, due to her repressed memories. The chemistry between the two left me squirming, and the humor throughout the story is so well-written, I literally laughed out loud many times. Since a lot of my reading lately has been done at the gym (thank you Kindle app for my phone), my reactions earn me a lot of strange looks from those on the treadmills beside me!
Lastly, for this post, is Elizabeth Shore’s Hot Bayou Knights. Carla, a corporate consultant, has to complete a “fear assignment” in order to achieve her much-desired promotion. She never expected to be at a research facility deep in the Louisiana Bayou, one where King Cobras and their venom are studied for medicinal purposes. Luckily for her, Jackson, who runs the facility with intensity and drive, is smoking hot and shares her attraction. The realistic touches of life in the Bayou dragged me right into the story and didn’t let me go until the end.
I have a few more recent reads I will be talking about, as soon as I get myself organized. Between my e-reader and the Kindle app on my phone I am getting caught up on my TBR list while I debate which story to tackle writing next. I have five options I am considering, and as usual, I will end up working on two at the same time, because why make it easy on myself?
So, go read some of these books. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.