Tag Archives: excerpt

Giveaways and an excerpt

I’m expanding my probably ill-conceived time limit for comments. If you comment any time today or tomorrow on one of today’s posts and I still have coupon codes to give out, you’re eligible. In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from Time Being to convince you to read it:

Lost in thought, Kaelyn almost missed the first whispers. The branches of the bushes nearest her were already waving in a nonexistent breeze when she noticed them. She faced them, unafraid and head held high. Everything became very quiet. She raised her chin and spoke. “I am Kaelyn, Queen of the Meti. I am looking for a kinsman. His name is Hunter Drake.”

The whispers started again, grew louder, and Kaelyn waited, knowing there was still a possibility that she would feel the telltale prick of the Little People’s barb in her neck, the spread of their poison through her system. Tamsin would remove the barb if it happened, but it wouldn’t be in time to stop her from experiencing some of its torture. What would they make her see this time? Last time it had been forgetting her father’s death, fighting to return to him. And each time she’d remembered had brought with it a rush of loneliness and fear.

This time would they bring back her baby? Maybe make her feel what it would have been like to hold it in her arms, to hear its cry, her body answering a call she’d never experienced before? Would she be able to return from that anguish? Jack had helped her back the last time, but even he might not be able to bring her back from the new torture she imagined. And maybe this time, she wouldn’t want to come back. She closed her eyes, half anticipating, half dreading the sting of the barb in her neck.

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Another excerpt: Time Being just five days away!

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A Thrilling Excerpt…

Out of Time Excerpt5-page0001

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May 29, 2016 · 2:17 pm

Welcome to the Red Carpet

This week, I get the fun of having my first Red Carpet World Premiere of a book trailer. We can dig our toes into the plush carpet (no shoes required at this premiere) and enjoy the book trailer for Out of Time here:

Out of Time Trailer

To add to the fun, please enjoy this short excerpt from the book:

The police detective frowned at Kaelyn. She studied his face, thinking how different he looked than Jack, or even Todd and Richard. Handsome, but not overwhelmingly so. Down to earth. This man passed for a warrior in the human world, but now that she’d seen real warriors in action, she feared for humans. Nothing about this man suggested he could fight with a sword or defeat an enemy or swing acrobatically from the treetops. And yet men once had. Kaelyn wondered what had changed here on Eladi and if life for humans was different on Ayeli before they were driven to extinction by the Elves. From the few stories she’d heard, the war had been a fierce one. Were those humans really gone? A sense of loss filled her heart at the thought. At least the Meti had survived, even if they had been driven to seek shelter elsewhere.

The detective stood, startling her. She jerked out of her reverie. “What’s your name, Detective?”

“Eric.” He said it as if he knew she was asking for his first name. Then he corrected himself. “Detective Eric Shapiro, ma’am.” To her surprise, he bowed his head, much as others had bowed to her since she became a queen.

“Can I go, Eric?”

The detective opened his mouth as if to answer, then, looking uncomfortable, shut it again. He shuffled papers on the desk and mumbled something about being right back, exiting without looking at her.

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Sleight of Hand Continues: A brief intro to Rachel and Logan from Island Magic!

In just thirteen days, the magic starts again! Island Magic, the third novel in my Sleight of Hand series, releases on October 31. I’m a little excited about this, and not just because the covers (designed by the amazing Farah Evers), look great together:

CloseUpMagicEbookRevEscape MagicEbookIsland Magic eBook

For those who don’t know, I started the Sleight of Hand series a couple of years ago with the release of Close Up Magic. Close Up Magic tells the story of handsome and successful magician Andre Hawke and Stacey Matthews, the scandal reporter looking for a scoop of gossip about Andre and his drug-addicted brother, Tony. Needless to say, attraction leads to passion which leads to complications, and, finally, a satisfyingly magical conclusion. I continued the series a year later with the novella Escape Magic, the story of a cleaner and stronger Tony, who finds himself challenged by an old friend, the inimitable escape magician Lady Lydia. I called this my “anti-50 Shades” bondage romance because, well, Lydia is an escape magician. Makes sense she’d be into that kind of thing, though she’s such a strong heroine, she’s more than capable of turning the tables on any partner who might try it with her.

Island Magic is a bit of a departure for me in that it doesn’t involve a practicing magician. The hero, Ian Logan, retired from the magical life after the death of his wife, which he blames himself for. He’s happy in his retirement until Rachel Duvall, his wife’s best friend, arrives at his island resort, freshly divorced and evidently determined to party her way down a self-destructive path of men, drugs and drink. Logan wants to help her, but first he has to deal with his own attraction to the sexy goddess he barely recognizes.

Rachel is the single most unlikely heroine I’ve ever written, but I absolutely love her. It was hard to get her just right. The things she does aren’t things I could ever imagine doing, so at first I had a hard time relating to her. I had to achieve a balance in her personality that somehow made her worth redeeming, and it was very difficult! Have a look at this excerpt to get a taste of what Rachel appears to be at the beginning of the book:

Three floors down from Rachel’s window handsome, tanned men dressed in white moved around the pool, setting up chairs, sweeping away small bits of trash, piling clean white towels on bamboo stands. Rachel watched their smooth movements with all the admiration she would feel for a ballet. They were coordinated, efficient, pleasant to observe.

They reminded her a little of the cast members she’d seen at Disney World when she was last there. The memory brought a jab of pain sharp enough to penetrate the morning fog. She’d been so full of hope then. So sure it wouldn’t be the last time she believed in magic.

The bedsheets rustled and a tousled dark head emerged. The handsome college kid grinned at her, teeth white against his olive skin. Where was he from again? Spain? She struggled to remember at least that much. His name was out of the question. She never remembered names. How old was he, anyway? She hoped at least twenty-one. She didn’t want to think she’d spent a passionate night in the arms of anyone technically young enough to be her son. He’s still too young for a thirtysomething divorcee. Her years weighed on her for a second before she shook them off impatiently.

He held out a hand. “Come back to bed.”

The invitation was eloquently stated and absurdly inviting to have been uttered by someone so young. However old he was, he certainly had experience in the area of making love. And he had the face and body of a fallen angel. Curly, jet-black hair, brown eyes, lush lips. His bare skin smooth and his muscles rock hard… She shook herself out of the memory, making her voice cold on purpose. “You need to go.”

He laughed and rolled over onto his back, stretching. “You don’t mean that, mi reyna.”

My Queen. Spanish. She’d at least remembered that right. Rachel felt ludicrously relieved, which firmed up her determination. She needed to get this kid, ah hell, this boy out of her room before she fell back into bed with him. Drunk sex was one thing—the only thing she could afford. Making love sober the morning after was another. She turned away. “It’s late. I have things to do.”

He was silent. She’d hurt him. She closed her eyes. It was better this way. If he fell into the dark hole of her heart, he’d never survive it. She turned, finding his clothes in a pile on the floor. She picked them up and tossed them to him. “Here you go. You’ve got a room here, right? Go take a shower.” She let herself smile gently at him. “Look, I don’t mean to hurt you. Last night was…mmm.” She laughed a little. “You’re very good. But you’re barely old enough for me. Take my advice and stick with girls for now. Give yourself another ten years before you try with a woman my age. At least by then you’ll be interesting.”

I think you get the idea that Rachel has a long way to go from here. Fortunately, she has Logan to help her on the journey, and he’s a hero who’s more than up to the task. Don’t believe me? Here’s a little excerpt to introduce you:

Logan held the burning cigarette between his thumb and forefinger, even though he wasn’t a smoker. He could go days without smoking and never even think about it. Smoking, like most everything else in his life, was an affectation.

Except this place. This is real. Isla Foriscura, his little haven in the middle of the Caribbean, was the only thing real about him anymore. The rest was illusion. The lustful looks of the women, the nights he spent drinking a little too much trying to forget, the mornings when he could very easily have stayed in bed. None of that was real.

She was real. Rachel. She was really here, but it wasn’t really her. He frowned at the cigarette, aware that the others had finished the job he’d started with them, but not ready to move yet. He turned the problem of Rachel over and over in his mind. I stopped believing in magic a long time ago.

That wasn’t the Rachel he remembered, not that he knew her except for Nora’s description: beautiful, carefree, loving and loveable. She’d sent him an invitation to her wedding a few years ago, but he hadn’t gone. He’d sent her a lovely crystal vase instead with a card wishing her well. Who was the guy? Keith? Ken? It didn’t matter. Obviously he was out of the picture and he’d taken most of the woman Nora had loved with him.

What happened to you, Rachel?

And then there was this day. His birthday. Nora always made a big deal out of birthdays. Probably why Logan hadn’t celebrated his since her death. He looked down at the cigarette in his fingers and wound it through them, watching it with interest as it moved, seemingly of its own accord, although he knew it was little flexes of the muscles he’d developed over his years performing sleight of hand magic tricks.

Tricks. The word gave him a sour taste in his mouth. It was all tricks. He tossed the cigarette on the tiles and stepped on it as he stood. He could sit there all day brooding or he could get up and live. He’d always known those were his choices, and he’d chosen life a long time before.

Intrigued yet? In case you’re wondering, Tony, Stacey, Andre and Lady Lydia all make appearances in Island Magic, and you find out where their paths have led them. So if you want to catch up on the story before Island Magic‘s official release on October 31 in print and on Kindle, you can find their books on Amazon. Both are available for the bargain price of 99 cents! Island Magic is available for pre-order for $2.99 for Kindle now.

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Island Magic excerpt: Leave a comment for your chance to win an autographed advance copy!

Magic week has been grand, but now it is finished. To celebrate, I’m posting below an excerpt from Island Magic. Island Magic, book three of my Sleight of Hand series, won’t be released until October 31, but if you want more than the prologue posted below, leave me a comment. One lucky winner will receive an autographed advance copy of Island Magic!

Prologue

Night fell slowly in the Caribbean, and when it came, it was complete. Especially in the little bar on the beach that Logan loved. Even the tiki torches on the boardwalk only spread small radii of flickering glow around their poles. The rest was a dark, secret haven.

From his lighted oasis beneath the thatch-roofed bar, he watched the patrons of the resort milling around, coming in from the dark beach, usually hand-in-hand with someone else. Occasionally a group of young men would collide with a group of young women and soon they would pair off and head into dark corners. All Logan had to do was make their drinks and chat. No interference required on his part. He was like a voyeuristic benefactor, watching them leave with nothing but good feelings.

When he first spotted Rachel in the bar, then lost sight of her in a crowd of college kids, he thought he must be mistaken. He frowned, craning his neck. It certainly had looked like Rachel. Nora’s best friend, the maid of honor at his wedding to a woman who was now dead. But what would Rachel be doing there? He hadn’t seen her in years, but he didn’t believe in coincidence. Magic, but not coincidence.

He recognized the long, luxurious hair and the lovely features, even though they had a hard edge he didn’t recall. And what was up with the slinky dress? Rachel had always seemed so strait-laced he’d figured she would be a suburban soccer mom by now. This was no soccer mom. This wasn’t even the beautiful, gentle woman Nora had known in the years after their marriage.

She sat at a table not far from the bar. She was alone, but everything about her said she had no intention of remaining that way. Logan noticed several men glancing her way. He couldn’t blame them. Her raven hair fell over one bare shoulder, her sleeveless red sundress setting off her tan. He couldn’t take his eyes off her, and he shouldn’t be looking at Rachel that way. Not Nora’s best friend.

When the waitress took her order for a frozen margarita with salt, Logan intercepted it from Ramon. “Sorry, man.” He grinned at his friend and fellow bartender. “I’m gonna deliver this one personally.”

Ramon gave him a mock growl. “Earn me a good tip if you’re gonna pull rank on me, amigo.”

Logan flashed him a smile and vaulted the bar neatly, landing on the other side to appreciative looks from a group of young women. He saluted them, picked up the margarita and crossed to the table. “Your margarita, señorita.”

She raised beautiful dark eyes to meet his. The raw sensuality in that gaze left him breathless. She smiled, playing along as if she had no idea who he was. “Muchas gracias, señor. To what do I owe the special delivery?”

He glanced left and right, then sat across from her, leaning over the table as if to keep their conversation covert. “Between you and me, I’ve been told I’m overly concerned with our guests’ satisfaction.”

The curve of her lips deepened and he knew she’d sensed a double entendre in his words. He wanted to laugh but didn’t give in to the impulse. He wasn’t even certain he’d meant to flirt with her, but it had come out that way. He’d spent so many years on stage, his career so dependent on reading his audience, yet he couldn’t seem to see through Rachel’s carefully guarded exterior. She was so unlike the woman he remembered, it worried him. Enough so he stepped over a boundary he hadn’t crossed in years.

He beckoned her closer. When she obliged, her expression highly amused, he said quietly, “Do you believe in magic?”

****

The light touch of his breath on her ear sent a pleasant tingle of electricity through Rachel’s body. Maybe it was the way he pretended not to know her instead of demanding instantly what she was doing there and why she looked the way she did. He’d have every right, of course. She probably shouldn’t have just shown up this way. Why the hell did I? There are thousands of resorts in Cancun, but here I am on his island, a hundred miles away from those resorts and reachable only by plane. I might as well be on Fantasy Island.

The idea of this exceptionally tall, dark-skinned, very handsome man as a modern-day Mr. Roark was close enough to the truth of what Rachel knew she’d come searching for so she shied away from it. Magic wouldn’t help her now. Even if she did believe in it.

But maybe it had been what had brought her here to Isla Foriscura with her life in shambles around her. She’d told herself she wanted nothing but fun and a chance to spend her alimony, but in her broken heart, she knew the truth lay in the question the widower husband of her dead best friend had just asked her.

Do you believe in magic?

To the best of her knowledge he hadn’t performed magic since Nora died. Since he’d retired to his private island turned reclusive resort in the Caribbean. But she had no intention of asking him about it because that would break the little spell of pretense between them.

Instead she sipped the margarita, enjoying the tangy drink mixed with the salt from the rim. She let her lips part a little just before answering, noticed the way he focused on her mouth. “Should I?”

“Maybe.” He snagged an empty glass from a passing waitress and set it on the table in front of her.

She frowned. “Am I supposed to do something with that?” She glanced around, noticing that a little crowd of interested onlookers had gathered, including the waitresses. Did they know something she didn’t?

He shook his head, taking her hand and pulling her to her feet. “Not that.” He twirled her around so she stood with her back to his chest, one of his hands on her waist. She wasn’t a short woman and she was wearing heels, but Logan was exceptionally tall. Over six feet tall and well built, he dwarfed her, but he adjusted his stance so his head was just over her shoulder.

She could feel the heat of his breath on her neck and she closed her eyes. If he weren’t Ian Logan—if she really didn’t know him—she would have enjoyed this. She would have let her body mold against his, felt his response, reveled in the feel of his firm body…

She forced herself to open her eyes, maintain her distance. Dear God, how had she forgotten what a sexy man he was? Ian Logan had everything. Money, talent, looks, confidence…and a broken heart the last time she saw him. Still, she wondered what it would be like spending the night in his arms. Would it be different from all the other nights? She remembered Kevin and her heart shuddered. Her voice came out sounding slightly more acidic than she’d intended. “What, then?”

Unperturbed by her change of tone, he raised his free arm and pointed at the stars. “Those.”

She frowned. “I beg your pardon?”

“Pick one.”

“Just one?” His gentle mysterious tone intrigued her, but she couldn’t help mocking him a little bit.

He laughed. “Just one. I can only catch one at a time.”

“Oh, you can catch one, can you?” She snorted, scanned the skies and decided to play along. Obviously she’d been wrong about him not practicing magic. He had a little bar trick he used to amuse the crowd and probably to pick up women. Well, it wouldn’t work well on her unless she wanted it to. She chose a bright star low on the horizon. “That one.”

“Perfect.” He moved away, leaving her bare back surprisingly cool in the evening breeze. He handed her the glass. “Hold that.” He gazed into the distance for a moment, then reached out as if plucking something from the air in front of him. It reminded her of the days when she used to catch fireflies as a child and she fended off the jolt of nostalgia with difficulty.

He turned back, his hand closed and a mischievous expression playing on his features. She’d forgotten the other people clustered around them. She’d almost forgotten that she knew Logan and he knew her. They were two strangers in a bar and she wanted to believe the expression in his warm brown eyes was just for her. That he wasn’t still a showman and that all of this was for her benefit alone.

He raised one eyebrow, holding his hand close to his face. “You didn’t answer my question earlier.

Do you believe in magic?”

She thought of everything that had brought her to this point, everything that had gone wrong in her life and what she’d lost. How could she believe in magic now? Without pausing to doctor her answer, she replied honestly. “No. Not anymore.”

His smile faded, but not as if he’d lost confidence. More as if he felt her pain. She looked away, uncomfortable, wishing he hadn’t spotted her. Or maybe that she hadn’t come. He didn’t falter, however. Instead he placed his closed hand over the glass and took her free hand, placing it on top of his. In a swift, practiced movement, he opened his hand and pulled it away, pushing hers down on top of the glass. “Do you believe now?”

She gasped, looking at the blue-white light hovering in the glass. What could it be but the star she’d requested? She turned the glass in her hands as the little crowd applauded and he bowed. No matter which way she turned the glass, the light shimmered back at her. She stared in amazement, barely feeling it when he led her back to the table and helped her put the glass down without taking her hand away.

She tore her eyes away from the glimmering light, trying to focus on him. “This is a trick, right?”

“The best magic always leaves you wondering.” He smiled a little, but she could see the shadow of sorrow still hovering in his eyes.

“What happens if I move my hand?” She glanced back at the glass.

“The light goes out.” He shrugged. “You can’t keep a star captive forever.”

“No. You can’t.” His words filled her with sadness and she knew why she’d come there. To his island. To him. Because of all people, Ian Logan knew that nothing lasted forever. Love, life, stars. She gave the light in the jar a final look of regret before taking her hand away from the top. It flickered and died. She raised her eyes to Logan’s. “It’s a neat trick, Logan. And thanks, but I stopped believing in magic a long time ago.”

Summoning a flirtatious smile and a little wiggle into her hips, she moved out of the circle of light around the bar, feeling the darkness descend in a wave of welcome obscurity. She knew another bar down the beach where the young men were sexy and ready to get laid and didn’t bother making her feel like she mattered to do it.

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Print Party Preview Time! Plus, enter to win your own PRINT copy of Ducks in a Row!

Happy Valentine’s Day! Don’t forget to leave me a comment to enter to win one of three proof copies I’m giving away! In the meantime, here’s an excerpt! (Warning: Adult language. Just once—or twice—but still.)

Cam watched her sister leave knowing she had a fight on her hands and it was her fault. She glanced around at the dirty dishes still on the table and knew she should begin loading them into the dishwasher, but she had something to do first and she needed her strength to do it. Cam glanced at the clock on her cell phone. Six o’clock. Stan would be done with work, probably at the bar having a drink with some of the boys. She bit her lip and decided it was time. She needed to let him know she wasn’t home and wouldn’t be coming back.

He answered on the second ring, laughter in his voice and the sound of a jukebox in the background. “Hey, baby, where are you? It’s payday and we’re celebrating. Come on down.”

“I’m not there.” She wondered what it was about him that made her so tongue-tied, even now. Nearly a year after they’d met and begun dating, the sound of his voice could melt her knees, short out her brain and make it almost impossible to speak a complete sentence.

He laughed. “I know you’re not here, babe. I’m trying to fix that. C’mon down, I want you.”

I want you. The words echoed in her heart. “No, you don’t get it, Stan. I’m not there and I’m not coming back. I’m here now and I don’t want to see you again.” She closed her eyes with the effort of saying the last words. How could she sound so heartless and indecipherable at the same time?

After a moment of listening to the jukebox play, in which she pictured him sitting at a table with a beer in front of him, his chair tilted back and his long legs splayed in front of him, he finally spoke. “Hold on a sec.”

She heard voices and a door slamming and then silence. She knew he was standing in the middle of the dirt and gravel parking lot of the little dive bar he loved in Brunswick, Georgia. She knew he was holding his cell phone against his ear, searching for a way to reply to her. “Cam, what’s going on?”

“I can’t do this anymore. I can’t keep pretending I can be your little wife.”

“Did I ask you to be my wife?”

“You know what I mean. I’m sick of the whole thing. I had to get away.”

“Where are you?”

“I’m at my sister’s in North Carolina.”

After a moment’s silence, he burst out laughing. “You don’t want to be my wife, but you run away to suburban hell? Are you serious? I’ve heard you talk about your sister and her husband and how uptight they are. Cam, are you feeling all right?”

“Cut it out.”

“No, seriously, check and see if you have a fever. I’m really worried about you, babe.”

“Cut…it…out! I’m serious. I’m not going to stay here permanently. Just ‘til I figure out what to do next.”

“I’ll fucking tell you what to do next. Come home. Come home now. I don’t want to live without you, and I’m pretty sure you don’t mean any of these things you’re saying. Come home and tell me what’s really wrong.”

If only she could. But it would ruin everything and she’d just end up back here without him, anyway. At least this way she could do it on her own terms.
“Cam?” His voice was stern. “Come home.”

“I’m sorry.” She closed her eyes again. She hadn’t meant to say that. She hadn’t meant to apologize, as if she had anything to really be sorry for, even if she did. “I can’t.”

She hung up and thought about him standing alone in the parking lot. He’d cuss, he might throw the phone and break it, and then he’d go inside and get drunk. Stinking drunk. Maybe he’d sleep with that little barmaid that’d been flirting with him for a while. Cam tried not to care.

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