Friday 29 June 2012


YES! Can't wait. **I'm hopping on one leg already**

Very soon (only 5 weeks to go) my second TWRP romance will be released on August 3rd.


Look out for TAKE ME NOW. 

I'll be posting a little 'Friday Five' from now on to lead us up to release day. Five little sentences to whet your appetite from a page that is a multiple of the number 5.

Here's today's selection from Page 5:

    Aela huffed. Just a bit.
    Nobody had warned her about the climb. The only information given by the appointments agency was she should present herself at the marina for two p.m. where she’d be met and ferried to the island of Lanera, for a hastily organized interview with Nairn Malcolm, at his Garvald home.
          Aran, pilot of the catamaran-had been chatty during the journey, though circumspect about her prospective employer and the location of his house, and of how she would get there once they arrived at the island.

Join me next Friday for a tiny bit more!


I'm totally delighted, today, to welcome a fellow author from The Wild Rose Press- Vonnie Davis-to my Thursday Promo Spot-especially since she's brought something ***brand new*** to share with us.

Nancy, warm Internet hugs and many thanks for having me here today. If I seem a bit befuddled, it’s because my novella, Those Violet Eyes, was released yesterday by The Wild Rose Press. This story is part of the Honky Tonk Hearts series. Last April, a call went out from the publisher for stories with one pivotal scene set in the Lonesome Steer honky tonk, or bar.

Lonely hearts seem to gravitate to the Lonesome Steer Honky Tonk.
Owner and bartender, Gus Rankin, has seen his share of the wandering souls
cross his bar and dance floor over the years—he’d even like to think he helped
a few find true love along the way.

I’d never written for a series before and thought I’d enjoy giving it a try. The challenge of writing a story within given parameters appealed to me, for some reason. But, believe me, as I struggled here and there, I wondered what I’d been drinking when I’d started this project.

My hero was wounded in Iraq, losing part of his leg. He also suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. At times he was quiet and sullen—even to me. So I had to study this condition that affects so many young adults returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Gaining all this information wasn’t so easy for this grandma. My own grandson is serving in Afghanistan, you see. In fact, there might even be a smidgen of my Joshua in Win Fairchild. Joshy—and I’m the only one he allows to call him that—is a delightful blend of ornery humor and macho attitude.

My heroine, Evie, was the first of my heroines to saunter across my computer screen, fully formed and carrying her own dose of attitude. I usually have a hard time grasping the essence of my heroines, for some reason, but not Evie. She marched right up to me in her pink cowgirl boots, put her hands on her hips and said, “I’m telling you right off I’m not putting up with any guff out of this guy. I’m not in the mood for it.” She made me laugh out loud then and so many places in the story.


Evie Caldwell hoards every penny for her escape from the servitude life created by a worthless brother and the endless work on a ranch that will never be hers. The last thing she wants is a muscled man with a macho Marine attitude complicating her life. But, oh, how that man can make her insides do a twitchy thing.

Wounded vet, Win Fairchild, returns to Texas to heal, find a piece of his soul and open a ranch for amputee children. Finding someone to love was not on his agenda. Nor was dealing with a wildcat, until she captures his heart with those violet eyes.

But now that he knows what he wants, can Win convince Evie to stay in Texas—and his bed?


Win Fairchild leaned his low-rider onto the gravel parking lot of the Lonesome Steer on a cloud of dust and a tank of fumes. He eased his modified Harley to a stop next to the door of the honky tonk and stood. After more than five hundred miles of bone-jarring road, Win stretched, trying to work the kinks from his body.
A couple came barreling out of the bar, startling Win who pivoted to nod in greeting. The man charging ahead, red-faced with clenched fists, was clearly pissed. The woman behind him carried her own dose of attitude on shoulders muscled from hard work or hours spent in a gym.
“I’m tired of you huntin’ me down, Evie, embarrassin’ me in front of my buddies. You act more like my wife than my sister.”
“And you act more like an irresponsible child than my older brother. Grow up. I need help at the ranch.” She planted her hands on jean-clad hips. “Dooley Caldwell, don’t you walk away from me while I’m talking to you!” Her brother raised an offensive finger over his head and kept striding toward a Jeep.
The woman swept her eyes toward Win, as if she suddenly realized he stood next to her, taking in the heated exchange.
Violet eyes that tugged him into their depths.
His dust-covered tongue rolled into a tight knot.
“Well, what the hell are you staring at?”
Good God, her eyes were like magnets. “Those beautiful eyes of yours.” Win winced at the lack of polish in his remark. Damn if he didn’t sound like an awkward teenager.
The dark-haired woman blinked those mesmerizing eyes and then jerked her pointy chin to the helmet under his arm. “Hunh. Just what the world needs, Don Juan on a Harley.” She turned on her heel and marched toward an old red Nova, the paint splotchy and faded.
Win pursed his lips and exhaled a long breath. He did like a spirited woman. With her violet eyes, nine feet of attitude crammed into a petite frame and a make-his-palms-itch-to-touch behind, she was one fine package.
To his surprise and amusement, she crawled head first through the open window of her car, that world-class ass shimmying as she wiggled her way onto her driver’s seat. What a sight. He shifted his stance to accommodate his body’s reaction.
Her car door must be broken, and he briefly wondered why her brother didn’t fix it for her. Just then the Wrangler eased to a stop in front of Win.
“Stop starin’ at my sister.” Dooley Caldwell peeled out leaving Win in a shower of dust and gravel.
His gaze slid to Evie backing her rusty car away from the Lonesome Steer. He shook his head, hoping to erase the whirlwind sensation one encounter with the feminine dynamo created. Maybe moving here held more possibilities than he planned.

Great excerpt, Vonnie. Thanks for visiting today and best wishes for great sales with Those Violet Eyes.

Wednesday 27 June 2012



Today, I'd like to welcome fellow Crooked{Cat} Publishing author, Frances di Plino, who has come to give her views about what makes a really excellent character.

Getting to know you, getting to know all about you!

Frances di Plino

Regardless of genre, characters can make or break a novel. How many times have you read something that could have been (should have been) a great story, but the characters were so lacking in credibility that you lost interest long before the end? I would bet my reputation as a writer that everyone has read at least one novel fitting that description at some point in their lives.

Developing characters so real our readers fall in love with them, or despise them, is an art – one we have to learn if we want our novels to satisfy our readers. We all know characters have to have a past that has shaped them, a future they are striving towards, and a present they are dealing with in order to get from one to the other. But how we use that information is crucial. Readers don’t want a whole load of information dumped on them. They want to get to know the character as the book progresses, in exactly the same way as they would with a real life friend.

As Frances di Plino I run a book review site and, as the real me, Lorraine Mace, I am a tutor for the Writers Bureau and also critique fiction for Writers’ Forum. In both guises, I get to read a lot of novel openings and short stories. One thing that stops me dead every time is a massive chunk of back-story explaining everything the author thinks the reader needs to know about a character. This effectively kills the pace and bores the pants off the reader (me).

It is our job to know our characters so well the type of person they are is apparent in every action and piece of dialogue uttered. When we get to that stage no back-story is needed.

There are various ways of getting inside the heads of characters and finding the right method for you is as important as any other aspect of writing. I use a mix and match of several techniques. As my characters often have heated discussions in my head, I sometimes feel they’ve developed just a little bit too much, but that’s another issue altogether.

I rarely describe my characters, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a full description of them ready to hand should I need to refer to it. As a reader, I prefer my own imagination to conjure up images. I don’t want an item by item shopping list of the person’s features and colouring. For this reason, I only describe anyone’s looks when it is important to the story. For example, I write crime, so if my villain has dark hair then all my red herring people also need to have dark hair.

I think it’s more important for my readers to see my characters as people, than be able to picture their looks exactly as I do. So, how do I develop my characters?

Let’s take someone called Bob. When I put him into a story I may not describe him, but I know exactly what he looks like, even down to a slight cast in one eye. I know how he got on with his parents and siblings, what makes him angry, what makes him cry. I know what tickles his funny bone, what he does in his spare time that he’s happy for everyone to know about – and what he does in his secret time that he hopes no one will ever discover. I know what makes him blush, what type of woman he dreams about, and also the type of woman he’ll end up with. I know his hopes, his dreams and his fears. I know where he’d like to go on holiday if he had enough money – and where he’ll go instead because that’s all he can afford.

In other words, I know everything I need to know about Bob at this stage. But now I want to develop him into a real person. To do that I need to find out how he would react in certain situations.

I put Bob in a house on fire – what would he do? Would he panic? Save himself without thought for anyone else? Would he be a hero even if it meant his own life was in danger?

I put temptation in his way – financial and sexual. Would he skim funds off if he thought no one would ever know, or is he rigidly honest? Would he have an affair if he was convinced his wife would never find out, or is he faithful enough to resist?

I put him in the path of a group of yobs picking on someone. Would Bob step in to help the victim, or would he look the other way rather than get involved?

I put him in a restaurant where he is given poor service and bad food. Would he pay up and leave a tip, even though the waiter was surly, or would he complain and demand the substandard food is replaced?

I put him on a train where it is clearly signposted no mobile phones, then I put someone in the carriage who ignores the notice. Would Bob draw attention to it? If yes, how? Would he be diffident? Angry? Forceful? Apologetic? How would he deal with someone who carries on making calls?

I put him near the back of a long queue at the airport and have someone queue jump. Does he get angry but do nothing, or does he confront the queue jumper?

By the time I’ve answered all these questions I will know Bob better than I know my own husband. In fact, I might swap him for Bob, depending on the answers.

As with everything writing related, this method won’t work for everyone, but it does the trick for me, so why not try it with one or two of your characters?

Frances di Plino is the pseudonym of columnist, editor, non-fiction author and writing tutor, Lorraine Mace. Writing as Frances di Plino gives her the opportunity to allow the dark side of her personality to surface and take control. 

Her crime thriller, Bad Moon Rising, is published by Crooked {Cat} Publishing.

Buy link for Bad Moon Rising:

Great insights on how you deal with depicting your characters, Lorraine. Thank you for visiting, 'she said, he said...' , today.

Friday 22 June 2012

7 x 7 Game

I was tagged today on FaceBook for a 7x7. The game being -post 7 sentences from Page 7...or 77 of something I'd written. 

My 7 x7s are from Page 7 of my soon to be released TAKE ME NOW due out on 3rd August from The Wild Rose Press. 

Aela whooped, unable to contain her bubble of pleasure because in no way did the castle resemble the forbidding bleak structures she’d read about in traditional Scottish tales. “Okay, Aran. So, what’s next on this escapade?”

She turned back as Aran stepped through the gate. Aela’s beaming smile crumpled, and her hand whipped up to slap her chest. “What the hell? Jeeze, you scared the crap out of me.”


I'm over at Heroines With Hearts today talking about Book Covers and what they can mean to you.

Talking covers at 
Join us, if you've a spare nanosecond, and tell us what you think they're all about...
 What do they say?

Thursday 21 June 2012


Thursday promo spot is delighted to welcome New Zealand Author -LaVerne Clark- who is counting down the days now. Here's what she waiting for...

LaVerne's novel, 'Affinity', releases in 6 days, on the 27th June, from The Wild Rose Press.


In the wrong hands, Jenna Thomas's legacy could be a curse—in her mind it already is.
As a child, a routine x-ray awakened an abnormality in Jenna's DNA, giving her the ability to "call" creatures and take on their attributes. Labeled a freak since then, Jenna's learned to keep everyone at a distance. But all that changes the day she saves a young boy from drowning and the story goes viral.
Nick Hawke, an off-duty policeman, witnesses part of the drama. Captivated by Jenna's exotic beauty, he decides to investigate, not sure what to believe. Jenna puts his cynicism to the test—even as the attraction between them grows.
As word of her extraordinary rescue spreads, a dangerous man who will stop at nothing to control Jenna's abilities draws near. With her feelings for Nick putting him in danger too, can Jenna risk everything to protect them both?

Here's a bit about LaVerne Clark:
Like the heroines in my stories, I married my own gorgeous hero and have been blessed with a school-aged son and a toddler-aged daughter. 

I'm passionately involved with the charitable organization, "Greyhounds as Pets" after falling in love and adopting my own ex-racing greyhound, and became the Area Coordinator for my region. Perhaps, in the back of my mind was the old adage of owners looking like their dogs, but sadly, my legs don't seem to have got any longer and my waist hasn't shrunk to minuscule proportions, but on a good note, at least my nose isn’t any longer! I'm a member of Romance Writers of New Zealand and live in the beautiful coastal town of Nelson at the top of the South Island, the sun capital of the country.

“Back off everyone, give us room,” boomed Nick with authority. Everyone took a step back. An attractive woman holding a microphone stepped into the created space. Her phony smile flashed teeth like a shark. Circling, she came in for the kill, her cameraman capturing the moment.
“Are you the lady who jumped in to save the boy? What made you do something so heroic? Witnesses say you were under for over ten minutes. How is this possible?”
The questions fired at her like a volley of bullets. Jenna flinched as each one hit its mark. She couldn’t answer honestly without sounding like a freak. So she said nothing, burying her head into Nick’s chest. His arms tightened around her. The subtle turning of his body shielded her from all those eyes.
He pitched his voice to address the crowd. “It’s been a traumatic event for everyone involved, and as you can imagine, it’s not over for us yet. We’ve no comment to make at this stage, so please, give us some time to come to terms with what’s happened. Thank you.”
“Could you at least give me a little snippet, Sergeant Hawke?” pouted the reporter, pushing her chest out and fluttering her lashes.
Jenna’s spine went rigid. A sick feeling of dread settled in the pit of her belly.
Police. Nick is a policeman. Dear God, I’m in trouble.
Her head pounded and her hands shook. His arm tightened when she tried to pull away, holding her firmly in place. Any other person she could have fobbed off. Now she understood his aura of authority, his all-seeing gaze and concern at the thought of a child left alone in her car. He would be relentless uncovering the truth.

View details at:

Best wishes to you, Laverne, for your Affinity release day!


Wednesday 20 June 2012


The sun is shining! 
Now that's a big surprise in my neck of the woods, so I'm posting some pretty flowers today. It has made me think about how flower images are customarily used in many different forms of writing.  

So, today, I'm thinking about the LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS.

Cards, notelets, ecards...
A gift of flowers as gesture of thanks, or to mark a special celebration? Think of the many and varied ways of flowers decorating a gift card, notelet, or ecard. It may be a simple flower image-but equally it may be accompanied by some flowery prose.
Gift tags...
The gift tag accompanying a gift of flowers may be well received greeting or... a very standard brush off-thanks, but no thanks, I'm not going to be seeing you any more... Ever read that in a romance novel? So for a brush off the barest hint of writing on a card would be the norm.

Letters and diary excerpts...
 What do you think of the dicentra on the left? You may know this one more commonly as 'Bleeding Heart'.
I, personally, look forward to this one flowering every year in my garden, and think it's one of the most stunningly shaped flowers I've planted. For me it's a happy time when I see it but the name would indicate a former, less happy conceptual interpretation. 

What do you see about this image which would make it sad enough to illustrate a tragic letter or perhaps an unrequited love diary extract? How many novels or diaries can you think of that an image like this one would enhance?

Perhaps the imagery of flowers might represent something entirely different from the visual image portrayed. 
Take these poppies that are now just a bit too blown to be perfect any more. The following phrase immediately comes to my mind.

'But pleasures are like poppies spread: you seize the flow'r, its bloom is shed;' 

What is that phrase about?  Does it refer to a relationship that 'has lost its bloom'? You might be amazed to find out how the Scottish poet, Robert Burns, has used it in his poem 'Tam O' Shanter'. He is referring to a moment lost...

The concept of giving flowers... 
It may even appear as an afterthought when the hero of a romance novel realises he hasn't wooed his heroine, has given almost no gifts at all and their relationship is well beyond the first bloom stage. Indeed the relationship may well be floundering to a crushing end...
Here's a little extract from my history mystery - MONOGAMY TWIST. Luke realises he's been a bit remiss over the giving of physical flowers and has never sent Rhia any romantic written gestures either.

 'He’d never properly wooed Rhia, or done any of the courtship rituals he’d entered into with previous lovers. Normal courting hadn’t been part of their contract. Since she never seemed to need any of that, it hadn’t occurred to him that it could be an element in their relationship that was lacking. She’d always filled the cottage with flowers from her garden so he’d never bought any. Nor had he bought her chocolates. They’d been far too busy restoring Greywood Hall and partaking in the extra jaunts necessary to his business.
Apart from the fiasco of the amethyst pendant set, he’d never bought her any gifts. In his defense, she’d made it clear she wasn’t interested in material things.
All she seemed to want from him was sex. She’d been the initiator of some frantic coupling during the last couple of months. Now he wondered if that was all he meant to her. A stud for a year?
But where did that leave him if she was now turning away?'
Whatever...enjoy the flowers!

Tuesday 19 June 2012

June Tuesdays and THAT FIRST KISS

What might have prevented that first kiss in MONOGAMY TWIST from happening?

Imagine this scenario.

You’ve committed yourself to writing a sensual romance with everything that might entail.  You’re sitting at the keyboard thinking about what to write. You’ve been given this excerpt and have been tasked with getting your characters to the point where the first kiss enters the equation. 

What would you write after reading this?

Excerpt from Monogamy Twist

…..I don’t expect love, Rhia, but I do expect sex.” He closed the gap between them and positioned himself in front of her, straddling her chair, his long legs wide balanced as he looked down at her. “If you’re honest you’ll agree we have enough chemistry going on between us to ignite a bonfire.”
Rhia’s face flamed at his candid assessment but couldn’t deny what he was saying.
“I was thinking more of a mutually agreed arrangement where we share all aspects of our lives-including sex-till the year is up. Then we’d stop the arrangement.” He was a mere step away.
“That sounds like I’d be a long-term whore or a mistress!” Rhia recoiled from him.
“We’d be living together legally as man and wife.” Luke bent toward her.
“For a year?” She remained rooted in place, but her whole body frizzled.
“That’s what it will take to fulfill the requirements of the will. Then the property will be mine.”
Barely a hairsbreadth separated them now.
Rhia was still rattled by his cold propositions, her chin hitching up again as she faced him. “You would seem to be getting a lot more out of this arrangement than I would.”

-image use purchased from

What have we got to work on?

We know there’s a good going attraction already between them so a first kiss is probably not going to be a hesitant one.

Luke’s proposal is very cold and calculating even if the man’s attraction to Rhia in not…so is she going to hold out till he re-outlines his terms in a more ‘lover friendly’ manner?

Luke does reinforce the point that she’d be his legal wife for the year and would have the benefits of that status. Is Rhia going to force him to clarify what those benefits might be?

Is the attraction between them so volatile that all other practical concerns will be completely over-ridden by Rhia? Or, how much will she demand of him before any capitulation might take place, since she’s obviously not enamoured by his pragmatism.    

Fast forward a bit and what have we got…

…“Or…if you say you’ll be monogamous, and you fail to keep to the requirement during the year, I’ll start divorce proceedings and we will go our own way. Of course, if I go you won’t meet the conditions of the will.”
“But then I won’t have Greywood Hall, and it won’t be restored properly.” Luke reached to gentle his fingers on her shoulders, the light touch setting a tingle reverberating up her forearms that shocked and aroused her in equal measures. “You don’t want that to happen,” he warned.
Shrugging out of his grasp, Rhia stepped back, hoping the passion couldn’t be heard in her response, for his touch was electric. “No, you won’t have Greywood Hall! And you won’t have me either.”
Turning her back on him, she didn’t understand why that thought upset her so much. She’d only just met this man who was having such a profound effect on her. He overwhelmed her, consumed her.
“Now who’s blackmailing whom?”
Luke’s words whispered behind her, his huge body moving closer to somehow cradle her without making contact. Then he reached for her. Resting his hands on her shoulders, his thumbs kneaded the tension at the back of her neck, his lips feathering butterfly kisses behind her ear before turning her round.
Rhia drowned in her own need. She reached up to him at the very instant he bent to her, lust no longer to be denied. She couldn’t wait another second or she’d just die. She wanted his lips on hers. She needed him to touch her all over and stop the utter sexual torment.
“Kiss me?”
Rhia wasn’t sure if the request came from her own lips, but it didn’t matter since they were both on the same page. Luke’s mouth plundered hers. His arms became a tight band around her. Their lips melded, gently to begin with, but she’d been waiting too long for finesse. He demanded she open her mouth to him allowing his tongue to savor; she complied. Their tongues shifted, sliding sinuously around, tasting and teasing each other, drawing a groaning response from her.
Through their mingled breaths she heard him murmur, “Bella. You taste so good,” before he swooped in again for a thorough gorging.

Why don't you share a first kiss scene with us? Show us how you got your characters to that pivotal point. Is it near the beginning... or does it take quite a chunk of the book to reach that point?


Friday 15 June 2012

Re-issuing a novel? Here is the path Toni V. Sweeney took.

Today Toni V. Sweeney has dropped in to tell us how she revamped an earlier novel before she felt it was ready for today's re-issue by Class Act Books.

’Way back in the late Eighties, I wrote a novel called The Rose and the Dragon, which was finally published in 2004. Medieval-sounding, I know, and I’m certain some were disappointed if they bought it without reading the blurb, then discovered that while there was a rose and a dragon in the story, they were merely part of a design cut into the hero’s shoulder.  Neither the plot nor the characters had anything knightly about them, either.  When it was accepted by Class Act Books for re-issue, I found that a lot of things needed to be changed.  My writing technique had improved greatly since the story was written so the first thing I did was go through the story and add and delete, re-arrange and tweak,  explaining more about certain sections, and—I hope—making it an even better story. 

What would you do if you read this ad in your local paper:  NANNY WANTED.  MUST HAVE ABILITY TO FACE ADVENTURE, EXCITEMENT, DANGER.

When Miranda Wilson answers just such an advertisement, she doesn’t realize what she’s walking into.  It could’ve been the plot of a Gothic novel, with a handsome widower, three orphaned children,  and herself as the innocent governess…but that’s before she meets her boss’ younger brother, a knock-out hunk by the name of Kitten. 

There are odd undercurrents in the Andrus household, however, and before she knows it, Miranda Wilson, Nanny, finds herself Miranda Wilson, Alien Abductee, as she’s whisked to the planet Gataeus where Dominic Andrus is the head of the planet’s largest crime family and Kit is his chief hitman.

Now, she’s in the middle of an interplanetary war with her three charges as the prize. 

What’s an Earthwoman to do?

At the time it was written, computers were huge, clunky objects with massive towers and bulky terminals, cell phones—for those who could afford them—were almost as big as those old army walkie-talkies, Smart Bombs had just come into use.  At the time, it was published, not much had changed, but now…?  Because this was a futuristic story, my aliens were the possessors of computers which were really desktop—they were embedded in, and part of, the desk instead of sitting on it.  Their cell phones are small handhelds, which not only transmit audio but also images (Can you say Smart Phone?)  Their missiles are programmed to seek out a target with a specific DNA, and they’ve discovered cold lasers.  I made up that last item, not knowing that real scientists were at that moment attempting to do the very same thing. 

Now, the story needed updating.  No longer could my heroine appear awe-struck when the small object on her boss’ desk began buzzing and when picked up, an image appears demanding to speak to him.  There was definitely a whole lotta re-writing goin’ on!

The characters themselves didn’t need so much revision as remodeling. Miranda was still slightly na├»ve but plucky and a little more up-to-date in her observations, her boss, Dominic Andrus was still droolworthy and GQ metrosexual-ish, as was his son Niki.  The fourth character, and the  most important to Miranda, was the one I needed to work on, as well as his relationship to her, and that was Dom’s younger brother with the highly unusual name of Kitten… 

What to say about Kitten Andrus?  Well…he’s a good father, if not the best husband-material, though it’s not his fault.  The multi-married Kit has the misfortune to attract women who are social-climbers.  They leave him as soon as they discover life with a younger Andrus isn’t as glamorous as life with the head of the family would be.  The fact that Kit has a habit of getting his wife pregnant the first time they sleep together doesn’t help, either.  As a result, at the time he meets Miranda, Kit has been married seven times and has eight children, and he’s not looking for Mrs. Kitten Andrus Number Eight.  In fact, he’s decided never to marry again and he’s also had himself sterilized…just in case he gets tempted by another pretty face.  Nevertheless, he does like the way the little alien nanny looks, so it appears that there may soon be another applicant for lady of the house, and a reversal of a certain procedure.

I really had to work on Kit because, unlike Dom, who’s fairly upfront about things, baby brother hides his feelings, broods over them, and never speaks about what’s important.  He’s attracted to Miranda—yes—and she to him, but because his last wife died in childbirth, he’s determined never to be the cause of losing another woman he loves, or—as he considers it—killing her by having her bear his child.   Kit has  other secrets, too, and a very dangerous position in his brother’s household, and the continual risk of being killed makes him hesitant to tell Miranda how he feels.  And then there’s that damned Isolationist Edict the Empire has, forbidding contact with any world outside their own system.  Kit and Miranda not only have his past fighting them but the entire Empire also.

The Rose and the Dragon was fun to write because it was a kind of “duck out of water” story…taking a person out of her own environment and placing her in one where she’s the foreigner, the alien, and having her learn to adjust.  Miranda does just that because she loves the people she’s involved with…the three children for whom she’s a nanny, her boss, and, of course, Kit…and when they’re threatened, she’s there to do whatever she can to protect them in her own, bumbling, Earthling way.


It was like the plot of a Gothic novel:  a lovely young governess, a handsome mysterious employer, and his three motherless children...but there the resemblance ends.  Miranda Wilson soon finds there is more to Dominic Andrus and his family than meets the eye.
The triplets are in the center of a custody battle between Dom and his in-laws who appear very dangerous indeed.  After one of Dom’s ships is bombed and he and son Niki return home, Miranda is approached by a mysterious man saying he’s come to take her and the children to him.  The moment she sees Kitten Andrus, Miranda knows he’s the man she’ll love forever.  So what if he’s already had seven wives and doesn’t want Wife #8?  She and the children go with him…
…and Miranda finds herself on the planet Gataeus where she discovers that Dom’s no ordinary parent but an interplanetary Mafioso and his “custody battle” is between two crime families, vying for control of the entire planet.  In a flash, one governess from Earth finds herself swept into a war led by a madman whose only wish is to destroy three innocent children, their father, and Kit.
What can one little Earthling do to save the man she loves? 


From somewhere, there was a sudden whisper of sound. Someone singing. As Miranda listened, she realized both voice and song were vaguely familiar. Who? It was too far away to recognize but she felt she should know. Following the sound along the terrace, she found herself at the back of the house where the stairs looked down on the garden courtyard, lit only by the light from the four moons.
Eyes closed, Kit lay on a soft chair resembling a lounger, long legs stretched out before him. The reflection from the golden pool washed over him in a pale yellow haze. On the stone near the chair sat a CD player, the music coming from it.
Miranda’s mouth fell open. Elvis Presley? One of the songs he’d recorded back in the ’Fifties. Something about wise men and fools and the fact that he couldn’t help falling in love with someone.  That’s the last song I’d expect to hear. Especially in this place.
Carefully holding onto the railing, she tiptoed down the stairs. Kit heard her, opening his eyes and sitting up. “Can’t sleep, either?”
She shook her head, gesturing at the player. “I heard the music.”
“Gift from Dom.” He looked exhausted, as if he’d done a full day’s work in the few hours since she’d last seen him. “To play the CDs. We don’t have anything this primitive.”
“You’re going to have a little trouble if you’re thinking of pirating those.” She forced a laugh, hoping to make him smile. “Elvis has been dead for decades.”
“Wouldn’t that be a story for one of your newspapers?” He held up a finger as if writing a headline. “Elvis is Alive and Recording on Another Planet.”
“Stop it!” She stifled a giggle. “That’s too much like what they do print.” She was relieved when he laughed also, if a trifle wearily.
“Actually,” he sat up. “I was planning to transcribe these.” He indicated the jewel cases lying on the stones. “Onto chips, so I can play them through the computer. They aren’t compatible with my equipment. I may have to ask the twins to do it.” He gave a heavy sigh. “I’m not going to have time.  Would you care to hear something else? I have some classicals. Mozart, Tschaikowsky.”
“Which do you like best?”
“Elvis...and Wagner.”
“That’s an odd combination.”
“Would you care to dance, Sentira Randa?”  He stood up, catching her hand.
Dance? How do Gataens dance? His arms went around her and she was gathered against Kit’s chest, cheek resting against the soft knit of his sweater. Apparently just like Earthlings.
Holding her close, he guided her across the stones in rhythm to the music. Miranda took a deep breath, inhaling a clean laundry fragrance and another, more subtle scent…something spicy and slightly peppery, like cloves. It took her a moment to realize it was the faint smell of male alien sweat…of Kit himself. And it was such a shocking turn-on, sending a flash of heat through her entire body she stumbled slightly.
Kit’s embrace tightened, helping her regain her balance.
Elvis was now imploring his love to take his hand and his life, and once more reassuring her he couldn’t help falling in love with her.
Is he trying to tell me something with this music? Shaken by her sudden reaction to Kit’s scent, Miranda refused to let herself think about it.
The song died away. Kit stood still.
Miranda stayed where she was, leaning against him, not wanting to break the moment. She didn’t want to leave an embrace making her feel safe. She wanted to be lying with Kit in that black-satined bed, falling asleep with her head against his chest. Listening to his heartbeat. Smelling  that sweaty clove-fragrance as it floated from his body. Making love in a spice-imbued cloud. My God! She realized she’d never before had such thoughts like that about any man …definitely not any of her boyfriends and certainly not Niki or Dom.
They had stopped at the edge of the pool; she could hear the water lapping gently as the wind blew over it. Slowly, she raised her head.
He was looking down at her, green eyes reflecting gold from the lights beneath the water. Is that a question in his eyes? If Kit makes love to me, I’ll always wonder if he means it or if he’s simply trying to fill a void in his life. She thought of all the women he had brought to Soldotna, all the wives abandoning him, and of Cyntis, remaining to die.
He was going to kiss her. She just knew it. And if he did…
No, I won’t be another. Abruptly, she pushed him away. Put both hands on his chest and just...pushed...
It seemed to happen in slow motion.
Kits jerked slightly and stepped backward into space. Arms and legs flailing, he tumbled toward the water. One hand shot out, seizing hers, and Miranda was pulled toward him in a graceful arc of fluttering fabric and flying hair.
They hit the water with a splash, Miranda landing on top of him, his arms going around her as they sank. It seemed to take forever before they surfaced, splashing upward, coughing and gasping.
The boom box had started another song, but in this one Elvis was stating plainly how much he wanted…needed…his love…with all his heart.
“It’s a good thing I can swim.” Raking wet hair out of his eyes, Kit’s splutter smothered Elvis’ complaints. “Why in Hell did you do that?”
“I don’t know! Oh, I’m so sorry.” Suddenly, she was frightened. What if he’s angry?
“I think you’re the only one who’s ever caught me off-guard, Miranda Wilson.”
He began to laugh again, releasing her long enough to brush back a curl dripping water into her eyes.
Miranda stared up at him.
Kit stopped laughing.
He kissed her.

The Rose and the Dragon is set for a June 15 release

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Twitter:  @tonivsweeney

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from Class Act Books.