Tag Archives: Birthday Fun!


Hee. I couldn’t resist the allcaps. I mean, it’s a birthday! Those days are meant for celebration and excess! And yes, it is in fact Courtney Milan‘s birthday today! Whee!

I don’t know if you know, but I love birthdays. It’s some sort of compensating for my own, I’m sure, but that’s fine because it’s sharing the love and celebrating others! In fact, at ALBTALBS it is all about Ms. Milan today! I’m also evil though, because I ask people if they’re willing to guest on their birthdays and put them to work. 😀

Here’s what Courtney had to say.

So Limecello asked me to tell you what I was doing for my birthday.

Answer: I’m finishing the final formatting/proofreading touches on my upcoming book.

This is not something that lends itself to reason or–since I do all of my editing and proofreading on paper–cleanliness. Here, for instance, is what it looked like when I went through the second-to-last draft of the book.

That big stack o’paper you see I just dumped over the edge of my chair onto a convenient holding surface. I will clean it up…somewhat later, to my husband’s chagrin. Maybe next week.

Now, you might wonder what I mean by “convenient holding surface.” Ha! I will show you.

Behold. Don’t worry; there are three levels on the cat tree, and the cat prefers the top. It’s totally okay!

So that’s what I’m doing today: working, getting paper everywhere, and annoying my cat.

(Okay, I’m also going out to lunch with my sister, but whatever.)

And if you’re wondering about the book? That book is The Heiress Effect, the second full-length book in The Brothers Sinister series.

It’s about Jane Fairfield, the most outrageous woman around, and Oliver Marshall, an up-and-coming politician who should have nothing to do with outrageous women..but who just can’t stop himself.

And since you can’t read any of the text in the photos I’ve attached, I thought I’d give you an exclusive snippet:

[Here’s the book blurb to give you some background]

Miss Jane Fairfield can’t do anything right. When she’s in company, she always says the wrong thing–and rather too much of it. No matter how costly they are, her gowns fall on the unfortunate side of fashion. Even her immense dowry can’t save her from being an object of derision.

And that’s precisely what she wants. She’ll do anything, even risk humiliation, if it means she can stay unmarried and keep her sister safe.

Mr. Oliver Marshall has to do everything right. He’s the bastard son of a duke, raised in humble circumstances–and he intends to give voice and power to the common people. If he makes one false step, he’ll never get the chance to accomplish anything. He doesn’t need to come to the rescue of the wrong woman. He certainly doesn’t need to fall in love with her. But there’s something about the lovely, courageous Jane that he can’t resist…even though it could mean the ruin of them both.

“Miss Fairfield. Miss Johnson. Miss Genevieve.” His words were proper enough, but his gaze lingered on Jane alone.

“Do you like my walking gown?”

His gaze swept up to her bosom, then down to her toes, as palpable as a caress.

“Tell the truth,” she said. “Miss Johnson and Miss Genevieve are in my confidence now.”

“It’s an improvement on screeching horror,” he told her. “It ranks almost as high as sick fascination.” He gave a mock shiver. “But really. Are those vermilion bananas printed on the fabric?”

“Yes. I love it. Look.” Jane held out her pendant, a green enameled monkey with fierce topaz eyes. “See? Isn’t that wonderful?”

He stepped forward and looked obligingly.

Maybe not so obligingly. She was close enough to see his eyes behind his spectacles, dropping not to her pendant but…

Technically, her gown climbed halfway up to her neck. Also technically, all the fabric above her corset was dark lace. Lace with holes.

Nothing showed that wouldn’t have shown in a ball gown, but it still showed, and if someone stood close, pretending to look at a necklace…

He lifted his gaze to her face and gave her an unapologetic smile.

“You’re right. That quite makes the outfit.” He crooked his finger. “Let me see it again.”

The Heiress Effect will be out on July 15th.

So come on! What did you think of the excerpt? Have you read Courtney Milan before? Will you? (You should.) And now, everyone wish Courtney a very happy birthday. And go pre-order her book! The prequel novella to The Heiress Effect, The Governess Affair is free right now, so you should get a copy.

And you know, because it’s Courtney’s birthday, and I think we should celebrate … a giveaway! It’s been beastly hot, and I love reading “winter” books in hot weather, so I’ll be giving away a copy of A Kiss for Midwinter – yet another companion novella to The Brothers Sinister series!

So go on, be creative with your birthday wishes to Courtney!

Birthday Twins! Birthday Bash with Maisey Yates and Vivian Arend!

A few months ago I was looking at future ALBTALBS scheduling, and I saw March 2nd was free. I then thought “hey I know something…” so being mischievous I poked at Viv and Maisey and was like “HEY! It’s your birthday ON THE SAME DAY!” And they were both like “huh, so it is!” Then I was all MAJOR BIRTHDAY BASH! Being good sports, they responded with “let’s do it!” So here we are. Everyone wish Maisey and Vivian an awesomely wonderful birthday!

Serendipity: a “happy accident” or “pleasant surprise”; specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful while not specifically searching for it.**
**from Wikipedia

Used in a sentence: It’s very serendipitous to discover that Maisey Yates and Vivian Arend share a birthday.

It is easy to understand this discovery is a ‘happy accident” and a “pleasant surprise”. Maisey and Viv are friends as well as writers who face each day armed with their trusty computers and a plethora of ideas, and in the end they create stories.

How is this good? Well. Between them they have 25 (Maisey’s books number, not all released yet) + 30 (Viv’s book number) which equals a whole of stories to make you smile, laugh, cry or shake your fist in the air when appropriate.

How is this useful? Well…. Since we’re talking about birthdays, there are usually presents involved. So how about some presents for this post?

—–birthday word association, Maisey and Viv style—–

HARLEQUIN! (well, I mean, come on…I write Presents!)

Wrapped up…unwrapped…belt removal…abs…sexy shifters…Viv’s Takhini Wolves

Frosting…abs…cowboys… Maisey’s Silver Creek series!

Cowboys, Angel, Kissing, Environmental issues…Viv’s Rocky Mountain Angel!!

Wax…burn…sexy burn…kinky stuff…silk scarves…Maisey’s April release Heir to a Desert Legacy

Wax…burn…sexy burn…kinky stuff…oh wait, is there an echo in here? We’ll just stop at the kinky stuff then, and find Viv’s newest release, out this coming Tuesday, March 5, High Risk

Abs? Any of Maisey’s books.

In Viv’s house they have ice cream every Friday. Friday night is also pizza night. Pizzas are round. Knobs are round. You turn knobs. The Turner Twins are two books by Viv!!! Turn It Up and Turn It On.

Viv: So Maisey, I just have to point out that you seem to have a bit of an obsession with abs. Not that there’s anything wrong with it per say, but… 😀

Maisey: it’s probably because I don’t have them…. Honestly though, you can eat birthday cake off a plate, but wouldn’t you rather eat it off abs?


Leave a birthday wish and be entered to win one of six ebooks. Three winners names picked for Viv, three for Maisey:

Viv: Winner’s choice of any ebook in backlist

Maisey: E copies of Maisey’s Secret Heirs of Powerful Men series, Heir to a Desert Legacy and Heir to a Dark Inheritance!

Sounds good, right? I’ll start off the birthday wishes – may you both have a fabulous day with good food, good company, lots of fun, cocktails (virgin if you prefer!), cake, and sculpted abs to use as a plate for your ice cream. 😉

Special Guest: Annette C!

Hey you guys! The very fun and special Annette C is wrapping up my birthday month! (I mean, come on, she’d be special if for no other reason than she’s here on the last day of June, right?) 😉 I “met” Annette on twitter way back when, and she’s always been incredibly nice and super sweet. I got to meet her in person at RT10, and she’s basically the reason I attended the conference.

Fun, right?! So now I’ve dragged her out of hiding (she’s been on a hiatus of sorts) and here she is, sharing with all of us! So let’s give her a warm welcome. 

I have an addiction… To series’ reading.  When Lime reminded me I promised her this, I racked my brain thinking over and over about all the things I read, what should I discuss, what would others find interesting… or agree with… Ok, perhaps even just understand without thinking I am a nutter ;). Everything kept coming back to the fact that most of what I read are series’. I love them, am totally addicted to them.

I have the complete Harry Potter series, hard covers, first edition.  I was one of those you would hear moaning and groaning on twitter about just. How. Long. Two years is when waiting for the final book in Karen Marie Monings Fever series…. I was also one of those you saw happy dancing all over the Internet when the day finally came that it was released. I utterly refuse to start a series unless I have all of them that are published to date. Refuse to read a book, even if I am half way through it, as soon as I find out its a series.  I will put it down, set it aside and start ruthlessly gathering the rest. Craziness right?

But c’mon. How can you not love a series! Jude Deveraux has so many amazing ones, I wouldn’t even know where to start… But I know that every time I re-pick up one of her series, I truly feel as though I have come home to visit old friends. Christine Feehan… Have mercy. Imagine putting down Dark Prince, never to have another carpathian to drool… I mean, meet :).  Devastating!  What makes it even better is the fact that throughout most series’ you get visits from old friends from earlier in the series. Even with spin offs! I would be so upset if Katie MacAlister never let us know what antics Jim the demon dog was up to. Like, seriously upset… I really do love that dang demon dog.

There are so many more things that I could list spouting my love for series, but then I do believe I would be rambling… So, though I have listed some of my favorite series’, I will close by listing a couple more.

Donna Grants’ Highlanders… O.m.G… Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson, Sharon Sala & Heather Graham (ok, seriously just read them, anything by them… Everything by them) Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas…  Elisabeth Naughton, Alyson Noel, Jennifer Estep, C.S. Lewis, Jane Austen, James Michener…

Oops, what was that I said about not rambling… Sadly this isn’t even an 1/8th of my favorites… So if you haven’t read these yet, run … run and get every one of them, because they are just *that* awesome.  So… Enquiring minds and all… What are your favorite series’?

Erm and… *angelface* I might have chosen random covers from series, just because. >.> Hope Nettie’s head doesn’t explode… ;X
And on a personal note, a huge, heartfelt thank you to Annette for her patience. We’ll all pretend this went up at the normal time, shall we? And cross out fingers July is better while letting out a breath of thanksgiving that June is ending.

Birthday Bash Blog Blowout Giveaway

Hey y’all. I had lofty ideas of listing EVERY BOOK with it’s cover AND BLURB! I… am not up to that. And also don’t have enough time so instead… I’m adding a trailer to Magic Mike. Because, well really it needs no explanation. (Matt Bomer!) <3

Also there’s SYTYCD.

Ok soooo…. you know how to get brownie points in this giveaway? Sign up for Swagbucks. And… I know it’s too much for you to message me… so when you sign up, enter JUNETASTIC for an extra 70 swagbucks. http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/limecello that’s all! If you have questions, let me know. Sorry, code is for new registrants only.

Now, the stuff you care about – THE PRIZES!!!

First of all, the AMAZINGLY awesome @mamaboo7907 is offering three gift cards.

You know what? Forget that. Joke’s on you!!! You know what the Birthday Bash Blog Blowout Giveaway is? It’s that Lime wins all the things. I’m kidding. But seriously – how did I manage to make it so you guys all win things on my birthday, and I get nothing? 😛

Ok, seriously though. In alphabetical order of the givers… Hint – if you want to find out more about the book you can click on the book cover.

@mamaboo7907 is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card, as well as two $5 ones! That’s three up for grabs!

Nurse Kayla Friday has dedicated her life to science and reason. But for her, Seattle is a placeof eerie loss and fragmented, frightening memories. And now the only clue to her sister’smurder reveals a secret battle between two ancient mythologies…and puts Kayla in the sightsof lethally-sexy werewolf mercenary Hart. He’ll do whatever it takes to obtain the key to the Gate of the Land of the Dead and free what’s left of his soul. But seducing the determinedKayla is putting them at the mercy of powerful desires neither can control. And as the clockticks down to hellish catastrophe, the untested bond between Kayla and Hart may lead to theultimate sacrifice.

[I’m actually assuming this is the prize (a print copy) because I asked Kira but she’s gallivanting about in Scotland, so you know. That’s what she gets!!!]


The Efficiency ExpertGlintForbidden TreasuresPower of Three

Author’s warning: These stories contain explicit scenes of erotic activity and experimentation, including sex with multiple partners, spanking, caning, exhibitionistic sex and voyeurism and male/male lovemaking. Some of the graphic language is only suitable for broadminded adults.

Both prizes from Portia are ebooks.

From the moment Red Webster arrived at executive Vicki Renard’s firm, sparks flew between them. The photographer is supposed to create a company profile for its new owner, but he spends most of his time flirting with her. His sexy teasing infuriates Vicki…and piques a desire to submit to him. His hypnotic eyes promise what she’s been secretly craving: a sexually dominant master, like the ones in her favorite erotic novels.

Investigating his new business incognito, billionaire F. W. Shanley–aka Red–is turned on by Vicki’s fiery personality and undeniable beauty. When he discovers her reading a BDSM novel on her eReader, he knows he’s found a woman who shares his desires and promises to be a challenging submissive.

When Red arranges a weekend at a secluded hotel, Vicki agrees to indulge in no-strings-attached erotic fun. But can she commit to this kind of life with Red when he realizes they can have so much more?

Now Alyssa Day’s prize is actually the winner’s choice of one of her current Warriors of Poseidon’s books – but I liked this cover. And you know, winner’s choice. Print and international is fine. (For most the books in fact.)

Alaric, Poseidon’s High Priest, has made a vow to Quinn, the woman he loves and the leader of the Resistance: to save her friend Jack before his last bit of humanity has been drained. Should Alaric succeed, there’s one danger-he may lose Quinn to the love of the man whose life he saved…

The Roughnecks Series (Book One) You do for family, no matter what. Lane Iverson knows that better than anyone. Harboring a secret about his mother’s death, Lane is counting the days until he finishes helping his brothers with some work and can head back to his hiding hole hours away. As long as he doesn’t have to face his three brothers every day, the guilt is easier to carry. There is only one thing that can risk his plan. All of five foot tall, with these deep eyes and a voice that shudders through him. The completely addicting, Gretchen Jones. She’s been watching him the entire time he’s been in town. With courage from her friends behind her, she confronts what she wants. To her surprise, that’s the easy part. Keeping her heart protected when she knows he’ll be leaving? Not so easy, but her only choice.

“Where Darkness Lives” by Alexandra Ivy – No one’s more surprised than Sophia when she’s struck by an unfamiliar maternal urge to move near her daughters. But instead of being greeted by a welcome committee, she’s targeted by kidnappers…and saddled with a gorgeous bodyguard on a mission to protect – and seduce…”Murder on Mysteria Lane” by Angie Fox – When a werewolf trophy wife is found dead in Vampire County, Heather McPhee goes undercover to investigate. Heather’s never been a mascara-and-manicures sort of girl, but she’s willing to learn. Especially with sexy vampire detective Lucien Mead posing as her husband…”What’s Yours is Mine” by Jess Haines – Still Waters is like many other exclusive gated communities – except that it’s home to one of the largest werewolf packs in the state. But Tiffany Winters isn’t frightened of her big, bad new neighbours. In fact, she intends to take her place among the pack…”Werewolves in Chic Clothing” by Tami Dane – Ever since Christine Price moved in with her fiance, Jonathan, and his twelve-year-old son, she’s worked hard to fit in with a cadre of local women whose lives seem picture-perfect. Except no one in Jon’s upscale neighbourhood is quite who they appear to be. Least of all Jon…

In the lusty humidity of the Deep South, among the neon lights of Vegas, and the glitz of high-fashion, demon slayers are the new sexy…”Hot!” by Kathy Love: At Hot! Magazine, the devil really does wear Prada. When the CEO is an actual demon and the mailroom people are undercover demon slayers, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility for an up-and-coming photographer and a model possessed by much more than a sweet tooth to fall in love. “What Slays In Vegas” by Angie Fox: When a sexy succubus comes up against a fearless demon slayer intent on killing her boss, a truly wild Vegas night turns into a quickie wedding. But in a city where anything goes, a demon slayer wedding a succubus is strictly forbidden. Which doesn’t mean either is rushing to jump out of the marriage bed. “The Bride Wore Demon Dust” by Lexi George: He’s perfection in a tuxedo – more so out of it – and on a mission to protect his Alabama woman from the mysterious mayhem intent on her destruction. But the bride is a spunky steel magnolia with special powers of her own, determined to drop-kick evil forces across the state line and give her slayer a run for his money.

From New York Times bestselling author, Angie Fox: Last month, I was a single preschool teacher whose greatest thrill consisted of color-coding my lesson plans. That was before I learned I was a slayer. Now, it’s up to me to face curse-hurling imps, vengeful demons, and any other supernatural uglies that crop up. And, to top it off, a hunk of a shape-shifting griffin has invited me to Greece to meet his family. But it’s not all sun, sand, and ouzo. Someone has created a dark-magic version of me with my powers and my knowledge–and it wants to kill me and everyone I know. Of course, this evil twin doesn’t have Grandma’s gang of biker witches, a talking Jack Russell terrier, or an eccentric necromancer on its side. In the ultimate showdown for survival, may the best demon slayer win.

A whopping five copies of this book – to be given away here and on twitter. (I’ll figure out the division.)

Samantha Carpenter always considered sleepwalking a harmless condition. Most people wander their own homes or their immediate neighborhood. Sam wasn’t most people. She was found miles away from home at her place of employment behind locked doors bypassing the security system, putting the job she desperately needed at risk.

Emily Hunger was being followed by a dark presence. She could feel it. Fleeing college to escape her stalker, she landed in Salt Lake City where she found a career, love and a degree of freedom. Her ability to sense danger came in handy as a rookie on the SLCPD, but she never anticipated that ability would attract attention.

When a woman claiming to be their aunt brings these two strangers together, her revelations will lead Sam and Emily on a journey of self discovery in a world they never knew existed. They must race to establish their right as witches to be one of the Consul members in the Realm of Lights. Struggling to accept their new reality, the Gemini Witches are thrown in with Wizards and demons as they try to learn how to control the elements. With the Autumn Equinox fast approaching, they must find a way to unite, their untested talents the only defense against the forces that threaten to consume them, but when Sam is kidnapped, can Emily save her in time?

The news that wild socialite Veronica St. Germaine has cleaned up her act and stepped into her father’s shoes as ruler of a Mediterranean principality creates a tabloid frenzy! But it’s not just the paparazzi that are out for blood.…

Duty demands that bodyguard Rajesh Vala must protect Veronica—whatever the cost.… But Veronica has always rebelled against commands, and she isn’t making Raj’s job easy!

He calls it safeguarding. She calls it being held captive at his beach house. Both realize that the attraction between them is inconvenient.… Veronica is forbidden, not for bedding!

Well, Kate Hewitt is awesome for offering this prize. I can’t find the book blurb though. I checked Amazon, used a search engine, Waterstones (which is what was supposed to be the M&B link) ended up at – and then her web page. So there you go. But this book is up for grabs, and that’s the important thing! You can also read an excerpt of it here. So that should help.

Erm, if anyone wants to hunt that down for me – not at the top of my list right now what with all the other books, but I’m sure it’s a great category romance. 🙂 And notice now this is one of the UK covers, not an American one? Anyone have a preference for types?

(This is an ebook prize)

The relationship is pretend. The chemistry…isn’t.
After her last job ended with a broken heart and a humiliating exit from the company, Shelby Leighton’s project management career is back on track with a new job and a high-profile project. The problem: her new boss is a little too friendly, and the staff is talking. Can you say, “déjà vu?” The solution: casually mention a fictional new boyfriend.

New problem: she’s expected to bring her new man to the upcoming corporate picnic.

Jake Magill doesn’t do relationships. It’s casual or nothing, but the hot blonde he’s been eyeing at the coffee shop sure is something. Especially when she confesses her problem, and he finds himself offering to act as her date.

Sounds simple. Stroll around the party with Shelby’s sexy curves clinging to his arm? He’s all over it. Until he meets her boss—the man who once stole and married the one woman Jake thought he loved.

Now Jake’s the one with a reason to pretend. If only to save his own pride…and Shelby from the predatory gaze of the man who could ruin her, and any chance of finding out if their fake connection is the real thing.

Um, yes, I know there are already three copies of this book up for grabs on the blog. So… you might want to enter there for better odds. One of my favorite books this year. (One of two.) You want it. And lucky all of you, you have two more chances here!

The Marquess of Fenris has loved Lady Eugenia from the day he first set eyes on her. Five years ago, pride caused him to earn her enmity. Now she’s widowed, and he’s determined to make amends and win her heart. But with their near explosive attraction, can he resist his desire long enough to court her properly?

After the death of her beloved husband, Lady Eugenia Bryant has come to London to build a new life. Despite the gift of a medallion said to have the power to unite the wearer with her perfect match, Eugenia believes she won’t love again. And yet, amid the social whirl of chaperoning a young friend through her first Season, she finds a second chance at happiness.

Unfortunately, the Marquess of Fenris threatens her newfound peace. Eugenia dislikes the man, but the handsome and wealthy heir to a dukedom is more charming than he has a right to be. Constantly underfoot, the rogue disturbs her heart, alternately delighting and scandalizing her. And when their relationship takes a highly improper turn, Eugenia must decide if the wrong man isn’t the right one after all.

Irish film director Rill Pierce fled to the tiny, backwoods town of Vulture ‘s Canyon, seeking sanctuary and solitude after a devastating tragedy. Once, his raw sex appeal and sultry Irish accent made women across the globe swoon. Now, he’s barely recognizable…

But Katie Hughes, his best friend’s sister, is not the type of woman to give up on a man like Rill. She blazes into Vulture’s Canyon determined to save him from himself. Instead, she finds herself unleashing years of pent-up passion. In a storm of hunger and need, Katie and Rill forget themselves and the world. But will Rill’s insatiable attraction to Katie heal his pain—or will it just feed the darkness within him?

Darkness can arouse the senses…

John Corcoran loved the isolation of the Shawnee National Forest with the crisp spring air, the sounds of nature, and the bracing scent of pine. Isolation is what movie star Jennifer Turner craved as well, an escape that only a weekend hike, a long and blissful distance from Hollywood, could provide.

Yesterday, they were strangers—until a fateful accident, deep in the forest and far from civilization, throws them together and plunges them both into darkness. For Jennifer it is as unnerving as the night itself, trapped in such close quarters with a man as mysterious as John. He is alpha: bold, rough, and masculine, but with a scent of firewood and spice she finds intoxicating.

In the dark, Jennifer’s nightmares spring to life. The only way to vanquish them is by submitting to blind, naked need. Now, as intimately close as a man and a woman can be, they find themselves alone, battling fear and vulnerability. Only an unexpected passion will comfort them—a sensual, raw experience from which neither is certain they want to be rescued.

This is a print copy for US only – sorry kids, but hey! Variety!

Shannon’s Christmas Wish List 1. A gorgeous billionaire to buy her store… enter Rory Wallace-swoon! 2. The magic of Christmas… Rory and his little girl need to know that it still exists. 3. Willpower… because kissing Rory under the mistletoe would be a Very Bad Idea. Shannon Raleigh can’t believe that both Rory Wallace and his little girl dislike Christmas so much and she’s determined to make her favorite season as magical as possible! But working with handsome Rory every day proves challenging, because Shannon finds herself longing for Christmas kisses with the man she can never have…

Cedric Reeves has just been sidelined, and the bad-boy pro footballer suddenly finds himself without an agent or a prayer of getting back in the game. What he needs is someone pulling for him…someone like gorgeous go-getter Payton Mosely.

A media-hounded celebrity like Cedric is just what the ambitious up-and-comer Payton needs to jump-start her career. That’s why she’s waging a no-holds-barred campaign to land the Saber running back as her first client. But how’s the NFL sports agent supposed to keep things strictly professional when Cedric pursues her with a passion no sane woman can resist? Could this sexy bad boy be good for her after all?

Now we have two signed copies of this book up for grabs! And like most of the others – international is quite welcome!

The last thing Valerie needs, after escaping an abusive marriage to an alcoholic and rebuilding her life, is a broody, secretive, standoffish man. But that’s exactly what she gets when she becomes a makeup artist on the set of a hit sitcom and draws the attention of the series’ star.
John Samuels hides a terrible past—a life of abuse and neglect. A successful acting career and the affection and support of cast, crew and friends, does nothing to convince him that he is anything other than an unlovable monster.
Will he learn that the life he’s been living has been built on a lie or will he be doomed to repeat the sins of his father?

In the wake of his parents’ murder, Matthew Graham must take the reins at the Circle Eight – a vast spread in the eastern wilds of the newly independent Republic of Texas. He also needs to find a wife in just thirty days, or risk losing it all. Plain but practical, Hannah Foley seems the perfect bride for him…until after the wedding night. Their marriage may make all the sense in the world, but neither one anticipates the jealousies that will result, the treacherous danger they’re walking into, or the wildfire of attraction that will sweep over them, changing their lives forever…

And now last but definitely definitely not least… Samhain Publishing.

That’s right. Samhain Publishing is giving away FOURTEEN books!!!

Yup, fourteen different lucky winners get to choose any of Samhain’s current books. [Not ARCs, but um, their current selection is pretty awesome. If that’s not enough for you you might need to reassess some things.] Seven commenters will win the print book of his/her choice, and seven will in an ebook.

So… how do you enter? Say something fun! Nice! Birthday related! (Or birthday horror? My birthdays actually tend to suck. Like… a lot so… if you have sob stories to share those are welcome too!) Or you can tell me if you’ve joined Swagbucks (http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/limecello) with “JUNETASTIC” yet. And if not, why. ;D

So that’s what, 42 prizes? (Remember, some are multiple copies. Come on – that’s not bad, right? :D)

Look – it’s my birthday. I’m allowed to be bratty about something. Also – full disclosure and honesty – why am I “harping on this stupid Swagbucks thing? ” Well the blogger who gets the most referrals – ending today – gets a prize. Since I can’t win any of these awesome blog birthday prizes, won’t you help me try to win something else?! On my actual birthday? Thanks!

Oh – and to also help the process – please fill out this form for giveaway purposes. And remember to skim the previous posts – there are a number of open giveaways still. For those of you with questions on how this will be run, most of them are likely addressed here.

Teaser “Tuesday”: Sway by Lauren Dane

I know we’ve got super awesome author Lauren Dane sharing an exclusive excerpt of her upcoming book with us today… and it’s even part of an anthology with Maya Banks. The story, Sway, is a novella in the book Cherished.

CherishedSway by Lauren Dane
Copyright 2012, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, The Berkley Publishing Group
Releasing August 7

The Sway blurb:
Levi Warner is an established, older man—wealthy, powerful, and above all, respectable. Then Levi meets Daisy, an uninhibited 24-year-old dance instructor and artist, not exactly the kind of woman Levi is accustomed to. But the young, free spirit, brings out something in him he only experienced in fantasies. When their scorching affair turns into something unexpectedly deeper, Levi finds himself torn between preserving his reputation, and exploring a wilder and much more satisfying kind of life.

She tasted like honey.

Odd and yet, not entirely unexpected.

Her lips were soft, opening on a sigh. He took her invitation and took the kiss deeper, his tongue sliding into her mouth.

His hand remained in hers, though he wanted to haul her close and take her to the couch. He hadn’t wanted to get horizontal on a woman with this much intensity in a very long time.

The more he tasted, the more he wanted until need beat in his head like a pulse.

The depth and intensity of his desire shook him. Hit him so hard he had to fist the hand she wasn’t holding to keep it from shaking.

He kissed like a master. Daisy knew she was in way over her head and all he’d done was kiss her. They weren’t even touching except for lips and tongues and his hand in hers, but it was enough. Enough that it was a full-body caress when he groaned as she sucked his tongue.

So very controlled, this man. But it was there, just under the surface. Levi Warner was a very dominant male and she wondered if that extended to his sexuality.

Hoped so. It wasn’t that she’d had many dominant lovers or anything. But he’d awakened something inside her. Curiosity, yes, but a sense of satisfaction in letting him lead. Something she’d never experienced before.

The weight of his focus on her was tangible. It made her a little drunk, needing more even as she barely managed to process what he gave her through a simple kiss.

It was enough to let him lead the kiss, enough to step back and wait for whatever he had in mind next.

Her body ached, her nipples throbbed and her pussy was wet and swollen. She shivered, imagining what he’d be like naked. In her bed. In his bed with her in it. Whatever, it didn’t matter where, the naked part was important.

He was patient. So very patient as he continued to kiss her. A nip of her bottom lip that had her gasping for air. His beard stubble gave her just the right amount of friction. Nearly painful. Enough to make her imagine what it’d feel like against the skin of her inner thighs as he went down on her. And she bet he did it well. If his kissing was any indicator, he’d be a marvelous pussy eater.

With a sharp intake of breath he broke the kiss and stared at her. His pupils were huge again and it gave her yet another shiver of delight.

“I should go.”

“You should?” She grabbed the front of his shirt without meaning to and released it quickly. If he left, she’d never speak to him again.

“Christ.” He scrubbed a hand through his hair and she let the other one go. Whatever it was he was fighting with himself over, he had to deal with it. He was a big boy and she sure as hell wasn’t his mother. Nor did she plan to beg him to stay.

She knew her worth as a woman. She’d been raised by not only a kick-ass mother, but her grandmother and sister were also strong, smart women. Whatever her concerns about her talent and art, she’d never beg a man for his attention.

He wanted her or he didn’t. So she sat back a little and let him work through it.

“You’re too young. I shouldn’t even be thinking about sex.”

She sighed. “You keep saying that. I’m far over the age of consent. Also, you’re assuming a lot. I don’t fuck on the first date.”

Then he laughed and she felt better for it.

“You’d leave me with blue balls?” he teased.

“I’m too young? You give me that line and talk about my age? I’m sure I heard that one back in the day. Do you think I’ll give you a pity hand job?” She grinned. He was adorable and damn, she might have broken her no fucking on the first date rule earlier, so it was probably good that they both stepped back for a moment. He made her feel . . . unfettered. And as lovely as it was, no man had ever made her want to jump so foolishly into something.

He grinned back. “Well, all right, it’s been some time since I’ve used that line.”

“What’s next? Will you tell me you’ll only put the tip in?”

You can read another excerpt here. And you know what else?! Lauren is giving someone a copy of Never Enough which is the book that takes place right before Sway begins! (Sway is part of a new series – here’s the info:

The Delicious series will feature Gillian’s friends – Daisy – Sway, Jules – Tart (11/12), Mary’s book and Raven’s book both out in 2013. The books are about a group of friends, all set in Bainbridge Island, WA. More info as we get closer. Sway will be in the Cherished Duology with Maya Banks out in August of 2012 and for those of you who wanted an epilogue in Never Enough, you’ll see Adrian and Gillian’s wedding prep in Sway. Sway is contemporary erotic romance with BDSM themes. Tart is Jules, Cal and Gideon’s story and you’ll meet Mary’s hero at Gillian and Adrian’s wedding…

Are you excited? Tell me what you think!) p.s. if you have any questions about how this giveaway will/is run it’s likely answered here.

Guest Author & A Giveaway: Julie Anne Long

Hi friends! Birthday month is almost over 🙁 And not a single present! But that’s okay, because you know what? I have presents for you! And you know what’s a great gift? A fun visit from author Julie Anne Long! She’s answered some questions, and is also sharing an exclusive excerpt of A Notorious Countess Confesses which isn’t out until October 30! Whee!!!

Ms. Long is also a sneaky one, so keep an eye out for her! 😉 Anyway, let’s start out with those questions!

1. Which would you prefer wearing – cowboy boots or stilettos?
Cowboy boots. Where else would I keep my miniature pearl-handled  derringer?

2. As a child, did you ever imagine your stuffed animals came to life?
“Imagine”? What do you mean? Didn’t…yours?  I suspect my Breyer horses of galloping all over the place while I was sleeping.

3. What do you think about clowns?
I try not to think about clowns.

4. What author promo has been most effective for you?
It’s so difficult to meaningfully quantify the impact (though it’s tempting for anyone who likes to analyze things, and boy do I) of any particular promo. I think I’ll instead offer a bit of advice: think the smartest (and it sounds simple) thing any author can do is to make sure the readers who love her books know when she has a new one coming, however that works best for you—newsletter, Facebook, Twitter or so forth.  Maintain a consistent, ongoing connection with your readers. It’s such a pleasure.

5. What was your favorite book as a child? Which character in it did you most want to be?
I loved so many books as a child it’s nearly impossible to choose one. But when we were little, my sister and I went through a phase where we were obsessed with all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. We played “Little House on the Prairie” every day. We baked mud pies on baking day and pretended to milk our poor Malamute (she was the stand-in for a cow) and churned fake butter. If I could have been Laura Ingalls Wilder riding Black Beauty, that would have been SWEET.

6. What kind of toothbrush and toothpaste is on your bathroom counter right now? What about your toothbrush? Are there brands for either you prefer?
My toothbrush, huh? It’s pink. And has bristles at all different heights. The toothpaste is Crest and apparently it does an awful lot of things—whitens, brightens, scrubs, freshens my breath—and the tube is huge, about the size of a forearm, maybe because I bought it at Costco.

7. If you were to become a bear, which type would you choose?
I think I might like to be a Giant Panda. I quite like the idea of the word “Giant” in front of my name.  Their scientific name, Ailuropoda melanoleuca, translates to “black and white cat-foot,” and I’m for anything to do with cats. They’re omnivorous, and so am I. Black and white as a color combination never goes out of style.  And they look unbearably (unbearably. Ha!) puffy and adorable, but they’re still BEARS, and they might just attack anyone who irritates them.

8. What is your secret plan for world domination?
Little do you all know, but I’ve been dominating the world for some time now. You are all puppet s in my intricate master plan. 😉 But I’m a benign (and subtle) despot.  But you have nothing to fear: unlike Chase Eversea in Since the Surrender, I don’t have any issues with puppets.

9. Do you collect anything? If no, have you ever collected anything? What did you do with it?
I don’t collect anything with real conviction. Unless you count, of course, books (then again, I’m sure most of the people reading this blog have prodigious libraries).  I love very old books, but I don’t have a lot because  I like to come across them serendipitously—I love thrift stores and rummage sales and the huge Friends of the Library sale at Fort Mason for that sort of thing. I have several books with lovely worn Art Nouveau covers. I have a few special Art Deco objects. The older I get the less stuff I seem to want, and I’m particular about what I acquire.

10. What five deceased authors would you invite to a dinner party?
Deceased authors?!? That’s an alarming notion! Are they zombies? Will I need to serve brains??
If I may resurrect five authors, let’s see…if I don’t do this completely off the top of my head I’ll be mulling forever, so I’ll do this completely off the top of my head. I want to laugh, think and flirt during my dinner party, and I want my guests to get along with each other and have a wonderful time, and you didn’t specific fiction authors (and I love wriggling through a loophole), so I’ll invite Jane Austen, Benjamin Franklin (a thinker and a flirter if ever there was one), Richard Feynman (Nobel Prize winning Physicist; I read his book “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman”, many times—he was a kick. I wish I knew him), and George Gordon, Lord Byron. I think they’ll all hit it off.

Exclusive excerpt from A Notorious Countess Confesses, coming October 2012
copyright 2012 Julie Anne Long (It’s so exclusive and early Avon hasn’t even posted the cover on Amazon yet! Eee!)

A little bit of set-up here: Shortly before this excerpt takes place, the Countess of Wareham and Reverend Sylvaine had an inauspicious and very brief first encounter, right after morning services at the church in Pennyroyal Green. They’re coolly polite to each other, but our jaded countess is unmoved by the admittedly handsome vicar,  and Adam privately thinks the countess, though beautiful, seems remote and untouchable, “as sealed and gleaming as a jar of preserves,” and therefore not terribly interesting to him. When Lady Wareham  and her maid run into a little carriage trouble on the Sussex downs and the countess steps out of her carriage while her maid goes in search of help,  they have another little encounter when he accidentally startles her. Do impressions change? Let’s see…

She leaped back with a stifled shriek, clapping her hand to her heart.
“Sweet Merciful Mary Mother of God, ye shouldna sneak up like that! Ye creep like a cat ye bloody big …”
She stopped.
A very ripe Irish accent, long dormant but apparently healthy and whole and frisky and unleashed by shock, echoed across the countryside. Bloody big bloody big bloody big …
Ohhhh. The shame of it.
She wanted to close her eyes and sink deep, deep into the earth.
Instead, she forced herself to look up—very up—at who proved to be the Reverend Adam Sylvaine, the vicar.
He appeared entirely unruffled. Apart from his eyes, that was. They fair danced like flames with wicked, wicked, downright un-Christian mirth.
One of her horses whickered into what threatened to be a never-ending silence.
Be a gentleman, she silently willed him. Leave it lie. Pretend you heard nothing at all.
Up his eyebrows went.
“Biiiig …” he prompted.
She eyed him stonily.  Bastard, she was tempted to complete. Why not? In for a penny, in for a pound.
He waited. Patient as Job. Wicked as Lucifer. Amused as hell.
“Vicar,” she completed inanely, finally, on a mumble.
His head went back as though this was almost too good to be true, then came down on a nod.
“I suppose I am,” he agreed thoughtfully, though his voice held a suspicious tremble. Stifled laughter. “I suppose I am a big …vicar …. Though no one has ever before accused me before of creeping like a cat. Something to do with being … well, big, I suppose.”
The vicar was taking the piss out of her, as her brother Seamus would say, and quite effectively, too.
She looked full into his face then. His eyes were such a disarming blue—the color of deep, still water, of Lough Leane in Killarney—they made her strangely restless. It was if the weather inside him was always clear and temperate. Like his conscience and unblemished soul, no doubt, she thought sardonically. An unprepossessing black wool coat—Weston hadn’t stitched up that one, she knew this for certain—whipped behind him in the stiffening wind, which was also doing its best to pluck a carelessly knotted cravat from the confines of a gray, striped waistcoat  of no discernible pedigree.
And as though it they were was a beckoning road, her eyes followed the line of longer, finer, harder thighs than a vicar had any business possessing down to the dusty, creased toes of his boots. Which most definitely had not been made by Hoby.
Her eyes stayed safely on the ground. She took advantage of a moment of unexpectedly necessary composure gathering in the wake of the revelation about his thighs.
“I thought vicars were supposed to wear dresses.”  She said this almost testily. At least she had gotten  control of her accent.
“Oh, a dress is optional.”
Ping! Insults bounced from him, it seemed.
“And by ‘dress,’ I suppose you mean ‘cassock’?” he added helpfully. “Difficult to creep like a cat in a cassock, you see, Lady Wareham. It swirls about one’s ankles, flaps noisily in the breeze. One needs stealth to stop iniquity in its tracks.”
In … iquity?
The word was a slap.
But … perhaps he was jesting? Surely he was? Did he know about her? Was the whole of this horrid village going to take turns plaguing her in turns? Would they turn out with boiling oil?
“Is that why you’ve suddenly appeared? Did you scent iniquity on the wind then, Reverend Sylvaine? Do you roam the Sussex countryside sniffing for it, like a truffle-hunting pig?”
He didn’t reply for so long she finally turned to look at him.
To find he’d gone as rigid as if he’d been driven into the ground.
Something about that stillness made her think that angering him would be very unwise, indeed. Which seemed a peculiar thought to have about a vicar. But despite the fact that he wasn’t blinking, he didn’t seem angry. He was studying her the way one might study a lock about to be picked. The only movement was his hair. The breeze lifted it, let it fall, lifted it, let it fall. Hidden in the dark blond were dark gold or copper threads and strands sun-bleached to silvery fairness. In the silence and stillness it was absurdly fascinating.
“I’ve dozens of cousins and a number of siblings, Lady Wareham. If you’ve siblings, you won’t be surprised to learn that my hide is quite callused. It’s nearly impossible to offend me.”
He said it evenly. As if he hadn’t just seen right through her, and neatly incinerated her defenses, as surely as if she were a petulant child.
“Some might interpret that as a challenge, Reverend.”
He went quiet again.  And then he smiled. Very, very faintly. Just enough, it seemed, for her to notice the elegant shape of his mouth. To tease out one dimple at the corner of it. And when at last he spoke, again she felt his voice more than she heard it, like fingers brushed along the short hairs at her nape. It had gone soft, so soft. But somehow it wasn’t gentle.
“Oh? Did you come to Pennyroyal Green for challenge, then, Lady Wareham?”
She stared at him.
He stared back.
And to her astonishment, heat slowly washed the back of her neck, the backs of her arms, and tightened the bands of her stomach. It was suddenly more difficult to breathe. It occurred to her that she’d never seen a man who was so … contained. Yes: That that was precisely the right word. As though something in him, some potential, required control. And whatever it was, whatever he was, pulled at her. The way earth pulled water into it. It felt stronger than she was, and her entire life had depended upon her being stronger than anyone.
She turned abruptly away. She inhaled in the hopes of clearing her head, but the traitorous air had turned to wine or some such; her thoughts staggered like foxed heirs at a gaming hell.
He was only a vicar, she reminded herself. The man had caught her in a rare moment of weakness amidst a particularly vulnerable episode in her life. That was all. And she was very weary, of course. After all, the church nap had hardly been the restorative kind.
She tugged her pelisse about her more snugly and stared toward her halted carriage with a little frown. Where the devil was Henny?
“It seems one of our horses threw a shoe,” she said finally. Her voice was fainter than she would have preferred.
She wondered if she’d disappointed him.
He’d been watching her. She half suspected he knew the number of her eyelashes now.
“I see,” he said easily enough, after a moment. “I was on my way to visit a parishioner when I saw your stopped carriage. And as since there’s no worry about brigands on this road since One-Eyed William haunted these parts a few decades ago, and as this isn’t precisely one of the more scenic parts of Sussex, I feared something might be amiss.”
One-eyed William? Was he jesting?
She said nothing.
“I’ll just have a word with your driver then, shall I?”
When she didn’t reply—for she couldn’t seem to find her voice—he turned. She listened to him take one step, then two steps away, and somehow the sound of his footsteps seemed like the sound of failure.
“Reverend Sylvaine …”
He stopped, turned back toward her, his brows raised in a query.
The surest way to regain her power was to deploy what made her powerful.
“I must ask your forgiveness. I fear you startled me from my manners, and … I’ve never before met a vicar, you see, and it seems like such an interesting, important role. Pray, how does one become a vicar?”
She, possibly better than any other woman in England, knew the way beneath any man’s ramparts—whether he was the Home Secretary or the King of England or a coal monger: It was flattery, served up with flirtation and innuendo.
She was startled when Reverend Sylvaine drew up visibly, instantly almost comically wary.
“One of the best ways, I’ve learned, to become one is to be related to the family who owns the living,” he living.” He said shortly. With just a hint of irony.
And said nothing more.
“Must one be faultless of character? Entirely … free of vices?”  She folded her hands before her and aimed her gaze up at him through her lashes with the precision of a rifleman.
The vicar glanced down at her demurely folded hands as though she’d unlocked a pistol. And then he slowly looked back up into her face.
He hesitated.
“I suppose it depends on how one interprets the word.”
A masterpiece of circumspection, that sentence.
His eyes were now unreadable as an empty sky, shuttered. Hers, she was fairly certain, thanks thank to some collusion between her thick black lashes and the color of her eyes and the angle of sunlight and the sheer intent to charm, were sparkling.
“Have you any vices, Mr. Sylvaine?” Her tone implied that she sincerely hoped he did, that she would be understanding and forgiving, would indeed find them fascinating, and that her own would nicely complement his.
The vicar was now as tense as a bunched fist.
And then a faint dent appeared between his eyes.
Alas, by no stretch of the imagination could she interpret this expression as “bewitched.”
“None, I’m certain, that would interest you.” He said it gently, and turned his head just slightly back toward the road, where his duties apparently awaited. As though, of all things …
… he was bored.
She was speechless.
“I should think it’s safe enough to walk alone along this part of the green, Lady Wareham, but perhaps you oughtn’t go far until you know the country better. Perhaps you’d prefer to wait inside your carriage out of the cold?”
She knew when she’d been dismissed. Pride—and astonishment—prevented her from flailing.
“Seeing to the safety of your flock, are you?” she managed almost lightly. Her voice was faint from the jostling her pride had taken.
He smiled politely. “And to my duty as a gentleman.”  More of that peculiar, distancing gentleness.  “I apologize for startling you. It wasn’t my intention.”
To her horror, heat bloomed in her cheeks again.
“My maid is very nearby,” she said shortly, struggling to hide her embarrassment. “And I don’t mind the cold.”
“I’ll just see if I can be of some assistance to your driver then, shall I?”
When she said nothing, he made a very elegant bow and turned away from her. She stood still as a stone, watching as he hailed the driver and her footman, who greeted him cheerily. All those male heads gathered together, the wigged one and her stocky, hatless driver and Mr. Sylvaine’s fair one, conferring in low voices. While the driver gently held the horse’s head by the harness, the vicar bent and lifted up the glossy animal’s hoof and inspected it. Evie watched in astonishment as he tugged his cravat free of his waistcoat and carefully, almost tenderly, wrapped the horse’s hoof to the evident approval of her staff.
And then he turned and waved a farewell, striding up the road, no doubt toward his original destination. Cravatless.
She watched him go.
At last she heard the huffing of Henny’s breathing before she saw Henny, and then Henny crested the hill, skirts lifted in her hands, exposing a few inches of thick, sturdy ankle decorously covered in thick, sagging, thick woolen stockings. “I fear no one answered me knock at the door, m’lady.”
She dropped her skirts and froze in place when she saw her mistress’s face.
Her eyes went wide.
Then she narrowed them shrewdly and swiveled her great head about and raised a hand to shade her eyes when she saw Adam Sylvaine walking away, posture like a soldier’s, stride long and easy.
Silently, they both watched him.
They in fact watched long enough for it to become ridiculous.
He never once looked back.
“Now that one is a man,” Henny pronounced finally. As though they’d been debating the topic.
Evie snorted. “The country air has curdled your brain.” She tossed her head and strode toward the carriage. Henny followed on her heels, still huffing.

So what do you think of the excerpt? Are you sold? Gonna preorder it right now? [Getting my hints? ;D] So you know the drill – ask Julie Anne Long any question you want! And one lucky commenter gets any two Pennyroyal Green series books of his/her choice! Fantastic!

Oops and Winners

So… I didn’t pick winners last week. I meant to but you know… life happened. I think I really am going to do a twice a month pick because… it’s really too much for me. Sorry guys – think I’m going to adjust the “FAQs/Contests” page to reflect that too. Thanks for understanding!

Although I wonder if anyone checks that… See how subscribing is good and pays off? Also because … today is Sundayaturday :X so you know, it kicks off MY BIRTHDAY WEEK. Did you know that commenting on posts gets you brownie points for winning prizes? Cuz… I figure if I can’t pick favorites on my birthday for winners, when can I?

Speaking of… there’s going to be some zonky stuff with the posts. I believe I’m going to re-post Keishon’s because she all of a sudden messaged me and was like “HOLY SHIT. EMAILING NOW.” And totally scared the crap out of me. So anyway, she sent a new post so … I guess that’s going up. Also, I just saw in the pending comments Carrie left one with links, so that will be added too. Good thing I looked!

Back to the business at hand. Winners. You know the deal – send me your relevant info via the contact form. Please include what is needed AS WELL AS the prize you won. Sorry you’re getting the brunt of it, but I’m sick of people not reading the things I say. When I ask for specifics, it’s important, because I rarely do it. And if I’m in a bad mood, I might just ignore your email. And we don’t want that, do we? [Actually, in the interest of honest disclosure, guilt will make me respond, but it sure as hell won’t be a priority.]

Some lucky reader commented when HelenKay Dimon shared an exclusive excerpt with us. Cathy P! You enjoy romantic suspense, and now you get to try another one!

Meljean Brook came and … well frankly I think it’s one of the best posts I’ve ever had at the blog. Those author interview answers? Yes. What everyone should aspire to! Her lucky lucky winner is… (and since it came up a lot – I do want to note, her books are not comedies. So… please don’t expect something all light hearted and laughter. Please let me know if that’s what you were expecting/want to pass on dark stories then.) … jeannemiro.

Beverley Kendall shared an exclusive excerpt of her newest book, and is giving away two copies! Her winners are Diane P. Diamond and also Barbara E.!

And you know what? The lastest posts… I’m going to leave open. Starting with Leslie Kelly’s. She’s giving away six copies, so come on. We can do better than 16 comments!

I feel like I might be missing some things, so if so, please let me know. As I’ve kinda mentioned – my life is in a bit of upheaval.

So winners –  please email me  and include A) what you won and B) the relevant information. [If print, your address. If electronic and you get a format choice, that. If you get a book choice? please tell me what you chose.]

Thanks! And, I really really really hope there’s a huge turnout for the massive birthday bash on Thursday. Tell your friends! Everyone wins! [… Except me. Somehow this is going down where you guys all get prizes. Maybe I’ll have to reconsider for next year. ;)]

Special Guest: Lisa

Hey y’all! Another reader post for your Birthday Month Saturday! This one is also a little special/different. You’ll see why. ;D [Also… more things to come. So yay!] If you need more of an introduction for Lisa – you can check it out here.) Oh – and, last time I had a chance to email back and forth with Lisa about the book covers. Here… I’m just using those from the authors she mentioned. So :X That’s all on me. (If you couldn’t tell, this month has been… well it’s been.) Anyway, hi Lisa – hope you approve! :X

Also, as you see, the cover of A Week to Be Wicked totally refuses to play nice. Despite formatting. … I blame Colin. ;D

The Chronicles of a Fledging Aspiring Romance Author

Hi Everyone.  Limecello was kind enough to approach me about becoming a semi-regular blogger here at ALBTALBS. We decided that it may be fun for me to use this as an opportunity to document and share the ups and downs of my writing journey. I am an aspiring contemporary romance author working on her very first manuscript.

So, let’s start at the beginning. As I mentioned in my first blog here, I started reading romance back in high school. Since then, I’ve been a huge fan of the genre and have devoured as many romances as I could manage. But until very recently, it never occurred to me that I could be one of those authors.  Oh, I’ve had characters and story ideas running around in my brain for years, but at no time did I ever think I could actually write a book and get published. I had a myriad excuses-I was too busy and had to focus on school/work, I didn’t have enough time, I was too undisciplined, publishing was too hard, I wasn’t talented enough, etc etc etc.

But everything changed last summer when I attended the RWA Literacy Signing in New York City. (Just as a sidenote: If you ever get a chance to attend the Literacy Signing, go!  The experience is totally fun and insane, but you get the opportunity to meet your favorite romance authors, and all the proceeds go to charity, so it’s win win win!) Anyways, that night, while I was running around like a madwoman trying to make sure I met all the authors on my must-see list, and doing my best to keep the squeeing and fangirling to a minimum, something fabulous happened. I got swept up in all the giddiness and positive energy of being surrounded by so many romance writers, readers, and fans.  It got  me thinking “I want to be one of those authors sitting there”. Also, that was the day I met Tessa Dare and Katharine Ashe in person, who are two of the nicest, kindest most generous people you’ll ever meet.  I got the chance to chat with them and when I mentioned that I was thinking about writing, they were incredibly kind and encouraging. I am incredibly grateful to them for giving me the push I needed.  That was the day I decided that it was time to stop making excuses and really give the writing thing a shot! If not now, when? I came to realize that if I didn’t do this, I’d always look back and wonder “what if” and I didn’t want that to happen.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must also confess that I failed pretty spectacularly at the not-glomming and fangirling, but that’s a story for another time!

So now that I’m ready and determined to embark on this writing adventure, it was time to get down to the nitty gritty. What was I going to write about? One idea I’ve had that’s stuck with me was the story of four best friends who’d met in college who live in New York City and encounter life, love and all the ups and downs that entails while being there for each other.  Essentially it would be sort of my take on Sex and the City. This was an idea and theme that really spoke to me because I am a firm believer in the power of female friendships and think it’s important that every woman have good circle of girlfriends around them. Girlfriends can get you through anything, and I wanted to have a positive portrayal of female friendships instead of woman constantly competing with each other and tearing each other down, which you see everywhere  on TV and the media these days.  The first book, the one I’m currently working on stars Liz, a law school graduate who just landed her first job at a law firm and Matt, who works at said law firm. Except whoops, she sorta reports to him, and whoops, his father is one of the founding partners of the firm so he’s her boss’s boss’s boss. So far, Liz and Matt’s story has been quite the learning experience, which I will be sharing in future blog posts.

So until next time: For any aspiring writers right there-what inspired you to get started? Did you always know you wanted to write? Did you have someone who gave you much needed encouragement and support? And for everyone-when was the last time you did something you always wanted to do, but didn’t for some reason or another? What pushed you to finally do it?

Teaser “Tuesday”: Not Proper Enough by Carolyn Jewel!!!

I don’t say this often (if you read carefully you’ll know this) but… it’s true. Not Proper Enough is one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. Yes, I know it isn’t out yet. I was lucky enough to get an ARC. I plan on re-reading it. A lot. And I will closer to release week for the review. Also just because. Today, we get an exclusive excerpt of it from Carolyn Jewel. How lucky are you?!

Carolyn Jewel
Chapter 2 Not Proper Enough

The Marquess of Fenris has loved Lady Eugenia from the day he first set eyes on her. Five years ago, pride caused him to earn her enmity. Now she’s widowed, and he’s determined to make amends and win her heart. But with their near explosive attraction, can he resist his desire long enough to court her properly?

After the death of her beloved husband, Lady Eugenia Bryant has come to London to build a new life. Despite the gift of a medallion said to have the power to unite the wearer with her perfect match, Eugenia believes she won’t love again. And yet, amid the social whirl of chaperoning a young friend through her first Season, she finds a second chance at happiness.

Unfortunately, the Marquess of Fenris threatens her newfound peace. Eugenia dislikes the man, but the handsome and wealthy heir to a dukedom is more charming than he has a right to be. Constantly underfoot, the rogue disturbs her heart, alternately delighting and scandalizing her. And when their relationship takes a highly improper turn, Eugenia must decide if the wrong man isn’t the right one after all.

[Incidentally, if you must read everything in order… here’s a link to chapter 1 here first!]
Just when Eugenia thought things couldn’t get any worse, they did.

     He was here. That awful man, the Marquess of Fenris. Awareness of his arrival jumped through the room like a pestilence picking off the weak and unwary. The orchestra played a few more notes then petered out, bringing a lively country reel to a halt. No one, Eugenia included, could believe the Marquess of Fenris was here at a ball given by Mrs. Wilson. Plain Mrs. Wilson, who was merely gentry, who had no connections one might research in the peerage. The man did not attend any parties but those given by the very upper reaches of the British aristocracy, yet here he was.

     Whatever the reason for his appearance, his timing was impeccable. The room fell silent as guests realized he was here, and that meant everyone in the room heard the tail end of Mr. Dinwitty Lane’s comment, uttered in horrified tones as Lane stood not five feet from Eugenia.

     “Another country chit? My God they’re coming out of the woodwork this season.”

     The remark, though not intended as a direct insult to Eugenia, nevertheless hit a glancing blow on its way to its intended target, which was the young woman standing beside her. If Mr. Lane had been within arm’s reach, Eugenia would have slapped him, she was that angry. It was fitting, horribly, awfully fitting, that Lane’s barb was universally heard because of that man.

     One of the members of Dinwitty’s band of supporters laughed, and that, too, carried through the nearly silent room. That man, Fenris, remained near the door, expression cool because there was nothing but ice in his veins. Eugenia was unnaturally aware of him even as she turned her attention to the odious Mr. Dinwitty Lane.

     A great deal depended on her reaction to Lane, and she fought her temper. No good would come of anything she said in anger. She could not afford to give Lane or the Marquess of Fenris ammunition against her.

     Fenris’s social standing went without saying. Only son of a duke, after all. The Lane family had a page in Debrett’s, and this particular Lane was not without influence. He fancied himself the Beau Brummell of the sporting world, and Eugenia had hoped to avoid meeting him until Hester had made a few friends. He had questionable taste in clothes but was held in awe by many for his ability to ride, race a phaeton, and shoot the dots from a playing card. As far as Eugenia was concerned, he’d wasted his time at public school and at Oxford. An intellectual giant, he was not. He was, however, one of the Essex Lanes. More, he was wealthy and generous with a loan. Friends and debtors of Dinwitty Lane were legion.

     Miss Hester Rendell, whom Eugenia had agreed to guide through her first London season, gazed at Mr. Lane with placid calm. She was not a beauty by any stretch. In terms of her looks, she did not impress upon first glance and possibly not even upon the second. She was quiet and slow to warm to people she did not know, a reserve too easily mistaken for a lack of spirit. Anyone who troubled to know her soon learned she was kind, generous, sensitive, and shockingly intelligent.

     Lane was a good-looking man, not as tall as Lord Fenris, but heavier through the shoulders, with legs like tree trunks. His waistcoat was mauve with embroidered pink dots, his trousers the absolute crack of fashion, his coat dark green. Half a dozen fobs dangled from his watch chain, which, in Eugenia’s opinion, was five fobs too many. His cravat was a confection of linen so thoroughly starched he could not move his chin without danger of slitting his throat.

     Hester turned to Eugenia, completely poised as Eugenia had discovered was her nature. Very little upset or perturbed her. “I believe I should very much like some lemonade. Shall we?”

     “Observe,” Mr. Lane said. He lifted a hand so as to alert his companions. “It speaks.”

     One of his friends barked. Deliberately. The room was still silent, and this little scene, this deliberate and cruel destruction of Hester’s social hopes, was center stage.

     Eugenia’s head snapped toward Lane. She wanted to eviscerate the man. She wished him a hundred, no, a thousand painful deaths. If Lord Fenris followed Lane to his doom, all the better.

     “Observe,” Hester said with perfect serenity as she put her arm through Eugenia’s. “It’s forgotten its species.”

      And that was the beauty of Hester Rendell. Eugenia did not expect Hester to make a splash in the Ton, but Eugenia had, until now, been confident that by the end of the season, short as it was, some discerning gentleman would have fallen in love with her. That Eugenia managed to keep her temper in the face of Dinwitty’s insult was nothing short of a miracle. “Yes. Something to drink would be delightful.”

     Arm in arm, they walked away from Lane, who had only begun to suspect one of his friends had been insulted and that, perhaps, he himself had just been summarily dismissed as unimportant. Perhaps, just perhaps, this encounter might not mean the utter ruin of Hester’s social hopes.

     “I believe,” Hester said when she and Eugenia stood with glasses of what might more properly be called lemon water, “I do not like that man.”

     “Nor I.”
“He’s not kind.”

     Eugenia nodded her agreement. “People ought to be kind.”

     The orchestra had begun playing again, and those who’d been dancing when Lord Fenris arrived and brought everything to a halt took up their pattern again. No one had yet asked Hester to dance.

     Eugenia returned her attention to her nemesis, though at the moment she disliked Mr. Lane a good deal more than the marquess. Mrs. Wilson hurried to greet him, but she did so by walking the perimeter of the room as she must do now that the dancing had begun again.

     Lord Fenris noticed Mrs. Wilson’s approach and waited by the door, looking extremely forbidding and completely at ease at the same time. Eugenia was quite sure Fenris had not been invited to the Wilsons’ ball. He kept to a very small and exclusive circle of friends. Mrs. Wilson would have been aware of the hubris of sending the Marquess of Fenris an invitation to any event she might sponsor. Yet here he was. Of all the bad luck to have.

     The commotion occasioned by the marquess’s arrival continued, albeit in less public fashion. Ladies who did not stare outright did so surreptitiously. Some of the younger ladies were not as circumspect as they might have been. They giggled or fanned themselves with too much energy. The whispers started.

     There he is.
     Oh, lud, isn’t he handsome?
     Now, I don’t like a dark man, but I like it in him.

     Honestly, he was only a man, and not a very pleasant one at that.

     Lord Aigen, one of Fenris’s few friends, slung an arm around his shoulder and spoke into his ear. Whatever Aigen said in such private tones, Lord Fenris’s expression did not change. He remained by the door, surveying the room with a condescending eye. The ballroom, which was really two salons that had been opened into one room, wasn’t large. Good. He’d need the space of twenty seconds to see he had no business here. He’d done quite enough damage already.

      Even from across the dance floor, she could see Fenris was exquisitely dressed. He always was. He was well made enough that anything he wore looked good on him. Nevertheless, unlike Lane, he dressed with a conservatism that prevented one from calling him a Corinthian or a dandy. His nose was a trifle large, but that was, alas, a part of his physical appeal. She wasn’t so petty as to deny him his due in terms of his appearance.

     Mrs. Wilson arrived at his side and curtseyed to him. To his credit, he greeted her with cool respect.
Hester followed Eugenia’s gaze. “Ah. Lord Fenris.”

     There was such a familiarity in Hester’s words that Eugenia said, “You know him?”

      “He visited us once when I was a girl.” Hester continued in a low voice. “With your husband. They came to see Charles.” Charles was Hester’s brother, and a childhood friend of Robert’s. “Long before you and Robert met, of course.”

      “Indeed?” Her heart dropped to her toes. Disaster. This could only mean disaster. Hester didn’t know what Fenris was like. Sweet, sensitive Hester didn’t know that one wellplaced word or contemptuous gaze from Fenris would prevent Hester from the sort of social acceptance she deserved.

     She hated Fenris. She really did.

      Hester put a hand to her heart, eyes open wide and fixed on Eugenia. “Have I given you a sad reminder of your loss? Oh, Lady Eugenia, I’m so very sorry if I have.”

      “No, my dear.” She gave Hester’s hand a reassuring squeeze. “You have not.” Robert had been dead for nearly four years now. She would never recover from his loss, but, as she had discovered, time passed no matter what one did. She endured because there was nothing else she could do. “It’s just I had no idea you’d any acquaintance with Lord Fenris.”

     “I was thirteen.” There was so much one noticed about Hester eventually. Her complexion, in just one example, was flawless. Another was her figure. Men eventually noticed her figure. Hester was not, however, particularly graceful. “Naturally, I fell desperately in love the moment I saw him.”

     “In love with Robert?” She maintained an innocent expression and in return earned a rare smile from Hester.  Her smiles never failed to improve Eugenia’s mood.

     “We all loved Robert.” She took a drink of her watery lemonade, but Eugenia noted the way Hester’s eyes darted in the direction of Lord Fenris.

      “Thank you for saying so.” Eugenia clutched her lemonade. Her sense of impending doom increased. Her skin crawled with the certainty that Fenris would find a way to cement the effect of Lane’s unpleasant remarks. Unfortunately, it seemed that would happen sooner rather than later, for Fenris had left Mrs. Wilson and, with Lord Aigen beside him, was now moving farther into the room.

     “I had the most awful spots at the time of his visit.” Hester had no notion of what was about to happen and how badly an encounter with Fenris might turn out. Eugenia reached for calm. She must be calm if she was to have any hope of facing down that horrible man. “I was clumsy and already as tall as I am now.”

      “Hester, dear. Let me fix this.” Eugenia put her lemonade on a nearby table and adjusted the bodice of Hester’s gown, not that any adjustment was necessary. Her bosom was more than up to the task of impressing a gentleman. Was not Lord Fenris a man? Perhaps he could be distracted by the perfection of Hester’s figure. Thank goodness he was a tall man, for Hester was taller than average.

     Several times, Fenris was interrupted in his apparent intention of reaching the opposite side of the ballroom. Each time he was stopped, he was engaged in animated conversation. He did not appear to be in a hurry, and he had not, she realized, looked even once in their direction. His friend Lord Aigen wasn’t in any hurry, either. No, the two men weren’t going to reach this side of the room anytime soon. Thank goodness. Some of her tension bled away with what appeared to be the increasing likelihood that Fenris would ignore them entirely.

     “He’s still very handsome.”

      “I suppose.” If the worst happened, and he did acknowledge them, Hester’s reserve would serve her well. She hoped. She prayed. Fenris, as Eugenia well knew, wore his charm like a coat, to be removed when no longer needed. He’d been kind to a starry-eyed thirteen-year-old, and plainly, disastrously, Hester had not forgotten that kindness. The danger was that Hester would not, as she so often did, see through his pretense.

     “I’d wondered if he might have gone to fat.”

      Eugenia clenched her jaw. No. Lord Fenris had not gone to fat.

      “My love for him was more serious than anything you can imagine. It always is at that age.” Hester, perfect skin and all, was one of those pale-complected brunettes who blushed easily. She blushed a little, now. “He was always polite to me. For which I was very grateful, I promise you.”

      “Ah.” Her stomach hurt.

     Hester looked in the man’s direction again. “He must have known how I felt, yet he was always unfailingly polite. Despite my clumsiness, my alarming height, and mooning glances.”

      “You’re not thirteen any longer.”

     “Thank heavens, no.” Hester laughed, and this was another of those things about her that took one aback. Eugenia wished Hester had laughed when Mr. Lane was there to see it. That might have changed his opinion of her. At the very least he might have been stupefied into silence.

     The interrupted set ended and couples parted at the edges of the ballroom. The noise of conversation increased as new partners were found and previous ones discussed. No one approached Hester, and Eugenia momentarily forgot about Lord Fenris. Were there no well-mannered young gentlemen at this ball? Eugenia began to harbor some ill will toward Mrs. Wilson. She had a son who was, at this very moment, lounging against the far wall, hands in his coat pockets. Not seeking out a partner with whom to dance, when there was Hester, the only young lady who had not yet been invited to dance. And that was the case even though there were more gentlemen in attendance than ladies.

     Men. They were dogs. Every one of them. Every blessed one. Especially Lord Fenris.

      Hester tugged upward on the bodice of her ball gown. Eugenia frowned. She stepped in front of Hester and adjusted her bodice again. “You have a bosom, dear. You’ll simply have to accept that. Believe me when I tell you that trying to hide it only makes matters worse.”

     “Yes, Lady Eugenia.” Hester looked away. “He’s coming our way.”

      “Mr. Wilson?” She sincerely hoped someone would ask Hester to dance, even if it was the elder Mr. Wilson rather than their host’s son.

     “No, Lady Eugenia. Lord Fenris.”

     Hester was right. Fenris was mere yards distant. Eugenia stepped away from Hester, adjusted her shawl over her shoulders, and waited in silence. She had no desire to speak to the man. Ever. For any reason. Not even by an accidental meeting. Let him pretend he did not see them. Let him not recognize Hester. Let him, she prayed, simply leave them alone.

     Lane, blast the man, was now looping around to intercept Fenris, henchmen following him like a pack of starving dogs. Her bad luck continued. Fenris was now so close there was no point pretending she didn’t see him. She could cling to a hope that Fenris would ignore them, but Lane, she knew, would do no such thing.

      No one else intercepted Fenris or otherwise diverted him from a trajectory that would bring him within feet of her and Hester. There were murmured greetings as he continued walking. Several mothers poked and prodded their daughters into better posture. Somewhere during his promenade, he’d lost Lord Aigen. A pity. Lord Aigen was quite handsome. And unmarried. Doubtless, Fenris would have poisoned Aigen against her, too.

     Eugenia took Hester’s lemonade and set it next to hers. “Come along.”

      Too late. She was too late. The marquess stopped. Directly in front of her and Hester. He smiled, but he didn’t mean it. Not really. She prepared herself for a cold acknowledgment. An icy dismissal.

     Hester curtseyed to him, though not with much grace. In fact, Eugenia had to catch her elbow to steady her when the heel of her slipper caught in the hem of her gown. Fenris’s attention flicked to Hester’s bosom. She couldn’t blame him. She wanted to, but she couldn’t.

      Eugenia curtseyed, too. She would be polite if it killed her. For Hester’s sake. “My lord.”

     “Mrs. Bryant.” He took her hand even though she hadn’t offered it to him. “A pleasure to see you, as always.”

     Liar. She drew her hand free of his. She was a liar, too. “Likewise.”

     “How is Mountjoy?” Mountjoy was Eugenia’s eldest brother. He did not care for Fenris, either.

     “In good health, thank you.”

     His gaze flashed over her. “I hope Lord Nigel and his bride are well.” Lord Nigel was her youngest brother, and, like Mountjoy, recently married. As Fenris well knew.

     “They are.” She plastered on what she hoped was a friendly smile that was not, actually, quite friendly enough. “Thank you for asking.”

     “And Lily?” He meant his cousin Lily, Eugenia’s dearest friend in all the world, and now Mountjoy’s wife. “Have you had letters from her recently?”

      Lord, would he stop this inquisition? He knew Eugenia did not like him, and he knew exactly why, too. He ought to want to let her alone, no matter their family connection. “Blazingly happy, my lord.”

     “I have no doubt of that, Mrs. Bryant.” He pointedly glanced at Hester. Hester gazed back. So calm. As if one encountered a wealthy, handsome future duke every day of one’s life. Honestly, you’d think she was forty-two not twenty-two. With a sideways look at Eugenia, Fenris cleared his throat.

     “You are already acquainted.” If he insulted Hester by not remembering her, she’d make it her mission in life to see him suffer.

     “I don’t believe so.” Fenris looked only mildly interested, but that, Eugenia reflected, was better than outright disdain.

     “Miss Rendell, may I introduce Lord Fenris?”

     “Rendell?” Fenris titled his head an infinitesimal degree. She hated that habit of his. Behind him, she saw Lane working his way toward them, and her sense that only ill would come of this encounter increased. What if Fenris was one of Dinwitty Lane’s nasty pack of dogs? What if he made some hateful dig at her? Eugenia tensed, prepared to defend Hester to the very ends of the earth.

     “It’s Hester, my lord.” Hester spoke just as naturally and easily as you may. She held out a gloved hand. Her smile appeared, warm and soothing. How could anyone not wish to know a woman of such poise? “Captain Charles Rendell’s sister.”

     “Charles’s sister?” Fenris’s eyes opened wide. “Miss Rendell? Good Lord, it is you.” He took her hand and bowed over it. Eugenia remained tense, for she did not trust him. Not at all. “Well. You’ve certainly grown up.”

     “It was inevitable, sir.”

      On the ballroom floor, couples had begun to line up for the next dance. Mr. Wilson, the son, pushed off the wall he’d been holding up and made his way to a young woman with vapid good looks. The orchestra played some preliminary notes.

      Lord Fenris grinned, a genuine smile, and he was quite unfairly more handsome than any man had a right to be. “Miss Rendell. I am both delighted and astonished to meet you again. Are your parents here?” He placed his other hand on top of hers so that he held her hand with both of his. “I know Charles isn’t, as I’ve just had a letter from him, but where are you staying? Why haven’t I heard you’re in Town? Why wasn’t I told?”

     If she hadn’t known he couldn’t possibly mean it, Eugenia would have thought he was serious. None of that charm was real, as she well knew. Not genuinely. All the same, she was glad, burningly glad, at his effusive and out-of-character greeting because it mattered. Fenris’s opinion mattered a great deal. Mr. Lane imagined he set fashion. Fenris actually did, and if he paid attention to Hester, well then, so would others.

     “Mama and Papa are at home. I’m staying with Lady Eugenia while I’m in Town.”

     “That’s splendid.” He continued to hold Hester’s hand but glanced at Eugenia. “May I say that you have a most amiable hostess?”

     “You may, for it’s true.”

     “Are you engaged for the next dance?” When Hester did not reply, he said, “Am I too late? Are you free for any?”

     “I should hate to break my streak, my lord.”
He lifted his eyebrows in a query. “What would that be?”

     “The number of consecutive dances I’ve sat out.” She spoke with such serenity that Eugenia held her breath, expecting Fenris would misunderstand. “I’m at five right now, and my record is seven.” She leaned in and, in a confidential tone, said, “I’ve high hopes of reaching eight.”

     Fenris said nothing. Taken aback? Appalled by Hester’s dry wit? Eugenia swore she’d kick the man in the shins, but then he looked Hester in the eye and said, “Mr. Dinwitty Lane has wagered you won’t be asked to dance. I do not wish for him to win that wager.”

     “You’ve asked. Ergo, Mr. Lane has lost.”

     Fenris bowed, only slightly but enough for others to take note of his interest. “The proof would be in you actually dancing.”

     “A fine point, if you ask me,” Hester said.

     “Most wagers rest upon a finer point than that.” He looked over his shoulder at the couples lining up. “Will you?”

     He was fully capable of playing a deeper and more sinister game than Lane, and that possibility could not be discounted. While Eugenia debated the wisdom of encouraging Hester to dance with Fenris, Hester put her worries to rest.

     “I think not.”

     His austere expression lightened. “Why? If I might inquire.”

     “I had rather not be danced with for a wager.” She was completely earnest, as if the decision to dance or not were for her nothing more than an intellectual consideration. A mere calculus with no emotion involved.

     Eugenia tried not to beam her approval, but Hester turning down Fenris—really, could anything be more deliciously awful for him?

     “No, my lord,” Hester said. “I had rather wait for someone to have a more usual reason for asking me to dance.”

     Eugenia saw no sign, yet, that Fenris was angry or insulted. Indeed, he looked bemused.

     “Your beauty? Your lovely smile?”

     Eugenia narrowed her eyes at Fenris. She hadn’t imagined Fenris’s glance at Hester’s bosom. But was there a dig there, an insult implied about her looks? To her astonishment and consternation, she had to conclude that no, he had come about as close as any man to making Hester a compliment.

     “Mm.” Hester tipped her head to one side. “Those would be a more usual reason; you’re correct in that. But I was thinking of my modest fortune.”

     “Were you?” Fenris grinned, and while he did that, his gaze swept over Hester. “I assure you I would dance with you for reasons that have nothing to do with wagers or modest fortunes.”

     Good God. The man was flirting. Flirting with Hester!

     “Until then,” Hester went on, “I am happy to be here, watching the ladies in their beautiful gowns and jewels. And the gentlemen, too. So elegant. I do enjoy watching the gentlemen.”

     Dinwitty Lane was now nearly upon them, his dogs in tow. “Please.” Fenris held out his hand again. “Dance with me? So that I may do all that I can to make you smile at me.”

     “I don’t care, you know,” Hester said evenly. “What men like Mr. Lane say or do. ‘Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury . . . ’”

     “‘Signifying nothing.’” Fenris cocked his head. “You ought not care. I, however, do. It’s a fault of mine.”

     Lane and the others stopped within arm’s reach of Fenris. He ignored them. Eugenia couldn’t decide where to look, at Lane and his hateful friends, for she quite hated them now, or at Fenris, who was giving the performance of his life. He could have made a living on the stage, he was that convincing in portraying himself as kind and thoughtful.

     Lane put a hand over his heart and shook his head. “Is this possible?”

     His query caused instant silence for a radius of some ten feet. Lane removed his gloves with an awful deliberation. He slapped them against his open palm to a collective intake of breath. The half of the room that could not see probably thought he’d slapped Fenris.

   Fenris half turned. “What is that noise?”

     Thwap, thwap, thwap, went the gloves against Lane’s palm. “Fox. Do mine eyes deceive? Gentlemen,” Lane addressed his companions, “did you not hear his lordship ask the girl to dance?”

     To this there came a chorus of agreement. Eugenia tensed.

     “To be sure,” Fenris said. “I’m begging for the honor.”

     “The man who stole away the Incomparable is reduced to begging for dances?” Lane snorted. “I thought you were over your penchant for blowsy girls.”

     Fenris went perfectly still. “I don’t know what you mean.”

     But he did. Of course he did. Some years ago, Fenris had leveled just that insult at her. He’d called her blowsy, a remark that spread through the Ton like fire and refused to die out.

     “If your sensibilities were nice in any respect,” Lane said, his hand still over his heart, “you would not be here pleading for yet another blowsy country girl to dance with you.” He winced, but whether his pain was metaphorical or physical, Eugenia could not say. “Where’s your pride? You’re to be a duke, one day, man.”

     Fenris looked him up and down. “If you had the brains of a lobster, you would possess twice the intelligence you’ve displayed tonight.”

     Lane frowned. “Brains?” He opened and closed his mouth several times and squinted as if thinking pained him. “Twice the intelligence?”

     “I fear it’s not a compliment.” Hester shook her head sadly.

     “Mr. Lane.” Eugenia felt sick to her stomach as she stepped off the cliff with no protection but the hope that she was right that Lord Fenris’s regard for Hester was sincere. “I believe Lord Fenris is suggesting that in a contest of mental acuity between you and a large crustacean, the crustacean would win.”

     Dinwitty gaped. “Of a . . . lobster?”

     “Yes,” Fenris said. “A lobster. As Mrs. Bryant so helpfully explicated, a large crustacean.”

     Lane’s eyes widened. He tipped his chin downward until it collided with his cravat, which spoiled his attempt to look down his nose at Eugenia. She would gladly accept the man’s blistering scorn as long as he let Hester alone. His lip curled as he turned his attention from her to Fenris. “You go too far.”

     “On the contrary, Mr. Lane.” Fenris sounded bored. Bored beyond anyone’s capacity to endure such tedium. “I did not go far enough. I cannot fathom why a gentleman would behave as you have this evening.”

     One of Lane’s companions, Eugenia did not see who it was, barked again, to the general hilarity of the rest of Lane’s followers.

     Lane gestured at the men behind them. “Give his lordship your condolences, men.” He spoke over several sotto voce mutterings behind him. “I believe his lordship has forgotten himself. My God.” Lane glanced toward the heavens. “Save us from watching him dash his reputation to shreds on such inferior shores as these. You should not, sir, seduce in so poor a country.”

     “I beg your pardon,” Fenris said in sharp tones.

     Lane slapped his gloves on his palm again. “None shall be given.”

     “You would be wise to have a care what you imply about me,” Fenris said so coldly she could practically see snowflakes dancing in the air around him. If you don’t, it will be your mistake to rue. I shall not, however, permit you to imply anything untoward about me and any lady in this room.”

     Hester, Eugenia was aware, watched Lord Fenris with a sharp gaze.

     “I’m sure,” Lane said, “that I’ve heard more than enough insults for one night.”

     The world was perverse. Eugenia had long dreamed about serving Lord Fenris the ice-cold revenge he so deserved. Since the day she’d learned of Fenris’s campaign against her she had imagined all manner of ways to make him pay. She had never, not once, imagined she would align herself with him or feel in any way compelled to defend him. “What insult do you imagine you’ve suffered, Mr. Lane, when, in fact, Lord Fenris has insulted not you but lobsters everywhere?”

So what’d you think?! Do you read historical romances? Ever read one by Carolyn Jewel? What do you think of unrequited love stories? Especially where it’s the hero who screwed up? Um, obviously I love that. 😀

YOU GUYS!!! Ms. Carolyn, beyond being super awesome, is ESPECIALLY super awesome, because she’s participating in my massive birthday bash blog blowout giveaway! But! I’ve convinced her to move a few of the copies to this post! So!!! THREE incredibly crazy lucky readers are going to get copies of Not Proper Enough!!! If I hadn’t read it already I’d hate you. 😀

No joke. You want this book. It’s got a great story, great characters, plot, it’s hot. … Really, even if you don’t read historicals, you want to try this one. So convince me. (Us?) Why should you get a coveted copy?!

Shameless *Birthday* Plea

I have a hard time advocating for myself, but when it comes to others, it’s no holds barred. [Strangle hold being my personal favorite!] >.> Anyway, it’s my birthday on the 28th. I’m hoping to have a MASSIVE giveaway, along with the (almost) full month of giveaways that have been taking place at my blog. I explained it here.

You’ll notice every author who has contributed has very generously offered prizes. So shout out to Day Leclaire, HelenKay Dimon, Meljean Brook (if you missed this post read it, Beverley Kendall, and soon Leslie Kelly, Carolyn Jewel, Julie Ann Long, and Lauren Dane for being the super loaded Birthday Month authors. [The links won’t work for the author posts that haven’t gone up yet will be added.] You’ll get to see who the awesomely generous Birthday Bash people are on the 28th!

I’d love to have you participate! Yes, YOU!

A way to help me celebrate my birthday is to give other people presents! (… Yeah, I seem to be missing the point on how birthdays work, but I never said I was the brightest bulb in the box… well actually, sometimes I do think that. But I don’t say it. *angelface*)

So if you’re interested, please send me an email – you can use the contact form. Incidentally, it’s okay to call me “Limecello” in an email. Really. It is. I’d prefer it in fact to what I often get, which is “hi” or just… a blank. Or my personal favorites “NAME HERE” or Liz.)

And if you want to give me an actual present at no cost to you… you can enter to win every Julep nail polish color there is, and possibly a new ipad. OR join swagbucks – using my referral code because it’s nice to give me a costless birthday present – and win gift cards for yourself! Just copy and paste this link: http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/limecello – and if you do join, message me first so I can give you a code that starts you out with an additional 70 “bucks.”

Thanks for sticking with me, everyone! Xoxo