Wednesday, November 27, 2013

An Amazing Sale of the Riveting Story of Cleopatra's Daughter!

I'm so excited for this pre-Christmas sale on the book that started the series. Lily of the Nile is now, for a limited time only, on sale for all e-readers for only $3.99.
With almost 400 5-star reviews on Goodreads, this first book in the series is on sale in anticipation of the imminent release of Daughters of the Nile, on December 3rd, so if you start reading now, you'll be all caught up!

Buy Lily of the Nile

Cover for Lily of the Nile, by Stephanie Dray

Read an Excerpt | Go Behind the Story | Reviews | Bibliography


With her parents dead, the daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Antony is left at the mercy of her Roman captors. Heir to one empire and prisoner of another, it falls to Princess Selene to save her brothers and reclaim what is rightfully hers…
In the aftermath of Alexandria’s tragic fall, Princess Selene is taken from Egypt, the only home she’s ever known. Along with her two surviving brothers, she’s put on display as a war trophy in Rome. Selene’s captors mock her royalty and drag her through the streets in chains, but on the brink of death, the children are spared as a favor to the emperor’s sister, who takes them to live as hostages in the so-called lamentable embassy of royal orphans…
Now trapped in a Roman court of intrigue that reviles her heritage and suspects her faith, Selene can’t hide the hieroglyphics that carve themselves into her flesh. Nor can she stop the emperor from using her for his own political ends. But faced with a new and ruthless Caesar who is obsessed with having a Cleopatra of his very own, Selene is determined honor her mother’s lost legacy. The magic of Egypt and Isis remain within her. But can she succeed where her mother failed? And what will it cost her in a political game where the only rule is win or die?
Buy Lily of the Nile

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Get Behind-The-Scenes at Hard Ink on Release Day with Laura Kaye!

HARD AS IT GETS is one steamy read! How did you first get into writing?

Thanks so much! And thanks for having me here! I’ve been a writer all my life. I’m a historian by training, so writing non-fiction was a part of my job for the fifteen years I worked as a college professor. But I started writing fiction in 2008 in kind of an unusual way. I hit my head on July 4, 2008. I didn’t think much of it that day, but soon after I realized I’d really hurt myself, and it turned out I had a minor traumatic brain injury. As I recovered, I was filled with an amazing urge to be creative, so I started taking guitar lessons (still not very good at that!) and wrote my first novel in 12 weeks (fortunately, I’m better at that LOL!). The experience of writing that first book was truly transformative. It was what I was supposed to be doing, so I revised that book until it sold and kept writing new ones. And I haven’t looked back since!

Why did you choose to write romance?
I had been an avid reader of paranormal romance for years at that point, so I wrote what I loved. But I also picked romance—unconsciously, I think—because to me it’s an incredibly hopeful genre. Romance stories are inherently stories about people who can’t find love or think they don’t deserve it who overcome the odds and find it in the end. In the years leading up to starting writing, I experienced a number of very hard personal losses, so writing in this genre was one way I worked through those issues.

What does “Hard Ink” refer to? What importance do tattoos play in your story?
Hard Ink is the name of the Rixey brothers’ tattoo shop in the Hard Ink series. Nick and Jeremy Rixey are co-owners, though Nick (the hero of book one, Hard As It Gets) prefers to be more of a silent partner, despite Jeremy’s efforts to put Nick’s artistic talents to work. In this series, tattoos are a way people remember, pay penance, or highlight what’s important to them. The act of creating permanent marks on skin has deep meaning to them. And the shop creates a gritty setting where diverse kinds of people meet and interact in the series. I really love it!

Describe Becca—what do you love most about her? And Nick?
I’d love to! Because I really loved writing these characters!

Becca Merritt is smart and strong and honest and protective. I really loved the way she was willing to stand up for those she loves, even against people and forces who might be stronger and even a little scary. There’s a scene in particular when she dresses down Nick’s Special Forces teammates after a fist fight where I was particularly cheering for her! LOL

Nick Rixey is, omg, so freaking hot, you guys! He’s brooding and tortured and honorable and when he falls he falls  so hard. I especially loved Nick’s mix of hard, alpha edges with his artistic side. When Nick shows Becca what her idea for a tattoo might look like on her skin, it’s just scorching!
What significance does the military play in the book?
Military themes are central to the whole Hard Ink series. The military isn’t just sexy window dressing nor is it just there to provide an intriguing backstory. The prior SF guys are this series are entirely defined by their military experience good and bad. It informs their identity, their sense of honor and duty, their view of the world, and of course gives them the skill set required to fight the battles they face in the series. The overall series mystery the characters are working to solve revolves around a military conspiracy in Afghanistan, so even though they’re out of the Army, the military themes are central.
If you could describe your book in a 140 character tweet, what would it be?
In #HardAsItGets, an ex-soldier joins forces w/his dead commander's daughter to regain his tarnished honor & save her brother from a gang
Is there a particular author or book that has influenced your writing?
There are a number of authors that have influenced me, but if I had to pick one it would be J.R. Ward. A lot of what I know about how to write sexy, authentic male point of view comes from reading her books. And I definitely learned the importance of a good bromance to a romance novel from her Black Dagger Brotherhood series, too. Given my ginormous fangirling, you can only imagine how flipping excited I was when this happened:

“Edgy, sexy, and full of suspense! A great read from a great new author!”

~J.R. Ward on Hard As It Gets

You guys, I bawled like a baby in the middle of a huge workshop put on by my publisher. For real. LOL

What advice would you give aspiring writers looking to get into the publishing industry?
Here’s my advice:

1) Write, write, write. You can’t revise what you haven’t written and you can’t sell what you haven’t written. And the psychological and emotional boost you’ll get from writing “The End” for the first time cannot be overestimated.

2) Revise, revise, revise. That first time you type “The End”? Yeah, you’re nowhere near done. Your book will need to be edited, by you, several times before you ever put it in front of an agent or editor. You get one shot with them, so don’t waste it by not showing them your very best and most polished work.

3) Find critique partners. And your mom, siblings, and best friend do not count (unless you’re really lucky, like me, and your best friend happens t also be a professional author). You need other aspiring writers in your genre who will give you honest but constructive feedback about how to improve your manuscript. Let them catch all the embarrassing goofs and plot holes you thought you caught before it gets to an agent or editor.

4) Want to be a professional, then act it. And by that I mean join the professional organization(s) of the genre in which you write. Through them you will find classes to help hone your craft, critique partner match-ups, networking opportunities, calls for submission, and other opportunities invaluable to breaking into publishing.

5) Don’t give up. You will hear way more no’s than yeses, particularly early in your writing career. Stick with it. Believe in yourself. Give yourself one day to wallow in the rejection and eat a bunch of chocolate and then get right back on the horse. If your first book doesn’t sell, chalk that up to learning and write a second.

What can fans of HARD AS IT GETS look forward to next?
I’m currently writing four series: two contemporary (Hard Ink, Heroes) and two paranormal (Hearts of the Anemoi, Vampire Warrior Kings). I’ll have books from all four of those releasing in 2014. My next release is Hard As You Can (Hard Ink #2) coming 2/25/14!

About Hard As It Gets:

Five dishonored soldiers.

Former Special Forces.

One last mission.

These are the men of Hard Ink.

 Tall, dark, and lethal...

Trouble just walked into Nicholas Rixey's tattoo parlor. Becca Merritt is warm, sexy, wholesome--pure temptation to a very jaded Nick. He's left his military life behind to become co-owner of Hard Ink Tattoo, but Becca is his ex-commander's daughter. Loyalty won't let him turn her away. Lust has plenty to do with it too.

With her brother presumed kidnapped, Becca needs Nick. She just wasn't expecting to want him so much. As their investigation turns into all-out war with an organized crime ring, only Nick can protect her. And only Becca can heal the scars no one else sees.

Desire is the easy part. Love is as hard as it gets. Good thing Nick is always up for a challenge...
Read Chapter 1 of Hard As It Gets

Buy at Amazon | B&N | iTunes

About Laura Kaye:
Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over a dozen books in contemporary and paranormal romance. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

A New Twist on Thanksgiving Dessert - Pumple Pie!

Even though my gourmet group last night had an anti-Thanksgiving theme (I made frozen mojito cakes), talk invariably came around to what we planned to make for Thanksgiving. I realized I've got to share with all of you the delicious pie I tried last year.

Pumpple pie, aside from having one of the most ridiculous names ever, is a terrific mash-up of pumpkin and apple. Because I know how many gajillion different things you'll be prepping for this day, I'm going to go ahead and tell you to use two store-bought, roll out pie crust doughs. Why spend the time making your own (unless you truly want to, of course). This recipe comes from The Kitchen's 2008 Best Pie Bakeoff. I promise this will be a big hit!

Ingredients for the Apple Filling5 cups sliced, peeled and cored apples (use Fuji)
2.5 tablespoon, unsalted butter
3/4 cup, packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup, water
1 tsp, cornstarch
1.5 tsp, ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp, salt
1 tsp, lemon juice
1. In a 1.5 qt medium saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, water, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt.
2. Stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil.
3. Stir in sliced apples; cook until tender - about 8 - 10 minutes - stirring occasionally.
4. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Spread apple mixture evenly on the bottom of the piecrust.

Ingredients for the Pumpkin Filling1/2 cup, sugar
1 cup, canned pumpkin
1 slightly beaten egg
1 tsp, cinnamon
1 tsp, pumpkin pie spice
2/3 cup, evaporated milk
1. In a medium bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, egg, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Whisk until blended. Stir in evaporated milk. Carefully pour pumpkin mixture over apples. Cover with 2nd pie crust, crimp edges and cut a few steam vents.
2. Cover edges of crust with foil to prevent over browning. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake 25 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.
3. Cool pie thoroughly on a rack at least 2 hours to set. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Securely cover and keep in refrigerator for up to a week.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Double Christmas Cover Goodness!

Toss some confetti. Sound the trumpets. Because I can finally share the cover of my next release with you all!

Tinsel My Heart is the kind of Christmas book that will absolutely hammer the holiday into you. It's got snow (set in Minneapolis, after all!), it's got a sexy and brooding bad boy (who just happens to be a famous Hollywood director) and it's chock full of holiday goodness, since the plot revolves around a high tech, hundred+ person Christmas pageant.

Plus, it is super personal to me - without even knowing it, the awesome Carina art department used the very bridge on the cover where my husband and I shared our second date. So yes, I'm over the moon about this cover.
But wait, there's more cover goodness! Because this book is one of three fantastic stories in All I'm Asking For: A Contemporary Christmas Anthology. Talk about getting holiday bang for your buck! They are all sexy, big-city stories that will definitely get you in the mood for the holidays. Release date is December 5, but you can pre-order now! 
Purchase at Y Amazon Y Barnes & Noble Y



Monday, November 11, 2013

A Sexy, Kilted New Release!

I'm thrilled to have such talented chaptermates who churn out new books every month. Today I'm sharing with you the latest sexy Scottish historical from bestselling author Eliza Knight, The Highlander's Sin.

He stole her away… But she set him free…
They called him The Priest. Maybe because of his billowing black robes and the steel crucifix that hung around his neck. Or perhaps it was because those who met him were compelled to pray. But Duncan Mackay was anything but a saint. He was a sinner—a paid mercenary. Until he met her, and she made him want to change his ways.

Lady Heather Sutherland, has never been compelled to follow rules. And this time, she’s gone too far. Following in the footsteps of her brothers and cousins, she chooses to join the fight for Scottish freedom—and gets herself abducted by a handsome, rogue warrior, whose touch is sweet sin.

Duncan’s duty was clear—steal Heather away from Dunrobin Castle. What he didn’t expect, was to be charmed by her spirit and rocked by her fiery kiss. Now, he doesn’t want deliver her to those who hired him, instead he wants to keep her all to himself.
A fun excerpt...

“Hold on to my back,” he instructed, turning around and glancing at her over his shoulder. “Wrap your legs around my waist and your arms around my neck.”

She gave him an incredulous look, which he ignored. Turning back toward the wall, he tested the rope he’d used to climb down. Still secure. Good.

“What?”she whispered harshly. “Ye canna possibly—”

He cut her off, flicked her another annoyed gaze over his shoulder. “I assure ye,’tis possible, and I do intend to.” Duncan again presented her with his back.“Grab hold. Now.”

Heather didn’t hesitate, thank goodness, but touched her hands to his shoulders and jumped, wrapping her legs around his waist and a death grip around his neck. Duncan swallowed and tugged at her arms. If he hadn’t known better, he might have thought she was trying to kill him.

“Not so tight, else I lose my breath and we both fall.”

Heather loosened her grip on his neck, but tightened her thighs around his hips. Duncan had to force himself not to groan. The lass had yanked up her skirts a little to allow enough flexibility in her clothing to grip him. A smooth calf brushed his elbow.

Mo chreach…he might just drop her. It had been much better when he’d imagined her legs to be as burly as his own.

“Where are the guards?” she asked.

“Gone.”He didn’t expound but began to climb.

Hand over hand, feet gripping the rope. He pulled them up at a steady pace, his muscles working with the added weight. Sweat trickled over his back, his arms. His palms grew damp but didn’t hinder his progress. Heather clung tight to him. Whispered prayers, begged forgiveness for her sins, and wished not to die. Duncan held in his laughter, and at last they reached the ledge.

“Let go of my neck and pull yourself up onto the top.” Pushing off the wall gently with his foot, he twisted his body around so Heather’s back was against the stone.

“I dinna know if I can.” Fear ebbed around the edges of her words.

“Aye, lass, ye can,” Duncan spoke with knowing authority. “Go on. Do it now.”

Heather blew out a breath, warm against his neck, then let go with one hand.

“That’s it, Heather. Grip the wall.” Letting go of the rope with one hand, he slid it under her thigh—gritting his teeth at the suppleness of her flesh. He didn’t know which was more painful—holding up their weight on the rope with a single hand or touching the softness of her thigh. “I’ve got hold of ye. Ye can do it.”

She seemed to gain some measure of safety from his grip on her thigh and took off her other hand, hoisting herself up onto the wall walk of the battlements.

Duncan made quick work of hoisting himself onto the stone floor and pulling up his rope. The sun was quickly rising. It wouldn’t be long before guards came to relieve those Duncan had dispatched of. He tied off the rope on a crenellation, preparing for them to go down the other side.

“Get on.” He crouched down, and Heather climbed onto his back again.

“Do ye make it a habit of having women ride ye?” she asked.

Duncan choked on his tongue. Holy Mother, did she realize what she’d just asked? With a wicked grin, he turned to glance over his shoulder. “Aye, lass, as often as I can.”

Even in the dusky morning, he could see her face color red as a berry. Just to make her glow redder, he winked, satisfied when she let out a little gasp.

After making sure that the area below the wall was clear, he gripped the rope tight and climbed over the side. With measured movements, he walked them down the wall. The climb down was always easier than up. Once they were on solid ground, Heather dropped to her feet. He turned to see her smoothing out her skirts.

“Dinna be modest on my account, I’ve had your legs wrapped around me, your bare thigh under my fingers.”

She let out an outraged snarl. “Only because if ye didna, I’d have ended up dead.”

He snickered. “’Haps. Or maybe I just wanted the privilege.”

“Ye’re a brute.”

Duncan bowed low. “I thank ye.”

“’Twas not a compliment.”

Praise for The Stolen Bride Series

“For fans of Highlander romance, this series is a must read!” ~Night Owl Romance

The Highlander’s Reward– winner of InD’Tale Magazine’s Best Historical Novel 2012

The Highlander’s Reward– “The powerful yet sensitive Magnus and the saucy and beautiful Arbella are a winning pair in this Scottish themed romance that even boasts cameos from William Wallace himself.” ~Publisher’s Weekly Reviewer for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest

Friday, November 1, 2013

Hungry Hearts Holiday Hop - Thanksgiving Edition!

We are so excited to CELEBRATE FALL with mouthwatering Thanksgiving recipes and delicious EXCERPTS from today’s hottest food-loving ROMANCE writers! Hop around and fill out the Rafflecopter form on each author’s site to enter our Grand PRIZE Giveaway: a Harry & David Crater Lake GIFT BASKET Classic!

In addition to the Grand Prize, one SWAG pack will be given away on Amanda Usen's blog on each day of the hop. Visit each day for an AUTHOR spotlight and more FALL GLEE.
When the seasons change, our hearts fill with GRATITUDE. Life is grand, isn’t it? Hop with us and share your love of all things food, fall, and THANKS-giving!

My contribution to this is an Italian stuffed turkey breast. This is a great alternative to a big turkey - it is perfect for two to four people who don't want a week's worth of leftovers. Plus, it is an elegant take on turkey that you can serve year round. Gibson Moore, my hero from Friends To Lovers, is from England and doesn't really get the fanatic devotion to carving up a 25 lb carcass at the table. He far prefers this elegant twist on tradition. Plus, it involves the word breast, which, as an unabashed Casanova, he always appreciates.

This is based on a Giada De Laurentiis recipe, but I've made some tweaks. If you aren't serving on Thanksgiving, a nice side dish is risotto.

Serves: 4 to 6
8 ounces sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs or panko
1/2 cup broth
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
5 ounces prosciutto or pancetta (your choice!), finely diced
8 oz. chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup diced green olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage or 2 teaspoons dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (2-pound) boneless turkey breast
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Special equipment: kitchen twine

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a bowl, combine the sausage, prosciutto, mushrooms, olives and sage. Season with salt and pepper. Heat a small skillet and add a teaspoon of the stuffing. Saute until cooked through, about 2 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust seasoning in the stuffing mix, if necessary. Mix in the broth, bread crumbs and parmesan to bind it all together.

Place the turkey breast on the cutting board with skin side down. Pound it flat, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil to moisten. Spread stuffing on top and roll the turkey around the stuffing. Wrap kitchen twine around breast and tie tightly.

Place turkey in a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until internal temperature of the turkey breast is 165 degrees F, about 1 hour or 12 to 15 minutes per pound.

Let rest 10 minutes, then snip off kitchen twine. Slice the turkey and arrange decoratively on serving platter. Pour pan juices over the slices and serve.

Don't forget to enter:  Rafflecopter giveaway