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This August marked our 9th year blogging in the romance community. It was an amazing ride but it’s time to move on and reek some havoc somewhere else now.

Thank you to all our readers, authors and publishers who have supported us through the years. We could not have done this without you.

Rock on…and read your sexy asses off!

The post It Was Real. It was Fun. It Was Real Fun! appeared first on Fiction Vixen.

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Hello! This is Eliza. I write Victorian-era historical romance. I am thrilled with the release of A Love Made to Measure, the first of a series of three books about three strong women living through the social changes of the late nineteenth century. A Love Made to Measure tells the story of a tailoress, Cora Larsen and a baron, Grant Galavyin, who fall in love and fight for their right to be together despite social conventions and the expectations of his mother. United by their common interest in social justice, they overcome all the obstacles along the way, including the loss of Cora’s shop, which is coincidently located in a Galavyin-family building! Thank you for allowing me to share a bit of my passion for books in this post. If you would like to learn more about my work or sign up for my newsletter, please write to me at eliza.emmett.fiction(at)gmail.com

Let’s Get To Know Eliza Emmett
Q: What are the top five books that have influenced your career?

A: I love Jane Austen more than anyone! My favorite of her novels are Persuasion and Northanger Abbey, but I will read and re-read her other books all the time too. She is the reason I write. As for contemporary books, I am a big fan of Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale (it is the book I wish I had written!) and Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind. In romance I love the work of Eloisa James. My favorite book by her is probably A Duke of her Own.

Q: What’s the funniest thing a reader has ever said/emailed to you?

A: I will actually share the loveliest thing I ever heard: about a book currently under submission, an early reader said I wrote the way Regina Spektor sang. They were referring to the song Us, which I absolutely adore. I can’t think of anything better.

Q: If you could go back in time before you published your first book, what advice would you give yourself about publishing?

A: Publishing is an enterprise of small, everyday victories and special moments. We tend to search for big accomplishments and get disappointed if they do not happen, but if we string together all the “little” (but not really) parts of the process—the friendship of fellow writers, the thought of readers enjoying what we wrote, a compliment by an agent or an editor, the pride of our family members, it all adds up to a whole lot of happiness.

Q: Pick a super-power and tell us what you’d do with it.

A: I would like to have photographic memory. Although it really exists, I consider it a super-power. It would help me as a writer, and, in general, I love the capacity of remembering. Memory is a great teacher.

About A Love Made to Measure by Eliza Emmett

Blurb

Cora Larsen is a Victorian tailoress on Regent Street, where she creates dresses that are “the toast of the Season.” She is a gifted maker of men’s suits too, not that many are willing to have a woman take their measurements.

Lord Galavyin believes in marrying for love, not convenience. He feels bad enough about the privilege of being a baron and refuses to consider an arranged marriage. One day, he walks through Cora’s door to collect a dress and is smitten with her forward-thinking social ideals. But, despite their growing friendship, he cannot persuade Cora to ignore the difference in their status and address him by his first name—Grant.

When Cora loses the lease on her shop, she thinks it is simply a coincidence that the building belongs to Grant’s family. She doesn’t yet know she is in love with a man whose mother is the worst enemy one can imagine.

Grant will do anything to keep Cora safe and employed, even if it takes helping her without her knowledge. What follows is a game of cat and mouse that will test Cora’s resolve and Grant’s love to their limits.

Exclusive Excerpt

He extended a hand to catch hers as she exited the coach, and he felt the electricity that resulted from their touch. Looking at her, he could tell she felt it too. It showed in the way her cheeks turned rosy and her breathing a little swifter.

“Tonight’s lecture is an account of an archeological expedition to Egypt. The presenter will be showing some artefacts. I hope you like it.”

She nodded.

“But we have time to see some works before the event starts.”

They talked while walking through the beautiful halls, stopping at their favorite pieces. He felt bold when he told her he wished he was an artist to paint her portrait. They visited Roman antiquities, British watercolors, and she explained to him some principles of color theory. Finally, they arrived at the reading room.

A church-like silence infused the place with an aura of sanctity. Grant had such reverence for these books that sharing them with Cora felt a splendid prospect. Almost without realizing, he took her hand in his and perused the stacks. Soon they were both breathless and blissful. They commented on their favorite finds and noticed the gold leaf on the spines, and circled the room faster and faster.

“I cannot think of anyone else I would like to share this place with, Miss Larsen.”

“I’m glad to hear. It would be difficult to be a proxy to someone better who just didn’t show.”

“I can guarantee there’s no one better than you, Miss Larsen. Believe me when I say I’ve searched everywhere.”

“Maybe you were searching in all the wrong places.” She had travelled to an area behind one of the stacks and let her face peek out from behind one of the frames.

“Oh?” he said realizing this had become a game of hide-and-seek.

“High society. Palatial homes. That is where you searched, is it not?” She moved to yet another area of the stacks, leaving only a trail of her whispers behind.

“Yes, Miss Larsen, mea culpa.” He tried to find her by letting her faint voice be his guide.

“Oh, he speaks Latin. But the question is, does the seamstress?”

Now they were almost running, and some of the other readers turned their heads to see better and to disapprove.

Cora then took a wrong turn and almost landed in his arms. She stopped right before they collided. They were so close he could smell her perfume. It was fragrant like roses but not too sweet. He dared take a small step closer, and was glad that she didn’t retract. He was hoping to kiss her and made every effort to convey that with his eyes, and still she didn’t move. When he was about to close the distance and take her lips in his, the censorial and intentional loud cough of an old patron, who was looking at them over the rims of his glasses, stopped him.

Spell broken, Grant took a step back and her hand again. That kiss would have to wait, though it couldn’t be too far. “Come, the lecture is about to start.”

Favorite Quote

My favorite quote from A Love Made to Measure is:

…”you forget I am a working person, with little time for myself. And despite my flawless manners and superior taste”—that she said with mock affectation while straightening her lapel—“I am neither a debutante nor a society lady. I am a common woman, Lord Galavyin, simply too thinking for my own good and for my station in life.”

A Love Made to Measure by Eliza Emmett
07/09/2018 – The Wild Rose Press
GoodReads || Amazon || Barnes & Noble

The post Weekly Feature: A Love Made to Measure by Eliza Emmett appeared first on Fiction Vixen.

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The Devil To Pay by K. C. Bateman

Chapter 1.
Central Italy, June 1492.

Cara di Montessori was sick of people trying to kill her.
As a child she’d trailed her father through some of the most godforsaken places in Christendom, so it had been a rare week that hadn’t included a scimitar-wielding Saracen or bloodthirsty Moor trying to send her to the afterlife. But familiarity with the experience did not make it any more enjoyable. And besides, those instances had been impersonal, only to be expected of campaigning, whereas this attempt was personal in the extreme. ‘Uncle’ Lorenzo did not want her alive to dispute his seizure of Castelleon.
His men were proving annoyingly persistent. He must have offered a ransom to keep them on her tail, and though Cara doubted her life was worth a great deal, everyone had their price. In truth, she was staking her life on that very premise, about to make a pact with the Devil himself.
If she could reach him.
Alessandro del Sarto, ‘Il Diavolo,’ was the last person in Italy she would have chosen to ask for help, but engaging his dubious talents was her only hope of staying alive and regaining her home. He was condottiero. A killer for hire.
Cara wrinkled her nose in distaste. Mercenary described both del Sarto’s profession and his nature. Il Diavolo sold himself to the highest bidder. He didn’t care which side won or lost, or whether the cause was worth fighting for, only whether the victor could pay his exorbitant fees. Every monarch in Europe wanted him. And now she needed him, too.
‘Better to dance with the devil you know,’ Father used to say. Well, she hadn’t seen this particular devil in six long years, not since she was sixteen. He’d knocked her on her backside, then kissed her until she’d seen stars. She’d threatened to kill him in return. He’d haunted her dreams ever since.
Cara shivered. She hated being cold. At least if she ended up in hell for bartering her soul she’d be warm. She nudged her exhausted horse forward and wished—for perhaps the hundredth time—that she’d stolen a mount with a better saddle. The urge to slump over the animal’s scrawny neck was so strong. She hadn’t eaten for two days, hadn’t dared stop for more than an hour at most. Every jolt of the animal’s hooves reopened the wound at her ribs and brought a fresh wave of dizziness and pain. Perchance the quick slash of an assassin’s blade would be preferable to dying slowly of blood loss?
No. She would reach Il Diavolo. She had hundreds of things she wanted to do before leaving this world, and she’d hardly managed to achieve any of them. Quite apart from avenging her father’s death and regaining her home, she planned on dying a wrinkled old crone in a nice warm bed, surrounded by a huge and loving family. A young, heroic death was all very well in principle, but it looked extremely unappealing now it was a distinct possibility.
Whirling lights crowded her vision like fireflies and Cara shook her head. The stumbling horse crested a rise, and she let out a breathless prayer of thanks. There it was, outlined against the deepening twilight; Torre di San Rocco, the fortified city strongold of Italy’s most infamous son.
Cara kicked the horse into an exhausted trot. She would reach Il Diavolo, or die trying.

Chapter 2.

“You’ve got to choose one of them. What about Lucrezia Borgia?”
Alessandro del Sarto, ‘Il Diavolo’, drummed his fingers on the armrest of his chair and briefly considered strangling his second-in-command. Not enough to kill him, of course. Just enough to stop this infernal listing of prospective brides.
He’d spent all day scaring the wits out of people and his head ached as if he’d been hit with a battle-axe. First, he’d dealt with a line of petitioners who’d flocked to the castle to beg him to settle their petty disputes. He didn’t care who’d stolen whose goat. Then he’d spent a few hours thrashing the cockiness out of some raw recruits on the training field. That had been fun, admittedly, but now his shoulder hurt like the devil. Lastly, he’d overseen the flogging of a man convicted of assault. All that screaming and begging for mercy had made his ears ring.
Alessandro took a sip of wine and cast a simmering glance over the crowd milling before the dais. Even those brave enough to meet his eyes failed to hold his gaze for longer than a heartbeat. He smiled at a servant, baring his teeth in the merest hint of a snarl—and chuckled as the poor boy paled in fright and dropped his tray.
Francesco Neroni shot him a disapproving glance. “Stop ignoring me. You haven’t lost your hearing as well as the use of your sword arm.”
Alessandro’s glower usually had the power to send brave men scurrying from the room. Sadly, it had no effect on the grizzled old soldier next to him.
“You look like a bulldog that’s swallowed a wasp,” Francesco continued calmly. “You forget, my lord, that I’m immune to your scowls.” He pushed forward a small portrait. “What’s wrong with the Borgia girl? She’s pretty enough. And she buried her first husband a year ago, so you won’t have to contend with a simpering virgin.”
“I don’t care if she speaks seventeen languages and plays the lute like an angel. I’m not marrying anyone, least of all Rodrigo Borgia’s bastard.”
“He is the Pope. No harm in getting on God’s good side.”
Alesandro snorted. “It’s a sad outlook for Christians everywhere if that whoring, murdering tyrant is the Almighty’s best representative on earth. And you’ve conveniently forgotten her brother. Cesare’s a madman.”
“Hardly the perfect brother-in-law, I’ll admit. Rumor has it he’s already killed one of his brothers.” Francesco drew a line through the name at the top of his list. “Pity. You need all the divine blessing you can get.”
“Your concern for my blackened soul is touching,” Alessandro said dryly. “But the answer is still no.”
“Fine. Forget an alliance with Rome. What about Naples? There’s the sister of the king of Navarre . . .” The next portrait showed a buxom girl with a huge ruby nestled in her mountainous cleavage. “Fantastic breasts,” Francesco coaxed. “It’s like she’s got two piglets wrestling in her bodice.”
Alessandro glanced over. “She looks like a horse.”
“You love horses.”
“True enough. If you can find me a woman as brave and loyal as Saraceno I’ll marry her on the spot, whatever she looks like.”
It was Francesco’s turn to snort. “Bollocks! You’ve an eye for beauty, Sandro, whether it’s horseflesh or women.” He sighed deeply. “I don’t know why you’re being so fussy. They’re all the same with the lights out. You don’t look at the fireplace when you’re poking the fire, do you?”
Alessandro rolled his eyes. “I bet the ladies just love that silver tongue of yours.”
“I do well enough, thank you,” Francesco sniffed.
“Not with the only one you truly want. How is Renata?”
A flush reddened Francesco’s neck at the mention of his unrequited love. “She’s fine.”
Alessandro shrugged. “You’re probably the only man in the whole keep who hasn’t had her. Just go to her room, slip her a few coins, and put yourself out of your misery.”
“I will not! She doesn’t do that sort of thing any more.”
Alessandro raised his hands in surrender. “Eh, I admire her. At least she and the other camp followers are honest in their dealings.” He nodded at Francesco’s paper. “Those high-born girls on your list are no different, though they pretend otherwise. They’re all willing to sell themselves. The only difference is the price.”
Francesco deleted another name. “No to Principessa d’Albret then.” He brushed the feathered end of his quill back and forth against his chin, where it caught against the short bristles of his beard. “You’re not making this easy. How hard can it be to choose a wife from scores of rich, beautiful women?”
“Ah, yes, it is wonderful to be me.” Alessandro spread his arms wide in a mocking, theatrical gesture that made the nearest candles flicker. “Behold, Il Diavolo,” he lowered his voice so only Francesco could hear. “I couldn’t even fight an old woman at the moment. Who wouldn’t want me as a husband?”
“Stop being so dramatic. Your shoulder will be fine in a few weeks.”
Alessandro growled. “We got back from Spain three months ago and it still hurts. Those same princes begging me to marry their daughters would all be challenging me to a fight if they knew I’d been injured.” He glared at the room in general. “God, I hate sitting around doing nothing. I’d give anything to be to be spurring Saraceno into battle.”
Francesco shrugged. “I’m not the only one who’s grateful for a roof over my head and hot food in my belly. The men are glad to be taking a break, though they’d never admit it. Maybe it’s a sign that you should think about settling down.”
Alessandro didn’t answer, so Francesco forged on. “You’ve rejected Florence, Naples, Rome, Milan, and Venice. There’s hardly anywhere left.” He pinched the bridge of his nose. “You haven’t had a woman since we got back, Sandro. It’s doing nothing to improve your temper, let me tell you.”
“None of those girls would have me if they knew they were being bound to a cripple.”
“Don’t exaggerate. It’s only temporary.” Francesco inhaled sharply as a new thought struck him. “God, you haven’t lost the use of that blade, have you?” He shot a meaningful glance at Alessandro’s crotch.
Alessandro chuckled at his horrified expression. “No.”
“Sure? Want me to send a girl up? Check everything’s in working order? We’ve just got a new kitchen maid from Bologna. She’s not a great looker, but I hear she’s very enthusiastic.”
“Not tonight. I’m in no mood for company.”
“Your loss.” Francesco studied his list again. “You know, you’re going to have to choose one of these girls eventually, just to keep the peace.”
Alessandro suppressed a howl of frustration. The scheming and machinations of court life bored him to tears. He hated the endless plotting and posturing, gossiping and backstabbing that would accompany his guests when they arrived in a week’s time. All those overdressed, slyly manipulating ladies with their not-so-subtle innuendoes and flirtations. Offers to grace his bed in return for a glittering trinket or a political favor.
It wasn’t in his nature to pander and fawn. In his mind, action was always better than diplomacy. Bad enough that he was considering a pact of non-aggression with his neighbors so they could unite against the French. But to marry one of their spoilt, whining daughters as well, to sweeten the deal? That was too much.
“They’ll never leave you alone until you’re married,” Francesco murmured.
“Don’t you ever give up?”
The commander shook his head.
On the battlefield Francesco’s refusal to admit defeat was a quality Alessandro truly appreciated. In this instance, however, it was just irritating. He stretched his hand forward with a resigned sigh. “Oh, give it here. I’ll look at it again, but not tonight. I’m going to bed.”

Chapter 3.

Cara clutched the hilt of her dagger and pressed back into the shadows. A guard passed her hiding place and she waited a few minutes to make sure he’d gone, then flexed her fingers on the grip of her dagger. Her palm was sweaty. She could practically hear her father’s chiding voice, echoing down the corridor.
A lady never mentions such things as sweaty palms, Cara.
Her heart twisted in her chest. Poor Father. He’d always wanted her to be a model of feminine respectability. Unfortunately, it seemed a little late to start now, at the ripe old age of twenty-two.
She inhaled a deep breath, crept forward, and pushed the heavy door inward. The room beyond was dark. Only a low fire glowed in the huge open fireplace and she could just make out the shape of a man slouched in a huge wing armchair. Her pulse pounded in her throat.
“Francesco sent you, didn’t he?”
The voice, the one she remembered so well, was a gravelly purr, deep and forbidding. When this man spoke, he was obeyed. Without question.
What on earth was he talking about?
Cara edged closer, keeping her dagger hidden in the folds of her cloak.

Alessandro lifted his head and scowled. He hadn’t bothered to light the candles; the gloom suited his mood. He could barely see the cloaked figure that had entered.
Francesco must have sent a girl up anyway, the disobedient swine. She lingered uncertainly by the door—afraid of him, he supposed. Who wasn’t? Still, for some reason her reluctance annoyed him. “Come forward.”
The girl took a tentative step. A hood shielded her face and a dark cloak concealed her body, but she looked slim, beneath the folds. What had Francesco said about that kitchen maid? Ugly, but skilled.
She took another step closer and the firelight offered a brief glimpse of smooth jaw and pink lips beneath the hood. Skin the color of honey and cream. An unexpected throb of desire shot to Alessandro’s groin. He usually preferred well-rounded, experienced females who knew how to play the game. Women who understood that this was nothing more than a straightforward exchange, money for brief mutual gratification.
Still, perhaps he wasn’t as tired as he’d thought. Maybe Francesco was right. A night in the arms of a willing wench might relieve the dissatisfaction that had plagued him for so long.

Cara took an instinctive step back as Il Diavolo stood and straightened to his full, impressive height. Lord above, he was even larger than she remembered.
“You might as well come in, now you’re here. And take off the cloak. We’ll get to the rest later.” He beckoned her forward with an imperious wave of his hand. “Closer. I won’t bite.” White teeth flashed. “Not unless you want me to, of course.”
He must have seen her lips part in confusion because he shook his head and his low voice shimmered across the darkness. “No talking, sweeting. I’m not paying you for conversation.”
Cara’s brain took a few seconds to assimilate his words. And then her jaw dropped. A whore. He thought she was a whore! She almost laughed out loud. This was definitely the first time in her life anyone had made that mistake.
He cocked his head to one side, like a bird of prey eyeing its next meal. A log rolled down as the fire collapsed, sending up a flare of sparks, and the sudden orange glow showed his features in sharp relief. Flames danced over one high, angled cheekbone and a jaw faintly darkened with day-old beard. Cara forgot to breathe.
No wonder he’d been dubbed ‘Il Diavolo.’ He truly resembled a sulky, brooding demon. She suppressed a growl. There was no justice in the world. A heartless mercenary shouldn’t look like this. Years of remorseless killing should be etched upon his features, a visual map of his sins. He should be old and bloated, grotesque and jowled. He should look like the devil they called him.
She swallowed. Oh, he looked like the devil, all right. Tall and darkly beautiful. Languid and sulky—and unmistakably dangerous.
He’s a murderer. A killer for hire. Absolutely not the kind of man to be attracted to.
And yet a strange heat uncurled in the pit of her stomach, a reaction she always associated with him; fear laced with . . . anticipation?
She forced herself to take another step forward, glad of the blade in the folds of her cloak, and kept her eyes downcast rather than look him full in the face. She took a steadying breath—and immediately regretted it when she inhaled his scent; a disturbingly appealing combination of leather, wood-smoke and man.
Do not get distracted.
He caught her hip with his big hand and tugged her the last remaining inches into his chest. Cara forced herself to remain passive, fought the urge to pull back from the searing, intimate contact. Her skin felt too hot, too tight. He bent his head, obscuring the light, and pushed back the hood from her hair.
She ducked her chin, hiding her face against his shirt as he pressed his face into her hair then stroked the side of her neck. His breath warmed the sensitive skin behind her ear. Cara swayed, her senses reeling as she fought a fresh wave of dizziness.
Enough.
She slid her hand up his ribcage, feigning a caress, and her blade found the spot under his armpit where the artery throbbed close beneath his loose white shirt. She leaned into him, trying to ignore the press of her breasts agianst his rock-hard chest, and increased the pressure. Sharpened steel pricked flesh.
Il Diavolo froze.
And then, to her astonishment, she felt him smile; the faintest curve of his lips tightening against her throat.
“Put that away, sweeting. It’s a little late to defend your virtue.”
“I’m not here to defend my virtue.”
His chuckle was soft against her skin. “Good thing, too. We both know it’s a distant memory.”
Cara pursed her lips. “You mistake my meaning. It’s your attention I want, not your kisses.”
“Believe me, my lady, you have my undivided attention.” There was mockery in his tone, but whether it was aimed at her, or himself, she couldn’t tell.
Cara pulled back, just a fraction, curiosity warring with pique. “Aren’t you afraid I might kill you?”
He pushed aside her cloak and dropped a leisurely kiss onto her collarbone, still not looking at her face. “Plenty have tried, but none have suceeded. Give it your best, though. If you prevail, at least I’ll die happy.”


The Devil to Pay by K.C. Bateman
August 28, 2018 Self Published
GR * AMZ * BN * K * GP

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Amazon bestselling author, Railyn Stone believes you can’t put a color on love. And when she’s not delving into a world of romance behind the screen of her laptop, she’s usually spending time with her family. The only child of educators, she learned early on just how magical words could be.

Family is so important to her and play a major role in all of her romance novels. Her newest book, Love and Loopholes is a fun and flirty romance that takes place in the beautiful coastal town of Charleston, SC. When Channing Lucas is given an ultimatum by his own mother, he decides his family’s business means more to him than his own ‘bachelor freedom’ and he embarks on a marriage of convenience with a woman he clearly underestimates.

Let’s Get To Know Railyn Stone

Q: If you could go back in time before you published your first book, what advice would you give yourself about publishing?

A: Do not take anything personally. You will be rejected. You will be criticized. You will have great days and bad days. But in the end, you are pursuing your lifelong dream. Enjoy each and every moment.

Q: Pick a super-power and tell us what you’d do with it.

A: If I could pick a super power it would be the power to fly. That way I could go on vacation any time I wanted and go anywhere I wanted. I could be on a Caribbean beach in minutes.

Q: What’s your favorite AND least favorite thing about being a writer/author?

A: Since I started writing, one of the things I’ve loved about being published has been interacting with readers. Being able to connect with readers has been a lot of fun and it’s really cool to be able to get their reactions to the characters. I’ve made some pretty awesome friends throughout this journey. If I had to pick something that I’m not that excited about with the whole writer/author gig, it would be the days that I have writer’s block. It’s amazing how one day I have so much inspiration to write, but others it’s like pulling teeth with no painkillers.

About Love and Loopholes by Railyn Stone

Blurb

Business brought them together. Love could tear them to pieces.

A knight in shining armor can’t come fast enough for Kirby Allen. Broke and on her own, she longs for the chance to live a better life. Without a stable place to live and no money to her name, she has to do something and fast.

Familial pride and a sense of tradition fuel Channing Lucas’ desire to run his father’s company. There is just one thing standing in his way.

His eccentric mother and her ultimatum. Get married or lose his family’s business forever.

After a predetermined ‘chance meeting’ in a Las Vegas casino, Channing and Kirby decide they can both get what they want and enter into a business deal. What starts as a marriage of convenience, evolves into complications neither expected. And the strangers find themselves fighting not only to maintain their deal, but struggling to hold on to their hearts.

Exclusive Excerpt

“Don’t listen to anything these women say. For one, they have no idea what they’re talking about and the majority of them are just jealous.”

“Jealous? Of me? Yeah right.” She reached up and wiped at the remnants of the few tears that still clung to her lashes before placing her hands back in her lap.

He watched her twiddle her fingers and he reached over and took her hand in his. He noticed the bewilderment in her gaze turned to gratitude at his comforting gesture as their eyes locked. If he kept it up, he would get lost just staring into their depths glittering under the moonlit sky.

“Kirby, do not let these women get to you. Most of them are bitter ex-wives or jilted mistresses and none of them have half of the sincerity or decency you have.”

“You don’t have to say that. I don’t belong here.”

“I’m not just saying that. And you belong here just as much as anyone else,” he added before he moved to stand up and reached for her hand to pull her up beside him. “Come with me.” He wasn’t going to idly stand by and let her think she didn’t belong there. She was worth more than she was giving herself credit for and it was time he showed her and everyone else who had a problem with them just how much.

“Where are we going,” she asked dusting herself off with the one hand she still had free since he was still holding on to her other as he guided them back to the party. “Oh, no, I’m not going back in there. They–”

“They have nothing on you.” He turned and stopped only inches away from her face and looked her dead in her eyes. He wanted her to realize nothing any of those women could say would mean anything to him. “Okay? I’m not leaving your side again tonight. So, don’t worry about anything, just follow my lead,” he winked as he continued guiding her back to the crowd.

###

Kirby could feel the eyes on her and she wished she hadn’t let Channing lead her back to the pit of vipers. The memory of their chorus of venomous hisses filled her ears and she wondered what he was up to as he continued to lead her past their agitated nest.

Finally, she realized, he was leading her to the dead center of the dance floor and she could feel her stomach churn.

“Channing,” she whispered as he pulled her along. “Channing. I, I don’t want to do this. I’m not a good dancer.” She could feel his hand tighten around hers and she started to pull back once he’d gotten them to the middle of the floor, he wrapped her in his arms and she relaxed a little when his amber gaze caught her own.

“You’re fine. I told you, just follow my lead.”

His warm breath rolled over her cheek and curled around her ear blocking out the chatter from the peanut gallery and she shivered. When he pulled her closer placing one hand on the small of her back and the other curved around her other hand, she felt like his embrace was the only place she’d ever belonged.

“Smile, okay? Otherwise, it’ll just look like I’m holding you hostage.”

She could barely contain herself and giggled as his perfect lips curved upward. With each turn they made on the dance floor he filled their conversation with crazy remarks about the women watching them, keeping her in stitches as they danced. He’d told her in no uncertain terms when they first met, he didn’t joke around, but from her vantage point, he was relaxing his rule. Especially as he elaborated on each of the women and just how much work each had done to look the way they did.

Her face was starting to hurt from laughing at him and after a while she relaxed in his arms in their own little world. With him holding her so close, his cologne had her captivated and even though they were living a lie, onlookers would only see the goofy grin on her face from how deliriously happy she was at that very moment. She ceased being Kirby Allen, a carbon copy of her manipulative mother. She was Channing Lucas’ wife and he was holding her in his arms.

Favorite Quote

My favorite quote from Love and Loopholes is:

“Looks like my mother is going to get that story she was looking for.” She still looked puzzled and before she could ask, he answered the question on the tip of her tongue. “I guess she’ll be happy to know by the end of day one we ended up naked, wrapped in a blanket in front of a roaring fire.”

Love and Loopholes by Railyn Stone
08/06/2018 – 5 Prince Publishing
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The post Weekly Feature: Love and Loopholes by Railyn Stone appeared first on Fiction Vixen.

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My love for romance novels began when I discovered Mills & Boon Books as a teenager. There, in a world constructed out of the 26 letters of the alphabet, I was the
leading lady, and every other week I would fall in love with a new beautiful
alpha male; travel to exotic places and experience many erotic moments.
Dreaming and reading inevitably spilled over into writing. I am and remain a
fantasy-prone-escapist who now pens down her musings.

My favorite themes include:
* Alpha males who know how to love their woman
* Bad boys with hearts of gold
* And, of course, strong sassy women who can stand their own.

For my latest release, First Love, I drew inspiration from a very well-known classic romance novel, mixed in a good dash of humor, a healthy dollop of sexual chemistry and a pinch of ‘a-twist-in-the-end’; the perfect recipe for a book well-worth reading!

Let’s Get To Know Scarlet Wilder

Q: If you could go back in time before you published your first book, what advice would you give yourself about publishing?

A: Sit up and listen in English Literature class – you’ll need it one day!

Q: What fictional character would you punch if the face if you thought you could get away with it without going to jail?

A: Romeo – should have waited just a minute or two longer, and it could have been a happy ending for all.

Q: What’s your favorite AND least favorite thing about being a writer/author?

A: Favorite thing: I get to drink as much coffee as I want while writing. After all, it’s liquid-inspiration and a mandatory beverage for all authors.
Least favorite thing: When I have to pause in the middle of a sentence to make myself a fresh cup.

About First Love: A Single Dad Second Chance Romance by Scarlet Wilder

Blurb

Sarielle
Liam was my first – my first love and the first man that I’ve made love to. Only, our lives were worlds apart and his family did everything they could to keep it that way.

Ten years later, we meet again by chance. He somehow ends up smarter and sexier, and he still has the same effect on me. Only now, life is more complicated for us both, and he needs a pretend fiancé.

What good is living your dream when you know that it’s just a lie?

What good is having a dream if you never take the chance to live it?

I was young and naïve the first time around and thought just because we loved each other, that would be enough, but it wasn’t. It turned out love wasn’t enough, and I thought I’d lost him forever.

Moving on, but never really getting past the loss, I built myself a life, even got myself a cat, but never managed to fall in love again. I had no idea that just seeing him again would make me realize why.

Liam
A Baby!!

I didn’t think it could be real until that DNA test was sitting right in front of me. Now, I’m all this little girl has, and I’m not about to let her down. I made up my mind years ago about the kind of dad I’d one day be and now that fatherhood came sooner than I planned, I’m even more determined to keep that promise.

In my world, money isn’t a problem, but I still need to keep my shareholders and business partners happy. I need to find a wife, and soon, as my daughter needs a mother and the success of my business demands it.

They say money can solve all problems –
so let’s see if it can buy me the future I secretly desire.

First Love contains adult language and situations. The book is intended for adult audiences. Don’t worry about cliffhangers or sad endings because you won’t find one here. Standalones are where it’s at so sit back and ride this hot romance story all the way to the HEA.

Exclusive Excerpt

There was little chance that I’d be able to stay away from the party for much longer before my absence was noticed. But the last thing I needed was to get into an argument with Dad, so after sinking the final ball, I left the snooker table and went to put my cue back on the rack. As I did, though, I heard footsteps and figured it was Mom or Catherine coming to find me. I was about to hold up my hands and admit defeat, but as I went to meet them, I was stunned to see that, walking along the edge of the pool, was none other than Elle Evans.

I hardly recognized her at first glance. We may have spent the last three years attending the same high school, but this wasn’t the same shy girl I knew who walked the halls with her books clutched to her chest and her hair often covering her face.
In a stunning pale green dress that swept the floor as she walked, she looked elegant and serene. Stepping into the light, I saw from her tearstained face that she’d been crying. I understood why when I noticed the huge wine stain on her otherwise exquisite dress.

Something made me stand back in the shadows and watch her. I smiled to myself as she dipped a toe in the water, and then my eyes widened in disbelief as she started taking off her dress. I knew I should have looked away, that would have been the gentlemanly thing to do, but I was spellbound. My eyes drank in the pure beauty of her and, as her bra and lace panties dropped onto the tiles next to her dress, the last traces of the shy schoolgirl I knew fell away, too.

She stood there, gazing at the pool, utterly exposed. Her breasts were round and smooth, and there was a small V of dark hair between her slim legs. Her ass was firm as a peach, and every movement of her body was just as graceful and delicate as it had been when she was fully clothed. She was captivatingly beautiful and I could only stare at her as she waded into the water before she pushed off to make her way to the other side of the pool.

With my hands shoved into the pockets of my tuxedo pants, I leaned against the pillar and watched her. The water enveloped her lithe body, and there was a relaxed smile on her face as she floated in the hot water. I couldn’t ignore the fact that there was a very sexy and very naked woman in my pool. She had my full attention.

Favorite Quote

My favorite quote from First Love: A Single Dad Second Chance Romance is:

“You can tell so much by a kiss,” Colin said, dramatically. “If he has soft lips, so that it feels like kissing a rainbow and you just want to stay there forever, then you know that there’s a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow, if you know what I mean.

First Love: A Single Dad Second Chance Romance by Scarlet Wilder
07/24/2018 –
GoodReads || Amazon || Barnes & Noble

The post Weekly Feature: First Love: A Single Dad Second Chance Romance by Scarlet Wilder appeared first on Fiction Vixen.

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I’m Maggie, an Ojibway from Northwestern Ontario. Being Anishinaabe-kwe, I decided to write contemporary and historical romance starring the Indigenous people of Canada.

My schedule is controlled by two beautiful Alaskan Malamutes. Golf is my sport, whether playing or watching a tournament on TV. Another obsession is music. I grew up on heavy metal and hard rock, and they’re still my genres of choice today, which is why I love creating playlists for my characters.

Since I love the outdoors and grew up in the Boreal forest, surrounded by lakes and rivers, the hubby and I enjoy fishing, boating, and snowmobiling. In the near future, we’re hoping to add snow-shoeing on the list–once we get enough trails cleared on our property. For now, I’m content using the neighbour’s trails to walk the dogs deep into the bush.

I’m one of those strange people who loves winter. There is something breathtaking about breathing in cold air, being encased in a world of ice and snow, and the way the sun sparkles brighter in the northern blue sky.

Of course I adore reading, and romance novels are my top pick. I always say I’m a reader first and a writer second.

Let’s Get To Know Maggie Blackbird

Q: If you could go back in time before you published your first book, what advice would you give yourself about publishing?

A: Good question. I’d say to myself, “Maggie, I’m all for you pursuing authorship, but there’s something you’re forgetting–promo! Being an author isn’t all researching, writing, character development, and honing your craft. You gotta get your name out there. Yeah, yeah, I know you help a lot of authors, and that’s great, but you’re going to have to do the ‘this is what I have to offer you,’ thing again. Y’know, like in your old job when you had to get out and market programs and services to potential clients, organizations and communities.

“Don’t look at me that way, Maggie. You’ll do fine, just as you did in your former job.”

Q: What fictional character would you punch if the face if you thought you could get away with it without going to jail?

A: Any character? Hmm, I’d go with Kos from Sue Harrison’s Storyteller Trilogy. Although I felt for her and what she’d endured, it was hard to have sympathy for her with the way she treated her adopted son and other people. I can understand why Ms. Harrison made Kos the antagonist.

Q: What’s your favorite AND least favorite thing about being a writer/author?

A: Writing, of course. Least fave? Promo. But I’m beginning to accept marketing goes with authorship. One thing I’m great at is adapting to my current reality and making the very best of it, even enjoyable.

About Blessed by Maggie Blackbird

Blurb

A mixed-blood Catholic seminarian struggles to discern his true calling: the priesthood or his ex-lover, a proud but damaged Ojibway man.

It’s been ten years since Emery Matawapit sinned, having succumbed to temptation for the one thing in his life that felt right, another man. In six months he’ll make a life-changing decision that will bar him from sexual relationships for the rest of his life.

Darryl Keejik has a decade-long chip on his shoulder, and he holds Emery’s father, the church deacon, responsible for what he’s suffered: the loss of his family and a chance at true love with Emery. No longer a powerless kid, Darryl has influence within the community—maybe more than the deacon, and he intends on using his new-found power to destroy Deacon Matawapit and the church.

Hoping to save the church, Emery races home. But stopping Darryl is harder than expected when their sizzling chemistry threatens to consume Emery. Now he is faced with the toughest decision of his life: please his devout parents and fulfill his call to the priesthood, or remain true to his heart and marry the man created for him.

Exclusive Excerpt

Emery forced a chuckle. Maybe teasing would relieve the tension between them. “I’ve never known you to listen to anyone.”
“I always listen to Basil.” Darryl’s tone could cut rocks.
The anger permeating the air had nothing to do with Clayton, the protest, or Annie. Emery sucked in a breath. “What do you want me to do? Take off my clothes? Is that what I have to do to make you happy?”
“Sarcasm isn’t what I expected from you.” Darryl cocked his brow. “Fine. Take them off. Take them all off. If you need help, I got two willing hands.”
Ripe heat kissed the flesh buried beneath Emery’s underwear. His skin shimmered hot and cold. “I guess… guess I was right.”
“Wrong.”
As Darryl continued to glare, an irritating prickle sprang up at the nape of Emery’s neck. He scratched the mosquito bite.
Darryl turned and stomped around the four-wheeler, his breaths huffing and puffing. “I promised myself I wouldn’t behave like Saint Kateri’s father did. The thing is—I am.”
His face reddened. He kicked the rear wheel of the machine. “You make me so goddamned mad. Fine. I’ll let the youth down. I’ll let Clayton and the Traditionalists Society call me a traitor. And I’ll most likely lose the next election ‘cause I tossed my integrity out the door. Bottom line. I’ll do anything to make you happy. You come before anything that means everything to me.”
Darryl dug out his keys. “And even though I put your feelings first, I don’t expect you to do the same. Go ahead and love your god till the end of time.”
Had a tornado torn through the powwow grounds? This wasn’t how they were supposed to resolve the problem. Emery forced out the words caught in his throat. “Wh-what are you talking about?”
Darryl slid onto the four-wheeler. He jammed the key into the ignition. The engine roared to life. His eyes matched the snarl of the machine. “I’m voting in favor of paying the church’s hydro bill.”
When he revved the throttle, Emery leapt forward. “Oh no you don’t. You’re not leaving me to eat dust again.” He clamped his hand over Darryl’s.
“You said you’re voting for the church to make me happy.” Emery kept his hand put or he might get run over. “As much as I appreciate what you’re doing, I won’t let you compromise your beliefs. My savior wouldn’t approve. Neither do I. I can’t be happy at another’s expense. At your expense.”
“And what about the people you spoke about earlier?” Darryl’s hand tensed beneath Emery’s. “Your parents? The others who go to church? If you let me vote, they’ll be happy. Don’t they count?”
“The Lord is their savior. They wouldn’t want you to compromise your beliefs, either.” Emery squeezed Darryl’s fingers. “Please, listen to me.”
Jaw clenched, Darryl scowled at the sky.
A few seconds passed. Emery’s heart ceased to beat for a moment. Now what was going through the head of the most stubborn person in the world?
“You got a million mosquitoes swarming you.” The fire in Darryl’s eyes vanished. “We can finish talking at my place.”
Emery’s heart swelled. His happiness did come first. Wait a second. He couldn’t go to the house. People would talk—especially the protesters. For sure they’d call Darryl a traitor.
The word no sat on the tip of Emery’s tongue. He swallowed. If he objected, he’d offend Darryl again. “‘Sure.”

Favorite Quote

My favorite quote from Blessed is:

I can’t say I have a favourite quote or line. I’m one of those writers who doesn’t fall in love with certain words or sentences, so killing my darlings is never a big deal. But I do like this line:

“Sarcasm isn’t what I expected from you.” Darryl cocked his brow. “Fine. Take them off. Take them all off. If you need help, I got two willing hands.”

Blessed by Maggie Blackbird
07/06/2018 – eXtasy Books
GoodReads || Amazon || Barnes & Noble

The post Weekly Feature: Blessed by Maggie Blackbird appeared first on Fiction Vixen.

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Welcome to Thirsty Thursday! Fiction Vixen is pleased to welcome our guest bartender, Rebecca Brooks, today!

Thirsty Thursday With Rebecca Brooks

Ben Mailer is a chef, so he knows his way around a kitchen. But when he meets Casey they’re at a campground in the Adirondacks—so he has to get creative if he wants to impress her! Ben is eight years younger than Casey and she’s in no way looking for a relationship. What’s a dreamy guy to do without a professional oven around?

Thankfully, everything tastes delicious under the stars. Ben invites Casey over to his campfire for marshmallows and chocolate, and even though Casey may have sworn off men, she’s not going to say no to s’mores.

Ben and his friends are heating cider over the coals of the campfire and mixing it with bourbon. If you have a few more ingredients, you can make an even better hot toddy—and you don’t need to be camping outside to enjoy it. Cheers!

Hot and Sexy Ben’s Hot and Sexy Toddy

2 oz whiskey or bourbon of choice
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp lemon juice
1 lemon wedge
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
1 star anise
8 oz hot apple cider

Check out Above All by Rebecca Brooks

Reeling from a sudden breakup, Casey Webb leaves Brooklyn, drives north, and settles in a sleepy mountain town in upstate New York. She’s convinced she’s happy being alone—until she reads the acknowledgments in her ex-boyfriend’s hit debut novel, thanking his new girlfriend “above all.”

Good thing Ben Mailer is in town. The hot, young Brooklyn-bound chef offers the perfect distraction. Soon the backwoods are heating up… But as their fling turns into more, the demands of Ben’s family and budding career make moving to her idyllic town impossible.

Now Casey must decide what she can’t live without—her life in the mountains, or the man she wants to be hers above all…

Excerpt

At last he turned to go. On his way out, he wished Casey a good night and then reached up to tap the back of the doorframe before swinging the door shut behind him.
She really, really wished he hadn’t.
Because lifting his arms to the doorframe made his jacket rise up enough to expose the top of his low-slung jeans. As well as the thin green line of his boxers hugging his hips underneath. It didn’t take X-ray vision to know that just above that patch of skin, hidden by his white undershirt and whatever else he had on under his black North Face fleece, were two long dimples carved into his lower back, matching the dimples on his face.
Officially the sexiest part of any man’s body, and the one thing Casey dreamed about on those rare nights when she did, in fact, allow herself to dream.
But this was not going to be one of those images she replayed in her mind’s eye. She was already berating herself for noticing. Not only had she turned to putty simply because he slid the hair out of his eyes as if he didn’t know the gesture would make every girl within a ten-mile radius want to extend her hand to his cheek. But she, Cassandra Webb, competent, capable, got dumped on her ass but still got back up again, thirty-four-year-old independent woman, had checked out his twenty-something-year-old butt.
She made herself swear she wouldn’t give him a second thought. She wasn’t interested. Period. She’d come to the woods to be alone and she fully planned to stay that way. She was going to read a little more until she was sufficiently distracted and then head back to her cabin, warm some cookies in the microwave, and go to sleep. Geller would take over registration in the morning and she would never see this group again.
Casey reached for her book, but she couldn’t stop her hand from hovering over the ledger. Before she knew what she was doing, she allowed herself a quick peek at the records and groaned.
Geller’s handwriting was unmistakable. They were staying for four days, three nights.
There was no way she wouldn’t find herself looking at those dimples again.

Author Bio:

Rebecca Brooks lives in New York City in an apartment filled with books. She received a PhD in English but decided it was more fun to write books than to write about them. She has backpacked alone through India and Brazil, traveled by cargo boat down the Amazon River, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, explored ice caves in Peru, trekked to the source of the Ganges, and sunbathed in Burma, but she always likes coming home to a cold beer and her hot husband in the Bronx.
Visit Rebecca Brooks: Website


Above All by Rebecca Brooks
July 20, 2018 Self Published
GR * AMZ * BN * K * GP

The post Thirsty Thursday! Rebecca Brooks is behind the bar today! appeared first on Fiction Vixen.

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This is a ghost story. If you’re not comfortable with that– if you like the lines between the living and the dead to be a little more cleanly drawn– this is your chance to bail. This is also a love story, in a sideways sort of way, and a story about second chances you never wanted and can’t refuse. It’s my story.

My name is Rose.

Rose Marshall is still running the Ghost Roads. She’s the Girl in the Green Silk Gown, the Phantom Prom Date, the Woman in the Diner, and the Ghost of Sparrow Hill Road. She’s a myth and a mystery and a cautionary tale. Bobby Cross ran her off the road in 1952 and is still after the one who got away. She survived her run in with him in the first book in the series, Sparrow Hill Road, but that doesn’t mean he’s given up on taking her soul.

In the second book in the Ghost Roads series, Seanan McGuire picks up pretty close to where the second book left off. Rose and Gary are trying to figure out how to be together… albeit, as much as a 16 yr old girl who has been a ghost for 60 years and a man who figured out how to put his soul into a car in order to spend eternity with his dead girlfriend can be together. It’s pretty much Rose driving him around and Gary talking to her through slammed car doors, horns, and songs on the radio. But Rose doesn’t care, she’s happy to have her boyfriend back and to spend time with him at the Last Dance Diner.

Then she finds herself summoned in a ritual by a routewitch on behalf of Bobby Cross and suddenly all the protections granted her in the first book are smeared away. Now she finds herself on the run, trying to figure out how to regain her blessing from Persephone and avoid coming into contact with Bobby. It seems this time he’s figured out the perfect snare and Rose discovers what her worst nightmare really is, returning to the land of the living after 60 years.

Seanan McGuire has become an auto buy author for me. I simply adore her voice and imagination. The Ghost Roads series is part ghost story, part urban fantasy, 100% awesome. After the sometimes rambling, meandering narration of the first book, The Girl in the Green Silk Gown gets down to business pretty quickly. Rose is sucked from the  twilight and into the land of the living at the very beginning and figures out pretty quickly that something is terribly wrong. From there the entirety of the story is Rose trying to regain her protections, avoid Bobby, and return to her life on the ghost roads. Readers finally get to meet Gary as a man, and see Rose team up with her mortal enemy from the first book, Laura, along with her allies Emma, the bean sidhe owner of the Last Dance, and Apple, Queen of the Routewitches. Rose will journey across the United States, along the Ocean Lady and through the gate into the Underworld. It’s a long trip, and there were a few times I wanted the pacing to speed up a bit, but I enjoyed it immensely.

Seanan McGuire has created such an interesting world.  I hope to visit with Rose, Gary, and the gang again in the near future. Final Grade-B

Favorite Quote:

This is where I belong. The road. The endless road.


The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire
July 17, 2018 by DAW
GR * AMZ * BN * K * GP

The post Review: The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire appeared first on Fiction Vixen.

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The Importance of Being Wild by J. J. Sorel

EXCERPT – CHAPTER FOURTEEN
IMPORTANCE OF BEING WILD by J. J. Sorel New Release

Gazing at me with a mischievous twinkle, Suzy crooked her finger, and like a stupid idiot I followed.
What was I expecting? That she would show me her grandfather’s war medals, or that she was about to reveal the mysterious whereabouts of the Holy Grail?
A silent “what-the-fuck” left my lips after Suzy locked the door to her office situated at the entrance of the children’s shelter.
We were obviously not there to discuss the music program.
She removed her glasses and lowered her lids in readiness to pounce. Before I had a chance to tell Suzy that I wasn’t in the mood for fucking and that I’d lost my head over a hard-to-get girl named Bonnie, she was all over me.
Her talonlike fingers gripped my arms, while her mouth met mine with such ferocity, I nearly swallowed my tongue.
Before I could protest, Suzy pushed me against the wall, and her hand went straight for the zipper of my jeans. Shit. She was hungry. But my cock wasn’t. Not for Suzy.
Once upon a time, before Bonnie, my dick would be pumping hard, raring to go for any reasonably fuckable woman. But Bonnie had gotten under my skin, somewhere deep. A place no other woman had ever been.
I’m not sure if I liked losing that side of me. I’d always placed great importance on being wild. That adage ‘you only live once’ motivated many a rash decision I’d made in the past, including fucking women I barely knew against walls.
Limp and unwilling was the best way to describe my dick. He hadn’t woken up yet and wasn’t about to. I remained pinned against the wall. Her lips sucked onto mine while her hands grabbed at any piece of flesh it could land on.
I felt embarrassed for both of us.
It didn’t seem right. I was there for the kids, not to get laid.
I gently pushed her away and pulled up my zipper. “Look, Suzy, um… I’m kinda hooked on a girl.”
Suzy ironed out her skirt with her hands and pushed stray blonde hair away from her eyes. “I don’t know what came over me. I guess I read the signs wrong.”
What signs? I wondered. Was I beaming sexual frustration via some feral scent after tasting Bonnie’s delicious mouth the night before? I’d had some pretty serious hand action after that. She’d made me that hard I nearly went through a box of tissues.
I brushed my hair back with my hands, and staring at the petite co-ordinator, I said, “Let’s forget this ever happened. Okay?”
She smiled tightly. “Yeah, sure.”
“I actually wanted to speak to you about hiring a hip-hop teacher. What do you think?”
Nodding slowly, she replied, “That sounds interesting. Are you going to be able to pay for all of that?”
“Of course. I wouldn’t have suggested it otherwise. Do you have some space we can use?”
“There’s the gym.”
I rubbed my hands together. The kids were about to experience a healthy dose of creativity.
She must have read my mind. “It sounds like you want to turn this into a performing arts school.”
“You know, I think, that might happen with some careful planning. My mother’s great at raising money for causes. That’s what these kids need something to focus on. Some of them show lots of promise, musically. I’m going to bring in a few instruments. How would you feel about a drum kit, and electric guitars?”
Her nose wrinkled. “Noisy.”
“Yeah.” I laughed. “I’m thinking of getting a rock band together.”
“Ah… like The School of Rock?”
“Something like that. I would love to nurture them. Enable them to channel that pent-up energy into music, dance, you know?” The rapid notes in my voice were in tandem with my heart. I was inspired all of a sudden because I’d finally found a vocation.
“Curtis, where have you hailed from? You’re not only hot as sin, but you’re generous and willing to give so much of yourself.”
I shrugged. “It’s better than sitting at home with a guitar balancing on my thighs all day long.”
Her lips curled. A tinge of suggestion flickered from her eyes. “Maybe you should get this girl of yours to balance on your thighs instead.”
I chuckled. What a sweet thought. One that had my pants feeling tighter all of a sudden.
After I left the shelter I bounded home.
As I passed Wild Thing, I wavered— should I go in to share my exciting news with Bonnie? Or should I leave it for the next day?
My head told me to go home, while my heart, which always had the winning edge, told me to go in. I also felt like a beer.
As I entered the twilight zone, which is how that bar always struck me, I saw an older man leaning into the bar saying something that made Bonnie laugh. She looked up and her rosy smile faded.
Hm… and hello to you, too, I thought.
I felt like leaving. She clearly wasn’t in the mood for me. But I strode over anyway.
The older man turned to see who had made her face change so dramatically. He studied me and gave me a slight nod as a welcome.
I sat next to him and greeted him with a, “how’s it going?”
“What can I get you?” asked Bonnie in a formal tone.
“A beer, thanks, Bonnie.” Determined not to play a game of pretence, her name left my lips with emphasis.
“Coming up,” she said.
The sway of her hips was accentuated by the tight jeans she wore. I think I preferred her tent dresses, at least my dick didn’t thicken in quick response. She must have had the most perfectly shaped butt I’d ever seen. She wore a loose top, which was a relief. I wasn’t ready for that part of her. Even if my body had remembered the impassioned crush we’d experienced holding each other.
I had to look away. Bonnie had me on fire.
She placed the glass of beer on the counter without lifting her eyes at me, then sat down with a book on her lap.
Fuck. That was not nice. I’d saved her life. I wasn’t expecting much. But a friendly smile would have sufficed.
The older man stood up. “I’ll see you soon, love.”
Bonnie lifted her beautiful face and smiled. “Bye, Fred.”
I waited until he’d left and then said, “Have I done something?”
She placed the large book on the ledge and rose. She shook her head. “No.”
“Then why are you acting as if I’m a total stranger?”
She sighed deeply. “I’m not. I’m just not good around new people.”
“I’m not that new. I mean, we’ve been through something major together.”
Bonnie bit her bottom lip. “I know. Thanks for that.”
I took a sip of my beer. “I don’t need that. I just would like you to acknowledge me as a friend, that’s all.”
A faint smile claimed her face. “Okay. I can do that. I’m just not much of a talker.”
“Tell me, have you spoken to your sister about that asshole from last night?” I asked.
“I spoke to her this morning. She said she’d deal with it.”
“She fucking better. What time do you finish tonight?”
“Late. I’m staying for the open-mic.”
“That’s right, I forgot about that. I’ll drop in, then. Do you mind if I walk you home afterward?”
“You know you don’t have to. I can look after myself.” She was back in defensive mode.
This girl was frustratingly hard to engage with.
“I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a night than walking you home.”
“Why?” She asked.
“Didn’t you feel anything from that kiss?”
She gazed down at her hands and nodded ever so slightly.
“I’ve thought of little else,” I said, finishing my beer in one gulp.
“My life’s complicated, Curtis.”
“Whose life, isn’t, Bonnie?
“Maybe. I just need control in my life.”
“You strike me as someone who has lots of control. Maybe too much at the expense of happiness.”
“That sounds like a hedonist talking.”
I chuckled. “Maybe once upon a time I was. Although… in my late teens I made this pact with myself about the importance of being wild.”
“That sounds dangerous,” she challenged.
“I’m not afraid of anything. Fear’s too constricting. It limits one’s scope for discovery.”
“That sounds a little foolish to me,” she retorted.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” I said.
“Who said that again?” She asked.
I think she was testing me. At least, I had an answer.
“Roosevelt. My mom always uses it. She’s rather fearless. I think that’s who I take after. Or at least I hope I do.”
Bonnie studied me intently. “You don’t like your dad?”
I shook my head. “Can’t say I do.”
“Why?”
“Do you mind if I don’t talk about him?” I said, taking a swig of my beer.
“Why is being wild so important?” A smirk pressed on her lips.
“Because life’s not a rehearsal.”
“Is that the best you can come up with?” She tilted her head and smiled.
“Ah… that’s better. At least it’s brought a smile.”
“So, tell me, Curtis, how wild are you, then?”
“Is that an invitation, Ms. Wild?”
“No, not really. I’m just curious. Are you a nihilist?”
My head pushed back. “At this time of the day? Isn’t that a midnight conversation?”
She laughed. “Do you even know what that means?”
I thought about it for a moment. “I believe in something so I’m not a nihilist. I have a moral center. In any case, I’m not a hedonist. I am disciplined and responsible when called for.” I stared directly at her expecting a comment but she remained silent, so I added, “Every now and then I need to let my hair down. Nothing too colorful. I’d say I’m probably pretty boring.”
“You don’t strike me as boring,” she said.
“That gives me hope.” Did that faint smile mean that I’d passed the test? I wondered, falling into her gaze.


The Importance of Being Wild by J J Sorel
July 3, 2018 Self Published
GR * AMZ * BN * K * GP

The post Weekend Excerpt: The Importance of Being Wild by J. J. Sorel appeared first on Fiction Vixen.

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Fallen Angel by Lily Baldwin

Angel’s mouth fell open. Her eyes darted to the floor, then the ceiling, anywhere but on the tall, broad-shouldered man who had just entered the room.
It was unmistakably him.
Even though her window had been rain-spattered, she knew those deep-set, piercing blue eyes. His black hair was effortlessly tousled, and his massive shoulders and narrow waist were on exquisite display in his work clothes. She swallowed hard, trying to fight down her anxiety over her car and now her nerves at being in the company of her gorgeous would-be rescuer.
“Hi again,” he said, his voice low and unhurried.
“Hi,” she answered stiffly.
He was staring at her from across the room, his gaze probing. It was not the usual kind of male I’m undressing you with my eyes look that always made her instantly wary. His gaze was intense yet somehow still distant, like he was studying her.
Behind him, the door swung open, and the black-haired bombshell returned, her eyes locked on Angel with open hostility.
Confusion, anxiety, and nerves were colliding within Angel, promising a reaction of full-blown panic.
He took a step closer. The intensity of his gaze penetrated her core defenses, leaving her feeling more vulnerable than ever. She squeezed her bag harder. “Listen, just tell it to me straight,” she blurted. “My car is shot, right?” Please, say it’s not.
“It’s salvageable, but it will take some work.” His deep voice carried a soothing tone that caressed her from across the room, but despite his best intentions, she was beyond soothing.
She pressed her lips in a tight, grim line to keep from cursing out loud. Damn it.
She shook her head. Now what was she going to do? Tears stung her eyes, but she tensed her body against the rush of emotion. She didn’t want to lose it in front of the world’s most gorgeous man, and his smug plastic counter girl who looked like she couldn’t be more pleased by Angel’s distress.
He crossed the room and stood in front of her chair, too close for comfort. She had to crane her neck back to look up at him. He slowly squatted down in front of her but didn’t speak. He continued to look her hard in the eyes. She fidgeted with her bag, her gaze darting around the room. God, he made her uncomfortable. He was too beautiful to look at, and all she really wanted to do was sprint away so she could cry in peace.
~ * ~
“I’m Ethan,” he said. He loved how she blushed every time her flitting gaze landed on him. She exuded innocence, but at the same time she carried herself with scrappy self-assurance. She was a world of dichotomies bound together in a simply beautiful package. The artist in him loved her wide mouth, her bright amber-brown eyes and dark brown hair. Her distress was apparent to him, despite how she tried like hell to hide it.
“Don’t worry about your car,” he said. “We can hook you up with a loaner while we fix it.” She had looked at him while he spoke but then cast her eyes to the side the instant after he glimpsed her heightened distress. He leaned closer and brushed a lock of fallen hair from her eyes. It was then he caught a whiff of her. He smiled. “You smell like fresh baked bread.”
“I work at a bakery,” she said in a quiet voice. Her lip trembled.
“Hey, Angel, look at me,” he said softly.
He waited for several moments. He knew she was gathering her strength so she didn’t cry. When she looked up at him, it was with clear, tear-free eyes. But it was all there—her fear and anxiety. Damn, he had to respect her courage.
“You really don’t have to worry,” he said. “We have solid loaners, and we’ll get your car back on the road in a couple days.”
She shook her head. “I can’t afford that,” she said, clearly straining to keep her voice level. He looked at her hands white-knuckling her bag.
“You can pay me when you have the money.”
He couldn’t believe what he had just said. He never did work without payment, but he felt some inexplicable need to protect her. He tensed his jaw as two strong desires battled for domination in his own mind—the fierce urge to protect her and the part of him that kept everyone at a safe distance. Damn it, he should just shrug her off and let Brooke sort out getting her a taxi and junking her car.
But then words poured unbidden from his lips. “It’s not a big deal.”
Helping this lost, little girl was a very big deal! He didn’t do intimacy. What the hell was wrong with him?
She shook her head harder. “If it was a couple hundred dollars, maybe, but I assume you’re talking about thousands. I can’t do that.”
He could feel the emotion building within her. The dam was going to break, and it near killed him. He put a hand on her thigh. “Don’t worry, Angel,” he said, his voice low. “It will be all right.”
~ * ~
Once more, Angel choked back her tears. Damn, how she wanted to believe him. He was so big and strong. She wanted nothing more than to slide into his arms and listen to him tell her everything was going to be all right. But she couldn’t. She was too afraid. Life had taught her that men could not be trusted. She shook her head. Then she straightened her back and steeled her shoulders. “What do I need to do to get rid of it? Do I need to pay for it to be towed to the dump?”
His hand left her thigh and swept another lock of hair from her eyes. “We can work something out.”
She shook her head again, trying not to cry. She wished he would just let her go and stop making promises that couldn’t possibly come true. “I have to leave right now. Just tell me what I need to do.”
He rocked back on his heels and canted his head as he looked at her for several moments longer. Then, at length, he stood. “We’ll take care of your car.” He walked to the counter and grabbed a set of keys. “There’s a blue hatchback out front. Tank’s full.”
She shook her head, still fighting back the tears. “A loaner is a substitute for a car being fixed. Mine isn’t going to be fixed. Now you’re just giving me a car.”
He shrugged. “Take it.”
She shook her head. “I have to go.” She zipped up her threadbare, navy hoodie against the rain and pulled open the door.
~ * ~
Ethan watched her head out in the storm, resisting the urge to somehow force her to take the car, or tell her to get into his. He would drive her anywhere she wanted to go.
Nathan threw open the door and strode into the waiting room, wiping his oily hands off on a dirty rag. “What’s the deal with the car? Junk yard?”
Ethan continued to look outside, although she had passed from view. “No,” he said. “It’s a rebuild.”


Fallen Angel by Lily Baldwin
July 2, 2018 by Duncurra Unbound
GR * AMZ * BN * K * GP

The post Weekend Excerpt: Fallen Angel by Lily Baldwin appeared first on Fiction Vixen.

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