Erotic Suspense · Sharing The Love

Sharing More Love

with Lisabet Sarai

Featuring her novel Exposure 

Welcome back to Sharing The Love, Lisabet Sarai!

Stretching Myself

My latest release, Exposure, started out as a writing exercise in the Erotica Readers & Writers Association Storytime critique group. I’ve been a member of Storytime, on and off, for more than twenty years. It’s a wonderful community that offers both warm support and practical advice.

Back in 2009, the Storytime moderators used to pose regular theme challenges – invitations to try writing a new topic or in a new genre. It was always fascinating to see how different authors interpreted those invitations. Exposure began as a response to an erotic noir theme.

I’d never produced anything “noir” before, but I had some idea what the sub-genre entailed: urban grittiness, disreputable and world-weary characters, tension, darkness and an oppressive air of suspicion, in which nobody was who they seemed. I decided to stretch myself and give it a try. The result was “Private Dance”, a short story featuring a self-confident stripper, a dubious commission, and a bloody double murder.

The story was really different from anything I’d previously written. I originally thought it was a one-off, but for some reason my main character Stella Xanathakeos wouldn’t let me go. I decided to see if I could turn the story into a novel. The result was Exposure.

It was a rough slog. Writing a mystery was a completely new experience for me. I found the genre to be far more demanding than the BDSM erotic romance that was my stock in trade. In a mystery, every plot detail is critically important. At the same time you need to include a few red herrings to keep things from being too predictable.

Another tricky aspect was that, following the original story, I decided to use first person present tense. That fits well with suspense; your characters don’t know any more than your readers, so both are repeatedly surprised and shocked. However, managing time in a present tense novel takes a lot of care.

If you’re familiar with my other work, you’ll find Exposure something of a departure. It’s steamy but decidedly dark, with an ambiguous ending where Stella really hasn’t made up her mind what she’ll do, or who she wants. Nevertheless, I’m very fond of the book, at least partly because writing it pushed me outside my comfort zone and helped me broaden and deepen my craft.

About The Book

Sex, blood and betrayal: it’s all in a day’s work.

I strip for the fun of it. Don’t let anyone tell you different. It’s not the money. I could make nearly as much working at the mill and keep my clothes on, but then I’d have to suck up to the bosses. Up on stage, I’m the one in charge, and I like it that way.

Tony Pinelli hired me for a private dance. I was determined to give him his money’s worth. I didn’t expect to be caught in the cross-fire of a double murder. When his widow shows up at my door, I know I’m in way over my head. Now I’m everyone’s target. I can’t trust anyone – not even the police detective who was sweet on me in high school. My only chance at survival is to shift through the lies and expose the truth.

Genre: Dark erotic suspense – ambiguous ending

Length: 65,000 words, 218 pages

Rating/Heat Level: Explicit. Mature Audiences Only. 5 Flames.

Excerpt:

The next night I show up at the designated room number, at eight on the dot. I like to be professional. I’ve tried to dress as elegant as I can, in a nice peach linen suit that hugs my curves and makes me look dark and exotic. I’m nervous, though, as nervous as I was that first night I stepped onto the Peacock stage. Taking a deep breath, I rap three times on the door like Mr. Clean told me to do.

I recognize the man at the door immediately. I may be a stripper, but I read the papers. It’s Anthony Pinelli, leading businessman, local power-broker, candidate for mayor. Hey, I was planning on voting for him, in spite of the stories about his mob connections. Nobody’s lily-white these days. From what I’ve read, he seems to have the kind of strength that you need to run this tough town.

I’ve seen his picture lots of times, but in person he’s even more impressive. Big but not fat, with a shock of shiny black hair and bushy eyebrows to match. He has a nice straight nose, lips that look decisive, and dark eyes that seem to go right through me.

But more than his good looks, I’m impressed by the sense of power that he projects. Charisma, I think the word is. He looks me over, those firm lips curve into a warm smile, and I suddenly feel like I’d do anything he asks.

“Please come in, Ms. Xanathakeos,” he says, standing aside so that I can enter the suite. His voice has a round, mellow sound to it. It slides over me.

“Call me, Stella, please.” I look around the fancy suite curiously, noting the modern paintings on the walls, the horseshoe-shaped sofa, the bar set up in the corner. The closed door next to the desk must lead to the bedroom. My heels sink into the thick, plum-colored carpet. I’m afraid that I’ll damage it. Maybe I’ll have to dance barefoot.

“Well, then, Stella, you must call me Tony.” He takes my hand in a kind of old-fashioned way. His touch sends shivers through my body. My nervousness is gone, replaced by a feeling of breathlessness. I won’t have any trouble at all getting turned on enough to dance, that’s for sure.

“Can I offer you some refreshment?” Tony asks, gesturing toward the bar.

“Just water, please.”

He hands me a long-stemmed glass full of carbonated water. I watch the bubbles dancing. It feels as if there are bubbles inside my chest, too.

He pours himself a tall scotch. We sit together for a few minutes on the sofa, not talking, sipping our drinks. I feel flushed and sweaty, as if I’ve already danced for him. His body gives off waves of heat. It’s like I’m lying under a sun lamp. I don’t know what to do next.

Finally, he puts down his drink. “Shall we get started? Let me get a bit more comfortable.” He shrugs off his suit jacket and places it over the desk chair. I gasp as I see that he is wearing a revolver in a shoulder holster. He smiles, just a little, as he removes this and hangs it over the chair on top of the jacket. “I’m a dangerous man, Stella, and I have many enemies. I have to take care of myself.” I nod vaguely. I’m not exactly reassured.

He seats himself back on the sofa. “The stereo is over there,” he says, pointing to a complicated pile of audio equipment next to the bar. Somehow, I figure out how where insert my thumb drive and how to start it playing. I turn to face my audience.

The first bars of the music free me from any anxiety. I fix my eyes on him and begin to move. Graceful. Sensual. I’m extremely turned on, but I want this performance to be classy, not raunchy the way I sometimes am.

The shoes go first. Now I unfasten my jacket, lingering over each button. Building the suspense. I’m wearing regular lingerie, flimsy and feminine, instead of one of my costumes. My breasts are like melons, encased in black lace. No padding or wires on this bra; my nipples are clearly visible, pushing the fabric into sweet little peaks.

Buy It Now:

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Audio

Amazon

Audible

About The Author

Lisabet Sarai became addicted to words at an early age. She began reading when she was four. She wrote her first story at five years old and her first poem at seven. Since then, she has written plays, tutorials, scholarly articles, marketing brochures, software specifications, self-help books, press releases, a five-hundred page dissertation, and lots of erotica and erotic romance – more than one hundred titles, and counting, in nearly every sub-genre—paranormal, scifi, ménage, BDSM, GLBT, and more. Regardless of the genre, every one of her stories illustrates her motto: Imagination is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

You’ll find information and excerpts from all Lisabet’s books on her website (https://www.lisabetsarai.com/books.html), along with more than fifty free stories and lots more. At her blog Beyond Romance (https://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com), she shares her philosophy and her news and hosts lots of other great authors. She’s also on Goodreads, Bookbub and Twitter. Join her VIP email list and get a free ebook, plus exclusive contents and other benefits: https://btn.ymlp.com/xgjjhmhugmgh

Websites

Lisabet’s Fantasy Factory (website): http://www.lisabetsarai.com

Beyond Romance (blog): http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/83387.Lisabet_Sarai

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/lisabet-sarai?list=author_books

Contemporary Romance · Sharing The Love

Sharing The Love

with Robecca Austin

Featuring her novel Wedded by the Billionaire 

Welcome to Sharing The Love, Robecca Austin!

You’re on a first date. What’s a deal-breaker that would see you walk away?

Ooh! This is such a good question. I’m a bit spoiled and out of the game not having a first date in over sixteen years.

A deal breaker would be food. More specifically, being made to feel like I have to watch what I order. I’m 5’2 and 115lbs, and man do I love my food.

It is one of the reasons I would never go to a restaurant I couldn’t afford on the first few dates, and I’m always prepared to go Dutch or pay for my food.

If you were a potato, what way would you like to be cooked?

Roasted on a charcoal grill, then stuffed with all my favorite things: sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, topped with chives, and green onions.

Would you go to space if you knew that you could never come back to earth?

Nope. No thank you. I would run out of food, then clutch my stomach in regret. Or hunger.

Of all the characters you’ve created, who is your favourite and why?

The characters I am currently writing are my favorites. I become so invested in each new story that I can’t help but fall in love with the characters. It is always bitter-sweet when I have to write “the end.”

About The Book

He spent the hottest night…with the wrong woman.

One night with the wrong woman…

Tet controlled his universe, including the women he slept with, and a night of steamy fun was the perfect antidote for the new stress in his life.

But her passionate kisses and gentle caresses unraveled everything he thought he craved.

Now he would stop at nothing to make her his, even using their unbridled passion.


Tangela

They say you should never meet your hero…

The open gate onto his property was an invitation she couldn’t resist. She soon discovered it wasn’t meant for her, but with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, she played out a fantasy she’d never thought would come true.

But fantasies have consequences. And hers had steely gray eyes that demanded more than one passionate night.

Genre: Contemporary romance

Length: Novel

Excerpt:

Tangela Morrison sat behind the wheel of her 2006 gray Honda Civic in front of the estate she intended to visit. Not any estate. This one belonged to Tetsuo McCreath. Major league baseball superstar: Rookie of the Year—if she were in charge, she would change the requirements so he could win this medal every year—award winner, and recipient of the Roberto Clemente award for his sportsmanship, community involvement, and his contribution to his team.

Yes, she was a low-key groupie. But who could blame her? The man was one of Wheelcaster’s star athletes. And the city was proud to claim him. Everything he did was perfect.

Then, he’d disappeared from TV and newspapers for two years because of a badly torn rotator cuff. The withdrawal she experienced from those years was the worst of her life. As a result, she’d fallen into work and spent her spare time assisting her uncle at Wheelcaster Fireflies. Fireflies was her uncle’s poorly performing minor league baseball team. Some days, she wondered about her uncle’s mismanagement and what she’d been thinking when she proposed the little league community program for differently abled children. To her uncle the program meant being in the spotlight or perceived spotlight as a philanthropist, except the community program hadn’t gained the attention he’d hoped for. To her, a little league team presented an opportunity to help those children longing to play but couldn’t afford to, and offering the program under the guidance of an established team should have cut costs. The trick to working with Uncle Simon was using Tetsuo’s experience since he once played on that patch of grass.

Tangela glanced at the steel fence. Then peered through the darkness. A long drive, shielded by tall, aged trees separated her from the home of the man she had lusted after for years.

Now he’d returned to Wheelcaster, intent on buying the Fireflies. And she was about to meet him. The thought of seeing him in person, hearing the sultry molasses in his voice made her hot and wet in places that hadn’t had male attention in forever.

Her body’s inadvertent reaction to him was why she’d pulled over to the side of the road before driving up to the gate.

For as long as she recalled, what she knew of Tetsuo had set the standards for her dating life. She wanted a man with the courage to go after his dreams. And because they were both adopted into their families, she felt a kinship of sorts to him—although his first seven years before becoming a  McCreath didn’t sound very loving. Maybe that was why every eligible man she’d met, especially those born with a silver spoon had fallen short—they lacked the heat in Tet’s eyes; a drive to be part of something bigger than himself. Or perhaps it was that his gaze was all consuming, as if he could devour her with his eyes alone.

Despite her body’s arousal, she wasn’t at his estate to sample the smooth ridges of his biceps under her tongue. Or to ogle his masculine form—as if one night could make up for two years of not seeing him on TV. Those delights would be a bonus.

She flushed.

Tangela was here to make sure that when Tetsuo bought the Wheelcaster Fireflies, he wouldn’t ditch the community program she’d started. If her father ran the team, he would have negotiated to keep the program. But her uncle Simon cared more for money and had not lobbied for her program.

Every child deserved a shot at playing the sport they love. It didn’t matter that they weren’t going to play beyond the team’s special Saturday events. Kids like Gabriel, a ten-year-old boy who showed up every Saturday and didn’t let his wheelchair stop him from playing his favorite position. She couldn’t imagine how disappointed he’d be if the program closed. Tangela gave herself a mental shake. She needed a level head. Nothing would be accomplished if she got worked up two-ways-to-Sunday.

Buy It Now:

Read Free in Kindle Unlimited

Or

Wedded by the Billionaire: https://books2read.com/wedded-by-the-billionaire

About The Author

Robecca Austin is the author of happy ever after romance stories. She enjoys crafting tales of sassy heroines and alpha heroes that have a soft center.

She writes historical romance and billionaire romance stories.

You can find her outside enjoying nature and lots of sunshine when there are no bugs. When she’s not writing her next novel, she’s busy battling Cystic Fibrosis and hugging family. She lives and works in Canada.

Websites

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/authorrobeccaaustin

Historical Newsletter: https://tinyurl.com/ezc8nm9z

Contemporary Newsletter: https://tinyurl.com/yd4mbvcr

Author Website: https://www.robeccaaustin.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/robeccaaustin_author

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/robeccaaustin

Wedded by the Billionaire can also be found on the Loved-up Library HERE

Historical Romance · Sharing The Love

Sharing The Love

with J. Arlene Culiner

Featuring her novel A Room in Blake’s Folly

Welcome back to Sharing The Love, J. Arlene Culiner! I’m excited to have you here again!

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

The first draft is a killer, and I hate it. I have to force myself to sit down and write. Sometimes it takes me years to finish a manuscript. But when I’m on the second, third, fourth of fifth draft, then I’m in ecstasy. I can’t sleep; all my thoughts are with the story, with sentences, with the images I’ve conjured up.

Have you gone on any literary pilgrimages?

Absolutely. For my books that take place in Nevada, books like A Room in Blake’s Folly, I travelled through the state, visiting small communities, hanging around sleepy watering holes, and listening to conversations. For my non-fiction book, A Contrary Journey with Velvel Zbarzher, Bard, I travelled through Ukraine and Romania trying to find a trace of the forgotten 19th-century poet I was writing about; and for my book, Finding Home in the Footsteps of the Jewish Fusgeyers, using the itinerary of the author of a short story, I crossed Romania on foot, then followed his trace through the rest of Europe and on to Canada.

The real question is: were these literary pilgrimages or obsessions?

If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?

I think I’d like to be in a log cabin somewhere in the far north of Canada, with deep snow all around me. There would be a small community with a few local bars within trudging distance, and I could go there every day to chew the fat with the locals, and to hear some good stories. I’d also have my computer with me, and I’d be free to just write for hours and hours.

Are you a listener or a talker?

I do love listening because I’m nosy. When in the company of others, I’ll tell a tall tale now and again, just so people know I’m still alive and breathing, but the rest of the time I’m all ears, and waiting for secrets.

You have your own late night talk show, who do you invite as your first guest? Why?

Here’s a twist on your question, Anita. Since I don’t own a television, I have no idea how talk shows are these days, but many, many, many years ago, I was a talk show hostess.

It was a dreadful show, and Roger, a rather obnoxious but wealthy presenter, considered himself a major star. My only role was to glimmer at the audience when the show started and say: “Hi, everyone. Welcome to Roger B’s Italian Hour. And here’s Roger.”

After that I just had to sit on the panel and listen. Many of the guests were Italian—people like Gina Lollobrigida—so most of the talk was in that language which I didn’t understand (although I had a great number of fans, mostly Italian grandmothers, who wrote to the station and said I looked like such a lovely Italian girl.)

Whenever it was time for a commercial break, the cameraman would point to me, and I’d glimmer again, then say something like: “And now a word from the California Bank.”

At the end of each show, Roger and I would wave bye-bye, and I’d say: “Thanks for joining us, and see you next week.”

Believe me, that talk show was so boring, even my best friends wouldn’t watch it.

About the Book

A Room in Blake’s Folly, hasn’t been released yet, but I’ve just discovered it’s up for pre-order, so I thought I would tell everyone about it here (like a very proud mother.)

In 2022, Blake’s Folly is a semi-ghost town in Nevada, a backwoods community of abandoned clapboard shacks, endless wind, and scraggly vegetation with strange local names like snatch-it shrub and sticky snakeweed. But back in 1889, when this story starts, the town boasted three mining companies, many saloons, and brothels.

Westley Cranston, an adventurer and journalist, is in love with a former prostitute, Sookie Lacey, and he dreams of taking her away from her life as a dance girl in the Mizpah Saloon. She, however, is hoping to marry the shady, powerful and wealthy Jim Bally.

How their story plays out does affect their descendants one hundred and thirty years later, but Blake’s Folly is home to other love entanglements, too, ones that are just as intriguing.

A Room in Blake’s Folly isn’t only a romance: it is also the story of a town’s early days, its near ruin, and its evolution.

If only the walls could speak…

In one hundred and fifty years, Blake’s Folly, a silver boomtown notorious for its brothels, scarlet ladies, silver barons, speakeasies, and divorce ranches, has become a semi-ghost town. Although the old Mizpah Saloon is still in business, its upper floor is sheathed in dust. But in a room at a long corridor’s end, an adventurer, a beautiful dance girl, and a rejected wife were once caught in a love triangle, and their secret has touched three generations.

Excerpt

            “You trust Big Jim?” Resentment rippled down Westley Cranston’s spine, meshed with scorn. “A lousy cad who jilted you when you were carrying his child? Who knew your bigoted family would kill you?”

       Seemingly unperturbed, Sookie Lacey dipped her forefinger into the oily pot of carmine on her dressing table, spread the rosy salve over her lips. Turned, met Westley’s eyes squarely. “Jim didn’t have a choice. He was on the lam. He had to keep moving.”

       “Because he was wanted for a violent robbery! Why the hell are you making excuses for an unscrupulous criminal who forced himself on an impoverished family?”

       “You weren’t out in this part of the world back then. You can’t even imagine that winter when cattle froze to death on the prairie. How could anyone, good or bad, have survived in the open?”

       “And while hiding out with your family, he seduced you.”

       “Seduced!” Her nostrils flared. “Being with Jim protected me from my vicious brother, my depraved father, I told you that. They both tried to have their way with me.”

       It was an old argument, one they’d had many times. Why couldn’t Sookie see that Big Jim’s perfidy could have ruined her life—would have ruined her life if she’d been a weaker woman? A pregnant fifteen-year-old runaway when she arrived in Blake’s Folly, Sassy Sookie had gone to work as a prostitute in the Red Nag Saloon. It wasn’t the lowest sort of brothel, but it wasn’t a classy parlor house either. Yet, clever, lighthearted, and a favorite with the men, she soon realized her own worth. Never succumbing to the temptations of alcohol or laudanum, she’d left the Red Nag, come to the Mizpah, and as a saloon girl, made such excellent money selling dance tickets, encouraging men to buy alcohol, and to gamble, she no longer needed to sell herself.

       “So, four years after jilting you, Jim walks into the Mizpah, sees you’ve become successful, and decides to stake his claim. That makes him a decent man?”

       “He’s changed. Jim has become a respectable businessman, and he wants to marry me. He’s building us a big fine house where we can live together with our little son.”

       “Where? Where will this wonderful fine house be?”

       “In Virginia City.”

       “Have you ever been there? Seen what he’s building?”

       “You know I haven’t. Jim’s been on the road for the last five months. He sends me letters from Denver, San Francisco, New Orleans, and Phoenix.”

       How can she be so blind? Westley took a deep breath, forced himself to sound steady and reasonable, not like a man hopelessly in love with the woman he would soon lose. “And what about us? What about what we shared? The nights you spent in my arms?” Nights when she had given herself without reticence but with warmth, tenderness.

            Sookie stood, shook out the short, ruffled skirt and colorful petticoats floating just below her shapely calves. Her golden beauty, caught in the lamp’s uneven flicker, made his heart ache. How desirable she was in the low-cut sequined bodice that barely hid the sweetness of her breasts.

       “Westley, what you and I shared is our secret. A delicious secret that no one else can know about or even suspect, particularly since Jim has sent Doug Lazy here to protect me.”

       “To spy on you, you mean.”

       Sookie’s chin tilted defiantly. “Think what you’d like. Just don’t forget I’m marrying Jim in September.”

       Pushing past him, she swept out of her boudoir and into the long dark corridor. The tapping of her tasseled kid boots on the stair held a note of finality.


Genre: Historical Romance, Small Town Romance

Length: Novel

Preorder It Now (To Be Released in May):

https://books2read.com/BlakesFollyRomance

About The Author

Writer, photographer, social critical artist, musician, and occasional actress, J. Arlene Culiner, was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe on foot, has lived in a Hungarian mud house, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave dwelling, on a Dutch canal, and in a haunted house on the English moors. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest where, much to local dismay, she protects all creatures, particularly spiders and snakes. She enjoys incorporating into short stories, mysteries, narrative non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities, and her conversations with very strange characters.

Websites

Website

Blog

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads

Facebook

Storytelling Podcast

Bookbub

Twitter

Pinterest

A Room In Blake’s Folly can also be found on the Loved-up Library HERE

Contemporary Romance · Sharing The Love

Sharing The Love

with Lisabet Sarai

Featuring her novel The Gazillionaire and the Virgin 

Welcome to Sharing The Love, Lisabet Sarai!

Random information about an author you’ve never heard of… #Interview #NewRelease @LisabetSarai

Normally I find author interviews a bit boring (both to do and to read), but Anita’s list of questions was so varied and creative I couldn’t resist. Actually, I had a hard time narrowing them down to a reasonable number! (And these are just the personal, quirky questions. I didn’t even look at her writing-related questions!)

If you could time travel, where would you go and when? Why?

I think I’d have to say late Victorian era England. Sometimes, indeed, I think I had a previous life in that period. Though I don’t consider myself a “historical” author, I’ve written quite a few stories and novels set in that time, including several steam punk titles. Somehow I feel very at home with both the environment (at least as I imagine it… or remember it?) and the style of language.

Who was your childhood actor/actress crush?

Of course I had many (didn’t we all?), but I was particularly enamored of David McCallum, who played Russian secret agent Illya Kuryakin in the TV show “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” (That definitely dates me, doesn’t it?!)  I’ve always had a weakness for the mysterious, introverted, brainy types.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_McCallum

What did you name your first car and why?

I didn’t get my first car until I’d finished grad school, when I was 26. It was a light blue Honda Accord hatchback with manual transmission. (I’d learned somewhere that manual transmission cars gave you better control and got better mileage.) I named her Isadora, in honor of the modern dance pioneer Isadora Duncan, one of my idols. Isadora Duncan symbolized freedom for me – and so did the automobile.

How many languages can you speak?

That depends on your definition of “speak” LOL. English is my native language and I am fluent in Thai, since I lived in Thailand for a number of years. (My first novel is set there.) I used to speak French well, but I’m very rusty. I’ve recently been studying Mandarin Chinese though I am still a beginner. And I have smatterings of Spanish, Italian, Japanese and Korean.

What was the last song you listened to?

“Come to My Window” by Melissa Etheridge. To me, that song is pure, distilled passion. “You don’t know how far I’ll go, or how much I can take, just to reach you.”

You have to sing karaoke, what song do you pick?

I enjoy singing, and I know the lyrics to quite a few songs, but based on past history, the most likely title would be “Hotel California” by the Eagles. That is, unless there was a guy who wanted to sing a duet. In that case, I’d probably opt for “We’ve Got Tonight”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6IIkpmw8Ow

That’s me. A classic!

About The Book

Trust can’t be bought—it has to be earned.

She’s the billionaire. He’s the virgin. Still, he knows how to make her melt.

When Silicon Valley entrepreneur Rachel Zelinsky meets reclusive genius Theo Moore, she has a single objective —a deal to incorporate his AI software into her company’s popular virtual world. She finds Theo to be arrogant, sensitive and socially awkward, but his aura of power speaks to her carefully-hidden submissive side. Confused and aroused, she falls under his geeky spell.

Theo Moore can’t be bought. His past battles with poverty make him deeply suspicious of the billionaire CEO, though Rachel’s voluptuous curves and brilliant mind embody his ultimate fantasy. Too bad his knowledge about sex derives from extensive research and a stash of kinky porn rather than real-world experience.

Rachel may be Theo’s first lover, but Theo is her first true Master. One word from him, one touch, and she surrenders to bliss. It seems that love and complementary desire may harmonize their differing values, until Rachel’s unwitting violation of Theo’s trust tears them apart.

Newly edited edition! Includes a steamy bonus Valentine’s story featuring Rachel and Theo!

Genre: Contemporary BDSM erotic romance

Length: Second edition, approximately 64,000 words, 240 pages

Rating/Heat Level: Explicit. Mature Audiences Only. 5 Flames.

Excerpt:

She’s not what I expected. She’s soft and full, not lean and angular like most Californians. None of the gym-toned muscles everyone sports here in the land of sunshine. And she’s young, much younger than someone so filthy rich has any right to be. Her designer watch must have cost more than two months of my professor’s salary. On the other hand, I can hardly complain about her wealth, can I, since my pet project is the beneficiary of her largesse?

Hunkering down in the leather-upholstered back seat of her disgustingly opulent vehicle, I try to calm myself. I’m sweating like a pig, and my muscles are in knots. I gulp down orange juice from the bar I’d ridiculed and focus on my breathing the way Dr. Hopkins has taught me. I force myself not to count the telephone poles whizzing by. I know that will only make it worse.

When I pat my pocket, I can’t help grinning a bit. Two hundred fifty thousand! We can equip a new mobile development lab and hire two trainers for a year. Or take our outreach into junior high schools. Or even expand to some of the Rust Belt cities where the recession has hit particularly hard…

No, this wouldn’t be enough for that. But Dr. Zelinsky—Rachel—had indicated there might be more.

Rachel. Bringing up the search engine on my phone, I type in her name. I should have done this before the meeting, of course, but I was much too nervous. Up until the moment her limousine pulled up in front of my building, I still thought I might back out.

The screen fills with images and links. There’s even a Wikipedia article. I flip through the text, digesting the basics. Born in Brooklyn. An MBA from Harvard and a PhD—in physics!—from MIT. Looking Glass is her third company. She sold the first to IBM and the second to Microsoft.

A real high roller. And MirrorWorld is a huge hit—the main article on the virtual environment runs pages and pages. Since the Looking Glass IPO almost two years ago, the company stock has increased in value by an unbelievable 224%.

She can afford a quarter of a million for charity. For her, that’s petty change.

By the time we arrive back at my complex, I’m pretty much back to normal. At least what counts as normal for me. I nod at the uniformed driver who opens the door for me, trying to pretend I do this every day. The Vietnamese gardener is spreading new mulch on the flower beds in front of my building. Averting my eyes and ignoring his greeting—after all, I can barely understand his English— I hustle up the wooden steps to my second floor condo.

It’s quiet and cool inside. The soft hiss of the air conditioning soothes me. I flip on the stereo, something by Brahms, turn the volume down low, then stretch out on my bed, fully clothed.

I made it.

The money is mine, free and clear. I’ll ask my sister to deposit it tomorrow. I don’t need to see Rachel Zelinsky again.

I can’t stop thinking about her, though. I recall one of the pictures from the web article, a black and white photo of a skinny teenager with a mop of curls, standing in front of some science fair project. She didn’t have those curves yet. No, but I recognize the expression, that determined set of her mouth and those laser-sharp eyes under the dark eyebrows. She was going to win—there was no question.

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About The Author

LISABET SARAI occasionally tackles other genres, but BDSM will always be her first love. Most of her novels include some element of power exchange, while her D/s short stories range from mildly kinky to intensely perverse. Her personal experience has taught her the joy to be found in a Master’s bonds. She tries to make that joy real for her readers.

Websites

Lisabet’s Fantasy Factory (website): http://www.lisabetsarai.com

Beyond Romance (blog): http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com

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The Gazillionaire and the Virgin can also be found on the Loved-up Library HERE

Fantasy Romance · Sharing The Love

Sharing The Love

with Viviana MacKade

Featuring her novel Valkyrie Love 

Welcome to Sharing The Love, Viviana MacKade!

You’re on a first date. What’s a dealbreaker that would see you walk away?

Ignorance. And I’m not talking about reciting Shakespeare, PhDs and the likes. I mean disregard of basic knowledge (flat earth, any conspiracy theory, any FB learned opinion and so on). Also, a close mind about how society is evolving in terms of representation and rights. 

If you were a potato, what way would you like to be cooked?

Fried. Like, in oil, not air.

Have you ever been told you look like someone famous and who was it?

A lot of people told me I looked like Nelly Furtado, especially when I had dark hair.

You have your own late night talk show, who do you invite as your first guest? Why?

Jon Stewart. Intelligence, knowledge, and savage humor are a combination I can hardly ignore. I also may have an ongoing crush on the guy.

Of everything you’ve written, do you have a favourite and, if so, why?

Ok, I love them all and blah blah blah. Sure. Now. The character I love the most is Aidan from Midnight Sun. He is the most complex human being I had to work with. And the biggest pain in the ass. Valkyrie Love is the story I loved writing the most because it was an absolute joy. I had so much freedom building worlds, and different beings. I had an absolute blast.

About The Book


Valkyrie love never comes easy.

Brenna left Asgard with a curse on her name and a broken heart.

A Valkyrie now free and independent, for millennia her life had been great. Just great.

Then a bleeding Elf knocks at her door holding a baby.

Alexander Reed left the Marines and lost the wheel of his life.

A soldier without a worthy fight, he became everything he despised.

Until he ends up in the wrong backyard at the wrong time.

Fljóða, Queen of the Light Elves and last of her lineage, is an infant with a death sentence on her head.

Hunted by the Night Elves, her survival brings Brenna and Reed together for the ultimate mission: take the little Queen to safety in the Vanaheim Realm, deep in the Roots of Yggdrasil.

Not simple, but straightforward.

Or so it seemed.

Between flaming giants, demons, and an army of Half Breed determined to kill the Queen and conquer all the Elvin Realms, Brenna and Reed will have to face their inner monsters. Monsters appearing in the form of feelings neither want but cannot control.


Genre: Fantasy Romance

Length: Novel

Excerpt:

When you like or are falling for someone, as Reed recognized was happening, there are always these great romantic lines babbled by the hero. Lines as I’d follow you until the end of the world.

Well, he actually did it.

He hadn’t followed Brenna because of his feelings for her, though. Back then, he had none.

He had eyes and she was beautiful, so there was that. Would he have gone all the way to another dimension for a pretty face? Nope.

 Brenna was different. He’d known it since the first time he’d seen her slaying monsters in her backyard and a person with her kind of courage?

He would go on a mission with, all the way to the end. A mission which, to him, tasted more like redemption, a chance to find the way back to the person he once had been, one with a solid moral compass.

A man he could live with.

She had an agenda, of course she didn’t enlist him out of a good heart. But for as much as it had pained her to admit it, another person, especially one with his background, was handy to have around for her mission. And in doing so, Brenna gave him a chance, a chance to clean his slate.

They both had crappy baggage; both had left those behind.

In here, in these roots, they were only Reed and Brenna.

Hell, he didn’t even know her last name, if she had one. And you know what? It worked. He didn’t care about her history, how she got to be this way. He only cared about the woman she’d come to be today, whatever byway she took to get to the here-and-now they shared.

The woman he was falling hard for. Maybe he had already toppled over.

A woman who currently disappeared into yet another dimension through a transparent rubber wall that sparkled if hit.

Damn, how crazy was it? How absolutely great, and crazy? Being in love, not the wall.

Reed didn’t have it in him to appreciate those portals.

In front of him, Mae’s head had already disappeared as she continued to hold onto his hand. Time to get his head in the game. Literally.

Only the elf’s arm divided him from the other side.

Downright freaky.

Linked to Mae, his hand crossed the invisible wall. He could feel Mae’s fingers in his, so it ought to be good news, right?

His arm went through.

And then he had to step into it.

It was like pushing through a thick wall of humid, hot, dense sponge. It reminded him of a cow’s nose and the image didn’t help any, despite his love for said animals.

As the wall moved to accommodate his shoulder and half of his body, it pressed on him. Mae released him, so now both his hands were free – one in the warm dwarves’ realm, and the other in the hotter, drier air of the Fire Realm.

He hoped, hard, that the protection he’d fashioned around their ammunitions would hold.

Reed turned his face toward the invisible wall and pushed all in.

A gummy wall pressed tight.

Hard to move.

For the longest moment he couldn’t breathe, and panic slithered through him. Until a different hand took his.

Brenna’s.

He didn’t need to see it. He’d fallen asleep holding her hand for long enough to recognize it.

It was all the encouragement he needed. He grasped at her hold, used her as an anchor, and pulled himself toward her.

He slid all the way out, and he nearly fell as pressure suddenly let go.

Lord, but the air felt good.

Oven-hot, dry air.

“Damn,” he murmured as he took in the new realm, still holding on to Brenna.

The sky hung heavy, clothed in the deepest, darkest shade of purple.

In front of him, rivers and rivulets of lava cut through brown land, bare and dry.

They looked like fire-bleeding wounds on dying ground. Sprinkles of glowing debris wheezed out from barren hills and short volcanoes. Sometimes, out of nowhere, the land would crack open enough to spit a mouthful of lava and fiery sparkles of fire in the black-hot air.

“Ugly,” he murmured, fighting and losing against the need to have Brenna closer.

He pulled her in until she was into his arms, found her stiff.

“What are you doing?” she asked, trying to keep her distance by placing her palms onto his chest.

 “This place is miserable. Everywhere else we went, something was nice. Here? It’s simply dead.” He tightened the hold on her, looked at her and smiled. “I needed a shot of good.”

The best feeling in the world? Her response, how she gave into the hug.

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About The Author

Beach bum and country music addicted, Viviana lives in a small Floridian town with her die-hard fans and personal cheer squad: her husband, her son, and her daughter. She spends her days between typing on her beloved keyboard, playing in the pool with her babies, and eating whatever her husband puts on her plate (the guy is that good, and she really loves eating). Besides beaching, she enjoys long walks, horse-riding, hiking, and pretty much whatever she can do outside with her family.

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Valkyrie Love can also be found in the Loved-up Library HERE

Contemporary Romance · Sharing The Love

Sharing The Love

with J. Arlene Culiner

Featuring her novel Desert Rose (Romance in Blake’s Folly Book 1) 

Welcome to Sharing The Love, J. Arlene Culiner!

You’re on a first date. What’s a deal-breaker that would see you walk away?

Stupidity—I have little tolerance for it. I also have no patience with narrow-minded people, and I hate wasting my time with people who are afraid to think for themselves.

Have you ever been told you look like someone famous and who was it?

My mother was a frustrated actress who envied Liz Taylor, and thought she should have become a star instead. Since that hadn’t happened, she (very briefly) decided I should make up for her failure. When I was around ten, she decided I looked like the young Liz, and she took me to the hairdresser and had all my long hair cut off (which made me miserable, for I was planning on becoming a princess, and I knew all princesses had long hair) and restyled in a Liz Taylor cut, with two little curls on my forehead. The next time she had her friends over, she told me to come down the stairway slowly as she’d seen Liz do in some movie. No one thought I was a Liz Taylor replacement.

How many languages can you speak?

Six, but I make terrible mistakes in most of them.

If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?

This might sound very boring, but Caesar salad is my favorite food. Authentic Caesar salad, not with a dressing mix, but with real garlic, thin slices of parmesan, and wonderful olive oil…just the idea makes my mouth water.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I do an enormous amount of research before and during the writing. I love research; I love going through the archives and public libraries; I love learning new things; I want to share information with my readers, and surprise them.

Do you read your book reviews? Do they impact your future/current projects?

I always read my reviews. I take the good ones seriously because a good reviewer can help an author progress. However, some reviews are silly, or badly written, or mean, or ignorant, and those I ignore.

About The Book

Blake’s Folly is a semi-ghost town in Nevada, a backwoods community of abandoned clapboard shacks, endless wind, and scraggly vegetation with strange local names like snatch-it shrub and sticky snakeweed. Back in the late 1800s, the town boasted three mining companies, a railway line to Reno, many saloons, and quite a few brothels, but the glory didn’t last. It was soon clear that the silver was running out, and those sane enough to do so, pulled up stakes and left town.

A Room in Blake’s Folly is my third book about this town. The other two, All About Charming Alice and Desert Rose, are Small Town Contemporary Romances, but A Room in Blake’s Folly starts in 1889, when journalist Westley Cranston falls in love with Sassy Sookie, a dancehall girl in the Mizpah Saloon. Their affair has far-reaching consequences, and touches the lives of Alice, Rose, and several other characters.

A Room in Blake’s Folly will be released in February or March — so more about it at a later date. But in the meantime, here are Alice and Rose.

Rose Badger, the heroine of Desert Rose, is a delightful character: gutsy, original, open-minded, and funny. As soon as the very appealing Jonah Livingstone (he’s part Paiute, part Italian) walks into her shop, he’s entranced too. But even if she’s outgoing and flirtatious, Rose has quite a few secrets, and she won’t share them with anyone. Of course, Jonah has secrets of his own, and before a romance can take place, both will have to confide and trust each other.

Alice, the heroine of All About Charming Alice, is a prickly character. Reclusive, she loves the Nevada desert, rescues dogs, and protects snakes. Jace Constant, my hero, is the opposite. He’s an intellectual writer from Chicago, and he’s not crazy about deserts, dogs, or snakes. But neither Alice nor Jace expects love when it comes galumphing over the horizon.


Genre: Contemporary Romance, Small Town Romance

Length: Novel

Excerpt:

Rose looked up. “You pass by Blake’s Folly from time to time? Whatever for? This is the end of the world.”

          “The world has several ends, and I work in all of them. I’m a geologist.”

            “Ah, I see. Well, that explains it.”

            “That explains some of it,” he said, taking her in from head to toe with undisguised curiosity. “If this place is the end of the world, how did you get here?”

            “The easiest way possible. I was born here.” Rose glanced out of the window at the early evening light touching up a bleak, empty landscape that would never interest a city slicker; at the gentle snowflakes drifting lazily, as though they had no intention of ever reaching the ground.

            “And you stayed?”

            He was looking even more curious now — if that were possible. She couldn’t blame him. “I did leave Blake’s Folly when I was young. I stayed away for years and was absolutely certain I’d never return, that this place was the absolute pits. It’s funny: there’s nothing going on here. The greatest social event of the year is the Blake’s Folly Get-Together — and that’s just bad music, awkward dancing, and gossip mongering. There’s no cinema within reasonable distance, no shopping outside of Reno — and that’s a very long, boring drive away. Yet, this place has a strange pulling power. So I came back, decided to settle.”

            “Your husband is from Blake’s Folly too?”

            Rose’s eyes flicked back to his. Ah ha. So, he was interested and checking out the territory. “No husband.”

            He looked surprised. “An unmarried woman in such an out-of-the-way place?”

            What was he asking? If she was lonely? Desperate for male company?

            Rose laughed outright. “Oh, there are plenty of men around, believe me.” There were. They were out on the ranches, or climbing over the hills, or looking for gold, or photographing, or pounding along the history trail, or doing research, or taking care of animals, or looking for fossils, or stopping at the Mizpah Hotel and Restaurant for a drink, a chat, a meal, and a little human warmth out here on the lonely flatland.

            He took the little gift-wrapped packet she held out, slipped it into the pocket of his leather jacket. Turned, looked out at the night, but didn’t move towards the door. Rose watched him, wondered why he was hesitating. Because he wanted to stay? Talk to her? Get to know her? Because he too acknowledged the buzz that was still hovering in the air around them, and he wanted to explore it, see where it would go?

            Then he shook his head, turned back to her, the smile still playing softly around his lips.

            “Well, I’d better be on my way. Looks like the snow isn’t letting up.” His eyes held hers. Warm eyes. Intimate eyes. Eyes that, in certain circumstances, could create havoc with a woman’s senses. “Until next time, Rose.”

            “See you then.”

            He stepped out into the night, half-turned, just briefly, his hand raised in a half-wave, half-salute. Then, vanished into the falling snow and dusky evening.

Rose shrugged. Next time, he’d said? What sort of next time? This was Blake’s Folly. People always said they’d be back, but they rarely were. Why return to a pile of clapboard shacks and abandoned trailers? This was nowhere. This was the end of the line, socially speaking. This was a has-been. This was home.

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About The Author

Writer, photographer, social critical artist, musician, and occasional actress, J. Arlene Culiner, was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe on foot, has lived in a Hungarian mud house, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave dwelling, on a Dutch canal, and in a haunted house on the English moors. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest where, much to local dismay, she protects all creatures, particularly spiders and snakes. She enjoys incorporating into short stories, mysteries, narrative non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities, and her conversations with very strange characters.

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Website

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Storytelling Podcast

Desert Rose can also be found on the Loved-up Library HERE

Contemporary Romance · Sharing The Love

Sharing The Love

with Alana Lorens

Featuring her novel A Rose By Any Other Name 

Welcome to Sharing The Love, Alana Lorens!

You’re on a first date. What’s a dealbreaker that would see you walk away?

Someone who’s too politically conservative. I might not want someone who’s too liberal, either—but I could handle that easier.

Where did you grow up?

In the greater Cleveland, Ohio, USA area. Euclid was a well-populated, business-laden city back then, with a solid tax base and great schools. There were 973 students in my graduating class (I was # 39 in rank) and we had swimming pools, ice rink and more. I understand it’s not that way any longer, sadly.

If aliens landed on earth tomorrow and offered to take you home with them, would you go?

I might. Depending on what they offered in terms of health improvement. If I could get rid of some of my chronic ailments and live pain free, it might well be worth it.

If you could cast the movie version of one of your books, who would you cast as your protagonists and why?

If I were to choose actors for the new book, A Rose By Any Other Name, I’d pick Rosario Dawson for Marisol and Morris Chestnut for Rusty. Ms. Dawson is good at playing someone with a little vulnerability, and Mr. Chestnut has that stiff backbone despite sadness that his character would need.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

Definitely a spider. I even have a piece of carved stone I got in the Southwest with a spider etched into it that I use for inspiration.

About The Book

Up-and-coming mommyblogger and single mom Marisol Herrera Slade returns to her old hometown in western Pennsylvania for her 20th high school reunion in 2005, reluctant and yet compelled to see her high school sweetheart, Russell Asher, who dumped her for the homecoming queen.

Russell’s marriage to the golden girl, however, ended in a nasty divorce, and he has been systematically excluded from his sons’ lives. In his Internet wanderings, he’s found feminist blogger named Jerrika Jones, who glorifies single motherhood, essentially putting a stamp of approval on what’s happened to him. His group of single dad advocates have vowed to take this woman down. What Russell doesn’t know, when he thinks to rekindle what he had with Marisol, is that Marisol and Jerrika are one and the same. When his group discovers the truth, will their drive for revenge derail any chance the couple have to reunite? Or will they find they have more in common than they ever expected?

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Second-chance Romance

Length: Novel

Excerpt:

Heather Armstrong had books out now, spawned by the popularity of her Dooce blog. The Julie and Julia movie deal started with a simple blog. That Shatner show on TV, “$#*! My Dad Says” came from a Twitter account. If she could get noticed, really noticed, the big time wasn’t so far away in this brave new Internet world.

So. Better to stir the pot, right?

She closed her eyes, summoned up the image of Jerrika at her cheekiest, and started typing. Apparently I stomped on a couple of hearts yesterday when I pointed out the joys of raising my son without having to kowtow to the demands of an irrational non-custodial father. You know what? I’m not sorry, either.

People like FreeDad91 hide in their troll costumes and take pot shots at other people instead of addressing their own issues. Sounds to me like this guy has problems from his past. Either his own father walked out on him, or he walked out on his own kids, and he’s decided the best way to handle his guilt is to dump on the mothers.

 Well, honey, this is one mother who’s not going to just sit by and let you. I love my son dearly. He’s been my morning, my evening, and lots of my midnights over the years. Maybe he didn’t have a father by his side during those days and nights. But he never lacked for attention, from men or women. I made sure he had that village he needed, the one it takes to raise a child. Would it have been easier to co-parent? I expect it would have. But that option wasn’t open to me. So take your hatred and turn it back where it really belongs: on yourself. She added a few more choice stabs, and filed the post for the day.

Book Trailer

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About The Author

Alana Lorens has been a published writer for more than forty years, after working as a pizza maker, a floral designer, a journalist and a family law attorney. Currently a resident of Asheville, North Carolina, the aging hippie loves her time in the smoky blue mountains. She writes romance and suspense as Alana Lorens, and sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal mystery as Lyndi Alexander. One of her novellas, THAT GIRL’S THE ONE I LOVE, is set in the city of Asheville during the old Bele Chere festival. She lives with her daughter on the autism spectrum, who is the youngest of her seven children, and she is ruled by three crotchety old cats, and six kittens of various ages.

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A Rose By Any Other Name can also be found on the Loved-up Library HERE

Contemporary Romance · Sharing The Love

Sharing The Love

with Heather E. Andrews

Featuring her novel Scarred Melody: Bold Melodies Book 1 which has just been released TODAY!

Welcome to Sharing The Love, Heather E. Andrews!

If you could time travel, where would you go and when? Why?

1900, Hyde Park, NY. I am obsessed with the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park, NY. It was built to be their ‘country getaway’ from NYC on the Hudson River. The interior makes me feel like I’m in a more austere version of the Clue Mansion. The gardens are beautiful and not overly done. The sculptures are amazing. And…I got my first idea for a romance novel sitting in those gardens. I fantasized about living in a time reminiscent of Gosford Park and what it would be like if someone from my time just fell into that time period. Someday I’ll write it…

Of all the characters you’ve created, who is your favorite and why?

Amelia Clarke in Scarred Melody. Amelia is that crazy best friend you had in college that dragged you to the bars to have shots and make out with guys in the bathroom. She has no filter, and she has a lot of opinions—in fact, her opinions have opinions. One of my favorite quotes of hers:

“But seriously, tap that rock god ass! You know he’s got that DTF reputation. You could totally take a ride on that joystick!”

Amelia will get her own story in the series. She’s insisting on it and, as you’ll come to find out, what Amelia wants, Amelia gets.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

The Honey badger. You know that saying? “Honey badger don’t give a shit.” That’s my motto. Because this business is full of criticism, unsolicited advice, and broken promises. But those of us who want to succeed must persevere beyond that. We must let the things that disturb us fall away so we can focus on what needs to be done, then celebrate the wins. If I get a bad review, sure I’ll take what I can from it, I’m not an ostrich, but in the end…honey badger don’t give a shit.

Does music inspire your writing at all?

Yes. Most definitely. I’ve spent a whole day getting lost in the rabbit hole that is YouTube music. It feeds my rock star fantasies.

What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done?

When I was seven, my parents owned a small furniture store in the mall called the Marketplace. Now, keep in mind, this was the 80s and everyone at the shops knew me because I went to work with my parents every day, so wandered the mall. Well, one day–I swear on my late grandmother’s socks–I got lost. I didn’t know what to do, so I went to the information booth and told them I was lost. They followed procedure and announced my name over the loudspeakers and asked my parents to come get me. My mother was so upset she sent my brother’s girlfriend to come get me. Mom was furious! When I got back to the shop, she grabbed me by the shoulders and asked me, “What were you doing?” I somehow got it in my brain that I couldn’t tell her the truth—that I had to lie, or she’d just get angrier. So, I said, “I just wanted to hear my name all through the mall.” After what came to be known as the ‘mall incident,’ I had to wear a name badge that said:

I’m Heather

Return me to the Marketplace

That’s right. I came with a return receipt, folks. And from that day forward at every national and religious holiday, this story was told over turkey and mashed potatoes, much to everyone’s merriment and my embarrassment.

About The Book

Can a brutally scarred songwriter help a washed-up rock star feel the music again?

“We all have scars, El. The only difference is I can see yours.”

Elsie

All I knew was music. Writing it, playing it. The sway of the melody traveled through me. It kept me company as I hid my face under a mask.

My dream of singing in front of the crowds was long forgotten. Now I hide in the shadows, only emerging to help fellow artists launch their careers.

Enter Skyler Dalton, my teenage heartthrob.

Skyler

My best friend died. My last album bombed. I punched out a paparazzi.

Life hasn’t been going my way.

The label offered an ultimatum, work with a professional songwriter to salvage my solo career or hit the road.

Luckily, Elsie was easy to work with. I wasn’t looking for love, but what I found was a lot more than just a new song…

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Rockstar Romance

Length: Novel

Rating: R – Mature Audiences Only

Excerpt:

Elsie

When Skyler strummed the final chord, he closed his eyes. I savored the moment with him, enjoying what we’d created together. 

“I’ve never enjoyed singing that song so much,” his voice choked with emotion.

I smiled, memories racing through my mind. “After my accident, when I realized how my life was going to change, I listened to that song on repeat. Nothing was going to be the same again. I tried—still try—to accept it. 

“How did things change for you?” He put down the guitar gently on the stand.

“For the longest time, I wanted to be like my mom. To be on stage feeling the electricity from the crowd, creating an experience with them and the music.” I stared off into the distance, my eyes glassing over with tears. “I wanted to travel with my mother back then. We were going to be the Clarke Ladies on tour. Like the Judds!” Giggling, I remembered how thoroughly I’d planned it in my head. “But then she was gone.”

“Elsie, you can still perform. There’s nothing stopping you. Scar or not, you’d take the music world over.”

“Maybe. But I wouldn’t be with my mother.” I tried hard to put the idea of being on stage out of my mind, despite how much Amelia pushed. Facing the hard wall of public scrutiny was exhausting to think about.

“It would still be amazing. Elsie, you are gifted. Your mother would be proud of you.”

I turned my head away, not able to look him in the eye as a tear slipped down my cheek. 

“You are so talented, El. I’ve never seen anything like it. Your eyes light up like the Fourth of July when you play. I can see a stream of joy radiating from your body. It’s the most exquisite thing I’ve ever seen.” His voice had gone soft–nearly a whisper.

He stared at me, his face intent. I saw the truth in his eyes. He really felt this way. 

The man I’d idolized and adored from afar since I was eleven years old called me exquisite. 

What a beautiful word.

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About The Author

Heather E. Andrews has been reading romance since the age of twelve. She lives as a disgruntled pug-mother in Albany, NY. She is the baby of nine children and slaves away taking care of her two entitled pugs and four spoiled guinea pigs. Her only escapes in life are reading, writing, and Star Trek reruns.

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Website and Blog

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A spicier excerpt from Scarred Melody: Bold Melodies Book 1 can also be found in the Loved-Up Library here.