Wednesday, January 18, 2017

E.E. Burke's Best of the West: Meet Bestselling Author Debra Holland

For today's Best of the West, I'm thrilled to welcome New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Debra Holland.

In addition to being a fan of Debra's Western historical romances, I had the good fortune to work with her on a special project in 2015 (American Mail-Order Brides) and to attend a class she offered on audiobooks through RWA University. She's knows her stuff when it comes to romance. Her latest book, A Rolling Stone (Irish Sisters Trilogy: Book 3), will be released tomorrow. Here's a sneak peek...

Order your copy today
Abandoned by the father of her illegitimate baby and pretending to be a widow, Catriona O’Donnell leaves Ireland to find her twin sisters in America. She intends to put her wild past behind her and, once united with her sisters, establish roots and make a home for her unwanted child.

Moss Buchanan has a bad case of wanderlust, drifting from job to job on a quest for new horizons and interesting adventures. On the point of moving on from Sweetwater Springs, Montana, he encounters Catriona, who faints into his arms, forcing him to return to the Thompson ranch and his former employment.

Moss feels responsible for the beautiful widow and her baby, and his attraction to her grows. But his wooing won’t be easy, for Catriona is bitter and wants nothing to do with men, especially handsome rascals who won’t settle down.

Here's an excerpt:

Spring 1895, Sweetwater Springs, Montana 
Moss Callahan rode Traveler, his white gelding, down the dirt track leading from the Thompson ranch to Sweetwater Springs. He’d left at daybreak, just in time to escape the bustle of the O’Donnell twins’ wedding, carrying all his worldly possessions in two saddlebags and a bundle wrapped inside the bedroll, strapped behind the saddle. The wanderlust tickle in the soles of his feet this past month had grown to a fierce itch, too acute to ignore—not that he’d intended to do so. He’d just had to wait out the winter weather. A ludicrous self-delusion. In Montana, snow could still fall in the summer. Spring, more often than not, brought one rainstorm after another.
But today had dawned sunny and bright. Wedding weather, the Thompson’s housekeeper had proclaimed, a wide grin crinkling the wrinkles of her face.
Traveling weather, Moss contended. But he hadn’t said so aloud.
After a hard winter cooped up with a bunch of stinkin’ cowboys, or out riding in freezing weather, Moss was more than ready to cut out for someplace warm. Wyoming was the farthest south he’d ever traveled. Texas beckoned, for he had a hankering to see the ocean.
The real reason he was scootin’ out as quietly as he’d arrived nine months ago—the one he didn’t really want to think about—was his fear of wedding fever. Yes, a highly susceptible outbreak of the illness, caused by proximity to the pretty O’Donnell girls—the twins and their cousin Sally--had driven Moss away from gainful employment made more than tolerable by the fairness and generosity of his boss, Wyatt Thompson, and his beautiful wife Samantha. He certainly had some regrets about leaving Thompson’s employ, which wasn’t usually the case. Bosses always looked sharp-eyed at the new hand—and Moss was always the new one--and assigned him the worst jobs.
But the marrying epidemic had infected two of Thompson’s cowboys and also one of the male guests—a horse breeder from a neighboring town--striking the men like lightning. Moss wasn’t sure if susceptibility to the sickness was caused by nearness to a pretty O’Donnell girl in particular, or just from loneliness in general. But he wasn’t of a mind to stick around and become victim number four. Not, God be thanked, that there are any more O’Donnell girls of suitable age to infect vulnerable males.
But I’m not taking chances.
The train had just arrived when Moss reined in by the brown clapboard station. He’d almost cut the time too close. He swung down from the saddle, tossed the reins around the hitching post, and took the stairs two at a time to the platform, racing to buy a ticket for himself and a stall in the horse car for Traveler.
The door to the depot stood open, probably to let in the fresh spring air.
A young woman in a loose gray coat and carrying a bag came around the corner of the building. Something about her seemed familiar, although Moss knew he’d never seen her before. Even showing the ravages of a train journey, he’d have remembered her ethereal beauty—the blue eyes that stared past him as if he weren’t there, the hair of glorious red-gold showing from underneath a once-blue bonnet that had since seen hard usage.
Out of gentlemanly reflex, he touched a respectful finger to his hat but caught himself before he could flash the patented Moss Callahan grin. No sense allowing the lure of a woman to make him linger and risk catching the deadly disease. However, a partial smile slipped his control—just enough to bring the woman’s focus to him and the faintest tinge of peach into those alabaster cheeks before she looked away.
The woman faltered a step. “Oh,” she said in a weak voice, raising a dainty hand to her forehead. Her bag fell from her fingers to thump onto the platform. She started to crumple, as if her knees buckled.
With a curse, Moss leaped to grab her, catching the woman just as she fainted into his arms. He scooped her up. Holding her close, Moss could feel she was waif-thin beneath her coat. Helplessly, he glanced around. Not seeing anyone nearby, he carried her inside. “Jack!” he yelled for the stationmaster. “Jack!”
Moss tossed a glance to the left. Jack wasn’t behind the counter, and the door to the office was closed. He hurried over to the nearest bench and gently laid down the woman. Long eyelashes the same auburn as her hair swept her cheeks. Her pale skin was almost translucent, with the faintest dusting of golden freckles over her nose. Angel kisses, his mother had called them, and the heavenly description suited her.
His chest tight, Moss pulled off his gloves and thrust them into a pocket. He touched her neck for a pulse, relieved to feel a flutter under his fingertips. “Miss, Miss, please wake up.” He brushed back the hair from her face and patted her cheeks.
Her eyelashes fluttered and then lifted, showing beautiful eyes of dark sapphire blue. At first she stared blankly at him, and then awareness returned.
Once again, he was struck by a sense of familiarity, but he couldn’t place her.
“Oh,” she murmured, shifting as if to rise.
“Careful, now. Can’t have you going off again.” Moss slid an arm under her shoulders to assist her to a sitting position. Once she seemed steady, he reluctantly removed his arm.
“I ’spose yer right. Fainting away once can be excused.” She sounded almost amused. “But not twice.”
Her musical Irish accent smacked him upside the head. Moss suddenly knew who she was. Well, not precisely who. Dread weakened his limbs, and he folded to his knees in front of her. “You’re an O’Donnell.”
She raised a fine red-gold eyebrow and gave him a faint smile, a mere upturn of pale pink lips. “How do ye know?”
“You look like Bridget and Alana and their cousin, Sally. You all have the same beguilin’ blue eyes.” Although her eyes have a slight upward tilt at the corners, making her appear even more dangerous.
What have I done? I’ve put myself square in harm’s way.
Flirtation sparked in those eyes. She gave him a coquettish flick of her eyelashes.
Moss tamped down a wave of lust. Climbing to his feet, he held up a hand as if to ward her off. “Don’t even think about turning those eyes on me. You save those pretty wiles for all the other men around here who’ll soon be falling at your feet.”
Those lovely eyes narrowed. “Better than me fallin’ at theirs.” The O’Donnell siren held up her left hand to reveal a gold band with a heart and crown on her ring finger.
Moss should have felt relief that she was married, but instead he experienced an inexplicable sense of disappointment, as if he’d just lost something very dear.
“So ye see, boyo, yer very, very safe with me.”
Moss didn’t feel safe with her at all. Quite the contrary. His skin felt flushed, his chest ached, his throat was tight, and his head spun—all recognizable signs that he’d caught a sickness. If he weren’t in the presence of a lady, he’d turn the air blue with his curses, even if that meant his sainted mother rising from the grave to take a switch to his behind.
Moss gestured toward the door of the depot. “I need to get you to the doctor.” And be done with you. Only vaguely did he hear the tooting whistle of the train signaling a departure, for he was too mesmerized by the beguiling creature.
“I don’t need a doctor. I’m fine.”
“I beg to differ, Miss…um, Mrs?”
“I’m Catriona O’Donnell. Well, ah, Catriona O’Donnell Crogan.” She patted her rounded stomach. “And this is Flea.”
Moss had been so focused on her lovely face that he hadn’t noticed she was with child. “Flea?” he asked, bewildered.
“For the saying, ‘If ye lie down with dogs, ye’ll get up with fleas.”
Moss cocked his eyebrow. “Would that be a boy’s name or a girl’s?”


Meet Debra
Debra Holland is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of the award-winning Montana Sky Series (sweet, historical Western romance) and The Gods’ Dream Trilogy (fantasy romance.) She's a three-time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist and one-time winner. In 2013, Amazon selected Starry Montana Sky as one of the Top 50 Greatest Love Stories. 

When she’s not writing, Dr. Debra works as a psychotherapist and corporate crisis/grief counselor and is the author of The Essential Guide to Grief and Grieving, as well as Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude, a Ten Minute Ebook. She’s also a contributing author to The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing. 

Debra lives in Southern California with her dog and two cats, who keep her company while she writes. You’ll often see pictures of her animals on Debra’s social media pages. Join her newsletter list and receive a free download of the ebooklet, 58 Tips for Getting What You Want From a Difficult Conversation at http://drdebraholland.com

It's great to have you visit us today, Debra. What’s your favorite kind of story to get lost in?
I read all kinds of books—romance, fantasy, science fiction—are my favorites. But I also enjoy mystery and action-adventure. I like an author who can pull me into the story within a few pages.
I easily see craft mistakes, so I’m really picky about not reading farther when I see them on the first few pages. I like a hero and heroine I can relate to and root for. I love series because I want to read one story after another, and when I find an author I like, I’ll read his or her whole backlist.
Do you write while listening to music? If so what kind?
I don’t tend to listen to music while I’m at home, although I do so when I drive. I don’t watch television much either, although I love HGTV. Music tends to take me out of the story rather than keep me in it. When I’m driving and I want to plot my book, I turn off the radio.
If you couldn’t be a writer anymore, what profession would you take up?
I’m already a psychotherapist and corporate crisis and grief counselor, so I wouldn’t take up something, but do of that kind of work. I’d probably also do more public speaking, workshops, that sort of thing.
What’s the first thing you do when you finish writing a book?
SLEEP! I have that in caps because deadline time means long hours, little sleep, too much caffeine, sugar, carbs, and no exercise. So I crash, then I take a day or so of lying around and reading (without guilt that I should be writing) and tackle my house, which is usually a disaster. I’m just off a deadline, and yesterday, I opened two weeks worth of mail. Today (three days post-deadline) I’m doing a detox for the week (eating totally healthy) and getting back to exercising.
If you were given a chance to travel to the past where would you go and specifically why?
One of my favorite daydreams before I go to bed is going back in time. I like to acquire stuff that would have been destroyed anyway (can’t interfere with the space-time continuum.) So I’ll go rescue scrolls and books from the libraries that I know were burned or furniture, clothing, artwork, and jewelry from houses and ships that were burnt down or otherwise destroyed. (Can’t rescue people because that changes the space-time continuum.) I have a big private museum, where I stash everything, not that I can open it to the public because of there’d be big questions of how I acquired historical artifacts. J
So I pick a time and place and off I go to the past.
Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay any attention to them, or let them influence your writing?
Yes, and yes. I read my reviews almost every day, and I mentally thank the reader who left the review, even if it’s not positive. But most are positive, and I enjoy reading them.
My readers tell be what they like about my books, for example, the sense of a time and place (small town historical Montana) and I try to keep giving that to them.
I’ve written a couple of books because readers told me they wanted those stories. Some of the stories wouldn’t have occurred to me without readers wanting to know more about certain characters.
What color would you make the sky if it wasn’t going to be blue anymore and why?
Purple! I love the color, and amethyst is my birthstone. In fact, in my speculative fiction series-The Gods’ Dream Trilogy (fantasy romance and Twinborne Trilogy (science fiction romance) the sky in my primary worlds are purple.
What is your biggest vice?
Reading!!! I’m an avid book a day reader (sometimes more, sometimes less.) That’s why I hate deadline week, because I don’t read. It’s like withdrawal time. I’ve been this way since I learned to read. Second grade was when I first started getting in trouble for reading instead of doing what I was supposed to do. That hasn’t change, although now I don’t have parents or teachers scolding me. “Put that book away and do ____!” J
How did you come up with the idea for A Rolling Stone?
I’d originally planned to write two novellas set in my Montana Sky Series about twin sisters who emigrate from Ireland to my Montana town of Sweetwater Springs. I wrote and published A Valentine’s Choice, and was part way into book two, An Irish Blessing, when I realized I kept referencing the twins’ older sister Catriona, who’d eloped with a peddler before they left Ireland. The twins didn’t know what happened to her, and she didn’t know they’d left home. So soon the wild sister had her own story, when Catriona unexpectedly shows up in Sweetwater Springs, pregnant with an illegitimate baby.

Today's Drawing!

Debra is giving away an audiobook copy of Beneath Montana's Sky in a random drawing. Leave a comment and enter the Rafflecopter!

If you had a time machine, where you travel and why?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Jan Schliesman's Birthday Giveaway!


To celebrate my 49th Birthday, I’m giving away this Harlequin tote bag loaded with books, a hand-painted Lolita wine glass and, of course, chocolateJ


Easiest contest ever.  Click on comments below and tell me Happy Birthday!  I’ll choose a winner on Saturday! 

Jan Schliesman

Monday, January 16, 2017

Get Lost in The Fixer by HelenKay Dimon



THE FIXER
Games People Play

He’s known only as Wren. A wealthy, dangerously secretive man, he specializes in making problems disappear. A professional fixer, Wren hides a dark past, but his privacy is shattered when Emery Finn seeks him out—and what she wants from him is very personal.

Some people disappear against their will. Emery’s job is to find them and bring closure. Wren is the only person who can help solve Emery’s own personal mystery: the long-ago disappearance of her cousin. Just tracking down the sexy, brooding Wren is difficult enough. Resisting her body’s response to him will prove completely impossible.

Anonymity is essential to Wren’s success, yet drawn by Emery’s loyalty and sensuality, he’s pulled out of the shadows. But her digging is getting noticed by the wrong people. And as the clues start to point to someone terrifyingly close, Wren will have to put his haunted past aside to protect the woman he loves.

Available for purchase now at Amazon


An Excerpt from The Fixer:

She didn't hear footsteps or see a shadow until the legs of the chair on the other side of the café table screeched against the tile floor and a man sat down across from her. Strike that, not just a man. Not part of the usual striped-tie, navy-suit business crowd she waded through each day. This one had a lethal look to him. Dark hair with an even darker sense of danger wrapping around him.

He didn't smile or frown while his gaze searched her face. Broad shoulders filled out every inch of the jacket of his expensive black suit. Those bright green eyes matched his tie and provided a shock of color to the whole Tall, Dark, and Deadly look he had going on.

He managed to telegraph power without saying a word, as a hum of energy pulsed around him. She fought off a shiver and reached for her spoon. Hardly a weapon but something about this guy made her insides bounce and the blood leave her head, and she had no idea why.

"Excuse me?" She used a tone that let him know just sitting down without asking was not okay. Some women might like the kind of takeover type of guy who assumed his presence was welcome every where. Not her.

"We need to come to an understanding."

The voice, deep and husky with an edge of gravelly heat, skidded across her senses. She felt it as much as she heard it. The tone struck her, held her mesmerized, before the meaning behind the words hit her. "Uh-huh, well, maybe we should understand that seat is already taken," she said.

"By?"

"Literally anyone else who wants it." She looked down, making a show of taking the lid off her cup and stirring the few inches of coffee left inside. That struck her as the universal not-interested signal.

She waited for him to grumble, or call her a name and scamper off. She had issued a dismissal after all. But his presence loomed and she glanced up again.

"Emery Finn." Her name rolled off his tongue.

That shiver moving through her turned into a full body shake. "Wait, do we know each other?"

"You've been making inquiries."

It was the way he said it as much as what he said. How he sat there without moving. Perfect posture and laser-like focus that stayed on her face, never wavering even as a pretty woman openly gawked at him as she passed by.

The surreal scene had Emery holding onto her cup with both hands. "It sounds like you're reading from a really bad screenplay."

"This isn't fiction."

"Uh-huh. You know what it also isn't? Interesting." She waved him off. "Go away."

"You need to stop searching for information." He finally blinked. "No more questions. No more inquiries through back channels at government agencies."

In her line of work she sometimes angered people. Never on purpose, because ticked-off people tended not to open up and share. "I research for a living. If I've somehow upset you or—"

"This is personal, not business."

That sounded…not good. Like time-to-call-the-police not good. "Who are you?"

He continued to stare. He didn't move or threaten her, not directly, but his presence filled the space in front of her. The noise of the café faded into the background. A loud male voice a few tables away flattened to a mumble and the people shuffling by blurred.

"Someone who is trying to help you."


HelenKay Dimon spent the years before becoming a romance author as a...divorce attorney. Not the usual transition, she knows. Good news is she now writes full time and is much happier. She has sold over thirty novels, novellas and shorts to numerous publishers, including HarperCollins, Kensington, Harlequin, Penguin, Samhain and Carina Press. Her nationally bestselling and award-winning books have been showcased in numerous venues and her books have twice been named "Red-Hot Reads" and excerpted in Cosmopolitan magazine. She is on the Board of Directors of the Romance Writers of America and teaches fiction writing at UC San Diego and MiraCosta College. You can learn more at her website: www.helenkaydimon.com






Friday, January 13, 2017

the Debut of Andie J. Christopher

STROKE OF MIDNIGHT
One Night in South Beach #1
Lyrical/Kensington

One night.
New Year’s Eve in Miami. Even workaholic Alana Hernandez can’t resist the call of the city, especially if it will get her little sister off her back. But a night of celebrating turns into a night of mischief when an alluring stranger catches her eye across the dance floor.
 
No names.
Former Navy Seal Cole Roberts isn’t looking for anything more than a good time in Miami. Since leaving the military and being betrayed by his former fiancée, he’s not interested in unnecessary complications. But the moment he sets eyes on the sultry beauty, Cole knows this night will be far from ordinary.

No going back.
Neither Cole nor Alana are looking for a relationship, so they strike a deal: One night. No names. No repeats. But things get complicated when their night of passion becomes something neither can walk away from.

“Stroke of Midnight is the epitome of a page-turner. The multi-dimensional characters are vulnerable and simply pulsate with unbridled lust and passion.” –RT Book Reviews, 4-star review
Amazon



I’m ANDIE J. CHRISTOPHER and I write edgy, funny, sexy contemporary romance. I grew up in a family of voracious readers, and I picked up my first Harlequin Romance novel at age twelve when I’d finished reading everything else in my grandmother’s house. It was love at first read. It wasn’t too long before I started writing my own stories — my first heroine drank Campari and wore a lot of Esprit.

Although, I set aside writing fiction for a while, my love of reading romance novels stayed with me through college, law school, and multiple cross-country moves. During one long East Coast winter, I decided writing a book would be a good excuse to avoid braving the elements. It was love at first write. My heroes are dirty-talking alphas, and my heroines traded Esprit for Free People. (None of them would turn down a Campari, though.)

TELL THE TRUTH
ANGI: How often to you get lost in a story?
ANDIE: I get lost in a story at least once a week, either one I’m writing or one I’m reading. I know I’m onto something in my writing when hours seem to pass in seconds. It doesn’t happen every day, but it’s a very good day when it does. I’ve loved writing the One Night in South Beach series because I can get lost in one of my favorite places on earth!
 
ANGI: Hugh Jackman or Chris Pine?
ANDIE: Chris Pine. Now that he’s all beardy, I can’t get enough. He actually reminds me a bit of my hero, Cole Roberts, even though he wasn’t the original hero inspiration.

ANGI: What do you like about the hero of your book?
ANDIE: In my mom’s words, “there are no guys in real life like Cole Roberts.” Cole is not only a former Navy SEAL, but he’s crazy smart, and willing to take a chance and open himself up to Alana (the heroine) even though it’s complicated (he’s friends with her brother) and he’s been burned before. And he’s always going to make sure his woman’s needs (all of them) are fulfilled. He’s the total package.

ANGI: Sand or Snow?
ANDIE: Sand! There’s a reason I set STROKE OF MIDNIGHT in Miami. My best friend from college moved there with her now-husband after law school, and the first time I visited—for her engagement party—was pure magic. I fell in love with the people, the food, the atmosphere, and the weather was just icing on the cake. I love writing the One Night in South Beach series because I get to spend time in Miami whenever I want.

ANGI: What might we find in your heroine's purse?
ANDIE: In Alana’s purse, you’re going to find at least two or three lipsticks, extra underwear for when she has to sleep at her desk, designer sunglasses, and a cell phone with at least five missed calls from her baby sister.

ANGI: Would you rather be in a Fairy Tale or Action Adventure?
ANDIE: Personally? I would rather be in a fairy tale. I want to wear a gorgeous dress, dance with a prince, and get a castle in the end.

ANGI: What’s your favorite rerun on television?
ANDIE: I am actually super excited about the fact that the Golden Girls is going to be on Hulu on February 13. (I think I’ll be spending my Valentine’s Day in front of the TV with cheesecake).

ANGI: What drinks or snacks are always on your desk when you’re writing?
ANDIE: I always have water, and, if it’s before noon, coffee. (If it’s after five, there’s probably a glass of wine.)

ANGI’S GOTTA ASK: What’s one thing from your bucket list?
ANDIE  GOTTA ANSWER:   I don’t really have a bucket list. I’ve been lucky enough to visit wonderful places, see wonderful things, and befriend so many wonderful people just by following my passions that I’ve kind of learned to take things as they go.

FIND ANDIE
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Goodreads   Pinterest    Instagram: @authorandiej

UP NEXT for ANDIE  
FULL CONTACT
Part of the HOT ON ICE Anthology

A hockey player with a bounty on his virginity. A sarcastic bartender with no time for shenanigans.

Leftwinger Anders Sorenson’s life-long focus on hockey came with a price - a price he never minded paying until reaching a crossroads in his career and meeting Dahlia Clarno. The eccentric bartender is hot, she doesn’t care about his fame, and she has no idea about the bounty his teammates have on his virginity. She’s the total package for a vacation fling.

 Dahlia has no use for a man right now. She needs to be focused on paying off her failed business debts and getting out of her hometown (for good this time), not mooning over a six-four hunk of Viking-sex. When Dahlia finds out about the bet, it strengthens her resolve to stay far away from Anders. But his earnest smile and surprising smolder are hell on her resistance. 

Anders wants to turn over his v-card to Dahlia, and he thinks he can trust her. Dahlia knows about the bounty, and the feelings she’s developing for Anders would make it wrong for her to cash in. Besides, it’s not like this vacation fling could ever turn into something more. . . 

PREVIOUS RELEASES by ANDIE  
DUSK UNTIL DAWN
One Night in South Beach 2

No boundaries.
Bartender and aspiring painter Maya Pascual loves turning up the heat. And dumping a vodka-and-karma chaser on the man who broke her heart is perfect Bronx girl payback. But how can she resist when Miami playboy prince Javier Hernandez begs to make it up to her. . .

No regrets.
Between his disastrous personal life and his wealthy family’s meddling, Javi needs to get back on track. The only thing that’s certain is his passion for Maya. If she’ll just let him show her how sorry he is, maybe he can move on and start fresh. But one look in her gorgeous eyes and he knows letting her go will be easier said than done.

No rules.
Maya agrees to one dinner with Javi. But as their attraction threatens to combust, she wonders if a night of no strings, no repeats surrender is the only way burn off their desire once and for all… Unless the light of day reveals it’s impossible to let go.

UP NEXT ON GLIAS:  HELENKAY DIMON

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ANDIE WANTS TO KNOW: Tell me about your favorite place to getaway, near or far and for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card. Sign up for my newsletter and/or ‘like’ my Facebook page for more chances to win.