Guest Author: Barbara Meyers!!

I’m pleased to be hosting Barbara Meyers today, the author of the Braddock Brothers Series of stand-alone contemporary romances.  Barb has a new book out, and she’s graciously agreed to be my guest blogger today.

Vanessa asked for three to four paragraphs on a reader-oriented subject for this blog and I immediately wondered if I had anything appropriate already prepared.  I seem to write potential blogs all the time but mostly they are about my experiences, my thoughts, myself!

But if I were a reader reading this blog what would I want to read about?  This part about blogging always seems to elude me.  The truth is I don’t know what readers are interested in.  Books and reading, obviously.  Romance novels, right?

Although I love a good romance as part of the plot in the books I read I don’t seek out romance novels to read.  I think I od’d on them in my early twenties.  I read and re-read Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss among others.  But as I grew as a reader and became a writer, I wanted more.  I do love well-written romantic suspense, especially Tami Hoag and Sandra Brown, as well as straight suspense.  Most recently I’ve read Lisa Gardner’s The Neighbor and am almost finished with Fragile by Lisa Unger.  Though I once eschewed male writers (too brutal and too graphic) I forced myself to reassess that decision and try reading their stuff.  That’s how I discovered the work of James Grippando and Lee Child.  Check out my Goodreads list for other authors I’d recommend.  (Like Ruth Rendell!)

I have never been a fan of faces on the covers of my books.  Yes, they are contemporary romance novels but there’s a bigger story going on around the romance.  Authors are given some input on the covers, and Samhain Publishing does its best to make the faces on the cover resemble the characters.  With my latest, when I questioned the cover choice I got an interesting response.  Something along the lines of “this book is straddling the line between romance and women’s fiction, that’s why we wanted a romantic cover…”

If you like romance novels with a little something more going on, here you go! 

Thanks, Barb!  Readers, here’s the blurb from Barb’s new book, The First Time Again:

There’s no defense when love blindsides your heart.

Once Trey Christopher was the small-town golden boy. Now he’s just another burned-out, washed-up ex-quarterback with a bum knee, a tarnished reputation, and a simple wish. To be the kind of man he can face in the mirror. Moving back home is a start, as is hiring a down-on-her-luck local woman to help him out around his grandparents’ old homestead.

The last thing Baylee Westring wants is to clean house for a high school crush who barely remembers her name, but Trey’s money will finally top off her get-out-of-Henderson-forever escape fund.  Before she hits the road, though, Baylee’s got something for the man she still finds wildly attractive: the virginity he almost—but not quite—took during a drunken teenage party.

Neither is prepared for the emotional impact of that encounter. But just when Baylee dares to believe in happy ever after, an old enemy turns up to even the score. And Trey finds his heart left in the red zone, with his last chance for love ticking down to zero.

Warning: Contains an overeducated housekeeper who’s open to receiving a pass or two, and an ex-football player who can’t seem to stop himself from showing her all his moves.

Vanessa, here.  Doesn’t that sound great?  Since I write sports romances myself as VK Sykes, I’m a sucker for an athlete hero.  Check out details and an excerpt for The First Time Again on Barb’s website.

EXTRA, EXTRA!!  I’m visiting Ramblings With This Chick today, giving away copies of my new VK Sykes sports romance, Curveball.  Come visit me for your chance to win the latest addition to the USA Today bestselling series that I write with hubby!

Guest Author: Isis Rushdan & Giveaway!

Happy Valentine’s Day!  I have a real treat here on the blog in celebration–I’m hosting Isis Rushdan, a debut author who writes wonderful paranormal romance.  She’s also a very cool lady, as you’ll find out when we speak to her and find out about her brand new book, Kindred of the Fallen, out from Samhain Publishing.

Kindred of the Fallen is the first book in your Kindred Chronicles, and also your debut book. How did the idea for this book and the series evolve?

This might sound crazy, but I promise I’m sane. The characters started talking to me one day while I was in the shower. They’d reached a major turning point in their lives and demanded I listen to their problems. I asked if it could wait until I was dressed, but they’re pretty strong-willed. LOL!

The series developed naturally. The overall story arc simply wasn’t finished after the first book. My main characters, Serenity and Cyrus, are on a journey. The ultimate goal of redemption for all Kindred isn’t supposed to be an easy feat that can be accomplished in 350 pages.

I love that your heroine is a soul-reading tattoo artist named Serenity. What is it about Serenity that you love? Was she an easy or difficult character to write?

I love the way Serenity evolves as a character, not only in the first book, but through the series as well. She’s a beautiful, extraordinary individual who has the potential to be one of the deadliest Kindred to have ever lived.

Writing her was tough because she’s also flawed. I didn’t want readers to be turned off by her short-comings such as selfishness. There had to be the right balance so that readers would want Serenity to get her happily ever after.

You’re an officer in the Air Force Reserves, and you’re also a wife and mother. How do you juggle all the different responsibilities in your life with your writing career?

Yes, I’m a Major in the Air Force Reserves. Juggling everything since my son arrived last June has been nearly impossible. I had to drop a few balls to keep the most important ones up in the air, especially since my husband is deployed. I’m no longer doing full time military orders and I’ve pulled back on my participation in writing groups. Right now my priorities are—son, husband, and writing— in that order.

What’s up next in your writing life?

Book 2 of Kindred is finished and I’m waiting for the contract. Now I need to get the third book finished. It’s completely outlined. I just need to write it and revise, which as you know is the hard part.

Looking forward to reading both books, Isis!

For my readers today, Isis is graciously giving away a $10 gift card to either Amazon or B & N.  And to celebrate Valentine’s Day, I’ll also give away a copy of one of my VK Sykes contemporary romances, reader’s choice.  Just tell me if you have anything planned for Valentine’s Day (I don’t!) for a chance to win the gift card and my book!



Guest Author: Carey Baldwin & Giveaway!

I love having debut authors on the blog, and I’m especially excited about today’s guest.  She’s Carey Baldwin, and she’s a practicing physician who also happens to write edgy romantic thrillers.  How cool is that?  Carey’s first book, First Do No Evil, was recently released by Samhain Publishing to great reviews, including this one from New York Times bestselling author, Cindy Gerard:

“Engaging, witty, intelligent and fresh. Add in hot romance and scintillating suspense, and Carey Baldwin has penned a winner!”

I’m turning the blog over to Carey, so she can tell us about her book.

Sex and the Single Dad

I love an alpha hero. There’s nothing hotter than an alpha…except maybe an alpha with a child. A friend of mine asked me if I modeled Danny, the hero in FIRST DO NO EVIL, after my new husband Bill. I didn’t! Danny was written just prior to the time I met Bill in a coffee shop. It’s a case of life imitating fiction.

I was immediately drawn to my own sexy alpha male from the very first date, but what really sealed the deal for me was watching him in action with his teenage daughter. There is nothing sexier (to me) than a hot, handsome, confident male who gets tears in his eyes when he sees his daughter in her prom dress.

That’s exactly the kind of man Detective Daniel Benson is, and it’s also the kind of man I married! Lucky me!

Danny Benson is as alpha as they come. He’ll charm your skirt…er…your socks off in a heartbeat and take down the bad guy with one hand tied behind his back. But when it comes to his daughter, Katie, well, that’s a whole different ball game.

Here’s a brief excerpt from FIRST DO NO EVIL that shows Danny’s vulnerability where Katie is concerned. The scene also features my heroine, Sky, and Danny’s brother, Christian:

Christian gave Sky a devilish wink that reminded her of how lighthearted Danny had been the morning she first met him. And she couldn’t help thinking that if Danny’s path had never crossed hers, he still would be. He looked so serious now, watching his daughter cross the room.

Gathering her silky auburn waves into a ponytail, Katie stepped in front of the entry-hall mirror, glanced defiantly in her father’s direction, and cranked up a tube of jet-black lipstick. A muscle vibrated in Danny’s jaw, and Christian shot him a stay-cool look.

A look that went unheeded.

“Don’t even think about it,” Danny barked.

 Katie brought the lipstick to her mouth and paused. A taunting move that shouted: I dare you to stop me. In her office, Sky had seen such battles between parent and child played out time and again, and they usually ended badly. Clearing her throat, she said, “Since your father seems to have forgotten his manners, I guess I’ll introduce myself. I’m Sky.”

“I’m Katie.”

“Nice meeting you, Katie. May I offer a word of advice?” Without giving her a chance to decline, Sky walked over and placed two fingers beneath the girl’s chin, lifting her face up. Katie’s green eyes—so fresh and dewy they called up an image of meadow grass on a spring morning—widened in surprise. “Nothing wrong with black lipstick. There’s such a thing as freedom of expression, you know.” This Sky directed at Danny, before turning Katie’s face to the mirror. “But your eyes are stunning. If I were you, I’d want to keep the focus here.” She touched Katie’s temple. “I wonder if that dramatic lipstick will draw attention away from your eyes. Don’t you have a color that would complement them without stealing the show?”

“She’s got a point. Your eyes are a knockout,” Christian put in.

“You have your mother’s eyes,” Danny said softly.

“I do?”

Danny nodded. “I’ve said so before, haven’t I?”

Single dad heroes aren’t common, and though a few notable exceptions spring to mind such as Sleepless in Seattle and To Kill a Mockingbird, they seem few and far between.

True Alpha Dad’s are even more rare. I’d love to see more sexy dads! How about you?  What turns you on in a hero?   I’ve got an e-copy of FIRST DO NO EVIL for one random commenter!

Vanessa, here. Carey, I totally agree that Alpha Dads make great heroes!  And here’s the blurb for First Do No Evil:

There’s a killer lurking in Dr. Skylar Novak’s family tree: the gene for breast cancer. That’s why her brilliant brother invented the Bella vaccine. But even if the miracle drug protects her from the cancer that took her mother’s life, it can’t save Sky from the flesh and bone evil stalking her in secret.

When the killer strikes, detective Daniel Benson finds himself in the wrong place at the right time. The bold detective manages to save Sky’s life…just in time for her to return the favor. Survival leads to seduction, and Danny risks everything—his career, even his life, to keep Sky safe. But will the buried sins they uncover cost him her heart?

Danny’s strong arms may hold her close, but only Sky can stop the terror that’s coming next…

Product Warnings

Contents include: One heart-melting hero—good luck getting this delicious detective out of your head. One reluctant heroine—wielding a Glock was never on her to-do list. One crazed villain—an entire flock of baa baa black sheep won’t be enough to put you to sleep. And a lifesaving vaccine with one deadly side effect—murder.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?  I love romantic suspense, so I can tell you that Carey’s book is moving to the top of my TBR pile.  And after you’ve answered Carey’s question, be sure to visit her website for more info and to check out her blog and all her extras.


Guest Author: Mardi Ballou & Giveaway!

Please join me in welcoming Mardi Ballou to the blog!  Mardi writes fun and very sizzling sensual romance.  She’s published with a number of publishers, including Samhain and Ellora’s Cave, and she’s also indie published.  You can check out all her books–she’s got a lot of them–on her website.

I’m turning to blog over to Mardi, so she can tell us what’s going on in her writing world.

Love’s Lessons Learned

 In homage to Maeve Binchy, a beautiful writer, R.I.P.

Just back from the RWA National conference in Anaheim and my head is still spinning. Talk about ground-breaking, earth-shaking changes! It’s actually a great time to be a writer, with opportunities in both traditional and independent publishing opening up. Having been traditionally pubbed for several years, I’m glad to have the indie option now too. Of course this new world is full of new challenges. I feel as if I’m joining my peers at the entry point of a steep learning curve. Being a long-time student and teacher, having something to learn is familiar turf.

Like me, the heroes in my hot contemporary series Teach Him Tonight also have lessons to learn. Unlike me, they need to have their awareness raised on that score. Luckily for them, each finds a determined lady willing to provide vital lessons in love.

Photo Finish, the first book in the series, tells the story of two San Francisco lawyers who start out on opposite sides professionally and privately:

Ambitious attorney Cassandra Harrell is primed to battle her hot, hunky opposing counsel Alex DeLuca—a.k.a. Alexander the Great—in the courtroom. Though she fantasizes about getting him into her bedroom, she’s determined to avoid this bad boy distraction and focus on her career.

Alex spots the author photo on the back cover of a steamy romance and recognizes Cassandra. Who knew the desirable but icy lawyer had such a fascinating sensuous side? When he teases her about the book at a deposition, she furiously denies any connection.

Her sister K.C. wrote the book and, for a prank, used Cassandra’s photo. Outraged at Alex for embarrassing her in front of clients, Cassandra plots a revenge lesson. This teacher comes out on top until her student raises the stakes—and the heat.

Though Cassandra is a lawyer, she also becomes a very effective teacher. Alex shows up with more than an apple for teacher. In the best of all possible outcomes, both teacher and student learn their lessons very well.

Businesswoman Brenda has a huge challenge teaching Keith, her long-time love, in Emergency Ex, the second book in the Teach Him Tonight series:

“Love is the emotional chocolate of the universe.” Actually, successful chocolatier Brenda Lockheart deals with the sweet brown confection lots better than she does with love. For years she’s been in love with Keith Tarrant, her best friend with benefits. As her thirtieth birthday approaches, hot lovemaking and intense friendship no longer satisfy her. It’s time to make a commitment or say good-bye. Keith goes along at first, and she’s hopeful. But as her birthday gets closer, her relationship with Keith hits snags.

Keith loves Brenda and can’t bear to lose her, but he’s got lots of unresolved baggage and a history of being less than she deserves. Though he’ll try to get over his issues in time to make her birthday special, when a new roadblock arises, he’s out of his depth. Can Keith man up and commit to Brenda in time? Or will their relationship crumble and turn her into one more of his many exes?

For a while it seems Brenda’s thirtieth birthday celebration will coincide with her final farewell to Keith. Just when all appears to be lost, an important light bulb turns on for Keith.

K.C., who’s Cassandra’s sister and an enthusiastic customer for Brenda’s chocolates, gets her own story in my current work-in-progress, After Class. K.C., a best-selling author, actually starts off being the student:

K.C. Corrigan’s latest book hits all the major best-seller lists. Victory feels especially sweet when she gets a congratulatory call from Todd Marek, the hot teacher whose writing class she flunked.

Todd considered K.C. a sexy, talented writer—except she put too much romance in her writing. He gave her a failing grade and refused to send her work on to the agent who sponsors the writing program. Now that she’s a huge success, Todd has to convince K.C. to sign with the agent or he’ll lose his job. Todd is not big on eating crow.

Being a best seller, K.C. has lots of new “friends.” She doesn’t need any more aggro from the teacher who flunked her yet keeps showing up in her romantic fantasies. Much as she’d love to teach the teacher lessons in romance, Todd’s the slowest of learners—at first. Luckily K.C. is the queen of persistence—and love.

I’d love reader feedback and reviews on the Teach Him Tonight books. Photo Finish  and Emergency Ex are currently available at Amazon and soon to be available at other sites. After Class will be released in early autumn. Please check my website, for updates.

I hope all your lessons are happy ones!


Thanks so much, Mardi!  I love that your stories revolve around lessons learned.  Readers, Mardi is graciously giving away one of her books today.  For my readers in the U.S., you can win a copy of either Ripe and Ready or Better with Age, both Ellora’s Cave anthologies.

For my readers outside the U.S., you can win a copy of one of Mardi’s e-books, which you can check out on her website.

So, let’s talk about heroes and lessons learned.  What lesson do you like your heroes to learn from their heroines, and how painful should it be?  One person who comments will win either the anthology or one of the Mardi’s digital books.



Guest Author: Sophia Knightly & Giveaway!

Hooray!  The lovely and talented Sophia Knightly is back on the blog today, folks!  Sophia writes feel good, sexy romance in a variety of genres, including romantic suspense, contemporary romance, and chick-lit.  She’s here today to tell us all about her latest book, so let’s turn the blog over to her!

Delicious food masterfully whipped up by a hot chef…who could resist that? Those were the musings that inspired me to write Grill Me, Baby. In Grill Me, Baby, sizzling Latin charmer Chef Paolo locks horns with cool, elegant spa Chef Michaela as they battle to win top spot in a TV cooking show.

The heat is on…

Raised among women who taught him to cook at his family’s Buenos Aires restaurant, master chef Paolo Santos deftly works his culinary wiles—and his gypsy charm—on posh Flamingo Island’s female clientele.

The tastiest tidbit on the island, though, is cool, elegant Michaela Willoughby. The redhead’s slender curves are as enticing as her rabbit-food menus are maddening. And she’s his main competition for the chance of a lifetime.

Michaela overcame her own weight issues to become Flamingo Island’s premiere spa chef. Now she has a chance to share her innovative recipes for healthy living on a new cooking show—if she can somehow outshine Paolo. His sizzling, Latin-lover looks are more heart stopping than his decadent cooking. And she’d love nothing better than to stick a fork in his outsized ego.

When the stage lights ignite, so does the competition…and a sexual chemistry no one—least of all Paolo and Michaela—saw coming. Suddenly, separating business from pleasure is as impossible as separating a scrambled egg. And the big question isn’t whose knife cuts fastest…it’s whose heart can take the most heat.

Warning: Contains two hot chefs duking it out in a lively showdown of sexy rivalry. Mix in family drama, luscious recipes and spicy mischief, and there’s more than just steam rising out of the kitchen. May cause lusty cravings for midnight indulgences.

For years, I’ve been an avid fan of TV cooking shows. Some favorite, excellent chefs inspired me to write Grill Me, Baby, and I’m going to mention four of them here.

There’s Iron Chef Bobby Flay — a master at the grill. Bobby’s cooking show was the first I watched on the Food Network. I was thrilled I got to meet him at the NYC Wine and Food Festival.

Another favorite is amazing Chef Tyler Florence — the king of comfort food. His show, The Ultimate, is a feast for the eyes. Everything he makes looks as delicious as he does.

Next is master chef and restaurateur extraordinaire Scott Conant. Beneath Scott’s gruff exterior, he’s very charming. I had the pleasure of meeting him at a food truck demo.

And last, but not least, is Aussie heartthrob Chef Curtis Stone. Curtis is so hot, it’s hard to take your eyes off him long enough to see what he’s cooking.

Grill Me, Baby will be released by Samhain tomorrow, June 12. Visit my website to read an excerpt of Grill Me, Baby. Contact me at:  or follow me on Twitter @sophiaknightly and Facebook author page

Thank you for joining me today at Vanessa’s wonderful blog. I will give away one e-book copy of Grill Me, Baby to a commenter who answers this question: “Which celebrity chef would you like to be marooned with on an island and why?”

Vanessa, here.  Thanks for that lovely little trip through the kitchen, Sophia.  I think I can safely say that we all enjoyed it!  Readers, you heard the lady–pick the chef of your choice for a chance to win a copy of Sophia’s latest book.  And be sure to check out her other books on her website.  I’ve read Sophia’s romances, and they’re wonderful!