We Have Winners!!

We have lots of winners from our Rock*It Reads mega-giveaway earlier in the week.  Here’s the list:

Love’s Portrait by Monica Burns: Landin

Skin Deep by Pamela Clare (Available May 2012): DeborahR

Carnal Gift by Pamela Clare: Fedora

Sweet Release by Pamela Clare: Betty Hamilton

Undone by Lila DiPasqua (Available May 2012): Savannah Miller

Hot Number by VK Sykes (aka Vanessa Kelly): Tonya

Fastball by VK Sykes (aka Vanessa Kelly): Mary Doherty

Hardball by VK Sykes (aka Vanessa Kelly): Mina DeCaro-Petril

His Wicked Revenge by Vanessa Kelly: bn100

Claiming Her by Kris Kennedy (Available May 2012): donna ann

Stolen Fury by Elisabeth Naughton: Megan G

Fever by Joan Swan (print copy): Cate Sparks

Intimate Enemies by Joan Swan: Tina Rucci

And the winner of Kate Noble’s book is Shannon.  Congratulations to all the winners!  We’ll be in touch.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by the blog this week – it was great fun!  Kate Noble will be back next week for an interview, and historical romance author Bronwen Evans will also be stopping by.  Please join us!

 

 

 


Guest blogging today!

I’m guest blogging today with paranormal romance author, Laurie London.  We’re talking about my VK Sykes books, the sexy contemporary romances I write with my hubby.  Stop on by to find out about our writing partnership – and how we manage to not kill each other – and post a comment for a chance to win HOT NUMBER or FASTBALL.

See you there!


A New Era In Publishing & Lots Of Prizes, Too!

I have a fabulous author guest blogging with  me today.  She’s Joan Swan, and she writes romantic suspense for Kensington Brava.  Her debut book, Fever, has gotten great reviews and received tons of attention.  Trust me – if you like gritty romantic suspense, you will love this book.

But like many authors, Joan is also branching out into self-publishing or, as it’s often called, indie publishing.  In fact, she’ll be releasing her first indie book in May.  You can check out all the details on her website.

Joan and I have something in common.  We’re both members of Rock*It Reads, a collective of print authors who are also indie publishing.  I blogged about it a few weeks ago, and Joan is here to give you the latest update, which includes a very exciting announcement.

Over to you, my friend!

The publishing industry has turned the corner into a fast and furious new era.  The changes are undeniably exciting…and daunting.

For authors a whole new area of choices await—how your cover will look, which editor you’ll choose, what story you’ll write next and in what genre.  But there are also more worrisome concerns, like how you can make your work stand out in this overflowing market.

For readers, this new era gives you an amazing body of work to choose from that would not have been available even just a year ago.  Many talented authors, both previously unpublished and traditionally published, have a new outlet for their work—both new and backlist titles.  The low prices associated with most epublished books certainly helps out in tough economic times as well.  Add to that the portability and flexibility of ereaders and you’ve got a near-heavenly situation.

Why just near-heavenly?  Because you, the reader, have to wade through the millions of books available to narrow down your choices.  Might sound easy, but it only takes a few duds to the tune of $3-$5 to make those “off” choices add up pretty quick.  And I have to admit that’s one of my pet peeves – taking a chance on a book — spending the money, investing my time, my hope…and being let down.  For a romance reader, there is not much less disappointing than this.

This is a conundrum that the authors at Rock*It Reads also found troubling.  Rock*It Reads is a group of NY traditionally publishing authors who are also venturing out into indie epublishing.  The coop we’ve created supports a group of authors who get not only goes into a quality read—editing, design, proofreading, etc., but what it takes to stand out in an ocean of unknown titles.

So when you see the RIR, Rock*It Reads logo on a book cover, you’ll know each book has been professionally handled from cover to cover, by authors who have done this many time before in the professional realm of New York publishers.

As authors who appreciate amazing writing and long for an awesome story as much as the next reader,  we have partnered with Barnes and Noble to bring outstanding self published titles to readers’ attention through a brand new review column: Love Rocks.  At Love Rocks, Rock*It Reads authors will showcase a fabulous Indie read they’ve discovered and review the book.  We’ll be focusing on the lesser known authors and titles whose brilliance has yet to be recognized, which I personally find thrilling.  What reader doesn’t love to find a talented new author to read?

Our very first column launches today!  So, swing by Barnes and Noble Review.com, catch Love Rocks and stay to chat!  We look forward to seeing you there.

Come back here and leave a comment on your thoughts about the Love Rocks column and you could win one of the following fantastic prizes – donated by many of the RIR authors.

Love’s Portrait by Monica Burns

Skin Deep by Pamela Clare (Available May 2012)

Carnal Gift by Pamela Clare

Sweet Release by Pamela Clare

Undone by Lila DiPasqua (Available May 2012)

Hot Number by VK Sykes (aka Vanessa Kelly)

Fastball by VK Sykes (aka Vanessa Kelly)

Hardball by VK Sykes (aka Vanessa Kelly)

His Wicked Revenge by Vanessa Kelly

Claiming Her by Kris Kennedy (Available May 2012)

Stolen Fury by Elisabeth Naughton

Fever by Joan Swan (print copy)

Intimate Enemies by Joan Swan (Available May 2012)

Vanessa, here.  I have to tell you, I’m very excited about LOVE ROCKS.  So what do you think, readers?  Do you like this new world of indie publishing?  What do you think about this leap into the future?  Leave a comment for a chance to win one of these great books!


#SampleSunday: Hot Number

Here’s an excerpt from my latest VK Sykes book, one of the sexy contemporary romances co-written with my husband.  Hot Number is set in Las Vegas and it features Sadie Bligh, a geeky math professor from Chicago, and Nick Saxon, the assistant chief of security at a large casino.  Sadie is having a really bad year–her work life has flat-lined and her social life…well, that’s pretty much non-existent.  Desperate to shake things up, she heads to Sin City with a friend for a wild week of fun.

And Sadie does shake things up, but not in the way she intended.  After causing a scene in the casino, Security Chief Nick hauls her off for an interrogation.

Nick stared at the little bombshell who sat quietly before him. He had to deal with drunken bimbos every single day. It sure as hell wasn’t one of the more interesting parts of casino security work, but it came with the territory.

When he’d hauled this one’s tantalizing ass off the poker table, he’d pegged her as the usual single girl tourist on the make, too excited by Vegas to know her booze limits. But it hadn’t taken him long to figure out that with Ms. Sadie Bligh—and that was a name for the books—he had an entirely different animal on his hands. How many bimbos used the word contretemps, for Christ’s sake?

But the Desert Oasis had strict security policies and procedures, and Nick was a professional. People who caused disturbances didn’t get a free pass. With rare exceptions, they were taken to a room like this one so he or other security personnel could scare the living hell out of them. No way would he have abandoned that policy and let this woman off without a trip downstairs. Not even though her luscious, jiggling body gave him a hard-on that would only temporarily obey his mental commands to subside. During the long walk to the interview room, he’d had to focus his mind on the worst firefight he’d ever been in, just to make sure she wouldn’t see him pitching a tent.

Still, he couldn’t bring himself to really scare the crap out of her. She was harmless and she was cute, and he should just let her go back to her hotel room and sleep it off. But some instinct kept pulling him back. Though still a little tipsy, she’d had no trouble stringing together some of the most articulate sentences he’d ever heard in a casino. Or anywhere else, for that matter. With her around, you’d never need a dictionary. For some reason he couldn’t quite put his finger on, she wasn’t adding up.

She began to fidget, offering him a vulnerable smile that made her look even more adorable.

He wouldn’t call Sadie Bligh a model-perfect beauty. Her face was sweet and pretty, not stunning, or particularly beautiful. Her hair—a color his mother referred to as auburn but he called reddish-brown—fell to her shoulders in soft curls. He figured if she hadn’t dressed so provocatively, she wouldn’t have attracted a whole lot of notice on the casino floor. Legions of hot young women with skimpy outfits and pounds of expensive makeup easily overshadowed her.

She did, however, have a killer body, one which Nick couldn’t help taking the time to appreciate.

Ms. Bligh moved uncomfortably in her seat. “Sheriff…Mr. Saxon, there’s really no need to give me the silent treatment. I’m more than willing to admit you make a very good point. Truly, I should have exercised better judgment. I’m thoroughly embarrassed. I came to Las Vegas intending to have a really good time, but I seem to have started out badly, indeed.”

Nick was glad she’d ditched her faked-up brassy attitude in favor of an apparently sincere mea culpa. She’d tried her damnedest to make him believe he didn’t intimidate her. But while she could keep her words under tight control, she hadn’t been able to rein in the nervous hands and shifting feet that gave her away to a professional like him. “Where are you from, ma’am?”

She stopped fidgeting, probably glad he’d shifted the discussion away from her behavior in the casino. “Massachusetts, originally. Now I work in Chicago. It’s a nice city, but I absolutely hate the weather there. Boston was bad enough, really, but when you’re trying to walk down Michigan Avenue with sleet flying—”

“Right.” He interrupted her. As much as he enjoyed hearing her talk, he didn’t need a Weather Channel special on life in the Windy City. “And how long will you be staying in Las Vegas?”

She smiled. “I was babbling, wasn’t I? Sorry about that. I seem to do that a lot when I’m nervous. As to your question, I’ll be here for just a few days. Less than a week.”

As much as he would have liked to have studied that hot little body some more, it was time to cut her loose. “All right, Ms. Bligh,” he said. “We can leave it at that for now. I’ll escort you to the hotel. I assume you’ll want to return to your room for a change of footwear.”

Her sigh of relief was both visible and audible. “Thank you. I do want to go back to my room, but I won’t be putting on new shoes. I think I’ve had enough excitement for this evening. So, I intend to crawl into bed with a book.”

Wouldn’t you rather crawl into bed with a security officer? He almost had to bite his tongue to keep the insane and unwelcome thought from transforming into words. Fraternizing with guests was strictly verboten. “That sounds like a good plan, ma’am,” he said in a gruff voice. “I hope you’ll continue to enjoy the Desert Oasis casino for the rest of your stay. But with a little less emphasis on the mojitos.”

Her lips curved into an effortlessly sexy smile—the first genuine one she’d given him since he’d hauled her off that poker table. Her mouth was on the small side, but her lips, tinted a bright pink that kind of matched her filmy top, were full. Lush, even. He couldn’t stop from thinking how much he’d like to crush those lips against his own, and then trail a string of wet kisses down into that soft, creamy, and very generous cleavage.

Nick frowned, disconcerted by his reaction to her. It didn’t make sense. Maybe that was because she didn’t make sense. Not to him. Or at least she didn’t fit into any of the neat categories he’d always used to classify women. Though sexy, she was odd, to say the least.

She tilted her head and stared at him, clearly puzzled. Her soft green eyes shone with an intelligence and perception that belied the trashy outfit she had poured herself into. Yep. Something just didn’t add up.

And right then, Nick decided to keep an eye—a very watchful eye—on Ms. Sadie Bligh for as long as she remained in his hotel.

Hot Number is currently available on Amazon and Smashwords for only $2.99.  Within a few weeks, it will also be available on Barnes & Noble, and at other e-tailers.  And don’t forget to check out our other books, CaddyGirls, Fastball, and Hardball.

Have a great Sunday!

 


#SampleSunday: HOT NUMBER by V.K.Sykes

This week hubby and I released another one of our sexy contemporary romances, written under the pen name of V.K. SykesHot Number is set in Las Vegas, and it features Sadie Bligh, a geeky math professor from Chicago, and Nick Saxon, the assistant chief of security at a large casino.  Sadie is having a really bad year–her work life has flat-lined and her social life…well, that’s pretty much non-existent.  Desperate to shake things up, she heads to Sin City with a friend for a wild week of fun.  The thing is, Sadie’s not really sure how to do fun, which is apparent in her first meeting with Jake:

“See that big guy standing a couple of rows over, beside the pillar?” Cassie nodded toward her left. “Don’t look right away.”

Sadie tried to appear nonchalant as she swung her head around. When she located the pillar and the man in question, she realized he was staring directly at her, his gaze hard and assessing and implacably fixed on her. Not on Cassie. Not on anyone else at their roulette table. On her.

She desperately wanted to avert her eyes, but something kept them locked in position. Maybe it was the intensity of his focus, or the heat emanating from his dark eyes. Even from this distance she would have sworn they were about the deepest brown she’d ever seen, so deep they looked almost black.

Most men would be embarrassed to be caught staring so shamelessly at a woman. But not this guy. He never even blinked.

“He’s staring at me, Cass,” she hissed.

“No kidding. Hell, I wouldn’t mind a hunk like him looking that way at me. Whew, he thinks you’re hot, Sade.”

Sadie swallowed nervously. If that intense gaze was a come-on, she wanted nothing to do with it. “Uh, I don’t think so. He looks like he thinks I’m an idiot.”

Cassie gave a reluctant laugh. “Maybe you’re right. Now that I think about it, I’d say he’s casino security. He sure looks the part. I guess he’s probably keeping an eye on you to make sure you don’t bowl over anybody else.”

Casino security. Cassie probably had it right. She should just ignore him. No doubt he would lose interest as long as she didn’t do anything else to cause a commotion.

Sadie lowered her gaze, staring down at the colorful piles of chips on the table. But the man’s image had burned itself into her retinas. Though his frowning stare had unnerved her, she had to admit that his looks were mesmerizing. Everything about him left one overwhelming impression: big, tough, and more than a little dangerous. The deep navy suit and white open-necked shirt accentuated his tanned, rugged features, as did his black hair and heavy five o’clock shadow. A gorgeous specimen. Gorgeous, but scary.

Then again, casino security agents were supposed to look scary, weren’t they?

Lifting her head, she braved another peek at him, letting her gaze run over his brawny chest and broad shoulders. Then she returned to those hard eyes and almost fell off her stool. They were still relentlessly fixed on her, and still making her as edgy as hell.

She sucked in a shaky breath, her head spinning both from the effect of the alcohol and that unnerving inspection. “I need to get out of here, Cass. Not just away from this table. I mean right out of the casino.”

Cassie looked dumbfounded. “What are you talking about? We’ve just started to play. Is that guy the problem? If it’s bothering you that much, I’ll go tell him to back the hell off.”

Sadie quickly shook her head. “Please, no more drama tonight. I’m not sure what’s wrong. I just feel really uncomfortable all of a sudden.” She swiped the back of her hand across her brow, surprised at the perspiration beading on her forehead despite the near-frigid temperature of the casino. “You stay, okay? I need to go up to my room for a while.”

“You sure? You want me to come with you?”

“I’ll be fine. I’ll rendezvous with you later.” Sadie grabbed her drink, scooped up her small stack of chips and gave Cassie an air kiss.

Unfortunately, the shortest route to the elevators ran directly past Mr. Scary Security Man. She gave a quick thought to walking straight up to the guy and telling him to lay off the surveillance, just like Cassie had threatened to do. But that idea, along with her courage, disappeared in the time it took to process it. No. Better to steer completely clear of him tonight and hope not to see him again.

By the time she reached the main aisle, a quick glance to her left told her he hadn’t moved. But at least he wasn’t still looking straight at her. She turned to her right. Going in that direction meant she’d have to practically circle the casino floor. Just what she needed—extended navigating in her skyscraper boots. But so be it. She needed to get back to her room, calm down, and remind herself why she was here in the first place.

As she stumbled along, trying to keep her balance, she belatedly realized that she should have left her drink back at the roulette table. She did not need another accident—or more alcohol, for that matter.

Spotting a casino waitress serving drinks at a nearby Pai Gow poker table, Sadie pivoted to head in that direction. The last thing she felt before becoming airborne was a small tug on her spike heel as it caught in the carpet. Then she crashed head first into the poker table. Her drink sailed out of her hand as she landed heavily onto the hard surface.

She didn’t move right away, so dazed she barely realized what had happened.

A shocked female screech blasted out from somewhere behind her. “What the hell?”

“Holy shit, lady!” another voice lashed out. “You just screwed the best hand I had all night!”

Sadie’s stomach gave a sickening lurch at the man’s nasty tone. With her face buried in a pile of chips and her butt sticking up in the air, she was too stunned to fully comprehend the profanity-laced invective hurled her way. While nothing felt broken except her pride, her thighs throbbed where they’d made a bruising impact with the edge of the table.

She groaned, not just with the blossoming pain but with the humiliating realization that she’d made an ass of herself again. If only a chandelier would land on her head and knock her senseless, she would be happy. But no such luck. She knew she had to get up and apologize to…well, to everyone in sight. Maybe to the whole damn world.

Wedging her hands underneath her chest, she began to push herself up when a pair of very big, very strong hands clamped around her hips and lifted her backward off the table. Those same hands then set her carefully on her feet. She shoved the hair out of her eyes and gave a horrified squeak at what lay before her. The table was a disaster, with cards and chips flung haphazardly. Her drink had smashed, scattering booze, ice cubes and shards of glass over the chip tray and onto the poor dealer. Brushing himself off, the young man glared at her with undisguised contempt.

Upright now, Sadie carefully turned around to thank whoever it was who had helped her off the table.

She must have looked like a wide-mouth bass as her gaze met the obsidian eyes of Mr. Scary Security Man. Stomach lurching—this time all the way into her throat—she had to bite her lip to keep from letting out a groan of dismay.

“Are you all right?” he asked through clenched teeth.

His deep voice, as dark and menacing as the rest of him, shot a ripple of anxiety along her already over-taxed nerves. She had just enough of her wits left to notice him scanning her body from head to foot.

Dropping her gaze to the floor, she struggled to compose a dignified reply. Then she dredged up a smile and forced herself to look at him.

“It would seem so, thank you. I suspect I’ll be rather sore tomorrow, but apparently no lasting harm has been done.” She glanced back at the chaos she’d left in her wake. Players were collecting their chips and leaving the table in a huff. “Other than possibly ruining the surface of a card table and destroying some winning hands. But I suppose I shouldn’t minimize that.”

She tried to straighten out her rumpled shirt, noticing how his eyes followed her hands as she smoothed the fabric over the top of her jeans.

“Ma’am, I’m with casino security,” he said in a calm voice. “Please come with me.”

Without waiting for her reply, he grasped her wrist in one of his big hands. His touch was firm but not harsh, and Sadie felt a surprising and unfamiliar jolt as warm fingers closed around her bare skin. Not fear. This was something…well, she didn’t know what it was, but it still made her nervous.

Now that she’d declared her lack of injury, his eyes had reverted back to chips of black ice. She caught herself wondering what they might look like if something lit them and turned them to burning embers. He’d probably resemble Lucifer himself.

“I simply tripped, for heaven’s sake.” Sadie shook out of his grip, wincing at the shrill tone to her voice. But she didn’t want to spend a second more with this man than she had to.

His mouth thinned into a brutal line. “I can’t detain you, ma’am, but I can remove you from the Desert Oasis Casino. Not just for tonight, but permanently. You might prefer the option of talking to me for a few minutes.”

Cassie rushed up to her, breathless. “Sadie, are you okay? I heard the crash, but I didn’t know it was you till one of the waitresses told me.”

She gave Cassie a shaky smile. “I’ll live. Just a pair of bruised thighs and a whole lot of bruised pride.”

The security man began to look both annoyed and impatient. “Ma’am, please. Come with me.”

Darn it. There was obviously no point in arguing with the pig-headed brute. Better to get it over with than cause yet another scene.

“All right, Sheriff, lead on,” she replied, ladling on the sarcasm. “Do your worst. I’m ready.”

He shot her a look of sheer disdain and waved her in front of him.

“Hey, wait a minute! Just where do you think you’re taking her?” Cassie demanded. “Who the hell are you to treat my friend like that?”

“Casino security, ma’am. I’m simply taking her for questioning. It shouldn’t take too long. But the longer we stand here, the longer it’ll be.”

Cassie planted her feet like a prizefighter, ready to deck him if need be. “I’m going with her. I’m not letting her go off with you alone.”

The security man fixed Cassie with the coldest stare Sadie had ever seen and, sure enough, her friend bristled with outrage. She had to get the situation under control before Cassie wound up getting herself in big trouble, too. “It’s okay, Cass. I can handle this. I’ll catch up to you as soon as the law here is done with me.”

The big man switched his glare to her and then gave a sharp nod. “As I said, follow me.” He turned and strode off at a rapid pace.

“Oh, for heaven’s sake,” she burst out, exasperated by his mental density. “Sheriff, it appears necessary to remind you that I’ve been having a certain degree of difficulty with this footwear. I really could use some assistance. Or would you prefer to have to hoist me off a card table again?”

The man stopped and turned as gracefully as a panther. A big, terrifying panther. Cassie was right—the brute was undeniably handsome, in a dark, rugged, and altogether intimidating way.

“Sorry,” he said, sounding genuinely apologetic. “You’re right. I should have thought about that. Here, ma’am, take my arm.”

Sadie almost fell over, yet again. Where had that gentlemanly behavior suddenly come from? Cautiously slipping her hand into the crook of his arm, she encountered an impressively hard set of arm muscles. They flexed beneath her fingers and her edgy feeling returned. This time down low in her belly and between her thighs.

As he led her away, Sadie couldn’t help but wonder what kind of trouble she’d stumbled into this time.

Hot Number is currently available on Amazon and Smashwords for only $2.99.  Within a few weeks, it will also be available on Barnes & Noble, and at other e-tailers.  And don’t forget to check out our other books, CaddyGirls, Fastball, and Hardball.

Have a great Sunday, everyone!


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