Saturday, January 10, 2015

Saturday's Series Spotlight: Texas by RJ Scott

I'm starting off with Texas Fall, the sixth and newest installment to the series.

Texas Fall #6
Jack is focusing on building an equine therapy school for children with special needs and works hard along side his normal horse training and breeding program. He and Riley have settled into a softer, quieter, kind of family life, but that doesn't stop them using the barn with the door to the fullest!

But the lull comes before the storm.

Riley and his new assistant travel to Laredo, and across the border into Mexico as part of an exploratory team and things very quickly go to hell. Riley is caught in some serious Cartel problems and suddenly everything Jack holds dear is threatened.

Add in Vaughn and Darren's story, revisiting Robbie, Eli, Liam and Marcus, alongside Sean and Eden and the wedding that never was, and this story promises you everything you wanted from a Texas series book.

Just when I thought I couldn't love Jack and Riley more, Miss Scott amps up their tale with drug cartels, trials, and new additions to the Double D, both in business and personal matters.  Watching Liam overcome his past and grow alongside Marcus is so heartwarming.  The kids may not have been in this installment as much but when they were, they stole the show.  The boys may not be drowning in lust in this one but boy, when they partake, all I can say is I was afraid my Kindle was going to short circuit.


Chapter 1
Jack was happy. He had a soft beer buzz going, and he was with his horses. The only thing that could make things better was if Riley was with him, but he wasn’t going to pull Riley out of the party just to keep Jack company. On the other hand, he wasn’t moving inside any time soon. He had enough finger food to last him a few days wrapped in a napkin, and he didn’t need to go back in unless there was some kind of natural disaster. Parties and Jack Campbell-Hayes did not mix; even New Year’s was something he avoided. Not that he was introverted, it was just the whole entire family was here—every single one of them—and they all wanted to talk to him about one thing or another. When Max had decided it was too chaotic and disappeared with Carol into his sensory room, Jack had wanted to go as well.

“You can’t hide the whole night,” Riley said from behind him. Jack turned to face his husband, leaning back against the stable door and waiting for the lecture. Riley was happy as a pig in shit right in the middle of it all: juggling babies, catering, socializing, and hell, everything that Jack was avoiding right about now. “People asked where you were,” Riley added.

Riley sure looked good tonight, his blond hair just this side of bed-head spiky, his long legs in black pants, the dark green shirt so perfect against his warm skin tones, and his hazel eyes sparkling with enthusiasm for life. Sexy. Very sexy, all toned and slim and hard and hot. Jack cleared the thoughts of kissing the life out of Riley from his head. He’d need all his faculties to deal with Riley when he knew damn well Riley wanted him to go back inside and host the party.

Anyway, he was suspicious that anyone really worried where he’d gone. “Who asked?”

Riley stepped right up into his space, close enough so that Jack could inhale the scent of his man. The combination of familiar citrus was underscored by deeper notes of mulled spices from the kitchen and some punch concoction Eden had made.

“Actually, no one asked,” Riley admitted. “Josh mentioned that he was impressed you’d lasted an hour.”

Jack huffed a laugh. He was surprised his brother hadn’t come out and hidden right next to him. Seemed that enjoying socializing skipped the male Campbell line entirely.

“So,” Jack began slowly. “What are you doing out here?”

Riley placed his hands on Jack’s hips, then slid his fingers through belt loops to tug Jack away from the door and flush up to him.

“I was asking myself,” he explained, “just where would my husband be when it’s only ten at night and he was looking for peace. I tried everywhere.” He pressed a gentle kiss to Jack’s lips, then smiled down at him, that few inches in height he had just enough to force Jack to lean his head back a little. “Actually that’s a lie. I looked in the twins’ room, checked in on Max, then came here.”

“Is Max okay?”

“Carol is keeping an eye on him. He doesn’t get why all these people are here and it’s all a bit much for him, but he’s okay.”

“And the twins? Did Connor still look restless?”

“Connor was fast asleep.”

“And what about Lexie—”

“Lexie was sleeping too, so I came out here and I found you.”

Jack twisted his fingers together behind Riley’s head and brushed his erection against Riley’s. It didn’t seem like they were in each other’s company more than ten seconds and Jack was already turned on. Thank God Riley appeared to have the same problem.

“What we gonna do?” Jack asked. He had plenty of ideas, the best of which involved rope and the barn and a whole lot of lube.

Riley slanted his head and kissed Jack thoroughly, never taking his hands from Jack’s belt and never moving. When they separated for air, Riley was smirking. Jack knew exactly what his husband was going to say. He wanted him back inside in that hell called the New Year’s Eve party.

“No,” Jack protested immediately.

“Two hours, Jack, just two hours. Go in, be all kinds of sociable, and as soon as the clock strikes twelve, you can come back out.”


Riley silenced Jack with a finger pressed to his lips. He leaned close and whispered, “Two hours is all, Jack, you can manage that, and if you’re a good boy…” Jack couldn’t hold back the laugh at that point as Riley waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

“What do you plan on doing as my reward?”

Riley leaned in for one last kiss, then turned smartly on his heel.

“For you to find out,” he threw over his shoulder. “You have five.”

Jack turned back to pet Solo Cal, who butted him and whuffed on his hand.

“God save me from being sociable,” Robbie muttered as he joined Jack at the stable as soon as Riley disappeared. “If I have to dance once more…” His tone threatened payback, and Jack imagined Eli was still hogging the small dance area that everyone had made in the marquee off the kitchen, little more than a few tables pushed to one side. Eli and Riley, along with Marcus, Eden, and Hayley, had been dancing like they were on uppers.

“You bring beer?” Jack asked.

Robbie handed over a cold one and gestured to the three more under his arm. “Thought I’d drag these ones out.”

“I’ve already had Riley out here telling me I should be inside. I give it five before Eli does the same to you.”

Robbie muttered something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like a string of curse words along with Eli’s name. He held out his hand to Solo Cal and received the same chuff of attention that Jack had. Jack’s horses loved Robbie, the quiet man with the strange mix of Aussie and American in his accent. The day Jack’d taken him on had been a good one and now that Robbie had Eli, his staying was permanent. In fact, he had a stake in the D’s horse training and breeding program. Jack couldn’t wish for a better right-hand man.

As Jack could have predicted, another cowboy soon appeared at their side.

“Jesus Christ,” Liam cursed and joined them in the stable. Without words, Robbie gave him a beer, and Liam downed half of the bottle in long swallows. Only then did he talk. “Tell me again where Marcus gets all his damn energy?”

Jack shrugged. “Same place as Riley and Eli, it seems.”

“Cowboys shouldn’t be indoors,” Liam pointed out. “Ain’t natural.”

“It’s not natural,” Robbie corrected.

“That’s what I said,” Liam agreed.

Jack glanced over at the latest addition to the D. Liam was still looking a bit on the thin side, and he had perpetual worry written into his expression. Didn’t matter that he had a boyfriend and that he and Marcus were close. He hadn’t truly found his peace yet and still held the anxiety from the attack in the barn heavy on his shoulders.

It didn’t help that the mail between Christmas and New Year’s had held a letter with a court appearance date. Twenty-sixth of January was the day Liam would be facing his attacker. Didn’t matter that Yuri Fensin had admitted his part in the attack, this was wider than that. Liam had passed enough evidence to have Hank Castille in the dock as well for the abuse Liam had suffered at the man’s hand when he was younger. A lot hinged on Liam’s testimony and that of a couple other witnesses, all boys as young as Liam or younger.

So yeah, the weight of it was on Liam, and he looked tired. He was still working long days, putting in his hours, making a home with Marcus in the apartment over the barn. Of the three of them standing there, he was the one who didn’t need to be in a place where people danced and expected a body to be smiling all the time. He needed something else.

“Liam,” Marcus said from the door. Jack sighed inwardly. His quiet place was getting busier than the party. “You okay?”

Liam turned to face Marcus, and Jack couldn’t help but see the shine of emotion in Liam’s eyes or the serious expression on Marcus’s face.

“Thinking Liam and you should have your own New Year’s,” Robbie suggested.

Marcus nodded and held out a hand that Liam took. “Is that okay, Jack?”

Jack frowned. What did it have to do with him? Never mind Marcus was looking for his permission and Liam really needed the support. “Get off before Riley catches you,” he joked. Liam and Marcus left quickly. Now there was only the two of them left—and Jack’s five minutes were up.

“Keep my fence warm,” he muttered. After knocking shoulders with Robbie, he went indoors and into the chaos that was a family celebration. He’d done worse. Once he’d spent fourteen hours with a pregnant mare in distress. He could do this.

* * * * *

Riley wasn’t exactly watching for Jack. Not really. It just happened that whenever Jack walked into a room, Riley was aware of exactly when it happened. Somehow he always looked over at the moment Jack was looking for him. Time stopped for a second, One Direction faded into the background, as did Hayley’s laughter with her cousins and Eli and Eden twirling in some mad parody of a tango; everything faded.

Every single damn time Riley looked at Jack, his heart hitched and emotion choked him.

Mine. I love him and he’s mine, and he’s the other half of me, and everything. Yeah, it didn’t make much sense, this overwhelming surge of ownership, of affection and need, but it was all it took for Riley to cross over and steal a heated kiss right there in front of the entire family. When he pulled back, Jack was smirking that infuriating laconic cowboy smile and his blue eyes shone with emotion. Dressed from head to toe in black, pants, matching shirt shot through with silver, and that Texas belt buckle, he was edible and all Riley’s.

“You missed me?” Jack teased.

“No,” Riley said. “Just warming up for midnight. Let’s get beer.”

A party tent off the side of the kitchen extended the house for this get-together with God knows how many family and friends milling around. Riley knew his mom and dad were in there somewhere, clapping along to Hayley’s dancing, which in itself was a miracle. Sandra Hayes was the last person Riley ever imagined would clap along to anything. But where her granddaughter was concerned, all the Southern genteel charm was put to bed and instead out came the mad-eyed grandma who loved her grandchildren. She’d never have the natural warmth that Donna exuded, but she was trying hard and she had a special connection to Hayley that Riley loved to watch.

The two men picked up beer, or rather, Jack did; Riley still had a cold fear about what would happen if they both got drunk. Although Jack didn’t ordinarily get drunk and neither did Riley, he wanted one of them to be entirely sober in case the twins needed them, or Max or Hayley. He opened a can of Sprite, and the icy-cold bubbles felt good on his tongue. He finished it off as he joined in with a heated debate about whether Brad was hotter than Angelina. Jack wandered off again, but this time it was just to stand with his brother and sister-in-law and their kids.

Logan was growing up, and he was looking an awful lot like his Uncle Jack. With the requisite floppy hair over one eye, he was a good-looking kid, and Riley couldn’t fail to notice Hayley looking over at Logan every so often. She still had that crush on her cousin, but Logan was three years older and headed for college in a year or so. Riley didn’t like to admit it, but he hoped to hell Hayley got over it. Not because he didn’t like Logan, Logan was a good kid, but Riley just wasn’t ready for Hayley to be dating anyone, let alone her kind-of-cousin.

“You look awfully serious, big brother.” Eden smiled up at him, and he pulled her into his side. Sean wasn’t there that night, but Eden didn’t seem too fazed by that. The couple had moved to a better place slowly but surely, and although Riley still had a few small reservations over Sean, he could see his sister was happy. For that Sean got a million brownie points.

“Just counting my blessings,” Riley answered. She cuddled in close and wrapped her arms around his waist, and Riley didn’t want to let her go. He had to eventually, especially when she wriggled, which was the only way she could get out of one of her brother’s bear hugs. She looked well, happy, her little black dress and strappy heels both covered in soft glitter. Riley glanced down at himself and the smattering of glitter he now had on his shirt.

“Your fault,” she said, and with a grin, she left.

He didn’t have time to think about how he was going to remove the glitter when Hayley ran to him and clung to him, asking him to go with her. He opened his mouth to ask what was wrong, but he could see the emotion in his daughter’s eyes. She was close to crying, and as soon as he followed her into the good room, those tears began to fall. Riley sat on the sofa and pulled her into his arms. She was such an itty-bitty thing, and she needed a hug. She held him so tight and she was sobbing, her slim form shaking in his hold. Riley’s heart split in two.

“What happened, sweetie?” he asked when her crying had settled to a few hitched breaths.

“It’s Logan,” she began.

Riley’s chest tightened. Hayley’s big crush was obvious to everyone. Had Logan done something? Had he hurt Hayley? He was a good kid, but that didn’t mean Riley wouldn’t flatten him if he’d upset her. Jack would just have to understand; after all, this was their daughter and daughter trumped nephew. The daddy side of him wanted to call Logan out, the sensible adult side of him was trying to be patient.

“What happened?”

“He’s… he’s… g-got a girlfriend.” Hayley managed to get the words out before sobbing into Riley’s shirt, and Riley held her as his little girl’s heart broke into a million pieces. He stroked her long blonde hair and back. He felt powerless, but he knew this was only the first of so much that Hayley would be experiencing, and it wasn’t like a skinned knee or strep, he was helpless here.

“I’m sorry, sweetheart,” he said gently as he stroked her back, marveling at the softness of her hair and her scent and the very wonder of holding his teenage daughter in his arms. She still loved them at the moment; she hadn’t reached that point where a father’s love would be replaced by the angst of teenage years or the love of another male.

“I’m so stupid,” she said. “He’s at a school with girls, and I’m stuck at mine.”

Hayley being at a school with just girls was a bone of contention between Hayley and her dads. She loved it there, she was safe, she had friends, and Riley had gone to an all-boys school for a short while and it hadn’t done him any harm. But she wanted a boyfriend, and she’d set her sights on Logan.

“He’s older than you,” Riley began quietly. He wasn’t entirely sure how that was going to go. She’d either snap at it by saying Logan wasn’t too old, or she’d understand where he was coming from.

“I know,” she said so softly that Riley could barely hear her. “But when I’m older, when I’m bigger and sexy and have boobs, then he’ll be sorry.”

Riley nearly choked on a combination of a laugh and groan. He almost felt sorry for Logan. Hayley reminded him of Eden in so many ways, so utterly convinced of her journey through life, so focused. But even though he tried to be the hands-on dad, listening to what his daughter said, he still couldn’t get his head around talking about Hayley and her boobs.

“Hey, guys,” Jack said. He’d clearly been sent in for more beer if the empties in the box he was holding was anything to go by. The spare beer was piled in crates in the corner, most of it left over from Robbie and Eli’s housewarming debacle. He set the box down and came to sit next to Riley. Hayley shuffled a little so she could place a hand on Jack’s arm. “What’s up?” he asked carefully.

“Logan has a girlfriend,” she said. At least now she had stopped crying.

“Aww, baby, I’m sorry,” Jack said. He knew she had a crush on his nephew, but Riley guessed his husband didn’t imagine it went as deep as this. Neither of them were experts on girls, not really. They just listened to their hearts and tried for the best. She sniffed one last time, then pushed herself up and away from Riley. She cried very prettily, another thing she got from Lexie and Eden, clearly. Her brown eyes were wide and her lashes wet and spiky, and she didn’t have any of that red-faced blotchiness Riley suffered with whenever he got emotional.

With enough drama to fulfill all of next week’s quota, she suddenly inhaled sharply and flailed off of Riley’s lap clutching at her face.

“I need to find Eden to fix my makeup. Love you, Dad. Love you, Pappa.”

Then the whirlwind that was Hayley left the room. Riley looked at Jack, and Jack returned the look.

“Hayley is wearing makeup?” Jack asked.

“Just some lip gloss and blusher,” Riley answered, “just for tonight. She asked me if it was okay. I tried to make it look like I was cool with it.”

Jack grinned. “I love that you did that.”

Riley couldn’t help sounding defensive. “Eden asked me if it was okay. It can’t hurt, right?”

Jack leaned into Riley and chuckled. “You are so easy.”

Riley smacked him, then pressed a kiss to the same place. “Up and at ’em, cowboy. We have socializing to do.”

“I’m not moving.” Jack settled back on the sofa, and Riley straddled him.

He leaned in and whispered, “You, me, barn, my mouth on you, my cock in you, lube. Now get your ass up.”

“Jack, where’s the be— Jesus, guys… get a room.” Josh stood at the door, arms over his chest. “We have a beer emergency out there.”

Jack ignored his brother and stared into Riley’s eyes. “I’m holding you to that, Riley.”

Riley smirked, then rolled up and off Jack. Whistling, he sauntered past Josh, deliberately patting Josh on the chest. Josh dramatically rubbed at the place Riley touched him.

“Eww, gay cooties. Jack, get your man off me.”

Riley left the brothers laughing. Trouble was, whispering all that in Jack’s ear had him imagining doing those things right the fuck now.

He’d basically screwed himself over.

Way to go, Riley. Idiot.

The Heart of Texas #1
Riley Hayes, the playboy of the Hayes family, is a young man who seems to have it all: money, a career he loves, and his pick of beautiful women. His father, CEO of HayesOil, passes control of the corporation to his two sons; but a stipulation is attached to Riley's portion. Concerned about Riley's lack of maturity, his father requires that Riley 'marry and stay married for one year to someone he loves'. Angered by the requirement, Riley seeks a means of bypassing his father's stipulation. Blackmailing Jack Campbell into marrying him "for love" suits Riley's purpose. There is no mention in his father's documents that the marriage had to be with a woman and Jack Campbell is the son of Riley Senior's arch rival. Win win.

Riley marries Jack and abruptly his entire world is turned inside out. Riley hadn't counted on the fact that Jack Campbell, quiet and unassuming rancher, is a force of nature in his own right. 

This is a story of murder, deceit, the struggle for power, lust and love, the sprawling life of a rancher and the whirlwind existence of a playboy. But under and through it all, as Riley learns over the months, this is a tale about family and everything that that word means.

WOW!!! The characters are so well written, you'll love them, you'll hate some of them and I was definitely sucked into the story.  When I decided to try reading M/M published works after months of enjoying slash fanfiction, I asked a few friends who I knew read this genre, what they suggest I start with.  Well, it was pretty unanimously recommended that I give RJ Scott's Texas series a go.  So I did.  At the time there was only three books and I devoured them like crazy.  So it's safe to say that RJ Scott is among my favorite authors in this genre and even safer to say that the members of the Double D family are some of the most well written, soul grabbing, and unforgettable characters ever created.  And it all started with this book.


Texas Winter #2
Riley’s past comes back to haunt him both professionally and personally.

His dead brother left more than just bitter memories for Riley to deal with. The FBI get involved and suddenly it is more than his good name that is on the line. Jack is always there for him but how much more can Riley’s husband reasonably be able to understand?

Especially when Riley finds out on his delayed honeymoon that he has an eight year old daughter he never knew existed...

There were so many directions the author could have taken this in and would have been an interesting and enjoyable read but this is so much better than any of those options. Great to see Riley and Jack come into their own.


Texas Heat #3
Riley and Jack Campbell-Hayes are doing well. Jack is expanding the Double D, Riley is close to his first ethical based contract, and Hayley is nearly ten and happy as all get out.

Jack hires Robbie, who is recovering from a loss, as his right-hand man. Riley's photographer friend, Eli, decides the Double D is perfect for a cowboy-themed model shoot and falls in lust with Robbie. Everyone except Robbie sees how perfect Eli is for him.

Against the backdrop of twenty half-naked male models on Double D land, Texas Heat is the story of one hot summer with a Gay Rodeo, a bar fight at the Rusty Nail, and a love between two men that grows stronger every day.

Another great entry in this series. There was a bit more humor in this one but it was done so fittingly and mixed with just the right blend of drama, angst, and love, and of course hotness and cowboys!


Texas Family #4
Jack and Riley Campbell-Hayes begin a journey that will change their lives forever.

Set against the backdrop of the Double D, the cast of the Texas books face changes that won’t leave a single one of them untouched.

Jack and Riley want to extend their small family of three. Their first choice is surrogacy with Jack as the father and when all this begins smoothly both men can't help but contemplate at what point would things go wrong. After all, their lives are far from normal and nothing is ever smooth.

Add a small four year old boy in foster care into the mix and suddenly things become a whole lot more complicated.

Not only was this an amazing entry in the lives of Jack and Riley, but a true testament of family and that family isn't always about blood or perfect. Jack and Riley compliment each other so completely that it's hard to remember how they were when they first got their start in book 1. Even though this book centers around the new additions to their family, the boys haven't lost any of their passion, lust, or love for each other. They can still get the other worked up with just a look.


Texas Christmas #5
Six men with lives linked to the Double D... Danger comes to the Double D from Liam's past and threatens everything Jack and Riley hold dear. 

Centering on Jack and Riley, parents, lovers and friends.

Eli and Robbie have their home on Double D land. Their love is rooted in the Texas soil and they weather as many storms as can be thrown at them.

And Liam, a young man with a head full of dreams and sleep full of nightmares, finds that all things are possible when Marcus decides to interrupt his solitary existence.

Another great entry in the tales of the Campbell-Hayes family, and yes, everyone who seems to come to the Double D works their way into the family network, blood or not. In this installment we get to see Jack and Riley adjust to the addition of Max to their family. I loved the way Liam's story is brought to us intermingled with his new found relationship with Marcus. It's not overdone and yet you feel every emotion that he goes through, good and bad. With the support of those around him, Liam learns to accept what happened to him and that he's worth the respect, responsibilities, and the love that he's being shown.


Author Bio:
RJ Scott has been writing since age six, when she was made to stay in at lunchtime for an infraction involving cookies. She was told to write a story and two sides of paper about a trapped princess later, a lover of writing was born.

As an avid reader herself, she can be found reading anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror. However, her first real true love will always be the world of romance where she takes cowboys, bodyguards, firemen and billionaires (to name a few) and writes dramatic and romantic stories of love and passion between these men.

With over sixty titles to her name and counting, she is the author of the award winning book, The Christmas Throwaway. She is also known for the Texas series charting the lives of Riley and Jack, and the Sanctuary series following the work of the Sanctuary Foundation and the people it protects.
Her goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.


Texas Fall

The Heart of Texas

Texas Winter

Texas Heat

Texas Family

Texas Christmas

Stages of Desire by Julia Tagan

Title: Stages of Desire
Author: Julia Tagan
Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)
Release Date: January 5, 2015
To be or not to be—in love…

As a ward of the Duchess of Dorset, Harriet can hardly expect more from a match than the ringing endorsement of “from what I’ve heard, the man is financially secure and his teeth are quite regular.” After all, she’s only the lowly daughter of traveling actors, not the actual daughter of the duchess.
William Talbot, Earl of Abingdon is set to marry the duchess’s daughter. After his elder brother’s scandalous death, his family’s reputation is paramount, and he’ll allow nothing to damage it again. But when Harriet disappears to save her father from debtor’s prison, the scandal threatens William and his intended’s family.

The simple task of fetching the duchess’s runaway ward turns complicated when Harriet insists on traveling with her father’s acting company. William’s forced to tag along, and finds himself entranced. The stage transforms Harriet into a free-spirited, captivating beauty. But someone’s been sabotaging the theater company, and instead of facing scandal, William and Harriet discover a threat not only to their growing passion, but to their lives…

London, 1808

“From what I’ve heard, the man is financially secure and his teeth are quite regular,” announced Eleanor, Duchess of Dorset.

Harriet Farley, the duchess’s ward, smiled wanly, trying to be as polite as she could under the circumstances. The ballroom brimmed with young women coiffed and adorned to perfection and men whose gazes darted toward the prettiest. Although normally Harriet preferred lingering along the perimeter, tonight she was to be introduced to a promising suitor, handpicked by the duchess herself. For the first time, she’d take part in the ritual of courtship instead of observing from the duchess’s side. Her moment had come.

Then why did she feel like a hare caught in a trap?

The aroma of Pear’s soap and perfume wafted through the crowd. Harriet dabbed her handkerchief under the lace trim of the neckline of her gown but stopped when the duchess furrowed her brow. After six years of living under the same roof, Harriet was keenly attuned to the woman’s slightest sign of irritation.

“I’m sure he’s lovely, Your Grace,” said Harriet. “I trust your judgment when it comes to these matters.”

The duchess shrugged and snapped open her fan, obviously pleased. Harriet’s guardian had a regal profile as would befit the wife of the Duke of Dorset, even though his sudden death three years earlier had taken its toll on the duchess’s loveliness. The family’s recent financial woes had no doubt exacerbated the deep lines etched on her forehead. Harriet could never repay their generosity, taking her in when she was twelve years old, yet now she could do something to help. Or so she hoped.

The duchess scanned the room like a sea captain looking for signs of land. “We’ll wait until Marianne’s betrothal is settled, and you’ll be next.”

“Of course, Your Grace.” Harriet wiggled her toes and winced. The first order of business once she was married would be to buy slippers that fit, not ones intended to make her too-large feet appear dainty.

“You’ve been an agreeable companion to Lady Marianne, and now, if luck has it, you’ll be an agreeable wife to the sixth son of a baron.”

“I’m excited to meet Mr. Hopplehill.” Harriet swayed back slightly, so her heels, not her toes, supported her body weight.

“Act at ease, my girl. You stand so stiffly one would think you’re a marble sculpture.”

She shifted her weight forward, trying to comply.

“Now you’re slumping. Oh, for heaven’s sake. You must have picked up some semblance of proper conduct from Marianne.”

Tears stung her eyes and she took a calming breath. She hadn’t been born into the ton, and evenings like these only reinforced her sense of inadequacy. The other girls were like lap dogs, brushed and pampered and pirouetting for biscuits, while she was more of the loyal hunting dog, happier loping across fields and braying.


The heat must be affecting her thinking.

Finding the Perfect Castle
Part of the best job of writing a romance is finding the ideal setting for a particular scene. As a writer of historicals, I love to scour the web for the perfect London townhouse or country manor and imagine my hero and heroine running down the hallways or up the stairs.

For my Regency-era romance, Stages of Desire, I needed to describe a duke’s castle where my hero and heroine have their first kiss. Harriet Farley is a runaway ward determined to save her actor father from debtor’s prison, even if it means heading north to Birmingham by foot. Her guardian, a stuffy duchess, asks our hero William, Earl of Abingdon, to save her family name from scandal and bring Harriet back to London. As William’s been wooing the duchess’s daughter, he’s loath to refuse.

After several mishaps on the road, William and Harriet, along with a motley crew from her father’s theater company, spend the night at the duke’s castle. I found the perfect location in Warwick Castle, which was built in the Middle Ages on the banks of the River Avon.  The building has it all: ramparts, towers, and a green courtyard where the actors perform one of Shakespeare’s comedies. Later that evening, Harriet and William find themselves on top of the highest tower looking across the starlit countryside: the perfect place for true love to blossom. Although I’ve only viewed photos of Warwick Castle online, I feel like I know the place inside and out, and I’d love to visit some day.

What places do you find to be the perfect settings for a romance? Even better, what kind of intrigue might take place there?

Bad Self Portraits - Lake Street Dive from Bad Self Portraits album
A raw, joyous sound erupts out of this band. The lyrics are all about getting over someone you love. Perfect background music when my heroine, Harriet, hits her low point.

Joyful Sounds - The Word from The Word album
No matter what mood I’m in, this track makes me feel that all is right with the world. The song would be a perfect soundtrack as Harriet and our hero William begin their journey north to Birmingham on a gorgeous English day, when the possibilities are endless. Also works for the last chapter: HEA to a tee.

Bleeding Out – The Lone Bellow from The Lone Bellow album
William is a physician who finds himself in over his head during the course of the novel, and this song embodies the panic and worry he feels during that scene. Gorgeous harmonies soar above the dark poetry.

Crack the Sky - Tina Shafer from The Good Ones album
The minor key and the singer’s pure voice get me every time. I love the line “It’s not too late to live life the way you want to … far from the old mistakes.” Sums up the theme of Stages of Desire perfectly!

Stay - Alison Krauss from Forget About It album
After a major love scene in my novel, everything falls apart (don’t they always)! This is what I imagine is going through Harriet’s mind.

Like A Fool – Keira Knightly, from the Begin Again soundtrack
More songs about being broken-hearted. Keira Knightly never appealed to me as an actress until I saw the movie Begin Again, with Mark Ruffalo. I loved the movie and immediately bought the soundtrack, and this song is one of the reasons why. It’s about wishing things were different, but trying to accept them as they are.

Harriet Farley – Lizzy Caplan
The lead from Showtime’s “Master’s of Sex” would make a perfect Harriet – headstrong, tough and not conventionally pretty. She’s gorgeous because she has such a strong life force. Of course, Harriet’s eyes are blue so we’d have to use contacts, but that’s fine with me. The key to the character is finding an actress who appears rather plain in real life, but turns into an enchanting beauty under the footlights of the stage.

William, Earl of Abingdon – Damian Lewis
I liked the idea of using Brody from “Homeland” as my hero. The Earl of Abingdon starts out as a cold and calculating sort of guy, but softens up (don’t they all).  And I loved his unusual coloring – a strawberry blond with serious muscles and a strong build. Not to mention that jawline.

Sam Farley – Alan Rickman
Sam is Harriet’s father, who runs a traveling acting company but is an absolute mess and a drunk. Alan Rickman is one of my favorite actors, and has the dramatic chops to tackle Shakespearean poetry yet a rumpled demeanor that works well for Sam. And his deep, sonorous voice makes everyone stand up and take notice.

Marianne – Kristin Chenoweth
She’s a wee bit too old for Marianne, but Kristin captures the kewpie-doll beauty of the spoiled Marianne, with a tough-as-nails exterior that gets her exactly what she wants. And what she wants is William.

Author Bio:
Julia Tagan lives with her husband and goldendoodle in New York City. A journalist by training, she enjoys weaving actual events and notorious individuals into her historical romances. Her favorite activities include walking her dog in Central Park, scouring farmers’ markets for the perfect tomato, and traveling to foreign cities in search of inspiration.



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Cover Reveal: Protective Hearts by DS Williams


TITLE: Protective Hearts

AUTHOR: D.S. Williams

GENRE: Paranormal Romance Thriller

PUBLICATION: January 24, 2015


After being kidnapped by the Chicago Heart Ripper, Finn O'Flaherty is his only surviving victim.
Rescued by her brother, Finn suffers heartache in the aftermath as she struggles to come to terms with what happened and battles the amnesia that prevents her from identifying the serial killer.
Caleb Sheppard is determined to protect Finn out of respect and a sense of duty towards his friend's younger sister. He suspects there is more to the prolific serial killer than meets the eye, and one question haunts him: Why was Finn kept, and not killed?
It's a race against time to retrieve Finn's memories, keep her out of the Ripper's clutches, and discover the secrets of his identity.
What Finn doesn't realize, is that Caleb and his family are hiding secrets of their own – some of which Finn may not be able to accept.

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Author Bio:
D.S. Williams is the author of the supernatural romance series 'The Nememiah Chronicles'.
Wife and mother to four demanding teenagers, D.S. Williams started writing at the age of five, when life was simpler and her stories really didn't have to make much sense. When you're five, happily ever after always ended the story and how you got there didn't matter so much.
Older and wiser, D.S. Williams has continued to write... and write... and write. With the support and encouragement of her husband and friends, she has finally come to the conclusion that she can't keep hiding from the world forever and should try sharing the numerous novels which have been written over the past 40+ years.
D.S. Williams enjoys writing (obviously), reading (voraciously) and making lists (obsessively). She's enjoyed a lifelong addiction to foods starting with 'ch' - cheescake, chocolate and chips - and when it comes to books, she loves a really good cliffhanger. Be warned!
She shares her life with her husband of twenty eight years, the Gang of Four and the current furry residents, Tuppence the Groodle and Angus the Bull Mastiff.

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Protective Hearts


The Nememiah Chronicles
Knowledge Revealed  /  Knowledge Quickening

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Cover Reveal: One Day at a Time by Evan Grace

Title: One Day at a Time
Author: Evan Grace
Series: Starting Over #4
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 20, 2014
For the past 4 years Cash has been living his life one day at a time…

Finally sober, he's running is own business and repairing his relationship with his sister.  He's happy with his life and proud of his accomplishments he's made. Now if only he could completely forgive himself for the mistakes he's made.

Tessa Brooks has lived a simple life…

She helps her widowed brother raise his daughter and spends her days surrounded by books. Then one day, a chance encounter brings her face to face with a man who will open her eyes to what she's been missing in life, happiness.

Tessa awakens something in Cash he thought was dead and buried long ago.

As their relationship grows he knows he needs to tell her about his past, but he’s afraid of how she will react. Will she be able to handle the painful truth of his past?

When forces out of their control lead them both down a path of destruction, they are both left wondering. Will their love be enough to heal each other when they need the other person the most?

Author Bio:
A Midwesterner and self-proclaimed nerd, Evan has been an avid reader most of her life, but five years ago got bit by the writing bug, and it quickly became her addiction, passion and therapy. When the voices in her head give it a rest, she can always be found with her e-reader in her hand. Some of her favorites include, Shayla Black, Jaci Burton, Madeline Sheehan and Jamie Mcguire. Evan finds a lot of her inspiration in music, so if you see her wearing her headphones you know she means business and is in the zone.

During the day Evan works for a large homecare agency and at night she’s superwoman. She’s a wife to Jim and a mom to Ethan and Evan, a cook, a tutor, a friend and a writer. How does she do it? She’ll never tell.


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