Rose Anderson – Interview with Loving Leonardo’s Nicholas Halstead

I had an unusual experience the other day. It was a quiet day
at home, inside and out. The snow was falling in that slow magical sort of way.
It was just cold enough that snowflakes landing against my windowpane lingered
a second longer as perfect six-pointed stars before falling to accumulate on
the sill. I’d spent the morning seeing to author obligations and chipping away
at my work in progress. Taking a much deserved break, I decided I’d enjoy a cup
of tea.
I have a small collection of British fortuneteller teacups
and saucers. They’re fun and fanciful little things for reading tea leaves back
in the day. Several in my collection are from the Victorian era. That day, I
chose the Aynsley bone china cup. I’ve been in a Victorian England frame of
mind lately, unavoidable considering I’m wrapping up book two in my unusual
Victorian polyamorous romance –
Loving Leonardo.
Loving Leonardo
is one of those color outside the lines stories for me. I like to
stretch my abilities as a writer and I especially love challenges. The impetus
for Loving Leonardo came right out of the headlines last summer. The US
elections were underway and lines were drawn as political opponents dug their
heels on key social issues. It got me thinking. Here it was 2012 and who you love, and who you wanted to commit your love to, were still hot issues as if
love itself was a social condition and not a deeply personal thing.
At the time, the
news was also filled with women’s issues and negative talk of “progressives”. I’d
heard the term women’s issues combined with progressive before. That was
the point to the Suffragettes 100 years ago! Before I knew it, I had a very
American, very unorthodox, Victorian progressive heroine named Ellie.
My hero Nicolas
Halstead is an art historian working for the famed Ashmolean museum. Nicolas
leads a somewhat normal life as of a man of means, though he takes pains to
hide his homosexuality from the world. He has to. Even though it’s no longer a
death sentence, his nature is still a criminal offense at this time. One day
Ellie, the daughter of an American consul, comes to call and confronts him with
her knowledge of his particular predilection. To his incredulous disbelief, she
proposes marriage. But there’s method to her madness. It turns out she wants
him to help her rescue a previously unknown work of Leonardo da Vinci – a book
of love poems and erotic sketches from Leonardo to his gay lover Salai. How can
Nicolas refuse?
Thus begins
their unorthodox marriage and abiding friendship. The book is held by a man who
has plans to destroy it for the vulgar thing he sees it as, so they race to
Venice and devise a plan on their journey. They didn’t count on meeting Luca,
himself a historian. Secrets are revealed as they share their common interest
in Leonardo da Vinci. While they come to redefine their long-held notions of
themselves, a man with a dark obsession comes into their lives. The story continues
in the second book. I’ve enjoyed these characters so much, they may very well
return for other adventures.
So as I sat with
my tea, my mind revisited previously written story threads searching for that
perfect crescendo to end with. Wouldn’t you know, Nicolas Halstead appeared
beside me. What else was there to do but ask my Victorian gentleman questions?
Nicolas: Rose! Good afternoon.
Rose: Hello Nicolas, what brings you out on a day like
Nicolas: You, my dear.
Rose: Oh, I guess I did. How silly of me. I’m having a
little trouble ending this adventure of yours. Any insights you could share
that might point me in that direction?
Nicolas: Hmm…what would you like to know?
Rose: Well, let’s start with the women in your life.
What can you tell me about them?
Nicolas: There’s my grandmother, Lady Augusta Halstead. I’d describe her as a
woman of stately dignity, for she takes her role as Dowager quite seriously. A
week doesn’t pass where she doesn’t make the rounds to visit the Halstead
tenants and parsonage. I’ve never found her affected or stuffy, though there’s
no denying she has her finger on the pulse of society. She’s always ready to
laugh and is affectionate in her own reserved way. I don’t know what else to
say other than I love her. That, and she loves to play mahjong with her
Rose: She raised you.
Nicolas: Yes she did. At a young age I’d lost both my
parents and nanny to a coach accident. I’d have to say however, that my
housekeeper Mrs. Fletcher played a far greater role in my upbringing. With
my parents and nanny dead and my bones broken, I was naturally inconsolable.
Grannie was dealing with her own grief, after all she’d lost her only son. Mrs.
Fletcher’s tenderness saw me through my pain and loss. In fact, I’d bonded so
thoroughly with that loving woman that my grandmother dismissed her hastily
hired nanny and left me in Mrs. Fletcher’s care. Though I was too young to
understand it at the time, I’d learned much later that Mr. Fletcher had passed
just a month before I arrived in my sorry state. She’d needed me as much as I’d
needed her. That Grannie made this small unconventional adjustment to her
household was a demonstration of her concern and affection for the both of us.
Rose: That was unusual for the time.
Nicolas: Quite. Mrs. Fletcher still looks out for me. She was very fond of my
parents and with Grannie’s help raised me in my father’s image. I couldn’t love
her more than I do. To me, she is the only mother I remember.
Rose: And what about Ellie? Ah, that made you smile!
Nicolas: I’ll begin by saying her marriage proposal impacted my life in ways I
hardly thought possible, and that she’s singlehandedly brought me immense
happiness. She’s helped me to discover myself. Not only do I adore her views
and perspective, I consider Ellie a true partner in life and love. She’s opened
my mind to things I’d never thought about before – women’s rights for example.
I doubt half the men in my own House
of Lords are as well versed in Britannia’s policies as she is in the politics
of your America.
My wife is by far the most
intelligent women of my acquaintance, present company excepted of course.
Rose: Thanks.
Nicolas: You’re welcome, my dear. Ellie is delightfully refreshing. In general,
I find Americans aren’t as stodgy in their mannerisms as we English are. My
wife can be as bold as brass, but that’s one of the reasons I love her so
completely like I do. She’s quick and witty and kind, and has a tremendous
capacity for love.
Rose: And that brings me to Luca.
Nicolas: As you are well aware, Luca is a
sensitive soul who’s been through much pain and isolation. I’d do anything to
keep him safe and ease his mind. He’s compassionate, loving, and thoughtful.
And to those he cares for, he’s self-sacrificing to a fault. In many ways, he
and I are cut from the same cloth in our interests and views. But where I am
reserved, Luca is bold and brave, far braver than I. He’s a man anyone would be
proud to know, let alone love. Ellie feels that sentiment as well. It’s trite
to say, but we three complete one another in ways we hardly realized were incomplete a mere six months ago. They
love me unconditionally, and I love them for that and more.
Rose: It’s impossible not to feel that love between you. How does
Thomas fit into this picture?
Nicolas shook his head and as
quickly as he appeared, he was gone. He had his reasons. I refilled my cup and
went back to my laptop.
About Rose ~
I love words and
choose them as carefully as an artist might choose a color. My active
imagination compels me to write everything from children’s stories to
historical fiction. As a persnickety leisure reader, I especially enjoy novels
that feel like they were written just for me. It’s hard to explain, but if
you’ve ever read one of those, then you know what I mean. I tend to sneak
symbolism and metaphor into my writing. You might say it’s a game I play with
myself when I write. And I so love when readers email to say they’ve found
something. I’d like people to feel my stories were written just for them, for
that’s the truth. These hidden insights are my gift to my readers.
Loving Leonardo Buy Link:

Talking about memorable stories with Autumn Piper (Lone Star Trouble, Trouble Won’t Wait)

    Some stories stick with a reader more than others do, and
some characters stick with us, too. I love a couple who are so at odds with one
another, they butt heads and bicker nonstop until they snap and go after one
another. (LOL. Whip out the psychology books for that one, right?) I also love
to see the Stag Brought Down. You know the trope, sworn-forever-single stud,
cold, powerful, has only physical relationships with women…until the right one
comes along and brings him to his knees.

    Personally, I’m not a big fan of those stories where the
hero has to sacrifice his relationship with the love of his life in order to
“save” her (a la Spiderman with Toby and Kirsten). Tortured heroes just
torture me too darn much.
    Which romantic couples do you remember most?
I’ll start. I think Jamie and Claire from the Outlander series
are “with” me quite a lot (but that could be in part because I’ve got to be
“with” them for so long, just to finish the series). I still remember totally
falling for Jondalar when Ayla did in the Earth’s Children/Clan of
the Cave Bear
series back when I was a teenager. And when they had trouble,
I felt it! In movies, I really love Edward and Vivian of Pretty Woman,
and I’m an absolute sucker for Dusty (George Strait) and Harley in Pure
(and I’ll admit, part of that could be my obsession with King
    Leave me a comment with your favorite couple(s)…and your
email address, and I’ll be drawing 1 name for a free ebook copy of Lone Star
, on Feb 28.
    Have a great Valentine’s Day, and thanks for coming by!
Autumn Piper
Got romance?
On Best of 2012 USA Today list:
Twitter: @AutumnPiperAuth
     One hot cowboy plus one tough rancher-girl adds up to
     Kiersten Day holds a grudge against all things Texan,
especially cattle baron CJ Howell, with his hubcap-sized belt buckle and tacky
white hat. He’s set his sights on her tiny Colorado ranch, and he’s a master of
dirty tactics, slinging threats to make her sell out.
     Caught in the fight of her life, Kiersten meets Cleve, a
tall, handsome good guy. Too late, she finds out he’s Howell’s son. She might
be pregnant, she doesn’t know who to trust, and danger is closing in. She’s
head over heels — and kicking herself!
     Content warning, a hot cowboy, dirty tactics and lots of
lone star trouble.
     This couldn’t be good. She never
ran into other people up here. And after yesterday’s confrontation… Why hadn’t
she strapped on her pistol before she left the cabin?
     A sweaty buckskin gelding topped
the hill, then halted.
     Time for another confrontation.
cowboy dismounted and made a thorough visual examination of her.
     Freckles. The first thing he’d see
would be her freckles, since she never bothered with makeup except for trips to
town. Add to that her big messy ponytail, and it was amazing the guy was taking
a second look. And a third? Well, he wasn’t exactly looking at her face, now
was he? Warm from her hike up the hill, she’d unzipped her jacket, exposing the
only curves on her body—her breasts. The tall stranger was all but ogling them.
     Not in the least appreciative of
his silent admiration, she tugged her jacket closed.
     With a small cough, he cleared his
throat. “Howdy, neighbor. I’m Cleve. You must be Miss Day.”
     Another Texan, but clean shaven,
with light skin, short dark hair and nearly black eyes. He wore a red flannel
shirt with a blue t-shirt under, tucked cowboy-style into his Wranglers. Around
his waist he sported a plain leather belt and everyday buckle, not a shiny
gold-and-silver number like the guy she’d met yesterday. Brown boots, and the
straw cowboy hat he’d removed when he introduced himself.
     It was hard not to meet his wide,
open smile with one of her own. Too hard, in fact. “Hi. Kiersten.” A tiny gold
hoop hung from his left ear, odd on a cowboy, but nothing blame-worthy. And he
was definitely fine to look at—if she’d been interested in looking at men
     He took her hand in his and shook
it with big, friendly strokes, settled his hat back atop his head and looked
around. “Some view up here.”
     She nodded. “See that peak over
there, the darker one? It’s in Utah. My Grandpa said it’s about a hundred and
fifty miles away.”
     Cleve whistled behind her. “You
walk up here?”
     She grinned at how winded he was
from riding horseback up the mountain. “I walked the fence line, checking for
snow damage. I’ll be hanging it back up in the next few days.”
     “What kinda fence is that?” The
wire net lay flat and ran parallel to an army of steel posts marching straight
as an arrow into the horizon.
     Cattlemen marked the edge of their
property with two or three simple strands of barbed wire, rather than the net
fencing sheep ranchers used. “It’s a fence to keep my nuisance sheep in, and
your fat cows out, since the law says I’m responsible for both.”
     He rubbed his chin with the back
of his fingers. “I meant, why’s it on the ground?”
     “Seven feet of snow on a hillside
tends to make a mess of a fence, come spring. Used to come up here and find this
part of the fence crumpled up way down there.” She pointed at a stand of aspens
about twenty feet down the hill. “Might find several steel posts bent over
flat. One of the other old-timers came up with the idea of unhooking the wire
from the posts in the fall. Keeps the snow from leaning on it for months on
end, and the elk from getting tangled in it.”
     “Pretty good idea, then.”
     “You’ll find I’m not stupid, in
spite of what your boss might think.”
     “Ah…Boss?” He scratched the back of his hair, tipping the front of his
hat a little.
     “Yeah. Charles. The world’s last
remaining male chauvinist pig. Boss Hogg, in a Cadillac truck instead of his
trademark white convertible. Give him my regards.”
     Her middle fingers raised in
another rebellious salute.
     His eyebrows lifted. “Doesn’t
sound like he put his best foot forward.”
     “Just let him know that next time,
his foot better have a bullet-proof boot on, cause I’ll be comin out with my
twelve-gauge. And let him know I thought over his offer.”
     Cleve’s eyes lit. “And?”
     “You’re probably shy about giving
your boss the bird, even though it’s a message, so just tell him, ‘Not
everybody can be bought, Jackass, and there are a million five reasons why,’
     His eyes widened. “Ah. Wasn’t too
persuasive, then?”
     “Definitely not a people person,
that Chaz. I thought his lawyers were bad. You must be his new, what, manager?
Ranch foreman?”
     Big fingers rubbed over his chin. “Somethin like that.”
     Why was the guy so confused? Maybe
the thin air was starving his brain of oxygen. Seemed nice enough. Too bad he’d
gotten hooked up with such a peckerwood. “Well, it’s been nice meeting you,
Cleve. Good luck with Boss. Is there a Mrs. Hogg, I mean Howell?”
     He grinned. “Not yet.”
     “I’d say his chances keep getting
thinner as his waist gets thicker, and women get more crazy ideas in their
heads about equal opportunities, all that Women’s Lip nonsense.” The
mere thought of Chaz’s asinine ideals had sent her hands to her hips again.
Damn. “I need to get back and do something domestic around the house now.”
     With a wave over her shoulder, she
started back down the hill.
     “Wait!” Cleve followed down the
hill on his side of the fence. “You want some help when you put up this
part-time fence?”
      Work with the cattlemen? She’d be damned if
she’d ever take help from Chaz, but Cleve seemed friendly. And cute. Shaking
off cute, she shrugged. “Sure.”
     “Wanta do it tomorrow? Same time?”
     “I’ve, um, got a…date.” And why
did she say that? Why should she want him to think she had a date? “How ’bout
     “Sunday it is,” he answered with a
     Damn fine smile he had. George
Strait fine.
     As she walked away, she called
back, “Don’t forget your gloves!”
     “Hey, wait!”
     Criminy. She stopped again.
     “You startin at the top, or
     “Top. If we get to the bottom, I’ll feed you lunch.”
     I write contemporary romance and women’s fiction/mom-lit. My
stories often have a high heat index to match their American southwest
settings. Known by my writing buddies as “Angst”, I have a
penchant for making my characters suffer. My novels may
be tributes to the old saying, “No pain, no gain”, but my
hero and heroine always get the happily-ever-after they so deserve.
     I love sunny days, hot bread, the ocean, and that fluttery feeling I
get inside at the first spark of a great romance. In between being a wife, mom
of two teens, writer, and editor, I like to read, take morning walks, make
people laugh (this probably happens when I break into a jog!), garden, and play
Jigsaw World on Facebook. (sad but true)
     For me, an excellent book has characters you can sympathize with or
hate (sometimes both at once), a story you simply must see through to the end,
and realistic dialogue. Give me those key elements, and I’ll read any genre or
time period, any author.


A special treat – Excerpt from Saffron Nights by Liz Everly

Note* During the tour, Liz will be awarding organic saffron and cedar bath gel and handmade soap to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour (US ONLY). Follow along here

Saffron Nights
by Liz



Wherever they travel, there’s an aphrodisiac
waiting to whet their appetites…

Brazil…Hawaii…India….As a food writer, Maeve has just been handed the
hottest opportunity of her career. She’s being sent on an international
research tour for an aphrodisiac cookbook. The downside is that she has to
travel with rock star photographer and womanizer Jackson Dodds. And the upside
is that she has to travel with Jackson Dodds. Because once they meet, Maeve understands
why he’s been named “America’s Most Eligible Bachelor”—and despite her best
intentions, all she can think about is putting their arousing recipes to the

Sexy and talented, Jackson can have any woman he desires. But lately,
the thrill is gone—until he lays eyes on Maeve, who exudes sensuality like no
one else. She’s determined to keep things professional, but he knows the
attraction is mutual. And as they travel the world, sampling warming saffron,
juicy papaya, silky avocado, rare herbs and teas—and a mushroom whose very
aroma sends women to heights of ecstasy—both discover a hunger they’ve never
known, and don’t want to resist, even amid unexpected danger…


She acted like she didn’t even know he was there. He watched
her full lips curve around the spoon as she stared intently into the bowl. What
would they feel like on him? She was not paying one ounce of attention to him,
so he let his eyes linger on her toes. They were simply perfect toes, topped
off with a splash of bright feminine pink, and her feet looked porcelain smooth
and inviting. But he held back. Christ—what if a woman like this did respond to
him and then it went horribly bad, as most of his affairs had? They might be
stuck together on some godforsaken mountain in India or Italy and be miserable.

So, he held his breath, while his heart raced, but kept his
eyes on her feet and slurped the stew. After all, this was his career. He
couldn’t risk it—even for Maeve. Especially for Maeve.

“What are you doing, Jackson?” She said and took another

“Eating soup and, ah, looking at your toes. They, ah, look
really good,” he said.

“Maybe you need some coffee, Jackson,” Maeve said, laughing.

“Sorry, I just never knew that you had such pretty feet,” he
said and smiled.

“Well, you’re using that word a lot. Pretty. You’re barking
up the wrong tree if—”

“We work together,” Jackson stammered. “You know, I should
never have mentioned how pretty you feet are. Or how pretty you are, period.
I’m sorry.”

What was happening to him? Usually so confident, here he was
stammering around Maeve like a schoolboy.

He held the bowl up to his mouth to drink the last drop, his
tongue licking his lips in utter abandonment.

He held up his fingers and wiggled. “You don’t know this
about me, but I give an incredible foot massage.”

She slammed her bowl down. “Are you coming on to me?”


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Liz Everly is
a passionate cook, writer, and traveler. Exploring food and romance in Saffron
Nights, Liz ombines her lifelong love of action-packed romance with her
culinary expertise. She loves to interact with readers. Please follow her on
Twitter @Lizeverly1, check out her website
You can also find her on Facebook and blogging at

Link to

Lacey Wolfe interviews Abigail from The Naked Truth

 Lacey: Hi Abigail, how are you today?
Abigail: Pretty good. Busy like usual. It seems like life never
slows down anymore.
Lacey: I bet. How’s your daughter Hailey?
Abigail: A mess! She’s getting so big.
Lacey: Is she adjusting well to having Josh in her life.
Abigail: It’s like he always was.
Lacey: Chat much with the old crew from the strip club you
worked at?
Abigail: A few of them. I enjoy going to visit them every
now and then.
Lacey: Ever get tempted to get back on stage and show off
your moves?
Abigail: *Laughs* No! I can’t say I miss it one bit. There
were times I enjoyed the attention. You can never feel bad about your body when
men are throwing money at you and wanting to see more.
Lacey: You’ve got a point.
Abigail: I still strip. My shows are private now though for
only one man.
Lacey: Ah. It benefits Josh then.
Abigail: Oh yeah. We had a poll installed.
Lacey: Seriously?
Abigail: *Nods* its fun. Especially when he gets on there.
Lacey: *imagines Josh…older hot man, half naked and spinning
on a pole.* Can I write that story?
Abigail: I’m not sharing. Josh is all mine.
Lacey: *shrugs* I guess he is and we only get glimpses of
Josh from The Naked Truth. Thank you, Abigail for taking time out of your busy
day. Give that cute daughter a hug for me.
Abigail: Will do! And thank you, Lacey for my happy ending!
It’s amazing what one
can find in strip clubs…

Josh Carter gets the shock of a lifetime when he shows up at a place of ill
repute for a business meeting and sees the one that got away gyrating on the
stage. Abigail Reese—the girl with so much potential, the girl that took his
heart along with his body one night long ago—what brought her to this level?

Though stripping is not what Abigail set out to do, it’s putting food on the
table and a roof over her daughter’s head. But just how much can she reveal to
Josh without risking it all?

When Josh causes Abigail to lose her job, she has two choices: come clean about
her past and her situation or push him out of her life as quick as he came into
it. It’s up to her…only she has to think of her little girl too.

Buy: Amazon / All Romance / Nook
Lacey Wolfe
~A little dash of sweet with a whole lot of spice.~

Interview with Joanne Wadsworth – Win an eBook copy of Protector

Note from Brynna – Ms. Wadsworth is giving away one ebook copy of Protector.  To enter, leave a comment with your email address. Winner announced March 1st.

Where do you hail from and what do you love most about your hometown?
I call New Zealand home. Where I live we
have white sand beaches for as far as the eye can see. My hubby and four
kiddies love to snorkel and swim–and I’m never far away from them when they
Tell us about your latest book. What inspired the book?
Protector is about one young
Earth woman who discovers she is soul-bound to a prince from another world. I
love the fantasy romance genre, and being able to immerse myself in
world-building. With Protector the
other world is also an age-old time, where there are castles and kings, and
fighting forces who battle with the sword.
I was inspired to write this book when I
envisioned the world of Magio. I grabbed pen and paper and drew up a cast of
heroines and heroes, along with a scourge of villains. I set out several
storylines, and within a week had a series of books planned. Protector is the first book in that
series, and now I’m busy at work writing the others.
Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about
love to. Warrior is book two in this series I’ve spoken about. It’s the story
of Hope and Silas, and is set both within the Outback of Australia, and the
other world of Magio. I love combining both worlds. They come from opposing
nations, but are mated, their soul-bond causing havoc as Silas is drawn to aid
Hope in her endeavor to discover her unknown mother’s lost heritage. Theirs is
a journey which takes them deep into foreign lands. And I’m pleased to say Warrior
releases later this year on November 4th with Lyrical Press.
Who is your favorite author and why?
That’s got to be Nalini Singh. She has
some wonderful series out, but my favorite is her Guild Hunter Novels. It’s a
darkly seductive series of angelic rulers, and I’m always so intrigued by her
ability to world-build.
To love and protect…across worlds.
Eighteen-year-old Faith Stryker
is prepared to leap out into the unknown world beyond her home shores of New
Zealand to experience life. Only she never expected to encounter Magio, a
planet with two warring countries, where its people reach adulthood at eighteen
by coming into their strength and prophetic abilities. Only after Faith
discovers she’s a Halfling–thanks to her warrior father she’s never met–does
her own skill of forethought develop.
Peacio’s Prince Davio Loveria
is sent to the young Faith Stryker by his grandfather, but not all goes as
planned. Davio discovers Faith isn’t just a Halfling, she’s also his soul-bound
mate–an intense relationship he cannot, nor will not, give up.
With two wars now waging…one
of land and the other of the heart…can the young lovers find their place in the
Davio leaned over
me, all six foot four of him, his warm honey-brown hair falling forward to curl
snugly around his neck, and I longed for him, just as I had during my first
sighting of him in the classroom.
“What’s happening
is the bond, my mate. It will become difficult for me to keep my distance both
physically and emotionally unless I leave and end this now.”
My heart hitched.
“You want to leave?” I swayed closer on impulse. “Is that how this bond works?
We find each other and then you leave?” God preserve his people if it did.
“No, it is not.
Those mated are bonded for life if we allow the link to grow. Except that would
be the most unwise choice for us to take. You are, quite clearly, neither from
my country nor from my world, and as such will have no allegiance to me or my
people. I have no wish to join with one who does not wish to join with me in
all ways. With that being the case, I will find another when the time is right.
As should you,” he added solemnly.
I frowned. Hold
on–did he just say he would be joining with another woman?
I bit my tongue.
That was good? I should leave it at that, right?
Jeez, what was
wrong with me for questioning that choice?
“I’m sorry. We
just met, and you’re right. Go find your, your–” Strangely, I struggled to get
the words out and finally gave up. “Well, have yourself a nice long life, and
all that.” I patted his chest roughly.
That was more like
The clock ticked
and time slowed.
He didn’t move.
“Look at me.” He
tipped up my chin, directly staring at me. “This would never work.”
“I understand.
It’s been pretty awful meeting you too.” I leaned back, only to feel the
pressure of his hand move around my waist to the small of my back, preventing
I moved to grip
his arm. “Okay, you were going.”
Look for JOANNE
:My Website and Blog
/ Twitter/ Facebook
Fan Page
/ Goodreads.

First Kiss Excerpt from Earth Enchanted

* A treat for you, the first kiss from Earth Enchanted. This reminds me my why I love romantic suspense. *sighs* Sweet. 

The theater was dark except
for the tiny floor lights used to light the aisles. They took their seats in
the very back, with a huge bucket of popcorn between them, while the previews
played across the big screen. “I hope you don’t mind sitting all the way back
“Nah, this is fine.” As long
as he could keep his hands in the popcorn and his mind on the show, he silently
“I like to watch other
people’s reactions.”
He liked it for completely
different reasons, but kept that piece of information to himself. He wasn’t
sixteen anymore, after all.
The movie—a psychological
thriller rather than a monster flick—began on screen. Liv curled her fingers
around the arms of the theater seat and waited, breath held, for the heroine’s
next encounter with the maniac. Jack uncurled her fingers and twined them with
his own. It was as automatic as breathing, this need to soothe nerves. She
jolted, then seemed to ease a little. The simple gesture was romantic and
innocent yet at the same time very intimate. What would it be like to have her
twined around him?
Jack walked hand in hand with
Liv through a throng of teenagers. Housed in an outdoor mall between a law
office and hair salon, the theatre was in the heart of town. He pulled her into
the alcove doorway of the law office. The full moon shone brightly overhead,
and summer breeze that had been stifling earlier was now comforting and warm.
Turning her, he pressed her back against the wall. He heard a young girl giggle
as she walked by.
“Liv?” Jack brushed a kiss
across the knuckles of the hand he held. “I wish you could put off your trip
home for a while. I want more time with you. What am I saying? I don’t have any
right to even ask you that. But I am asking.”
“Life’s too short to worry
about the little things. I never expected to find you. I didn’t realize I was
searching. Home will be waiting when I get back. I can trust Skye to look after
things for me.”
A weight he hadn’t known he’d
carried was suddenly lifted off his shoulders. “That’s good.” He brushed the
lightest of kisses over her wrists, drugging himself with the beating of her
pulse. He thrilled as he felt his effect on her under his lips.
“Jack?” she questioned, but
her mouth was already tilting up to meet his. Eyes were fluttering closed.
He lightly touched his lips to
hers, barely even a whisper, but the earth seemed to tilt and fall out from
under his feet. He couldn’t hear anything but the beating of his own heart and
his own ragged breathing as he crushed her to him. He plundered her mouth,
taking all she offered, demanding more than he could give, drowning in the
taste even as he cursed himself for doing so.
* * * *
High on the roof of the
restaurant across from the library, Shadow’s finger rested heavy on the trigger
of his AK-47. From his rather interesting viewpoint he could see the Corrigan
woman had taken the writer for a lover, tacky little sl*t. It
paid to research your targets and their associates. It figured. Oceans
draw rivers.
 Thinking back to the conversation with Gueraldi, he
wondered why he’d taken the job.
“Shadow, I wish I could say it
was p
leasant, but our business is anything but. Make
sure to do it in a public place. I want it to look random, but I’m sure
Corrigan will still get the message.”
Shadow, as most who had
acquired his services knew him, was a marksman for hire. “No kill shots?” he
“No, try to exercise some
amount of control, but make it bloody,” Gueraldi rasped into the phone. “Otherwise…”
He’d make sure of it. He was
under contract after all, but she’d still suffer plenty. He craved the sound of
s ripping into flesh and
the agony of screams that followed, but either way he’d get paid. “Consider it
already done. My usual fee?”
“Will be transferred upon
The line went dead.
Shadow had been following the
woman for him since the day she touched down on American soil. He’d watched as
she and the man got into the old vintage car outside her brother’s house. He
let them get a couple lengths ahead, then followed.
Now here he was, rifle sighted,
perched alert like a damn squirrel. He might have been uncomfortable, but he
was already lost in the hunt. Predator scented prey. He craved blood, waited to
taste the kill. Disgraceful, he complained silently, climbing all over him in
public, a man she’d only met a few days ago. He just needed a clear shot. It
was all he was waiting for. He could have killed the writer first, but he
didn’t work for free. The writer had his back turned to him, blocking his view
of the woman. Then his good luck came through. They broke apart. He checked and
reloaded the clip. Sighted and took the shot.
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Spotlight – Wishing for a Highlander by Jessi Gage

While examining Andrew Carnegie’s lucky rosewood box, single-and-pregnant museum worker Melanie makes a tongue in cheek wish on the artifact–for a Highland warrior to help her forget about her cheating ex. Suddenly transported to the middle of a clan skirmish in sixteenth-century Scotland, she realizes she should have been a tad more specific.

Darcy, laird in waiting, should be the most eligible bachelor in Ackergill, but a cruel prank played on him in his teenage years has led him to believe he is too large under his kilt to ever join with a woman. He has committed himself to a life of bachelorhood, running his deceased father’s windmills and keeping up the family manor house…alone.

Darcy’s uncle, Laird Steafan welcomes the strangely dressed woman into his clan, immediately marrying her to Darcy in hopes of an heir. But when Steafan learns of her magic box and brands her a witch, Darcy must do what any good husband would–protect his wife, even if it means forsaking his clan.

WARNING: A pregnant museum worker, a sixteenth-century Scot, and a meddlesome wishing box.

Size might have its advantages when it came to fighting, but those few boons fell far short of making up for the problems it caused. Being the biggest and the strongest had gotten him into far more trouble than it had gotten him out of. Swallowing his regret for how careless he’d been with her, he sought to determine whom she belonged to, whom, saints forbid, he might owe.

“Whose wife are ye, then? Not a Gunn’s or I wouldna have had to rescue you from one.”

“I’m not married,” the lass said. “And thank you for the rescuing, by the way. I can’t believe I dropped the dirk. Stupid.” She shook her head.

His heart warmed at her thanks. He didn’t hear many kind words from the lasses and would take what he could get, even from a dishonoured woman who had caught a bairn out wedlock. Oddly, he didn’t think poorly of her. Whether it was her worried brow, her guileless, soft mouth, or her vulnerable size, he had not the heart to condemn her.

He didn’t even mind so much that she found him distasteful for his size, although talking with her now, she didn’t seem overly upset to be in his arms. He endeavoured to keep her talking, keep her distracted from her disgust.

“Ye never answered my first question,” he said. “Who are you? And where are ye from if ye’re no’ English?”

“Ugh. I don’t know. Is there an answer that won’t get me burned at the stake or locked up in a ward for the hopelessly insane?”

Like most things out of her mouth, that had been a peculiar answer. “Ye could try the truth,” he offered, slowing his pace since he heard Archie’s voice not far off.

“No,” she said flatly. “I couldn’t. At least not the whole truth. How about we just go with my name, Melanie, and with the honest fact that I’m a long way from home and I have no idea how to get back.” Her green eyes pierced his. “I’m afraid you might be stuck with me, Darcy Keith.”

Jessi Gage
Romance Author
Twitter: @jessigage