Follow the secret lives of Moonlighters Carrie Hinkel-Gill and Margay Leah Justice.
For website issues or questions, contact our Webmistress.
This blog works best with Mozilla. Scroll down to see today's blog.
Please Disable the Java add-on to your browsers to protect yourself from it's security flaws! Happy surfing!
Our Fantasy Files blog returns with a new look!
It's Tuesday, and that means Hollie posted a new review on our Book Review blog! Be sure to check them out!

Current Releases

Buy: Sloane Wolf by Margay; Nora's Soul by Margay; Pandora's Box by Gracen; Hell's Phoenix by Gracen

Video of the Day

We Are Young - Fun

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mystic Monday

St. Nick's Day
St. Nicholas

In creating the questions for our December guests, I discovered something that I never thought possible, that people don't celebrate St. Nick's Day.

Some of you may be scratching your head wondering what the heck I'm talking about. I'll clarify by saying that I do not mean Christmas. What I am talking about is a separate holiday altogether.

Since before I was born, St. Nick's Day has been celebrated annually on December 6th. This is a celebration in remembrance of the man named, Nicholas of Myra. He was a saint and Bishop of Myra (Demre, in Lycia, part of modern-day Turkey). Please see this wiki page for more information about Nicholas of Myra.

The biggest thing that he is known for is leaving gifts in shoes of people who left them outside their homes. Through time, the shoes evolved into stockings, which you'll note were "hung by the chimney with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there," in The Night Before Christmas.

Even though the idea of Santa Claus has evolved from St. Nicholas, he is considered to be separate from the jolly red man.

Another interesting note that you'll learn from the wiki page, is that this day is celebrated throughout most of Wisconsin; in Cleveland and Cincinnati, OH; and St. Louis, MO; but it is celebrated outside the U.S. According to another St. Nick's website,, in Germany, children put their shoes outside their bedroom before going to bed on the night of December 5th and in the Netherlands, children put their shoes in front of the fireplace. However, I was not aware how unknown this holiday is in the U.S. until Gracen was confused by my question. It honestly never occurred to me that this was not a widely celebrated holiday event.

It is rumored on this day that naughty children would find coal in their stockings and good children will find treats. The treats do not have to be big ticket items, but usually chocolate coins and other candy goodies. Over time, some parents have opted for larger ticket items for the stocking.

The point of this holiday is to remember the kindness that Nicholas of Myra had shown to the less fortunate. However, I feel that in recent years this holiday has become almost too commercialized in the stores, but that's just my opinion.

Celebrating St. Nick's Day is a tradition that can be started at any age and can continue throughout adulthood. I still receive St. Nick's gifts from my mother and now my mother-in-law. Nothing big, usually candy or sometimes little practical items.

By this point, some of you may be wondering how/why is St. Nick different than Santa Claus? Well, the overall point is that the current, secularized version of Santa is more about gift giving and less about the saint himself. Yes, Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ, but the true meaning of St. Nick does get lost, or is lost, to many people.

Besides the above mentioned websites, there is also an actual website, created by the St. Nicholas Society (which is where the above image came from) devoted specifically to increasing awareness of St. Nicholas and the true meaning of him. Gift-giving is acceptable (at both times of the year), but the idea is to dial it down and try to remember the kind man, Nicholas of Myra, and all the good that he did.

In case you're wondering why it's celebrated on December 5th, it's because that was the day he died in 343 AD.

I'm curious, how many of you out there celebrate St. Nick's Day? How long has the tradition been going on in your family?

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Please help me welcome author, Rie McGaha! It's a pleasure and an honor to have you with us today, Rie!

I had the pleaure of meeting Rie through our publisher, Noble Romance Publishing, and she recently celebrated the birth of her 25th grandchild. When I learned that she had 12 children and 25 grandchildren, my first thought was how exciting her holidays must be and how loud! LOL Rie has lived all over the United States, but now resides in Oklahoma with her husband and rescues abused and neglected animals, many of which have become permanent family members. She is the author of Blood Line, Ancient Blood, Two for Hire, Caleb, Arion, and Deadly Dreams, and has a western anthology, Cocked and Fully Loaded, releasing soon. These are just a few of the books Rie has available. Visit Rie's website to learn more about Rie and her books.


GRACEN: Do you have any favorite Thanksgiving movie or program that you enjoy watching every year? If more than one, tell us all of them!

RIE: When the kids were small we used to watch the Macy’s parade, but since they’ve all grown up and moved out, we don’t really do anything.

GRACEN: What, if any, Thanksgiving traditions (decorating, gathering with friends and family for a meal, etc.) do you have?

RIE: We didn’t have much extra money when the kids were little, so I always tried to make the holidays special in whatever way I could. I saw a magazine cover at the doctor office and it featured Tuxedo Turkey, so that year I made a little tuxedo with pie dough, cut out the vest, bow tie, buttons and pockets, colored the pieces with food coloring and arranged the tux on the turkey the last ten minutes of baking, and viola! Tuxedo Turkey! That was about 15 years ago and we’ve had Tuxedo Turkey every Thanksgiving since.

GRACEN: What was your most memorable Thanksgiving and why?

RIE: My first grandchild, Mathew (now almost 17) was 10 months old on his first Thanksgiving and we had the table all set and were about ready to sit down to eat when I walked into the dining room to find Mat had climbed up on the table and was on his hands and knees eating the turkey face first. It was the cutest thing!

GRACEN: Which do you choose: white or dark turkey, white potatoes or yams, green beans or corn, bread rolls or crescent rolls?

RIE: I am definitely a dark meat person, the thighs are mine! I like both types of potatoes, corn all the way, and I make my own dinner rolls!

GRACEN: What, in your opinion, was the oddest food served at a Thanksgiving dinner you’ve attended?

RIE: Tofurkey! I’m not against tofu or vegetarians, I used to be a vegetarian, but tofurkey is just wrong!

GRACEN: Tell us 3 things you are thankful for this year, please.

RIE: My two granddaughters Isabell and Meagan were born this year.
My son Cody was discharged from the Marine Corps.
And my son Michael had testicular cancer, but the latest tests show the treatments worked and he is cancer free!

GRACEN: Just for fun, if you could be among any of the original members of that first Thanksgiving, who would it be, the Pilgrims or the Wampanoag (Native Americans)? Why?

RIE: The Wampanoags because I would just love to have been here to see this country before the white man screwed it up!

GRACEN: Considering that feast, what do you think that first harvest celebration meal would be?

RIE: Probably a lot of game meat, corn, vegetables and bread. Maybe the Pilgrim women made cakes or pies or something too, but I imagine the fare was really very simple considering the time period.

Now, let’s get to your writing:

GRACEN: Why erotic fantasy/paranormal/suspense? What’s the draw?

RIE: I didn’t start out writing erotic fiction, I started out writing straight romance with paranormal or suspense settings. When I got my first contract with Noble Romance Publishing for Deadly Dreams Jill liked the story but it wasn’t erotic, so she tutored me in adding the erotic element and since then I’ve had several titles published with Noble. However, I am now trying to get back into mainstream romance. I’m old and just can’t write any new erotica!

GRACEN: If you could describe your writing with a word or phrase, what would it be? What do you want readers to take with them when they've finished reading your story?

RIE: My tagline is …fantasy that keeps you up, and I think that pretty much sums up what I write. I don’t know that I want the readers to take anything in particular with them after reading one of my books. I think the main reason people read erotic romance is to transport themselves from reality to a place of fun and romance for an hour or so. If I can give people a break from the stress in their lives, that’s a pretty good thing.

GRACEN: Have you ever written Thanksgiving into your stories? Why or why not?

RIE: I have a book that’s out with another publisher right now that has a bit of Thanksgiving written into the story line. It’s called Cross The Line and is my personal favorite.

I don’t really write holiday themed stories because I feel as if it confines the story line. Some people do really well with themes, but I’m not one of them, although I am writing a short for a Valentine’s Day anthology, so we’ll see how that goes!

GRACEN: Who decides what you write about, you or your muse? What kind of influence do you have over your story, or is the muse always the one basting the turkey?

RIE: I like to think it’s all me, but the fact is if the voices in my head aren’t talking, I don’t do much writing! Sometimes they can take my characters in different directions than I had planned and sometimes that’s okay, other times it’s just a pain! But the trick is to know when to rein in the voices and when to let them run.

GRACEN: Have you ever based a character on a real-life person? If so, why? Was it simply to immortalize them or was there more to it than that? If you can, tell us the name of that person, please! We’re all curious here!

RIE: I just received a contract from Champagne Books for a novel called Closure and a good portion of it is actually based on my own life, although I am not about to tell anyone which parts are real and which are fiction! But in general my characters can have elements of their personalities based on people I know, or their looks can be based on people I know or on celebrities. For instance, in Blood Line Joshua is totally based on my husband, Nathan and Ganda’s looks, as a young woman, is based on Catherine Zeta-Jones.

GRACEN: What character did you have the most fun creating and why?

RIE: In Closure, the serial killer is a woman and that was a ton of fun because I made my husband act out the murder scenes just to make sure they could actually be done!

GRACEN: If you had the opportunity to meet just one of your characters in real life, who would it be and why? Which of your characters would you never want to meet under any circumstance and why?

RIE: I would love to meet any of the heroes in my books. They’re all wonderfully, caring, romantic, macho men who knows how to please a woman and enjoys doing it!

As far as not wanting to meet one of them, that would be Lucius McKenna from Deadly Dreams. He’s down right scary!



Half witch and half wolf, Ganda is like no other being on earth, but more than 3,000 years ago the love of her life, Colin, was killed and since then she's remained an old black woman in the swamps of Louisiana. That was until Joshua and Jessie Kaine showed up and brought her back to life. Now on a mission to put her past to rest, Ganda visits the land of her birth and the land of Colin's death--Egypt. What she finds there isn't the answer she's looking for, but a mystery that will change her entire future.

Ancient Blood by Rie McGaha (coming Dec. 7 from Noble Romance Publishing, the sequel to Blood Line)

Amenemhat traveled under the cover of darkness, knowing the danger he would face if recognized, and knew it would surely end his life. The people would welcome no consort of the crown. They were hungry, their children were dying, and they had little will left to help themselves, but they would have no problem killing the right-hand man of the dynasty they blamed for their deplorable lives.

After traveling most of the night, he reached Thebes by early morning light. Exhausted as he entered the temple to pray and be fortified, he stood before the altar of Amun, and Amenemhat felt a shiver run over his flesh and knew he was not alone. Slipping the knife from his waistband, he held it hidden in the folds of his robes. He turned slowly, and then involuntarily sucked a breath into his lungs at the sight he beheld.

The woman was ethereal in her beauty. Dark, thick hair fell to her knees in glorious, shining waves. With eyes as black as night, she peered at him from beneath heavy lashes. The faintest blush against alabaster skin highlighted her cheeks. Red and full, her perfect mouth nearly curved into a smile, but not quite. Her gown appeared to shine like silver, held beneath her firm, full breasts with a girdle of braided gold. The long sleeves fell like bells past her wrists, covering her hands as they lay loosely at her sides. Standing with bare feet, she observed him as if he was the intruder. The knife in his hand clattered on the marble floor.

"Who are you?" He asked in a barely audible whisper. Licking his lips, he tried to overcome the complete way she had caused his brain to all but cease functioning.

With one slow step toward him, she extended one hand in front of her as if she would touch him. He felt his breath catch in his lungs as she crossed the distance between them without seeming to have moved at all.

"You may call me Ganda."

Her voice was as close to music as he'd ever heard. And then she was beside him, laying her hand gently on his arm.

"You have nothing to fear, Amenemhat," she assured him softly.

He swallowed hard, forced himself to take a long, slow breath. His skin was on fire beneath her touch. His blood felt as if it were about to boil. Barely able to hold a coherent thought in his head, he stared at her, inhaled deeply, and let the breath out slowly. Finally, he was able to speak. "Why are you here in this sanctuary? How do you know me?" He hoped his voice sounded steadier to her than it did to him, though she appeared not to notice his nervousness.

"I…” she hesitated and looked over her shoulder at a man Amenemhat hadn’t even noticed. She smiled again, and corrected herself. "We, that is, have heard your prayers."

The man that joined her looked altogether normal, yet not quite, as Amenemhat looked him over. He was tall, but no taller than Amenemhat himself, and he had black hair, with eyes as blue as a summer sky. It was in the way he carried himself, Amenemhat decided. The man just appeared so much larger than life. He was definitely human, but he was also something more than that. Something sleeker, wilder, more defined than an ordinary man.

"I'm Colin," the man said with a smirk, as if he knew exactly what Amenemhat had been thinking.

Amenemhat cleared his throat, but it didn't help, his mouth was so dry his tongue was glued to the roof. He cleared his throat again but no sound came out. When the woman looked directly at him it seemed as if he could no longer control himself. His mind failed to function, as well as his mouth. Something about her made him want to touch her, to bow before her, to worship her body, and to promise her anything she might ask of him.

Finally, Amenemhat was able to pull himself together and managed to croak, "I don't understand how you came to be in this place. It is sacred. Only the king, the priests, and myself, are allowed in this sanctuary."

The man and woman looked at one another, joined their hands and smiled into each other's eyes. There was nothing Amenemhat could mistake in the look that passed between them. The woman belonged to this strange man, and Amenemhat thought he heard the word mine whispered on the air when the two joined hands. He took a step back. It was fear and respect, awe that he felt now.

Neither of these beings were simply normal human beings. He knew it in the depths of his soul, though he couldn’t have said what it was he thought they might be. The woman looked him in the eye again and he felt his stomach muscles quiver, his blood seemed to explode within him, and he couldn’t breathe. Falling prostrate before them, he pressed his fists to his eyes. He didn't see the look the man gave the woman, or the smiles that passed between them.

The man shrugged and said, "Arise,” with so much authority Amenemhat immediately obeyed.

"How may I serve you, my lord?"

Again Colin smiled but caught the look Ganda sent him and quickly sobered. "We aren't here to be served, but rather to help you. We heard your prayers, we've seen the devastation in your country, and we want to help all of you."

Amenemhat looked warily from one to the other now. Speaking of his country sobered him. "Help? In what way would you be able to help? We are all but finished here! The war has raged since before I was born, before my king was born, and none of his predecessors were able to end the civil war here in Egypt. How can you help?"

"We are able to see beyond what you see. And able to succeed in areas that a…well, that a man such as yourself is unable to," the woman said.

Amenemhat could have listened to her all day so sweet was her voice, and so warm was her touch, and so very seductive. He would have done anything to have a long, slow taste of her, of that mouth, and to be able to feel that body beneath his. Everything that was male within him reacted to her. She was the most beautiful, desirable woman he’d ever seen in his life. He had never felt such hot desire licking through him, had never felt such raw lust pricking every nerve in his body.

This woman was snatched from his fantasies. One he had dreamed of but knew could never really exist. The gods had simply not been able to create such perfection. Yet, here she stood with all that glorious hair falling around her. It was all he could do not to reach out and wrap his hands in it. Her dark eyes were like pools with endless depths and he was sure she could see right into his very thoughts, his mind and soul.

He could imagine kissing those lips, sucking that full bottom lip into his mouth. Her breasts, so full and high, he could see her nipples in his mind’s eye all puckered and pink. Licking his lips, he felt the heat of his desire for her coursing through his blood. He knew he had never wanted a woman the way he wanted this one, and he would never touch another woman without thinking of this one, then he caught the look the man was giving him.

"She belongs to me, and if you want to continue drawing breath in this life, I suggest you keep those thoughts out of your head," Colin said softly with a smile that belied the edge of danger hanging from his words.

Amenemhat's mouth fell open. Falling flat on his face, he lay prostrate before them once more. This time, however, he begged for forgiveness and pleaded for his life. They must truly be gods Amenemhat thought vaguely, since they could read his mind!

Colin almost laughed out loud. Not a god at all, but what could it hurt if everyone thought he was? Egypt was going to be fun!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Starlight Saturday

YA Author Spotlight Presents...
Penny Colman - Close
Penny Colman!!!

Penny Colman is all about truth. In fact, you could call her a myth buster! Yeah, that's really an appropriate name for her. If you check out the books on her website, you'll see that she tries to demystify Corpses, Coffins and Crypts, as well as provide a perspective on Toilets, Bathtubs, Sinks and Sewers: A History of the Bathroom, and many other fascinating subjects in history. The book that I want to focus on today is her book, Thanksgiving: The True Story.

Thanksgiving: The True StoryColman covers 8 different topics related to Thanksgiving: Competing Claims for the title of First Thanksgiving, Two Very Old Traditions, Sarah Josepha-Hale's Campaign for a Day of National Thanksgiving, The "Pilgrim and Indian" Story, Gatherings of family and friends, Activities, Foods that the Pilgrims probably did have, The three main themes surrounding Thanksgiving.

Whew! I didn't think I could get all that out! That's a lot of stuff to cover, which is what makes this book a reference every family should have! As far as I am concerned, this book is worth it for the first chapter alone. She starts off with a discussion of competing claims, with several taking place before that noted 1621 date. But what's really nice about the presentation is that she starts with table chronicling, "When, Where, What and Nature of Claim," and each one is numbered. Then, she presents a map with each number to indicate where in the U.S. that claim is took place, which is very well done. Then the discussion begins. She takes you all over the map to discover these claims. Black and white photos make for pleasing visuals throughout the book.

Did they really have turkey on that first Thanksgiving? I'm not spoiling the answer! You'll have to read the book to find out!!

Now that I've made you think about Thanksgiving leftovers that might still be in your fridge, let's get to the interview with Penny!

Q. Do you have any favorite Thanksgiving movie or program that you enjoy watching every year? If more than one, tell us all of them!

A. No, I don’t have a favorite Thanksgiving movie or program. Truth is, I don’t watch television and rarely go to the movies. Your question, however, piqued my curiosity so I goggled “Thanksgiving Movies.” Would you believe--67,600 results! Of the five lists I checked, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” (1987), “Alice’s Restaurant” (1969), “Pieces of April” (2003), “Home for the Holidays” (1995), and “Ice Storm” (1997), made four lists; “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986), were on three; “Dutch” (1991), on two, “Giant” (1956), “Brokeback Mountain” (2005), and “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” (1973), on one. Have I seen any of them? Only one—“Giant,” when my mother, a fan of Edna Ferber, who wrote the novel, Giant, took me to see it when it first came out many, many years ago.

Q. What, if any, Thanksgiving traditions (decorating, gathering with friends and family for a meal, etc.) do you have?

A. Over the ever-changing years, I have had various Thanksgiving traditions. There were the years I lived with my husband and three close-in-age-children in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, far away from our East coast friends and families. For Thanksgiving, our tradition was to attend a community pot-luck feast, which included tables of turkeys and every conceivable version of appetizers, stuffing, potatoes, vegetables, Jell-O salads, breads and rolls, and desserts. In my book, Thanksgiving: The True Story, I described how I learned about regional differences when I encountered dish after dish of okra—raw, marinated, or breaded and fried-- an unfamiliar vegetable to me and my family. After the meal, we played a rousing game of any-age-or-ability-can-play softball.

Since relocating to New Jersey thirty years ago, my traditions have included a stretch of years when my second cousin from Argentina and a family from India, who always brought samosas, came for Thanksgiving. Last year, however, for a variety of reasons my partner and I had a guestless Thanksgiving. Still, we set our traditional Thanksgiving table—linen table cloth and napkins, china dishes, silverware, and crystal goblets around a Thanksgiving centerpiece and cooked our traditionally large turkey (we love left-overs), stuffing, pecan and pumpkin pies. But instead of the traditional vegetable dishes--broccoli with cheese sauce, green bean casserole; sweet potato casserole, mashed white potatoes; ginger carrots—we cooked turnips and spinach. Then we went for a long walk at a nature center where we happened upon a rafter of wild turkeys! Before the day ended, we had phone conversations or email exchanges with our friends and family.

As for other traditions: I always carve the turkey, a skill I learned from my father; I always do something outside regardless of the weather, and I give thanks (see question #6).

Q. What was your most memorable Thanksgiving and why?

A. Thinking back over my Thanksgivings, many have been memorable but for different reasons; a few were sad like the one following my brother’s death, others unique, including my first year in college when I decided to stay at school, got a job waiting on tables, and found a worm in the salad I was about to give to the dean. Then there was the year my sister got married in her backyard on Thanksgiving Day.  One of my most memorable (perhaps because the turkey and stuffing are my signature contributions) was when one of my sons set the oven on broil to toast his breakfast bagel and neither he nor I thought to reset it to bake, thus the turkey got thoroughly broiled before the smoke alerted me to the problem.

Q. Which do you choose: white or dark turkey, white potatoes or yams, green beans or corn, break rolls or crescent rolls?

A. Without fail, I choose: white meat, yams, green beans, and crescent rolls.

Q. What, in your opinion, was the oddest food served at a Thanksgiving dinner you’ve attended?

A. The oddest food served at a Thanksgiving dinner I attended was the year
one of my brothers-in-law served steaks! The only turkeys on the table were miniature chocolate ones wrapped in shiny foil.

Q. Tell us 3 things you are thankful for this year, please.

A. Giving thanks on Thanksgiving is, for me, a continuation of giving thanks everyday for the people near and dear to me--my family and friends. I also give thanks for all the people I don’t know who are working for peace, and for the protection of the natural world, the end of violence against women and girls, and the eradication of poverty. I am also feeling thankful that this was the year I finished writing my forthcoming book, Stirring Up The World: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, a Biography of a Powerful Friendship.

Q. Just for fun, if you could be among any of the original members of that first Thanksgiving, who would it be, the Pilgrims or the Wampanoag (Native Americans)? Why?

A. First, a point of clarification: my research for Thanksgiving: The True Story led me to discover 12 competing claims for the “First” Thanksgiving—2 in Texas, 2 in Florida, 1 in Maine, 2 in Virginia, and 5 in Massachusetts, including the event that you’re referring to, which occurred in 1621 and has become the iconic story for the origins of Thanksgivings. (There’s a two-page table with these claims in my book.)

Now, for your question: I would want to be a Wampanoag because they already knew how to plant and hunt and build and thrive.

Q. Considering that feast, what do you think that first harvest celebration meal would be?

A. According to the only firsthand report of the event, the colonists killed many “fowl,” which could have included ducks, geese, ruffed grouse, bobwhite, wild turkeys, also heath hens and passenger pigeons, both of which are now extinct. The Wampanoag “killed five deer,” which meant there was venison. Other foods were probably cod, eel, shellfish, squash, and pudding made from corn, nuts and dried berries.

Q. Why true histories rather than fiction. What’s the draw?

A. For me, the question is: “Why fiction rather than true histories?” But to answer your question: the draw is--I love the intensity, immediacy, drama, intrigue, and relevance of true history. Through my research and writing, I enrich and inform my life by getting to know real people who lived real lives.

Q. If you could describe your writing with a word or phrase, what would it be? What do you want readers to take with them when they’ve finished reading your story?

A. A word would be—Stimulating.

I’d like readers to finish reading and feel/think that their time was well-spent. That they thought new thoughts, met inspiring role models, learn interesting information, gained insights and saw intriguing pictures. I do my own picture research and take photographs. My book Corpses, Coffins, and Crypts: A History of Burial is rich in visual images, including a headstone with the epitaph, “I told you I was sick.” [too funny!]

Q. Have you ever written Thanksgiving into your other stories? Why or Why not?

A. No, because it wasn’t relevant.

Q. Who decides what person you write about, you or your muse. What kind of influence do you have over your choices, or is the muse always the one basting the turkey.

A. I decide who I write about, unless the story dictates someone I would not have chosen, such as Sarah Josepha Hale who warranted a whole chapter in Thanksgiving: The True Story because of her relentless campaign to establish a “Day of National Thanksgiving.”

Q. Since your books are about real-life people, why did you choose the ones you wrote about? Was it simply to immortalize them or was there more to it than that? What kind of research did you have to do for these books?

A. I am drawn to people who have persevered and found ways to live a meaningful, productive, and adventurous life, such as the women I wrote about in Adventurous Women: Eight True Stories About Women Who Made a Difference that I dedicated to my granddaughter Sophie. I write to put forth a terrific true story, a task that requires massive amounts of research in libraries, archives, historic sites, cemeteries, on the Internet. I also conduct interviews, sort though visual material, etc. etc.

Q. Of all of the stories you’ve written, what person did you have the most fun writing about and why?

A. The people demand too much of me to qualify as fun, but the road trips I take to do research are great fun.

Q. If you had the opportunity to meet just one of the people you’ve written about in real life, who would it be and why? Is there anyone you’ve written about that you would never want to meet under any circumstances? Who is it and why wouldn’t you want to meet them?

A. The last part of your question first—no, there isn’t anyone because writing is too big an investment of time and energy for me to use it on someone I would never want to meet under any circumstances.

As for who I’d like to meet, that would be all of them—Fannie Lou Hamer, Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Dorothea Dix, and the women workers I wrote about in Rosie the Riveter: Women Working on the Home Front in World War II, etc., but since you asked for “just one,” I settled on Frances Perkins, about whom I wrote in my biography, A Woman Unafraid: The Achievements of Frances Perkins.

As Secretary of Labor from 1933-1945, Frances Perkins was the first woman in the United States cabinet and the architect of some of the most far-reaching and important reforms and social legislation ever enacted in America, including unemployment compensation, child labor laws, the forty-hour workweek, workplace safety, and the establishment of Social Security. An engaging storyteller, she had a great sense of humor and lived a full and productive life until she died at the age of eighty-five. “You just can’t be afraid,” she once said, “if you’re going to accomplish anything.”

You can hear me talk about Frances Perkins and hear excerpts from her speeches on NPR’s “Morning Edition.” There is a link to it at

Friday, November 27, 2009




Without all of our wonderful readers and followers, our first seven months wouldn't have been so successful here at Moonlight, Lace & Mayhem! So, a huge THANK YOU to all of you!

Following Margay's lead, I'm going to post the first chapter of my book as well, BUT I'm going to be giving away an e-copy to one winner. If you're interested in winning a copy of Elfin Blood, leave me a comment telling me your favorite Thanksgiving food (or if you don't celebrate the American holiday, tell me your favorite holiday food) and you'll be entered for a chance to win. Best of luck!


Reviews I've received so far:

G.R. Bretz said: “Stopping in the middle of this story would have been as feasible as stopping in the middle of sex.” To read the complete review, go here.

Sheila Deeth said: “Gracen Miller creates an interesting cast of characters in Elfin Blood, and fills their world with delightfully intriguing surprises. Very nicely done Gracen, and definitely not your granny’s or granddaughter’s romance.” To read the complete review go here and scroll down to the first comment.


Elfin Blood
Elfin Blood Copyright 2009 Gracen Miller
Cover Art by Fiona Jayde

Chapter One

Julija squinted against the sun’s harsh rays. Not even her darkly tinted sunglasses entirely cut the glare. The frames slid down her sweat-slick nose. She pushed them back up and looked around, her impatience rising. For the fifth time in as many minutes, she glanced at her watch. Two minutes left. She resettled her gaze on the odd-looking house across the street.

The structure looked more like a fortress than an actual home and gave her the creeps. It was too gothic, too dark, and contrary to her light-imbued life.

Made from slate, the house reached high into the sky like a castle with its domed ceilings. Gargoyles carved from stone rested above the windows, as if offering protection from demonic entities. With a vampire in residence, perhaps they did.

She shuddered to think of it as a home, but the richest, most powerful man in the city of Veil—Landau Jamieson the IV or V or something along that order—considered it such. The man was the sole reason she stood here, or rather the vampire disguised as a man was the sole reason. Ironically the city’s residents considered him royalty. Hell, more like Batman of Gotham in these parts.

Priceless. Absolutely priceless. For no other purpose other than to make herself feel good, Julija rolled her eyes beneath the thick shades.

The vampire had stolen the Ivory Elfin Book of Lore. The ancient tome detailing every creature in existence, including the fey, had been entrusted to the Elves at the dawn of creation. Whoever possessed the book also possessed great knowledge, expertise that could be dangerous if it fell into the wrong hands. Ownership of the book also ensured great power, power she could not allow a vampire to keep.

For a week now, Julija had watched him and tried to gauge the best time to strike. Failure was not an option for the best thief among the Elves. Secretly, she was proud of her talent; it had served her people well. Elves were renowned for their light step, and it just so happened her fingers were stickier than most of her kind.

Security systems could not deter her; she possessed enough magic to nix the best system in the world.

She would retrieve the book, once she figured out how to bypass the perceptive vampire and his minions. One thing still puzzled her—how had the vampire stolen it to begin with when only Elf Royals were allowed to touch it? Another dilemma for her since she was not an Elf Royal.

Her best chance to retrieve it would be in two days when the vampire attended the depot dedication of Veil's newly renovated train station. Feeling melodramatic about the event, she rolled her eyes again. How humans loved to waste money. The homeless lived near the train station, beneath the bridges in cardboard boxes. Died there too, while the station went through elaborate renovations for the wealthy and elite.

Julija glanced at her watch again as the black limousine rolled to a halt in front of the vampire’s home. Like clockwork, the man left for work every day at precisely the same time. Talk about being a creature of habit!

The vampire in question strode about as blatant as he pleased in daylight. Daylight! Vampires and daylight mixed like metal and acid. Daylight and acid were supposed to vaporize vampires and metal, but apparently not so with this vampire.

Every cocky step he took reeked arrogance. While she pondered how he managed to keep from melting beneath the sunlight, he lifted his head. Their gazes locked.

Cool as ice, and trained for confrontations, she returned his gaze. While not the most skilled fighter, she possessed some ability in that area.

Landau’s stylishly cut, dark blonde hair gleamed like gold beneath the bright sun. The man was tall, broad shouldered, and athletically built. The charcoal gray business suit, tailored precisely to fit his frame, bespoke wealth—not money, but wealth. Even from this distance, he oozed pheromones and drew her like an addictive narcotic. That could be dangerous for her elfin libido—inordinately high in comparison to other fey creatures.

The vampire tossed her a crooked grin before sliding into the back seat, leaving little question in her mind he’d spotted her. Unmoving, she watched as the limo pulled away.

Perfect. He knows he’s being watched.

Although gone from the residence, unfortunately that didn’t mean Landau left his home unguarded. Oh, no, nothing could be that easy.

Flagrant to her elfin eyes, his home embodied magic. Translated, that meant he’d opened the Ivory Elfin Book of Lore and was, in fact, utilizing the spells in the book. In all likelihood he’d used the same witchery to protect himself from the glaring sun.

Because of this, she’d have to kill him once she had the book in her possession again.

* * * * *

Landau adjusted the black sunglasses on his face and glanced out the limousine window.

The woman on the bench appealed to him with her pale, almost white, blonde hair. Through her thick shades he’d assessed her eyes to be pale blue with barely a hint of color, rather albino in nature. Her milky white complexion had looked softer than satin. He wondered how such delicate skin would bruise.

But she had an agenda. Either she was a reporter—not likely—or up to no good. Bingo! Landau couldn’t wait to find out the no good part. A long time had passed since he’d enjoyed himself.

Although he’d tried, he couldn’t read her mind. She possessed one of few human minds he couldn’t penetrate. Or she wasn’t human. The phenomena lent her an air of mystery. Even though he couldn't glean her thoughts, he knew her mind worked at top speed, planning, scheming, and devising until a perfect little blueprint had been mapped out in her mind. Her eyes were too shrewd to suggest otherwise.

He’d tossed her a snarky little grin before entering the limo, just to let her know he knew she was stalking him. That should leave give her something to think about. He chuckled then addressed his bodyguard. “Find out who she is.”

“Immediately,” Edward, an Abecedarian—a fledgling, in human terms—agreed and then tipped his nose in the air and sniffed as if in disdain over being assigned such a menial task.


Don't forget to leave me a comment to be entered for a chance to win an e-copy of Elfin Blood!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Ravenous Romance and Home Shopping Network

Join Forces to Bring You


Leave a comment for a chance to win one of four books we’ll be giving away!

Voyage to a distant land where fantasy and passion ignite. The Escape with Romance Exclusive 6-Book Collection is a fascinating compilation of stories filled with infatuation, excitement and of course, love. These tales will evoke the internal fires that burn deep within us all. Choose from the 3 collections; the romantically nostalgic Historical genre, the futuristic and supernatural of the Paranormal genre, or the modern-day heroines of the Contemporary genre. Plus, if you can't decide choose the Sampler, which includes 2 books from every genre, so you can get a little bit of it all. Suddenly, reading just got a lot more interesting.

More information on ESCAPE WITH ROMANCE here:*Browse*2*NA

Ravenous Romance Web Site:

Escape with Romance Exclusive 6-Book Collection Features:

Historical Genre:

• "Land of Falling Stars" by Keta Diablo; 192 pages
• "Force My Hand" by Em Brown; 192 pages
• "Kiss of Scandal" by Isabel Roman; 192 pages
• "The Mercenary Bride" by Jamaica Layne; 192 pages
• "Dark Desires of the Druids #1" by Isabel Roman; 192 pages
• "The American Heiress" by Roxanne Dent; 191 pages

Contemporary Genre:

• "Ripping the Bodice" by Inara LaVey; 192 pages
• "Nashville Heat" by Bethany Michaels; 192 pages
• "Hot on Her Heels" by Monica Newcomb; 192 pages
• "The Lady's Choice" by Trudy Doyle; 191 pages
• "Once an Obsession" by Bella French; 192 pages
• "Vital Signs" by Jamica Lane; 192 pages

Paranormal Genre:

• "The Wolfpact" by Jo Atkinson; 191 pages
• "Stilettos, Inc." by Lexi Ryan; 192 pages
• "Twilights Edge" by Jo Atkinson; 208 pages
• "Love in Space" by Lisa Lane; 192 pages
• "Haunted Seduction" by Morgan James; 192 pages
• "Loving Daylight" by Malia Sutton; 192 pages


• "Land of Falling Stars" by Keta Diablo; 192 pages
• "Kiss of Scandal" by Isabel Roman; 192 pages
• "Stilettos, Inc." by Lexi Ryan; 192 pages
• "Twilights Edge" by Jo Atkinson; 208 pages
• "Ripping the Bodice" by Inara Lavey; 191 pages
• "Nashville Heat" by Bethany Michaels; 192 pages

Reader reviews from the Home Shopping Network Site:

“I found these books to be well written and recommend them to anyone who loves romance.” Joan, Kentucky

“These books kept me up at night! I bought the Paranormal series and I loved them.” Karen, New York

“Some of the best romance books I've ever read! Every one is a page-turner.” Nightchick, California

“Historicals are my favorite genre. When a friend who frequents HSN told me about this, I had to order them.” Christinereader, New Jersey

* * *
Nashville Heat by Bethany Michaels

"The heroine of this superb story leaps off the page with intelligence, drive and a full range of emotions. Michaels has a wonderful ear for dialogue, a knack for writing her heroine into slyly clever predicaments and an equally apparent talent for writing some of the most arousing sex scenes you'll ever read." Romantic Times (4 1/2 stars)

"Ms. Michaels' talent as a writer amazed me and had me so enthralled, I could not put this book down. If I could give this novel a higher rating than 5 cups, I would; it will just blow you away! The romance is hot, the sex is sizzling, and the overall storyline is a must-read, cannot-miss story for everyone!" Coffee Time Romance (5-cup review)

About Nashville Heat:

When Sydney Stratton moved to Nashville to follow her dream of making it big in the country music business, she never counted on meeting Dex Wilder, Music City's bad boy country star, let alone hooking up with him!

But just as lust begins to turn into something deeper and Sydney gets to know the man behind the tabloids, revealing photos and a devastating secret surface, threatening any future Sydney and Dex might have together.

Greetings! When I moved to Nashville three years ago, I discovered that it is a city of contrasts. It has a load of old-fashioned Southern charm in the form of honky-talks and Civil War battlefields, yet supports a thriving art and music scene with a metropolitan sophistication. It's down-home friendly, yet diverse in its population. It's a tourist destination, yet a place where people immediately feel at home. I've tried to share some of the places and things that make Nashville such a unique city in Nashville Heat and hope ya'll will be coming to Nashville in 2010 when we host RWA's national convention!

Bethany Michaels

* * *

Dark Desires of the Druids (Murder and Magick) by Isabel Roman

The characters in this book have very strong wills and it was difficult for them to acknowledge the desire for each other's help in the time of need....I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series.- Literary Nymphs

About Dark Desires of the Druids I: Murder and Magick:

Raven Drake wants the freedom to explore all that is restricted to a Victorian lady. Malcolm, Lord Preston, desires her from the moment he sees her, and doesn't allow society's rules to stand in his way. Their tryst is a welcome distraction from witch hunters and political maneuverings. But can it overcome the weight of another man's ring on her finger?

About Kiss of Scandal:

Countess Katria Markova finds her perfectly ordered life, irrevocably altered when a dear friend is murdered. Count Nikolai Orlov will do anything to clear his brother's name, except put Katria in harm's way. From the snowy streets of St. Petersburg to the River Neva's icy depths, they search for the answers to clear Nikolai. But in their search, will they lose each other?

Being a part of the Home Shopping Network's Escape with Romance has been absolutely wonderful! I'm so happy and thankful to have this opportunity.

Isabel Roman

* * *

Loving Daylight by Malia Sutton

Dearcritique says:

"...a great, enjoyable read.... Malia writes with a simple style that keeps the story moving fast and the reader interested in what's coming next.” -- Dear Critique

About Loving Daylight:

Vampire Avenir LaFramboise is over one hundred years old, but he still carries a torch for his first love. When he travels back to Mt. Desert Island, Maine, to meet her descendant, he is swept away by the stunning Sienna. But Sienna's family hides a chilling secret, and if Avenir wants to win her heart, he must help her discover the truth...

Greetings Friends,
Being part of The Home Shopping Network's ESCAPE WITH ROMANCE adventure with all the other talented writers at, has been the experience of a lifetime for me. I'd like to wish everyone a healthy and prosperous holiday season and all the best in the coming New Year.

Malia Sutton

* * *

"Jamaica Layne will keep the reader enthralled and wanting to see where these two characters will get together next."----Coffee Time Romance

"VITAL SIGNS is a five-star romance that sizzles in all the right places. Make no mistake about it, Jamaica Layne is a master of her craft."----Crave More Romance


Joanna Watson, a recently-divorced top surgical nurse in picturesque Statesville, North Carolina, is frustrated with her stalled career and dead-in-the-water love life when she suddenly finds herself trapped in an elevator with an unknown, abrasive Yankee surgeon, Dr. Harlan Wilkinson. The elevator gets stuck, the lights go out, and Joanna and Harlan get to know each other. . .

"So much adventure is wrapped in this tale of love and revenge. This is a story that you will enjoy anytime you need a getaway." --Coffee Time Romance


It's the year 1101, and England is still reeling from the Norman conquest a generation earlier. Lady Sabina of Angwyld is the eldest daughter of the Duke of Angwyld, a Saxon nobleman with estates near the Welsh border. The Norman invaders want to take the Duke's land and title by force, and the only hope he has for saving Angwyld is to marry his eldest daughter off to a ruthless, evil Norman nobleman, Lord Reginald de Guillaume. Sabina will have none of it, however. She thinks her only alternative is to take the veil and enter a convent. So she runs away.

Sabina is fleeing Angwyld on horseback on her way to the Abbey at Glastonbury when she meets Robert de Tyre, a swashbuckling Norman mercenary who serves as a cavalry officer in Lord Reginald's army. Though Robert de Tyre has been sent by Lord Reginald to capture his intended bride and bring her back in time for her forced marriage, the sparks soon fly between them and their worlds are turned upside down.

Hi Everyone in Romance Land! Jamaica Layne here! A little bit about me----I'm a contemporary romance/erotica author who makes my home in the Chicago suburbs. I have two great passions----alpha males and swashbuckling historical heroes. I love contemporary and historical romance equally! My books VITAL SIGNS and THE MERCENARY BRIDE give you the best of both worlds.

In a former life, I worked in the healthcare industry. Also, when I was growing up, my parents were historical reinactors who spent a lot of time at Renaissance faires and SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) events. So it goes without saying that I of course would grow up to become a romance novelist who sets her stories either in modern-day hospitals or medieval castles! Thanks to HSN, I can introduce my work in both of these sub-genres to new readers.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Thanksgiving Treat For Our Readers

In honor of Thanksgiving and to show my gratitude and appreciation for our readers, I am going to post the first chapter of my book, Nora's Soul, for you to read. I hope you enjoy it, but mostly, I hope you have a wonderful holiday tomorrow filled with laughter, good times and great food spent with the people you love.

“Angels don’t exist.”
Nora Kendall chanted the phrase, just under her
breath, as she wove around the linen-draped tables that stood
between her and the ladies’ room. Angels don’t exist.
Another table skirted. Angels don’t exist. Another step
closer. Angels don’t exist.
She thrust open the door with a jab of her hand that
sent it rocking against its hinges. Only when she’d scurried
inside the plush sanctuary and the door slapped shut in her
wake did she give thought to the possibility of another
person on the other side of it. She glanced around with a
guilty start before collapsing against the burnished wood in
relief at the realization that she was quite alone in the room.
Good. No one to witness her breakdown.
For what else could it be? What other explanation
was there for her sudden sighting of the—no! It didn’t
happen. She didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Just a
little flight of fancy caused by heightened excitement over
the prospect of receiving a proposal tonight. Yes. That was
it. A flight of fancy.
She inhaled a breath that sliced against the back of
her throat like a razorblade. Swallowed hard. Inhaled
another. Yes, she silently coached herself, that’s it. You are
calm, you are serene, and nothing can upset you now.
Nothing. Breathe in. Breathe out. Good.
Her serenity restored, Nora pushed herself away
from the door and stood before the mirrored wall over the
bank of black marble sinks. Her reflection in the mirror
stared back, unblinking. Controlled. Good, she thought.
Wonderful. As it should be. All trace of her ridiculous notion
was firmly out of her head. No more silly thoughts regarding
messengers of God and acts of mercy and—
“Stop it, Nora!” she hissed under her breath,
squeezing the edge of the black marble counter until her
fingers bled white from the pressure placed upon them.
“Stop it.” She reeled in a cleansing breath, once again met
the impassive gaze of the woman in the mirror. Elongating
the syllable of each word, she reiterated, for her own benefit,
“Angels do not exist.”
She withdrew a tube of lipstick from the microclutch
purse that dangled from her left wrist. “They are just
figments of some very active imaginations,” she said,
pausing to trace her full lips with the pale pink tip. Her
reflection followed suit. “But they have no basis in fact.
They don‘t exist.” She pursed her lips to test the cosmetic
coverage; nodded once, satisfied. “Not for me. Not
Her voice faltered. She dropped her gaze from the
all-knowing woman in the mirror. No fooling her. She knew
the truth. She was there through it all, the bad and the worse.
Nora’s constant companion in life and delusion. No, there
was no fooling the woman in the mirror. Only she knew the
truth about the angels—the real truth. The full truth. She was
there through it all. She knew. Peter…
Memories of her brother rolled through her mind
like the reels of an old movie. Cracked, withered around the
edges; the images in the center still vivid. Still powerful
enough to steal the breath from her lips, the beats from her
heart. Peter.
The beautiful soul who gave of himself even when it
hurt to breathe—no, especially then. So self-sacrificing…he
was the sun rising in the east, hope stretching across the sky
in a streak of electric colors, painting the world bright even
when it was its darkest. Not just the world. Her world. And
that was the way she saw him whenever she conjured his
image in her mind—as she often did. Standing in the sun at
the beach in Ogunquit, his body outlined in gold, pink and
purple, arms lifted high in joy…A part of the sunrise he
relished. Laughing. Exuberant. Alive.
He was everything to a young girl just learning
about life. Death. And the futility of fighting against
mortality, whether it was one’s own—or that of a beloved
brother. Everything she needed to know she learned the day
she fought a losing battle against death. Her brother’s death.
But how could she truly have expected to win when her only
weapon was prayer?
Yet she fought like a warrior, girded in faith, using
her weapon of choice to its full advantage on the
battleground of the hospital chapel. She prayed. Lord, how
she prayed. For a miracle. A gift from God. Anything to save
her brother.
She prayed until the color bled out of her knuckles
from the strength of her clasped hands. Until her legs were
attacked by pins and needles before they went numb
altogether from the hours of kneeling on an unforgiving pew.
Until she was delirious with fatigue. Hunger. Thirst. Then
she’d prayed some more. Always the same prayer. Over and
“Please, God, don’t take my brother.”
A simple phrase, really. “Please, God, don’t take my
brother.” But over time, diluted, the words running together
in a stream of incoherence. In the eleventh hour, she
expanded upon the prayer.
“You can’t take my brother. He’s a good person,
he’s never done anything wrong. Take me. I should be the
one to go. Everyone knows I’m not always good. But not
Peter—he’s always good. He always does the right thing.
The world is better with him in it, so please don’t take him
away from me. I promise I’ll do better, I’ll be nicer—
whatever You want. Just…please let him stay alive for me.
But it was all for naught, she discovered when she
was summoned back to his room for the final “blessing.” In
the end, the will of God proved stronger than that of a
frightened twelve-year-old girl. Peter died despite all of her
prayers. He left her with a final request:
“Don’t give up your faith in miracles, in angels,” he
said, even as the breath left is body in a wheeze. “They’re
real. They’re here…now. They’ve come for me…they’re
beautiful, Norrie.”
He used his last breath to make Nora believe.
He failed.
The day they put the small box containing his
emaciated body in the ground, she went home and removed
all things angelic from her room. Ripped pictures from the
walls, tore up postcards in her drawers, cut up a comforter
bearing their likeness. Dropped all of the remnants of angels
into a metal trashcan outside and lit a match. She stood close
to the fire—sometimes too close—peering into the flames
until all things angelic were reduced to ash before her eyes.
She spent better part of her teen years continuing to
purge herself of these images despite their annoying
tendency to materialize in her room. In her locker at school.
In her first car. She tore them, shredded them, burned them.
Still, they showed up. The same images. Again and again.
Tacked to her walls, stuffed in her locker, dangling from the
rearview mirror in her car. She dealt with them in silence
until the day her hard-won control finally snapped and she
confronted the presumed source of the images.
“Mother!” She shouted the word repeatedly until it
finally drew the object of her anger up to the second floor
hallway where she waited. “I thought I told you I don’t want
these things around anymore!” she said, and she tossed a
handful of angel pictures at her startled mother. Then she
took a defensive stance, fists planted on hips, chin thrust out
as far as it could go, and waited for her response. “Well?”
But her mother just stood there as the angels
fluttered around her in a mockery of true flight, wearing her
serenity as a shield against Nora’s anger. In fact, Nora could
almost feel her rage glancing off her mother‘s body and
turning back on her, two times stronger. How could she do
that? How could she remain so calm, keep such a steady
gaze as she watched Nora through the cloud of paper
cutouts? Dammit, why did she have to be so Donna Reed
when Nora wanted her to be more Joan Crawford? At least
then, she would feel justified in lashing out at her.
But this—this was just not right. How could she
fight with someone who wouldn’t fight back? No, she just
stood there, watching Nora with a hint of question in her
pale blue eyes. She didn’t even flinch when the wing of one
creature glanced off her left cheekbone, just below the eye.
She just stood there and waited until the last cherub found a
resting place at her feet and then, ever calm, Jane Kendall
said, “Honestly, dear, I don’t know where these came from.”
“Oh, so I suppose they just materialized—” Nora
wiggled her fingers in a magician-like manner “—on their
“Maybe Joelle put them there,” Jane suggested.
“You know how she is. Did you ask her?”
“She denied it, too.” Nora shook her head in
condemnation of her mother and her best friend. “You two
are unbelievable. You’re probably in on it together.”
She closed her bedroom door with a soft click,
separating herself from the compassion she saw etched in her
mother’s face. She didn’t need it, after all; she was doing just
fine on her own. She just didn’t want reminders of Peter’s
blind faith and God’s failing her to hang around, mocking
her. Symbolizing her own failure.
Her trip down Memory Lane was abbreviated by the
sudden opening of the restroom door. She jumped nearly out
of her skin before she could check herself.
“Oh, sorry,” said the intruder in a wispy voice, “I
didn’t mean to startle you.”
“It’s all right,” Nora assured her, even though she
felt the exact opposite. She forced a smile for the other
woman, who was dressed in the black and white ensemble of
the restaurant’s wait staff, complete with pristine apron tied
about her nonexistent hips. “I was just…lost in my
“Are you okay?” the waitress asked, solicitously.
“Your date was kind of worried when you jumped up and
took off like that. He asked me to check on you.”
Her date. Carl Beckett.
“So,” the waitress asked, “are you? Okay, that is?”
No, I’m totally losing my mind, Nora thought. But
she said, “Yes. I’m fine. Just felt a little queasy for a moment
there. Nerves—not the food. I haven’t even eaten yet. We
haven’t ordered. I’m expecting some good news tonight and
I just got totally overwhelmed. But you really don’t need to
know that, do you?”
The waitress simply smiled at her and said, “Well,
all right, then. As long as you’re okay…?”
Closing her eyes on her humiliation, Nora faced
forward, toward the mirror, once again. “Yes,” she said
through tight lips, “just fine. Could you tell him I’ll be out in
a few minutes?”
But everything wasn’t fine, Nora acknowledged to
herself when the waitress promptly withdrew from the
damask-walled bathroom. Far from it, in fact, not that she’d
admit that to the woman who’d served their drinks. All was
not well. She just couldn’t determine the why of it yet.
The date was proceeding well. Carl had picked her
up on time—a first in their nine months of dating—and he
didn’t grumble about the traffic or the poor parking in her
neighborhood as he usually did. In fact, he’d appeared
almost cheerful. Cheerful and—expectant.
Was that why he brought her a box of chocolates
and a bouquet of red roses? Was he expecting something
from her tonight? After all, he didn’t want to “make a habit”
of spoiling her, as he’d told her in the early days of their
acquaintance; he didn’t want to build their relationship on a
foundation of materialism.
So it was either one or the other if he brought her
anything at all. The longer they were together, the more
often he arrived empty-handed. Not that she minded. She
shared his belief that their relationship should be based on
something more solid than insignificant gifts, especially if
they were committed to it for the long run. And she was. So
it was a nice surprise when he presented her with the two
But the capper was their ultimate destination:
Zuzu’s, the trendiest new restaurant in the city. Unless
someone had a name with clout, they could expect at least a
three-month wait on the reservation list before their name
moved to the top. But Carl had gotten them in and
immediately ordered a plate of oysters and a bottle of their
finest wine.
All in all, the perfect date. Until she’d found herself
racing toward the relative safety of the ladies’ room, where
she lectured herself on the existence of angels.
They’d been at their table, she nervously anticipating
his broaching of the “important subject” he’d alluded to in
the car, he squirming upon the dollhouse-like chair in sudden
discomfort. Which heightened her own anxiety. She could
only think of one reason, after all, that a man would become
so flustered with a woman: He was going to make a
statement that would have a profound effect on both of their
lives. But as he opened his mouth to do so, her attention was
distracted by the presence of a golden-haired figure clad all
in white.
He just moved behind Carl, like an apparition, and
suddenly, her whole world kicked into reverse. The actions
of the surrounding patrons and wait staff ground to an
impossibly slow pace where sound couldn’t even intrude.
They were just a blur, a smear of color against the backdrop
of a glittering canvas.
She’d glanced from the white shadow to Carl, whose
mouth yawned wide on a word she couldn’t hear. Her gaze
flicked back to the white shadow. She couldn’t see his face
for the glare of his stark white suit. That struck a chord of
fear in her. Why was he the only one she could halfway
make out? Why wasn’t his figure as distorted as the others?
Why was he crossing her path today?
The last question had jolted her out of the stillness
that encased her and sent her scurrying off to the bathroom
like a child just awakened from a nightmare, even as the
activity around her resumed its normal pace and sound level.
“No,” she told her reflection now, “no, Nora. It
wasn’t an angel. They don’t exist. Get a grip and go back out
there. You’re about to hear something that’ll change your
life forever.”
Giving herself a reassuring smile, Nora squared her
shoulders and left the ladies’ room, unaware of the silent
figure, dressed all in white, standing against the far wall,
watching her go.
“…So,” Carl concluded, his gaze falling just south
of hers, “there’s really nothing keeping us together.”
Nora stared at Carl for a moment as if she were in a
trance. What was that? She saw his lips move, but—what did
he say? Another moment passed before she somehow
managed to say, “I’m sorry. I don’t think I heard you right.”
She gave her head a little shake to clear it of its lethargy.
“Did you just say—nothing keeping us together?”
Carl cleared his throat, shifted his stocky frame on
the chair that squeaked in protest. He was hiding something
from her. Usually, he was rather straightforward. So—what
was it?
“I think,” he began, faltering over the words, “we’d
be fooling ourselves if we try to pretend there’s something
here when there isn’t. We want different things, Nora. You
want a lifetime commitment done up with all the trimmings.
And I want…freedom. I’m just not ready to settle down right
now, Nora,” he said, meeting her gaze for the first time since
he began his obviously-rehearsed speech. “I thought I might
be—I mean, you’re a great girl and all and if I was going to
settle down with anyone, it’d be you, but—”
“Who is she, Carl?” Nora asked, her voice little
more than a whisper. “This isn’t about me. I know it. You
know it. So do me a favor and just be honest. Who is she?”
Dropping his gaze once more, Carl admitted, “A
friend of my mother’s. I know there’s that whole age
difference thing, but I’ve got to admit I’ve always been kind
of attracted to her and, well, she’s just gotten a divorce so
she doesn’t want anything more than sex, either…”
He was leaving her for an older woman? How could
this be happening? Rubbing a finger along the furrows of
tension between her brows, Nora asked, “Then what’s with
this, Carl? Why bother with the candy and the flowers and
the fancy restaurant? And the oysters! Why would you order
oysters if you were planning to dump me?”
“I like oysters.”
“You like oysters,” she repeated as if she were
learning a foreign language. Why did that one phrase sound
so incongruous when added to the rest of the conversation?
Oh, Lord, she was losing her mind. First angels, now this.
Carl shifted on his chair again, rested an arm on the
postage stamp of a table as he leaned toward her. His voice
lowered, he said, “Look, I know what this time of year
means to you—your mother told me all about it before she
set us up, she told me holidays were hard because of your
brother dying near Thanksgiving—and I feel like a total ass,
I mean the timing sucks, but…Doreen wants to go away for
Thanksgiving and I really can‘t do that without feeling like a
total heel if I‘ve still got you here, holding out for a ring and
a chapel.” He took a breath before plunging forward with the
admission, “I just wanted to soften the blow. I’m sorry if I
misled you.”
Nora passed a trembling hand over hair scraped back
from her fresh-scrubbed face in a severe French twist. She
had to get control of herself, but—she couldn’t believe this
was happening. Couldn’t believe that the “something
important” to which Carl had eluded earlier was their future
apart, not together. Everything was planned out in her mind,
so…where did she go from here? Well, at least he was being
a gentleman about it. So good for you, Carl, she thought.
You are a true gentleman.
At least she thought so, until he said, “Listen, I hate
to cut out on you so early, but you took a lot of time in the
ladies’ room and I promised Doreen I’d meet her at seven to
take her granddaughter trick-or-treating and I’m already late.
So why don’t you stay, enjoy the wine and oysters—oh, and
order anything you want for dinner. Don’t worry about the
price. I-it’s the least I can do. I’ll just tell the staff to put it on
my tab. How does that sound to you?”
“Great,” she lied, even as she thought, He’s leaving
me for a grandmother. Bad enough that there was another
woman, worse still that she was an older woman, but—a
grandmother? Seriously? Hiding her trembling lips behind
her wine glass, she reiterated the lie, “Just…great.”
“Wonderful! I knew you’d see reason,” he
exclaimed in relief. Jumping from his chair—which he
somehow managed to catch in his large hand before it
toppled over—he skirted the table to her side and placed a
gentle kiss on her forehead. “You’re a good girl, Nora
Kendall. I’m really glad I got a chance to know you.”
“Me, too,” she lied again, closing her eyes. Why
wouldn’t he just go away already? Stop dragging it out, Carl.
Just go away now.
“Oh, here,” he said and she felt him thrust something
into her clenched hand. Something papery. Money? “For the
ride home. I’ve really got to go now. Doreen’s going to kill
Nora didn’t open her eyes to look at the bill in her
hand until she heard him move away from the table. A fifty
dollar bill. He gave her a fifty dollar bill for a taxi? Add that
one to a list of firsts.
“Excuse me, Miss?” a voice sounded at her right
shoulder, startling her out of her reverie. “Your date sent me
over to see if there’s anything I can get you.”
Glancing up with disinterest at the owner of that
pheromone-laden voice, Nora perked up when she noticed
that he was cloaked all in black when the waiters’ attire was
relieved by white shirts and red boutonnières. But not this
man. Everything was black, from the silk of his shirt to the
leather of his shoes. Even the flower in the lapel of his long
blazer was black. How odd.
“I’m sorry,” she said, trying to force the
befuddlement from her brain by knitting her brows together.
“I didn’t…what did you say?”
Oh, man, why did he have to be so attractive? She
couldn’t think straight as she stared up into the perfection of
his face with its dark eyes and the even darker hair that
framed his sculpted face in long, curling tendrils. Now, this
was more to her liking! If only she could concentrate on
what he was saying.
“Your date thought you might like to order now,” he
repeated. “So, would you?”
“Yes—yes, that would be good.”
“So what can I get you?”
“I don’t know, anything—everything,” she said in an
off-handed manner. “You decide.”
A slightly decadent, devilish smile slid across the
man’s full lips then, robbing Nora of any further capacity for
coherent speech. “As you wish,” he said in a voice so deep,
so resonant and beautiful, it rumbled through her, wreaking
havoc with all of her senses.
She just smiled and watched him go, her eyes drawn
to his physique like an artist’s to the statue of David. Man,
she thought as he disappeared into the kitchen, what was the
bigger sin? Having a body like that—or ogling a body like
that? If it was the latter, she would gladly commit the sin. It
wasn’t like she was hurting anybody by enjoying the view,
after all, and this was the only time she’d ever be able to eat
in a place like this, so why not indulge?
She had reason to re-think that sentiment when the
sculpted waiter proceeded to bring out one of everything on
the menu.
An arctic wind assaulted Nora as she left the warmth
of the restaurant behind her. It arose from nowhere to swirl
around her, slicing her to the bone and stealing the breath
from her lips. Where had that come from? Nora wondered. It
was only October, for heavens’ sake. Granted, it was the last
day of October, but still. . . A little early for the deep-freeze.
With a shudder, Nora huddled beneath her cape as
she paused at the street corner. Uncertain. What was she
supposed to do now? She’d planned to grab a bottle of
expensive wine on her way to celebrate her good news with
Joelle, but those plans were dashed. What was she to
celebrate now? The rather polite way Carl had let her down?
The fact that she’d somehow managed to retain her dignity
when all of her plans for the future lay shattered at her feet?
Should she give herself a pat on the back for not creating a
scene and making it easier for Carl to dump her? She simply
didn’t know what to do now.
Maybe she should get the wine anyway and
commiserate with her old friend instead. If nothing else,
Joelle would find the humor in the situation—as she always
did—and maybe it would lessen the sting of betrayal.
A gentle tug on her cape released Nora from her
fretful ponderings. Startled, she glanced down—into a sweet
pixie face that boasted the widest blue eyes Nora had ever
seen on a child. Despite the sadness and confusion that
permeated her soul, she couldn’t help but to smile at the girl,
who was dressed in an angel costume.
At Nora’s encouraging smile, the girl ventured in all
innocence, “Are you a good witch…or a bad witch?” She
ignored her mother’s dismayed gasp and held firm against
her restraining hand as she awaited Nora’s answer.
A twitch at the corner of her lips was the only
indication that Nora found humor in the question. Preserving
a serious manner, she squatted down before the girl, her cape
flaring prettily about her, and said, “I’m a good witch.”
Happiness lit the girl’s face as she turned to her
mother. “See, Mommy? I told you she was a good witch!”
Nora intercepted an apologetic look from the woman
before she ushered her daughter away with an admonishing,
“Come along, sweetie, it’s time to go home.”
The girl’s response was swallowed up in the noise of
city traffic as they receded from Nora. With a bittersweet
smile, Nora pushed herself up from her crouch, glanced
about. For the first time that night, she actually saw the
horrifically-decorated shop windows with their mummies
and monsters, cauldrons and spider webs, witches and bats.
A reminiscent sigh escaped her. Oh, how she’d once loved
The memories barely had time to take root in her
mind when she was suddenly presented with a cigarette. She
declined the unspoken offer with a shake of her head without
even verifying who extended it. The cigarette disappeared as
suddenly as it had appeared.
“You don’t smoke?”
At the unexpected sound of that voice, Nora jumped
as if someone had touched a live wire to her spine. Her heart
set up a dangerous cadence in her chest; she pressed a fist
against it in a vain attempt to establish calm. Breathed in.
What was he doing here? And out. Had he followed her? In.
Well, of course he did, ninny. Out. But—why?
She turned to confront the black-clad waiter from the
restaurant—and immediately faltered at the sight of him
standing there. Maybe it was the casual pose, legs braced
slightly apart. Or the way he regarded her with an inquisitive
look and a radiant smile. Whatever it was, he literally took
her breath away and made her forget what he asked her. On a
whim, she just shook her head to the negative and hoped it
was an appropriate response.
His smile enigmatic, he released a cloud of blue
smoke on a sensual sigh and watched her through the haze,
his eyes intent, laying bare her soul. He held her prisoner
like that for what seemed like a lifetime condensed into one
minute before he spoke again. When he did, it was on a
different topic. “All didn’t go well in there, I gather.”
“No. I expected…”
“Something that wasn’t there,” she murmured. With
great effort she shifted her gaze away from his toward the
city traffic racing past them in a blur of Technicolor and
exhaust fumes. Shaking herself free of despair, she half-turned
back to the waiter whose face was now wreathed in a
ring of cigarette smoke. “I have a really bad habit of doing
“Doing what?”
“Holding out. Waiting for something to materialize
that doesn’t exist.”
“Kind of like angels,” he said. “People say they’re
there, but if you can’t see them or hold them in your hand…”
“Do they really exist?” she finished the thought for
him. With a shiver, she burrowed deeper into her cape and
scanned her surroundings as if trying to remember which
way to turn. “Guess I better be off,” she said, her voice
holding little conviction. “You take care now.”
“Oh, I will.”
“And try not to smoke too much,” she advised,
glancing back at him. “It’s hell on your lungs.”
“I know,” he said with an ironic twist of his lips,
turning the cigarette about to study the burning tip. But he
made no effort to put it out, apparently undisturbed by the
reminder of its health risks. “Devilish habit,” he added with
“Well,” she said, stepping off the curb at a break in
the traffic, “I’m off now.” With a fragile smile in the
waiter’s direction, she disappeared into the clamor that
surrounded them.
Dante had little time to enjoy a low chuckle over his
encounter with his quarry—oh, sorry, Nora Kendall—before
he felt the air shift about him. The current of warmth
assaulted him from behind. Wonderful, he thought, just what
he needed now to put a kink in his pleasure.
He didn’t turn to acknowledge the other; that would
be the gentlemanly thing to do and the devil knew he was no
gentleman. He inhaled, long and deep, on his dwindling
cigarette. He released the smoke through his aquiline nose in
one continuous stream. And waited.
His patience was rewarded a moment later when
Peter stepped out of the shadows, his stark white attire
shimmering bright against the blur of color that surrounded
them. The picture of the perfect angel. Dante’s lips curled in
“Well, well, look what the wind blew in,” Dante
If he had expected Peter to respond to that bait,
Dante was destined for disappointment. In fact, it barely
registered a reaction as he halted alongside Dante on the
sidewalk. His tone barely tolerant, but just as deep and
musical, Peter asked, “What are you doing here, Dante?”
Flicking a glance at him, Dante ignored the question
in favor of taking another pull on the cigarette. He
deliberately blew the smoke into the man’s angelic face—
and chuckled in delight when Peter waved the smoke away
with an agitated gesture.
“Peter,” Dante pronounced as the wind picked up
about them, whipping their long coats about their sculpted
thighs like flags at full mast. “I should’ve known you’d be
here tonight.”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“I know.”
“What do you want with the girl?” Peter demanded.
“What do I ever want with them?”
Silence stretched out before them relieved only by
the sound of their coats flapping against their legs. Peter
finally broke it by saying, “You can’t go on like this
“Oh, yeah? Watch me.”
“Oh, I will.” Peter glanced toward the midnight-dark
sky as a rumble of thunder sounded above them. “And you
can be assured that I’ll do everything in my power to prevent
you from achieving your goals.”
“I’d expect no less.”
“But let me tell you one thing. Soon—perhaps
sooner than you think—you are going to be brought to your
knees by a woman so pure, so innocent, your existence as
you know it will be completely undone and you will serve
the purpose you were meant to serve. And not your own.”

From Nora’s Soul, by Margay Leah Justice, published by Second Wind Publishing LLC (Nov. 2008), available on

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Ravenous Romance and Home Shopping Network

Join Forces to Bring You


Leave a comment for a chance to win one of four books we’ll be giving away!

Voyage to a distant land where fantasy and passion ignite. The Escape with Romance Exclusive 6-Book Collection is a fascinating compilation of stories filled with infatuation, excitement and of course, love. These tales will evoke the internal fires that burn deep within us all. Choose from the 3 collections; the romantically nostalgic Historical genre, the futuristic and supernatural of the Paranormal genre, or the modern-day heroines of the Contemporary genre. Plus, if you can't decide choose the Sampler, which includes 2 books from every genre, so you can get a little bit of it all. Suddenly, reading just got a lot more interesting.

More information on ESCAPE WITH ROMANCE here:*Browse*2*NA

Ravenous Romance Web Site:

Escape with Romance Exclusive 6-Book Collection Features:

Historical Genre:

• "Land of Falling Stars" by Keta Diablo; 192 pages
• "Force My Hand" by Em Brown; 192 pages
• "Kiss of Scandal" by Isabel Roman; 192 pages
• "The Mercenary Bride" by Jamaica Layne; 192 pages
• "Dark Desires of the Druids #1" by Isabel Roman; 192 pages
• "The American Heiress" by Roxanne Dent; 191 pages

Contemporary Genre:

• "Ripping the Bodice" by Inara LaVey; 192 pages
• "Nashville Heat" by Bethany Michaels; 192 pages
• "Hot on Her Heels" by Monica Newcomb; 192 pages
• "The Lady's Choice" by Trudy Doyle; 191 pages
• "Once an Obsession" by Bella French; 192 pages
• "Vital Signs" by Jamica Lane; 192 pages

Paranormal Genre:

• "The Wolfpact" by Jo Atkinson; 191 pages
• "Stilettos, Inc." by Lexi Ryan; 192 pages
• "Twilights Edge" by Jo Atkinson; 208 pages
• "Love in Space" by Lisa Lane; 192 pages
• "Haunted Seduction" by Morgan James; 192 pages
• "Loving Daylight" by Malia Sutton; 192 pages


• "Land of Falling Stars" by Keta Diablo; 192 pages
• "Kiss of Scandal" by Isabel Roman; 192 pages
• "Stilettos, Inc." by Lexi Ryan; 192 pages
• "Twilights Edge" by Jo Atkinson; 208 pages
• "Ripping the Bodice" by Inara Lavey; 191 pages
• "Nashville Heat" by Bethany Michaels; 192 pages

Reader reviews from the Home Shopping Network Site:

“I found these books to be well written and recommend them to anyone who loves romance.” Joan, Kentucky

“These books kept me up at night! I bought the Paranormal series and I loved them.” Karen, New York

“Some of the best romance books I've ever read! Every one is a page-turner.” Nightchick, California

“Historicals are my favorite genre. When a friend who frequents HSN told me about this, I had to order them.” Christinereader, New Jersey

* * *

Force My Hand by Em Brown

Independent and always in command, Miss Darcy Sherwood holds her own among the cads and rakes that frequent the dubious gaming hall where she works. When she has the opportunity to exact revenge upon the man who wronged her sister, she intends to provide the arrogant Baron Broadmoor the biggest set-down of his life…by requiring him to be her suitor.

But when the Baron begins to play his role too well, can Darcy resist falling for the man she’s supposed to hate above all others?

Radcliff Barrington, Baron Broadmoor, has no intention of quietly submitting to Miss Sherwood – even if she does hold the deed that could ruin his family. He intends to turn the tables on Miss Sherwood. She must surrender the deed or surrender herself…
Passions flare to erotic heights as Darcy and Radcliff struggle to see who will submit to whom. And all bets are off as to who will win…

Dear Readers,

I'm thrilled to be able to share this story with you. I had a lot of fun writing it and hope you have fun reading it. My inspiration for Force My Hand was the lighthearted Regency era stories of Georgette Heyer (though the hero in my story is a little darker along the lines of a Bronte). If you're not a fan of historicals I hope you might give Force My Hand a try anyway. There's plenty of tension and steamy sex scenes for the adventurous, modern woman. And feel free to leave comments at my website,

Happy reading, Em Brown,

* * *

Land of Falling Stars by Keta Diablo

“If you haven’t read Keta Diablo you haven’t lived!”—Crave More Romance

Diablo has penned a beautiful, haunting love story full of passion, deception, and danger that will leave you breathless and longing for more!—Night Owl Romance

About Land of Falling Stars:

Penniless, her parents and brother dead, Sophia Whitfield struggles to save her beloved childhood home during the Civil War. Another bluecoat staggers down the hill, but before Sophia allows him to rob and pilfer like the others, she shoots him. How was she to know it was Gavin, the dark knight of her youth, carrying secrets too horrific to imagine and a passion that ignites her deepest desires?

Greetings friends,

I can’t tell you how honored I am that Land of Falling Stars was selected to participate in ESCAPE WITH ROMANCE through the Home Shopping Network. Here’s wishing each and every one of you a blessed Holiday season. May all your dreams for 2010 come true.

Namaste, Keta Diablo

* * *

Love in Space by Lisa Lane

"Lisa Lane delivers a wonderfully intriguing, suspenseful and highly erotic romance novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat and wanting more even after the novel ends." –Talk About My Favorite Authors (5 stars)

"Ms. Lane embraced all that we love about sci-fi fantasy and heated it up to super-nova proportions. My question for Ms. Lane is, is this a long-term mission? If so, I'm applying for a boarding pass." –Whipped Cream Erotic Romance Reviews (4.5 "cherries" and Best Book of the Week pick)

About Love in Space:

Captain Nora Bradley has full intentions of keeping her relationship with former classmate, and now First Officer, Robert Smith, purely professional when she hires him. Things begin to change, however, after bodiless invaders seduce the crew in their dreams, the entire ship becomes infected with a space flu that leads to orgiastic frenzy, and encounters with new alien races challenge all they know about sexual identity and social ideals.

As the crew endures, Nora can't help but profess her feelings for Robert… but can their love endure a mix-up with shape-shifters, the unexpected takeover of their ship, and intergalactic war?

Greetings! I’m so glad you could stop by. My most sincere thanks to those who have taken the time—blog hosts, peers, and readers alike—to support so graciously Love in Space and its fellow HSN releases. Love in Space is a sweet, highly romantic sci-fi space adventure, one I feel honored and privileged to be able to share with all of you. I am an avid fan of pulp science fiction, as well as the episodic space adventure (i.e. Star Trek and Red Dwarf), and it is with great pleasure that I come today to share my tiny contribution to these genres with all of you.

Lisa Lane

* * *

Ripping the Bodice by Inara LaVey

"This pleasing story bears some resemblance to Northanger Abbey, with the heroine’s love of bodice rippers paralleling Austen’s heroine’s love of gothic literature."-- Romantic Times

"If you're looking for a big dose of fun to go along with your romance, look no farther than Inara Lavey's Ripping the Bodice. This story positively sparkles with wit and humor...Along with that humor, Ms. Lavey has given us an absolutely addictive cast of characters who are colorful and well-developed and almost larger than life."

About Ripping the Bodice:

Got sex and romance on the brain? So does Cassandra Devon. She also has hard-boiled private eyes, dashing pirates, jet-setting super spies and other sexy rogues entertaining her in her surprisingly explicit subconscious. All these erotic daydreams make it hard to stay focused on Cassandra's current dilemma: namely, rebuffing the advances of Connor, a wild Irish rascal who wants to play the starring role in her fantasies. Cassandra is only interested in getting together with Raphael, the tall, dark and handsome man of her dreams. May the best romance hero win!

Hi, all! Ripping the Bodice was originally written as a screenplay back when my best friend and I thought we could make our own movie. Years later, I have three video tapes of footage and my book to show for it! I was (and still am) absolutely delighted to have Ripping the Bodice as part of Ravenous Romance's HSN ESCAPE TO ROMANCE collection. Watching Holly and the HSN hostess/product demonstrator holding up my book during one of the promotional spots is a definite high point for my year! I hope you enjoy all of the books in the collections, as well as the rest of Ravenous Romance's extensive and diverse collection of spicy romances for sale on the website!

Please come visit me at my website and blog at

Happy reading! Inara LaVey


Join us Thursday to read more about Ravenous Romance authors...