Guest Author: Liz Flaherty & Giveaway!

I’m very pleased to have fellow Carina Press author Liz Flaherty on the blog today.  Liz writes wonderfully emotional contemporary romance, garnering accolades from both reviewers and readers.  Liz has a new book out, called One More Summer, and she’s here to tell us a little bit about it, and about herself.

ONE MORE SUMMER sounds a little bit quirky and a whole lot wonderful. Where did you get the idea for the book?

My people came first–they always do! And we visited my sister-in-law in beautiful, beautiful Tennessee, so setting came next. In all honesty, I’m not sure where the story came from–it just fell, little pieces of my heart, into place.

What genres do you read in when you’re writing a book? Does reading contemporary romance/women’s fiction mess with your head, or does it help you find your story?

Genres don’t mess with my head, but certain voices do, ones that I particularly love. If I’m writing, I can’t read Kathleen Gilles Seidel or Robyn Carr or Kristan Higgins or Jenny Crusie, because next thing you know, I’m using something that was theirs. It’s never intentional, but it happens. However, anything they write is super-treat for me when I’m finished with my own stuff!

Do you play music when you write? If so, what was the play list for this book?

I can’t play music. My empty nest is a quiet place and I’ve learned to write that way, so now sounds from outside my head distract me. However, I will admit that were it not for the Eagles (oh, be still my heart, I love them so!), I’m not sure ONE MORE SUMMER would have been written. The songs and the emotions in Don Henley and Glen Frey’s voices found their way to my keyboard, for which I remain eternally grateful.

If stranded on a desert island, what two luxury items would you bring along?

Luxury? Hmmm… Is a fully loaded Kindle a luxury or a necessity? Whichever, that would be one. The other–oh, this sounds goofy, but it’s true–would be very-high-speed internet. We live way in the country, where it isn’t available, and when I do get to use it, it’s FUN!

Here’s the blurb for One More Summer:

Grace has taken care of her widowed father her entire adult life and the ornery old goat has finally died. She has no job, no skills and very little money, and has heard her father’s prediction that no decent man would ever want her so often she accepts it as fact.

But she does have a big old house on Lawyers Row in Peacock, Tennessee. She opens a rooming house and quickly gathers a motley crew of tenants – Promise, Grace’s best friend since kindergarten, who’s fighting cancer; Maxie, an aging soap opera actress who hasn’t lost her flair for the dramatic; Jonah, a sweet gullible old man with a crush on Maxie.

And Dillon, Grace’s brother’s best friend, who stood her up on the night of her senior prom and has regretted it ever since. Dillon rents Grace’s guest house for the summer and hopes to make up for lost time and past hurts – but first, he’ll have to convince Grace that she’s worth loving…

Sounds great, doesn’t it?  Be sure to check out Liz’s website for all the details, and for info on her other books.

Readers, Liz is giving away a copy of her new book.  Let’s talk about vacations.  If you could only take one thing away with you on vacation, what would it be?  And feel free to use your imagination!  One person will win a copy of One More Summer.


We Have Winners!

The winners of Michelle Beattie’s books are:  May Pau, who will receive a copy of Love by Accident, and Adria, who wins a copy of Another Chance.  Congratulations, ladies!  I’ll be in touch.

My guest authors for the rest of the week are contemporary romance author Ann Roth and paranormal and contemporary romance author Phoebe Conn.  Be sure to stop by!

#SampleSunday: HARDBALL, by V.K. Sykes

For #Sample Sunday, here’s another excerpt from Hardball, the sexy contemporary romance I wrote with my husband under the pen name of VK Sykes.  Our hero Nate, a superstar baseball player, is taking Holly, a serious and rather shy pediatric surgeon, to an upscale charity dinner for their first date.  Wanting Holly all to himself, he hustles her out to his sportscar, eager for their first kiss…and more!

Nate had enjoyed watching Holly charm the rest of the table with her intelligence and her sweet, slightly retiring manner.  He gave himself a pat on the back for having the brains to ask her out tonight, and silently thanked Martha for putting the idea in his head.

But right now he couldn’t wait for the damn speeches and trophy presentations to end.  Even at the best of times he found it hard to sit still for so long, but tonight he felt ready to crawl out of his skin.  His body hummed with energy, and an overwhelming desire to get Holly Bell alone.

Alone anywhere—as long as he had her all to himself.

Earlier in the evening, she’d spent most of her time talking to Dr. Fredericks.  Although Nate had expected that, he didn’t have to like it.  But since coming back from the rest room she’d focused almost completely on him, laughing at all his jokes and asking questions about baseball.  She looked and acted more confident, too.  It made him wonder what had gone on in that long trip to the bathroom with the scheming duo of Maddie Leclair Miller and Martha Winston.

Finally, Holly glanced at him, signaling her readiness to leave.  As they got up, she wobbled just enough to let him know she could use an arm to steady her.  When he slid his arm around her waist as they said their goodbyes, she leaned into him slightly and Nate’s hormones kicked into overdrive.

He kept his arm firmly around her as they strolled down a flagstone path to the parking lot.  “Have a good time tonight?” he said softly.

“I sure did,” she murmured.  “Your friends are great.  I especially liked Maddie and Martha.”

Nate was not interested in talking about his well-meaning but sometimes annoying friends.  He wanted Holly’s attention fully on him.  “I usually find these banquets boring, but not tonight.  It’s obviously because I spent the evening with the most beautiful and interesting woman in the place.”

She hesitated a second longer than he liked.  “You’re sweet to say that, but I think that must be the wine talking.  And, speaking of wine, I could kick myself for drinking as much as I did.  I had a grand plan you know,” she said with a sleepy, sexy smile.

Oh, he had some grand plans too, and he was about to set them in motion.  “Hold that thought.”

He opened the passenger door of the DB9 and handed an almost boneless Holly into the seat.  After he went around and slid into his own seat, he turned to face her.

“Okay, the grand plan.  I’m almost afraid to ask,” he said, deadpan.

The smile shaping her full, sensual mouth drove him crazy with lust.

With a lazy gesture, Holly made a half-hearted attempt to smooth her dress down, leaving most of her silky thighs exposed.  Nate clenched his jaw hard against the rush of blood to his groin.  He totally forgot what they were talking about.

Oh, right.  Her grand plan.

“I was going to ask if I could drive this sweetheart home,” she said.  “But that was before you plied me with all that wine.”  Her eyelids fluttered shut.  “Not to mention bourbon.  One would almost think you had an ulterior motive.”

Holding back a grin, Nate decided to yank her chain a bit.  “Hell, I wouldn’t care if you were stone cold sober,” he said in a growly voice.  “Nobody drives my baby.  And sure as hell not on a first date.”

Her eyes opened wider.  “So this was a date, after all?”

“What did you think it was?”

She stared at him, looking almost embarrassed, before she lifted one slender hand to rest just below her neck.  “Oh, I don’t know.  I guess I wondered if you were just being nice to a newcomer.”

The doctor was full of surprises.  Didn’t she get how attracted he’d been to her from the first moment?  He’d always been direct with women, and hadn’t disguised his interest.  How could she not see it?

“What do I look like, lady?  The welcome wagon?” he joked, wanting to ease her shyness.

Holly laughed as she aimed a little punch at his shoulder.  “Okay, I get it.  Anyway, I’d still like to drive this car.  Someday, if you’ll let me.”

Nate gave her a wink.  “Like Scarlett said, tomorrow is another day.”

“I’m taking that as a promise, Nate Carter,” she said in a schoolmarm tone of voice.  But then she relaxed back into the seat and, as she stretched her long legs, her dress rose even higher, revealing a couple more inches of creamy thigh.

That’s all it took for Nate’s erection to push aggressively against the fabric of his pants.  He clenched his hand into a fist to stop from reaching over the center console to stroke her silk-clad flesh.

As if reading his thoughts, Holly laid her hand on top of his.  Nate gazed at her, searching her eyes for confirmation of what he thought she was saying.

“It’s okay,” she breathed.  Her eyes were sensual and heavy, the lids almost closing.

Nate pulled her to him, unable to keep his hands off her gorgeous body a second longer.  Holly sighed as his lips found hers, and eased open her soft mouth to his probing tongue.  He knew he should be tender and gentle, but he wanted her as much as he’d ever wanted any woman.   He devoured her mouth, and his arms pulled her flush against him as he leaned over the console.  With a whimpering little moan that shot his lust sky high, she snuggled into him, sifting his hair through her fingers.

With a harsh breath, Nate drew back a few inches and gazed into her eyes.  There was no mistaking the message in their smoky, hazel depths.  She wanted him as much as he wanted her.

He came back down on her like a rocket, devouring her mouth again as he lost all sense of his surroundings.  The fire in their kiss seemed to consume the oxygen, taking his breath with it.  He knew only her lips, the hot cavern of her mouth, the sweet, welcoming taste of her.  But he needed more.  He needed her body.  So, he slid one hand up to cup a full, soft breast as his other hand inched across her lap to an exposed thigh.

A mechanical roar from behind drove them apart.  Nate jerked back into his seat as headlights bathed them in a wash of halogen light.  Part of him cursed the interruption, but the rest of him realized the parking lot was no place to be fooling around.  Especially not with a woman as classy as Dr. Holly Bell.

Holly let out a nervous laugh as she smoothed her dress down then ruffled out her hair.  “God, that was embarrassing.  I think I gave up about five years of life with that one.”

Nate buckled his seat belt and pressed the crystal starter knob on the dash.  “Scared the hell out of me, too.  Whoever it was must have been damn quiet getting into the car.  I didn’t hear a thing before the engine roared.”

“We were a little preoccupied.” Holly said in a muffled voice.  Thank God she sounded amused.  He sure as hell had no intention of offending her by making out like a horny teenager in the parking lot.

Hardball is available at Amazon, the Nook, and at Smashwords for $2.99.  You can read all about it, including another excerpt, on my VK Sykes website.

I’m also very happy to announce that V.K. Sykes will have another book coming out in the next few weeks.  It’s called Fastball.

Nice cover, eh?  Fastball is actually a prequel to Hardball, starring Nate’s friends, Maddie and Jake.  Stay tuned for details on the release!

Tons of Winners!

I have lots of winners to announce today.  For the Romance at Random Reader Rally I have three:  Melanie Friedman has won a copy of My Favorite Countess, Dalila has won a copy of CaddyGirls, and Renee B has won a copy of my other V.K. Sykes contemporary romance, Hardball.

The winner of Margaret Mallory’s book, The Guardian, is Filia Oktarina.  The winner of Tina Gabrielle’s latest book, In The Barrister’s Chambers, is lisagk.

Congratulations, everyone!  Thanks to everyone who stopped by the blog.  My featured author tomorrow is contemporary romance writer, Liz Flaherty.  Be sure to stop on by!

Guest Author: Elisabeth Naughton & Giveaway!

One of my favorite authors is once again featured on the blog today.  She’s Elisabeth Naughton and she writes sexy romantic adventures, and hot and dangerous paranormal romance.  From the beginning, Elisabeth’s books have received tons of critical acclaim.  This is how the Chicago Tribune described her Stolen Series romantic suspense trilogy:

“Naughton deftly distills deadly intrigue, high adrenaline action and scorchingly hot passion.”

Yes, she does!  Her paranormal romance is fabulous too.  In fact, her next paranormal, Enraptured, just got a starred review from the prestigious Publisher’s Weekly:

“Filled with sizzling romance, heartbreaking drama, and a cast of multifaceted characters, this powerful and unusual retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice story is Naughton’s best book yet.”

And can we just pause a moment to ponder that awesome cover?  *Vanessa fans herself*

Where was I?  I remember!  With Elisabeth’s latest book, always good news for her readers.  Like many top-notch authors, Elisabeth has moved into the world of digital publishing, this time with an emotional contemporary romance called Wait For Me.

Here’s the blurb for this intriguing story:

A woman without a past…

After a tragic accident left her with no memory, Kate Alexander struggled to fit in with a husband and world that didn’t feel right. She’s had no reason to question what friends and family have told her, not until her husband is suddenly killed and she finds a photo of a young girl in his office. A girl who can’t be anyone but a daughter Kate didn’t know she had.

A man desperate for a reason to live…

Ryan Harrison lost his wife in a plane crash five years ago. To cope with the pain of her loss, he dedicated himself to his job and to raising their daughter. Now a successful pharmaceutical executive, Ryan has everything a man could want—money, fame and power—but he’d give it all up in a heartbeat for just one more day with the woman he still loves.

Two lives about to converge.

As Kate begins to dig into a past she doesn’t remember, evidence leads her to San Francisco and puts her on the path toward Ryan, a man who sees in her the woman he loved and lost. Kate feels a draw to Ryan, one she can’t explain, but is that feeling enough to convince her this is where she’s supposed to be? As Ryan and Kate search for answers, they uncover lies long buried, a passion hotter than either expected and a danger that threatens…even now…when the second chance they’ve both been searching for is finally within reach.

Doesn’t that sound awesome?  And I’m going to give you a little flavor of Elisabeth’s book with this excerpt:

Ryan tossed his keys on the entry table and closed the front door behind Kate. She wandered into his living room without a word and stopped in front of the fireplace, where a series of framed photos of their life together still sat on the mantel. Their wedding photo, the day they’d brought Julia home from the hospital, a picture of the two of them on a hiking trip up one of those stupid mountains she’d always been dragging him to.

What did she think when she looked at those pictures? Did she feel anything? His palms grew sweaty. His stomach churned like it was set on the spin cycle of a washing machine.

Guilt slithered in as he watched her look from photo to photo, clamped on tight to his heart. Guilt for not looking for her when he should have. Guilt for what was happening now. Guilt over the fact someone had purposely hurt her five years ago and that it could possibly be because of him.

He raked a hand through his hair, knowing dwelling on that guilt wasn’t going to change anything. The only thing that mattered now was keeping her safe. “Are you tired?”

She turned to face him. Moonlight spilled through the picture window, illuminating her features. Those deep green eyes, the high-set cheekbones, that mass of curly hair that fell to her shoulders and which he ached to slide his fingers through. “Exhausted.”

Her tired voice was like velvet and sandpaper all wrapped up together. He wanted to hear her say his name in that same sleepy tone like she had so many times before. Wanted to pick her up and take her to his bed. Wanted to wrap her in his arms, slide inside her body, and block out the rest of the world.

But he knew he couldn’t. She still wasn’t sure of him. He’d been an ass to her when he’d first found out who she was, and now they both knew he was indirectly responsible for her accident. Her wariness was warranted, and he didn’t want to push her. As much as he wanted—needed—to touch her, he wanted her to want him back. Even if it was only a fraction of his want for her.

“Come on,” he said, gesturing for her to follow. “I’ll show you the guest room.”

He picked up her bag, the one they’d driven out to Moss Beach to get, and headed up the stairs. Her feet shuffled behind him, her sweet scent of lilacs drifted in the air. He hardened at just the thought of her lying in a bed down the hall from him tonight, so very close. So completely alive.

Cold shower. That’s what he needed right now. Maybe two. Or ten.

He pushed the guest-room door open, and when she eased by him, those silky strands of hair brushed his shoulder. His stomach clenched, and heavy tingling sensations shot straight to his groin.

“This is nice,” she said, turning a slow circle as she took in the pale blue walls, the white comforter on the queen-sized bed, the whitewashed furniture a decorator had picked out.

But nice wasn’t the word he was thinking of. Dressed in jeans and a fitted T-shirt, she was gorgeous. Curvy at her hips, tight through her legs and ass, and when she turned, the swell of her breasts tempted not only his body but his control. He’d had his hands on those luscious breasts earlier today, wanted his lips there now.


He glanced up and noticed her curious expression. “Sorry. Punchy. It’s been a long day.”

“Yeah, I guess it has.”

He set her bag on the bed, moved to open the adjacent door, and flipped on the light. Tried like hell to stop being so aware of every sound and movement she made. Couldn’t. “Bathroom’s through here.”

“Did I live here before?”

The soft-spoken question drew him around. What would it be like not to remember who or what you were? To have to rely on others to fill in the gaps? For the first time since she’d come back into his life, he realized how hard this must be for her.

He checked the urge to reach out to her and instead shoved his hands into the front pockets of his jeans. “No. I bought this house about four years ago.”


She ran her hand over the blue-checked bedspread. He wished she’d touch him like that, couldn’t help but remember the way heat had sizzled all along his skin when her hands had brushed over him earlier in the day.

“Where did we live before?”

“We had a place in the city. After you…left…I couldn’t stand being there by myself.”

That was partly true. The real truth was he hadn’t been able to step foot in a single room in that house without remembering her being there, smiling at him, making love with him. Being in that house without her had almost killed him.

“Oh,” she said again. On a deep breath, she dropped her hand and looked at her feet.

Talking about the past wasn’t putting her at ease. And he didn’t want her uncomfortable. He went into the bathroom and pulled towels out of the linen closet, then set them on the counter. When he made his way back out into the bedroom, she was already going through her bag.

Her face was drawn, her mascara smudged under her eyes. She looked like she could nod off to sleep at any moment. “I guess I’ll just let you get some rest, then.”


“Yeah?” He stopped at the open door, glanced back.

“I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“For this…for putting you out.”

“You’re not.”

She shook her head. “Yes, I am. I’m sorry about all of this. I shouldn’t have come to San Francisco. I didn’t stop to think about how this would affect anyone but myself. I’ve sucked you into this nightmare. I’ve caused nothing but confusion and heartache for Julia and Reed. And now I’ve put Simone and Shannon in danger.”

“You didn’t do anything wrong,” he said softly.

“Yeah, I did. I told myself I had to know the truth. Now…” She lifted her arms, dropped them in defeat, and sank down onto the edge of the bed. “Now, I’m not so sure I want to know anymore. Maybe it would just be better if I packed up and left.”

A knot twisted in his stomach. Panic pumped through him. He wouldn’t survive it if she walked out on him now. Losing her the first time had broken him. A second time would kill him.

He knelt in front of her, knowing if he touched her, he wasn’t going to be able to stop. But he needed that connection, needed to show her how much she meant to him. With shaking fingers, he clasped her hand in her lap. “You can’t leave now.”

Her eyes were full of anguish and remorse. The sadness he saw there tightened his chest to painful levels. He ached to wrap his arms around her and pull her close, to take away the pain for both of them.

“You can’t possibly tell me any of this is what you want,” she said quietly.

“I don’t want this mess, no. But in some insane way, it brought you back to us. I wouldn’t change it now for anything. What I want is to see you smile again, to figure out a way to make this easier for all of us. Walking away from me and the kids isn’t going to do that. It’ll just make things worse.”

Her eyes slid shut. “I know.”

Hearing the crack in her voice did him in. He could see himself pushing her back on the bed, tugging her clothes off, pressing inside her and driving the worry away. Wanted that so bad he could barely breathe.

Gently, she pulled her hand from his and ran it over her hair. “I’m just tired and not thinking clearly. I need some rest.”

He didn’t want to break the connection, but she’d already done it, was putting up those barriers again and blocking him out. Why couldn’t he read her? Why couldn’t he figure out what she was thinking? He’d always been able to do that with her. He didn’t want to admit she was different, but she was. So much about her was different from what he remembered.

Reluctantly, he pushed to his feet. “Okay. I guess I’ll see you in the morning.”


She smiled when he didn’t move. Not a seductive, made-for-him grin, but a forced, uncomfortable curl of her luscious lips that said it was way past time he left.

He pulled the bedroom door closed behind him, then gripped the handle for support. And alone in the empty hall, he closed his eyes and rested his head against the door. Everything he’d ever wanted was inside that room, and he didn’t know how to get it. Every move he made was the wrong one. Each step he took seemed to push her further away instead of draw her closer. Was he fooling himself into thinking he could ever win her back?

He sure the hell hoped not. Because he knew for certain he’d never survive losing her again.

Vanessa, here.  Doesn’t that book sound great?  Please check out Elisabeth’s website for details on Wait For Me, and for info on all her books.

For my readers today, Elisabeth is giving away a digital copy of her book, Wait For Me.  Just tell me which genre you prefer – contemporary romance, paranormal romance, or romantic suspense for a chance to win a copy of Elisabeth’s book!

And don’t forget that I’m participating in the Romance at Random Reader Rally

Just click on this link  to participate and for chances to win some fabulous books.  Or go directly to the Romance at Random contest page!