Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Soldier's E-Mail Order Bride by Cora Seton - Review

Staff Sergeant Austin Hall has a brilliant record in the Special Forces—except for one disastrous decision that cost his best friend’s life. Now he’s heading home to Chance Creek, Montana, where he’d like to spend the rest of his days in the obscurity of his family’s ranch. Too bad Great Aunt Heloise won’t hand the ranch over unless all four of the Hall brothers marry and one of them produces an heir within the year. Austin is too broken to marry for love, so he places an online ad for a fake wife. What could possibly go wrong?

Ella needs to leave Hollywood—fast. It’s bad enough another actress stole her fiancĂ©—on national television. Now she’s ruined her comeback by decking her ex on a morning talk show. Pursued by paparazzi, Ella needs a new life, a new name and someplace to hide. When she reads Austin’s ad for a stand-in wife, she knows she can act this part perfectly. To the rest of the residents of Chance Creek, they’ll be a happily married couple. In private, they’ll just be roommates. In a year when she’d old news and the Hall brothers secure the ranch, she and Austin will quietly divorce and she’ll go on her way.

Or will she?

Austin’s already finding it hard to remember his promise never to love again. Ella’s finding it hard to keep her hands to herself. But when they’re asked make a back-up baby, Ella realizes she may have stepped into a lifetime role.
Can this pretend marriage go the distance?

Ella needs out of Hollywood, and Austin Hall needs a wife without the messy entanglements of feelings. I love the premise of this series, with each of the brothers needing to find a bride so they can keep their ranch.

Ella is seen as this spoiled city girl but she loves the ranch and the chores and rhythm. Austin falls in love with Ella and watching him come to terms with his PTSD and finally realizing he’s loveable is my favorite part of this story. There are some really rocky patches that lend a sense of realism to the story and I enjoy that.

I highly recommend this story. 

I received a copy for the purpose of review. I was not compensated for my review. 

Taming the Lion by Vivi Andrews - ARC Review

When she’s in heat, there’s no cooling down…

Lone Pine Pride, Book 2

Wilderness guide and cougar-shifter Patricia “Patch” Fontaine has known the dangers of lone-shifter life since she was ten, when her parents mysteriously vanished. All grown up now, she thrives on her hard-won independence.

When rumors of a new rash of shifter abductions crop up, she’s forced to come home to the Lone Pine Pride for protection—right as the man she’s always secretly wanted is about to marry her best friend. And right as she’s going into heat.

Roman Jaeger values his role as Alpha heir apparent, but he isn’t thrilled about his arranged marriage to the Alpha’s daughter—especially when his bride is just as nonplussed as he is—but he’ll do his duty for the pride. Seeing Patch again challenges his noblest intentions. The wildness in her sets him on fire, and he can’t resist the chance for one last fling.

Both know a future together is impossible. But when chemistry and sowing wild oats grows into a need deeper than lust, their bond could threaten the very heart of the pride they both love.

Warning: This book contains a strong sexy Alpha-to-be, an independent cougar-shifter who knows her way around a lion’s heart, secret affairs, arranged marriages, politics, passion, and a pride full of lions and tigers and bears. Oh my

Pre-Order Today! Releases September 30th. 

Patricia “Patch” Fontaine enjoys life as a lone cougar shifter. She’s going in to heat and just wants to hide out in her cabin and ride it out. She shouldn’t be lusting after Roman Jaeger, the next lion shifter in line for the Alpha position. The position comes with an arranged marriage to Patch’s best friend and the current Alpha’s daughter.

Roman doesn’t want his arranged marriage and neither Patch nor Roman find themselves able to resist the attraction. The sex is off the charts volcanic between these two, when they give in to their intense attraction.

I rooted for Roman and Patch to end up together. I really liked the twists and turns in this story and I will definitely check out more from this author in the future. 

I received a copy for the purpose of review. I was not compensated for my review.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Kiss Me, Captain by Gwen Jones - Spotlight/Giveaway

Kiss Me, Captain
French Kiss #2
By: Gwen Jones
Releasing August 26th, 2014
Avon: Impulse


French billionaire Marcel Mercier loves women. And there's a string of broken hearts across two continents to prove it. But as CEO of Mercier Shipping, he's got more important things to worry about . . . like why the charter company he just purchased in the United States is suddenly the center of an international media firestorm.

Now that big, bad Mercier Shipping owns Captain Dani Lloyd's ship, she's sure her job is at stake. But she won't go down without a fight—even if it means chaining herself to the mast of the Esther Reed and refusing to set foot on shore.

The delectable captain and her newsworthy dramatics are a PR nightmare, but Marcel is happy to let Dani prove her skills on a weeklong sail to Boston. He knows no woman can resist him for that long . . . in fact, he's counting on it.

But Marcel's plan to seduce Dani backfires as sparks fly between the billionaire playboy and the passionate captain. Which leaves Marcel realizing that winning her heart is a challenge he can't afford to lose.

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Author Info

Gwen Jones has an MFA in Creative Writing from Western Connecticut State University and is an adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Mercer County Community College. Gwen is a fabulously talented and creative writer who mirrors the style of Nora Roberts with depth of character, intelligence and humor. She is currently working on another brilliant romance, with an expected completion in the Summer of 2013. She is a member of Liberty States Fiction Writers, The Romance Writers of America, and blogs at

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The de Valery Code by Darcy Burke - Spotlight/Giveaway

About The de Valery Code:

Title: The de Valery Code by Darcy Burke
Genre: Regency Historical Romance
Series: Regency Treasure Hunters, Book 1
ISBN: 9781939713247
Publisher: Darcy Burke
Publish Date: August 18, 2014

Miss Margery Derrington and her dear aunts are in dire straits. Their discovery of a rare medieval manuscript will hopefully stave off their creditors—if it’s worth what they hope. Margery reluctantly allies with a reclusive scholar to use the book to pursue a treasure that could exceed her expectations. Amidst danger, secrets, and an insatiable attraction, is Margery gambling just her financial future . . . or her heart?

Academic Rhys Bowen can’t believe he has his hands on the elusive de Valery text. Solving its hidden code and unearthing its legendary treasure would establish him as one of Britain’s leading antiquarians, finally casting him out of his brilliant late father’s shadow. But when a centuries-old organization convinces Rhys of the perils of disturbing the past, he must choose between his conscience…and the captivating woman he’s sworn to help.

In this scene, Margery and Rhys meet in their host’s library as they both search for some bedtime reading.

She tipped her head to read the cover of the book he held, but there was no title on it. “What are you reading?”

He glanced down at the tome. “A book of poetry from the twelfth century.”
“What language?”

His dark gaze found hers and held. “Welsh.”

“You speak medieval Welsh?”

“I read medieval Welsh. There is a massive difference.”

She smiled at the humor in his tone. “I’m sure. What other languages can you read?”
He leaned against the bookshelf, which brought his chest almost in contact with her shoulder. “Latin, Greek, medieval English of course, Italian, French, some German.”

She also turned so that her side was against the bookshelf, so she could face him straight-on. “My goodness, that must’ve taken years to master.” How old was he anyway? She’d guessed him to be within five years of her.

He shrugged, and the familiar touch of hubris that she found attractive—in moderation—came out. “Once you learn one, the rest come easily.”

“I can’t imagine it’s that way for everyone. I’m sure you worked hard.”

“I did.” There was no sense of pride in his answer, just a confidence that she found ridiculously alluring. “Do you read any languages?” He reached out and tucked a loose curl behind her ear.

She struggled to remember his question. Languages? “Um, yes. French and a little Latin. I actually speak the French in addition to reading it, however.”

“Well done.” His whispered words caressed her, and the heat swirling in her belly heated to a slow burn.

About Darcy:

Darcy Burke wrote her first book at age 11, a happily ever after about a swan addicted to magic and the female swan who loved him, with exceedingly poor illustrations. Darcy writes hot, action-packed historical and sexy, emotional contemporary romance.

A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her devoted husband, their two great kids, and two Bengal cats. In her “spare” time Darcy is a serial volunteer enrolled in a 12-step program where one learns to say “no,” but she keeps having to start over. She’s also a fair-weather runner, and her happy places are Disneyland and Labor Day weekend at the Gorge. Visit Darcy online at


Grand prize: a travel toiletry bag from Thirty-one filled with goodies

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August 17
Rookie Romance (Excerpt/Interview)

August 18
Romance Reader Girl (Excerpt)

August 19
For The Love of Bookends (Excerpt, Review)

August 20
Books Like Breathing (Review)

August 21
SOS Aloha (Excerpt)

Books-n-Kisses (Excerpt)

August 22
Romancing Rakes For The Love of Romance (Excerpt)

August 23
The Lusty Literate (Excerpt)

Historical Romance Lover (Interview)

August 24
Underneath The Covers Blog (Excerpt)

August 25
TBQ’s Book Palace

August 26
What I’m Reading (Excerpt/Review)

August 28
Romantic Historical Reviews (Spotlight/Review)

August 29
Adria’s Book Reviews (Interview/Review)

Forever Book Lover (Excerpt)

August 31
Eskimo Princess Book Review (Excerpt)

The Reading Wench (Interview/Review)

Hard to Hold on To by Laura Kaye - Spotlight/Giveaway


We are so excited to bring you the Release Day Launch for Laura Kaye's HARD TO HOLD ON TO! HARD TO HOLD ON TO is a Contemporary Romance filled with suspense and is a novella in the Hard Ink Series, published by Avon Impulse (an imprint of HarperCollins). And if this novella weren't hot enough on its own, Laura is donating 100% of her proceeds from the first two weeks' sales to a national non-profit organization that assists veterans transitioning back to civilian life!!

Hard To Hold On To

Amazon | | Amazon UK | B&N | iTunes | Kobo

EXCERPT: Easy tugged down the covers and gestured for Jenna to get in. She chose the side that would allow her to lie on the uninjured side of her face. “After what you’ve been through, I don’t want to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable,” Easy said. Propping herself on an elbow, Jenna shook her head. “You won’t. You’re the—” She blanched as if she hadn’t meant to say whatever she’d nearly said. Which made Easy need to know. He crawled on the bed as if lured by the words. “Finish. That. Sentence.” She eased back onto the pillow, red hair sprawling around her shoulders like silk, and stared up at him. And it took everything Easy had not to settle himself on top of her and tease the words out with his hands and tongue. “The only one who makes me feel safe," she whispered. Satisfaction humming through him, Easy turned and stretched out on his back. Because if he kept looking at her while she was looking at him like that, he might not be able to restrain himself from having what he wanted. A taste. A chance. None of which she was in any shape for. And given the shitstorm in his head, probably neither was he. “Good. That’s good,” he murmured, blowing out a long breath. Damn, he was tired. Not just because he hadn’t slept much the night before. But because of the size of the load he’d been shouldering for the past twelve-plus months. If he could only figure out how to put it down. He scrubbed his hands over his face, wishing he could shake himself out of this fucking slump. If Rimes were here, he’d kick Easy’s ass for being such a morose motherfucker. But he wasn’t here. Which was the damn problem in a nutshell. He dropped his arms to the bed and peered over at Jenna. She lay on her side facing him, hand tucked under her chin, not looking the least bit settled or relaxed. “Whatchu need?” “You.” She spoke the word without any hesitation, any doubt, any seeming self-consciousness. “Have me, Jenna. Whatever you want,” he said, his cock stirring no matter how hard he reined himself in. Holding his gaze, she moved closer until her head rested on his shoulder and her body trapped his arm between them. And, suddenly, she wasn’t fucking close enough. “Here,” he whispered, lifting his arm and inviting her closer. And damn if his heart didn’t soar when she fitted herself the rest of the way against him, her face against his throat, her breasts against his ribs, her leg curling up onto his thigh. He wasn’t sure whose sigh was louder. All Easy knew was that this was the first time in more than a year he didn’t feel alone. Wrapping his arm around her, he couldn’t resist squeezing her in just a little closer. “Thank you,” she whispered, her breath ticklish against his neck. He laced his fingers between hers where they rested on his chest. “I gotchu. You just close your eyes and know I’m here.”  

Did you have a favorite line? Thanks for reading!

HTHOT Teaser

  About Hard To Hold On To: Edward "Easy" Cantrell knows better than most the pain of not being able to save those he loves—which is why he is not going to let Jenna Dean out of his sight. He may have just met her, but Jenna's the first person to make him feel alive since that devastating day in the desert more than a year ago. Jenna has never met anyone like Easy. She can't describe how he makes her feel--and not just because he saved her life. No, the stirrings inside her reach far beyond gratitude. As the pair are thrust together while chaos reigns around them, they both know one thing: the things in life most worth having are the hardest to hold on to.  

Hard to Hold On To on Goodreads

LK Donation Promo Final 2

Men of Hard Ink
Other Books in the Hard Ink Series:
Hard to Come By (11/25/14)
Hard to Be Good (3/10/15)
Untitled (7/28/15)

Author Photo    About Laura Kaye: Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over a dozen books in contemporary and paranormal romance. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.      

Norah by Kimberly Lewis - Spotlight/Giveaway

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$25.00 Amazon or B&N Gift Card

He may not be a cowboy… But that won’t stop him from wrangling her heart.

Chase O’Donnell is the proud new owner of the Caldwell Ranch—or maybe he’s not so proud. Annoyed would be more like it. After receiving the news of his inheritance, Chase’s first thought is to sell the ranch and be done with it—until one night with a beautiful blonde at a local honky-tonk has him changing his tune…

Norah McKade is surprised by her instant attraction to the handsome new stranger, and even more surprised when she finds out he’s her new neighbor. But with Chase only being in town for a short amount of time, Norah determines getting tangled up with him a bad idea and promptly places Chase in the friend zone.

Although a bit reluctant, Chase agrees to Norah’s terms—but he’s not about to deny or ignore the fact that there’s more between them than just sexual attraction. He’ll have to pull out all the stops to get her to change her mind and prove to her that it wouldn’t be such a bad thing for her to fall in love with him.

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In November 2011 author Kimberly Lewis stepped into the writing world with her first contemporary Western romance, When the Heart Falls. 

Born and raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, this country girl caught the creative bug at an early age, doing everything from drawing to writing short stories.

After rediscovering her love of romance novels, Kimberly found the inspiration to pick up a pen—or in this case a laptop—and began writing her first novel. Since then she has continued to write and credits her husband and her wonderfully crazy family and friends, who with their love and joking demeanor provide her with the ideas that inspire her novels.

In her spare time she enjoys reading, horseback riding, and spending time with her amazing family.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Family Series by Cardeno C. - Spotlight

Family Series - banner

Something in the Way He Needs (Family #1) by Cardeno C.

SOMETHING IN THE WAY HE NEEDS BY CARDENO C - CoverPolice captain Asher Penaz’s staunch professionalism bleeds into his home life, down to his neatly pressed attire and spartan apartment. He enjoys being the man in charge, and leather bars satisfy his need for dominance—so his sudden and powerful attraction to the lighthearted, free-spirited Daniel Tover throws him for a loop. In his entire life, Daniel has never gotten what he needs, so he moves to the next place, the next job, the next attempt to find something worth staying for, always landing at the top of his game, but never feeling like he belongs. The chemistry between Asher and Daniel sizzles, so Asher invites Daniel home. As both men struggle to learn themselves while getting to know each other, the lines of desire and control blur. With all that fire comes the risk of getting burned. But if Daniel and Asher can walk through the flames together, they might find what they desperately need


Stong Enough (Family #2) by Cardeno C.

When twenty-two-year-old Emilio Sanchez sees handsome Spencer Derdinger walking by his construction site, Emilio makes it his goal to seduce the shy professor. Getting Spencer into bed isn’t difficult, but Emilio soon learns that earning the trust of a man deeply hurt will take time and patience. With a prize like brilliant, sweet Spencer on the line, Emilio decides he is strong enough to face the challenge. Spencer is surprised when he’s approached by the gorgeous construction worker he’s admired from the safety of his office window. Acting spontaneously for the first time in his thirty-eight years, Spencer takes Emilio home. When the casual hookup turns into the potential for love, Spencer realizes that if he wants to build a life with Emilio, he’ll need to be strong enough to slay his personal demons and learn to trust again


More Than Everything (Family #3) by Cardeno C.

As a teenager, Charlie "Chase" Rhodes meets Scott Boone and falls head over heels in love with the popular, athletic boy next door. Charlie thinks he's living the dream when Scott says he feels the same way. But his dreams are dashed when Scott moves unexpectedly and doesn't return. Years later, Chase meets brash and confident Adan Navarro, who claims all he wants is a round between the sheets. When they're still together after eight months, Chase is convinced Adan returns his love. But then the time comes to be open about their relationship, and Adan walks away instead. Time heals all wounds, but when Charlie runs into Scott and Adan and realizes the only two men he's ever loved are now in love with each other, his heart breaks all over again. Scott and Adan tell Charlie they want him back, but Charlie doesn't know if he can trust two people who have hurt him so deeply. And even if he can, why would Scott and Adan want Charlie when they already have everything with each other?


Cardeno C. - CC to friends - is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few "awwws" into a reader's day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno's stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever-after sunset. Cardeno's Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, "You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day."

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Touched by Midas by Brenna Zinn - Review

As a Navy SEAL, Michael “Midas” Baudine trains countless hours to prepare for combat. But a man can’t train for luck, so preserving his “Midas touch” good fortune is something he takes seriously, and he'll go to extreme measures to get his team on-board with his pre-mission, luck-assuring routines. He accepts a challenge from his team—get the sexy but uptight teacher, who blocks his advances at every turn, to the rock concert a week from today, and they’ll comply. With a crazy rock star dad and top supermodel mom, Angie Summers was once a wild child but, wanting more out of life, has done her best to live under the radar of fame. She’s even assumed a secret identity and found a job teaching at Naval Station Rota, Spain. Her attempt at a “normal” life is quickly turned on its ear when a hot-as-hell Navy SEAL sweet talks her into a date she’ll never forget and may eventually regret. While spending time with the muscle-bound sailor unleashes Angie’s need to let the wild child out to play, which could threaten her anonymity, Midas finds himself on the precipice of breaking the first rule of luck—never fall for a woman.

As a superstitious person myself, I really related to Michael “Midas” Baudine, he is my kind of hero. I loved the idea of the bet, because those never go according to plan, and throw in a hero who doesn’t want to fall in love and a family that makes it impossible for Angie not to love Midas, and it was a wild ride.

While a shorter story, it has a lot of depth and heart to it. There are some real emotions dealt with, and I appreciated the way Ms. Zinn advanced the story instead of getting bogged down with a bunch a words to describe their whirlwind week together, she kept it short and sweet, and I appreciate that. It worked for the story, we don’t have to see every aspect of the characters’ lives to know that they are both falling head over heels for each other.

Midas doesn’t want love, and Angie is afraid to trust, but of course that doesn’t mean they don’t fall in love, and the sexy way that Midas is portrayed makes me want to go out and find my own SEAL to love.

I definitely recommend this to fans of military romance that enjoy a story that is both extremely sexy but still holds onto that sweet romance appeal. 

I received a copy for the purpose of review. I was not compensated for my review. I also purchased my own copy because I enjoyed this book. 

Touch of Salar by Alexis Duran - Guest Post/Giveaway

I knew Touch of Salar was going to be special when I first started writing it.  I've never had a story come to me so easily or fully formed before.  I wrote like a woman possessed and finished the first draft in about two weeks.  The story excited me so much I stayed up way too late with my laptop propped on pillows as I huddled in bed. After I turned out the lights, I often had to turn them back on to make more notes.
The secret behind all this joyful creativity is that Touch of Salar was the first full blown m/m erotic story that I allowed myself to write.  Yes, I'd dreamed up these stories for years, but I'd never put them on the page.  I believed I was part of a very small sub-group of women who maybe love men a little too much.  I had no clue there was a huge market for the stories I ached to write.  I owe it to my friend Draven St. James for showing me the light.
After investigating Loose Id's submission policies I decided to take a risk and combine my man love obsession with my usual genre, fantasy.  Once I gave myself permission to follow my heart, the story poured out of me.  I had an amazingly fun time writing it and it was so, so thrilling to get that acceptance email from Loose Id.  You mean I can do what I love, have a great time, and get published? Wow.
Part of the reason Touch of Salar was such a kick to write is because the character of M'lan existed before the novel came into being.  M'lan, the monk with the power to heal with his touch, gradually formed out of a fantasy I've entertained for a long time. 
I have a small curve in my spine that's caused me a lot of pain since I was a teenager and I've come to view a massage as an essential, nearly sacred form of self-care.  As I recline on the table and the strong hands of the masseuse explore my body in highly intimate ways, I often indulge in a meditation that involves visualizing a magical healing energy extending out of their fingers into the deepest parts of my body, probing and releasing the pain locked inside. 
Being a writer of fantasy, I began to build a character based on this experience.  Wouldn't it be beyond fabulous if the masseuse with the magic touch were also a gorgeous man?  A man who was so sensitive he knew exactly where our tensions lurk and how to unlock them?  And what else could he do with that power?  It's a good thing my masseuse (and chiropractor and physical therapist) never knew what was going on in my mind.
Massage is so intimate, and I admire those who can remain entirely professional while rubbing their hands all over someone's body. But what if they can't? What if that certain someone comes to them, disrobes and stretches out in a completely vulnerable position?  I imagine it could be difficult.  A key ingredient in M'lan's story came to me one time when my masseuse was massaging my hand. For some reason that specific part of the body struck me as more intimate than any other.
Holding hands is so basic, so sweet, and yet so powerful.  The experience brought to tears to my eyes, revealing to me a longing for human intimacy I'd been repressing.  I wondered about the power of simple touch to reach deep inside, beyond physical wounds, to emotional secrets and basic longings for touch that we all have buried deep within us.  And so M'lan's lover began to emerge, someone with deeply buried wounds that had never been exposed and that made him a very dangerous person indeed.
I love to write romance mainly because I find it thrilling to take opposites, throw them together and see how they react, how they threaten, anger, dazzle and eventually complete each other.  M'lan stepped fully formed out of my head and into the healing temple of Salar.  Jamil the assassin wasn't far behind.
The healer and the killer—the monk and the warrior.  Once I introduced them the story literally spilled out of me, because along with massage, writing and releasing these fantasies has become an essential form of self-care for me.  I hope that readers can take a deeper sort of enjoyment from the fantasy as well

In a world ruled by tyrannical kings and fickle gods, the young monk M'lan finds himself at the center of royal intrigue as his healing powers attract the attention of his superiors. When he learns the handsome warrior whose body he’s tending to is not only a noble, but a king's assassin, any attachment to him might prove fatal. Despite the danger, he can't stop himself from falling in love. Can he risk the abandon of passion when a slip of the tongue might force his lover to execute him?
Major Jamil Jarka comes to the temple with one intention—heal his wounds so he can return to the fight against the rebellion. When the monk assigned to him turns out to be stunningly attractive, he sees this as a pleasant distraction, no more. But soon he finds himself becoming obsessed with M'lan and is torn between the fear of betrayal and the lure of love.
Sinister forces strive to turn the monk and the warrior against each other—a conflict neither will survive if they cannot trust their lives to love and the healing power of Salar.

The sun pierced a crevice in the mountains, and M’lan raised a hand to shield his eyes. He stood on a desert battlefield littered with the wounded, the dying, and the dead. He held a blood-smeared sword in his other hand. He let it drop.
Dawn cut across the broken earth in a fiery lance, the anger of Salar, god of light, exposing man’s cruelty in shocking, vivid detail. Blood everywhere, limbs hacked, horses screaming. Hundreds of cold, sightless eyes, all turning toward him.
M’lan stepped forward and tripped over a body at his feet. He fell, not onto a rock-strewn desert, but marble steps.
As his palms hit a cool stone floor, he shook his head in confusion. His vision wavered between illusion and reality. On his hands and knees, he breathed deep and tried to remember who he was and where he was. He raised his head, and the tentacles of the night terrors recoiled into the shadowed corners of a temple, chased away by the sun that was indeed cresting the mountain. He was not a warrior but a monk, a healing monk, and he was in the temple of Ka’alar, not some hideous battlefield.
He let out a shaky breath and climbed the last few steps on hands and knees. The nightmares were getting worse, and so powerful that they chased him all the way out of his cell into the blessed light of day. He thanked Salar for the dawn, then groggily staggered to his feet. He dimly recalled rising and dressing before dawn, but the dream had hunted him down and reclaimed him on his way to the temple.
The fading aroma of night-blooming cacti still sweetened the air of the healing room. Clay ovens had been fired to heat it, but a chill remained in the open space. M’lan was grateful, because the nightmare had left him drenched with sweat. He leaned against a marble column and soaked in the rose-tinted glow of the sunrise. Morning was his favorite time of day, a fresh start, a new beginning. Every day, he channeled divine energy to mend fallen warriors. Every night, as if he became a warrior himself, he relived the horror his patients experienced in real life.
His heartbeat slowed, and he took a moment to clear his mind and prepare for the first patient of the day. He’d trained for years to calm his mind and cool his passions. While he was busy treating his patients, passion was not a problem. Despite the array of beautiful bodies he worked on, he stayed as cool as a mountain lake, his mind still as he concentrated on sinews, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. At night, though, his passions erupted in those violent dreams of war, killing, and terror.
The monks of Ka’alar Healing Temple exclusively served the noble classes of the kingdom of Rakkan. In recent years, most of their clients were soldiers, officers who’d been injured in the ongoing battle with Jirnan Province to the south. The monks also treated elite forces of no particular rank or designation—spies, assassins, sons and daughters of the nobility trained to serve the king in secret and deadly ways. The only reason M’lan knew this was because of the nightmares. He saw what his clients did, where they went, who they killed. If anyone ever found out, he’d be executed on the spot.
Cobwebs clearing, he hurried to wipe down the soft-padded table in the middle of the room with essential oils and snapped out a fresh cloth to smooth on top of it. Today he was to begin the healing process on a new patient. For the sake of secrecy and discretion, patients were referred to by title. Today’s client, if spoken to, was to be addressed as Major. He was male, twenty-eight passages of age, and had been in the intensive-care ward of the temple for three weeks.
M’lan’s role came into play after the most grievous injuries were patched, wounds closed, and vital functions stabilized. He put the final touches on a body to make it as fine and fit as before whatever trauma had broken it. He aligned the chi as well as the bones, muscles, and nerves. He released locked-in trauma, allowing the body to flow naturally again, maybe better than before, if the connection was right and the patient willing.
Some warriors only wanted to be patched up so they could return to the fight. Others believed a complete healing cycle would make them better at what they did and less likely to fail again. They all took injury as a personal failure.
The entry chimes sounded, and M’lan bowed his head, as was custom when nobility entered. The patient wore a black silk robe, head covered with a hood. He moved with grace and a lightness of foot, unlike most of the warriors M’lan worked on, who tended to be heavyset and muscle-bound. By the tang of sulfur salts, M’lan knew the man had already warmed up with exercise and soaked in the healing pools. Good. A committed patient was so much easier to work with.
The man crossed the tiled floor without a sound and stepped up to the table. From behind him, M’lan watched the silk robe drop to the floor before he raised his eyes, ready to assess what he saw.
His breath caught. Even though he was used to seeing well-sculpted, muscular bodies, this one was exceptional. Faint scars crisscrossed the truly beautiful almond skin but were obscured by the swirls and tangled vines of an elaborate tattoo that climbed from the crease beneath the man’s left buttock to the base of his neck. His torso tapered from the broad shoulders to a slim waist. The arms and legs were lean yet muscular, and the buttocks tight and hard. He had glossy black hair that flashed red in the sunlight. M’lan glimpsed a fine high cheekbone, sculpted jawline, and aquiline nose. A true son of Rakkan.



Has your perspective on the writing process changed since you became published?
I'm much more aware of the presence of the reader.  I'm always asking myself how my readers will feel about where I'm taking the characters, especially with the series.  Before being published, I guess I'd say was more self-indulgent and if I wanted to change things or take them in a radical new direction, I would. Now I have to think about the expectations I've created and the story questions that need to be answered.

Do you work best on a deadline, or do you need freedom from time constraints? 
Deadlines work well for me, as long as I don't set unreasonable ones.  I absolutely love NaNoWriMo and my best writing is fast and furious.  Deadlines stop me from lollygagging.
Is there a word or phrase you catch yourself overusing? 
I have a couple pages of notes just on that.  The list became much funnier after the first time I had a sex scene professionally edited.  Let's just say that there are a lot of synonyms for "hard" and I'm working on using all of them.
How do you know you’ve written a good book?
I re-read the entire manuscript before each rewrite.  If I still enjoy it after the fifth or sixth time through, I think it must be pretty good.
Are you a Swooper (write first, edit later,) a Basher (edit each sentence as you go,) or both?
I never heard those terms before.  I'm definitely a Swooper.  The most valuable advice I ever received as a budding novelist was "fix it in the rewrite".  If I tried to perfect every sentence or scene as I went, I'd still be working on the first novel.  During the first draft, it's all about the story trying to get out of my head and onto the page.  I know I'll be able to make it pretty later. 
What are you currently working on? How is it different from other books you’ve written?
I’m working on an erotic space opera. It's the first time I've really given my quirky sense of humor full reign in the erotica stories.  I love to play with how silly our culture is and in science fiction you can really do a lot of humorous social commentary.  It will also be my first erotic SF as well as my first full length novel in the m/m erotic genre.
Is there anything you haven’t written that you would like to try some day? Why have you avoided it in the past? 
I really want to write a write an erotic romance set in the Victorian Era. I've already plotted it out in my head and tried to start it once, but I stopped when I realized I didn't have a good handle on all the nitty gritty details, including everything from currency denominations to the evolution of undergarments.  It's funny, you grow up reading Sherlock Holmes and Charles Dickens and think you really know the time and culture, but when you try to write it, suddenly you find great gaping holes in your vocabulary.  I'm intimidated by all the research and the process of incorporating a zillion facts into my mind so that it will flow when I need it, but I really love that story so someday I'll knuckle down and do it.
When and where can readers look forward to seeing you this year? 
I'm attending the Gay Romance Northwest Meet-up in Seattle this September, as a participant, not a presenter, but I'll be there.  That's the only thing on the calendar so far.
What do you feel are the most important aspects to a good romance?
Strong, well-rounded characters.  Even if they're not physically or emotionally strong, they've got to have unbendable passions and desires.  A great romance character will fight to overcome his or her weaknesses in order to achieve their ultimate desire, which in romance is almost always an intimate relationship with that certain someone.  Once you have your interesting, amazing characters on the stage, then you need conflict, conflict, conflict.  That is where the tension, anticipation, frustration and release comes from that makes romance so sweet.
What is your least favorite part of the writing process? 
The first rewrite, when I have to make sense out of the crazy mess of the first draft.

How do you feel about being the center of attention?
I don't like it!  Makes me squirm (and not in a good way.)
How do you feel, generally, about the opposite sex?
I adore them. That's why I write gay romance!
What is your worst habit?
Descending into despair whenever things don't go my way, like if I get a so-so review or a story rejection, it's the end of my world for at least several hours.
How deeply does your job / social role define you as a person? 
Being a writer, a creative person, is extremely important to me. It's my raison d'ĂȘtre.  The day job, not so much.

Book:  Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins
Movie: Blade Runner
Band: The Clash
Quote:  "Whatever you can do, or think you can do, begin it. For boldness has Magic, Power, and Genius in it."  Goethe
TV Show: Firefly, and more currently, Castle.
Guilty Indulgence: The next story. I have a huge stack of first drafts and projects nearing completion, but I just can't say no when new characters come knocking.
Dessert:  Caramel ice cream with the salty bits in it.
Time of Day: Dawn. I don't see it that often, but when I do it's awesome.

Alexis Duran was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. At the University of Oregon, her fascination with people and relationships led her to major in Sociology, but her main love has always been creative writing.  She has worked in museums, in fashion, in finance and film production. Her favorite job so far was Administrative Assistant in a haunted Victorian Mansion.  She's had several short stories published in the mystery, horror and literary genres, and one contemporary fantasy novel.  Her fiction has won several awards including the Rupert Hughes Award from the Maui Writers Conference.  She's thrilled to enter the realm of erotic romance with the publication of her novel Touch of Salar.  She lives with one dog and four and half cats.  She is currently working on the next Salar novel and several other erotic novellas.

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