Writing What I Know: The Backstage World of a Working Actor by Kathryn Leigh Scott (Giveaway & Guest Post)

Writing What I Know: The Backstage World of a Working Actor by Kathryn Leigh Scott (Giveaway & Guest Post)

Kathryn Leigh Scott, author, publisher and actress is probably best known for her star turn as Josette Du Pres, ingénue bride of reluctant vampire Barnabas Collins in the TV cult classic “Dark Shadows.” Her third novel, Jinxed (a Jinx Fogarty Mystery) (Februrary 2015), is a stand alone sequel to the successful Down and Out in Beverly Heels (Montlake Romance, 2013). While continuing her acting career, Kathryn launched Pomegranate Press to publish books about the entertainment industry, “Dark Shadows” fan books, and other nonfiction and fiction titles. She continues her acting career playing George Segal’s girlfriend Miriam in “The Goldbergs and will appear in the 2015 mid-season launch of  “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Read Love Romance Passion’s review of Down and Out in Beverly Heels.

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The old adage “write what you know” certainly applies to me, with my twin careers as a writer and an actor. My mystery romance series is set in Hollywood and features a veteran actress, Meg Barnes, who once starred in a popular TV series playing amateur sleuth, Jinx Fogarty. I began my career as an actress playing Josette DuPres in the classic Gothic daytime series “Dark Shadows,” which has a cult following to this day. I completely relate to Meg Barnes, who knows that no matter what other roles she plays in her career, she will always be known as Jinx Fogarty. Thanks to my role playing the fiancé of vampire Barnabas Collins, I will always be remembered as Josette.

I wrote my first romance novel, Dark Passages, with a wink and a nod to “Dark Shadows,” but made the ingénue actress a real vampire struggling to live a normal life among mortals. Of course she fell in love with her leading man, a handsome Brit actor not at all happy to find himself cast as a vampire in a television series! Yes, I had a lot of fun drawing on what was so familiar to me from “Dark Shadows,” but even though I drew on my experiences as a young actress doing a live television soap in the 1960s, the story I created is entirely fictional. Nothing in the plot of Dark Passages ever happened in the real behind-the-scenes world of “Dark Shadows”—and I certainly wasn’t a vampire! But how delicious to set my imagination free and explore “what if” I was a vampire and fell in love with a mortal. I already have the plotline for the sequel—and yes, despite the complications, she and her leading man are finding true love together.

I draw on everything I’ve experienced in my career as an actress working in theater, film and television to write the mystery romance series featuring Meg Barnes as Jinx Fogarty. Meg is a beloved actress who has enjoyed considerable success, winning an Emmy for her portrayal of Jinx Fogarty, and lives an enviable life until she falls for the wrong man. Her second husband turns out to be a conman and she loses everything, including friends, career, home and reputation, and ends up living on the streets of Beverly Hills in her “Ritz-Volvo.” She uses everything she’s ever learned playing an amateur sleuth to track down her fugitive husband and find redemption—and love with the right man, a handsome FBI agent, who at first suspects her of being an accomplice in her husband’s fraud.

I know the behind-the-scenes world Hollywood well, and the sound stages where I continue to work in such popular television series as “The Goldbergs” and “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” In my newly-released novel Jinxed, the sequel to Down and Out in Beverly Heels, Meg finds herself on the comeback trail with a new series—and facing an old adversary, who jeopardizes her life and a chance at redeeming all that she’s lost. I know how precarious the career of a working actor can be and I pour all of what I’ve personally experienced, from the bitter disappointments to the heights of exhilaration, into the fictional world of Meg Barnes.

Links

Website

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Buy: Jinxed (A Jinx Fogarty Mystery)

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Kathryn is giving away two Jinx Fogarty Mystery packages – each has a copy of Jinxed and Down and Out in Beverly Heels! US/CAN winner gets print (signed) or digital copies; winners from other countries receive digital copies only.  Just fill out the Rafflecopter Form below to enter!

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Excerpt & Giveaway: Caught in the Act by Kim Law

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BIO:

As a child, award-winning author Kim Law cultivated a love for chocolate, anything purple, and creative writing. She penned her debut work, “The Gigantic Talking Raisin,” in the sixth grade and got hooked on the delights of creating stories. Before settling into the writing life, however, she earned a college degree in mathematics and then worked as a computer programmer. Now she’s living out her lifelong dream of writing romance novels. She’s won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award, has been a finalist for the prestigious RWA RITA Award, and has served in varied positions for her local RWA chapter. A native of Kentucky, Kim lives with her husband and an assortment of animals in Middle Tennessee.

CONTACT LINKS:

www.kimlaw.com

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facebook.com/kimlawauthor

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LawKim-CaughtInTheAct-CoverArtCAUGHT IN THE ACT

The Davenports, Book Two

Montlake Romance, Contemporary

January 27, 2015

Paperback & Kindle

Catherine Davenport Carlton needs a break. After dedicating her life to her political-minded family, shocking scandals from the past have shaken her to her core. Summer in the quiet town of Dyersport, Maine, is just what she needs, especially with a super-hot neighbor right next door…who’s none other than Brody Hollister, the boy she fell in love with as a teen. Cat wants nothing more than to pick up right where they left off eighteen years ago, but she’s still haunted by a terrible secret that could devastate Brody.

Brody Hollister spent years pining over Cat Davenport. They met young and loved passionately—until she disappeared from his life. Now she’s back, as spirited and beautiful as ever. But while Brody is determined to help Cat free herself from her family’s drama, his own family may be hiding something that could ruin their rekindled romance for good.

In Book Two of the Davenports romance series, sex and politics collide…with passionate results.

Buy: Caught in the Act (The Davenports Book 2)

EXCERPT:

“I . . . uh . . .” Louisa’s stumbling words caught his attention. She was looking back and forth between them, confusion marring her face. “I guess you two know each other?” she finally asked.

Brody’s gaze met Cat’s. They nodded simultaneously.

“We know each other,” he said. “Though it’s been a long time.”

Cat nodded again, the anger he’d seen flash across her face softening back into surprise. “Long time,” she muttered.

And then her gaze skittered away.

Her lack of eye contact intrigued him, and he took the moment to study her appearance. Her makeup was just right: applied with a light hand but enough to come across as professional. Her hair, with its wide band perfectly matching her top and shoes, didn’t have a single flyaway strand.

And her stance screamed that she was important—only not so much as to not fit in with the locals. She wore her Davenport air, and from everything he’d seen over the last two decades, she should be standing there with a high level of confidence.

However, she was still focusing on anything other than him.

And then he got it. She hadn’t been spying on him for the last five days. She’d been ogling.

Him.

This brought a broad grin to his face. It had been nineteen years since he’d seen her. And yeah, he knew that people checked him out. He took care of himself. According to gossip at the college, he was a “hottie.” But to have Cat think so. After all this time. The very idea sent a rush of hot pleasure through his body.

And he could see it on her face when she peeked up at him once more. Her chin tilted stubbornly in the air. Catherine Davenport had just figured out that the guy she had the hots for was the very boy who’d once fumbled his way into her panties.

And she lived right next door to him.

The summer suddenly looked a whole lot brighter.

“Mr. Hollister,” a high-pitched voice said at his side. A small hand yanked on his belt loop, and in the next instant, multiple hands yanked on multiple belt loops, with additional “Mr. Hollisters” thrown in.

Brody looked down. He was surrounded by every kid who’d been sitting perfectly quiet only two minutes earlier. Not that he couldn’t handle them when they weren’t sitting quietly, they’d just caught him off guard. It would be only a matter of getting everyone calmed back down, and things would be fine.

He pried Amy’s tiny hand off his jeans while ignoring Cat still standing in the doorway. “What can I do for you, Amy?”

“Can the woman stay?” the girl asked.

“Yeah!” Fourteen other kids shouted the word in unison and began bouncing up and down, almost as one entity. “Let the woman stay,” they chanted. “Let the woman stay.”

A soft chime sounded overhead, and Louisa mumbled something about the front door. She was gone before Brody could ask for help.

Amy tugged on his belt loop again. “Mr. Hollister.”

“Yes, Amy?” Once again, he pried small fingers from the denim.

“I need to pee.”

Oh geez.

Brody looked around, panicked, feeling suddenly out of control. He did not want to ask Cat for help. There was a certainty in him that if he let her in, even a millimeter, she would quickly become more than a pretty neighbor to secretly fixate on.

He shoved the thought from his mind. She may be next door, and he may still want her—no matter how they’d ended—but it didn’t mean he had to act on it. Even if one glance at her in close proximity had him thinking that he wanted to peel that innocent-looking white skirt from her body and see what she looked like in a teeny-tiny pair of bikinis.

It had nothing to do with her personally. It had simply been a while.

And men had needs.

“How about we all make a bathroom run?” he suggested. He stood tall and swept his gaze over the children. “Line up.” He motioned with his arms, each drawing out a line the kids should step to. “Boys on one side, girls on the other.”

Cat entered the room.

She reached out a hand for Amy’s. “I’ll take the girls.”

“There’s no need,” Brody started. He grabbed Amy’s hand before Cat could. “I can handle it.”

Sculpted blonde eyebrows rose before him. “So can I.”

She stared at him, and it was as if nineteen years slipped away into nothing.

Something had happened that summer that he’d never been able to replicate with another woman. Not even the one he’d been engaged to.

And it seemed to be happening again whether he liked it or not.

All of a sudden, he felt like the geeky teenager he’d once been. She’d been so out of his league. A Davenport. A year older. She’d had a license, for Christ’s sake.

Yet she’d been drawn to him, too. She’d become his best friend during those weeks. He would have followed her anywhere.

Fine. He silently relented. He narrowed his eyes at her as he released Amy’s hand. But I didn’t ask for your help.

Shocker.

He’d been proud even then. No father, a single, struggling mother. He’d needed to be on top of his game for the scholarships he sought.

Cat had needed to be pristine for her family’s reputation.

All of that had disappeared on their last day together.

Cat pasted on her fake, public smile now and proceeded to ignore him. She glowed down at the line of waiting girls. Each of them tittered in front of her as if in the presence of a princess. “Let’s make it a game,” she suggested in a secretive voice. “I’ll be the mama duck, and each of you are my ducklings. That means you have to hold on to your duckling sister in front of you.” She showed them how with one arm outstretched toward Amy’s shoulder. “And stay in a single-file line.”

The girls solemnly nodded and then assembled behind their leader, each with one hand on the girl in front of her. As they filed out of the room, the occasional soft quack could be heard coming from the hallway. Brody couldn’t help but smile.

When the last one disappeared out the door, he realized that he stood in the middle of five silent boys. All of them—including him—had fallen under Cat’s spell and were now staring awestruck in the direction she’d gone, tongues practically lolling out of their mouths.

Terrific. Nothing had changed. She had a way about her.

He looked down at Dylan, the oldest of the boys, who had lifted his head and was studying Brody intently. A quizzical expression was etched on the boy’s face.

“She’s pretty,” Dylan said innocently.

Brody nodded. “Yes, she is.” She had only gotten prettier since he’d last seen her.

“I like her,” the boy stated.

It didn’t take long to figure that out about Cat. Everyone liked her. Dread settled in Brody’s gut. He may have been only fifteen before, but she’d broken his heart in two.

I like her, too.

Buy: Caught in the Act (The Davenports Book 2)

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Excerpt and Giveaway: Deadly Force by Misty Evans

DF CoverBook Summary: 

Some secrets can kill…

NSA agent Bianca Marx is determined to save her marriage, even if it kills her…which it just might do since she knows a secret about her estranged husband’s last mission that has put a target on her back. A highly-skilled assassin is hot on her trail and the only man who can keep her safe doesn’t want anything to do with her.
She’ll be dead in 24 hours…unless he can save her.

After his marriage failed, Navy SEAL Callan Reese threw himself into his work. On his last black ops mission, three of his men—three good men who counted on him—were killed. Now PTSD and a military investigation have sidelined him…until Bianca shows up. She claims someone high up in the US government wants her dead, and the assassin after her is also after him.

The couple that spies together, dies together…

On the run from the very government they serve, Bianca and Cal only have each other. When they uncover a deadly scandal threatening the nation, they’ll have one chance to save the day…and one last chance at love. 

Find Misty Evans on Amazon

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Misty Evans PhotoAbout the Author

USA TODAY Bestselling Author Misty Evans has published over twenty novels and writes romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance. As a writing coach, she helps other authors bring their books – and their dreams of being published – to life.

The books in her Super Agent series have won a CataNetwork Reviewers’ Choice Award, CAPA nominations, the New England Reader’s Choice Bean Pot Award for Best Romantic Suspense in 2010 and the ACRA Heart of Excellence Reader’s Choice Award for Best Romantic Suspense in 2011.

Her Witches Anonymous series was dubbed a Fallen Angel Reviews Recommended Read. The Super Agent Series, Witches Anonymous Series, and the Kali Sweet Series have been on multiple Amazon Kindle bestsellers lists. Her culinary romantic mystery, THE SECRET INGREDIENT, and the first book in her Deadly series, DEADLY PURSUIT, are both USA TODAY bestsellers.

Misty likes her coffee black, her conspiracy stories juicy, and her wicked characters dressed in couture. When not reading or writing, she enjoys music, movies, and hanging out with her husband, twin sons, and two spoiled puppies.

Find Misty Evans on Amazon

Connect with Misty:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Newsletter / Pinterest

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Excerpt from DEADLY FORCE

Bianca found a pair of binoculars on the bridge. As she stood hidden behind the navigation controls, wishing she’d worn more sea-worthy clothes, she watched Cal running back to the boat.

As per normal, he was in his element—water. He’d been a gifted swimmer even as a kid and had competed nationally in high school.

She’d never learned to swim. The best she could do was dog-paddle and even that was a struggle. Open water made her feel claustrophobic—the opposite of most people. Being in water over her head sent her into a full-fledged panic.

We really couldn’t be more opposite. But opposites did attract. In their case, that was both good and bad. From the day they’d met, she and Cal had come together, broken up, and come together again. First as friends, then as more.

Even now, she couldn’t deny the sexual chemistry between them. Her pulse jumped at the sight of him, every part of her body tingled when he looked at her. If only there weren’t so much bad stuff between them. She wished they could lay all the ugliness down, get out from under it for a few hours, and enjoy coming together once more.

Not just for the physical stuff. For the friendship. Cal had been her best friend since elementary school. She missed him.

While rain pelted the bridge’s windows, Bianca stood transfixed, unable to take her eyes off him. He ran with such ease, his tan face turned up to the rain as his long, sure strides ate up the distance between them. Her parts tingled and her heart beat erratically in her chest.

God, I love you.

She understood the science behind what she was feeling—the chemical releases going on in her brain. Cal was familiar. Cal was safe. Her most precious memories were tied to him. Her happiest times were rooted in him.

He may have been her polar opposite, but since the day he’d picked a shy girl up off the playground asphalt, brushed pieces of the sharp cinders from her knees, and raised his fists to the school bully who’d made her life hell, Cal had been her hero.

Even when he’d broken her heart.

Now it was time for her to repay the favor. This time the bully was the government she and Cal had sworn to serve. Standing up to that bully would cost her everything…her job, the quiet existence she enjoyed, and quite possibly her life. But the government had already taken the one thing she held most dear—Cal. She wouldn’t let them destroy him as well.

The dog ran by his side, completely soaked and tongue lolling from the side of its mouth. They hit the boardwalk and slowed to a jog. She was sure the dog was smiling.

Through the binoculars, Bianca could see the animal was missing vital male parts, so it must be female. That might explain the adoration in the dog’s eyes. Bianca had never met a female yet who could resist the absolute alpha male prowess Cal exuded.

Hell, she’d been at restaurants with him where the male waiters hit on him.

The thing none of them realized was that he was a very dangerous man. A weapon the US had trained and given specialized skills. When she told him about Senator Halston, Cal would want to use those skills on the man.

What to do? Could she keep her husband away from the senator until the worst of Cal’s anger subsided and she could convince him to go along with her rational, logical plan? Cal would be out for blood, and if he went after the senator his way—with violence—she’d be forced to rein him in.

She lowered the binoculars as Cal and the dog came aboard and headed down the stairs, oblivious to her in her hidden vantage point.

“B?” he called over the noisy rain, and his deep voice made her pulse jump. There was the usual irritated edge to his voice, but something else as well. “Where are you?”

Worry? Was that what she heard in his voice? Sure had been a hell of a long time since he’d worried about her.

She had to do this. She had to tell him. What happened after that would be up to him.

Leaving the binoculars behind, she flipped on the tiny camera she’d installed by the boat’s windshield so she could keep an eye on the marina’s entrance. Grabbing the handrail, she steadied herself. The storm might buy her an hour or two—keep Cal from going anywhere and slow down anyone searching for her—but she needed to figure out a way to keep him sequestered, and her ass out of the line of fire until she could find physical evidence against the senator she could take to the Justice Department. They wouldn’t bring him up on charges over hearsay.

And hearsay was all she had.

Bianca sighed. After what she’d put Cal through already, he was more likely to toss her overboard than become her bodyguard.

Find Misty Evans on Amazon

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Giveaway Information

Tour-wide giveaway includes a $25.00 Gift Card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble and a Digital or Print copy of Deadly Pursuit. Just fill out the Rafflecopter Form below to enter!

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Blog Tour Stops

You can follow the tour to learn more about the book and author through interviews and reviews! Just click on the link or button below and it will take you to a list of tour stops.

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Get into Bed with Julia London (Author Interview)

one mad nightKeira: One of the things I liked best about your rivals romance One Mad Night was that the hero and heroine played fair and it was still fun! Was fair play important to you and why was it important to the romance?

Julia London: To a point, yes.  The novella is short, so if the hero did something unfair (and it would be the hero, right?), there is not really enough time to redeem him.  And honestly, I think rivals can play fair.  It’s healthy competition that makes for healthy relationship.  I sound like a psychologist.

Keira: What made you decide they were competing over a car ad?

Julia: I thought that sort of ad would be a good and natural tension, because car ads seem to slanted toward men or women.  I noticed minivan ads are all about mom and the kids, and then the luxury cars are all about hip, handsome men. Figures!

Keira: What is your favorite part about snowed-in / isolated / desert / intimate (this subgenre goes by a lot of names!) romances?

Julia: That no one can escape.  The characters have to deal.  No one can run away and talk to friends or think, or pull any of that.  They are stuck.  Delicious!

Keira: What do you love best about writing historical/contemporary romances? 

Julia: Well, I love to read good love stories.  I love to watch them on the big screen.  So I guess I am naturally drawn to them.  I love establishing the male and female leads and their first real notice of each other.  It’s always fun to see where it will go after that.

Keira: Your characters always have such lovely chemistry with each other. What to you makes two characters rub along and create sparks?

Julia: Thank you!  That’s a wonderful compliment.  In high school, we did this play about a couple on a train.  I can’t remember the name of it, but what I remember is that it was my first conscious comprehension of the emotional differences between men and women.  Men want everything to be uncomplicated and unemotional, and women are incapable of leaving everything black and white.  It’s fun to push and pull those two dynamics.

Keira: How do you define love? How do you recognize your true love? What makes it last in the long run and not fizzle out?

Julia: In books or in real life?  Mutual respect and admiration is love.  What makes it last in the long run is appreciation and listening.  I think men and women can put up with a lot if they feel they are heard and appreciated by the ones they love.

Keira: What makes a steamy and sexy sex scene?

Julia: For me, the anticipation and sexual tension is steamier than the actual sex scene.  It’s a problem for me as a writer.  Some readers really like graphic sex.  I really like the build up to the actual depiction.  I have to straddle those and find a happy medium.

Keira: If not for writing, what would be your dream job? “Big business” job?

Julia: Writing is my dream job!  I’ve had the big business jobs before.  I would love to learn how to write screen plays, but there is only so much time, you know?

Keira: What is the hardest part and the most fun part of writing?

Julia: The hardest part of writing is actually writing.  I want each book to be better than the last, so I keep raising the bar for myself.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  But I have to challenge myself to try new things and execute them well.  The most fun part of writing is meeting fans.  I work alone and I don’t know how my books may or may not speak to a reader.  So when I meet them in person and they are so complimentary and sometimes even moved my meeting me, it makes every moment spent alone with a stinky dog, tossing out everything I wrote the day before and trying again very much worth it!

Keira: What are you working on for us next?

Julia: I have the next two books in my historical Cabot Sisters series (The Devil Takes a Bride and The Scoundrel and the Debutante) coming out in late January and late April, respectively.  The Perfect Homecoming, the third book in my contemporary Pine River series, is coming out in February.  I am currently writing a book about rich summer people and the inevitable conflicts with the year round residents at a lake resort.  I just started it, but you know some worlds are going to collide!

One Mad Night Anthology
By Julia London

Two Romantic Adventures…One Mad Night

Two delightful contemporary romance novellas in one book from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julia London.

One winter’s night a blizzard sweeps across the country, demonstrating that fate can change the course of lives in an instant…and fate has got a sense of humor.

One Mad Night

Chelsea Crawford and Ian Rafferty are high profile ad execs in cutthroat competition for a client. When a major winter storm puts New York City on lockdown, the two rivals have to make it through the night together—oh, the many ways in which opposites attract…

The Bridesmaid – Bonus Novella

RITA Award Nominee for Best Romance Novella of 2013

Kate Preston has just moved to New York. Joe Firretti is contemplating a move to Seattle. When the weather wreaks havoc with transportation systems, Kate and Joe meet as they are both trying to rent the last car available… As Kate races to make her best friend’s wedding, and Joe races to a life-altering job interview, it looks like together is the only way they’ll make it at all.

Praise for Julia London:

“London knows how to keep pages turning…winningly fresh and funny.” —Publishers Weekly, on RITA Award nominee The Bridesmaid

Buy: One Mad Night

About the Author

Julia London is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than thirty novels, including the Homecoming Ranch contemporary series, the Secrets of Hadley Green historical romance series, and numerous other works. She is a four-time finalist for the prestigious RITA Award for excellence in romantic fiction, and RT Bookclub award recipient for Best Historical Romance.  She lives in Austin, Texas.

Connect with Julia London:

www.julialondon.com  | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Excerpt from One Mad Night by Julia London

It took a moment for Chelsea to notice him, which gave Ian a moment to admire her. He was going to crush her tomorrow, but that didn’t stop him from appreciating a figure that guys like him dreamed about. Chelsea was wearing a skirt today. It hit about mid-thigh and was tight enough to show off all her curves. She looked a bit taller today too. He glanced at her feet and noticed the shoes. Chelsea was walking on stilts, and her legs, good God, her legs. She was smoking hot in that dress and those shoes.

“Hey!” she said sharply, her voice full of accusation.

Ian’s head snapped up. “Hey,” he said con-genially. “Practicing your pitch?” He settled one hip onto the conference table.

“Do you mind?” She gestured to the door in a be-­off-­with-­you way.

“If you want, I could listen and give you some feedback.”

Chelsea’s mouth dropped open. And then her green eyes narrowed into little slits. “You have got to be the most arrogant man I’ve ever met.”

Ian smiled and shrugged.

“You can go, Ian,” she said, marching around the conference table to usher him out. “I think I’ve got it.”

“Suit yourself.”

“I will.”

“So hostile,” he said with a wink as he stood up. “I’m just trying to help. It never hurts for someone to hear the pitch, right? You’ve had someone listen to you go through it, right?”

“Yes, I’ve had—­Hey, hey,” she said, poking him in the chest. “Are you trying to play me?” she demanded. “Because it won’t work. I’m not some junior account person, you know. You can’t intimidate me.”

“Well, obviously,” Ian said and poked her back. “You wouldn’t be pitching at all if you were a junior account person. I know I can’t intimidate you. It wasn’t a declaration of war, you know; it was an offer to help.”

“It wasn’t a let-­me-­help, best-­friends-­forever offer, either. I’m not playing games with you. This account means a lot to me—­”

“Me too.”

“Oh yeah?” she said, shifting closer. “Well, don’t get too attached to the idea. I’ve got seniority, you know.”

“So why are you so afraid to show me what you’ve got?”

“Because it’s none of your business.”

“On the eve of the championship, it’s okay to go out and shoot some hoops with your competitor. It’s not going to affect tomorrow’s big game. It’s not like I can go out and change weeks of work overnight if I see you’ve got something better.”

She laughed. “Good try, Rafferty, but I think maybe the reason you want to see my pitch is because you’re worried about the strength of your pitch. Is it a little rough? Maybe I should listen to you.” She winked, and her green eyes shone with pleasure at her comeback.

“I’m definitely not worried about my pitch.”

“No? Seems to me if you’re presenting three,” she said, holding up three fingers and wiggling them at him, “then you must be uncertain which one is the winner.” Her smile broadened into sheer triumph, as if she thought she’d really zinged him.

She hadn’t zinged him, but Ian did wonder how she knew what he had…Zach. Of course. That rat bastard. “Have you been talking to Zimmerman?” he asked accusingly.

She shrugged and studied her manicure. “Maybe. Does it matter? I thought we were doing the let’s-­help-­each-­other thing. But if we’re not, would you mind toddling off? I have a lot of work I need to do before tomorrow. I plan to hit the ground running with this account on Monday.”

She was amazingly and annoyingly confident. Ian was generally a confident guy, but she was making him a teensy bit nervous. “You really think you’re going to get this, don’t you?”

“I don’t think, I know,” she said, looking up.

He tilted his head to one side to study her. “Isn’t it obvious to you why they brought me in?”

“I don’t know—­I haven’t given it the slightest bit of thought.” She lifted her chin, and Ian realized she lied about as well as she engaged in verbal volleyball. “I’ve been promised that this account is as good as mine. Didn’t they tell you that when they brought you in?”

A bit more of Ian’s confidence leaked out of him. He’d been in New York advertising long enough to know that the industry was full of snakes. He wouldn’t put it past anyone to feed him a bunch of half-­baked promises to get him to commit. “Who told you?”

She grinned. “None of your beeswax.”

“Come on, tell me—­” His phone rang, distracting him momentarily. He fished it out of his pocket and noticed the number was the Grabber-­Paulson main number. That was weird. “Listen, I’ll just say this,” he said, clicking off the phone. “Don’t be so sure of things. People say things they don’t mean, especially in this industry.” He started for the door.

“Uh-­huh, I know. And I would offer you the same advice, Mr. Rafferty,” she said in a singsong voice, and she flashed a dazzling smile, full of straight white teeth.

“Cocky too. I like that about you,” he said. “I’ll keep it in mind when I make partner.” He winked at her, smiled as if he was completely unbothered, and went out of the conference room.

Buy: One Mad Night

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Excerpt: The Marshal by Adrienne Giordano

The Marshal CoverBook Summary:

His painful past is their present danger.  The last thing US Marshal Brent Thompson needs is distraction from his work. But distraction—in the form of a sexy Chicago investigator—is exactly what he gets. Jenna Hayward is as alluring as she is determined, driven to help apprehend the murderer who killed Brent’s mother twenty-three years ago. With a shared mission—and a steadily rising attraction that jeopardizes Brent’s resolve to stay unattached—the pair must work together to get answers…before the murderer makes them his next victims.

Buy: The Marshal (Harlequin Intrigue)

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Chapter One from The Marshal

This was a switch.

Deputy U.S. marshal Brent Thompson stood in a Chicago hotel ballroom among a throng of impeccably dressed political big shots that, for once, he didn’t have to protect.

Tonight, he was a guest.

Whether that made him happy or not was anyone’s guess. But he’d stay another hour for Judge Kline, a woman he’d spent two years watching over after her husband and children were murdered by some nut who’d been on the losing end of a ruling. Judge Kline had ordered him to pay a $1,200 fine and somehow he was mad enough to wipe out her entire family, leaving her to deal with guilt and rage and heartache.

Crazy.

Sometimes—sometimes? Really?—Brent didn’t understand people. Or maybe it was their motivations he didn’t understand, but the human race baffled him.

Tonight Judge Kline, who’d refused to allow her life to collapse under grief, was smiling. A welcome sight since her eighty-five-year-old mother had decided to throw one hell of a shindig for the judge’s sixtieth birthday.

“Brent?”

Brent turned and found the ever-polished Gerald Hennings, Chicago’s highest-profile defense attorney, weaving through the crowd. Accompanying him was a petite blonde in a floor-length bright blue gown. She had to be over fifty, but may have had a little work done to preserve her extraordinary looks. Her perfect cheekbones, the big blue eyes and sculpted nose were duplicates of the ones Brent recognized from Hennings’s daughter, Penny. Didn’t take a genius to figure out this woman was Mrs. Hennings. Brent held his hand out. “Mr. Hennings. Nice to see you.”

Five months earlier, Brent had been assigned to protect Penny Hennings after yet another nut—plenty of nuts in his world—had attempted to kill her on the steps of a federal courthouse. Penny had nearly put Brent into a psych ward with her relentless mouthiness and aggressive attitude, but he’d formed a bond with her. A kinship. And, much like Judge Kline, they’d remained friends after his assignment had ended. For whatever reason, emotionally speaking, he couldn’t let either one of them go. The fact that they’d all experienced tragedy might be the common denominator, but he chose not to think too hard about it. What was the point? None of them would ever fully recover from their individual experiences. All they could do was move on.

Hennings turned to the woman at his side. “I don’t think you’ve met my wife, Pamela. Pam, this is Marshal Brent Thompson. He was the marshal.”

She smiled and—yep—he was looking at Penny in twenty-five years.

“I know,” Mrs. Hennings said. She stepped forward and gripped both of his arms. “Thank you.”

The gesture, so direct and heartfelt, caught him sideways and he stiffened. Freak that he was he’d never gotten comfortable with strange women touching him. Most guys would love it. Brent? He liked his space being his.

But he stood there, allowing Penny’s mother to thank him in probably the only way she knew how. He could go on about how he’d just been doing his job, which was all true, but even he understood that he’d worked a little harder for Penny. She reminded him too much of his younger sister, Camille, and he hadn’t been able to help himself. “You’re welcome. Your daughter has become a good friend. And if I ever need legal advice, I know who to call.”

Mrs. Hennings laughed.

Mr. Hennings swooped his finger in the air. “You’re not working tonight?”

“No, sir. Judge Kline is a friend.”

“How nice,” Mrs. Hennings said.

“Yes, ma’am. I worked with her for two years. She would always tell me if my tie didn’t match. That happened a lot.”

“As the mother of two sons, I’m sure your mother appreciates that.”

Mother.

Mr. Hennings cleared his throat and, in Brent’s mind, the room fell silent. He glanced around, looking for…what? Confirmation that the room at large wasn’t listening to his conversation?

Maybe.

All around people gabbed and mingled and pretty much ignored Brent. Imagined it. He exhaled and once again the orchestra music—something classical—replaced the fog in his brain.

He’d fielded comments about his mother almost his entire life. It should have been easier by now.

Except for the nagging.

Twenty-three years of gut-twisting, anger-fueled obsession that kept him prisoner. “My mother died when I was seven, ma’am.”

Social pro that she must have been, considering her husband’s wizardry with the press, Mrs. Hennings barely reacted. “I’m so sorry.” She turned to Gerald, shooting him the stink-eye. “I didn’t know.”

Moments like these, a guy had to step up and help his brother-in-arms. “No need to apologize. I think about her every day.” And knowing how this conversation would go, the curiosity that came with why and how such a young woman had died, Brent let it fly. “She was murdered.”

Social pro or not, Mrs. Hennings gasped. “How horrible.”

Brent sipped his club soda, gave the room another glance and came back to Mrs. Hennings. “My sister and I adjusted. We have a supportive family.”

“I hope they caught the person who did this.”

“No ma’am. It’s still an open case.”

A case that lived and breathed with him and had driven him into law enforcement. If the Carlisle sheriff’s office couldn’t find his mother’s killer, he’d do it himself.

“Are the police still looking into it?”

Brent shrugged. “If they get a tip or some new information. I work it on my downtime, but downtime is short.”

Mrs. Hennings, obviously still embarrassed by bringing up the subject of his dead mother, turned to her husband. “Can’t one of your investigators help? You do all sorts of pro bono work for clients. Why not this?”

“Pam, those are cases where we’re defending people. This is different.”

Brent held up his hand As much as he’d like help, he didn’t want a domestic war started over it. “Mrs. Hennings, it’s okay. But thank you.”

Still, down deep, Brent wanted to find the person who’d wrecked his family and had saddled him with a level of responsibility—and guilt—no seven-year-old should have known. Every day, the questions haunted him. Could he have helped her? Should he have done something when he first heard noise? Was he a crummy investigator because all these years later he still couldn’t give his mother justice?

At this point, if he couldn’t find this monster on his own, he’d take whatever help available. Ego aside, justice for his mother was what mattered.

Mrs. Hennings kept her gaze on her husband. “You were just complaining that Jenna is bored with her current assignments. After what Brent did for Penny, give Jenna his mother’s case to investigate. It’ll challenge her and keep her out of your hair. Where’s the problem?”

Hennings pressed his lips together and a minuscule, seriously minuscule, part of Brent pitied the man. If he didn’t agree with his wife, his life would be a pile of manure.

Mrs. Hennings shot her husband a meat cleaver of a look, then turned back to Brent. “My husband will call you about this tomorrow. How’s that?”

With limited options, and being more than a little afraid to argue because, hey, he was no dummy either, he grinned at Mr. Hennings. “That’d be great. Thank you.”

*

Jenna slid onto one of the worn black vinyl bar stools at Freddie’s Tap House, a mostly empty shot-and-a-beer joint on the North Side of Chicago.

How the place stayed in business, she had no idea. On this Wednesday night the sports bar down the block was packed, while the only people patronizing Freddie’s were an elderly man sitting at the bar and a couple huddled at a table in the back.

The bartender glanced down the bar at her and wandered over. “Evening. Get you something?”

You sure can.

“Whatever’s on tap. Thanks.”

He nodded and scooped a glass from behind the bar, pouring a draft as he eyed her black blazer and the plunging neckline on her cashmere sweater. “Haven’t seen you in here before. New in town?”

As much as she’d tried to dress down with jeans, she hadn’t been able to resist the sweater. When dealing with men, a little help from her feminine wiles—also known as her boobs—never hurt. “Nope. New in here though.”

“You look more Tiffany’s than Freddie’s.”

Already Jenna liked him. “Are you Freddie?”

“Junior.”

“Sorry?”

“Freddie Junior. My dad is Freddie. I took over when he retired.”

He slid the beer in front of Jenna. Once more she looked around, took in the polished, worn wood of the bar, the six tables along the wall and the line of empty bar stools.

“Slow night,” Freddie said.

Lucky me. She opened her purse, pulled out a fifty and set it on the bar. Next came the photo taken the week prior by a patron in this very bar. He glanced down at the fifty, then at the photo.

“I’m not a cop,” Jenna said. “I’m an investigator working for a law firm.”

“Okay.”

She pointed at the photo of two men with a woman in the background. Jenna needed to find that woman. “Have you seen her in here?”

He picked up the photo and studied it. “Yeah. Couple of times. When a woman like that walks into a beer joint, there’s generally a reason. Kinda like you.”

Figuring it was time to put her cleavage to work, Jenna inched forward, gave him a view of the girls beneath that V-neck and smiled. Most women would love the idea that a fifteen-pound weight gain had gone straight to their chest. Jenna supposed it hadn’t hurt her ability to claw information from men—and maybe she used it to her advantage. But she also wanted to be recognized for extracting the information and not for the way she’d done it.

Did that even make sense? She wasn’t sure anymore. All she knew was her need for positive reinforcement had led her to using her looks to achieve her goals. That meant wearing clingy, revealing clothing. Such a cliché. But the thing about clichés was they worked.

“Any idea what her reason for being here was?”

Freddie took the boob-bait and leaned in. “No. Both times she met someone. Why?”

All Jenna could hope was he’d gotten the woman’s name. “My client is being held on a robbery charge. He says he was in here the night of the robbery and he met this woman. Her name is Robin.”

“Where’d you get the picture?”

“Friends of my client.”

He dropped the picture on the bar and tapped it. “Birthday party, right?”

“Yes. My client and six of his friends. Any idea where I can find her?”

“Nah.”

“Did she pay by credit card?”

If she paid by credit card, there would be a record of the transaction, and Jenna would dig into the Hennings & Solomon coffers and pay Freddie a highly negotiated sum for a look at his credit card receipts. From there, she’d get a name and two calls later would have an address for Robin-the-mystery-woman.

“Cash.”

Shoot.

Freddie may have been lying. Jenna studied him, took in his direct gaze. Not lying. At least she didn’t think so. Again with the wavering? Didn’t she have a good sense about these things? Yes, she did. For that reason she’d go with the theory that Freddie seemed to be a small-business owner who wanted to stay out of trouble while trying to make a living. She dug her card and a pen out of her purse, wrote her cell number on the card and placed it next to the fifty on the bar.

“How about I leave you my card? If she comes in again and you call me, there’s a hundred bucks in it for you.”

Freddie glanced at the card. After a moment, he half shrugged. “Sure. If I see her.”

Jenna took one last sip of her beer, slid off the stool and hitched her purse onto her shoulder. “Thanks.” She nodded toward the fifty. “Keep the change.”

Buy: The Marshal (Harlequin Intrigue)

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Giordano Author PhotoAbout the Author

USA Today bestselling author Adrienne Giordano writes romantic suspense and mystery.  She is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her workaholic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaten Terrorist (Terrier). She is a co-founder of Romance University blog and Lady Jane’s Salon-Naperville, a reading series dedicated to romantic fiction.

Connect with Adrienne:  Website / Newsletter / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Street Team

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Giveaway! Harlequin’s Small Town Christmas

xmasranchHome for the Holidays: Hope Nichols has never felt as if she belonged anywhere, except her hometown of Pine Gulch. So, when she hears that her family’s property, Christmas Ranch, is set to be shut down forever, a determined Hope heads home. She refuses to let the Grinch steal her holiday; this will be the most memorable ranch Christmas ever! And, thanks to hunky former navy SEAL Rafe Santiago and his adorable nephew, she might just pull off that miracle.

Buy: The Christmas Ranch (The Cowboys of Cold Creek)

lonestarA Texas Christmas: Just the sight of the beautiful widow who bought the sprawling spread east of his puts Nash in the yuletide spirit. Callie and the toddler in the tyke-size cowboy hat fill his head with visions of the three of them together under one roof. That is, if Callie can let go of her past and picture a future with her one and only Lone Star cowboy!

Buy: Lone Star Christmas (McCabe Multiples)




montanaBig Sky Centennial: A small town rich in history…and love: It’s time for mistletoe and merriment— for everyone except Robin Frazier. As Jasper Gulch’s centennial celebrations reach their festive conclusion, her guilt is only mounting. The shy historian is hiding something—something that will affect everyone in town. And the more time she spends with pastor Ethan Johnson, creating an old-fashioned Christmas for his church, the more she realizes what this secret is costing her. He’s just the kind of man her heart longs for, and his kind brown eyes seem to say he might feel the same. Can she take a chance this Christmas and reveal who she really is—and what her heart is longing to say?

Buy: Her Montana Christmas (Big Sky Centennial Book 6)

Giveaway: One (1) winner will win all three books! Enter by leaving a comment. Additional entries listed in widget below. Open to North American readers. No P.O. Boxes please. Thanks! Ends 12/16/2014.

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#FaLaLaForever Giveaway

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Join Forever in December for #FaLaLaForever which will include posts from authors and staff about our favorite holiday memories, traditions, recipes, photos, etc. We’ve already started posting some great recipes here. We invite you to join in the hashtag and share your own favorites. To go along with that we’ve got an awesome Rafflecopter giveaway running today through December 19.

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Review: Slow Hand (Hot Cowboy Nights, Book 1) by Victoria Vane

Slow Hand-300Reviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Nicole “Nikki” Powell has some regrets.  And with the way her story starts off you have to feel sorry for her.  And the author does a great job at showing all the emotions that Nikki is feeling.  Wade Knowlton has a soft heart but that doesn’t mean that he’s a pushover.  The author did a great job in showing how seductive or sweet he could be.  Their first real interaction will have you chuckling.  Our couple’s second conversation shows what a great read this is going to be.  You will have to read in order to find out who won the “tug of wills”.

This book is also a great incentive to check out Montana if you’ve never been.  Another suggestion would be to check out those vacations that you could spend your time on a working ranch.  But in both instances you will want to make sure to bring this book with you.  There is tons of steam heat and you can’t blame it on the humidity – just sayin’.  There’s graphic language and some graphic sex scenes so that you will need plenty of ice or a big fan handy.  It may even spice up your love life a little.

Some authors include a character that you just seem to hate – one step above a jerk.  This is one more incentive to grab your own copy of this great book – to learn more about Wade’s brother.  And this author goes one step further and includes a real bitch that has you hoping that she gets what she deserves.

Victoria will give you your HEA ending and this book will also get you ready for Rough Rider that comes out in February.  If I have one disappointment is that I wasn’t able to get to a ranch in order to set the tone while reading this book – but never say never.  And if you would like to read a Christmas novella starring our couple, Slowly Unwrapped can be found at Victoria’s web site.  (http://www.victoriavane.com/free-reads/).

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Slow Hand (Hot Cowboy Nights)

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