What I’m Working On and Pre-order: GOLD

GoldMidsummer #5 is coming on May 27!

This was originally a tougher one to plot. Where previous fairy tale retellings–Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast–had clear plot arcs and villains to base my stories on, when I had the idea to do Goldilocks and the Three Bears one, I ran into a bit of a block.

Really, any Goldilocks story would have to be a wrong-bed-trope kind, so the romance was going to be easy. But for the rest, the suspense aspect, I asked, What if Goldilocks was running and hiding from someone? What was her life before finding the bears’ cabin?

I looked then at other fairy tales and settled on Rumpelstiltskin and the miller’s daughter who has to spin straw into gold.

The result was my new story Gold about the “baby bear” of a family who’s always been in trouble with the law and hacker girl on the run who stumbles across his family’s lodge.

Here’s the blurb and pre-order info, and below the cut I’ll paste the Once Upon a Time (aka prologue) opening. The excerpt is unedited, so please forgive any typos and errors.

Usually I like to have the next book up for pre-order when one releases, however I’m probably going to take a break to research my next projects, and I’m uncertain what I’ll be working on next. After Gold, I don’t have any firm release dates decided upon. I’m thinking of working on Gimme Shelter next. I also have Cats & Conjure #5 and Midsummer #6 on my list.

 

It’s his last chance at a life of freedom.

Gabe Ross has never not been in trouble. The principal’s office led to juvie, juvie led to jail. Getting probation on good behavior was difficult enough, but he did it and now he’s home with a job lined up and a shot at staying out of prison if he keeps on the straight and narrow. As the small town of Midsummer settles into spring, Ross prepares to open the cabins his family owns for the seasonal vacationers. Late one night he finds a girl curled up in his bed and assumes his ex has figured out he’s back in town and is looking for a little fun.

The criminal underworld’s golden girl wants a way out.

Kryssie Locke is known in criminal circles for spinning nothing into virtual gold, a reputation she built to save her life. She’s escaped at last with enough knowledge that her former employers are hunting her, and hiding out in a cabin in the woods seems like it’ll give her time to figure things out. She doesn’t realize the cabin is owned by the Ross family, nor is she expecting their youngest son to crawl into bed with her.

The attraction between them is electric and immediate. But Ross is trying to stick to his probation and Kryssie is tempting him to break just that. Because as he’s starting to fall for her, he knows he’ll do anything to keep her safe from those hunting her. Even kill.

 

Release Date: May 27, 2016
Genre: IR (bwwm) contemporary romantic suspense
Length: novel (50K words or 150 pages)
Series: Midsummer Suspense
Format: ebook & paperback
Ebook Price: $3.99
Print Price: $8.99

KindleAReNookKoboiBookstoreSmashwords

Continue reading

ALLEY CAT Excerpt

Addie & Erik’s fourth outing is a week away!

Here’s a quick taste under the cut…

Continue reading

New Pre-order: BEAST

Thank you so much to everyone who picked up Beauty and Snow and left reviews/told friends, and supported my work in other ways. I’m pleased to announce the fourth book in the series, Beast, is coming out December 4, 2015.

Beast on par with Snow as my favourite of the Midsummer Suspense Tales so far. The books in this series have been getting progressively darker, so my apologies to those who really liked the sweetness of Cinders but you’ll be finding that less and less. If you liked Sympathy for the Devil but weren’t into the D/s, you might like this one (although there is some light bondage, about on par with Snow).

This concludes my releases for 2015. I have a number on my plate for next year but Stray Cat Strut‘s performance was…honestly, probably my poorest selling book of anything I’ve published in nearly three years. I do have a few ideas to hopefully boost things, but in the meantime I’m once again shuffling things, trying to stagger poor-selling series books between better ones so I can get those last Cats & Conjure books out to readers. If Beast does okay, I’m hoping to swing back to Midsummer with Gold, which is going to be a bit of a mashup between Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Rumpelstiltskin.

Please subscribe to my blog or my newsletter for announcements on my next projects, and thank you for reading!

Without further ado, here you go!

Beast

BeastA scarred recluse hiding from his past… 

Joseph Li has lived in hiding since he was fifteen years old. The son of dangerous mob boss known as The Dragon, he sought a life of his own and paid the ultimate price, ending up horribly burned over half of his body. He escaped when the world–and his mother–assumed he died in the fire, but is not without scars. Physically, he’s disfigured; mentally, he trusts no one and has become a shut-in living in the fringes of small towns until local interest drives him away.

The beautiful young housekeeper who is more than she seems… 

Belladona Martin is a loyal employee of Seven Security, specializing in undercover work. When a local call girl comes to her for help after a prostitute turns up dead–one who worked at the Li mansion–with worries the scarred man living there killed her, Belle naturally takes the case. She slips into the persona of a housekeeper who provides “companionship” on the side, hoping to find evidence to convict the monster responsible for the crime.

Joseph believes he’s more beast than man, even as Belle’s presence gives him hope for redemption. But beyond the lies surrounding her identity that could destroy their budding relationship, a twenty-year-old secret is buried deep in Midsummer, one from Joseph’s past that might claim both their lives.

Release Date: December 4
Genre: IR (bwam) contemporary romantic suspense
Length: novel (60K words or 180 pages)
Series: Midsummer Suspense
Format: ebook & paperback
Ebook Price: $3.99
Print Price: $8.99

KindleAReNookKoboiBookstoreSmashwords – Paperback

Astute readers will recognize some names: Joseph was mentioned in Beauty, and Belladona was briefly in Snow. One of my favourite parts of writing these stories is getting to connect all the characters and weaving them from book to book–a few of the heroes and heroines from previous books make an appearance in this one (and…one couple is expecting!).

The paperback is now available!

Read on for a taste….

Continue reading

STRAY CAT STRUT Excerpt

If you need to download the Cats & Conjure recap, you’ll find that on my blog on Friday morning!

I haven’t posted an excerpt in quite a while. With Stray Cat Strut just days away, I thought it might be time for a snippet! It’s PG13 and just for Addie/Erik fans.

CatsSaleHeader

Adelaide Deveraux has escaped her enemy’s compound along with her tiger-shifter lover, Erik Wells, but the home that had once been her sanctuary is now gone, burned to the ground and leaving them with no choice but to go on the run.

At least Erik knows a thing or two about running; he’s been doing it for most of his life, and he’s determined to keep Addie safe. Between their handful of allies and Addie’s growing magic, he thinks they just might have enough resources to survive, and, for the first time in his life, sees a future for himself and the woman he loves.

But the powerful sorcerer on their tail has more than owning Addie in his sights. Now he’s also out for revenge and not everyone will make it out alive…

Erik could barely meet Addie’s eyes as they covered the rest of the distance to the motel. He wasn’t happy with everything she’d witnessed him do in the past few days. He’d slaughtered guards left and right at Lincoln’s compound, now tracked down a campsite and stolen a set of clothes and cash. A killer and thief, that’s what she’d tied herself to.

Worst still, he’d brought Lincoln to her door. Had her kidnapped, tormented. Had her home destroyed and friends either killed or put in danger.

How could she still stand to be around him at all? Shame burned hotly in him and he kept his head down as they crossed the parking lot.

“They’ll be looking for an interracial couple, if they’re checking around,” Addie spoke up. “And I look like I’ve been running through the woods all day.”

“I’ll get the key and meet you.” His hand brushed her arm for a moment and then they parted, Addie heading down the long row of motel rooms while Erik went for the manager’s office. The parking lot was partially full, enough so that he didn’t think he’d be remembered if asked, but thankfully no witnesses were around who could be questioned later about his presence.

The manager was still seated at the desk reading an old copy of Hustler as he had been when Erik scoped the place out earlier. A prominent sign listed the price per day and per week, as well as a notice that said “No ID Required; Cash Upfront”.

The man barely glanced up when Erik walked in, simply turned the guestbook his way for Erik to sign, took the money, dropped the key to room fourteen, and went back to his magazine.

Paying for the room for one night left them with twenty-three dollars. It wouldn’t get them far, but he grabbed a couple of delivery menus from the rack beside the manager’s desk and continued on to meet Addie.

Despite everything she’d been through, she remained beautiful. Disheveled and exhausted, true, and his heart ached thinking of all she’d endured, but there was still a strength to the way she stood, the way her big brown eyes met his, that warmed his body with need.

As he reached her, he gently pressed his palm to her lower back and led her toward the fourteenth room. He passed her the menus for local pizza and Chinese joints, and unlocked the door.

The room was nothing exceptional—he’d be happy if it turned out to at least have clean sheets—and a far cry from Addie’s comfortable home, but for now it was at least safe.

He shut the door behind them, locked it, and closed the ratty dark curtains before turning on the light.

Addie stood in the center of the room, staring at the menus without seeming to see them.

“If you’re not hungry…” he started.

“I am…but I’m not.” She glanced over her shoulder at him. “You know what I mean?”

“We can order later.”

“You can pick something if you want.” She dropped the menus on the bed and walked unsteadily toward the dark bathroom across the room. “I’ll take a bath.” She slipped off the running shoes she’d taken from the compound and turned on the bathroom light. A bare bulb in the ceiling flickered to life, revealing formerly-white tile.

Erik took off his own stolen shoes and stretched his arms, rubbed his shoulders. The bed at least seemed clean, sheets smelling of fresh laundry, even if the carpet was stained and burned by cigarette butts in various spots and everything else left much to be desired. Although he knew there was nothing they could do for the next few hours while Addie rested, he couldn’t shut his brain off, couldn’t stop trying to decide what to do next.

The plan originally had been to regroup with the others at Addie’s house. Once their allies found her place in ruins, where would they go? Hell, Erik didn’t even know for sure who survived. Even those who made it from Lincoln’s compound could be hunted and killed. And if something happened to Naliah, her people would scatter.

The faucets roared to life in the other room, water striking the porcelain as the tub filled. He walked to the bathroom doorway and leaned against the frame, watching Addie. Her back was to the rapidly-filling tub, instead facing the sink. She’d wound her long wavy dark hair up into a knot at the base of her skull and her clothes seemed to hang on her; despite the fact that it had only been a few days that she’d been captive by Lincoln, she likely hadn’t eaten and the previous glow to her medium-brown skin and vibrancy had faded a little. Her shoulders were slumped and dark half-circles hung under her eyes.

Words hovered on his lips for a moment before he could finally force them out. “Addie…”

Her eyes closed and head tipped down. “Don’t,” she whispered.

He braced, ready for her to tell him she didn’t want him there anymore, to condemn him for everything he’d put her through. “Whatever you want, Adelaide. I’ll leave, I’ll stay. I’ll fight for you, I’ll kill for you. I’ll die for you. I brought this into your life and I’m sorry for that. Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do it.”

At last she met his gaze in the mirror, tears rolling down her cheeks. Her voice came out more forceful this time. “I said, don’t. I don’t want your apologies. I don’t want your guilt. I’ve only ever wanted you.” The tears fell faster, her shoulders quivering, and the sight broke his heart. “You’re safe and that’s all that matters to me, Erik.”

Release Date: September 18, 2015
Genre: IR (bwwm) paranormal romance
Length: 32 000 words (or 100 pages)
Series: Cats & Conjure #3
Format: ebook
Ebook Price: $2.99

Excerpt from SNOW

Who wants a Snow excerpt on this chilly day? 😉

Setup: our intrepid hero is handcuffed to our heroine because she’s sneaky.

Despite the coffee, Mike figured he’d sleep. Once again in his clothes, on top of the blankets, while Liliana curled up under the bedspread at his side, facing him by necessity as they were still locked at the wrist. She’d stripped out of her jeans again, left them cast on one of the chairs, and he’d avoided watching her while she did so as best as he could. Privacy was nearly nonexistent in a cramped hotel room to start with; cuffed together like this, what remained rapidly dissipated. Tonight the hall light was off, as he was no longer concerned she’d be trying to sneak out without him knowing. The cuff key sat on the table across the room, impossible to reach unless they both went to it together.
“If I’m going to be stuck with you in a room for weeks, we should probably start talking or something,” she said at last. “It might pass the time better.”
He’d almost thought she’d gone to sleep; she’d been lying there in the dark for over twenty minutes in silence, eyes closed, breathing even. “What would you like to talk about?”
She shifted and the mattress dipped under her. Mike lay on his back, his free arm under his head, staring up at the ceiling where bluish light filtered between the curtains. Snow continued to pile up outside and pattered softly against the windows.
“You still won’t tell me who hired you?”
“Not my information to give,” he said simply.
She was on her side still but watching him now. Her arm moved in the space between their bodies, slightly tugging his with it.
Oddly, he appreciated the silence, or what he suspected it meant from her. Despite her willingness to run her mouth off or stubbornly argue, she paused to think, to consider, enough that he knew there was more going on in her head than was apparent at first glance. She was smarter, craftier than she let on. Sure, every time she tried to run, she was stupid to do so, but that was born from desperation. If she actually took time to plan something, his work might be cut out for him.
“Then why did you take the job?” she asked after clearly debating it.
That caught him off guard.
What’s more, he wasn’t sure he had an answer for it. To help out Jann, sure—they’d both done one another favors over the years, and this job was personal for his friend. And because it was a well-paying gig. Seven Security did extremely well already, of course, but when a good job came up, they invariably took them to help cover expenses when business was slow. Further, this was what he was trained for, after all. Keeping a witness safe, anticipating threats—he was good at this. Enjoyed the work.
But there was more too it as well. “Because you need the help I can provide, even if you don’t want it.”
He could all but feel the air bristle around her at that and she gave a soft, skeptical snort at his words.
“Right,” she said. “Purely altruistic motives and not financial ones.”
“You realize I am not short for work,” he replied. “I pick and choose clients. I wasn’t forced to be here. My decisions are based on more than money.”
“Aren’t you just Prince Charming, O’Hara.”
“I’m in the unique position of being able to help you, and I’m being paid for it. There’s nothing princely about it. I realize you’re…” He had to phrase this delicately and wasn’t certain he could. “Likely used to people—men—taking an angle with you, wanting something from you.”
“Excuse me?” she snapped, but he ignored her.
“I have no ulterior motives. I require absolutely nothing from you but your cooperation while I keep you safe. When the police complete their investigation and get their evidence, I will turn you over to them as a material witness, they will put the Hartleys in prison, and you will go on your way.”
“You don’t know anything about me.”
“I know your distrust of police and authority figures likely came from your years spent in foster care and group homes. I know from your police report that you used to date Jimmy Hartley and that is why you’re scared of what he’ll do to you when he finds you. I know you expect me to either abandon you to Jimmy at some point or somehow ultimately lead to your death because I’m keeping you in one place. Correction—you don’t ‘expect’, you’re certain I will. However—”
And he tilted his head so he could face her, the blue light from outside gently tracing the side of her face, making her soft curls glow. Her features were delicate but her expression strong, those eyes just as fiery as when he first saw them despite how beaten down she’d been, tracked down and handcuffed to him. Scant inches separated them and for a moment he forgot what he was saying.
“However,” he continued, “those issues are yours to deal with. I’m not going anywhere. I will not let your ex-boyfriend or anyone else near you. There is nowhere safer you can be at the moment than right here.”
Her lips pursed as she stared at him. Clearly she still didn’t believe a word he said. Likely wouldn’t, even after he delivered her to the police for safekeeping when the trial came up.
She bent her left arm, folded it so her hand was under her pillow, dragged his arm up with her. He didn’t fight it, moving passively with her, and his fingertips brushed her forearm. Her skin was soft and warm, requiring conscious effort on his part not to deliberately touch her.
“I think you believe that,” she said at last, her voice soft and quiet. Defeated. “But you’re so sure you don’t have a weakness or a blind spot, that you’re too smart to get taken by someone like him, and that’s exactly what makes you a perfect victim.”
Like her. No, Liliana was far from stupid. And she’d described exactly how a smart woman would’ve ended up with Jimmy Hartley and men like him.
“I’m aware of my weakness and blind spots,” he said instead.
“Are you?” Her lips quirked into a grin, that saucy half-smile from her photo. The one that promised depths he immediately wanted to dive into.
“I plan for them. I can’t do my job without that awareness.”
“Awareness seems like a bit of a curse. Always planning, always anticipating, running a couple dozen scenarios at once, right?”
His gaze was locked on hers. He simply nodded.
“Must be exhausting.”
“I manage.”
She shifted again, the sheet slipping from her shoulder as she reached for him with her free hand.
Mike tensed, steadying his breath with effort, watching while she ran her fingertips up his forearm, feather-light. Her gaze traced the trail her fingers did, staring at him with a curiosity he couldn’t entirely decipher. He focused on his breathing, on keeping his heartrate down even as his pulse leapt with her touch and his body stirred again.
It could be another con, another attempt at wiggling free of her captivity, he knew. So he didn’t read much into it and tried to clamp down on any pleasant feelings her touch elicited as she traced her fingers along the dip in his calloused palm.
“And what about when you deliver me as promised, and the trial goes forward, and Jimmy’s mother kills me anyway?” She lifted her gaze to meet his again, fingers curling so now her nails dragged over his palm, more of a bite than the delicate touch from before but just as maddening. “They have money. They’ll hire someone. And even if everything they have is caught in bail and lawyers, they have friends. I testify, I’m dead. Doesn’t matter what other evidence they have—they’ll do it out of spite.”
There was nothing he could say to that. No reassurance he could give. Sure, she could be put in witness protection if the threat against her was found credible. She could disappear with help from the authorities far better than if she did it on her own.
But that wasn’t what she was asking about and he knew it.
“Exactly,” she said before he could reply. “This isn’t altruism. This isn’t about what’s best for me. It’s your job. What you’re paid for. And even if you do your little mission here perfectly and you can sleep easy at night knowing you did everything you were hired to do, that doesn’t make me safe. It’s just delaying the inevitable until a time when it’s more convenient for your conscience to have me die.”
And with that she rolled over, leaving her left arm where it was by the pillow as it was still attached to his, the handcuff chain clinking softly between them.
Mike stared up at the ceiling again, commanding sleep that never came, and telling himself it was just all the coffee keeping him up and nothing else.


A witness hidden
away in a small town.
After waitress Liliana
White witnessed a murder, she wanted nothing to do with helping the police or
putting the target behind bars. She’s not interested in justice or being a hero;
she just wants to stay alive. A brutal death waits for her if the culprits get
their hands on her, and given that one of them is her ex-boyfriend, she knows
precisely what he’s capable of and will avoid him at all costs.
The bodyguard
sworn to protect her.
Stoic and
efficient, personal security expert Michael O’Hara is cautious in all
things—both work and women—and has built a reputation in the private sector as
the top of his field. But though he thinks he’s seen it all, nothing has
prepared him for keeping Liliana White safe. She doesn’t trust him, doesn’t
trust the police, and not even a vicious contract killer known as The Huntsman
on her heels is enough to convince her she needs him.
But Liliana does
need him. Only Mike stands between her and certain death, and despite all he
does to keep his emotional distance, the longer he spends with her, the more he
has to face the possibility that he just might need her too.
Release Date: March 27, 2015

Genre: IR (bwwm) contemporary romantic suspense 
Length: short novel (51K words or 150 pages) 
Series: Midsummer Suspense 
Format: ebook & paperback Ebook 
Price: $2.99 PREORDER SPECIAL (later will be $3.99) 
Print Price: $8.99

KindleAReNookKoboiBookstoreSmashwordsPaperback