I love the fun of the holidays. It doesn’t snow in southern California, but the mountain ski resorts are only an hour drive away. While I was growing up, my mother would take my friends and me up to Mt. Baldy to play in the snow. We’d ride the ski lift to the top, although none of us skied, and have lunch at the restaurant. There was a great view, and chili sizes were a particular lunch favorite. I can still see Mt. Baldy from my home. It’s beautiful covered in snow and a sign winter, as we know it, has come again.
We all love IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, but my favorite holiday movie is THE CHRISTMAS STORY. Ralphie is so endearing as he hopes for a Red Ryder Bee Bee Rifle. Christmas is a magical time for children and the movie captures it perfectly. One of the best scenes is when Ralphie’s little brother gets ready for school in his snowsuit and can’t move his arms. When he falls down, he’s stuck like an overturned turtle in a snowdrift. It’s all manmade snow for the movie, but it looks icy cold and real. One cable station plays the film continuously for 24 hours, and I watch it over and over until I can anticipate the dialog and know I’ve had enough.
LOVE ACTUALLY has also become a holiday favorite. The intertwined stories are billed as the ultimate romantic comedy, but there are poignant moments as well. Richard Curtis wrote and directed the film, and it has a stellar cast including Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Laura Linney and Emma Thompson. I discover something new each time I watch it.
Most of my books are set in the spring and summer when characters aren’t wrapped in heavy winter clothes. Many of my historical romances are woven through actual historical events, however, and have the appropriate time of year, even if it’s the dead of winter, and they do need their thick woolen cloaks.
My January Retro release from Samhain, SWEPT AWAY, takes place during America’s Civil War. Virginia belle Eden Sinclair is sent to London to stay with relatives to escape the horrors of the war. Along with her snobby cousin, she’s invited to the Season’s elegant parties, but the war isn’t going well for the South, and she’s regarded as penniless waif. She draws no admirers until she meets the wonderfully sympathetic Earl of Clairbourne, Alexander Sutton. Alex lives in the West Indies, and he’s come to London to help his nephew, Raven Blade, find a wife. The very last thing Raven needs is a wife, and most especially not a poor American one, but life has a way of playing tricks on us all, and he isn’t immune to love. I swear when I came up with the name Raven Blade, the book wrote itself.
In the city it’s snowing,
the sidewalks are glowing,
but there’s someplace that I’d rather be.
Thousands of people all walking by,
and somehow I’m still alone.
I’m gonna spend winter my way.
Those are a few lyrics from a Christmas song titled Indiana Christmas by Straight No Chaser. I bought the album a few years ago and fell in love with the songs. I could listen to these men all day every day all year and not get tired of them. They are THAT good.
Indiana Christmas touched a chord in me. Maybe because I was born in Indiana. Maybe because I can recall a few Christmases there. I’m not sure, but I loved the song. When I loaded my Christmas music back on my iPod yesterday, this was the first song I played (on a loop for about thirty minutes).
It struck the same chord in me. It reminded me of the memories I have. It took on a new meaning for this year.
The words, the message, the purity of the song embodies my upcoming Christmas story Her Miracle Man. It brings Indianapolis, the Circle and all the places I visited while researching the area and Riley Hospital for Children to life.
The song could be the anthem for the heroine, Jennalyn, who’s lost her family and retreated into the solitude of her grief. She’s always loved Christmas, but this year has decided she’s not going to celebrate it. She’s not even going to acknowledge it. Then she’s hired to deliver miracles to a group of children who’ve been too ill to celebrate. Each miracle pulls her a little farther from her grief, and a little farther into the community around her.
The song talks about remembering people who’ve gone and now look down from above, and sharing the days with loved ones. It’s a song about someone finding their way home, and as we all know, as Jennalyn learns in Her Miracle Man, there’s more to home than a building.
Here’s a video of Straight No Chaser singing the original song. It’s not as good as the recorded version, but it’s still awesomeness.
What evokes a big memory for you? Music? Book? Movie?
Children’s hospital administrator Ryland Davids was attracted to event planner Jennalyn James the moment he saw her. He thought there would be plenty of time to get to know her—until her younger sister, Sabrina, was admitted with complications from traumatic brain injury.
Sabrina’s bright courage broke through Ryland’s wall of professional distance, but once she drew her last breath, Jennalyn left the hospital and never returned. Though he understands her need for distance, there’s a hole in his heart that won’t heal. And a last wish from Sabrina he’s honor-bound to deliver.
When Jennalyn comes face to face with Ryland at a charity event, the pain comes rushing back, threatening to shatter her everything’s-fine façade. It doesn’t help that the lump in her throat is mostly her heart, leaping in response to his touch.
Despite her reluctance to return to the scene of her grief, she fulfills Sabrina’s final request to plan a series of Christmas events for the kids. Over the course of A Month of Miracles, Ryland and Jennalyn discover there’s the light of hope at the end of grief’s dark tunnel. But it may not be enough to heal her broken heart.
Nikki is having a blog party to celebrate the release of Her Miracle Man. Go see what’s going on and comment to be entered for some AWESOME prizes. Commenters here today will be entered into a drawing for an ARC of Her Miracle Man. Chat. You know you want this book.
My thanks to Lissa for opening up her blog for me. Today I want to talk to you about my newest book Fournicopia which is releasing July 10th.
I love alpha males, but I love strong heroines, equally.
My challenge when I began writing Fournicopia lay in the fact my hero is a submissive. I’ve read plenty of sub heroes who were “dressed” to be alpha, but weren’t, not at their core. I didn’t want to make the same mistake.
Then there was the challenge of making my heroine strong, but not so much she overshadowed the hero. She needed flaws, needed some doubts, but this was to be a fun story, not something deeply angsty, and I didn’t think she needed a dark and painful past. Sometimes, I think authors don’t believe that “normal” people can have the desire to be Dominant unless they’re deeply scarred by some deep, dark trauma in their past.
Gus and Aislinn felt so natural together, they lit sparks on the page from their very first encounter. I didn’t have to force a thing, didn’t have to “write” their love story. They played, they tested each other, they learned to trust and set their inner kinksters free. In the end, they created their own flavor of a D/s relationship. Something perfect only for them. Rules, schmools.
Release Date: 10 July 2012
Forget the sugar. Send her the spice.
Delta Heat, Book 2
Gus Taggert knows a setup when he sees one. The doughnut shop his police officer buddies have sent him to, Cornucopia, is too frilly. Too pink. Then the woman behind the counter serves up a mini-lesson in submission that leaves him ready and willing to obey her order to see her tonight at La Forge BDSM club.
The large, burly cop is exactly the kind of alpha guy that newly minted Domme Aislinn Darby has been dying to tie up and spank. Yet after she puts him through his paces, she finds herself eager to let him take control—something she’s never before enjoyed with a man.
Determined to find out once and for all if she has what it takes to control a scene, she orders him up for one more go. Only this time, she intends to ensure he remembers who’s in charge. She’s even willing to offer a little bribe: accept her dictates, and his reward is her—any way he wants her.
Except when it’s time for payback, it comes with several twists she never saw coming.
Warning: When a male sub decides to turn the tables on his pretty Domme, he calls for backup from his best friends. Contains scenes with m/m/f, m/f/m, f/f, spanking, restraints, and an orgy of pleasure no woman can resist.
As always, her entrance was noted by all the night’s hopefuls. Lined up at the bar and against the far wall, they perked up as soon as the first glances swung her way, waiting to see whom she would choose this evening.
She was only newly vetted, but had already gained a following eager to play with her. Known for her fun and sexy sessions that slowly ramped up to a blinding intensity, she’d been trained by Mondo, a true Master. Everyone wanted a go with Mondo’s latest protégé.
This night she felt no rumbling in her belly, no tingling of nerves from any self-doubt. Too much was on her mind. Instead, she felt a stirring of anticipation which added a little bounce to her step.
Her gaze swept the hopefuls, paused on Mondo, who stood beside the club’s manager near the bar, his hand against the curve of Jennifer Callum’s slender back.
She lifted the flogger and an eyebrow, indicating she’d received another mysterious present, then slapped it against her thigh.
He bent toward the dark-haired Jennifer, whispered something that had her smiling, but the tightness around her lips as she glanced Aislinn’s way said the manager knew about the troubles.
Damn. Aislinn had wanted to handle this problem herself. Now she regretted ever mentioning a word to Mondo.
Aislinn continued around the room, passing several subs she’d already tried. She lifted her chin and gestured with the flogger in her hand toward the floor. None of the young men paid her implement any mind, hastening instead to their knees and bowing their heads, bare chests rising and falling rapidly, then growing still as she moved on. If her stalker was among them, he hid well his interest in her latest gift.
Further, the one man she sought wasn’t here. Sharp disappointment filled her. Maybe she’d been a little too direct with Officer Taggert that morning. Maybe the latest troubles had blurred her usual acuity. She had an instinct for spotting a man ready for her kind of play. She’d thought for sure he’d arrive early, eager to see her again. When Mondo had checked her setup after she’d first arrived at the club, he’d told her his friend had been rattled but impressed like he’d never seen before. Mondo’s amusement had spilled over onto her, giving her the lift she’d needed to stay the course this night.
The teak double doors that opened from the club’s foyer whooshed open. From the corner of her eye, she spotted her quarry barreling into the room. There was nothing subtle about the large man. His reddened face indicated that either he’d lost the battle with his pride or he’d rushed to get here.
Either way, he was about to be punished for making her wait. Her breathing deepened, steadied. Her chest felt lighter as she secretly followed his progress.
Officer Taggert, dressed in jeans, cowboy boots and a crisp pale shirt, strode straight for Mondo. Mondo’s gaze narrowed, and he tilted his head in her direction. The large man turned, spotted her and gave her body a quick onceover before his glance snapped back up to her face.
Aislinn gave him a look he couldn’t misinterpret. Her chin jutted and her lips thinned. She lifted the flogger and pointed it his way.
The sighs of disappointment were audible. Yes, she knew it was cheesy, this dramatic ceremony where she selected her playmate, but the men—subs and switches—seemed to enjoy the ritual. Conversations resumed, breaking the silence.
Aislinn walked past Mondo and his friend, never looking directly at the police officer, but giving him a subtle nod. Then she strode down the carpeted hallway toward the row of playrooms.
She never looked back, and yet never took for granted that he’d follow. Relief filled her when she heard his heavy tread behind her. She swiped her key card to her room, pushed open the door, and then stood aside to allow him to enter first.
When he walked through, he halted, turning his head as he caught sight of her setup. She’d gone for sparse. Only one piece of equipment.
“Have you forgotten so soon?” she asked softly, striding up beside him.
His brow furrowed, darkening his eyes. “We’re alone. You don’t have to keep the game up.”
“Oh, I don’t play games. I told you already what I expect.”
His body tightened. His huge chest rose and fell more quickly than the short walk down the hall warranted.
Aislinn was careful not to let her smile reach her eyes. “Naked. That’s how I want you. And since you’re late, I want you bent over that bench to your right.”
She walked closer, not stopping until her chest met his, glad for the tall heels she wore. She tilted back her head, knowing it was no sign of submission on her part, because she stared without blinking into his hazel eyes.
His glance fell to her mouth then the tops of her breasts, spilling over the ribbed edge of the corset. “Naked I can do, ma’am. But you’re not spankin’ my ass with that toy.”
Not breaking glances, she tossed the flogger away. “I wouldn’t want it to touch you anyway. I’ll start with my hand…since we’re just getting to know each other.” Continuing to stare, she kept her expression neutral.
She knew the moment he blinked in their little game of chicken.
He swallowed hard. The sound of it loud in the stillness of the room.
She bit her lip then gave it a slow lick. Flirting to get what she wanted was just one tool in her arsenal of persuasion. “If you’re very good,” she murmured, “I’ll let you lick my nipples.”
The corners of his mouth twitched. A fine sheen of sweat broke on his forehead. He backed up a step then turned toward the bench. She watched while he stripped, not looking at her. She liked what he revealed—a torso cut like a bodybuilder’s—powerful, athletic.
When his trousers dropped and he moved toward the padded kneeler, she cleared her throat. “I’d like to inspect you before you hide yourself away.”
Giveaway: I’m happy to offer up either the first book in the Delta Heat Series, Five Ways ‘Til Sunday, or one of my backlist Samhain ebooks to one person. Do you enjoy reading a hero that is submissive or do you prefer them to be the dominant figure in the relationship?
Thanks for stopping by and I hope you’ll check out my books if you haven’t already.