A Real World Romance

Guest Blogger-Tamara Hughes

Hi all! I’m Charly, Rebecca’s assistant. We thought it’d be fun to do a ‘Romance: The Good, the Bad, and the Disastrous’ theme with guest bloggers throughout the summer months. Every Monday and Thursday, we’ll have a guest blogger talk about fun stuff like horrible dates, good dates, etc. Some bloggers will have a contest, and some won’t – it’s totally up to them. If there is a contest, I’ll randomly draw a winner from the post comments, send the winner’s email address to the guest blogger, and they’ll take it from there. Rebecca will jump in and blog when she can. For now, enjoy as we play!

professional head shot of Tamara HughesI met my husband when I was five years old. That’s right. It was love at first sight. Okay, not really. In fact, I barely remember it.

My parents bought the house his parents had built on the outskirts of a tiny town known as Stratford. He and his family then moved two miles away to live on a dairy farm. We went to separate schools until the 5th grade, and then it was love at second sight. No, not yet.

We attended the same high school and were in many classes together. We became casual friends, although I had a crush on him my senior year. At Winter Carnival, Prom, whatever, I always asked him to dance with me once, and he would, then return to his friends. He never got the hint. Go figure.

After high school, we ran into each other again at a graduation party. I had some drinks (shh, don’t tell) and followed him around like a lost puppy, and at some point in the night he told me he hadn’t given me a graduation kiss yet. Sigh. A kiss. And yup, we made out for a while. Best graduation party ever!

Being the romantic, I expected him to call the next day and ask me out. He didn’t. Apparently I’d read more into the situation than he had. So like a fool, I mooned over him all summer, until I found out in the fall that he had a girlfriend. Bummer.

My crush must not have been that big because I decided it didn’t matter. I was going off to college, and there would be plenty of guys there. No problem. The first couple of weeks after school began, I hung out with girls from my high school, and one night, there he was.

He joined our group of small town kids. Again, no problem. I was so over him anyway, and he was a nice guy. As the school year progressed, our group began to break apart as we expanded our circles of college friends. As a fairly shy introvert, I didn’t make friends as Jeff_and_Tamifast as others. So one night, all the friends I’d counted on to eat dinner with me had other plans. Which left me with two choices. Eat alone, or call Jeff. He still had a girlfriend, but I wasn’t interested in a date, just dinner with someone. I paced and stewed about asking him for quite a while before I finally reasoned that worst thing he’d do was tell me no. So I made the call. And we went to the cafeteria that night together, as friends.

Soon it became a regular thing. We ate dinner every night together, studied together, hung out and talked. All as friends. In fact, he became my best friend. The best friend I’ve ever had.

One weekend, his girlfriend broke up with him. The long distance relationship just didn’t work out. At the time, nothing changed between us. We stayed friends. He even told me who he was thinking of asking out on a date.

We’d been hassled for weeks by a friend who couldn’t understand how we could spend so much time together and not date. One night that friend spoke up again, and while I ignored it, something clicked in Jeff’s head. He kissed me that night. Funny to look back on it now, but I pulled back and asked him if he would remember this kiss the next morning. He said he would, and he did. We’ve been together ever since. That was over twenty-six years ago, and we’re still going strong. He’s my partner in life, my partner in crime, and the best guy I’ve ever known.

 ABOUT TAMARA:

A small town girl with a big imagination, Tamara Hughes had no idea what to do with her life. After graduating from college, she moved to a big city, started a family and a job, and still struggled to find that creative outlet she craved. An avid reader of romance, she gave writing a try and became hooked on the power of exploring characters, envisioning adventures, and creating worlds. She enjoys stories with interesting twists and heroines who have the grit to surmount any obstacle, all without losing the ability to laugh. To learn more, stop by her website: www.tamarahughes.com. You can also find her on:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/tamarahughesauth
Twitter: www.twitter.com/TamHughes
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/7738043.Tamara_Hughes
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/tamarahughes

FAVORITE QUOTE:

A crisis of her own making, yet again. Would she ever be free of this curse that followed her?

~Excerpt from From Beauty’s Curse

LATEST RELEASE:

BEABeauty's Curse-300UTY’S CURSE:

England, 1722

 

Amelia Archer will be the ruin of her family. Her extraordinary bad luck is burden enough, but her sweet, trusting nature often lands her in impossible scrapes. After the last straw, Amelia’s harried father ships his unfortunate daughter off to the Colonies to live with her aunt. But wherever Amelia goes, bad luck is sure to follow…

 

Pirate David Lamont is taken with the lovely young Englishwoman the moment she’s pulled aboard from her sinking vessel. But sailors are already a superstitious lot and Amelia is unwelcome. In a feat of chivalry, David defends and claims her for himself…

 

Now their fortunes—for good or ill—are invariably tied. But as much as she longs for him, Amelia cannot allow a romance. For a lady of misfortune can only bring ruin to those she loves…

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Worst First Date

Guest Blogger-Boone Brux

Hi all! I’m Charly, Rebecca’s assistant. We thought it’d be fun to do a ‘Romance: The Good, the Bad, and the Disastrous’ theme with guest bloggers throughout the summer months. Every Monday and Thursday, we’ll have a guest blogger talk about fun stuff like horrible dates, good dates, etc. Some bloggers will have a contest, and some won’t – it’s totally up to them. If there is a contest, I’ll randomly draw a winner from the post comments, send the winner’s email address to the guest blogger, and they’ll take it from there. Rebecca will jump in and blog when she can. For now, enjoy as we play!

Boone BruxDating my husband was hazardous to my health. There were numerous death-defying outings over the course of our relationship, but our first date was the one that set the tone.

I’d just arrived in Barrow, Alaska. If you’re not familiar with where Barrow is, it’s at the top of the world, above the Brooks Range in the Arctic. I’d taken a job and was excited to start my adventure. I met my husband on the first day in Barrow, but we didn’t have our fateful first date until a few weeks later.

It was September and already getting cold. For the most part the tundra was frozen and my husband thought it would be fun to go on an Argo ride. An Argo is an all-terrain vehicle that looks like an enclosed golf cart with tracks like a tank. Perfect for the Arctic landscape. Like any single woman, approaching thirty, I wanted to look irresistible. We’d be inside the Argo and I figured I’d be warm enough. It never dawned on me we’d end up in a Survivor-type outing. Still, it was the Artic and had been told repeatedly to be prepared. At the time my definition of being prepared equated to a pair of long johns under my jeans and a thick pair of socks. I wore a shearling coat that had one button around my cleavage area and a knit headband instead of a full stocking cap. After all, I was trying to look cute and in order to do that I couldn’t smash down my hair. I also wore hiking boots and mittens. No scarf. No snow boots. No clue.

My husband and I in the Arctic later that year. Me still being an awesome girlfriend.

My husband and I in the Arctic later that year. Me still being an awesome girlfriend.

A thrill of excitement raced through me when we started across the tundra, driving along the Arctic shore. My husband pointed out different sights of interest, including Hollywood, which was the location for a movie they’d shot years before. At Hollywood we turned inland, chatting, laughing, and flirting. The date was amazing, better than I could have hoped for, and I was definitely feeling adorable in my knit headband and stylish jacket.

Then disaster struck. The Argo dipped into a ditch, but instead of coming out on the other side, the tracks spun uselessly in midair. A chunk of ice jammed against the center and hung up the machine. In a word, we were going nowhere fast. The obvious solution was to get out and push. When we stepped out of the Argo our feet plunged into calf-deep, icy water. The frigid liquid flowed over the tops of my boots, soaking my feet and instantly chilling me. So not good. Undaunted, we slopped through the water and pushed, feeling we’d be all right if we could get unstuck and drive back to town.

Unfortunately, no amount of pushing was going to get that machine off the ice. We also attempted to MacGyver it with planks of wood we found.  After breaking them into chunks, we plunged our hands into the chilling water, shoving the wood under the tracks for lift and traction. Here’s the problem with wood—it floats. Keeping the pieces under the tracks was like trying to herd frogs. After several valiant, and frankly praiseworthy, attempts we abandoned the Argo and headed toward town. Let me remind you that I was wet up to the elbows and drenched to the calves? Thankfully, temperatures were above freezing and I was wearing real mutton, which held in the heat even though I was wet.

Before starting out, my husband slung a large gun across his back. Unnerving, but not unexpected. But as we walked, I noticed his gaze constantly scanned the area. When I asked what he was looking for, he calmly replied, “Polar bears.” I think I might have peed myself a little bit at that point.

About that time the weather turned on us. A thin, icy mist blanketed everything, including me. The hairstyle I’d spent considerable time on drooped down my forehead and slicked to the sides of my face. How I wished I had a stocking cap when tiny chills began racing through my head and down my neck.

Five hours we walked, scanning for predators, my body temperature plummeting, and the visibility dropping to a mere few yards in front of us. I didn’t even know if we were headed in the right direction. It wouldn’t have been surprising if we had walked in a hug circle or wandered even farther onto the tundra.

About a mile out of town we were able to catch a ride from a couple in a pick-up. Of course we had to ride in the back, but anything was better than walking the rest of the way.

Nearly six hours later we arrived home. Not once during our arduous trek back did I complain. Not a peep. Not a negative barb. That very fact is talked about in hushed tones of awe even today. It was an amazing feat I probably couldn’t repeat today, but for that excruciatingly long and chilling trek across the tundra I was the perfect date. Little did I know it wouldn’t be the last time he tried to kill me on an outing, but I married him anyway.

 ABOUT BOONE:

As a bestselling author, Boone Brux’s books range from high fantasy to humorous paranormal.

Boone has lived all over the world, finally settling in the icy region of Alaska, where she writes full time. Always looking for the next adventure, it’s not unusual to find her traversing the remotest parts of the Alaskan bush. No person or escapade is off limits when it comes to weaving real life experiences into her books.

LATEST RELEASE:

Bridesmaid Blues:

Bridesmaid Blues CoverMaid-of-Honor Dani Brown can handle anything that comes her way when it comes to her best friend’s wedding. That is, until the bride asks for a huge favor-D
ani needs to distract the best man, who happens to be Dani’s ex. The ex she has fantasized dismembering for a year now. The ex she’ll have to suck it up and play nice with if this wedding is to go off without a hitch.

Businessman Jamie Kingsland is back in Seattle for a wedding. There’s just one problem – the maid of honor wants him dead. Except she doesn’t. Even though he knows he broke her heart last year when things got too serious and he panicked and left, she’s being way too nice about it now. And it scares him.

Something is up with his favorite bridesmaid, and he’s determined to find out what…

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Living with a Romance Author: An Informal Chat with My Real-Life Hero

Guest Blogger-Sara Jane Stone

Hi all! I’m Charly, Rebecca’s assistant. We thought it’d be fun to do a ‘Romance: The Good, the Bad, and the Disastrous’ theme with guest bloggers throughout the summer months. Every Monday and Thursday, we’ll have a guest blogger talk about fun stuff like horrible dates, good dates, etc. Some bloggers will have a contest, and some won’t – it’s totally up to them. If there is a contest, I’ll randomly draw a winner from the post comments, send the winner’s email address to the guest blogger, and they’ll take it from there. Rebecca will jump in and blog when she can. For now, enjoy as we play!

SJSauthor photo-2Romance readers are often treated to character interviews featuring our favorite book boyfriends. And while I love chatting with my characters, I thought it might be fun to quiz my real-life hero—my husband.

I wondered what life with a romance writer was like from his perspective. So I sent him a list of questions. And to all of my romance writer friends out there—yes, you can send this list to your significant other and see what he/she says. Oh, and please share
your answers b and w smiley face

SJS: What is your favorite thing about be married to a romance writer?

Mr. Stone: You are a ball of creative passion every day and it’s exciting to be around that, connected to it and experiencing the world through it.

SJS: What is your least favorite thing about be married to a romance writer?

Mr. Stone: A unique and rare affliction known as “creative-crazy-desk-o-titis” that seems to have fully infected you.

SJS: You’re right. My desk is a disaster area. Now, moving on. Do you read my books?

Mr. Stone: I haven’t kept up fully with your prolific production but I’m working on catching up.

SJS: What do you think of when you hear the word “deadline”?

Mr. Stone: I think my wife is astoundingly good at being a disciplined writer so the deadlines aren’t an actual problem in my opinion. But your stress level does mount as they approach and I wish there were a little more time break between those periods occasionally. But, I’m proud of your drive to tell your stories and keep feeding your readership.

SJS: Wow. Great answer. I was expecting “I break in hives envisioning all the dirty dishes I’ll have to tackle while you write.” Now for my last question: What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned from being married to a romance writer?

Mr. Stone: I think few people have had the opportunity to discuss romantic plots, or debate the logistics for crazy hot sex in the various industries such as timber, search and rescue, trucking, and goat herding over. And most evenings, I have the opportunity to discuss these topics with my beautiful wife over a beer. The interesting things that have come out of those conversations are far too many and too racy to enumerate here.

SJS: Excellent answer Mr. Stone! Thanks for chatting with me. I
owe you a beer (or whiskey) while we discuss SEALs in Vegas b and w smiley face

 ABOUT SARA JANE:

After several years on the other side of the publishing industry, Sara Jane Stone bid goodbye to her sales career to pursue her dream-writing romance novels. Sara Jane currently resides in Brooklyn, New York with her very supportive real-life hero, two lively young children and a lazy Burmese cat. Visit her online at www.sarajanestone.com or find her on Facebook.

FAVORITE QUOTE:

He’d give her an orgasm that would follow her around like her new best friend, daring anyone to look at her and see anything but a sensual knockout. ~Excerpt from TO TEMP A SEAL

LATEST RELEASE:

TTaS_500TO TEMPT A SEAL:

He can resist everything…except her.

For the first time in her life, art therapist Lucia Lewis is ready to live. And the masquerade ball in Las Vegas is just the place to find a ridiculously hot guy to complete her wicked to-do list. The only rule? Her elegant Venetian mask-which conceals the scars that have always held her back from the life she deserves-stays on.

Navy SEAL Cade Daniels heads to Vegas on a mission to keep his best friend’s little sister out of trouble. Except the woman he’s sent to find is all heat and flame…and perfectly capable of handling herself. And him. But the moment Lucia’s mask slips, the need to heal her, body and soul, is complete and absolute temptation.

But revealing himself could cost him the one thing he isn’t willing to risk…his heart.

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 GIVEAWAY!

Leave a comment for a chance to win an ebook copy of a title from Sara Jane Stone’s backlist. Winner chooses the book and format. (US Only.)

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FREE Excerpt: Wicked Ride Released Today – Read Chapter 1

The Realm Enforcers #1 ASIN: B00ONTR7I2 ISBN-13: 9781601834133

The Realm Enforcers #1
ASIN: B00ONTR7I2
ISBN-13: 9781601834133

Hi All!  I’m so excited to announce that WICKED RIDE released today and thought I’d share chapter 1 with you.  Here it is!

 WICKED RIDE

Chapter 1

Kellach Dunne held his fire and turned the corner, keeping his prey in sight. Rain smattered the concrete sidewalk in a weary Seattle fashion, while garish lights from bars and massage parlors marred the comforting darkness of the midnight hour. He stepped over the legs of a bum and ignored the stench of piss, absently wishing for his bed and a good night’s sleep.

He’d left his Harley parked in a side alley to follow the bastard who stalked a woman through the city’s underbelly.

The woman scurried ahead, glancing over her shoulder, her instincts obviously kicking in. Her tight neon blue mini-dress hampered her movements, but he could appreciate the outfit—the kind that curved in just under the ass. The woman had a hell of an ass. Too bad she tottered in five-inch heels and from what smelled like Fireball whiskey.

He opened his senses to the night and the universe, scenting what humans couldn’t even imagine. Yep. Fireball and tequila. Dangerous combination. Although a lingering smell, just under the surface, sped up his blood.

Woman. Fresh and clean . . . all woman.

The man ahead of him stank of body odor, dime store cologne, and cigarette smoke. And something else, something that made Kellach’s temples pound.

WR-6-4Damn it, hells fire, and motherfucker. The bastard had taken the drug. The human had somehow ingested the drug right under Kell’s nose.

Kell had hung out in the Seattle underground bar for nearly a week, and somehow, the dealer had gotten past him. No wonder the foul smelling human was hunting the woman. He wouldn’t be able to help himself.

She broke into a run, surprisingly agile on the heels. As she reacted to the imminent danger, she leaped over a mud puddle and turned down a barely lit alley.

Why the fuck did they always run down an alley? Shaking his head, Kellach increased his strides while the human male in front of him did the same. Idiot didn’t even know Kellach tracked him.

Dim light from the upper apartments filtered down through the fog to light barely light the way, although Kell could see fine in the dark.

The woman ran by two overflowing dumpsters, a couple garbage cans, a cardboard box housing a vagrant smelling like marijuana, and an odd arrangement of yellow flower pots perched on the back stoop of a porn shop. She reached the end of the alley blocked by a brick building and whirled around.

Gorgeous. Meager light shone down, highlighting a stunning face. Even with a ridiculous amount of blue eye shadow, pink blush, and bright red lipstick, she was a looker. Deep blue eyes, the color of the witching hour, stared out from a fine-boned face.

A woman like that not only didn’t belong in a fucking alley . . . she didn’t belong in the bar she’d just left.

The human male slowed and let out a low chuckle that sounded slightly manic. He towered over the woman, even in her heels, and before Kell’s eyes, his shoulders seem to broaden in his flannel shirt. “Looks like you’re at a dead end,” the guy said.

The woman sucked in air, her chest moving nicely with the effort. “W-what is wrong with your eyes?”

WR-6-15The human shrugged.

Kell gave a slight nod. Yep. His eyes should be all sorts of crazy at this point.

The skin down Kell’s arm sprang to life and the hair rose in warning. The atmosphere changed.

Flames, an unhealthy dark blue and morphing, danced down the human male’s right arm. He gasped and shook out his wrist. Then he threw back his head and laughed. “Did you see that?”

The woman gaped and then slowly shook her head. “Did you just set your arm on fire?”

“No. I am fire.” He held out his arm again, and flames licked down.

The woman inched to the side of the alley and stumbled over a loose brick. “What drug are you on?” Her focus narrowed as she regained her footing.

“Who cares? I’m invincible. I can create fire.” More flames danced. The guy formed a ball in one hand. “Take off the dress, or I’ll burn it off.”

“That’s not garing ta happen,” Kell said, moving to the side, opposite of the woman.

The guy whirled around, fire whipping. “What the hell?”

“Been following you.” Kell kept his hands loosely at his sides while fighting back the urge to alter matter with quantum physics and create his own fire. Just being in the same vicinity of another fire starter, one who didn’t have a clue what to do, made him itchy. “Get lost, lady. I have business with the gent here.”

The guy squinted. “You Australian?”

WR-6-2“No.” Kell drew himself up. Australian? Fucking moron. “Move. Now,” he ordered the woman, who’d frozen in place.

The guy shook his head. “If she moves, I’ll burn her. Even through the rain, I’m all powerful.”

“W-what’s your business?” asked the woman as she took a tentative step along the building. Water sloshed up her shapely leg, and she had to shove short wet hair away from her face.

“Doesn’t concern you.” Kell angled deeper into the alley so the guy would have to partially turn to keep him in sight, thus giving the woman a chance for freedom. Rain splattered into his eyes. “Just get moving, would you?”

“No.” The guy shook out both hands, and fire flickered. Blue and yellow stripes cut paths through his brown eyes, and red bloomed in the white parts. “I’ll kill you both.”

Kellach sighed. “How much of the drug did you take?” If the guy had only taken half a dose, he might live.

“The whole damn thing.” The guy spun around, and plasma fire sailed into a dumpster, ripping a hole in the metal. “They said I’d be a god. I’m a fucking god.”

The woman cringed against the brick building. “I don’t understand. What kind of a weapon throws fire?”

WR-6-19Kell shot forward and slid an arm around the guy’s neck, spinning him into a headlock, their backs to the woman. Fire burst along the guy’s arms, burning Kell. Pain dug under his skin. With a low growl, Kell allowed his own fire free. Deep and green, it crackled along his body, shielding him from harm. With a puff of smoke, Kell’s fire quelled the human’s.

The human convulsed. Hard and fast, he shook against Kell, who held him upright. It was too late to help the guy—he had taken too much. Way too much. A wretched scream spilled from the human’s throat.

Kell released him and stepped back.

The guy fell to the wet ground, still convulsing. Red poured from his ears, his eyes, and then his nose. The rancid stench of burned flesh filled the alley. He hit hard, shook, and then went still. His eyes retained the bizarre colors, and he looked sightlessly up at the cloudy night. The rain mingled with blood across his face.

Kell sighed and pushed wet hair out of his eyes. Another dead end, and he’d wasted more time, which he absolutely did not have right now. He needed to get rid of the body and then somehow convince the woman she hadn’t just seen what she’d just seen. Plastering on his most charming smile, he turned around and froze.

“Seattle PD. Freeze, asshole,” she whispered, her stance set, a Sig Subcompact in her hands and pointed at his head.

*******

Detective Alexandra Monzelle kept her balance on the ridiculous heels and her gun pointed at the definite threat.

Well over six feet tall, muscled, graceful as hell . . . the guy facing her showed no fear. No emotion, really. Black hair fell to his broad shoulders, the darkness a perfect match for his eyes. Chiseled face, huge-ass hands, and feet big enough to waterski on. Yet he moved with the smoothness of a trained soldier.

He lifted one dark eyebrow. “Seattle Police Department?”

She nodded and tried to stop shaking from the chill in the air on her bare skin. Way too much bare skin, but she’d been undercover. “Get on your knees.”

Intrigue leaped into his glittering eyes. “Not garing ta happen.”

Was that a true Irish brogue? It fit him somehow. “I will shoot you.”

WR-6-21He shrugged a massive shoulder beneath a leather duster. “That’s your choice, lass.”

Did he just fucking call her lass like some lady from a century ago? “Oh no, Irish boy. Get on your knees. Now.” She put every ounce of command she possessed into her voice.

“Well now. At least you knew I was from Ireland.” He glanced down at the dead man and his foot slid forward as if to kick. Then, apparently changing his mind, he focused on her again and smiled. “As opposed to Australia.”

Okay. She really didn’t want another body on her hands, but in the dress and heels, she was at a physical disadvantage. The last thing she needed was to spend all night filling out more paperwork than had already been created. “Down. Now.”

He cocked his head to one side. “I can’t help but ask where you were keeping your weapon.” His gaze, dark and intense, roved over her entire body.

Tingles. Damn weird and very unwelcome, tingles cascaded wherever his gaze landed. She might just have to shoot the bastard and fill out the paperwork anyway. “I don’t want to shoot you, but I can live with the decision. Get on your knees or say a quick prayer to your maker.”

He glanced over his shoulder. “I don’t suppose you have backup coming?”

No. Her backup had followed the dealer. She shook her head to provide warning and lowered her aim to his right leg. “I guess losing one leg won’t kill you.”

His focus returned to her. “You shoot me, and we’re going to have a problem.” He spoke slowly and clearly, without a hint of distress.

A chill wandered down her back. The man was damn serious . . . and damn scary. Yet she couldn’t let any fear show. She sighed and tightened her arms to shoot. “If you’d just get on your knees, this night would go so much more smoothly.”

“Say please.”

She blinked. Seriously? Hell, if it got him to cooperate, she’d chirp a Haiku. “Please.”

WR-6-8“As you wish.” Graceful as any dancer, he dropped to his knees. Water splashed up.

Funny, but the guy didn’t seem any less dangerous. She cleared her throat. “Cross your ankles.”

He sighed and crossed huge boots behind him. “Why were you trying to entrap this guy?”

Her handcuffs were in her purse in the bar, and she hadn’t had a chance to grab it before rushing out so the junkie would take the bait and follow her. Her gun, on the other hand, had been strapped to her inner thigh. “Clasp your hands together on the back of your head.”

He kept her gaze and clasped his hands on that thick black hair. His shirt pulled tight over defined muscles in his chest, and he seemed more in control of the situation than ever. “You don’t have cuffs.”

Yep. Might just have to shoot him. “My partner will be here soon.” She hoped Bernie would be there soon.

“Aye, I’m sure.” The man glanced at the body. “Do you know how he died?”

Duh. “Overdose. What’s your name?”

“Kellach.” He lifted both eyebrows. “What’s yours?”

“Detective Alexandra Monzelle.” Everyone called her Lex. Between the disappearance of her adrenaline rush, the chilly rain, and her aching arms, the gun became heavy. Yet she didn’t twitch. “What do you know about the drug?”

“What drug?” The man’s eyelids half-closed as if she were boring him to sleep.

Heck, she’d like to plug him one in the leg just to get his attention. “You asked about the drug. It’s too late to play dumb.”

He shrugged.

“Okay, then how about explaining all that fire. Did you douse yourself with some weird accelerant?” She couldn’t quite come up with a reasonable explanation for the strange glow over his skin and the corpse’s, so he’d better damn well explain, because she hadn’t gotten a good look with their backs turned to her. “Where’s the weapon?”

“No weapon. It’s a chemical that looks like fire but obviously isn’t.”

True—no burn marks marred his skin or the dead guy. Who was Kellach? Was he a rival dealer or something else? He wore a leather duster, flack boots, and faded jeans. Motorcycle gang member?

His head lifted, and his nostrils flared just like a German Shepherd she’d seen scouting for drugs once.

Long shadows mingled on the alley floor, and two men drew nearer. Deep blue flames morphed along the arm of one of them. More of the damn weapons?

“Ballocks,” Kellach muttered before launching himself off the asphalt and right at her. He cleared the dead body, wrapped himself around her, and tackled her to the ground. One hand cushioned her head, while a rock-hard arm banded around her waist and kept her from injuring, well, anything. He rolled, released her, and jumped to his feet in front of her.

WR-6-17The scent of salt, ocean, and pine surrounded her.

No way. No way should he have been able to move so quickly when she’d had him contained on his knees. Shock made her hands tremble. She shoved herself up and kicked off the heels. Shit. She still held her gun in her hand but was acting like a rookie.

“Gentlemen?” Kell asked, his stance casual. “Can I help you?”

The guy with the blue arm glanced down at the corpse and hissed. “We came to help Chuck.” His face contorted and turned an ugly red. “You killed him.”

“No. The drug he took killed him.” Kellach’s stance widened. “How much of it did you take?”

Lex peered around the solid brick of the man toward the two guys. The light illuminated them from behind, so she couldn’t see their eyes. What was Kell seeing?

“Enough to be a god.” The first guy lifted his hand and threw what looked like a ball of fire at Kellach.

A massive fireball instantly crackled from Kellach, and he threw it toward the other ball. They smashed into each other with an unholy bellow of steam, fire, and energy. Kellach’s ball encircled the other ball and snuffed it out before disappearing.

What the holy fuck? The damn criminals did have some new weapon that threw fire. She hadn’t had a chance to frisk anybody to see what her assailants might be carrying.

Lex slid to the side to keep every man in sight while lifting her weapon. “Everyone get down on your knees.”

Kellach shook his head. “Not again. Just stay out of the way, darlin.”

Oh. He. Did. Not. She focused the gun on him.

WR-6-6The first guy raised his arm again, and fire slammed her way. She pivoted, turning and catching her foot in a pothole. As she started to go down, another ball flew toward her head.

“Enough.” Kellach jumped in front of her, his right shoulder slamming into her cheekbone.

Stars exploded behind her eyes, and she hit the ground.

He groaned, and the scent of burning flesh filled the rainy evening.

She blinked, her brain fuzzing and her body going numb. He’d saved her. Unconsciousness tried to claim her, and she fought against the darkness with her remaining strength.

Kellach straightened to his full height, and balls of what truly looked like green fire shot out, but with his back to her, she couldn’t see the weapon. The fire hit each of the men dead center. They both flew back about three yards and crashed to the ground.

Lex groaned as rain continued to beat down on her face. She couldn’t pass out. If she passed out, she’d be dead. Her hand trembled on the asphalt. Where was her gun?

Kellach turned and started toward her—a massive hunter in a darkened alley.

“No,” she whispered just as the darkness won. Drugs had nearly ruined her childhood, and now, the search to destroy the new drug on the street was going to end her. The last thought she had as she succumbed to oblivion was that she was about to be killed by a predator with the face of a fallen angel.

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Romantic Collections

Guest Blogger-Audra North

Hi all! I’m Charly, Rebecca’s assistant. We thought it’d be fun to do a ‘Romance: The Good, the Bad, and the Disastrous’ theme with guest bloggers throughout the summer months. Every Monday and Thursday, we’ll have a guest blogger talk about fun stuff like horrible dates, good dates, etc. Some bloggers will have a contest, and some won’t – it’s totally up to them. If there is a contest, I’ll randomly draw a winner from the post comments, send the winner’s email address to the guest blogger, and they’ll take it from there. Rebecca will jump in and blog when she can. For now, enjoy as we play!

AudraNorthI confess to not dealing very well with summer weather in the Northeast. Having grown up in a part of Texas where summers were so dry that my legs would be covered in dust after walking for just a few minutes outside, the muggy damp yuck of Boston still baffles me. It’s invariably so humid that all I want to do is build a blanket fort around the air conditioner, crawl inside, and refuse to come out until September. So it’s no surprise that I often find myself escaping to the beach almost daily during July and August. There are some gorgeous stretches of coastline along the Atlantic, with beaches ranging from tide-pool-strewn rocky to shining-white sandy.

The water is cool and the air is fresh along the shore, but the best part about going to the beach is that I have an opportunity to add to my Collection of Creepy Things. That’s what my husbeach-findsband calls it, anyway. I think my assortment of crab shells, bird bones, and polished rocks is actually pretty awesome! And my kids think it’s cool, too. We love picking up strange-looking items from the beach and taking them home to display on a special shelf. One time, we even found some fish teeth!

Right, so…at this point you’re probably either completely grossed out, or you’re just kind of wondering what this has to do with books. (Or both.) Well, another thing I like to do at the beach is read romance novels, of course! And this year, I’d love to get some recommendations for romances that feature characters who collect things. Maybe it’s shells, or rare coins, or beer bottles. Maybe it’s cats. Or even books (that person would be my instant BFF)!

But no matter what the collection entails—even if it’s creepy—I’d love to hear your suggestions for good romances in which a character is a collector of something. I’m looking forward to taking those books to the beach…maybe it’ll even inspire me to start a bookmark collection!

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 ABOUT AUDRA:

Audra North fell in love with romance at age thirteen and spent the next twenty years reading as many romance novels as she could. Even now, after having read over one thousand of them, Audra still can’t resist the lure of a happily ever after, and her collection continues to grow. She lives near Boston with her husband, three young children, and a lot of books.

FAVORITE QUOTE:

“He ignored the temptation to reach out and touch her, to show her that his hands weren’t soft, but if she begged nicely, they could be gentle in just the right ways.”

~Excerpt from IN THE FAST LANE, upcoming release by Audra North

UPCOMING RELEASE:

INTHE FAST LANE coverIN THE FAST LANE:

LIFE IN THE FAST LANE
Racing cars is in Kerri Hart’s blood–literally, since it’s the family business. But Hart Racing is in dire financial straits, and as the only female rookie driver, Kerri’s sponsorship offers always tend to be of the unzipped racing-suit variety. It’s a message she’d rather not sell to her young fans. But how can she afford not to?

LOVE ON OVERDRIVE
Ranger Colt knows how to make a woman’s heart race. But when his voice pops up on Kerri’s headset–while she’s in mid-tailspin–she’s in no mood for his charms. Colt Hardware now has a significant stake in the Hart family business, and Kerri has no choice but to work with him. But when her ex-boyfriend makes a very public, tabloid-fodder scene that threatens to tarnish her image, it’s Ranger who comes to the rescue. Pretending to be engaged to generate some good publicity seems like a good plan. In fact, it works–all too well. What begins as a ruse is revving up to feel a whole lot like the real thing. Will Kerri and Ranger’s fake-lationship take a wild turn. . .and lead them toward the finish?

“The type of book that keeps you up late into the night, In the Fast Lane is utterly addictive and completely satisfying. Audra North has her finger on the pulse of contemporary romance-flawless writing, smart heroines, and sexy-as-sin heroes.”- Lauren Layne, USA Today bestselling author

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