Best Vampire Experience Ever! (That’s right, I said vampire)

Guest Blogger-Lauren Smith

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!

Lauren_Smith_2014I don’t know about you, but I love vampires. LOVE them. Like I wish I had my own special sexy vampire to cuddle up with in bed at night. Tragically I don’t. However, I do have an amazing story to share about my experience with what is as close to a real vampire as I might ever get. To set the scene: I was studying at Trinity College in Dublin Ireland for a few weeks while I was in college. Jonathan, a fellow student in the study abroad program, convinced me to check out a church called St. Michans. It’s rumored that Bram Stoker grew up playing in the crypts as a child and that’s where his inspiration for Dracula came from. Why? Because they are MUMMIES, actual mummies in the crypts that are popping out of their broken coffins and due to the unique atmosphere of the earth, they haven’t decayed much, hence Stoker’s influential depiction of Dracula when he first rose from the grave.  Now, as to my experience, I’ll let you be the judge about my experience with vampires…

The weather was unseasonably warm in Dublin that year.  The rain bled through every nook and cranny of the city, misting on the hot earth.  I had never been to Ireland before, but was beyond thrilled to go with a friend to the tiny yet haunting St. Michan’s church.  Under a blanket of gray skies, pregnant with rain, my friend, Jonathan and I approached the church yard.  Tombstones exploded out of the earth at unsettling angles, like a crooked Stonehenge.  The carved names were faded, worn away by the wind and rain of centuries.  Skulls and baby angels’ faces were etched on the particularly older grave markers, a sign of the permanence of death.

I was lost in thoughts of plague victims and the dead who’d perished before their time, when Jonathan drew me from my reverie.

“This is the church where Bram Stoker drew his inspiration for Dracula?”

“According to Wikipedia,” I chuckled at his astonished expression.  “Yes, history majors do read wiki articles.”

Suddenly Jonathan’s face paled and he raised a hand to point at something beyond my left shoulder. Tingles of dread shot down my spine as I slowly looked to where he was pointing.  A tiny tabby cat perched on a cracked marble tomb, watching us.  Its eyes were a bright and unyielding yellow, the color of neon.  Despite the lack of sun, its pupils were narrow slits.  It continued to stare unblinking as another wave of rain passed through the graveyard.  Mist curled up in slender tendrils around the cat, stroking the graves and grass as it engulfed the world beyond the dead.  I shuddered as I realized I could not see past the churchyard.  Jonathan reached for my hand, his handsome face contorted with fear.

“I didn’t know a cat could be so scary,” he muttered as he started to drag me around the edge of the gothic church.  “Come on, we have to find the entrance to the crypt so we don’t miss the tour.”

Best Vampire ever tombstones graphicIt took us several minutes to find the crypt; it was actually concealed by a heavy metal storm door.  It took the two of us to wedge our fingers under the heavy lip of the door and pull.  It swung up and fell open with a thunderous clang, revealing a cavernous entrance below.  Jonathan looked at me, his brown eyes dark and unreadable as he gestured for me to go first.

“Chivalry is dead,” I sighed, trying not to let my fear show at having to into that blackness.  I felt like Persephone descending into Hades’ realm, and I couldn’t help but wonder what monsters waited below.  The rain sluiced down the steps, making the old worn stones slippery.  I dug my fingers into the sides of the wall, trying to steady myself as I began my decent.  It was pitch black.  Not one lantern, nor lightbulb to guide me.  I cursed silently that I hadn’t brought a cell phone on the trip.  Although I doubted its feeble light could penetrate the inky air around me.

The heavy smell of musty earth and decay invaded my nostrils, the smell sickly sweet, like the aroma of dying flowers, crushed and rotting after a heavy rainfall.  It was a smell that charged the space around me, filling me with a strange desire to breathe, to live, to escape.  I was never one to feel claustrophobic, but the fragrance of death battled against my sanity.  Every instinct in my pleaded for mercy, to flee and save myself.  But instincts and the mastering of them are what set humans apart from their animal brethren, and so I continued on, determined to ignore the primal fear of what the darkness held.

“What do you see?” Jonathan’s voice echoed down the stairs.

“Nothing,” I found myself whispering.  I was among the dead, could sense them, their bodies all around me, suffocating, yet silent.  I continued on, palms sliding over the rough stone of the crypt walls.  And then the wall to my right gave way to empty air.  I never even had time to scream.  I plummeted to the ground, the cold earth giving way beneath my hands and knees.  A pearl of faint light bloomed ahead of me.  A drop of moonlight where there was no moon.  And beneath its opaque glow lay the figure of a woman.  The gilded edges of her coffin were laced with silver and black wood.  Her gaunt features were delicate, those of a lady, her gown was made of gossamer fine threads spun like a delicate spider’s web.  Fascination drew me closer, all thoughts of Jonathan and the world above the tomb were gone.  The woman was dead, her skin tight on her bones, yet there was a macabre beauty to her.

Visions of a lovely lady, scorned by life which should have blessed her, danced before me.  I could hear strains of faint music, the final notes of a melancholy tune.  The whisper of slippers on a great hall floor, as she spun and twirled; her laughter was soft like bells on Christmas morning.  A great ache welled within me, choking my throat as emotion clasped it tight.  She had been robbed of life, this beautiful one and for that I was truly sorry.

“Touch her,” a silky voice teased my ear.  I felt hot breath of someone just behind me.

Was I in the grasp of some haunting dream, where ghouls took hold of maidens fair and forced them to face the destiny of their last hours?  I tried to shake my head, to wrestle free of the heavy spell the corpse wove around me.  But the web clung tight, obscuring rationality.

“Go on, touch her hand, it will bring you luck, if you are brave enough.”  A whisper of a laugh followed this.

I succumbed.

Like sleeping beauty, unable to resist the temptation to touch the spindle that would bring her doom, I reached for the woman’s hand.  Her skin was soft, not papery as I had expected.  I stroked my fingertips down over the fine boned hand, until they bumped against the heavy emerald ring.  The cold jewel drew me back to reality. I pulled away, disconnecting myself from the lady.

“I can’t believe you did that,” Jonathan’s voice forced me to turn.  He stood against the wall, a pale beam of flashlight fixed on his face.  His chest expanded rapidly with heavy breaths.  His eyes were filled with silent confusion, as though he’d never seen me before.  Had I changed so much in a few brief minutes.  Another man stood aiming the light at him, and looking in my direction.  Had he been standing there watching me?  I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard him.

“Who are you?”  I demanded of the man with the flashlight.

He flicked the beam onto his own face, making a mask of mock horror.

“Welcome to the tour.  You’ve just touched a four hundred year old mummy.  Now come, there’s a lot more to see.”  The tour guide wandered off, a small herd of tourists following him.

Now I don’t know about you, but that was my best vampire experience ever, or close enough to it!


Lauren Smith is an attorney by day, author by night, who pens adventurous and edgy romance stories by the light of her smart phone flashlight app. She’s a native Oklahoman who lives with her three pets: a feisty chinchilla, sophisticated cat and dapper little schnauzer. She’s won multiple awards in several romance subgenres including being an Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-Finalist and a Semi-Finalist for the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award.




Smith_TheGildedCage_POD high resThe Gilded Cage, Surrender Series #2:

Passion that takes no prisoners, and love that tests the limits of ecstasy . . .

Fenn Lockwood comes alive in the shadows. Though he might have physically survived the kidnapping that stole his childhood, the trauma and pain he lived through have marked him forever. Now the only place where Fenn can be himself is within the walls of his private BDSM world—a place of erotic obsession, where desire isn’t just captured . . . it’s bound.

Hayden Thorne knows that behind Fenn’s hardened exterior is a man worth fighting for. Yet to save him from the past that still haunts him, Hayden will have to abandon every inhibition she’s ever had and venture into Fenn’s intoxicatingly sensual world. Each tantalizing second she spends in Fenn’s searing embrace is more delicious than the last and soon Hayden begins to think that she may never want to leave such torturous bliss . . .

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Posted in Guest Blogger | 16 Comments

Rebecca Here…and I’m Part of a Soap Opera

GraphicSeveral months ago, my phone rang, and it was Julie Kenner on the other end of the line.  She and Dee Davis had created this awesome soap opera, and they were having authors write different episodes in novella form.  She asked if I was interested, and I said DEFINITELY.  I mean, how fun is that? 

The setting is Storm, Texas…and we have scandal, love, sex, secrets, good girls, bad boys…you name it, and it’s in here.  The first episode was written by Julie, and it will release on the 24th.  Then each episode will release a week apart until the finale…and then we’re on to Season Two.  I wrote episode 6, which is called Take the Storm.  All of the episodes are available for preorder, and the links are at the bottom of this post.


Welcome to Storm, Texas, where passion runs hot, desire runs deep, and secrets have the power to destroy…

Nestled among rolling hills and painted with vibrant wildflowers, the bucolic town of Storm, Texas, seems like nothing short of perfection.

But there are secrets beneath the facade. Dark secrets. Powerful secrets. The kind that can destroy lives and tear families apart. The kind that can cut through a town like a tempest, leaving jealousy and destruction in its wake, along with shattered hopes and broken dreams. All it takes is one little thing to shatter that polish.

Reading like an on-going drama in the tradition of classic day and night-time soap operas like Dallas, Dynasty, and All My Children, Rising Storm is full of scandal, deceit, romance, passion, and secrets.

With 1001 Dark Nights as the “producer,” Julie Kenner and Dee Davis use a television model with each week building on the last to create a storyline that fulfills the promise of a drama-filled soap opera. Joining Kenner and Davis in the “writer’s room” is an incredible group of New York Times bestselling authors such as Lexi Blake, Elisabeth Naughton, Jennifer Probst, Larissa Ione, Rebecca Zanetti and Lisa Mondello who have brought their vision of Storm to life.

A serial soap opera containing eight episodes in season one, the season premiere of Rising Storm, TEMPEST RISING, debuts September 24th with each subsequent episode releasing consecutively this fall.

So get ready. The storm is coming.

Rising Storm_ep6_patrick-marisol_300dpiExperience Rising Storm Here…

Rising Storm Episode 1 (Sept. 24): Julie Kenner’s Tempest Rising Amazon ** iBooks ** GooglePlay

Rising Storm Episode 2 (Oct. 1): Lexi Blake’s White Lightning Amazon ** iBooks ** GooglePlay

Rising Storm Episode 3 (Oct. 8): Elisabeth Naughton’s Crosswinds Amazon ** iBooks ** GooglePlay

Rising Storm Episode 4 (Oct. 15): Jennifer Probst’s Dance in the Wind Amazon ** iBooks ** GooglePlay

Rising Storm Episode 5 (Oct. 22): Larissa Ione’s Calm Before the Storm Amazon ** iBooks ** GooglePlay

Rising Storm Episode 6 (Oct. 29): Rebecca Zanetti’s Take the Storm Amazon ** iBooks ** GooglePlay

Rising Storm Episode 7 (Nov. 5): Lisa Mondello’s Weather the Storm Amazon ** iBooks ** GooglePlay

Rising Storm Episode 8 (Nov. 12): Dee Davis’s Thunder Rolls Amazon ** iBooks ** GooglePlay

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Playtime with Kathy Lyons and Jade Lee…and Unicorns!

Guest Blogger-Jade Lee

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!

Kathy Lyons photo headshotIn the middle of plotting a new book, I get a reminder about doing this blog. It’s a good thing because I don’t remember to put on shoes without a reminder which makes it painful to go out for a morning jog. That must be why I don’t jog.

Anyway, I’m skimming through the reminder email and I come across this at the bottom. “Weird legal disclaimer: We reserve the right to refuse any blog for any reason unless it’s about unicorns. Unicorns always trump.”

Well, if you know anything about me, it’s that I can’t resist a challenge even when it’s not issued as a challenge. Also, you’ll know that my blog posts are often in a multiple choice format and that I’m a Taurus who loves cats. (I figured I’d get any random animal connections right out there in front.) So…multiple choice format.

Guess what my reaction to the trumping unicorns:

A. An image of Donald Trump on a horse’s body. Or was than an ass’s body?
B. Maybe she meant trumpeting unicorns. That’s a much nicer image, isn’t it?
C. Damon Suede’s fav tee shirt. I just lost an hour looking for a picture of it and failed. It shows a unicorn pooping marshmallows.
D. I shouldn’t write about unicorns. Somebody has to have already done it.

Unicorn blue and goldAnswer: C – for some reason, Damon Suede comes to my mind whenever I think of unicorns. He just has that effect on me. For those who don’t know him, run right now and pick up his book Hot Head. It’s awesome. As for the other options, I’m throwing in pictures of unicorns because I can. I’m not going to attempt A. And I’m still terrified about D. Really, has anyone done this before? Gabbed about unicorns? No, don’t tell me. I like thinking I’m unique.

So beyond gabbing about unicorns, I was told to share something about myself. Okay. I’m 52 years old and I’ve decided to go back to doing yoga. Ages ago, I used it to rehab my knees and even taught classes. These days…not so much. Here are three pictures. Guess which pose I’m attempting.

A. Middle aged woman unsuccessfully tying herself into a knot pose.
B. Unicorn pose. (I had to put that in so they don’t delete this part of the blog)
C. Savahannsurikamitaawanki pose
D. The easy version of pigeon pose

Answer: D – Well, it could have been any of those. And yes, I made up C as a random collection of letters but I did especially love that the last bit is pronounced: a wonky pose. There is no unicorn yoga pose as far as I’m aware, though someone should make that up right now. Maybe Damon will. And yes, pigeon pose really does feel like I’m trying to tie myself into a knot. By the way, pigeon is really important for those people with sciatic pain. Which I do have and someday, if I ever get into the correct position, it may help alleviate that pain. (Honest aside: it already has helped and so I persevere. Also, I can do yoga barefoot so no problem if I forget to wear shoes.)

yoga-pose-1  yoga-pose-2  yoga-pose-3


Kathy Lyons is the fun, contemporary side of USA Today Bestselling author Jade Lee.  She loves sassy romance with lots of laughter and sex. Spice is the variety of life, right?  Okay, so maybe two kids, two cats, two pennames, and writing over 50 books has messed with her mind, but she still keeps having fun. Check her out at  Or hang out with her sexy historical half, Jade Lee. Titled heroes with dark secrets are Jade’s passion.  Especially when they fall for women who add more than just spice to their lives.  Find her at  Facebook: JadeLeeBooks   Twitter: @JadeLeeAuthor


50 WAYS TO RUIN A RAKE by Jade Lee  – May 2015:

50-waysMellie has a plan
Mellie Smithson is trapped in the country with no suitors and no prospects on the horizon except, perhaps, the exasperating—although admittedly handsome—guest of her father. She’s looking for any excuse to go to London to meet more eligible men.

Trevor has a problem
Trevor Anaedsley’s grandfather has cut off his funds until such time as he gets engaged. Trevor escapes to the country—ostensibly to visit his old tutor Mr. Smithson but actually to duck his creditors—where he meets Smithson’s lovely daughter Mellie. The obvious solution is suddenly before him—but the lady has ideas of her own, and Trevor’s going to have to measure up…

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THE PLAYER NEXT DOOR by Kathy Lyons July 2015

THE PLAYER COVER ONLYAn unexpected catch…

NBA star Mike Giamaria doesn’t mix basketball with love. Ever. Then Mike meets Tori Williams, his cute, quirky new neighbor who seems hell bent on refurbishing her death trap of a house on her own. When she falls from her roof and into his arms, Mike knows he’s just caught a whole heap of trouble.

Trouble sums up Tori’s life. Despite her academic success, no one believes she can take care of herself-not her family, not her ex-boyfriend. She’s determined to live her life on her own terms, and if that includes a hot summer fling with the super-sexy athlete next door, so much the better.

But when Tori’s around, Mike can’t keep his mind on basketball. He wants…more. And to his horror, not just more time on the court. When training starts, it’s game over-it hasto be-unless Tori can convince Mike that love doesn’t belong on the sidelines.

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So now it’s your turn. Tell me something—anything—about yourself. Feel free to talk about unicorns. And one lucky commenter will win an e-copy of either 50 WAYS TO RUIN A RAKE by Jade Lee or THE PLAYER NEXT DOOR by Kathy Lyons.

Posted in Guest Blogger | 8 Comments

For a Month, I Had No Clue My Now-Husband Thought We Were Dating

Guest Blogger-Asa Maria Bradley

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!

Asa-Maria-BradleyI met my husband because of tequila and a roommate’s paranoia. Our first date was a blind one, the kind you arrange yourself. At the time, I lived in California’s San Francisco Bay Area with my married friends Bobby and Andrew. I knew Bobby from college and he had met Andrew while working in the UK. Their marriage was legal in Great Britain, but at that time, the US did not recognize their union. Andrew’s immigration status was therefore always iffy, a topic he and I discussed almost as often as my love life, or lack thereof. Even though the Bay Area was predominantly male, I worked in a small IT company where everyone was older than me by at least ten years. And there was a reason the women there used to say “The odds are good, but the goods are odd.” Many of the guys were introverts who weren’t comfortable talking to potential partners. They weren’t comfortable talking at all.

One Thursday night while Bobby taught evening classes, Andrew and I indulged in our usual activity of watching NBC’s lineup while enjoying a pitcher or two of margaritas. As the cast of Friends sorted out their love lives, I once again complained to Andrew about my lackluster dating record.

This time, he held up his hand to stop my whining and threw a newspaper at me. “Check out the personal I circled for you.”

“You’re shopping for guys for me through the ads. Seriously?”

We usually made fun of the ads in the Bay Area free newspaper, but never read them for real. I turned to the ad Andrew had picked out and read the beginning: “Bashful Brit looking for monogamous relationship…” I threw the paper back at him.

Instead of laughing as I expected, he took my hand. “Darling, you really need to get out more. Why don’t you give this bloke a call and see what happens.”

I began to answer, but the opening music of ER interrupted me and as we settled in for an hour in the emergency room of Chicago’s fictional County General Hospital, Andrew sighed. “Why anybody thinks that guy Clooney can act is a mystery. He’ll never get another role after this show.”

I punched his shoulder to shut him up. I was quite happy watching Dr. Ross flirt with the nurses.

Two hours later, I dialed the numbers listed in the ad. Maybe the tequila in that last pitcher had suppressed my inhibitions. Maybe I couldn’t live down a dare that Andrew had thrown in after our first pitcher. Or, maybe I wanted what Bobby and Andrew had and thought meeting a Bashful Brit was a step in the right direction.

* * *

That weekend, I was cat and house sitting for my boss. In addition to giving me some time away from living with a couple, his house offered a multi-million-dollar view of the San Francisco Bay. On a clear day, I could see from the Bay Bridge to the abandoned salt ponds just north of San Jose. At night, car headlights illuminated busy streets like El Camino Real and the blinking lights of air planes going in for landing at SFO reflected in the shiny glass towers of the Oracle Corporation. I spent as much time watching the view as I did taking advantage of my boss’ big screen TV. I was enjoying a movie when my phone rang and when I answered, Andrew’s panicked voice startled me. “I’m going to be deported.”

Not again, I thought.

Every time our landline had a hang-up or callers asking for people we didn’t know, Andrew was convinced the calls were from the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS).

“This English bloke called and asked for you. After I took a message, he wanted to know if I was British. When I said yes, he said, ‘fancy that’ and hung up on me.”

“What was the guy’s name,” I asked.


“That’s the guy we called on Thursday night. He probably thinks I collect British guys.”

I couldn’t stop laughing, but Andrew was not amused. “You have to call him back and go out with him to make sure he’s not an INS agent.”

* * *

Mike was pleasant, but a bit nervous on the phone, as was I. Even though he seemed suspicious about me sharing a house with another Brit, we made tentative plans to go out for dinner later in the week. I called Andrew back to assure him that Mike was a software engineer. Not convinced, he answered, “I won’t believe it until you actually go out with him.”

* * *

On Mike’s suggestion, we met for dinner at an Indian restaurant. The date went fairly well. We chatted pleasantly between short awkward silences. As we walked out, Mike suggested we’d to an Irish pub to meet up with a few “mates” of his.

I knew Mike was a regular when the waitress greeted him by name. When we stepped deeper into the smoky interior, a group in a corner shouted out “Mike” similar to the way Norm used to be greeted on Cheers.

More people than I could keep straight introduced themselves, including a striking blond, who happened to be Mike’s very recent ex-girlfriend. As the evening progressed, the crowd swelled and Mike and I ended up on opposites ends of an L-shaped couch. Sitting next to his ex, I chatted with her about her job while a nervous Mike tried to overhear the conversation. A beautiful Asian woman obstructed his view. She’d had some kind of corrupted data problem and wanted Mike to figure out how to fix it. A very charming guy sitting on my other side, who had introduced himself in a sexy Welsh accent, offered the opinion that just because the Asian woman was someone Mike had slept with, he shouldn’t feel obligated to give her free technical support.

At this point, Mike’s ex stretched out her very long legs so that the Welsh guy and I could admire her new pedicure. Her black with white polka dots nails perfectly matched the bows on her high-heeled sandals. I compared her feminine footwear to my black Dr. Martens, her short flirty yellow skirt to my black Levi’s, and decided that anybody who used to go out with this stylish woman was not my type. As I stood up, Mike hurried to my side and declared he’d walk me to my car. Before I drove away, he asked me out for the following weekend. I politely declined.

Back home, Andrew was sitting up waiting for me. “So, is he with the INS?”

“I don’t think you have to worry about that. The guy is too busy chasing women to have time hunting expired visas,” I answered.

* * *

Mike called a few times and asked me out again I declined each time, using my graduate thesis as an excuse. Then one evening, he called to invite me to a barbecue at the cute Welsh guy’s house.

“Hm, Welsh you say?” I pretended to search my memory. “Oh yeah, I think I remember him now.”

The barbecue was in full swing when we arrived. Mike walked me around the place, introducing me to everyone. All the guests were male except for four women seated in the kitchen. They had a large selection of Snapple placed on the table.

“Hey,” a stunning black haired beauty called out to me. “Pull up a chair. We’ve got important business to attend to.” She shooed Mike out. “This is no place for a man. Go outside and cook with fire.”

Another short-haired, fast-talking woman explained what the task at hand was. “So we have a big bottle of vodka, but no orange or tomato juice. The goal is to figure out which flavor of Snapple works best in our drink.”

As the tasting continued, the women grilled me about who I was, what I did and how I’d met Mike. I wasn’t sure he wanted it known that he’d placed a personal add, but since we hadn’t synchronized our stories, I figured it was better to stick to the truth. My new friends seemed a little taken aback, but quickly recovered. They told me stories about Mike and I got to know a different person than the one I thought I had gone on a date with. Their Mike was a great friend, a fantastic coworker, and always the first one to lend a helping hand.

Eventually we ran out of vodka, perfectly timed with the hosts deciding to move the party to the pub, which was walking distance from the house. I asked Mike if he expected his ex to show up. He looked embarrassed when he answered, “She’s only been there once before. I have no idea why she was here that last time. I know how that must have looked.”

By the end of the evening, my view of Mike had altered completely. Now I was quite keen on going out with him.

And we did see each other, several times per week. Each time Mike walked me to my car after and we talked for a long time before he left to go home. Except for a hug or two, there was almost no physical contact. I figured he’d moved me into the friend zone and I’d lost my chance.

* * *

About six weeks after our first date, my birthday came around. I invited Mike to join me and some friends at a club in San Francisco. We had a great time dancing and hanging out, but again, Mike acted more like a friend than someone interested in dating. He lived in the south bay, about an hour and a half from San Francisco, so when the club closed I asked Mike if he wanted to just crash at our place. He accepted and when we got to the our townhouse, he bounded up the stairs to my bedroom.

I followed, slightly confused. “What are you doing?” I asked.

“What do you mean? You asked me to spend the night.” Mike stripped off his clothes and made himself comfortable in my bed.

“Yeah, like on the couch.”

“Oh, is it too soon in our relationship?”

“What relationship?”

“We’ve been dating for a month.”

“We haven’t even kissed.”

“I can fix that.” Mike reached for me and I lost a few minutes as his lips touched mine. When I came too again, I was even more confused.
And a little hot. Okay, a lot hot.

“I can’t believe you didn’t know we were dating,” Mike said. “I’ve been pursuing you forever.”

“How have you been pursuing me?” I was still confused.

“I’ve been calling you weekly.”

I may have been bad at interpreting Mike’s sign of intent early in the relationship, but I definitely got better. Or, maybe he just communicated clearer. Five months later, we moved in together. Four months after that, Mike proposed. This year, we celebrated our sixteenth anniversary.


Asa Maria Bradley grew up in Sweden surrounded by archaeology and history steeped in Norse mythology, which inspired the immortal Vikings and Valkyries in her paranormal romances. She also writes romantic suspense and currently resides on a lake deep in the pine forests of the Pacific Northwest with a British husband and a rescue dog of indeterminate breed. Her debut book VIKING WARRIOR RISING is released by Sourcebooks on November 3.

Visit Asa at and sign up for her newsletter to get book news, bonus materials, and fun giveaways.


Viking Warrior Rising:

Immortal Vikings are among us.


Leif Skarsganger and his elite band of immortal warriors have been charged to protect humanity from the evil Norse god Loki.

Under attack from Loki’s minions, Leif is shocked to encounter a dark-haired beauty who fights like a warrior herself. Wounded and feverish, the Viking kisses her, inadvertently triggering an ancient Norse bond. But when Naya Brisbane breaks away and disappears before the bond is completed, Leif’s warrior spirit goes berserk. If Leif doesn’t find her fast, he’s going to lose himself to permanent battle fury.

But Naya doesn’t want to be found…and he’ll do anything to find her. Because they’re both running out of time.

Release date November 3 and available for pre-order at:

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What’s the most confusing courtship or date you’ve experienced? Leave a comment below for a chance of winning a prize package consisting of: a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift certificate (your choice), a cute Viking Ducky, and some fun Viking souvenirs I brought back from my visit to Europe this summer.

Posted in Guest Blogger | 94 Comments

My Worst Date

Guest Blogger-Kalli Lanford

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!

1bI was eighteen and a freshman at San Diego State University. One of my friends, Mike, had a brother, Jason, who was seventeen and was a senior in high school. Mike’s brother could not find a date to the senior prom. He told me about this, and I was sympathetic to Jason’s plight, especially since I didn’t have a boyfriend my own senior year, and I also had trouble finding a date to prom the previous year.

I ended up going to my prom with a friend, Marty, but because I had a platonic relationship with my date, it wasn’t as fun as it could have been, if you know what I mean. Lol.

Anyway, Mike told me that his brother was often told that he looked like Tom Cruise (Top Gun was the 1986 movie of the year at the time, by the way, and yes, I am totally dating myself), so I was more than eager to be Jason’s date. At the time, I didn’t wonder why Jason couldn’t find his own date. I mean, hell, he looked like Tom Cruise, right? So why would he have a problem?

The night he picked me up, I finally understood why. Jason drove an old Chevy Nova – not that I’m a car snob and judge people by their vehicles (I’ve never been shallow like that), but it was a stick shift, and within five minutes, I realized that he didn’t know how to drive one. I owned and drove a five speed, so I was a manual transmission pro.

Being unfamiliar with the Nova and a manual transmission, he stalled the car at every light, but that wasn’t the worst of it. At dinner, he looked at the menu and announced how expensive it was. Yup, I ordered a salad instead of the halibut, what I really wanted.

Then when we left for the prom (besides being jolted once again at every shift and stop), when we arrived at the prom (a ball room at the Hilton on Shelter Island), he didn’t have enough money to pay for parking at the venue. It was a good thing my dad gave me fifty bucks – just in case. I paid for parking, and then once we were inside, he didn’t have enough money to purchase photos. Yeah, I paid for that, too.

By the time we were on the dance floor and he tried to kiss me, I was so disgusted, that I pulled away and told him that I didn’t want him to smear my lip gloss. I also refused to go to any after party with him, using the excuse that I couldn’t be out after two o’clock a.m., and when he dropped me off at home, I gave him a quick kiss and a thank you, pulling away when he tried to stick his tongue in my mouth.

After that night, I never talked to Jason again. He never called me, probably knowing I wouldn’t want him to (based on my actions that night), and I was glad. We just didn’t click, and the date was too awkward to try and repeat another one under different circumstances. I spent over two hundred dollars on that dress, and it didn’t pay off for me.

Of course, I never saw the prom pictures from that dreaded night, but now as an adult when I look back on that event, I realize that Jason was just an inexperienced teenager who was trying to make the best out of prom night.

I have no idea what ever happened to Jason. I don’t remember his last name, so I can’t even look him up on Facebook. But even though that was my worst date of my life, I wish him well, and I can only hope that he is a happy, successful husband and father who owns a car with an automatic transmission.


Kalli Lanford, a native of San Diego, California, grew up hanging out at the beach, playing sports, and eventually attending San Diego State University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in English and master’s degree in education.  When she’s not nerding out at San Diego Comic-Con or watching Star Wars and The Lord of the Ring’s movies for the umpteenth time, she can be seen doing normal people stuff like cooking delicious meals for her family (she attributes all of her culinary skills to the Food Network) and attending her son’s football games.  In her spare time, she writes new adult fiction, her biggest passion, and loves listening to hard rock music and going to concerts.  She hopes to live long and prosper, and that you will, too.

Email Address:
Twitter: @KalliLanford
Instagram: authorkalli


“When you talk, I forget that you’re not human.”

– Excerpt from Gamma Rift



GAMMA_RIFT_500His secret (alien) crush…

I may be a Prince, but there are things that trouble me about my father’s royal rule—the forced abduction, experimentation, and torture of alien creatures. The king has a new prisoner who’s a carefully kept secret…

There’s a young female who belongs to a little-known civilization I have been studying extensively. They are human, belonging to a small, undeveloped planet called Earth. She is pretty in a way I find unusual and compelling. Sometimes I sneak into the adjoining cell and we talk about everything and nothing, even as I find myself yearning to touch her strange, soft skin.

Skin that is being subjected to invasive tests and experiments. A body that’s scheduled for a live dissection in fifteen days. And a life that will be terminated unless I risk my future and life to help her escape…


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