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Saturday Excerpt: Blamed: A Blood Money Novel by Edie Harris (Carina Press)

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Edie Harris’ Blamed: A Blood Money Novel is definitely an exciting must-read! This romantic suspense is full of spies, assassins…and revenge. Read on to get your sneak peek at this thrilling new book.

About Blamed: A Blood Money Novel:

blamedBorn into a long line of spies, sanctioned killers and covert weapons developers, Beth Faraday carried out her first hit-for-hire when she was still a teenager.

That part of her life—the American spy royalty part—ended one year ago, with a job gone wrong in Afghanistan. The collateral damage she caused with a single shot was unfathomable and, for Beth, unforgivable. She’s worked hard to build a new life for herself, far away from the family business.

But someone, somewhere, hasn’t forgotten what Beth did in Kabul. And they want revenge.

As the Faraday clan bands together to defend Beth and protect their legacy, Beth is forced to flee her new home with the unlikeliest of allies—MI6 agent Raleigh Vick, the only man she’s ever loved. And the one she thought she’d killed in the desert

Pre-order your copy today from Carina Press as well as major online retailers including:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google | iBooks

***

Beth had almost had herself convinced, before this very moment, that the man on whom she trained her gun wasn’t a spy. She’d almost believed that those little zings down her spine whenever they’d nodded a greeting to one another had been basic attraction, not like recognizing like. Perhaps the quirked half-smiles when they ran into one another at the Starbucks two blocks over weren’t because Beth had caught him following her, but merely because they were in the same place at the same time, again. Maybe when he had come into the Institute gift shop to buy the print of the painting that even now hung haphazardly in his living room…maybe it had been pure coincidence, when he’d seen her walk past the shop on the way to her office and waved to her through the glass.

And all the nights she had sat curled in the cozy armchair in front of her window, staring out across the street instead of focusing on curatorial paperwork, and seeing him quietly staring back at her? Maybe it had been a meet-cute waiting to happen, and her life was less Thriller Drama and more Romantic Comedy. Maybe her neighbor really was a normal, handsome, suit-wearing thirty-something: Preston Barnes, Commercial Real Estate Developer, just like the card she’d glimpsed when he’d dropped his wallet one Saturday morning at the nearby Whole Foods.

Commercial real estate developers, as far as she knew, didn’t make a habit of bleeding out in their bathtubs, or holding a gun on their neighbors. “Neighbor,” she intoned wryly. “How are you this fine evening?”

Continue reading »

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Our Top 5 Motorcycle Men

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by Amy Loosemore, Harlequin.com Team

Author Jill Sorensen introduces the Dirty Eleven MC in Riding Dirty, a new red-hot book from Harlequin HQN on sale now. In honor of its release, we’re taking a look at our Top 5 Motorcycle Men:

1) Cole “Shank” Shepherd in Riding Dirty. Here’s how Mia, the heroine of Riding Dirty, describes Cole the first time she sees him:

The stark prison photograph she’d pored over the night before hadn’t done him justice. With his chin up and his head tilted to the side, displaying the spider’s web tattoo on his neck, he’d resembled an ordinary white male thug. All hard edges and hooded eyes. He was better looking in person. Taller and more intimidating. She registered his towering height along with the span of his broad shoulders, his bulky biceps and ink-sleeved arms. He wore a plain T-shirt with no leather jacket for protection; maybe he’d left it with his bike. Faded Levi’s covered his long legs. His scuffed motorcycle boots were almost Frankensteinian.

She lifted her gaze to his face. His eyes were the color of amber ale, pale brown and a little bloodshot. He had dark hair, cut razor-short on the sides and longer on top. His jaw was angular, his nose had seen better days, and his mouth was a sardonic slash. There was a sharpness to him that extended beyond his features.

Mia felt a jolt of unease. She hadn’t expected him to be so attractive. He was the kind of man who would draw female attention wherever he went, based on his build alone. Some women were excited by danger. They probably went crazy for his tattoos and checkered past, too. Mia was disturbed by her own lack of repulsion. Executing her plan was going to be even more difficult than she’d imagined.

2) Charlie Hunnam in Sons of Anarchy. His character Jackson ‘Jax’ Teller is a true bad boy that we can’t help but root for. Continue reading »

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The Traveling Storyteller

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By Lois Richer, author of North Country Dad (Love Inspired)

I grew up in a small Canadian prairie town, the second of four daughters. My mother did it all in an age when it wasn’t fashionable to be a working mom. She sewed beautiful clothes for us, baked, did all manner of handwork, volunteered in the community, ran a business, maintained the accounts and purchased stock without missing a beat—the perfect heroine. My father, an electrician, worked long hours to electrify farms that were being settled in our area. He was a model of “doing the job perfectly.” My happy, carefree childhood allowed me to indulge in the fantasy world of fiction. Books took me from my home on journeys all over the world.

As I grew older, romance featured prominently in my reading. It seems natural now that my stories of women discovering faith and love would lead me to Love Inspired. Reading taught me that stories of faith and love could cheer, inspire, teach and bless. That’s been confirmed in the many letters, emails and comments I’ve received. It’s my joy to tell the never-ending story of God’s immeasurable love for His children in almost fifty books.

As a child, reading whetted my appetite for travel. That love persists, so my husband and I indulge it whenever possible. We’ve been around the horn of South America, to Iceland, Greenland, across the U.S. and through Europe and Asia. Last year we visited Croatia and Greece, fulfilling a long-held dream. We’ve seen some amazing things. But in all my travels I’ve discovered that people, wherever they live, are essentially the same. They want to love and be loved. They want to be free to live in peace. If we listen closely, everyone has a story. Yet each story is unique, just waiting to be told. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of telling stories. There’s so much to share.

Traveling is the reason I recently caught a bug—the quilting bug. The lower level in my home has been converted to a project room. Fabric in every shade and tone bulges from nooks and crannies, waiting to be cut, sewn and transformed into something that can bring joy and comfort. The more that I see possibilities and choices abound, the more I realize that quilting is a lot like traveling and writing. There’s always another fabric, another place, another story to be explored. The pleasures of quilting and the joy of discovering another special place add to the fun as I pen a new tale about a couple’s struggle to discover God’s love.

The last book in my Northern Lights miniseries resulted from a trip to northern Canada, on the edge of the Arctic. North Country Dad is a story of decisions and changes. It’s about a man’s journey to learn how to become a loving father to five-year-old twins and a woman’s road to reliance on God to provide her heart’s desire. Since this is the last book in the miniseries, I’m saying goodbye to the amazing beauty of our untouched North with all of its wildlife wonders, a place where you can truly feel at one with God’s creation.

But don’t worry, I’m going on a new trip. For my next miniseries I’m roaming through the foothills of the Rockies, to the tiny town of Buffalo Gap, where cowboys still ride the open range. It’s a place where love brings pain and joy, and where faith is tested. Rest assured, there will be quilts.

I hope you’ll join me on my next voyage to discover love and faith in action.

 * * *

 Do you like to travel? What is the most inspiring place you’ve visited?

About North Country Dad:

The Mommy Plan

Widower Grant Adams loves his twin stepdaughters, but what does he know about pigtails and dresses and being a full-time dad? With his new job in a remote Canadian center for troubled boys, Grant needs a good nanny. But when he meets Dahlia Wheatley, who’s loving, patient and kind to his girls, he realizes the twins need more than a sitter—they need a mother. With her own harrowing past, Dahlia is as reluctant to get emotionally involved as Grant is. Yet his startling proposition just may form a happy new family of four.

Northern Lights: On the edge of the Arctic, love awaits

This post originally appeared in Simply Books magazine.

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“I love a good plot twist!”: Michelle Madow on Diamonds in the Rough

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by Michelle Madow, author of Diamonds in the Rough (Harlequin TEEN)

I love a good plot twist! Nothing’s better than the initial shock that comes after reaching a huge plot twist, and then putting the pieces together to realize how it was all set into motion. I had a blast writing the scenes in Diamonds in the Rough where huge secrets are uncovered, and hope that readers of the book experience that amazing thrill of putting the pieces together to see how everything led up to these major secrets being revealed.

Here is a (spoiler-free) list of my three favorite books with secrets and twists that I never saw coming!

1) The Across the Universe trilogy by Beth Revis—this trilogy had twists within twists! At the end of the first book, a major twist was revealed that left me anxiously awaiting the second book. Then, at the end of the second book, everything was turned around in an incredibly shocking way that made so much sense, and pulled the trilogy together in the third book. When I think “crazy twists,” this is definitely the first trilogy that comes to mind.

2) The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith—this is one of my favorite contemporary romances. I loved how it happened “in real time” and even though the story only took place over a day, the love story felt so natural and real. There was a major emotional twist in the second half of the book that surprised me and pulled everything together perfectly.

3) Time Riders by Alex Scarrow—I love time travel books, because playing with time allows for so many cool twists in a story. This is a nine-book series, and book nine should be releasing soon. This series starts with fundamentals that are set in place from the beginning, but a few books later, a huge twist is revealed that changes everything. It was totally unexpected, and caught me completely off-guard (in a good way.)

I hope you enjoy the secrets that are revealed in Diamonds in the Rough!

About Diamonds in the Rough:

diamondAll-access doesn’t mean no problems.

The three Diamond sisters survived the summer in style after coming to live with their long-lost billionaire father. But making a place for themselves at their exclusive new Las Vegas private school is throwing them any number of gold-plated curves. Savannah’s YouTube stardom turns into a Sweet Sixteen reality show extravaganza—with complimentary enemies on the side. Dangerous flirtations don’t keep Peyton from a gamble that will risk far more than she planned to bet. And when Courtney and the sisters’ archenemy, Madison, uncover two explosive secrets, it will rock even this town of glittering illusion—and turn their lives upside down all over again.

Sisterhood, first crushes, and scandalous secrets explode in book two of Michelle Madow’s riveting series, The Secret Diamond Sisters.

Looking for more from Michelle Madow? Follow the Diamonds in the Rough blog tour:

• Monday, October 20th – Bumbles and Fairy Tales

• Friday, October 24th – DanaSquare

• Monday, October 27th – Bookish

• Wednesday, October 29th – Pretty Little Memoirs

• Friday, October 31st – Eater of Books 

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Blue-Collar Blues

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by A.M. Arthur, author of Stand By You (Carina Press)

I have to admit, I’m not much of a trend follower in terms of what I choose to write, but I do pay attention to what’s popular in romance. Billionaire heroes are always a romance go-to, and motorcycle club books are trending pretty heavily. There will always be the sexy doctor, lawyer or lawman. And professional sports hero, of course. But there’s one particular kind of hero that is a favorite of mine.

The blue-collar hero. Give me car mechanics, plumbers, construction workers, maintenance men, cable men, and truck drivers. They are far more abundant in real life than billionaires are, and the muscles they acquire from the physical nature of their jobs are super sexy. In my latest Carina Press release, Stand By You, one of the main characters works for an office cleaning service called Carridan Enterprises. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my hero is a janitor.

Growing up, pop culture gave me a skewed idea of who a janitor was. He was that kind of grubby guy with bad hair, who wore coveralls and hauled around a mop bucket. He might be married, but that was hard to imagine. And if the janitor was a woman, she was doing it because she was desperate to raise her four father-less children, but she knew the job was beneath her. Janitors weren’t glamorous. They weren’t really people.

Except they are people. All of the invisible jobs that no one really thinks about, like janitors and garbage collectors and electricians, have lives and hopes and goals. They have families. A lot of them are extremely good-looking (it’s always a pleasure when my FedEx guy drops a package off at work). And they have stories to tell. In Stand By You, Brendan Walker is completely at ease with his job as an office janitor. It is what he does, it earns him a paycheck, and he has benefits. He likes his co-workers. It’s comfortable.

Not everyone strives to be the CEO, the corporate raider, or the hot-shot lawyer. There’s nothing wrong with being average. Besides, someone has to clean the CEO’s office, right?

What are some of your favorite blue-collar hero books?

About Stand By You:

standbyyouThree months after his rescue from an abusive boyfriend, twenty-two-year-old Romy Myers has landed his first legitimate job–bussing tables at his friend’s new coffee shop. The job has brought him some stability after years of abuse have left him feeling damaged and broken. He’s working hard on his panic and social anxiety, and those things are often tempered by the big, burly presence of Brendan Walker.

From the moment ex-football player Brendan helped rescue Romy from his ex’s abuse, he’s wanted to protect him. And he does, from a distance, with joking text messages, a new gym routine to toughen him up and a genuine friendship. So far it’s been easy–but Brendan’s feelings aren’t just friendly anymore…

When an argument spirals out of control, a hot and heavy make-out session causes Romy’s friendship with supposedly straight Brendan to reach a new level. The last thing Romy wants is to fall for another guy who could potentially shatter him, but Brendan also wakes up a part of him he thought had been destroyed by violence–his heart.

A.M. Arthur was born and raised in the same kind of small town that she likes to write about, a stone’s throw from both beach resorts and generational farmland. She’s been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long, in a losing battle to make the fictional voices stop. When not exorcising the voices in her head, she can be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.

Contact her at am_arthur@yahoo.com with your cooking tips (or book comments). You can also find her online (http://amarthur.blogspot.com/), as well as on Twitter (http://twitter.com/am_arthur), Tumblr (http://www.tumblr.com/blog/am-arthur), and Facebook.

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Cover Spotlight: The Darkest Touch by Gena Showalter

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Want to know what goes into the making of a sexy Gena Showalter cover? Here’s a behind the scenes look at how the cover for The Darkest Touch was made!

by Kathleen Outdit, Art Director

01_original_model_photo - Copy

We selected from nearly 500 images taken at our photo shoot with photographer Glenn Mackay based on the original concept design by Tara Scarcello. This chosen shot captured the character’s intensity and physique – and was beautifully lit.

Torin is depicted by Justin Howell, an actor, stuntman and model from Toronto, Ontario.

Continue reading »

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Introducing Harlequin Experience

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DeviceHere’s a fun new way to experience Harlequin novels! This winter, Taito — the video game company behind such classics like Space Invaders — is releasing a new app called Harlequin Experience that will let you enjoy an interactive version of your favorite love stories.

What can you do in Harlequin Experience?

  • Experience a Harlequin story through the heroine’s eyes
  • Create avatars of the heroine and heroine and customize their appearance and clothing
  • Join the app community to chat with other Harlequin fans

Click here to learn more and to pre-register to receive a special code to claim a Special Item, or look for the Harlequin Experience in your favorite app store, including Apple’s App Store, Google Play and the Amazon Appstore for Android.

Free-to-play, offers in-app purchases.

Have you ever played an interactive storytelling game before? What is your favorite gaming app?

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Saturday Excerpt: Sweet Silver Bells by Rochelle Alers

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We’re already in the Christmas spirit at Harlequin.com — and so is bestselling author Rochelle Alers with a new holiday romance from her Eaton family series, Sweet Silver Bells! Doesn’t the cover make you think of romantic holiday weddings? Jump in with an excerpt below and grab your copy of Sweet Silver Bells, on sale now from Harlequin Kimani Romance.

About the Book:

Brief encounter…or forever love? 

Then… 

Being chosen to design luxury hotels in Charleston is a career coup for privileged Crystal Eaton. Meeting charismatic corporate attorney Joseph Cole-Wilson is an unexpected bonus. Until one passion-filled night in Joseph’s penthouse changes her life forever.

Now… 

Haunted by sensual memories, Joseph can’t accept their short-lived liaison as a onetime fling. And when a chance encounter reunites him with the Florida beauty, the Cole heir vows she won’t get away a second time. Even after discovering Crystal’s secret, Joseph knows nothing can dim his desire. He’ll prove it with sweet words of love that could make this a Christmas to remember.

If she’ll just say yes…

Excerpt:

Crystal Eaton took a quick glance at the navigation screen on the Ford Escape. She was thirty-three miles from Charleston, South Carolina, less than half an hour from her destination, and if she hadn’t had to drive down to Miami earlier that morning, she would’ve arrived much sooner. As she unclenched her teeth, the lines of tension bracketing her mouth vanished.

Her mother had called crying hysterically as soon as Crystal had maneuvered out of the parking garage at her Fort Lauderdale condo. She hadn’t been able to understand a word her mother was saying, and in a panic she’d driven south instead of north.

It wasn’t the first time in her life Crystal wished she hadn’t been an only child. If Jasmine Eaton hadn’t been able to reach her, then she would have been forced to contact her son and/or other daughter whenever she had an emotional meltdown.

Continue reading »

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On Love and the Unknown

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by Jen Christie, author of Queen of Stone

qosAs a writer, I often hear the phrase “write what you know.” There’s a lot of wisdom in that advice. Writing about things that are familiar helps to create richer stories that quickly come to life. But sometimes writing about the unfamiliar—or even better—the things that frighten us can create an exciting story too.

My latest book, Queen of Stone is set in my home state of Florida and revolves around the unknown, both in an ancient cult and its enigmatic leader, and in the ground itself. Everyone knows Florida is famous for its sinkholes. News reports and videos show just how often the unbelievable can happen around here, when the ground gives way and swallows cars and houses, and all sorts of things that we depend on. Things that should never be vulnerable, and yet are. It’s a strange feeling to think the ground can’t quite be trusted, and yet life must go on as it always has.

I have a hard time accepting all those strange things science has an explanation for, but my heart just won’t accept. Like sinkholes. In fact, the state that exists mostly at sea level has one of the largest underground cave networks in the world. That’s unbelievable, and just a little bit creepy, and I can’t help but write about it.

What we take for granted we often don’t understand. And I place love squarely in this category. The idea of joining romance with unexplainable events, or with a cult that celebrates the unknown is different, I get that, but at the heart of it, love itself is unpredictable, takes no prisoners, and can literally open up right underneath our feet.

And yet we all know things happen to us that we don’t ask for, don’t even remotely believe might be possible. Including love. I think the reader and the writer that’s willing to stop and consider the great mysteries of life and love is richer for it. What things in your life have a simple explanation but still manage to get under your skin?

About Queen of Stone:

Uprooted by the Depression, Zara Pendleton heads south. She’s seduced by the steamy wilderness and by Navarre, magnetic leader of a reclusive cult. Theirs is a destiny shot through with feverish desire—and mortal danger.

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Giveaway: Win a Pack of Rugged Cowboys!

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by Amy Loosemore, Harlequin.com Team

No, we’re not giving away actual men — but we can help you take home a pack of fantastic fictional cowboys! We’re giving away a prize pack of 8 Western romances starring rugged cowboy heroes. Take a look at what you could win:

rugged cowboy giveaway

Giveaway includes:

Want to lasso this great prize? To enter, check out the Anatomy of a Cowboy Hero at Harlequin.com and tell us what part of a cowboy hero YOU like best! Is it his strength? His work ethic? Or how he looks in a pair of perfectly worn-in jeans? Share what you love about cowboys in a comment below for your chance to take home the books listed.

UPDATE: Giveaway is now closed. Please check the comments for the winner announcement.

Giveaway Rules: Contest closes October 19 11:59 ET. Three winners will be selected from all eligible comments by random draw and will be announced October 20. Open to residents of the US and Canada, excluding Quebec. For full official rules, click here.

Good luck!

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