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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Arts and Crafts With Authors: Digital Covers with Meljean Brook + giveaway

Thank you so much for having me today! It’s been a crazy week, and I think I’ve talked everyone’s ear off about THE KRAKEN KING, my steampunk romance serial novel (the first part is now available!). The pimping Force is not strong within me – a few days of promo and I’m ready to crawl back into my cave, crying.

But dorkery and Photoshop? Oh, I can do that forever. So let’s talk about covers and kraken!

The very best thing about writing a serial novel is that my publisher creates EIGHT covers to go along with it. Okay, and I’ll admit – I was a little afraid that the covers wouldn’t be super awesome, because photo shoots are expensive, and it always seems that all of the good stock photos for steampunk have been used on other covers. But then my editor sent me the first two and I think I cried. In a good way.

Check these babies out:
(And that’s not the hero in Part IV! He resembles the villain far more.)

So the funny thing about these covers is that, aside from the first cover (with the exploding airship) they don’t really accurately reflect the characters or setting of the book. Yet I don’t care a bit! They are so fun, and the colors are so gorgeous – and it’s clear that these are steampunk novels – I just love them like crazy.

But I also thought they could be even more fun … because an exploding airship is all and good, but when you can actually make it look like it’s on fire? That’s a million times better. Right?

So I decided that when each part of the serial was released, I’d post a little animated version of the cover along with it. I’ve got the first four here with me today.

(This is kind of an Arts & Crafts post, but I won’t include a long-winded tutorial about animating a cover -- mostly because on YouTube you can find much, much, much better tutorials than I could ever give. I just like to play with Photoshop; I’m definitely not a guru.)

Mostly I just want to share the pretties!

The first thing that I had to decide was HOW MUCH should I animate? For covers, I think it’s always best just to highlight one little aspect of the artwork, or add one little thing. Too much and it just becomes a distracting mess.

So for each cover, I let myself pick one thing. For Cover #1 (my personal favorite) this was harder than it should have been. I couldn’t decide whether to mess with the airship or the tentacle!

Eventually though, the airship won out, because the fire is a bit more eye-catching. Animating this one ended up being super easy after I found a looping series of fire images online. All I had to do was position the flames. 

For Cover #2, obviously I had to make the balloon fly around, right? Here the tricky part was tracking down the right balloon at stock photo sites so that I could get a larger, better image to use in the animation. My publisher’s cover artists often uses the same sites that everyone else does, and luckily it didn’t take long after searching for “balloon” and “vintage” to hit upon the right one.

This one ended up with the most frames – and at one point, I thought about tweening the different balloon layers (you can see that at the beginning of the animation, because I forgot to delete a few of the tweened frames) but then abandoned the idea.

For Covers #3 and #4, I turned to my readers and asked them for ideas. Both covers have windows, of a sort, so I thought it would be fun to put something outside those windows. They gave me a ton of awesome and funny suggestions – rubber duckies, airships, a clip from the movie The Shining, when Jack Nicholson burst through the door with an ax, and so many more. 

In the end, I decided on two that would be simple enough for me to do and that also related to the book in some way. (Though I’m still tempted by that rubber ducky!) So for Cover #3, I went with a zombie:

And in Cover #4, I finally got my tentacle.

The tentacle was by far the most difficult one – I’m still not happy with it on a technical level (although I still think it’s a lot of fun on a visual level.) I’d hoped to be able to make it seem to curl into the porthole, rather than just behind it, but the stock photo I chose didn’t work quite as well as I’d envisioned. 

Of course, now I’ve got four more to do. What would you add to Covers #5 & #6, if you had a chance? Can you think of a favorite cover that would be fun with just a hint of animation? (And here are some others from different genres, if you’d like to see more!

So I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did – and thank you so much again to Sharon for inviting me!

amazon links
About the Author:
Meljean was raised in the middle of the woods, and hid under her blankets at night with fairy tales, comic books, and romances. She left the forest and went on a misguided tour through the world of accounting before focusing on her first loves, reading and writing–and she realized that monsters, superheroes, and happily-ever-afters are easily found between the covers, as well as under them, so she set out to make her own.

Meljean lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and daughter.

one US winner will get a poster of the covers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Interview: Tawdra Kandle (The Serendipity Duet Books)

Sharon: Welcome to the Flock Tawdra. Please keep your hands and feet inside this ride, because we have a dragon…enough said!
Donna: And unfortunately, nobody bothered to socialize him as a baby and now he bites.
Tawdra: Hmm, did you know I have a dragon, too? My dear friend C.G. Powell wrote me into one of her short stories, and in that episode I am Lady Tawdra. . .and I have a dragon. Perhaps we could get our pets together to play.
Sharon: sure, but first we will have to pass out the asbestos suits…the dungeon still smells like mutton.
Tawdra: Sounds like a plan. I’m a pseudo-vegetarian, so air that place out before we come over, please!

Sharon: You are a new to me author. Tell me about your successful YA The King Series and the spin off series The Serendipity Duet.

Tawdra: The King Series is a YA quartet that follows Tasmyn Vaughan, who moves to a mystical town in Florida, where more than one person is interested in her ability to hear thoughts. As she’s fighting off crazy witches and over-zealous preachers, she also falls in love with Michael. The books are really about her journey from a scared girl, who doesn’t know how to handle her gifts, to a confident young woman who can take care of herself. Along the way, Tasmyn meets Rafe, who has been described as terminally-sexy. . .he wants her, but despite a brief fling with him during her walk on the wild side (in RESTLESS), she ultimately breaks his heart. That’s where The Serendipity Duet picks up Rafe’s story. We follow him from graduation, through a summer of debauchery, to New Orleans, where his life changes forever. His path crosses with Nell’s, another popular character from The King Series, and we get her story—and more Rafe--in UNQUENCHABLE.
Sharon: You had me at terminally sexy and sealed the deal with debauchery!
Tawdra: I know, right? I loved Rafe from the moment he came on the scene. He convinced me he needed his own book, and let me tell you, I was easy. . .to convince, that is.

Donna: Love the purple streak in your hair and was very inspired by the story behind it. Do you have any events coming soon that you would like to share?
Tawdra: Thank you! I do love my purple. I’ve actually just finished a few months of being on the road at different cons, but for now, I’m home until I head for New Orleans in May. I’ll also be at Indie BookFest in Orlando in August, and then in Tampa at Indie Mashup in September. I love to meet readers, so I hope to have lots of visitors at all those events.

Sharon: Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight…oh, wait! Wrong question. What do you think is the key element to a successful YA romance story that probably doesn’t work in adult romances?
Tawdra: There is an innocence in YA that doesn’t translate to adult, or even to New Adult. Even if the YA is a little edgy, most are about first love in one form or another, and first love is a different animal in a sixteen-year-old than it is in twenty-year-old. In my YA books, Tas was ultra-innocent: she had been so protected her entire life that when friends and love came, it was an entirely new world for her.

Donna: You mentioned you love to travel. Where's the craziest place you've been?
Tawdra: I am a huge fan of US travel. I think our country is so vast and varied that we can never really experience its splendor. Crazy? Hmm. About six years ago, we did a three-week family road trip across the country and back again. We stopped at all the campy Route 66 sites. I love to take my kids to off-the-wall places that are not typical tourist spots. And I’m a sucker for Civil War battlefields. Oh! I’ve been to see where Stonewall Jackson’s arm is buried. Is that crazy.

Sharon: *looks at Donna* arm? Yeah, that qualifies. You did a cross country road trip with kids and everyone lived? I bow down to your superior mother skills.
Donna: Hang on there, Sharon. We don't know if they were taking turns beating each other at the rest stops. Did everyone return unbruised and in good health? (Mental health isn't included in this, as we aren't expecting miracles here.)
Tawdra: They all did. We all did. It was actually one of those ‘wow, this is something we’ll always remember’ deals. We homeschool, so my kids were used to being together all the time. And nobody got tossed down into the Grand Canyon.

Sharon: Undeniable is book one in The Serendipity Duet and the male protagonist is Rafe Brooks…it looks like he hooks up with Jocelyn. In Book two, Unquenchable, Rafe is back but this time with Nell…my, my, what is up with Rafe?
Tawdra: Rafe is running from a broken heart. When he meets Joss, they have instant chemistry. . .and his power—mind bending—doesn’t work on her. He’s been sleeping with all these women, then making them forget him, and Joss calls his bluff, big time. Theirs might have been an epic love story. . .but then something happens. A tragedy sets up the events in UNQUENCHABLE. So Rafe has a good excuse. As if he needs one.

Donna: That must have sucked when he was trying to grab his pants and sneak out the door, lol.
Tawdra: She actually caught him the next day leaving his hotel. And it wasn’t his pants that were the problem. . .it was that she had ripped all the buttons off his shirt. Joss is a fireball.

Donna: What was the last story concept you've heard of that made you say, damn, I wish I'd thought of that?
Tawdra: Isaac Marion’s WARM BODIES. Loved that story, and the idea of redemption and rebirth.

Sharon: I didn’t read the book, but the movie was so cute!
Tawdra: Right? Having warm and fuzzy feelings about zombies? Why didn’t I ever think of that?

Donna: It just made the top of my TBR list!
Tawdra: I met Isaac last year at Indie BookFest. He is way awesome and very laid back. My son met him and decided to be a writer. I was like. . .ummm. . .you know what I do for a living, right? He said, “Yeah, but Isaac makes it look cool.” Okay.

Sharon: Are your children old enough to read your books and do you let them?
Tawdra: They are. My girls are 25, 22 and 18. However, while they loved my YA books, only my oldest daughter will read my NA or adult books. The others just can’t get past Mommy writing “THAT” kind of stuff. And my son is 13; he says until I write a dystopian fantasy, he’s not interested.

Donna: Your son has good taste. That's one of my favorite genres as well.
Tawdra: He and my youngest daughter have ordained that when I write the dystopian book, it can have no sex. That really cuts into my story line.

Donna: Five cats and only one dog doesn't seem fair. Do the cats at least hang out with the dog?
Tawdra: It’s a very complicated relationship. We had three cats, then the dog, and then the last two cats. So the dog thinks he’s a cat, and the last two cats act like a strange mix of feline and canine. Three of the cats are fond of the dog, and two push him around.

Donna: Knowing that they are confused as to their species does oddly make me feel better for the dog.
Tawdra: Yes, don’t feel sorry for him. He lives a good life.

Sharon: Which Disney story would you like to rewrite and how?
Tawdra: Sleeping Beauty. I want more of the prince and Aurora—they meet and fall in love in one day, and then she’s asleep and then they’re married. We need more romance. More build-up!

Donna: I completely agree! The story has a serious lack of sexual tension. What was Disney thinking!
Tawdra: I have a feeling ‘sexual tension’ wasn’t high on their priority list. Whatever. . .

Donna: What is your favorite fantasy movie?
Tawdra: I adore all the Marvel/Avenger movies. Love. Them. Outside of those, Lord of the Rings, Return of the King.

Sharon: Which Marvel/Avenger character is your favorite? You can’t have Thor…he’s mine!!!!
Tawdra: You can have Thor—I like him, but not enough to throw down. Well, we have a life-size cut out of Loki in our house. I love the snark of Iron Man, the earnestness of Captain America, but Hawkeye makes me weak in the knees.
Donna: Return of the King is fantastic! Good choice.
Tawdra: I am a sucker for strong female characters, and Eowyn. . her line gets me every time. “I am no man!”
Sharon: What is the strangest thing you could pull out of your purse right now?
Tawdra: I just returned from a trip to NJ, and I have a map of the cemetery where my ancestors are buried, with directions to their graves. It’s a big cemetery, and I always get lost. 
Rapid Fire:

Sharon: Coke or Pepsi?
Tawdra: Pepsi, though I rarely drink soda anymore

Sharon: that’s okay, it is still a win for Pepsi!!! *does the Pepsi is best dance*
Donna: COKE!!! I don't care if it's not my question. Ha ha ha…now we're tied!
Tawdra: Full disclosure: my husband is a huge Coke fan. I used to drink diet Pepsi with lemon all the time. I miss it, but I bow to the knowledge that water is better. . .but I do miss it!

Donna: Beach or Forest? 
Tawdra: Beach! Always.

Sharon: Kiss or Journey?
Tawdra: Journey

Sharon: got a favorite Journey song?
Tawdra: Sentimentally, ‘Faithfully’ from my high school dances.

Donna: I do! I do! Oh yeah, I keep forgetting, this is Tawdra's interview. Fine. Maybe I don’t' even like Journey.
*Sharon hand flyswatter to Tawdra* if she jumps in again you have permission to swat her.

Donna: Cheesecake or Chocolate Cake?
Tawdra: Chocolate Cake

Sharon: The Brady Bunch or Gilligan’s Island?
Tawdra: Brady Bunch

Donna: Sneakers or Heels? 
Tawdra: Heels

Sharon: Drive the Millineum Falcon or The Enterprise?
Tawdra: Millennium Falcon.

Donna: Barefoot or Shoes?
Tawdra: Barefoot

Sharon: eat a grasshopper or eat a worm?
Tawdra: Ugh! Yuck! Okay, a worm.

Donna: That was Sharon's evil side coming out. You should have read the original choices.
Tawdra: Did you ever read “How to Eat Fried Worms?” Great kids’ book. The question reminded me of that.

Donna: Night Owl or Early Bird?
Tawdra: Night owl, always.

Sharon: Thank you Tawdra! I am very interested in meeting Rafe. Eowyn might not be a man, but Rafe sure is ;)

UNQUENCHABLE: The Serendipity Duet Book Two
Nell Massler is a powerful witch from an ancient magical family. Before she was eighteen years old, she attempted murder—not once, but twice. Committed to a psych ward, she attempts to right her wrongs and almost loses her life.

While she’s lost in a coma, Caruthers Initiative Institute develops a vested interest in waking Nell—and offering her a chance at redemption.

Nell is given a fresh start in exchange for saving her fellow agent, Rafe Brooks. Keeping him alive and in hiding will require every ounce of her extraordinary abilities. Not falling head over heels for the sexy mind manipulator will take a miracle.

It's when they uncover a plot to destroy the world that Nell will be put to the test... will she choose Rafe and to do the right thing? Or will she succumb to the temptation of evil yet again?

only $.99
amazon buy link

About the Author:
Tawdra Kandle has been a writer since the invention of the pen. Her first published work appeared in Child's Life magazine when she was 13. After a brief, thirty-year hiatus, she published a young adult quartet, The King Series. More recently, she's released both adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance novels. Tawdra lives in central Florida with her husband and children, of both skin and fur types. And yes, she has purple hair.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Arts & Crafts with Authors: A. J. Larrieu (Twisted Miracles Book Tour) + giveaway

Louisiana’s cypress forests may seem exotic to many people, but to me, they’re familiar. I was born and raised in Louisiana, and I grew up running the rivers and fishing in swampy cut-throughs. When I decided to write a novel set in my home state, I knew those settings needed a place in my book. They’re so beautiful, and there’s a hint of mystery to them as well—what better spot for a dark paranormal story?
If you’re not from the area, you might not know that Louisiana’s cypress forests have a complicated story of their own. Cypress wood, especially the lumber that comes from the oldest trees, has a beautiful gold or red color and is naturally resistant to rot. These qualities led to a logging frenzy around the turn of the 19th century that all but destroyed the coastal cypress forests. Old-growth trees still exist, but they are rare—most of the gorgeous, iconic cypress forests we see today are populated by new trees.

All of this means that old-growth cypress lumber is rare. Most of it comes not from new logging, but from reclamation. When an old building gets torn down, people salvage the boards for use in new construction.

My grandfather was a woodworker, and he loved to visit the salvage yards in New Orleans, looking for beautiful pieces of wood or antique doorknobs. He passed away many years ago, but he left behind workshops full of curiosities. My father was recently looking through some of his collection, and he came across a few pieces of old-growth cypress. My dad is my biggest fan, and when I told him I wanted to make something special to celebrate my debut novel, he wanted to help. He decided to make the wood into bookmarks. Here’s how we did it:

STEP ONE: Find a piece of pretty wood and cut it into bookmark-sized strips. I’m not an expert on power tools, so I won’t be telling you how to operate anything with a big spinning blade! Step One is definitely find a competent expert to cut your block of wood. ;)

Sand, and then sand some more. We started out with 200 grit sandpaper and then slowly increased the grit until we had a glass-smooth surface. I did a final polish with 600 grit. Because the strips are so thin, it’s important to keep the sanding even. The best way to do this is to make a kind of bracket for the strips. We used a block of wood with matchsticks as place-holders. 
(caption: The matchsticks hold the bookmark in place during sanding.)

STEP THREE: Decorate!
Cypress is such an uncommonly beautiful wood, I didn’t want to do too much to obscure the color and the grain, so I opted for a simple fleur de lis at the top of each piece. I used a cake stencil and an India ink artist pen to trace the outline, then painted the design in a deep crimson color using ordinary wood paint and a very tiny brush.

I gave the paint and ink about a week to cure.

STEP FIVE: Protect.
Cypress is actually quite soft, and the unfinished wood can easily pick up oils from your skin. Over time, this will discolor it. I wanted to protect the wood, and also enhance its beautiful, red-gold color, so I applied a very thin coat of satin-finish polyurethane. 
(caption: A thin coat of clear polyurethane (right) enhances the natural red-gold color of the wood.)

STEP SIX: More waiting!
Polyurethane takes at least a week to fully dry. Until then, it will be slightly tacky (and prone to picking up dust from the air!), so keep it cool, dry, and covered. Oh, and if you’re foolish enough to start this process right before a two-week rainy period, as I did, it might take as long as month for the finish to cure. ;)

STEP SEVEN: More sanding!
A sander’s work is never done. Once the polyurethane coat was dry, I used crocus cloth to smooth it out. Most hardware stores carry this, but when I asked for it, the attendant gave me a funny look and asked what I planned on using it for. When I explained my father had recommended it, he laughed and said only someone my father’s age would even know this stuff existed. Apparently, it’s old-school. But it works. It made the bookmarks beautifully smooth without marring the painted fleur de lis.

Now you have a bookmark—celebrate by reading a book! (The best kind of celebration.)

About the Author:

A.J. Larrieu grew up in small-town Louisiana, where she spent her summers working in her family's bakery, exploring the swamps around her home and reading science fiction and fantasy novels under the covers. She attended Louisiana State University, where she majored in biochemistry and wrote bad poetry on the side. Despite pursuing a Ph.D. in biology, and by the time she graduated, she had an addiction to writing sexy urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Her debut novel, Twisted Miracles, kicks off her dark, romantic urban fantasy series, The Shadowminds, which follows a group of humans with psychic powers through New Orleans' supernatural underworld. A.J. is currently a working biophysicist in San Francisco, where she lives with her family and too many books.

Cass Weatherfield’s powers come with a deadly price.

Cass knows it was her telekinetic gift that killed a college classmate five years back, even if no one else believes her. She’s lived in hiding from her fellow shadowminds ever since, plagued by guilt and suppressing her abilities with sedatives. Until the night her past walks back into her life in the form of sexy Shane Tanner, the ex-boyfriend who trained her…and the one she left without saying goodbye.

When Shane tells her that his twin sister, Mina—Cass’s childhood friend—is missing, Cass vows to help, which means returning to New Orleans to use her dangerous skills in the search. But finding Mina only leads to darker questions. As Cass and Shane race to learn who is targeting shadowminds, they find themselves drawn to each other, body and soul. Just as their powerful intimacy reignites, events take a terrifying turn, and Cass realizes that to save the people she loves, she must embrace the powers that ruined her life.

Buy Links: 
Info Links: 
Book Page on Author Website (includes excerpt)

One winner gets a bookmark, a lavender sachet, a mug “advertising” the B&B where Twisted Miracles is set, and a free book! More details 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dark and Deadly: Eight Bad Boys of Paranormal Romance + giveaway

Dark and Deadly: Eight Bad Boys of Paranormal Romance Boxed Set is now available worldwide for a special introductory price of only $0.99!

This ebook boxed set of eight hot paranormal romances by eight New York Times and USA Today best-selling romance authors features powerful alpha male bad boys who will satisfy your darkest, most deadliest desires.

Here’s more about this fantastic eight book boxed set, including an excerpt from one of the stories.

Dark and Deadly: Eight Bad Boys of Paranormal Romance
By Jennifer Ashley, Alyssa Day, Felicity Heaton, Erin Kellison, Laurie London, Erin Quinn, Bonnie Vanak and Caris Roane
Eight hot paranormal romances by New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors. Alpha-male bad boys will fulfill your darkest, most deadliest desires in these stories about shifters, werewolves, vampires, magic, special powers and other realms. But only if you dare…

BODYGUARD by Jennifer Ashley
Elizabeth Chapman is saved from an armed attacker by a Kodiak bear who shifts into a tight-bodied, naked human male. Ronan takes Elizabeth to Shiftertown, becoming her 24/7 bodyguard. The mateless Ronan has adopted a houseful of orphaned Shifters--having grown up in foster care, Elizabeth is touched by his protectiveness. Ronan only wants to keep Elizabeth safe, but the sassy woman is triggering his long-buried need to mate.

He’s a warrior, hardened by years of protecting his town from vampire attack. She’s a garden witch who sees the world in shades of sunshine and delight. Opposites don’t only attract, they go supernova in this sizzling tale of magic and mayhem.

BEWITCH by Felicity Heaton
A vampire with a bloodstained past and a soul tainted with darkness, Payne is perfect in his self-control, never surrendering to his darkest desires. Now a beautiful witch in the shadowy fae underworld reawakens long denied hungers and tempts him with pleasure. When one incredible night of fulfilling their fantasies leads to more than just keeping a promise and saving a friend, will they be able to overcome the barriers that stand between them and forever?

DARKNESS FALLS by Erin Kellison
Agent Malcolm Rook is hunting for people with the rarest of talents—the ability to master dreams. He finds the undeniably gifted Jordan Lane, but she’s wary of mysterious Rook and resists his pursuit as long as she can. Yet the dreamwaters they enter are too exhilarating to resist, and attraction soon ignites electric passions. Delving too deep stirs a nightmare, one they must defeat, or be forever lost to darkness. 

ROGUE’S PASSION by Laurie London
Blaming himself for the death of a friend, Iron Guild warrior Asher Kane vows to bring those responsible to justice. After he’s hurt on a mission and nursed back to health by a beautiful yet mysterious woman, this dangerously sexy bad-boy finds himself falling for Olivia…even as he struggles to stay away. But stalking them on the streets of New Seattle is a cruel and vengeful evil—one that threatens to destroy them both…

Alex’s mission: Kill the hellhounds that have invaded earth and return to his home in the Beyond. But from the start, things go horribly wrong. The hounds are cunning and a human female witnesses their attack—she intervenes and saves Alex’s life. Now he must keep the alluring Lilly alive while fighting his desire for her. When passion flares, Alex risks all to protect her and defend the forbidden life he craves.

THE MATING HEAT by Bonnie Vanak
Werewolf Kara Mitchell fled with her brother Aiden to Montana after their alpha father punished her for kissing sexy omega werewolf Ryder Carrington. Left scarred by her father’s cruelty, Kara believes no one can love her. After killing his alpha to save the pack, Ryder now rules, but needs a mate. His blood runs hot for Kara. Ryder will do anything to claim her, even risk an all-out pack war that could cost them everything…

TRAPPED by Caris Roane
Mastyr Vampire Zephyr, a one-man fighting force, struggles to save the life of a woman who despises his warrior ways. She’s been a thorn in his side, but he has one goal: to keep her safe. For Alesia, however, she just wishes he’d leave her alone since she can never approve of his profession. She broke up with him months ago and wants to start a new life. The trouble is, he’s still the one man who can curl her toes.

A man in a leather coat stood in what used to be the doorway. He was tall. And big. At least six-three or four, with broad, powerful shoulders. A once-black T-shirt, now covered in dust, stretched tightly across his well-defined chest. Low-slung jeans with a studded leather belt and chain accentuated his narrow hips. He was dressed like an outlaw from a motorcycle gang.

He was also favoring one leg and cradling his arm.

Without thinking of the consequences, Olivia flew to his side and righted an overturned chair. “Here. Sit.”

When she helped him into the seat, her hand inadvertently brushed his. Before she jerked it away, a visual list of his injuries rolled like movie credits in her head. Concussion but no head trauma, broken clavicle and leg, cracked ribs, torn meniscus, multiple contusions.

“No. I…can’t.” He had a strange accent. One she’d never heard before. “Need to…find my dog.”

She blinked once, confused, and then she remembered the dog she’d seen before the explosion. “He’s yours?”

The man brightened. “Is he here?”

“No, I saw him a few minutes before all this happened.”

His face fell and he started to push himself up.

“Hold on,” she said. “What are you doing?”


It was strange to see such a man looking so vulnerable. Because his injuries weren’t life-threatening, she’d be able to heal them fairly quickly, though. “You’re not going anywhere like this. Not until I can—”

As soon as she bent down to kneel in front of him, her mother’s admonitions rang in her head. What the hell am I doing? She pulled her hands back as if she’d just burned them. She couldn’t let anyone, especially a stranger, know what she was capable of. It wasn’t like he was dying, she reasoned. It would be a different story if he were. “I’m sure he’ll turn up.”

He was studying her a little too intently, and she got the distinct impression it wasn’t because he didn’t believe what she’d said about his dog.

“Wait here,” she ordered, standing up quickly. “I’ll let someone know you need an ambulance.”

“No,” he said vehemently. “No ambulances.” He sure didn’t sound confused anymore.

Unruly dark hair, which included a few thin braids, hung over his brow, reminding her of the wild stallions in the horse books she’d read as a kid. His features were chiseled, his jaw square and strong. His nose, though straight, had a bump on the bridge as if it had been broken once or twice. Not tonight, but earlier. And his eyes…God, those eyes.

They were almost otherworldly.

Framed with thick lashes a girl would kill for, the steely-gray of his irises glimmered in the glare of the aid cars’ lights as if they were backlit. Even though he was hurt, she found him rugged, powerful, and utterly beautiful.

“I saw you here…earlier.”

He had to be confused, because if he’d been in, she’d have remembered him. He wasn’t the sort of man she’d ever forget. “Oh really?” she asked, humoring him.

“You gave him…water. Thank you.”

“You did see me,” she said, a little startled. She narrowed her eyes, trying to think of where he could’ve been. “Were you…?”

“Across the street,” he finished. “At the club.” His voice had a rough, hardened edge, which she found oddly soothing. “Are you okay?” he asked, looking around the rubble of the wine shop.

No, she wasn’t okay. She was shaken up, freaked out, and really, really scared. But at least she was alive. Unlike her boss.

“I was trapped downstairs in the wine cellar when it happened. I just got out.”

“You’re not injured, lass?”

Lass? Is he visiting from Scotland or something?

His concern for her despite the fact that he was in much worse shape struck an unexpected chord. “I’m…I’m fine. Really. Please, let me get you some help.”

“No. No help for me,” he repeated. “But my dog…”

He grabbed the back of the chair and tried to push himself to a standing position.

“Hold on.” She held up her hands but didn’t touch him. She didn’t want to see another laundry list of his injuries again. And once she made contact with an injured person, it was hard not to heal them. “You’re in no shape to go anywhere. What’s your name?” she asked, trying to distract him.

“Asher,” he groaned. “But I must leave.”

“Well, Asher, I’m Olivia, and you really need to take it easy. You’ve got a list of injuries a mile long. And…I mean…” She tried to backpedal. “You seem like you’re hurt pretty badly. You know, just from how you look.” Oh man, she needed to just stop talking or she was going to dig herself into a deeper hole. Of course he looked injured. Any regular person without a Talent could see that. She didn’t need to be acting so guilty.

He opened his mouth, probably to protest, but just then, a man in a reflective orange vest appeared in the doorway.

“Hey, if you’re not hurt, I could really use your help out here.”

She looked at Asher. “I’m not, but he needs—”

Asher’s eyes turned concrete gray. There was a tiny, yet deliberate shake of his head. I’m fine, he mouthed.

Okay. That’s bizarre.

He clearly didn’t want any medical treatment, but given how hurt she knew he was, it didn’t make sense. Maybe he had an aversion to needles or something. If the tables were turned and she was the one with all those injuries, she’d totally go and— No, wait. She wouldn’t be excited to go to the hospital, either. The authorities might find out about her.

She chewed on her bottom lip. Part of her wanted to go out and help, but the rest of her wanted to get as far away as possible. Out there, she’d be surrounded by injured and suffering people. She didn’t know if she’d be able to resist using her abilities. And if someone were dying…

The aid worker clapped his hands. “Come on. Let’s go. You’re wasting time.”

Asher looked at her, a curious expression on his face. “If you’re concerned about me, I’m fine. Just a little shaken up.”

She had no idea why he was lying about being hurt or why he didn’t want any help, but one thing was certain. This handsome stranger was hiding a few secrets of his own.

Grab the boxed set for just $0.99 to read this story and seven others…

Dark and Deadly: Eight Bad Boys of Paranormal Romance is available from Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, Barnes and Noble Nook, Apple iBooks stores and other retailers. Find the links to your preferred retailer at:
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Dark and Dangerous: Six-in-One Hot Paranormal Romances
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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Swag: D.B. Reynolds

Sunday Swag Team!
Riverina Romantics 
 I Smell Sheep 

About the Author:
D.B. Reynolds is the award-winning author of the popular Vampires in America series, as well as other paranormal fiction. She lives with her husband of many years in a flammable canyon near Los Angeles, and when she's not writing her own books, she can usually be found reading someone else's.

2 winners will get a bookmark (front/back pictured here) and set of all seven cover stickers!

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