Guest Author: Cynthia Eden & Giveaway!

I’m thrilled to be hosting one of my favorite writers (and people!) on the blog today – Cynthia Eden, who writes FANTASTIC paranormal romance and romantic suspense.  Cynthia is a national best-selling author whose books have received a great deal of acclaim, and have been published in several foreign languages.  Her publishers include Kensington Brava, Harlequin Intrigue, and Grand Central.  She’s here today to tell us about Angel Betrayed, the latest wonderfully dark and sexy book in her current paranormal series.

Angel Betrayed is your second Book in the Fallen series.  Why do you think angels have become such a popular figure in paranormal romance, especially fallen angels?

I think angels are interesting because they are powerful figures that can both offer hope…and promise some serious danger.  Angels can be good, they can be bad, and they can be all sorts of things in between. My angels tend to fall more on the “darker” side since they are Angels of Death, and I think (hope!) that readers are enjoying reading about this new breed of paranormal bad boys.

Tell us a bit more about your Fallen series, and this book in particular?  Sam sounds like an unrepentant alpha male, which is just how I like them!

Thanks so much for asking about the series! In my Fallen books, my angels do not feel any emotions until the moment they lose their wings. So when they become cast out from heaven, they plummet, their wings burn away—and with that burn, they lose their immunity to emotion. As they hit earth, they are also hit with every emotion that humans feel…love, anger, hate.  Sometimes, these emotions can drive a fallen angel insane.

Sam is a definite unrepentant alpha. A tough guy with some serious bad-ass powers.  He’s the fallen that most paranormals fear.  And I loved writing about him!

Why did you pick New Orleans as the setting for this book?

New Orleans is one of my favorite cities. I try to visit the Big Easy at least 2-3 times each year.  Because I am so familiar with the city, I knew I could incorporate some great landmarks in the books, and I was looking forward to doing that. New Orleans is also a city that just seems magical. Whenever I’m there, it’s all too easy for me to imagine that paranormal creatures are lurking in the nearby cemeteries.

Can you also tell us a little bit about your self-publishing ventures and anything else you’re working on right now?

I’d be happy to chat about them!  I am working on several projects right now (I like to keep busy!).  I will be releasing four books with Harlequin Intrigue (2 are completed, 2 will be done by the end of the year), and I will also be releasing a new phoenix shifter series with Kensington Brava (2 are completed, 1 is in the works). On the indie front, I hope to have at least 2, maybe 3 more, releases by the end of the year.

These indie titles will be paranormal stories. I’ve gotten a lot of great fan mail from readers asking me to write a full-length Bound story (vampires & werewolves) so that is something I am strongly considering. Another one that I am working on is an altered reality story—in this story, humans are the endangered species, and the vampires and the werewolves are the ones battling for dominance.

Thank you very much for taking the time to interview me! It has been a pleasure!

Cynthia, thanks so much for joining us today.  Lady, you are a powerhouse!  I can’t wait to read your latest book, and I’m also very intrigued the by idea of your upcoming phoenix shifter series.  Readers, Cynthia is kindly giving away a copy of Angel Betrayed to one person who comments today.  Just tell me what you think about angels as heroes for a chance to win a copy of Cynthia’s new book!

Guest Author: Bronwen Evans & Giveaway!

I’ve got a wonderful guest with me today.  She’s Bronwen Evans and she writes lovely and sensual Regency-set historical romance for Kensington Brava.  Bronwen is on her Invitation To Romance Blog Tour, and she’s graciously stopped by with us today.

Take it away, Bronwen!

The World of Romance Authors – Who Influenced Me to Write and Who keeps Me Sane

Hi Vanessa! Thanks for letting me visit with you today, all the way from New Zealand. Please bear with me for the time differences. I might be a little behind you!

The most common question I get asked is how I come up with my story ideas, followed closely by what motivates me. I really don’t have any problem finding ideas for stories. Sometimes, if you’re like me, Vanessa, you live most of your life with characters in your head. It’s crowded with loads of different characters all screaming to be heard. Sometimes it’s hard to order the characters’ traits, fears, and the conflicts they find themselves in.

Sometimes the answer to ‘where do I get my stories from’ leads to a discussion about what’s happening in the world around me. I often hear some lyrics, or watch a movie, world events, or something that happened to friends in real life triggers something in my head. I think about what would be different about this in the Regency era—and voila a story idea germinates.

However, these sources of inspiration help me with stories ideas. So what inspired me to write in the first place and what keeps me writing?

Well, it has to be other authors! It’s my love of reading romance that sparked the desire to write it. Especially historical romance, but really I read across all genres.

I remember crying, and laughing and smiling after reading a Penny Jordan book; I decided on the spot that was what I wanted to do. I didn’t really know how to start so I joined RWNZ and RWA and began to learn.

Now that I’m a published author, I still find inspiration through other authors. Reading a great book still sends me straight to my computer to write my own stories. Also being able to dive into other author’s characters gives my head a well needed rest.

I love that we all have different voices and different strengths in our writing. I’m constantly learning from other authors, how to be a better writer.

If you’re wondering which authors influenced me to write INVITATION TO SCANDAL, there are many. However fellow author Elise Rome always told me to give credit where it’s due.

So, these are just a few of the authors I return to again and again who I can count on to awe and inspire me, my auto-buys: (including Vanessa Kelly of course!)

Gaelen Foley

Nicole Jordan

Anne Mallory

Madeline Hunter

Mary Jo Putney

Jennifer Ashley

Even if you’re not a writer, you likely have a list of authors who continually awe you when you read their books. Who are your favorites that you would passionately recommend to any fellow romance reader?

One random commenter will be chosen to win a copy of my newest book, INVITATION TO SCANDAL (open internationally)!

PLUS: Find out how to win the INVITATION TO ROMANCE Book Tour Grand Prize of a $200 Gift Card from Amazon or B&N PLUS 30+ ‘signed by the author’ romance novels by visiting


There will be a one WORD hidden in each blog post [WHO] in brackets (the word ‘WHO’ is the first clue from Shana Galen’s post on 26th April). There are 30 words altogether. These words will spell a paragraph related to my May release INVITATION TO SCANDAL.

Zounds!  Vanessa, here.  Bronwen, what a great contest!  Readers, be sure to check out Bronwen’s website.  And don’t forget to answer her question in today’s blog for a chance to win a copy of AN INVITATION TO SCANDAL.

Update:  Hey, folks!  I’m on Bronwen’s blog today.  I’m talking about current and future releases, and giving away a copy of My Favorite Countess.  Stop on by!

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, 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!

Guest author: Joan Swan & Giveaway!

I have a special treat for my readers today.  I’m featuring debut author Joan Swan.  Joan writes sexy romantic suspense, and the first book in her Phoenix Rising series will be released by Kensington Brava on Feb. 28.  It’s called Fever, and one look at the cover will tell you exactly why.

Whew!  I can already feel my temperature rising!  Here’s the blurb for Fever:

When Dr. Alyssa Foster is taken hostage by a prison inmate, she knows she’s in deep trouble. Not just because Teague Creek is desperate for freedom, but because the moment his fingers brush against her skin, Alyssa feels a razor-sharp pang of need…

A man with a life sentence has nothing to lose. At least Teague doesn’t, until his escape plan develops a fatal flaw: Alyssa. On the run from both the law and deadly undercover operatives, he can only give her lies, but every heated kiss tells him the fire between them could be just as devastating as the flames that changed him forever…

Sounds great, doesn’t it?  And now for the treat–an exclusive excerpt from Fever.  It’s the first kiss between Teague and Alyssa.

Before he stepped from the room, he turned and met Alyssa’s eyes, trying to ignore their soft almond shape and the long fringe of lashes.  “Let me make one thing very clear:  I am not going back to prison.  Ever.  I’ll die first.  You may not believe I’m dangerous, but I’m also not backed into a corner at the moment.  And you have a lot more to lose now.  I can either explain that five grand away after this is over and clear your name or throw your life to the sharks.  You choose.”

She held his gaze without responding, and he pulled her alongside him as he stepped out.

The motel was made up of two buildings, configured like an L.  Their room was on the short end of the bottom leg.  The office, closer to where the truck was parked, lay at the end of the longer section.

Despite the gray light of dawn, Teague kept to the shadows of the building, dragging Alyssa behind him.  As he traversed the corner where the two sections met, a door closed near the motel office.  Teague pushed Alyssa into the cover of an opening between the buildings, home to an icemaker and vending machine, and peered around the siding.  A woman shuffled to the edge of the parking lot, a bathrobe wrapped around her chubby figure, a cigarette between her fingers.  The office manager he’d managed to avoid when he’d picked up the coffee and newspaper earlier.

“Great,” he muttered.  “Right between us and the truck.”

Alyssa leaned into him to see around the corner.  “What is it?”

Her warm breath bathed his ear, slid down his neck.  He nudged her back to put more distance between them and shushed her.  Something wasn’t right.  He could feel it in the way his scalp tingled and his shoulders tightened.  That was a sixth sense he’d developed in prison, unlike his lame, struggling pyrokinetics that had been chemically burned into him in one terror-filled night.

He couldn’t chance walking right by the woman, so he waited and watched and listened.  And it seemed like forever as the manager continued to stare out at the parking lot, shifting her weight from one foot to the other, the cigarette taking quick trips to her lips.  In the distance, tires hummed on the asphalt, growing louder.  The hair on Teague’s neck prickled.

He scanned the length of the motel for another exit.  If they went around the back of the motel, maybe accessed the truck from the opposite direction…

The drone of a car engine brought his gaze back around to the parking lot.  A police cruiser pulled in and coasted toward the manager, who waved it down.

Teague gripped Alyssa’s hand and pulled her with him as he crossed the breezeway between buildings and peered out the other side.  The neighborhood beyond was barren, the only inhabited building within sight another shack-like hotel half a mile down the road.

Before he’d strategized a plan, another police car passed the hotel—this one with lights flashing, but no sirens.

“Fuck.”  Teague jumped back into the shadows and collided with Alyssa.  A cry of surprise and pain rumbled from her mouth.  Teague pressed her face into his shirt with a hand on the back of her head.

The click of another door drew Teague’s attention.  A man wandered out of his motel room with an ice bucket in one hand, the other rubbing at his eyes as if he’d just woken.  The man stopped and looked toward the parking lot, squinting at the red and blue flashing lights.

While he was distracted, Teague walked Alyssa back into the shadows alongside the vending machine.  Her face was still pressed into his chest.  Her breath, hot and fast against his tee shirt, filtered through the cotton and slid along his skin, making his mind blur around the edges, making him tighten his arms around her.

“Oh…my God….” she rasped. “My side…hit that stupid…gun.”

The other motel guest grumbled something unintelligible as his attention shifted from the cops back to the ice machine.  The sound of his feet dragging on the cement brought Alyssa’s focus around, her eyes wide with surprise.  And in the fraction of a second that followed, Teague realized that if he didn’t act fast, Alyssa would act faster.

Before she could speak, Teague put one hand under her chin, turned her face and covered her mouth with his.  She stiffened and squeaked, pushing at his chest.  The hand cuffed to Teague’s pulled hard against the restriction.  He tightened his grip on her face and pulled back just enough to murmur against her lips, “Kiss me back, Alyssa.  Please.  Don’t push me into a corner.”

He couldn’t read her expression in the shadows, but her mouth softened under his, her hand stopped tugging, her muscles released a level of tension.

“Oh, hey man.”  The other man directed his comment their direction.  “Sorry.  Don’t mean to…uh, er…I’m just gettin’ some ice.”

Teague broke contact only long enough to mutter, “You ain’t botherin’ us.  Is he, baby?”

Before she had a chance to answer, Teague kissed her again, and not solely for the purpose of keeping her quiet.  He kissed her because he had to.  After feeling those lips against his, he had to feel them again.  And again.  Her mouth was warm and soft and supple.  And with each press of his mouth, hers relaxed.  Within seconds, she’d leaned into him, abandoning resistance.

Teague tightened the arm at her waist and pulled her closer until they were chest to chest, hips to hips.  He shifted, allowing her body to rub against his, allowing him to get a better feel of all her soft swells and lean muscle.

And that’s the moment she responded.  Her hips met his pressure.  Her mouth moved under his.  The hand at his chest gripped the fabric of his shirt, as if to keep him close.

The clatter of ice hitting a plastic bucket echoed in the small space.  “Did you see the cops out there, man?” the guy asked.  “Do you know what happened?”

Teague didn’t answer.  There was nothing that could make him pull away from Alyssa short of a cop holding a gun to his head, which he fully understood could happen at any moment.

The man’s voice seemed to nudge Alyssa from a trance.  She broke their kiss and looked up at Teague.  Her eyes glimmered in the dim light, heavy-lidded, filled with surprise and confusion and heat.

“Can’t you see I’m busy here?”  Teague didn’t have to fake the irritation in his voice.

The other man harrumphed and continued to fill the bucket.  Teague ran his thumb over Alyssa’s bottom lip and slid his palm to her jaw, his fingers into her hair.  He let his other hand drop to the low curve of her spine and pulled her hips against his again.  Fully erect, he indented the soft swell at the center of her pelvis.  She sucked in a breath, met his pressure, closed her eyes.

Teague’s mind hazed over.  Almost slid right out from under him.  His groin pulsed with heat.  His hands ached to roam.  He couldn’t stop himself when his mouth fell back to hers.  And she didn’t resist.  Her hand pressed against his face in the most endearing way as she tipped her head and opened to him.

The leash on his restraint snapped.  He kissed her back with a hunger that reflected all those dark, desperate years alone.  Years he thought he’d never feel a woman’s lips again.

Her hand slid over the back of his neck as she tilted her head a little more. Up and over his scalp as she teased her tongue into his mouth.  After an instant of shock, he accepted her invitation with a groan that felt as if it rumbled all the way from his feet.  Lost himself in the texture of her, the heat of her.  The sexy play she elicited with her lips, teeth, tongue was like unlocking a private playroom door, giving him a glimpse into the secrets she kept for a classified few.

And he liked the private disclosure of those secrets.  Really liked it.

Teague’s veins were filled with high octane, his body ready for a long, hot, steady burn followed by an intense, shattering explosion by the time the racket from the ice machine ceased and the man started back down the walkway.

“Might want to head back to your room,” he muttered.  “Cops’ll find any excuse to bust you.”

Alyssa pulled away in one sharp movement, leaving Teague dizzy with lust.  His heart beat double-time, his chest rocked with quick breaths, his muscles strained for action. And his brain was definitely focused on one thing, and one thing only.

Whoa.  He shook off the haze and peered around the side of the building toward the parking lot.  Only minutes had passed, but it felt as if he’d been floating in an alternate universe.

Lights swept over the parking lot as another vehicle pulled in.  But not a cop.  Teague forced his mind to clear.  Sharpened his attention on the man who emerged from the idling SUV and made his way to where the two cops stood talking to the woman.  An eerie trickle of familiarity cut at Teague’s belly.  Something about the way the man carried himself, the slant of his shoulders, the arrogant tilt of his head, but most of all, the stagger of his gait.  Not quite a limp, but definitely not right.

Teague had only met one man who’d walked that way and that man had no business showing up here.  Now.  Ever in Teague’s life, for that matter.  Not again.  Even the possibility threw Teague’s screwed-up world way the hell off kilter.  If it was him—Vasser, Teague would never forget that bastard’s name—then nothing was as it seemed, and Teague was fucked beyond imagination.

Vanessa, here.  *fanning herself*  I can’t wait to read this book!  And one of my lucky readers today will get that chance.  Joan is giving away a copy of Fever, in either print or digital (reader’s choice), to be delivered on Feb. 28.  Just tell me what kind of hero you’d like to be on the run with–sexy copy, dangerous bad boy–to have a chance to win the book.  And be sure to stop by Joan’s website for more info and pre-order links.

Joan Swan is a triple RWA® Golden Heart finalist and writes sexy romantic suspense with a paranormal twist. Her debut novel with Kensington Brava, FEVER, releases February 28, 2012. Her second novel, BLAZE, follows in October, 2012.

Guest Author: Susan Lyons & Giveaway!

I’m thrilled to have my pal Susan Lyons back on the blog.  She’s appearing as her alter-ego today – Susan Fox, who writes very sexy, very steamy contemporary romance for Kensington Brava.  Susan has a brand new book out called Yours, Unexpectedly, and it’s already getting great reviews.  Here’s the blurb:

What happens when the runaway bride finds that her discarded groom has come along for the honeymoon cruise?

Merilee Fallon has been planning her wedding to Matt Townsend since she was seven. But, two days before the big day, she has a serious case of cold feet. She shocks both Matt and herself—and calls off the wedding. Needing a total change of scene, Merilee decides not to let their non-refundable Mexican Riviera cruise go to waste—not realizing Matt has the very same idea. Can they be friends? Will they find new lovers? Or will they discover that sometimes there’s nothing more arousing than a second chance at first love—especially on a cruise ship where there are no rules and anything goes…

Yours, Unexpectedly is the fourth book in Susan’s sexy “planes, trains, automobiles, and a cruise ship” Wild Ride to Love series featuring the four Fallon sisters.

Doesn’t that sound like a whole lot of fun?  I’m going to turn things over to Susan, so she can tell us all about her new book.

Thanks so much, Vanessa, for inviting me here today to talk about my new book.

For some reason, my muse is drawn to series. No, not ones where you have to read every book to know what’s going on – that kind of series intimidates me as a reader, so I’m sure not going to write one! No, I like series that have related characters and themes. In my Wild Ride to Love series, the theme is about journeys – physical ones, emotional ones, and romantic ones. The related characters are the four Fallon sisters.

The four-book series starts with a wedding announcement: baby sister Merilee is getting married to Matt, the boy she’s loved since they were both seven. She wants her three much older, and still single, sisters to come home to Vancouver for the wedding of M&M – partly to help her organize things, partly to share the moment, and partly to gloat, because she’s the one sister who’s lucky in love!

In book 1, Sex Drive, oldest sister Theresa, the serious professor, comes home by planes from Australia – and her sexy seatmate, Aussie thriller writer Damien, shows her some in-flight entertainment that just might turn into true love.

In book 2, Love, Unexpectedly, second sister Kat, the girl with the worst luck in love, comes home by trains from Montreal – and her best friend Nav plays “stranger on the train” and gets her to view him in a whole new, sexy and romantic, light.

In book 3, His, Unexpectedly, third sister Jenna, the free spirit, comes home from Santa Cruz by automobiles – and hitches a ride from marine biologist Mark, who shows her that some things in life – and some people – are worthy of commitment.

As for Merilee . . . Well, when I initially conceived of the series, I thought it would end with her wedding. But the muse had other plans, and as Merilee saw her three sisters arrive home with exciting new romances, she realized that her own relationship was sadly lacking in excitement and passion.

And so, book 4, Yours, Unexpectedly, is a runaway bride story. Merilee calls off the wedding and she and Matt break up. But there’s a twist. When she decides to go on the honeymoon Mexican Riviera cruise alone, to get some distance and perspective, she discovers Matt has the same idea. So there they are, reluctant roommates, aboard a luxury ship bound for Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas.

When you’ve been with someone for fourteen years, when you’ve grown up with them, you’d think there was nothing left to learn about them. But M&M are in for a wild ride now that they’re individuals rather than half of a couple. It’s time for each of them to find out who they really are and to become adults. There are lots of surprises in store for them as they discover whether growing up means growing apart or growing together in a way that’s deeper, more exciting, and more passionate. A way that will last a lifetime.

You can read an excerpt on my website. Also, if you’re a chocolate-lover like M&M, you’ll find recipes for Matt’s mom’s chocolate chip pancakes and the chocolate mousse Merilee enjoys at her first lunch as a single girl.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about my Wild Ride series. Do you find travel a learning experience? Is it romantic? What do you think about long-term relationships, and how to keep them exciting? Or feel free to comment on anything else that interests you.

I have a copy of Yours, Unexpectedly to give away to someone who comments.