Forbidden Kisses by Sha Renee

I am pleased to introduce you to Sha Renée, photographer, nature lover and  an author creating stories where duty, honor and passion unite.  Today, Sha is sharing an excerpt from her novel, Forbidden Kisses. 

Forbidden Kisses by Sha ReneeTitle: Forbidden Kisses

Genre: Military Romance

Release Date: December 2, 2016

Series: Anchored Hearts

 

 

 

BLURB

What do you do when the person you love is off limits?

Military regulations prohibit personal relationships between senior officers and their juniors.

Violation of these rules is a serious offense. Unfortunately, for Layla and Ethan, they don’t discover each other’s military status until after they’ve already fallen for each other. With the threat of disciplinary action and their careers at risk, the lovers are faced with an impossible decision.

Layla is an enlisted member of the US Navy. On a weekend trip, she meets and grows close to the perfect guy. Her world is turned upside down when she later discovers he’s a Navy lieutenant, which means a personal relationship with him is forbidden. Is Layla strong enough to walk away from the only man to hold her heart?

She’s everything Lieutenant Ethan Parker wants, and during his darkest moment, Layla was everything he needed. Learning that a relationship with her is off-limits catapults the decorated officer into a place darker than the one she helped pull him from. Ethan is forced to choose between the profession that means everything to him and the woman he’s waited his entire life for.

Can military regulations separate lovers destined to be together?

 Sha Renee's novel of duty and passion, Forbidden Kisses www.madisonmichael.net/blog #eggcerptexchange #mfrwauthor Click To Tweet

EXCERPT

For the next forty-five minutes, my coworkers spoke, but I hadn’t a clue what any of them said. My mind was busy replaying the events of the day I first met Ethan. Piercing blue eyes. Beautiful dimples. Coffee. Bathroom. Flirting. Not once had he said anything about the Navy. He had mentioned his new position, but never revealed that he was third in command at an aviation training facility… Had he?

At the conclusion of the staff meeting, everyone emptied the room, but I remained seated, waiting for a chance to confront Lieutenant Parker. I pulled my cell from my pocket, pretending I had a reason to linger. The message notification on my phone startled me.

Ethan: My office. Now.

Me: Are you kidding? I can’t just walk into your office.

Ethan: We need to talk. Wait a few minutes, and then knock on my door.

He stood and left the room without a glance in my direction. The sight of Ethan in uniform made my heart flutter a little.

Memories of nights I’d spent wrapped in his arms flooded my consciousness. How could neither of us know the other’s military status? How could neither of us think to ask?

The door to his office was ajar. Should I just go in? Should I knock? I figured I’d better follow standard procedure just in case anyone saw me. I knocked on the door and spoke immediately after. “Request permission to enter, Sir.”

“Granted.” He rose from his desk, walked past me, and shut the door.

Tension radiated through every muscle in my body. We stood for a beat, staring at each other. He had to be thinking the same thing I was: What! The! F—!

“Layla, what the hell is going on?”

Was he accusing me? Did he think I somehow planned this shit? “You tell me. You never said you’re in the Navy. That you’re an officer. That you work here. Do you know what this means?”

“Of course, I know what this means. I thought you were a student.”

“I am. I was.”

“You didn’t say you’re also an instructor.” He started to pace.

“It didn’t come up. I had other things on my mind.”

“Like what?” Those vivid, blue eyes held my gaze as he stood mere inches away.

He was too smart to be that clueless. “Like you.”

His expression softened.

“You didn’t tell me you were the new Director of Training at one of the Navy’s best training facilities.”

“We can discuss everything later at the hotel.”

“What are you? Crazy? We can’t meet at the hotel. We can’t talk. We can’t text. We can’t anything.”

“We need to figure out what we’re going to do.”

“There’s nothing we can do. This is it for us. I finally meet the perfect guy… and I can’t have him.”

A knock at the door startled us and we quickly backed away from each other. My heart beat wildly as the Commanding Officer swung the door open and came right toward us.

PURCHASE LINKS

Forbidden Kisses on Amazon: http://bit.ly/ForbiddenKissesAZ

Forbidden Kisses on Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/ForbiddenKissesBN

Forbidden Kisses Book Trailer: http://bit.ly/FKTrailer

Forbidden Kisses on Goodreads: http://bit.ly/ForbiddenKissesGR

Subscribe to Sha Renée’s Newsletter: http://bit.ly/ShaNews

 

sha reBIO

Sha Renée is a native New Yorker who joined the US Navy right after high school. She now lives in New Jersey where she creates stories on the pages where duty, honor and passion unite. A true nature lover, Sha enjoys spending time outdoors with a camera in her hands. She’s a fan of auto racing, military air shows and The X Games and dreams of someday riding her own motorcycle.

Sha loves watching bulldozers and diggers work, and believes every day should begin with a strong cup of coffee and end with a glass of chilled wine

www.sharenee.com

www.facebook.com/shasplace

www.twitter.com/ShaShaRenee

www.amazon.com/author/sharenee

https://soundcloud.com/shareneeauthor

This is an #eggscerptexchange. I am publishing Sha’s excerpt today and watch for my excerpt from “Bedeviled” on her blog March 28.

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Transforming the Normal to the “Novel”

“Where do you get your story ideas?” I am asked that more than any other question, once people get past the shock.

Why are they shocked? Well, usually I get asked the question when I am with highly educated and accomplished people. I am lucky enough to travel in their circles, people who run charitable organizations, are college professors, lawyers, highly successful businessmen and women. So when asked, what I do for a living, they expect me to answer that I am in a similar field to their chosen profession. They are shocked when I say “I write romance novels.”

story ideas

Actually, they are flabbergasted. Their faces reveal all. They are both fascinated and repulsed. They feel that genre of novels should be beneath them, or me. Given a second, they are drawn in nonetheless. Because behind closed doors, most of them are secret romance readers. And after a few minutes, their confession is out. “I read romances,” they admit with excitement.

Then they blurt out the question. They can’t help themselves, because now they are curious, dying to know more.

Where do you get your story ideas?

Hearing this question so often has led me to give it some thought. After all, I have a notebook full of story ideas just waiting to be written when the opportunity arises. I should be able to answer easily yet I usually just laugh off the question and fail to answer.

To be honest, my inspirations come from a huge variety of sources and it is difficult to parse them all for a conversation at a dinner party. But I can share a few with you, my readers. Here are some specific inspiring moments for “Bedazzled”.

1/ Why does Keeli live in the small town of Gilman? My choice of Gilman was based on a childhood memory. My older sisters attended the University of Illinois. We visited often, speeding down the highway from Chicago to Urbana until the the road ended abruptly at the Gilman/Onarga exit.

I loved driving those two lane roads the rest of the way south. I loved the small towns and the farm stands. I still get nostalgic for them. So when I needed Keeli to leave home, I had her leave Onarga. But beta readers thought Onarga was not relatable. So she hails from Gilman, IL. I drove back there to research my book and it has changed, but the feelings that swamped me are just the same.

2/ How do I pick restaurants for those romantic dining scenes? I have a very trendy niece, Jordyn. When I am lucky enough to spend some time with her, I ask her and all her equally trendy girlfriends about the new hotspots in town. This group is in the know. They tell me all the newest “in” places. Then I check out their recommendations. They are always spot on. The Chicago Athletic Association was my favorite scene to research; the place was amazing. Good choice, Jordyn.

3/ Where do I get my ideas for gala events? This one is easy. In a city the size of Chicago, there is a fundraiser every weekend and my philanthropic family and friends are often attending one or another. I pick their brains and collect the programs.

Wyatt’s art museum fundraiser was based on the Art Institute of Chicago only after I saw them preparing for a wedding there one Saturday evening. I had never considered the museum as an event venue, but as we shuffled out at closing, florists were bringing in the most beautiful flower arrangements. The chairs were set up in precisely aligned rows, the musicians were tuning up and the room was transformed into a magical place. I was immediately inspired to write about it.

4/ Why is Keeli a jewelry designer who sells her designs at festivals? The inspirations for these are the most clear-cut to me. I dedicated the book to my friend Barb who was starting her jewelry business just as I was writing “Bedazzled.” In fact, I was helping her set up her bookkeeping system between chapters. Keeli needed to establish her own business and that is just what Barb was doing. The connection was immediate, like a bolt of lightning for me, and Keeli Larsen Designs was born. Art Festivals? I was attending one almost every weekend that spring and summer, so the connection was made. I loved describing the Lakefront Festival in Milwaukee because it is my favorite of the season.

There are other inspirations too numerous to cover here. Another time I will share how I find the houses I describe, why my bachelors are from Lake Forest, and of course, where I determine their numerous character traits.

Speaking of character traits, right now I am asking for help with my last Beguiling Bachelor novel. What one character trait do you want to see in Tyler, our hero in book four? Generosity? Confidence? Smarts? Tell me what you would like to see in the comments below or participate in the poll in the Madison Michael’s VIP Reader Group on Facebook.

Use your imagination and have some fun with your responses

 

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Made Maleen: An Erotic Twist on a Fairy Tale #eggcerpt exchange

It is my pleasure to share a bit of Jeanne St James book, “Made Maleen” with you today. Enjoy!

Made Maleen: An Erotic Twist on a Fairy Tale

Made MaleenBy Jeanne St. James

Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance

A Novella loosely based on the Grimm’s fairy tale Maid Maleen

Blurb:

“Just let me love you.” 

When Maleen King’s father catches her naked in the hay loft with her high school sweetheart, he sends the eighteen-year-old away to receive a college education and rise above the humble beginnings of an Idaho dairy farm. Now fourteen years later, Mal comes home to run the farm after the death of her father. The stress of a disastrous marriage and being a NYC stock broker made her long to return to a simple life.

Braydon Daniels, devastated when Mal’s father sent her thousands of miles away, has thought about her every day since. Now, over a decade later, he finds himself alone, divorced, and beaten down by the trauma of his broken marriage. When Mal comes back to town for her father’s funeral, he realizes the feelings he once had for her are just as strong. There’s one little snag, though. His ex-wife is the woman Mal has hated her whole life. And they have a child together.

Despite the struggle to recover from their past relationships, the undeniable attraction between them still exists. Can they rekindle the passion they once had?

Excerpt:

Mal picked at her black pencil skirt, pulling the scratchy fabric away from her skin. She was anxious to get back to the house and change into an old, comfortable pair of jeans. She wished she still fit into the worn pairs she found in a box at the bottom of the closet in her childhood bedroom. But like Braydon, she had also matured. Which meant having curves that no longer fit into junior skinny jeans.

As she walked down the ramp from the funeral home, it surprised her to find a car other than hers still left in the parking lot. She figured she would be the last one leaving, especially after staying to make arrangements with the funeral director for her pop’s cremation.

She stumbled and caught herself by grabbing the metal rail running alongside the concrete incline.

He looked good.

Shit. Good was a gross understatement. That was like saying a sundae full of ooey, gooey hot fudge, wet walnuts, colorful sprinkles, a pile of real whipped cream, and a cherry on top tasted only good.

Her stomach growled. She wasn’t sure if it was due to the fact she found herself now hungry for a sundae, or the sight of Braydon Daniels leaning his ass against the side of a pickup truck, his arms and ankles crossed as he watched her approach.

She looked down at her blouse. Yep, her nipples had hardened into two mountain peaks. She sighed. Way to be so obvious, Mal.

Though she could kill two birds with one stone: Eat the sticky sundae right off his—what she could only imagine—firm stomach. She bet his six-pack had indentations where the melted ice cream and fudge would pool until she licked away all traces of the sweet goodness.

Mal faltered and had to take a deep breath before closing the gap between them.

“I figured that was your car.”

She wasn’t used to his deep voice yet. The voice of a man, not a teenager. He was parked only two spaces away from her bright red Audi R8 convertible. With the upgraded 5.2 L V10 and manual transmission, the pretty little sports car had set her back a cool $166,000. Five-hundred fifty horses weren’t cheap. Though a beauty and hell of a lot of fun to drive, out here in Bum-fuck, Idaho, the car was nothing but a joke.

Oh, it impressed her colleagues back home in New York, but here a manure spreader was more useful. Suddenly, she realized she mistakenly thought of New York City as “home.”

“How’d you guess?” she asked, trying not to be too apparent when her gaze skimmed every inch of him.

He laughed, shaking his head, and glanced down at the pavement for a moment. When he looked back up, he pinned her with his greenish-gold eyes.

She did her best not to squirm.

Available at Amazon for only 99¢ or FREE in KU: http://amzn.to/2klYO8o 

Meet Jeanne St. James 

JEANNE ST. JAMES is an erotic romance author who loves an Alpha male (or two). She was only thirteen when she started writing since it gave her an escape from teenage angst! Her first paid published piece was an erotic short story in Playgirl magazine. Her first erotic romance novel, Banged Up, was published in 2009. She is happily owned by farting French bulldogs. She writes M/F, M/M, and M/M/F ménages.

She has a few new releases coming up in 2017. So keep an eye on her website at www.jeannestjames.com or sign up for her newsletter: http://www.jeannestjames.com/newslettersignup

Connect with Jeanne here:

Blog: http://jeannestjames.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JeanneStJamesAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JeanneStJames

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/jeannestjames

Review & Book Crew: https://www.facebook.com/groups/JeannesReviewCrew/

 

 

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Announcing Maddy’s Romance Madness

 
maddy's romance madnessI am excited to announce that I am expanding my blog to two days per week. Next week, I will kick off Maddy’s Romance Madness every Tuesday. Romance Madness is a weekly introduction to other romance authors, some new and unknown, some already bestselling writers.

Maddy’s Romance Madness will be a weekly introduction to other romance authors #amwriting… Click To Tweet

Let me state upfront that I may not have read all the books of these writers, but I want to promote authors like myself who provide happy endings in a variety of forms. This is an opportunity to meet interesting writers and
learn a bit about them as well as the characters who inhabit their creations, from military to shape shifter, from historical characters to characters far in the future, because romance comes in many flavors and flourishes in every era.

Personally, I write contemporary romance; I like the glamorous lifestyle in Chicago so my Beguiling Bachelors come from wealth. But really, how is Wyatt Howe in “Bedazzled” any different than Prince Charming in “Cinderella” or Mr. Darcy in “Pride and Prejudice”? All three stories are similar in plot with powerful men who fall in love with strong women in difficult circumstances. All the men must weigh love against society’s expectations. But clearly, they are still very different stories.

From “Pride and Prejudice” to “Fifty Shades of Gray,” the plot of a romance remains unchanged – boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl. But writers are very clever and find millions of interesting and exciting ways to tell that story.

With so many romances to choose from, watch for stories that are spicy and sweet, hot and heavy, dramatic and scary, light and funny. Watch for suspense mixed with romance, or historic tales. Watch for new releases and old favorites. Check out the ones that interest you and let me know which ones you like so I can bring you more of those. Want to share your favorite books and author

? Pass them along so that I can share them with my readers.

The Thursday blog will remain my space, to share my world and my writing.

Let me know how you enjoy them both.

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Can you tame “A Cowboy’s Passion”? Welcome my Guest Anita Philmar

eggcerptexchange (1)Today, I am pleased to announce a new feature on my blog. If you are an avid reader like me, you are always looking for new authors and novels to enjoy. The clever Tina Gayle set up something she called “Eggcerpt Exchange” to introduce you to other authors and their works. I expose you to romance authors I think you will enjoy and, in exchange, those authors introduce my Beguiling Bachelor Series to their readers. It is a great way for interested readers to discover new writers.  Going forward, I will be offering you these introductions 1-2 times a month through the exchange or via blog tours and guest bloggers.  You can find other authors sharing book recommendations using the search “#EggcerptExchange” too.   Is there a particular author you want to see highlighted? If so, add their names in your comments below. Would you like to see these another day of the week, as a second blog post/week from me? Let me know what you think. 

The clever @authortinagayle set up #EggcerptExchange to introduce you to other authors… Click To Tweet

Today, check out Anita Philmar and enjoy a taste of “A Cowboy’s Passion”.

A cowboy's passion A Cowboy’s Passion
Naked Bluff, Texas series

Book 7

by

Anita Philmar

Blurb:

 

Tess Van Pelt doesn’t have time to grieve the loss of her husband, not when the wolves are already at the door.  Still, she has a lover that is willing to help save her. He introduces her to his cousin, Reece Bristol Smith.

As a lawyer, Reece can keep the debtors at bay. The problem or solution is he can’t keep his hands off Tess. With her deceased husband accused of murder and the major creditor making unreasonable demands, Reece has to secure Tess’s future in the best way he knows how.

 

Now, will Tess trust him and his cousin to keep her safe or will he need to teach her a few lessons in handing over control to him?

 

A Cowboy’s Passion is a hot adult erotic mystery that explores the passion of having multiple partners. MFM

 

 

Excerpt

 

Tess couldn’t hold back a small chuckle. “I don’t know how you can say such a thing. I have bags under my eyes from crying. My clothes hang on me because I have no appetite. And worse of all, I’m the wife of a murderer.” The last part had her vision blurring. “How could I’ve…”

 

“Stop, you had no way of knowing.” John wrapped his arms around her and held her tight against his chest. “Now, why don’t you come downstairs with me? I’ll get you settled in the parlor with Reece and then head into the kitchen to get you some coffee.”

 

She leaned into him for a moment longer, wanting him to take her back to bed and make love to her. Forcing the seductive idea out of her head, she lifted her gaze to his.

 

His lips twitched in amusement, and he cupped his hands around her face. “You’re regretting your decision to have me sleep in the guest bedroom last night, aren’t you?”

 

She stiffened, surprised by how easily he’d read her thoughts. Their bond had grown stronger over the last few days, but she didn’t want to admit the truth to him. “I was thinking I should probably dress before meeting your cousin. After all, the man is a stranger.”

 

“He won’t be for long.” He leaned forward and dropped a quick kiss on her lips. “One look at you, and he’ll beg for a chance to join us in bed.”

 

Her fingers curled and dug into the smooth cotton of his shirt. “I’m, uh, not sure that’s wise.”

 

John smiled and stepped to one side to direct her around the bed. “Sweetheart, we both know you are struggling to keep your hands off me. Wait until you meet Reece.”

 

“Meaning?” She followed his lead out of the bedroom door # bothering to find her slippers. 

 

“Only that it won’t take you long before you’ll desire him as much as you do me.” He drew her to a stop at the top of the landing and swept her up into his arms. “Now, just relax. I’ll have you settled on the couch in the parlor before I introduce you to Reece then I’ll head off to the kitchen.”

 

Tess wrapped her arms around his neck and didn’t argue.

 

 

Amazon     Barnes and Nobles   Kobo   Smashwords

 

 

 

Other Books in the  Naked Bluff, Texas series

 

In Deep Water   Skinny-dipping to cool off in the Trinity River couldn’t cause any problems…could it? 

 

In Too Deep   The peace of the day is shattered when her best friend steps too far into the Trinity River.

 

Duty’s Bride   Can Sadie have a new life or will her old one rear its ugly head?

 

More Than Ready   Can a determined woman win her heart’s desire?

 

A Cowboy’s Pleasure   Does this cowboy want the job he’s being offered?

 

The Country Doctor’s Bride   Run from a murder or marry a doctor, which one will she choose?

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Anita Philmar:  Anita philmar

 

Anita Philmar likes to create stories that push the limit. A writer by day and a dreamer by night she wants her readers to see the world in a new way.

 

Influenced by old movies, she likes to develop places where anything can happen and where special moments come to life in a great read.

 

Naughty or Nice?

 

Read her books and decide.

 

 

Website:  http://www.anitaphilmar.com/

 

Email: anitaphilmar@yahoo.com

 

Blog: http://www.anitaphilmar.blogspot.com/

 

FB: www.facebook.com/anita.philmar

 

GR: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1329767.Anita_Philmar

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/anitaphilmar

 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Anita-Philmar/e/B002BMBE8C

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Available at last! Preorder “Bedeviled” NOW

“Bedeviled” has finally been uploaded into Amazon. There were many days when I thought this one would never get there. The writing was fast – well, fast for me – but the editing, the beta reading, the revision of the cover art, all of that seemed to take forever. I hope you will find it worth the wait. I think it is entertaining, sexy, and fun. Order your copy now.

"Bedeviled" cover imageBy the way, “Bedazzled” is on sale for a mere $.99 in celebration of the Bedeviled launch. Grab your eBook today and watch for other launch events, contests and giveaways throughout the month of March.

I did provide a brief taste of it several weeks ago, but today I will share a bit more. Happy reading.

 

 

 

 

“BEDEVILED”

“This was great, Alex, I really enjoyed meeting everyone. Thank you so much for including me.”

“It was my pleasure,” he said, looking her full in the face for the first time in hours. Charlotte saw the heat flare in his eyes as they locked with hers. “Let’s get the hell out of here,” he suggested in a low, seductive voice.

They said quick goodnights. Charlotte thought they were rude, but Alex was almost dragging her out the door. He helped her into the car and sped down the driveway, tires screeching as he pulled onto the winding lakefront road heading back to the city.

They drove in silence for about a mile before Alex turned the wheel sharply left, driving into a small, public park that was deserted. He stopped the car with a jolt, spanning two parking spaces. Then, as if he hadn’t just driven like a maniac, he calmly suggested a short stroll before the drive back.

Helping Charlotte from the car, Alex kept hold of her hand as he moved, surefooted, along the beachfront path while she limped alongside in her boot. He stopped at the base of an old gnarled elm tree and pulled Charlotte toward him, holding her around the base of her spine so that she could feel the hard length of him against her.

“You look so beautiful,” he told her in a husky voice. “I have been wanting to do this all night.”

His head lowered to hers, pulling her close against him as he leaned back until all her weight was leaning on his and she had no choice but to twine her arms behind his head or the tree trunk. His lips captured her slowly, softly pressing against hers. One hand rested low, on the curve between her back and her behind. The other came up to tangle in her short hair, holding her head still as he deepened the kiss. His lips demanded response, plundering her mouth with his tongue. He tasted of expensive wine and Alex as his tongue explored the recesses of her mouth, hot and insistent. Her breasts were flattened against his rock-hard chest, her hips tight against his as he held her to him.

When he lifted his head, shadowed by moonlight behind him, Charlotte was unable to read his expression. Unsure and unsteady, she waited, catching her breath. Blood was coursing through her veins, hot and urgent. Her heart was pounding from just one kiss.

“God, I want you,” he rasped, the words torn from him, raw and insistent before he dipped his head to kiss her again. She returned the kiss, opening her lips to his insistent ones, entwining her tongue with his, increasing the pressure against his mouth as she ran her hands up into his hair. She held fast to him, feeling his hand move from her hair to the nape of her neck, down along her bare arms, tracing a pattern there with his fingers. The feel of his hands on her skin was warm, strong and sure. She had longed for his touch and now desired it everywhere.

Alex lifted his head reluctantly. “If we don’t get back in that car now,” he told her, his voice hoarse with longing, “I will not be responsible for my actions.”

He lifted her away from his body, steadied her and then hefted himself away from the tree and wrapped his arm around her shoulders to lead her back to the car. She felt bereft without the solid warmth of him hard against her. Neither of them said a word until he opened her car door and closed it again, without allowing her inside. Instead, he pushed her gently against it.

“Sorry, I can’t make it home without one more.” Alex took Charlotte’s mouth in a searing kiss that took her breath away, sucking her lower lip into his mouth then sliding his tongue over it and into the moistness of her mouth. He kissed her senseless until she would have happily made love there in the sand, and the world be damned. She wanted this man as she had never wanted anything before.

Charlotte kissed him passionately, running her hands up and down his muscular back as she tightened her hold on him, wanting to get closer, to feel his bare skin, until finally they mutually agreed to some restraint and dragged apart from one another. He kept his fingers touching her lightly until she got in the car and he closed the door behind her.

“Jeez,” he stated with a rough chuckle as he folded himself into the bucket seat, “I hope there are no cops out, cause I am planning to break speed records getting you home.

 

YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY THESE BEGUILING BACHELOR NOVELS:

Bedazzled – Book 1 of the Series

Beholden – Book 2 of the Series

Bedeviled – Book 3 of the Series

Bewildered – A Beguiling Bachelor Prequel

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3 Grabbers. Vote on your Favorite Now

vote for grabber

“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” I am sure you know the opening of “A Tale of Two Cities.” It is famous, as so many first lines are. Great first lines grab your attention. Any reader of “Pride and Prejudice” can recognize “…a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”.” So, why do I quote these today?

Experts say I have to grab you with my first line or be prepared to lose you as a reader. Openings are ranked (on one list the above rank 9 and 2, in case you wondered). This week I started the fourth book in the Beguiling Bachelor Series and the opening is eluding me, so I am obsessed with opening lines and how they set a story in motion.

Stories fully formed

It Is a strange phenomenon for me. Since I began writing, my books have flowed from my head. Seriously, fully formed chapters are there when I wake up, rattling around in my brain, desperate to get out and into my computer. They are yelling so loudly that I cannot fully function until I get them on paper.

A short story is rattling there now and I am arguing with it daily. I beg it to wait while I finish “Besotted,” but it keeps showing up every day, but just the first chapter. Which is interesting, since It is the first chapter of “Besotted” that is so elusive.

Obsessed with Openings

I have written three different opening chapters for “Besotted.” So far. I have left breadcrumbs in three novels revealing Tyler’s love for Regan and his inability to take action, so you know I have been forming this story for quite a while. Tyler, like all my bachelors, is successful, well educated, handsome and confident. Why would he be unable to approach Regan, even after all this time?

Clearly, that is the story. Why has he assiduously avoided an entanglement and what happens once he makes a move – assuming of course that he does? It’s a pretty good assumption on your part that he will, since I write romances with happy endings.

The Grabber

With all those hints, you can guess that the fully formed story of Tyler and Regan has been waking me for some time. You would be right – except the first chapter from which the story will flow. That first chapter has not yet shown itself. Or perhaps I should say it has shown itself a bit too often.

Some writers actually skip around and write the end or middle, then go back to create the beginning. In fact, my prologue for “Bedeviled” (available soon) and the opening elevator scene for “Bedazzled” were written after I had completed those books. Still, I favor writing in an orderly fashion, from start to finish. But I am struggling with how to start this story. I need a grabber.

What is a grabber? It is my “Call me Ishmael,”  the line that creates the setting and launches the story, all in one or two sentences. The grabber by definition is  the start that grabs your attention and makes you want to keep reading. It is crucial.

Three is not One

I have written three – yep, three – opening chapters for “Besotted” with three different grabbers (at least I hope they are grabbers).

Three first chapters, each launching the story of Tyler and Regan. Here’s the dilemma: each takes the novel in a different direction. This is an issue for me as a writer, and since it delays the story, it is a problem for you if you are waiting to follow my bachelors.

Regan kicks off one version of chapter one, Tyler launches the other two. I like them all. I must choose one and keep moving forward with that story line until it converges about four or five chapters from now, with the story it would become with any of these beginnings, the story that has been rattling in my head for months. It’s time to commit to one and move in that direction knowing that if it doesn’t feel right, it will land in the trash and I will start all over – frustrated and with days or weeks wasted.

So while I write this post, I am contemplating which direction to go, which beginning to work from, how to develop my story.

Which Grabber Grabs You?

Without giving away the grabber, or the story, I am sharing the three different openings so you can help me decide which to use. Just enter your vote in the comments section below by choosing option A, option B, or option C. Your votes should be just what I need to feel good about leaving two of these three behind.

Option A

Picks up where “Bedazzled” left off: Tyler is determined to make his move on Regan and plotting his approach only to discover she is dating someone new.

Option B

Tyler and Regan are out, and yet again he fails to make a move. Regan, assuming that he is disinterested, gives up on him and resolves to find someone new.

Option C

Regan shares a sexy kiss with a new love interest and Tyler chooses that moment to intercede. 

Did you Vote?

As you can see, all of these options move the story to the eventual tale of Tyler working to establish a romantic relationship with Regan. In all scenarios she will have a competing relationship. But where to start, where to place my grabber? That is the question. How do I grab your attention quickly and set the stage for our lovers?

Only a few more days and the opening will be set…get your voice heard now. Vote!! Note: There is no electoral college here. Your vote will be the final vote tally!

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Where’s the Mystery in Romance Writing? Right here

Mystery in Romance eyeI am getting excited. I am only weeks away from releasing my third novel in the Beguiling Bachelor series. “Bedeviled” follows “Bedazzled” and “Beholden” and I have added an element of suspense to the romance tradition. That is new to me, but it was fun to write. I see now why so many romance authors shift to creating romantic suspense. Some of my favorites like Iris Johansen and Julie Garwood have become compelling mystery writers.

It’s about expectations

Think about what mystery and romance readers share. Both have a clear expectation for their reading experience. Romance readers expect a ‘happily ever after” ending. It is the definition of a romance. The couple must resolve their differences, admit their love and sail off into the proverbial sunset. A good romance author will be sure to deliver on those expectations.

Think about what mystery and romance readers share. Both have a clear expectation for their… Click To Tweet

A suspense reader has expectations too. The mystery must be solved by the end of the story, even if an author leaves the door open for a sequel. All lose ends should be tied up. Just as we need reasons for lovers to fall for each other, a mystery must have clues leading up to the resolution. A good author may drop a few red herrings along the way, but would never resort to an out-of-the-blue ending. Readers might rebel, with just cause.

This is what made writing suspense such fun for me. It was a challenge for me to interweave the suspense element of clues and misdirection with the love story – boy meets girl, boy loses girl…well you get the idea.

No mystery here– I’m hooked

Just to be safe, I had both mystery and romance readers participate in my Advance Reading Club. No surprise, the ARC members – I call them Madison Michael VIPs – who read romance liked the romance and the suspense, but the ARC members who are serious mystery readers had good suggestions. Even my VIPs will find the improvements in my final version. What a lesson in suspense I received. Watch out Sandra Brown, here I come.

Now that I have added suspense, I am not sure I can ever go back. In truth, finding ways to create conflict between my lovers usually involves some amount of suspense anyway. Creating plausible ways to bring people together and keep them apart provides its own form of suspense. Is she really involved with the man our hero spotted her with at the café? Is he actually telling the truth when he says that affair is over? Those create their own form of tension, but adding a stalker changes the game.

So check out my stalker. I hope you enjoy reading “Bedeviled” as much as I enjoyed writing it.

More excitement

In other exciting news, I am thrilled to announce all new covers for my novels. Look for the big reveal on Amazon as they roll out this month.

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Let’s Talk about Sex, baby…

Sex. Just three little letters on a page, but oh, so much emotion. We see the world through the lens of our own backgrounds, history and experiences.

I am no exception.

Sex. Just three little letters on a page. 'Let's Talk about Sex, Baby'… Click To Tweet

Why Age Matters

While I was still young in the 1960’s, I had older sisters and so, despite the fact that I was only peripherally there, I am a product of the 60’s. Free love abounded and the idea of having sex before marriage became acceptable and continued to be so until STDs and AIDS slowed things down late in the 1980’s. Sex was a way to show your love and moving in together before marriage became a norm.. I remember my grandmother’s often quoted philosophy “why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free,” but it did not stop me from living with the man who later became my husband. Sorry Grandma, new rules.

By then the die had been cast throughout the country, for better or for worse. For me, romance and the idea of pre-marital sex had become inseparable, because that was my history and my experience. Marriage without the trial run of living together was unimaginable.

Needless to say, when I began writing I included sex in my love stories, because it seemed obvious to me. I found that sexual encounters added tension to my story, and they were a great way to show intimacy and a progression of the romance between my characters. A thwarted kiss creates tension, a kiss complete with a racing heart would indicate interest and signify beginnings, and lovemaking would show commitment to one another.

Why Age Matters – Part 2

The number one comment I get from readers is about sex. 'Let's Talk About Sex, Baby'… Click To Tweet I get feedback that I need more sex, or less sex. I get comments that the sex is hot, or that it is not. I even have a few people comment that they read for the sex, and more followers who read around it, uncomfortable with it being in the story.

None of these comments are from younger people, by which I mean under 35. They take sex for granted in relationships. While my generation tied sex to love, used it as a symbol of love, young people seem to have none of that emotion attached to sex. They want sex, they find sex and then they move on. Not all of them of course! But far more college age and even high school age kids than I expected told me they could and did detach love from sex.

Comfort Levels and Experience

I want to write sexy novels about couples who have electric, hot sex lives. Experts say that the number one sexual fantasy of women is the threat of discovery during sex – usually through an encounter in a place where someone might come upon them. I don’t think many of us live out this fantasy, perhaps our better judgment prevails, perhaps our partner is reluctant, perhaps we fear arrest for indecent exposure. But we fantasize about it. And most of us do not marry men with millions of dollars who buy us extravagant gifts and live in penthouses, even if that is the Cinderella story we learned to want from childhood. After all, there wouldn’t be enough penthouses to go around.

But in a romance, all of these fantasies can come true, at least on the page. There was an age where the equivalent of passion would be a man and woman touching hands without wearing gloves, or being alone on a walk. They were the scandalous fantasies of their day, and authors wrote about them in the same manner I write about Keeli and Wyatt in the elevator, or Sloane and Randall in the garage. My beguiling bachelors are fantasy – millionaires, penthouses, gifts and hot sex with the threat of exposure.

SEX AND ROMANCE

Romances are the number one selling genre of fiction in the world. In the world!

The number of companies that publish romance is astonishing, from the large well known companies like Harlequin to small specialty houses like Evernight Publishing. Interestingly, the big houses are specialty houses too, frequently creating imprints based on the amount of sex the protagonists have in the novel. Harlequin, for example, describes their Blaze imprint as “fun, sexy and always steamy” but their Heartwarming series as “wholesome…with traditional values.” Simon & Schuster has a Crimson Romance imprint called “Wild and Wanton.” Need I say more?

I publish my own novels but I have been thinking about how I would describe my imprint if I had one. The long version would include the fact that the setting is in Chicago, but the short version might be “sexy stories bordering on the erotic between a rich successful hero and a strong independent heroine.” You notice I border on erotica, I don’t go there. Even I have a comfort/discomfort level with sex. I guess we all do.

You can’t please all the people …

I realize that I cannot write a novel that appeals to everyone. But I can write several novels and eventually hope to make most of my readers happy. Of course, a happy audience is why I write.

So, dear readers, I ask you this. In a sentence or two,  what would YOUR ideal imprint be for the romance books you would want to read? Share your comments here or with me directly at maddy@madisonmichael.net

** REMINDER ** I will be a blog guest at Coffee Time Romance  this Monday, February 6. Please mark your calendars and come check it out. I will be answering questions and comments throughout the day.

Want more sex?

Here are two great sources for Erotica and Sexy Romances

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Selected Skills in Blogging and how to Welcome a Guest

book review blogsI have been so excited about blogging lately. Each week, I look forward to generating ideas, finding exciting artwork and sharing my world with you. Thanks to sites with wonderful and informative blogs of their own, sites like Problogger and Successfulblogging, I am gaining expertise in blogging.

Guests Welcome

As usual, the more I learn, the more I want to acquire knowledge and blogging is no different. Most recently, I have been initiated into the world of guest blogging. Guest blogging is when you blog on someone else’s site or they blog on yours. You can guest on Podcasts and Webinars too. People ‘guest’ often and for a variety of reasons. For the host, it offers a chance to introduce his/her audience to a broader array of topics that might be of interest. They can bring in expertise or entertainment in additional areas, and by extension,  gain influence in that arena.   For the guest, they cement their position as an expert. For both host and guest, the ability to reach new readers or listeners is a definite advantage.

MFRW – Peer Mentoring discovered

Thanks to Edie Hart, my colleague and author or “One Bad Day”, I recently learned about Marketing for Romance Writers (link), a group of dedicated romance authors helping other romance authors succeed. Since joining, I have been flooded with emails on topics from software to formatting and from giveaways to guesting.

My new found colleagues offer useful advice and opportunities to share information, including thoughtful reviews, entertaining and educational blogs and exciting giveaways and contests. I have discovered colleagues who have already been there/done that that can and do help me navigate the writing and publishing waters.

Five Blogs that I Like

I am suddenly connected with numerous romance writers with great books and blogs and I would like to share with you now and then. If you are like me, you are always looking for recommendations for that next great read. I often rely on the algorithms of Amazon, but here are five blogs/websites where you can get great reviews and suggestions. There are many more that I will share in the future, but these are some great ones to get you started.

I hope you find them as helpful and entertaining as I have.

1/ Romance.io

Why I like it: This review site, previously known as Romance and Smut, garners almost 400,000 hits/month. There is a reason people go here for romance reviews. The site can be searched by genre or by rating. You can peruse their best of lists, too. All of this makes it easier to hone in on that 5-star rated historical or paranormal romance you’ve been craving. Another plus: you can add your own reviews.

2/ Marketing for Romance Writers blog 

Why I like it: Spotlights 4-5 books with reviews by romance authors who know what readers are looking for in a romance. Include author bios and excerpts to assist in your reading decisions as well. You can join the more than 6000 people who check this blog monthly.

3/Shari Elder

Why I like it: First, Shari has one of the best home page banners I have ever seen, You will smile, I promise. Second, she does “Sexy Snippets” on Sundays where different authors share just a short 7-8 lines of their books with you. You get a quick taste of romance to help you discover new writers, and on Sunday, when you have time to savor it.

4/Rochelle Weber

WhyI like it: Rochelle’s Roses and Thorns blog has two reviews by Rochelle each week, but what I like is that she invites others to be volunteer reviewers too. Also, her reviews are brief and to the point.

5/Reviews by Crystal

Why I like it: You know that perfect conversation you have with a friend where you say “so, what are you reading now” and they tell you about that book they really like? Reading a review from Crystal Benedict on this blog feels just like that chat. She writes things like “If you, like me, enjoy reading in the bath tub they are the perfect size for a nice bath”. Seriously, it’s just like talking to your best friend.

Speaking of guest blogging, watch for my guesting on February 6 at www.ShariElder.com and March 31 at www.MaryEThompson.com.

You might also be interested in these larger book review sites

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