Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Bit of a Moan: Part 3

Sadly, it's my final day on the island.  I'll be sorry to leave its white sandy shores, its shady palm trees, and most importantly the half naked men to serve me cocktails.  But never mind, because I'm going straight from here to a holiday with my family.  Yes, it's time to go camping again!

All this brings me onto my third and final gripe:

Why is it that all the characters in romance generally get better holidays than I do?




Every time the heroes in a contemporary romance go on holiday, they go somewhere exotic: to a beach house maybe, or a cruise, or to some rugged cabin in the woods where they can discover a grizzly murderer in the woodshed.  They never go camping though, do they?  There's plenty of outdoorsy fun, but it's from a solid base with running water and showers.  They never just grab a tent, hike out and have a few days under canvas nylon.  Which, to be honest, is a great shame.

OK, maybe there are a couple of stories out there where the heroes go camping.  Dangerous Ground and In a Dark Wood by Josh Lanyon have two men who are camping in it, plus there's this great little freebie short on Clare London's website which you can read here.  But OTHER than those, most stories where the heroes go on holiday are set in places much more expensive and civilised than a tent.

I'd say it was a cultural thing, but I know for a fact that people in the US and Canada go camping.  Perhaps it's just that romance writers think that we readers want something a little less mundane and hum-drum that a story where the heroes go camping for their jollies.  Not me though.  I say MORE camping stories please.

Pretty please?

Now, I pretty much figure I'm going to be in the minority with this moan, but I'm still curious whether you're all up for more men-in-a-tent romance.  We could start a petition or something :).

July DIK Reading Challenge Links

This is a sticky post - for newer posts see below







Please post links to your DIK Reading Challenge submission in the comments of this post. (through 7/31/10 11:59pm)

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Bit of a Moan: Part 2

Ahhhh, confession!  It's good for the soul, you know.  Lightens the load, makes the world seem a better place, etc, etc.

Yesterday I confessed my ennui with the sex shower scene.  It was only a minor moan really but today's gripe is one which REALLY annoys me when it crops up in books:

The hero who, rather than reporting a serious crime to the police, takes it upon himself to sort everything out himself in a show of quite astounding vigilantism.




Now, I'm not talking about that mainstay of mystery novels - the amateur sleuth - who when seeing a crime committed, or discovering a body, may work alongside or adjacent to the police, but rather one who never reports the crime and then tries to solve it himself.  So, in may ways it would be like the amateur sleuth discovering a body, hiding it, and then trying to solve the crime.  Preposterous, yes?  But a similar thing  happens with other crimes, other than murder, and, to be quite honest it gets my goat.

For example, I read a book not so long ago where the hero had his home broken into and was attacked by masked men.  Did he call the police, like any sensible person?  No he didn't.  Instead, he and the other hero decided to form a plan to get their own revenge, thus (rather predictably) putting themselves into life-threatening danger.  Grrrrrrrrrrr!!!!  Stupid men!!!!!!

Now, I'm willing to concede that on occasion the hero will have a darned good reason for not reporting a crime, such as living in a very remote town and having less than cordial relations with the local Boss Hogg sheriff; or if they themselves are criminals and don't want to attract undue attention from the fuzz (in which case how have they managed to be the hero of a romance novel anyway?), or if you're a mythological creature such as a vampire or were, and would rather not blow your cover.  On the whole though, when this sort of thing happens in a romance novel, there's some baffling 'higher purpose' excuse which is, at best, flimsy, and at worst, downright idiotic.

Look at it this way: You wouldn't perform surgery on someone unless you were a qualified surgeon, would you?  You wouldn't attempt to put out a raging fire without first calling the fire service, would you?  So why is it in some romance novels the heroes think they are better trained and equipped than the police force?

Whenever this crops up it makes me sooooo cross and is sometimes one of the reasons why I DNF a book.  Not calling the police when your home is ransacked, you are attacked, or some stalker is leaving you death threats is akin to TSTL, in my opinion.

So do you agree with me today, or is this something which never bothers you at all?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Bit of a Moan: Part 1

There's nothing British people like more than a good moan.  Whether it's about our crappy weather, crappy national football team or pretty much anything crappy about our lives in general, give us the opportunity and we're there laying out our woes to anyone who'll listen and expounding our views on how to make things better.

I'd just like to thank the readers of this DIK blog for giving me the opportunity today  :).

In fact, it's not just today, but over the next three days I'm going to have a moan about certain things that crop up, mainly in contemporary romance, which makes me roll my eyes a little, at best, or gnashing my teeth in annoyance at worst.  Most of my contemporary romance reading is m/m, but I think some of what I'm going to talk about about applies to m/f contemps too.

Let's start today with something which mostly makes me roll my eyes:  Sex in the shower.




Nearly every contemporary m/m book has a sex-in-the-shower scene.  When I first began to read the genre, I found this a bit of a novelty, after all, I'd come from reading m/f historicals when showers weren't invented (except in that Lisa Kleypas book, and I'm still slightly sceptical about the accuracy of that).  However, as I continued reading the genre, and realised that nearly EVERY m/m contemp was going to contain a shower scene, I began to get a bit tired with the whole thing, mainly because it sparked off several of my 'worry' buttons.  What worry buttons, you may ask?  Well let me draw up a list:

1. Aren't showers a bit small for fitting in sex?
Now this is possibly a cultural thing.  In Britain, showers tend to be quite small and cramped and the thought of fitting two great big blokes in one is, frankly, rather laughable.  I know that showers in the US are possibly roomier, but surely not that much more.  Yet all sex shower scenes are a master-class in sexual choreography and not once do they bang their elbow/knee on the tiles or catch important parts of their anatomy on the shower hose or taps.

2. I worry about the slippy bath/tiles.
I've come to the conclusion that all US showers have industrial strength rubber matting because these guys can seem to manoeuvre themselves into a vast array of positions and never once do they slip.  The worry is there though, in the the back of my mind, as to whether one of them will end up with concussion after slipping on the tiles and banging his head on the shower screen.

3. Water deadens taste/touch.
Now this maybe TMI here, but I've had sex in a shower.  It was bloody uncomfortable and not an experience I'd care to repeat.  One thing that I noticed during that little 'experiment' was how difficult it was to taste the skin of the the person in the shower with you.  The water deadens the taste, washes it away leaving everything tasting of...well...water.  Yet time after time the authors of the sex shower scene tell of how wonderful the skin  tastes.  It's also quite difficult to breathe when the shower is pounding down on your head, so how these guys don't pass out from lack of oxygen is anyone's guess.

It's not just these worries that affect my enjoyment of the sex shower scene.  Mostly I'm just bored with reading them because they crop up with such regularity.  It's gotten to the stage now where when it comes up I'm thinking 'oh here we go, time for the shower sex scene'.  After all they've done it on the sofa and in bed, it must be the turn of the shower.

So what about you guys?  Are you bored with the shower sex scene?  Do you have the same worries about damage to body parts as I do?  Or am I just weird and it's all in my head?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Enter the Demon

So, we've castrated the vampire and domesticated the werewolf, where do we look for a suitably scary antagonist for our urban fantasy heroine.

Enter the Demon.

I think in recent years there's been an increase in the number of books which have demons as protagonists - Stacia Kane's Megan Chase series and Jenna Black's Morgan Kingsley series immediately spring to mind.

You have to admit it's pretty hard to make a demon fluffy, though I'm sure that won't stop some from trying.

Do we even have to try the alley test? Really if there are demons on the loose why are you even outside your house at night? Surely you're inside with all the entrances salted.

And where there are demons you find Angels. Now I think Angels have been around for a lot longer - Sharon Shinn, Faith Hunter, Nalini Singh - all have series which feature arch/angels. And you wouldn't be in the alley if angels were abroad either. It's often made clear that to look at an angel for too long comes with fatal results.

So what's the attraction.

Demons are unrestrained desire - want, take, have. They have a social structure, always trying to increase the status of their own position.

Angels on the other hand are generally more cold, logical. The attraction lies in seeing what's beneath the facade.

Hang on.

Doesn't this sound familiar?

Demon = werewolf.
Angel = vampire.

Is it only the attraction of the new which beats out the comfort of the familiar? If werewolves and vampires are treated with the respect for what they are, is there a need to raise the stakes? Or does exploring the angel and demon mythos allow us an insight into something new?

Do you like seeing angels and demons as protagonists? Or would you rather see more traditional and well written werewolf and vampire characters? I must admit after writing this post I'm desperate to get my hands on the second in the Nalini Singh Guild Hunter series currently in my TBR pile.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Werewolves - Sit, Stay, Lie Down

So (continuining from yesterdays post), where there are vampires you often find werewolves. Now I think on the whole they have come out of the romance and urban fantasy jungle with a lot more of their dignity intact. But in some cases there is, I fear, less ravening creature of the night and more misunderstood cocker spaniel.

So let's head back to that alley (again - why are you here? Didn't you know the first rule of self defence is not to be in a dangerous place to begin with?)when at the other end 'your' werewolf appears.

Do you:-

a) Run...away of course, but he'll catch you anyway.
b) Freeze, it's pointless to run, maybe he hasn't noticed you. Pointless to freeze as well 'cause he's definitely smelled you.
c) Whip out your gun filled with silver bullets, because of course, we all have access to those.
d) Run...towards the werewolf because he knows that you're the true bonded love of his life.

Stop! Imagine instead that you are running towards the lion that's just escaped from the local zoo. No...not some kind of shifter lion, an actual lion. Are you still running toward it? :)

There's a reason why humans shouldn't integrate into werewolf packs, or if they do it should never be comfortable, easy or safe. A werewolf is every wild instinct unrestrained, unleashed, out of control - that's why they usually live in a strict social structure.

So, some recommended werewolves...not tamed puppies.

I'm always going to come to Bitten by Kelley Armstrong first. It was my introduction to the genre. In it, Clay knows that Elena could never be in his life as a human. So, he chooses to bite her even though there is no record of a woman surviving the bite - not comfortable, easy or safe. There are consequences in their relationship for years to come.

Another brilliant take on werewolf/shifter society is the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. Not only does she tackle werewolves but there's also a hyena troupe - their social structures and behaviour are completely different. Again, not comfortable, easy or safe.

The Mercedes Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. Mercedes is a coyote shifter brought up by werewolves. How she integrates herself into their society and finds a place for herself is a major part of the books. It's a huge influence on how she deals with situations and follows her into her life after the pack. Shall I say it again? NCEoS.

Any other recommended werewolf stories? Preferably not cute and fluffy ones. Or do you prefer vampires? Do you think there should be cute and fluffy werewolf stories? Is there an exception that proves the rule?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Vampires - Better Off (Un)Dead?

Every so often in the media and the blogosphere there'll be a headline :-

The Vampire Genre is Over!

I know given the recent hype over Twilight it may be hard to believe (lol), but there's nothing like familiarity to breed contempt.

I have to say though, it's not something I can ever see happening. Vampires have been around in one form or another for a very long time. I think they're here to stay.

However, what I will be happy to see the back of is the emo vampire, the castrated version of the creature of the night - a vampire more suited to staring moodily out of a moonlit window, yearning for the lost days of its humanity, angsting about how terrible his life is. Really? I think someone's missing the point. (Yep, I'm not really a fan of the overly romantic vampire).

Let's check - you're walking along a dark alley at night (first of all - What are you thinking!) when at the other end 'your' vampire appears. Do you:-

a) Run...away of course, but he'll catch you anyway.
b) Freeze, it's pointless to run, maybe he hasn't noticed you.
c) Whip out your cross/stake/holy water - the only reason you'd be walking through a dark alley at night is because you're a vampire hunter.
d) Run...towards the vampire because your true love will save him!?

Remember, this is a creature who exists solely to feed on your blood. He is going to rip out your throat. Forget the romanticized version and try to imagine that it IS a predator waiting for you. Forget Edward think Eric (True Blood version). Okay...you should be running away from the vampire. :)

The perfect vampire for me is a burning cauldron of sexuality repressed underneath a layer of cold logic and indifference - think volcano within a glacier.

I'm not saying that I don't think it's possible to reinvent the genre, turn it on its head. The vampires in Ilona Andrews, Kate Daniel's series take it in a completely different direction, the vampires are de-evolved humans who immediately bring the word skitter to mind. (I doubt they spend any time moodily staring anywhere).

So, my favourite vampires.

Lynn Viehl's Darkyn. Yes, perhaps they are a little broody, but there should always be an exception that proves the rule.

Jonathan Varga from Jordan Castillo Price's Hemovore.

D.B.Reynold's Vampire Lords - a modern feudal vampire.

The vampires from Patricia Brigg's Mercy Thompson series. The scene of the vampire with his death filmed eyes crawling after Mercy is one that stays with you.

The early BDB books by J.R.Ward, the early Anita Blake books.

So are you still in love with vampire genre? Or is it better off dead? And if you still love it, who are your favourite vamps?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Change

I saw on a Hollywood gossip site that Sherri Shepherd is going to play Lula in the Stephanie Plum movies. I like her. I think she’s perfect to play Lula. I saw her on a sitcom years and years ago and thought she’d be a great match for that character. Now I just need them to listen about casting The Rock, Dwayne Johnson, to play Ranger. Mmmmm, Ranger.

Speaking of the Stephanie Plum series, I stopped buying the books at book 11. I still read them but I don’t pay for them anymore, I get them at the library. Why, you say? Well, there are a few reasons, let me tell you them.

  • Character growth. Stephanie never gets even a little better at her job. Ever.
  • Unresolved romantic conflict. Stephanie will never choose between Ranger & Morelli. Ever.
  • Writing. I don’t know who’s writing these anymore but I don’t think its Janet Evanovich.
I’ve heard similar complaints from others about this series, but some people love them just the way they are, my mother for one, and don’t want the books to change. But the lack of change, makes the Plum books feel stagnant and rehashed to me.

So that brings me to the topic du jour. Change. When you love a series, do you want change as the series progresses or do you like the characters to stay exactly the same? If you like change, then how much change do you like? A little or a lot? What about the characters or the original story is ok to change and what is taboo?

These are tough questions for me to answer and I’m sure for the author of a long running series, even tougher.

What if JE changed the Stephanie Plum series? What if she made Stephanie The Best Bounty Hunter In All The Land, and Grandma Mazur died and became a poltergeist that haunts Stiva’s funeral home but only Stephanie can see her because she accidentally became a necromancer and Rex is now a zombie hamster? Ranger and Morelli are still around but after being ignored by The Best Bounty Hunter In All The Land, they discovered their love/hate relationship was just a cover for their true feelings for each other and have moved in together in Morelli’s house. Morelli still works but because Stephanie is TBBHIATL, Ranger retired and spends his days Tole painting thimbles. Too much? Yeah, you’re probably right. Fans would be angry. Mel Gibson angry.

Here’s an example of change in a series that appears to have gone horribly wrong. I say appears, because I haven’t read the book, I’m just reading the reviews at Amazon.

Undead and Unfinished by MaryJanice Davidson. I stopped reading these after the 5th book in the series, when the books went to hardcover. According to the reviewers, it seems like there’s a whole mess of change and nobody’s happy about it. Think angry pitchfork and torch bearing villagers storming the castle unhappy. So maybe change didn’t work out very well for Betsy readers. From what I glean from the reviews, MJD took her original paranormal lite, chick-lit world and made it darker. Too much change? Seems like a lot of readers think so.

The good news is, there’s a happy middle ground between good change, bad change and no change (can there be a middle when there are three choices? I’m bad at math) and some authors get it just right.

There are a couple of series that work for me that do indeed include change and maybe that’s why I’m still reading and buying the books. One is the J D Robb In Death series. Let’s go through our checklist.

  • Character growth. Both Eve and Roarke have grown since book one, individually and as a couple.
  • Unresolved romantic conflict. Nope. Eve and Roarke got married after book 2.
  • Writing. I never hear any other voice but J D Robb’s when I read these books.
So I guess for me, the answer is, I like the middle of the road change. Go ahead and let your characters grow, get rid of that love triangle, stay true to the basic tenets of your original story and for heaven’s sake, don’t hire a ghost writer and don’t jump the shark with a zombie hamster.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Best Romance Book Ever

I want to hear 1 book.  


The one book that you think is the best romance book you've ever read.  




Talk to me.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Fighting off plot bunnies

Hi, DIK :) I’m Luisa Prieto, author of such books as Wow That’s Long (Dark Designs), Now I’m Hungry (Cooking with Ergot), and That Wasn’t Funny (also known as Written in Blood, as nicknamed by people who read it after Ergot).

I’m pretty buzzed to be here. In honor of my DIK blogging debut, I’d like to offer a lucky commenter a copy of any of my books (may I recommend That Demon Is Hot, I Wish He’d Come After Me, aka Shadow Hunt?).

Over in my corner of the universe, summer is upon us. It’s hot, the days are bright, and the air is filled with the shrieks of kids on summer vacation. Me, I’m tucked away in my office, working on Is It Done Yet? (the After Dark revision) and enjoying the air conditioning.

In order to streamline the revision, I’ve recently cleaned up the office (embarrassing truth: clutter distracts me. I’ll start focusing on it and then I’ll start coming up with a story about a writer who makes a robot to clean after him. Before I know it, there’s a new plot bunny in my life, trying to distract me from the revision. Ugh).

The books in the bookshelf have been organized, the books were moved off the corner of my desk so the cat can finally take up the space and nap (she generously lets the computer stay, though, as long as I pet her), the Christmas wrapping paper was finally put away, and the small fridge that had been half hidden behind the wrapping paper is finally visible.

The roommate (Jen) and I got the fridge a couple years ago. It’s for shrimp for the cat and soda water and Lunchables for me, so that during the night I don’t have to leave the computer to make the thirty foot trek to the kitchen to grab something (second embarrassing truth: when I’m deep in a project, I’ll forget to eat or drink. I’ll keep working happily until I’ll start getting light headed).

While it was nice finally being able to see the fridge, we decided to go one step beyond just seeing it and decided to move it. The decision was practical: it could get hidden again, and if anyone were injured, they wouldn’t have to bend down to reach it (third embarrassing truth: light headed people are not dexterous people. A couple weeks ago I fell and landed on my knee, hard).

(While I was at the hospital, getting the knee looked at, I thought of a story where a guy hurts his knee while getting stalked by a killer. At last; a reason why the killer can catch up with his prey!)

Anyway, revision...

The revision thing has been going smoother since the moving of the fridge. Now that the thing is actually in sight, I’ve taken to sticking pictures onto the brilliantly white surface (not so embarrassing secret: the decor in the office is dark blue. That small white fridge really sticks out).

Currently there are only two pictures on it. What beautiful pictures, though. Every time I turn to grab something, they whisper stories to me.

Picture one: a clinch scene, drawn by someone who’s re imagining a couple Decepticons as human.



Jen found it. When she first told me about it, I laughed. Now, it graces the fridge, tempting me to come up with a story for it. A temptation that, given my imagination, doesn’t need much prompting. A dark and sultry night. A passionate moment in an office, against a desk. Socks.

Okay, the socks have to go, but the rest?

*fights off plot bunny*

Picture two: the four really interesting looking guys of the apocalypse, steam punk style.



Jen also found this picture (I imagine she spends her lunch breaks at work surfing Deviant Art. She, meanwhile, imagines I spend my days fighting off plot bunnies). The moment that picture went up on the fridge, something in my mind clicked.

The guy in the far left. The guy beside him. They could be the guys in the other picture. They’re part of a group that fights evil. Or they are the bad guys, only the good guys are really incompetent and they end up being the ones who actually save the world. Yeah.

And they have sex. Lots of sex.

Jen came in then, carrying a case of soda water.

“What’re you staring at?” she asked.

“The pictures. They’re telling me a story.”

“Okay.” She proceeds to put the soda in the fridge. After living with me, she’s pretty used to me talking like that. “How’s Is It Done Yet?”

“Ummm... good.”

I break away from the pictures’ spell and return to the computer. Revision. Yes. I’m working on a revision.

Until the next time I turn and see the pics.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Paranormal Romance

EDITED TO ADD: Congrats to Sherry for winning a copy of Unleashed Temptation! Please contact me at savannahstuart (at) hotmail.com.

First I’d like to thank Tracy for letting me blog today! How fabulous is she! (That’s a statement, not a question).


Up until about two years ago, I’d never read much paranormal romance. And definitely not any urban fantasy. Thanks to Desert Island Keepers and other blogs and reviews, I finally took the leap into the world of paranormal romance. I’m so glad I did, too. I discovered amazing authors like Cynthia Eden, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Bonnie Vanak, Lora Leigh, Patricia Briggs…and I could probably go on for a while so I’m just gonna stop now. I never thought I’d actually write paranormal romance though. Like never ever. At one point in my career I never thought I’d write erotic romance either but I was wrong on that end too (thankfully!). Unlike my first erotic romance, writing my first paranormal romance happened by accident.


I started writing what is now titled Unleashed Temptation as an erotic romantic suspense. Carly, the heroine, was sick of her job, had just broken up with her boyfriend and was looking for a fresh start. So she moved to Miami and ended up falling in serious lust with her new boss. After plotting out a vague outline I realized the story was missing something. So I bounced around ideas and thought how much cooler the story would be if her boss was a werewolf and she was his intended mate despite the fact that she is human and hates dogs. So, Unleashed Temptation was born and from there I’ve published two more stories featuring the Lazos pack, a group of werewolves who call Miami their home. In addition to hiding their true nature they all deal with typical, everyday problems and falling in love is never easy. If it was, it wouldn’t be any fun.


If you read paranormal romance (and if you’re reading the DIK blog, I’m guessing you do), who was the first author you fell in love with in that genre? And why? For me, it’s Sherrilyn Kenyon without question. When I picked up a copy of one of her Dark Hunter books, I was officially hooked on the genre. Oddly enough, I prefer shifters and werewolves to vampires (in general), but SK will always be my fave. If you’ve never read a paranormal then what is your favorite genre and why?


Power Unleashed
, the third book in my Miami Scorcher series with Ellora’s Cave releases today so in honor of release day I’m giving away a digital copy of Unleashed Temptation, the first book in the series. It’s received five blue ribbons from Romance Junkies and recently placed 3rd in RWI’s More Than Magic contest in the novella category! Answer one of my questions above and be entered to win.


Power Unleashed


After a year in captivity, werewolf Paz Cabrera is trying to figure out her place in the world. While her sister’s new family is more than welcoming, Paz still doesn’t feel like she belongs anywhere. She has a big secret that could ultimately harm her new protectors and give The Council ammunition to condemn her to death. When The Council sends their legendary enforcer to hunt a rogue werewolf intent on killing innocent humans and terrorizing Miami, she discovers a terrifying secret.


As enforcer for The Council and one of the oldest living werewolves on the planet, Adam Tucker had fated himself to a lonely life. With an evil werewolf threatening the existence of all supernatural beings, the race is on to stop him. After centuries by himself, he never expected to meet his mate while on the job, but now that he’s found her, he won’t let her go. Paz denies their connection, but she can’t escape the sizzling heat between them. Adam knows she’s keeping a dark secret from him, and no matter what it takes, he plans to uncover the truth and bond her to him forever.


To read an excerpt click here. For more information, click here.


If you’re interested in learning more about me, my website is updated regularly: http://www.savannahstuartauthor.com/. And if you’d like reminders of my upcoming releases, feel free to join my newsletter. I only send out about 4 to 5 emails a year and it’s usually on a release day. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/savannahstuartauthor/


Thanks again to Tracy for having me here today!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Miltary Heroes

Hi, I'm Kaylea Cross, and I write military romantic suspense featuring alpha male, special ops heroes. Why? They're fascinating. I admire anyone who can make it through that sort of training, let alone because afterwards they go out and put their lives on the line to defend their teammates and country. Plus, who would you rather be stranded with here on the island than a special ops soldier? They're survival experts! That's who I'd want with me, along with a laptop that never ran out of battery power and a never ending stash of dark chocolate :)

I love doing research for my books, and I try to put enough bits and pieces of what I've learned into the story so my readers get a sense of what these incredible soldiers do. There's a lot of overlap in terms of training and skill sets, but each program is distinct and damn near impossible to get through. There's a good reason for that, by the way. The men that make it out of these grueling programs are the ones who are mentally toughest, the ones that won't quit no matter what. It boosts morale and gives their teammates added confidence to know that the man standing next to him won't give up when things go to hell in a training exercise, or out in the field deep in enemy territory. What's more heroic than that?

First up is Dec McCabe, my Navy SEAL lieutenant featured in Cover of Darkness. He's the team leader, used to working covert operations with small squads or platoons behind enemy lines. Dec and his SEAL brethren can operate in any climate on earth in water, air, or on land. A HALO jump out of a cruising C-130 aircraft (picture posted above)? No problem. Locking out of a sub in complete darkness? Piece of cake for these guys. Scaling a cliff in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan? They can do that too. Just read Lone Survivor, by former SEAL Marcus Luttrell.

Blurb: Targeted by a terrorist cell, Bryn McAllister survives a bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut only to be left to die in a desert cellar. When she is rescued by Navy SEAL Lieutenant Declan McCabe and his team, Bryn must rely on the handsome officer to get her to safety. But just when she thinks the nightmare is over, family friend and legendary CIA operative Luke Hutchinson recruits her and McCabe to help track down the terrorist mastermind responsible for the attack.

With Bryn determined to see the terrorist brought to justice, Dec joins up to protect her, prepared to do whatever it takes to keep her safe during their dangerous mission. Battling the explosive attraction between them, Dec fights to keep his distance from her so he can do his job and keep her alive. But when plans falls apart and Bryn is captured, he must make the agonizing choice between his duty as a SEAL and the life of the woman he loves.


Next is Ben Sinclair, a former Army Ranger in No Turning Back. Rangers lead the way, so they're used to being out front of the main body of a force. These elite infantrymen are airborne qualified and work in larger units on all sorts of important missions. If you've seen Blackhawk Down, then you've seen these incredibly brave men in action. Ben's mountaineering expertise really comes in handy in this book.

Blurb: CIA communications expert Samarra Wallace is on the run from a faceless enemy when she learns terrorists have kidnapped and threatened to execute her cousin. She will do whatever it takes to free her, including breaking cover to contact the former teammate she is dangerously attracted to. Now all she has to do is convince him she's not working for the bad guys.

Ex-Army Ranger Ben Sinclair isn’t sure he can trust Sam, but he can't turn her away. Lives are at stake and she may be the only way to capture the terrorist mastermind his team is hunting. Despite his reservations, he finds himself falling for her. But when Sam's innocence is questioned again during a botched operation in the remote mountains of Afghanistan, the team pays a terrible price for trusting her. In the wake of that staggering betrayal Ben must decide if she's the innocent woman he fell in love with, or if she's a traitor who'd set them up to die.


In Relentless, there's Ben's twin brother, Rhys. He served first as a Ranger, then went on to make it into the elite ranks of Delta Force. They're hostage rescue experts and deadly shooters. Men in the Unit often work off the grid in the shadowy realm of black ops, carrying out missions that likely none of us will ever hear about. And they routinely take their own body bags with them.

Blurb: Former Delta Force operator Rhys Sinclair defied the odds by recovering from a traumatic brain injury that should have killed him. Given the chance to repay the beautiful doctor who saved his life by guarding hers, he can’t say no--even if it means facing an unknown threat from the cunning terrorist his CIA-sanctioned team had been hunting in Afghanistan. The catch is, she can't know about it without blowing their cover.

Trauma surgeon Neveah Adams is finally putting her life back together after her horrific experience in Afghanistan. Giving the keynote speech at a medical conference in Vancouver is her starting point. With Rhys there to watch over her she feels safe for the first time in months, and her biggest problem is trying to hide her intense feelings for him.

But Rhys knows something Neveah doesn’t. The terrorist who targeted her in Kabul is coming after her again, and he’s relentless enough to ensure all his past mistakes are erased with one final strike. Now that the nightmare from her past has resurfaced, Neveah has no choice but to put her trust in the one man who has the ability to break her heart, never knowing an assassin is closer than they realize.


Because No Turning Back is book number three and smack dab in the middle of my series, I'm going to give away a digital copy to one commenter here on the island. (But if you'd prefer one of the other books instead, that's fine too.) It's pretty violent and graphic in spots, so be forewarned! Here's a snippet with Ben to whet your appetite.

Excerpt:
[Baghdad: late evening]
Still rattled from the bizarre events of the morning, Sam made her way to the hotel Ben had designated for their meeting. Thank God he’d answered her plea for help. When he hadn’t answered right away, she hadn’t been sure he would, but the knowledge she was going to see him gave her a renewed sense of hope and energized her exhausted body.

As soon as she saw him, she was going to fling her arms around him and hold on tight, just as she’d imagined doing a thousand times over the past week. She didn’t care if he thought she was losing it, because once she touched him she’d know for certain she was safe. Starting tonight, they’d be able to do something to help Neveah and the other hostages she’d read about in a paper she’d glimpsed at the market that morning.

Though she’d be glad to see him, she couldn’t help the thread of unease that slid through her at the thought of seeing him face-to-face again.

You’re being stupid. Ben won’t hurt you.

Holding on to that thought, she jogged up the stairwell to the third floor and found her way to the room he’d specified. Pulling out the key that had been left for her at the front desk, she unlocked the door and opened it hesitantly, glancing around in the stygian darkness before stepping inside. Ben wasn’t here yet. She was glad, because she could use a little extra time to pull herself together before he arrived. He was coming, right? He wouldn’t tell her to meet him and then blow her off.

Would he?

She hated the uncertainty. The sound of her even breathing was harsh in the silent room. When the door shut behind her with a soft click, a dim lamp came on across the room. She jerked, blinking in the glare as her heart rate skyrocketed.

“Hi Sam.”

The low cadence of his voice almost made her knees buckle. The hand she’d pressed to her heart fell away in relief. He was really there. She stared across the room at his large frame, folded into a wingback chair. He was an incredibly attractive man, but she’d forgotten how much so. Tall, muscular, black hair short in the back and a little longer in front and pale green eyes. The mellow light from the lamp played across his high cheekbones and square jaw, highlighting the jade of his eyes and the cleft in his chin. He’d shaved off his goatee, but a few days of growth shadowed his features. Even covered with stubble, his face was still enough to stop the breath in her lungs. But his frigid expression lodged it in her tight throat.

Any thought of rushing over to hug him vanished. She swallowed. He didn’t look all that happy to see her. In fact, he seemed pissed off. “H-hi.” Her voice came out as a mere thread. She felt completely off-balance.

He was deceptively relaxed in his seat as he studied her, but a coiled energy seethed beneath his calm surface. He could be out of that chair and on her in a heartbeat, and they both knew it. If it came down to fending him off, she had no chance in hell. He was twice her size and a fifth level black belt, in addition to being a former Army Ranger. The way he watched her with those cool eyes told her just how confident he was of his ability to subdue her if necessary. She wouldn’t have a prayer against him physically, so the only thing left to use as a weapon was her brain. At least there, they were evenly matched.

First off, she had to find out what had put him into this mood she’d never seen from him before. Her pulse drummed against her throat, dread eroding her joy at seeing him.

He shifted a little, and when his hand moved she realized for the first time he was holding a gun. She froze, fear squeezing her dry throat like a fist. She couldn’t take her eyes from the pistol, which she had no doubt was loaded.

“I’m not going to shoot you,” he said laconically, “unless you do something stupid. Since we both know you’re the furthest thing from that, I’m sure you’ve got nothing to worry about.”

She gulped and raised her eyes. What the hell was going on? Ben was holding a loaded gun against her.

“Been busy?” he asked in a mocking tone.

She attempted to pull herself together. Why even bother asking? If he’d followed the transmitter in her phone, then he knew exactly where she’d been the past few days. She refused to let him see he’d rattled her. Her chin came up. “I had a few things to take care of.” Like staying alive.

His short laugh was far from warm. “I bet you did, sweetheart.”

His south Boston accent took the R out of the endearment and made her heart ache. A few short days ago, he’d looked at her with warmth and kindness. Now, the expression in his eyes was almost glacial. Speculative and even angry. He had a right to feel that way after she’d disappeared on the team, but why the gun and the hostility radiating from him? She wished he’d let her explain everything. She needed him to believe her, because she had no one else to turn to.

Gathering her courage, she took a step away from the door, then another, holding that frigid gaze. He sat perfectly still, a tiger waiting to attack its prey. It unnerved her. This was not the jovial, affectionate Ben she’d come to know. He was a total stranger right now.

She stalled out a few steps from him, scrambling for something to say to ease the tension. “Ben, I—”

“Stop right there and hand me your bag.”

She bit her lip and did so, waiting while he emptied the meager contents on the table and went over each item looking for electronic devices. She clenched her teeth. Like she’d even had time to think about bugging anything.

He set the bag beside his chair. “Got your BlackBerry?”

She nodded. “In my pocket.” She was afraid to retrieve it in case it made him aim the gun at her. Her fingers twitched once, then fell still.

He held out one hand, palm up. Her eyes followed it. He had such beautiful, strong hands. She’d spent many hours working next to him, admiring them as they moved over the keyboard and the rest of their equipment. Long, lean fingers, the short-clipped nails blunt and clean. The hands of a healer and a warrior. She remembered the feel of them on her shoulders when he and Rhys came to her apartment after she’d called them for help back at the start of this whole mess. They’d lent comfort and support. Kindness. Now he motioned one impatiently at her.

“Hand it over.”

Careful to move slowly in case he suspected she had a weapon of some kind, she dug it out of her pocket and put it in his broad palm, the brief contact shooting sparks of heat up her arm. She snatched her hand back, hating the fact her body didn’t pick up on the cold front it had walked in on. He seemed remote, but she sensed something seething beneath his composed exterior. Whatever was going on in his head, he had to have something more on his mind than her disappearance. “You seem upset,” she ventured, not knowing what to make of it. If anyone should be upset, shouldn’t it be her?

An awful silence met her words. It expanded until it filled the room and pressed in on her.

“Upset?” he said finally, then shrugged. “I’m not upset. I’m just trying to figure out why you’d fall of the face of the earth exactly when bad shit started happening.”

She licked her lips, not liking what he was inferring. Something else must have happened that she didn’t know about. “I don’t know what I can say that will make you believe me,” she began, stomach squeezing tighter when he didn’t even glance at her. Despair filled her. “I called you because I need your help.”

He set her BlackBerry on the side table next to him and regarded her dispassionately. “That’s nice.”

His remote expression jangled her nerves. What had happened to make him look at her like that?

“You want me to trust you, Sam?”

She frowned. “Of course I do.”

“You’re a bright girl, so I’m sure you can understand why that’s not going to happen. But if you want to try to earn my trust, I’m game.” He tilted his dark head, pale eyes glittering a challenge in the lamp light. “You can start by taking off all your clothes.”

*end of excerpt*

So tell me, which of my heroes would you want to have here on the island with you? I'm all ears :)

I love hearing from readers, so feel free to drop by my website or blog and leave me a note.

Happy reading!

Kaylea Cross :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sidney Kay's Desert Island Keepers

Greetings from Sidney Kay of Kay's Blog!! I'm thrilled to be part of Desert Island Keeper land.


I'm going on a journey and I just may end up on a desert island... and since that desert island probably won't be Tahiti, I'd better take something with me that I won't get tired of reading over and over again. You never know how long you're going to be stranded! You need to understand this will take some pondering... I could go to one of my many lists - and I'm sure I'm not the only one who has "many lists." There's my Ten Favorite Romance Books, Ten Favorite Authors, Favorite Movies, and even My Favorite Ugly Sexy Guy list (except that last one list probably won't help me select my six Desert Island Keepers).

My first thought was to go with a little variety: a traditional Regency, a funny romance, a Paranormal, an Erotica, and an Historical. So, I started looking and rereading and right away crossed the paranormal off my list; I really do not want to be scared when I'm on my desert island. Then I thought, unless Gilligan or the Professor show up, I really don't want an Erotica either. Sorry, Robin Schone, Pam Rosenthal, Emma Wildes and Emma Holly.


After rereading a number of books, I have settled on my six. These books are not recent books and there may be books that have come along that are just as good, if not better. However, for me these books are special and have set the standard by which I judge other romance novels.


1. Lord of Scoundrels, 1994, by Loretta Chase. This book is one of my all-time favorite books. Even though Ms. Chase has written other books that are just as good, there's just nothing better than the witty dialog between Sebastian and Jessica. And talk about Erotica. Is there anything more erotic than the scene when Sebastian unbuttons Jessica's gloves? I almost bought a pair of gloves just so someone could unbutton them. Let's also put Sebastian on my Favorite Romance Hero list. http://www.lorettachase.com/index.php
"Then he slid his hand - his big, dark, bare hand, for he had removed his gloves to eat and hadn't put them back on - down the sleeve of her pelisse until he came to the first button of her frivolous pearl grey gloves.

He popped the tiny pearl from the buttonhole..."
Someone turn the air on!


2. The Rake, 1998, by Mary Jo Putney. This tome was originally released in 1989 as The Rake and the Reformer. I just recently reread this for my Memories Schmemories project and was reminded how much I love this book and what a truly gifted writer Ms. Putney is. Reggie Davenport also made my list of favorite romance heroes. For me, Reggie defines what a damaged hero is all about. Together, he and Alys make one of romancelands most fascinating, strong couples (I feel another list coming on.) If you've never read this book, you really should. This is truly an amazing, mature love story. http://www.maryjoputney.com/
"Even in near-total darkness he knew who came. His raw senses were unnaturally receptive, and he recognized not only her step and her scent, but the ineffable feel of her caring."
3. Dreaming of You, 1994, by Lisa Kleypas. You bet Derek Craven is on that list! I reflect: my list of heroes have a commonality... they are all pretty troubled, dark characters and I probably wouldn't want to deal with them in real life, but in novels... yum! Dreaming of You is a very absorbing tale of two people struggling toward that ol' happy ending. http://www.lisakleypas.com/
"Lodged at the bottom of the reticule was an extra pair of spectacles. Derek examined them minutely, the round lenses, the dainty steel frame, the small curved earpieces. He squinted through them at the words she had written. After he folded the spectacles he placed them in his coat pocket and closed the reticule. When Sara discovered the spectacles were missing, she would assume she had left them somewhere, as she often did. It was the first act of outright thievery he had committed in ten years. But he had to have them. He wanted to own a little piece of her."
4. Lady Jane, 1982, by Norma Lee Clark. Packed into 214 pages is what one might call an old-fashioned epic novel; however, in reality it's a Traditional Regency. In this wonderful little book we follow Jane Coombes through seven years of her life, sometimes poignant, sometimes harrowing. This is an amazing love story. Actually it's two love stories because there are two heroes: her first husband, Sebastian, a very damaged hero, both physically and spiritually; and Jasper, the more typical regency hero. This book is a joy to read and as long as I can have a tissue box on my island, I'll be all right.
"Then she emitted a soft scream and stood frozen as the door opened behind her and the mirror showed her the image of Lord Jasper, Lady Sarah's brother.

He stood rooted for a second, a slow smile lifting one corner of his mouth. He turned to close the
door behind him and then sauntered across the carpet to her. She watched him advance, unable to move or speak, until he was directly behind her."
5. The Houseparty, 1985, by Anne Stuart. Anne Stuart writes some very dark stories, filled with some of romance's most intense brooding heroes. This story, on the other hand, is a light-hearted, fast-paced romp with people wandering in and out of rooms and a heroine who is always in the wrong place at the wrong time. She is feisty, but never stupid feisty. This is a fun read.
http://www.anne-stuart.com/
"'I have no intention of satisfying that formidable curiosity, Miss Trahern,' he replied calmly, moving across the room with a pantherish grace. 'I believe you wanted your gown undone.'"
6. Beyond Sunrise, 2003, by Candice Proctor aka C.S. Harris. When it comes to choosing just one of Ms. Proctor's books I had a hard time, especially the ones set in the South Pacific. I finally picked this one, because unlike her other, more dark ones, this one is a rollicking adventure through the South Pacific islands with Jack Ryder and his straight-laced nemesis, India McKnight. Funny and poignant at the same time. http://www.csharris.net/

"It was a bloody missionary, all right, Jack decided, frowning at the woman who sat ramrod straight at the prow of the longboat, her gloved hands gripping the plain handle of an austere parasol. the collar of her ugly, drab-colored gown buttoned up so high around her neck he wondered it didn't choke her.

He was standing near the end of the dock, his bare legs straddled wide, his arms crossed at his naked chest, when her boat knocked the rough wooden pier.
'Kaoha nui,' said the woman, mistaking him for a Polynesian.
'G'day,' said Jack, giving her his nastiest smile."
So, after all that, what do I have on my island? I have a mountain, trees, water, maybe Gilligan, maybe the Professor. But best of all I have six books that are filled with adventure, fun, wit, wonderful dialogue and even, at times, eroticism, and they are books that I truly treasure. (And none of them are scary.)

http://sidneykay.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Casee's Desert Island Keepers

I'm Casee. If you know me, it's probably from Book Binge.

It was way back in June when I got the email about guesting here at DIK. When I saw the dates, I thought "I can totally come up with something by then". Uh-huh. That didn't happen. The creative flow stopped long ago and I have no idea why I thought it would come back when I wanted it to. If it was going to come back it would have come back, well, months ago.

So in lieu of bringing you a great topic that will titillate and inspire you, I'll tell you the six books I would get as I was running out of my house while it was on fire.


1. Kiss an Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

Oh how I love this book. I love Alex. I love Daisy more than Alex. Daisy is a heroine that should make you nauseous, she's so darn sweet. She's too sweet to make you nauseous, though. She's too nice to make you hate her for being so nice. If you were walking down the side of the road and waved at her, she would stop and help you, even if Alex was with her (yelling at her all the while). What I loved about this book was Daisy's complete faith in the goodness of others. It didn't matter what people did or did not do, she just refused to believe the worst. I really envy that about anyone. It didn't hurt that Alex was hot.

2. Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh

I think I love this one so much because it was so unexpected. I read the blurb and though "why not?". It sounded interesting so I might as well give it a try, right? Little did I know that one book would begin an obsession that would start years of stalking an author asking questions like "when? why? where? how?". Said author is probably grateful that she doesn't live in the US.

I love Lucas Hunter. He is the quintessential alpha male. There is little else I can say about Lucas. He is just amazing. Now Sascha is special. All her life she thinks that she is damaged. Lucas is the one that helps her realize that she has a gift and that gift will help her help others.

3. Paradise by Judith McNaught

Matthew Farrell. I heart him. 'Nuff said.

4. The Bride by Julie Garwood

Alec is so charmingly arrogant. That seems like such an oxymoron, doesn't it? There is something about Scottish heroes that just does it for me. Alec is probably my favorite one. Jamie isn't too bad, either. I like how she stands up to Alec. Her attitude is so refreshing. She helps people and to hell with politics or clans. The ending is one of my favorite endings of all times. It gives me chills every time I read it.

5. The Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas

I always thought that I was a Derek over Sebastian girl. Then I re-read Devil in Winter. Again and again. How can Sebastian even be a hero? He is so anti-hero. He is anti-romance, but I love him. Sebastian made me change sides. I also really liked Evie. Her ability to blend into the background allows her to see what other people don't. She was able to see Sebastian as the man he was or in this case wasn't. Their relationship was unconventional in every sense of the word which made it that much more amazing.

6. Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon

I will never re-read the first half of this book. Ever. But I love re-reading Ash's HEA. If any character has deserved a happily ever after, it's Ash.

Okay, that was painful and something that I'm unlikely to repeat. I changed out two of them about three times. The irony is I went with my original six.

My question is this: With all the new releases, would you swap out any of your DIKs?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Miss Sweet and her Pretty Boys

'Morning Darlings *waves*
I'm Miss Sweet, visiting over here from Sweet Vernal Zephyr. Thanks so much for the invitation!

Today is a special day for me, its my birthday. I've even got on my super sexy birthday shoes! Palehorse Design is awesome!

And what better way to celebrate than with some pretty boys?
Well, I guess chocolate would be a good addition.
And some liquor too. Hum, this is shaping up to be one hot party!

Let's place all that to the side and get to the heart of the matter. *Reaches out a neatly manicured hand to coax the pretty boys to her side.*

Pretty Boys, yes or no?

I'm sure you can guess my preference. *Entwines her fingers with both pretty boys' hands.* But I want to know yours, and WHY.

After I argue my case. *Wink.*

1) Pretty boys are easy on the eyes, hence the descriptor "pretty".
2) Pretty boys are easy on the ears, more prone to blush than bellow.
3) Pretty boys are easy, and like to play in groups.
4) Pretty boys are easily accepted into your extended family.


Now all of the above are unabashed generalizations that I wish were true of the entire general public. But since we are here on the Island, my fantasy stands! *Grin.*

Since I am a book blogger, I probably should integrate some of my favorite reads.

Take the sexy Hell, from the Heaven Sent Series. He is a Pretty Gay Boy. And he looks especially striking on his cover. Straight up, I am envious of his long purple hair and flashy clothes.

Seth, from the Georgina Kincaid Series is a Pretty Good Boy. In the beginning at least. We don't see too much of his body throughout the series, but at times Georgina becomes absolutely obsessed! Actually, I kinda hate him right now. But that is a story for my blog reviews. *Wink.*

And now, a couple of pictures to patch up those holes in my argument. A few of my prettiest boys.




Nyx, from book 1 of the Shadowfae Chronicles. A pretty fairy boy. In the story he has green skin, gold hair and red eyes.



Photograph by Wakeupnaked






Nathaniel, from the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Series. A pretty dancing werepanther boy with lavender eyes and a tendency towards BSDM and playing the victim. Good thing Anita is always there to save him.



Illustration by Liezl Buenaventura







Hum, now that I think about it, there are a lot more Big Bad Boys in the stories I read. Is it possible there may be a few minute pinholes in my case?

1) Big boys can pick you up with out a fuss, ahhh to feel petite at 5' 9".
2) Big boys can protect you from bad guys, and yourself—whether you want it or not.
3) Big boys look awesome in any combination of dirt and leather.
4) Big boys will scare your parents. Is this good or bad?





I do have quite the lusting for Barrons from the Fever Series. Humm...



Image found at Homotography.







So, what do you say?
Do you go for the Pretty Boys or the Big Bad Boys?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Winners!!


It turns out that I posted the original version of Into the Crossfire but this is the final one and man, is it smoking hot!!


Once again I'd like to thank Lisa for hanging out with us the past couple days and of course all the wonderful bloggers who stopped by!


Using random.org I drew names for the past three days and the winners are as follows:


1. Dangerous Lover - Armenia
2. Dangerous Passion - Kaylea Cross
3. Dangerous Secrets = jeanette8042


Please contact me at katiereus [at] yahoo .com. No spaces and use the at symbol. :) Once you do, I'll let you know how to contact Lisa!


Congrats to the winners!!


EDITED TO ADD


Lisa sent me this next bit and I put it in the comments section instead of the blog. Sorry about that :) Here's a little more info on The Protectors Series for those that missed it!


FROM LISA: Since I'm in France, I Googled my books (one coming out in August) and found a French romance book fan forum (Lesromantiques) and saw my name and in the few intervals in which I was connected, said hello to them. It's a really fun bunch of readers, very enthusiastic -- it's wonderful to know our passions transcend boundaries.


I wanted to talk a little bit about the Protectors Trilogy. Into the Crossfire is the first, and just finished the edits on the second, Hotter Than Wildfire. The trilogy features three men who grew up together in a brutal foster home and are closer than brothers. Each went into the military as quickly as possible. Sam into the Navy and then SEALs, Harry into the Army and then Delta, and Mike into the Marines. They now run a security company, but they also run an underground railroad for abused women and children. they saw a lot of abuse growing up and vowed to do something about it. So they charge more than top dollar to their corporate clients and then quietly use part of that money to give women on the run a new life.


I hope you enjoy the series!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Farewell to Lisa Marie Rice

Sadly this is Lisa Marie Rice’s last day with us but I hope she’ll be back to visit soon! In the meantime, in a little less than three weeks, Into the Crossfire will release from Avon Red and it sounds smoking hot! She’s offered us a sneak peek into the beginning of this story so check it out! (I apologize in advance if the formatting for the excerpt is off)

Into the Crossfire
blurb:



Former Navy SEAL Sam Reston keeps to himself. His world is dangerous, uncertain, violent...and there is no room in it for the helpless and weak. Then the most beautiful woman in the world moves in next door to him . . . .


Nicole Pearce's life is complicated enough—with an ailing father and a new business to worry about—and the last thing she needs is to get involved with a secretive, hard-bodied, hardheaded neighbor. Yet Sam leaves her breathless—her body tingling with erotic desire—and it takes every ounce of her fabled control to resist offering herself to him, no strings attached. What she doesn't know is that Sam Reston is on an undercover assignment . . . and she's about to step into the crossfire.


Never has Sam ached for a woman so badly, and he's never fallen in love before. Now that Nicole is in grave danger, he will become her shield, and guard the tempting body he longs to touch and taste. Because a terrorist plot hatched half a world away is heading to their doorstep—and it can only be derailed by one man and one woman.



Into the Crossfire

CHAPTER ONE

San Diego

June 28

Well, well. Look at that.

Sam Reston leaned his shoulder against the wall of the hallway of his office building and simply drank in his fill.

There she was.

His own personal wet dream, standing there in the hallway between his office and hers, desperately scrabbling through a huge, expensive-looking purse.

Everything about her was expensive, classy. Top of the line. Real high maintenance, too. The kind of woman he stepped right around without a second thought because he didn’t have the time or the inclination, but shit, with her he’d make an exception.

Any man would.

Nicole Pearce. The most beautiful woman in the world. Certainly the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen, hands down.

He remembered every second of the moment he’d first laid eyes on her. Two weeks, three days and thirty minutes ago. But who was counting?

He’d been undercover, infiltrating a gang of smugglers and thieves working the docks. His client, a big shipping company, had found it impossible to get a handle on the losses incurred during transhipment at the docks, which last year had totalled almost ten million dollars.

The police had gotten nowhere and the company suspected that someone somewhere was being bought off. Sam hoped it wasn’t in the police department. His brother Mike was a SWAT officer with the San Diego PD and incredibly proud of it.

Someone had definitely dropped the ball, though. So the shipowner had decided to go private.

Smart move.

For a hell of a lot of money, Sam had gone undercover, working the night shift as a stevedore, spreading word around that he wasn’t averse to some under the table money. He’d been contacted, quickly made his way up the hierarchy of the Bucinski gang and had finally risen to the point where they included him on two major hauls. He’d been wired to the teeth and had about a hundred photographs nailing gang members, their scumbag boss, and three corrupt Port Authority employees.

The fuckheads had not just been stealing cargo, they were involved in sex trafficking, bringing in kidnapped young girls hidden in the holds of legitimate ships, the owners of the ships entirely unaware of their human cargo.

The whole gang was going down. The shitheads deserved the needle but wouldn’t get it. They would, however, spend the next twenty to thirty being some gangbanger’s newest girlfriend, which might even be better.

So Sam had looked like a scumbag the day he first saw her. Being a scumbag had been his job for the previous two weeks.

When San Reston did something, he did it well.

Going undercover wasn’t like in the movies. You ate, dressed, acted and even smelled the part. While undercover, he rarely washed or shaved and wore the same clothes for weeks at a time. He knew he smelled ripe and looked dangerous. Well, hell. He was dangerous, he was murderous with rage at the thought of fuckheads willing to rape little girls spending even one day out of jail.

He’d been up 36 hours straight and was just coming into the office after another all-nighter to shower, change and grab a few zzzs on his very comfortable office couch when he’d seen her.

Actually, he smelled her before he saw her. The elevator pinged, the doors opened and some floral…thing that travelled into men’s heads through the nasal passageways and fucked with their brains reached out and walloped him.

He saw her a second later and froze. Simply froze. Later, when he’d untangled his head from his ass, he’d been amazed. SEAL training beats surprise right out of a man. You have to have good, solid nerves just to think of trying out for BUD/S. If you were the easily surprised type you were weeded out fast. Then they took that temperament and forged it into steel.

Nothing took him by surprise, ever.

Except one Nicole Pearce.

Sam had known that the tiny studio office across the hall had been rented out. The building’s manager had told him. To a translation agency—though Sam had no fucking idea what that could be—run by one Nicole Pearce.

He hadn’t thought more about it.

That particular morning he was more exhausted, filthy and pissed than usual. He smelled, too, of sweat and beer. He was in a shitty mood, ready to cut the job short simply to get the top guys into the slammer fast. But he knew better. With the evidence he was getting, the entire operation would go down and that was worth a few extra days or weeks living with slime.

A second after that amazing, womanly smell chock full of pheromones went straight to his dick, he saw her, and his entire body seized up. He was unable to move, unable to breathe, for a second or two.

Midnight-black, glossy, shoulder-length hair, enormous, uptilted eyes the exact color of the cobalt glass sculpture he’d turned down as too expensive for his office, eyes with lashes so long and thick they could stir up a breeze, slightly overlarge mouth with that Angelina Jolie dent in the bottom lip, perfect straight little nose, creamy skin.

Fuck-me shoes.

Incredible hourglass figure poured into a demure blue suit that exactly matched the color of her eyes and hugged curves guaranteed to make any male within a one-mile radius salivate.

She sure had the two moving guys salivating, as she directed them carrying in a heavy teak desk and a tiny antique sofa. They were doing her bidding like two puppy dogs hoping for a bone.

She turned to look at him directly at the ping of the elevator and Christ, all he could do was stare at the dazzler with the deep blue eyes.

Eyes that watched him warily.

Sam was exhausted, but a man would have to be dead not to have all his hormones wake up at the sight of the most beautiful woman on earth. And, Christ, his hormones weren’t the only thing to wake up.

Instant boner, right there in the upscale hallway of the very expensive building he’d chosen as headquarters.

Shit.

Thank God he had on his tightest jeans because she was already looking alarmed at the sight of him. Who could blame her? He’d put a lot of care into looking like a scumbag, walking like a scumbag, thinking like a scumbag, hell even smelling like one.

And he was enraged down to the bone at the sex trafficking he’d discovered. That was something that was hard to switch off.

A woman like this would have antenna way out there where men were concerned. She’d be able to read men like other women read fashion magazines. It was a fact of her life. She was stunning, with the kind of looks that would carry her through from childhood to old age as a beauty. So she’d grown up with the background buzz of hot male attention and she’d have learned to filter out the bad ones, the dangerous ones pretty quick.

He wasn’t bad but he was dangerous and he carried that with him, like a shroud. He’d had a brutal childhood and had learned street fighting before he could read. By adulthood, he was really good with his fists, with a knife, hell—with a rock. Uncle Sam had taken what he was by nature, refined it, armed him up and spent over a million dollars turning him into a killing machine.

He’d made his living as a soldier leading hard men, and now as a civilian he made his living being tougher than most.

He’d come straight into the office after working the night shift on the docks, then sharing a beer with the man who’d recruited him for Bucinski, Kyle Connelly. Sam had nursed one beer to Connelly’s ten, and laughed while the pusbag told him about the perks of the job. Extra money, all the drugs you could snort or shoot up and sex. Sam had had to listen while Connelly had bragged about handcuffing a twelve year old Vietnamese girl to a steel post and raping her. Sam had even had to commiserate with the fucker, whining because he’d been sore afterwards after popping the girl’s cherry.

Listening to this, laughing, slapping him on the back in sympathy, had been one of the hardest things he’d ever had to do in his hard life. His hands had literally itched to draw out the garrotte wire in his belt and rip the fucker’s head right off.

So he’d been fighting mad when the doors had opened and whoa. The world’s most beautiful woman, right there in front of him.

He’d actually had to rub his eyes, sure that what was right before him had to be some kind of vision, maybe some kind of compensation for the horrible night.

Her eyes had widened when she’d seen him. He knew what she was seeing—a very large, very strong, hugely pissed-off, angry man, dressed like a bum and smelling like one, too.

Well, he couldn’t shave, wash and change his clothes right then and there and there was nothing he could do to kill those deadly pissed-off vibes so he’d merely walked down the corridor and entered his office.

Her huge, cobalt-blue eyes had followed him warily every step of the way. She’d actually stepped back as he approached, which pissed him off even more. Goddamn it, the last thing he’d ever do was hurt a woman.

Though, in fairness, she couldn’t possibly know that. Probably every cell in her single urban female’s body was screaming danger. He knew she was single because though he saw she had some fancy rings on those pretty hands, none of them were on her left hand ring finger.

She absolutely had to be single because Sam couldn’t even remotely imagine a man married or even engaged to a looker like that who wouldn’t put a rock the size of her head on her finger, to warn other men off her. And what husband or fiancĂ© wouldn’t be around to help his woman move into her new office?

She couldn’t know that his rage wasn’t in any way directed at her, of course, but at the system. He wanted to nail the gang right now and send them all into the slammer five minutes later.

But what you want and what you can have are very different things. No one knew that more than him. So he’d had to stay undercover, sick at heart, wondering if some other little girls were being raped while he put together enough evidence to put the fuckers away. And to do that he had to stay in Scumland for another couple of weeks.

So every time Nicole Pearce saw him, he’d been tired and grim and dirty, inside and out. Dealing with the scum of the earth was filthy work.

He knew that while he was on this mission, there was no room for anything else, certainly not something as beautiful as Nicole Pearce, so he’d waited

But all that was now behind him and life had just handed him a big fat present all wrapped up in a fancy bow, to thank him for his patience.

Nicole Pearce, outside her office, looking as beautiful as ever, even with a ferocious scowl on her face, rifling through her bag and jacket pockets, looking for her keys.

The keys to the flimsiest piece-of-shit lock he’d ever seen. When he’d signed the lease on his office, he’d been happy with the space and the location and—though he ordinarily didn’t give a shit about his surroundings—the classiness of the building. It was the kind of building that made clients relax, which was crazy to him. What the fuck difference did mellow earth tones and fancy designer junk make?

But to most people it made a difference. A big one. He’d noticed that. Noticed tense clients start unwinding after entering the building with its liveried doorman, elegant brass and teak fittings, slate floors, expensive floral arrangements scattered around.

The building supervisor had given him the name of some office designer who’d come in, taken measurements of the huge space he’d rented and come back a week later and outfitted the offices so they looked like space ships. Designer space ships. It all cost a fortune but it was worth it, to see his clients’ faces as they walked in.

Anyone who came to Reston Security by definition needed relaxing, and it was good that his office did the trick because Sam wasn’t good at putting people at ease. He had no charm and no small talk in him.

When Sam came across a problem, he wanted it solved yesterday. He became an arrow shooting straight at a solution.

That attitude had worked real well for him in the Teams, where problems and possible solutions were clearly stated and no one’s goddamned feelings ever came into anything.

Civilian life had been a real bitch, as Sam found himself tussling with clients who were afraid to say what they wanted, who kept intel from him, who had hidden agendas. Christ.

So the upscale, soothing premises had come in real handy.

Not to mention Nicole Pearce, right across the hallway from him, right now scrabbling for keys that weren’t there.

Well, he could do something about that. For a price.

“Need some help?” he asked, and suppressed a smile when she nearly jumped right out of that gorgeous skin of hers.



Whew! Only three more weeks until I can read the rest of this story! Thanks again to Lisa for hanging out with us the past few days and answering our questions! If you’d like to learn more about Ms. Rice, she has an author page at Harper Collins and one at Ellora’s Cave.


Don’t forget, tomorrow I’m listing the three random winners from the blog comments so you still have time to enter. Today's giveaway is Dangerous Secrets! See you guys tomorrow!

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