Monday, December 2, 2019

Slippers and Thieves (+Giveaway)

* Slippers And Thieves
* by Christina Bauer
* (Fairy Tales of the Magicorum #4)
* Published by: Monster House Books
* Publication date: November 26th 2019
* Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Years ago, Elle—never call her Cinderella—escaped her evil step family in order to build a new life for herself in Manhattan. Today, Elle’s awful past is a distant memory. In fact, Elle even attends West Lake Prep, an exclusive high school where regular humans mix with members of the Magicorum, such as fairies, shifters and witches. Although she still must live in hiding from her evil stepfamily, Elle has always found ways to get whatever her heart desires.
That is, until Alec Le Charme.
Alec is the heir to the Le Charme dynasty of high-end jewelers. He’s also kind, charismatic, has a knee-melting smile. Elle has fallen for him, hard. Unfortunately, thanks to Elle’s evil step family, Alec is absolutely off limits.
In fact, if Elle and Alec so much as kiss, it will start a magical chain reaction that would end in powerful factions of witches and wizards going to war. As a result, Elle and Alec vow to stay friends, no matter what. Then West Lake Prep holds a masquerade ball. Identities get mixed up and forbidden kisses are finally shared.
Time for the Magicorum to go to war, and for Elle to confront her hidden past in ways she never thought possible.

Author Bio:
Christina Bauer thinks that fantasy books are like bacon: they just make life better. All of which is why she writes romance novels that feature demons, dragons, wizards, witches, elves, elementals, and a bunch of random stuff that she brainstorms while riding the Boston T. Oh, and she includes lots of humor and kick-ass chicks, too.
Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.
Be the first to know about new releases from Christina by signing up for her newsletter:
Now here's an excerpt for your reading pleasure.

Elle – Age Fifteen

First, homework.
Then, jewel heist.
Oh, yeah.
Rubbing my eyes, I refocus on my computer screen. A final study question appears.
SUN is to BRIGHTNESS as MAGIC is to…
a) casting
b) eternity
c) fading
I click on c) fading. A green check mark appears on screen.
Nailed it. Yay, me!
Not that the question was super-tough. Everyone knows magic’s disappearing from the world. Shifters, fairies and casters—folks called the Magicorum—are basically an endangered species. I should know. I’m one of them. In my case, my father’s a caster while my mother’s a fairy.  
A knock sounds on the door. “Elle, may I come in?” That’s my mother, Rae. 
The door swings open; Mom steps inside. She’s willowy and petite with large blue eyes and long blonde hair. My heart sinks. Mom’s shoulder bones jut out against the straps of her yellow sundress. She’s getting more skeleton-like by the day. Meanwhile, I’m a younger and healthier version of her. I can’t help but feel a little guilty about that.
“How are you?” My voice wobbles as I ask the question.
“Better and better.” Mom waves me off. “Is your homework done?”
Once again, Mom veers the conversation away from her illness. In Mom’s mind, if you don’t talk about being sick, then it isn’t happening. And today, like most days, I don’t have the heart to bust up her system. If Mom says she’s better, then I won’t push it. After all, we’ve tried tons of healers. And we live in New York City, home of the best cancer treatment centers ever. Nothing has made a difference for Mom.
I plaster on a fake smile. “Almost finished here.”
Mom closes the door behind her. I frown. Closed door chats are never good.
“I wanted to talk alone,” says Mom. “You see, Marchesa’s daughters are the same age as you.” She twists her fingers together at her waistline. “Both Agatha and Ivy love their high school. They’re meeting all sorts of new people.”
In this case, Marchesa refers to my mother’s lifelong frenemy, Lady Marchesa Oakwood. Lately, Marchesa has been sharing supposedly helpful tidbits about her daughters. Sadly, the stories only make Mom feel like she’s failing me. A protective urge runs up my spine. Marchesa’s supposed to run our family store, not load Mom with worry.
“Agatha and Ivy aren’t me.” I tap my chest. “Here’s one girl who likes online stuff.”
“But this is your parents’ office.” Mom frowns. “It’s not a regular classroom.”
“Come on. This is a cool spot.” And I mean it. The office is small with red brick walls. There’s even a great view of Second Avenue.
Mom still looks concerned, so I go on. “Hey, I get the deal.”
There’s no need to explain more.
In this case, the deal is the fact that I’m the warden of all fae magic. It means I’m super-powered, which is certainly nice. But fae aren’t like other Magicorum. While shifters and casters worship their wardens, the fae kill theirs. That’s why I take online classes and generally avoid new people. My full time job is pretending to be the weakest fairy in the history of ever.
“I’m glad you understand the, uh, deal.” Mom’s face brightens. “And you’re absolutely fine with online classes?”
“Do you really think I’d keep my yap shut otherwise?”
Mom chuckles. “No, I don’t.”
“Then we’re both good, right?” In my heart, I want everything to be good, not just conversations about online classes. That’s not possible, though.
“We’re better than good,” replies Mom. “We’re great.” She heads back toward the door and then pauses. “Your father and I will be in the store this morning. Give us a yell if you need anything.”
“I will.”
Long after Mom’s left, I still watch the closed door. With every passing second, a weight of worry settles more deeply into my soul. All members of the Magicorum get pulled into a fairy tale life template. Mine’s Cinderella. So I can’t help but notice some facts.
Fact one. Marchesa has two nasty daughters who are my age.
Fact two. Marchesa also stares at Dad with googly eyes that make me want to puke.
Fact three. Mom has been sick for a really long time.
I’ve seen the Disney movie here. In short order, I’m heading into the not too pleasant phase of the Cinderella story. This is where my parents are gone and I’m stuck with a frenemy stepmother who names her kid Agatha. Other Cinderellas may sing at their window and hope for the best.
Me? I’ve got a plan.
Which brings me to the fave part of my day: planning my next jewel heist.

Thanks for stopping by today. Isn't it fun to explore genres such as this? Be sure to check out the awesome giveaway and enter for your chance to win.


Monday, November 25, 2019

Tasting Her Christmas Cookies (+Giveaway)

* Tasting Her Christmas Cookies
* by Alina Jacobs
* Publication date: November 19th 2019
* Genres: Adult, Comedy, Romance
Winter is coming—and unfortunately it’s bringing Christmas with it.
I loathe the holiday. I hate holiday parties, fragrant decorations, and hokey movies. If I had my way it would be winter all year round and never Christmas.
Nothing burns like the cold—except a hot oven.
That’s right; against my better judgment I agreed to let The Great Christmas Bake-Off film in my tower.
And St. Nick help me but I even agreed to be a judge.
Christmas is like the perfect sugar cookie—it slowly melts in your mouth, sweetening every taste bud, making you wish it could last forever.
I love Christmas. I love the cheerful music, the fun sweaters, and the holiday lights. Most of all I love Christmas Cookies.
A begrudging bake-off judge, I refuse to let grouchy billionaire Owen Frost hate Christmas. The man is overworked, his employees are uninspired, and his life is seriously lacking in Yuletide cheer. I want to stuff his stocking with sugary goodness to put him in a very festive mood.
So I dressed up as a sexy elf and gave Owen a taste of something extra special. You should have seen his eyes roll back in his head when he bit into the perfect sugar cookie!
I can’t let Owen Frost be a distraction. Things are insane enough without a sexy billionaire.
My baking subscription service is in the death throes.
My Christmas-ruining step sister is trying to sabotage me in the bake-off.
I’m being stalked by elves on the shelf come to life.
Ok that last one is a little weird, but welcome to my disaster of a life.
I need to win The Great Christmas Bake-Off to pay of my debts and launch my baking career. Sleeping with one of the judges is going to ruin my chance for a merry Christmas. Owen with his washboard abs and big Christmas package is a bad idea. It’s best to keep that all wrapped under the tree.
But when he said in that deep, sexy voice, “Can I have another taste of your Christmas cookies?” Well, let’s just say I’m unwrapping one particular Christmas present early!
Tasting Her Christmas Cookies is a standalone holiday romantic comedy. If you love Christmas desserts, like to laugh out loud at holiday innuendoes, and want Santa to put a tall, good-looking guy under your tree, then pick up this full-length, steamy romance novel! There are no cliffhangers but there is a very happy (Christmas!) ever after!
“We are having a Christmas bath scene in the near future,” I said to the camera, “with holiday bath bombs and themed cocktails. But unfortunately, it won’t be tonight. The bake-off starts tomorrow, baking fans!”
I looked longingly at the bathtub. Then, making sure the phone was definitely not recording, because I did not need to be that kind of Instagrammer, I took a quick shower. I seriously could not get over how huge the bathroom was. I could live in it. With a toaster and a mini fridge, I would totally be good.
After wrapping myself in the robe, I tied a T-shirt around my hair. I had frizzy hair on a good day; keeping my curls manageable was a perpetual struggle. I applied a gingerbread-cookie-scented moisturizer while my videos uploaded. Because I was busy scrolling through my phone and answering comments as I came out of the bathroom, I didn’t notice the half-naked man until he swore.
I looked up and screamed.
“Help! Help! Stalker!” I shrieked and ineffectively pointed at the stranger. Between the rippling muscles, the washboard abs, and an ass I could bounce a quarter on, I hoped he wasn’t actually here to hurt me, because he could do some damage. Pointing and shrieking wasn’t going to stop him. Fortunately, he looked more shocked and horrified than angry and violent.
“Stop screaming!” he bellowed. A freezing breeze blew into the room. It was as if the man had brought the rage of winter into the master suite with him. He looked like it, too, with his ice-blue eyes and silver-white hair. “This is my penthouse. You are not authorized to be here. That makes you the stalker!”
I stopped screaming. It clearly wasn’t helping anything. I also couldn’t help but notice that the bathroom wasn’t the only thing that was huge in the room. With him wearing nothing but boxer briefs, I could tell Santa had brought the handsome man a very large Christmas package indeed. The breeze blew in from the balcony, swirling the strange man’s clean and masculine scent around the room. I forced myself to ignore it.
“Get out of my house,” Big Christmas Package said flatly.
“You get out!” I shrieked. “I’m a bake-off contestant. This isn’t your room!”
“What the—” he grabbed his clothes, tugging on his pants. “The Great Christmas Bake-Off? I cannot have Christmas invading every element of my life. This is ridiculous. Christmas is ridiculous. It’s such a stupid, childish holiday.” He punctuated his words by snatching up articles of clothing.
“Hey now!” I said, hands on my hips, fear subsiding. “Christmas is never ridiculous. It’s the best holiday ever. And if you can’t see that, well then, you’re just a grinch, aren’t you?”
He advanced on me. I was suddenly very aware of how large he was. Christmas package notwithstanding, this dude was tall, broad shouldered, with rippling muscles. He could probably split me in two.
Yes, please.
“You’re some stupid little baker who never outgrew the childish fantasy of Christmas,” he sneered.
My nose was inches away from his chest. He glowered down at me. I was too angry to be aware of his half-naked body. Okay, maybe I was like fifteen percent aware. But the majority of my energy was focused on being offended on behalf of Christmas.
“Don’t insult baking,” I said, giving him my best “I want to speak to the manager vibe,” though it was ruined by the fact that I had to crane my neck up to see him and that I was completely naked under the robe. “And never insult Christmas!”
His nostrils flared slightly.
“Men like you constantly belittle the work that women do to keep cultural traditions like Christmas alive,” I continued, poking him in the chest.
“We decorate homes to make them cozy.”
“We cook holiday dinners and bake festive desserts.”
“We host parties that bring families and friends together.”
Before I could poke him again, he grabbed my hand in his much-larger one. Then, realizing what he’d done, he quickly released it.
“I will not stand for your bad attitude!” I declared.
He glared down at me, strong jaw clenched, eyes cold as a frozen lake. “I can’t even believe this,” he finally snarled. He grabbed his briefcase and stormed out, still shirtless.
“Oh my God!” Fiona exclaimed, wide-eyed, as she ran into the room. She hugged me then pushed me to sit on the bed. “Are you okay? Who was that? Why was he in here? Someone call the police!”
“I knew it! You’re trying to steal my boyfriend,” Amber yelled at me, rushing into the room. “That’s Owen Frost, and he’s mine!”

Author Bio:
If you like steamy romantic comedies with a creative streak, then I'm your girl!
Architect by day, writer by night, I love matcha green tea, chocolate, and books! So many books...
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Thanks so much for stopping by today. Doesn't this sound like one of those fun Hallmark movies we love to watch over and over again?


Friday, November 22, 2019

Forever My Duke

It’s my pleasure to welcome New York Times bestselling author Olivia Drake to Thoughts in Progress today to talk about continuing her Unlikely Duchesses series with FOREVER MY DUKE (St. Martin’s Paperbacks; December 31, 2019), a clash of cultures in which an English Duke sets his sights on an independent-minded American woman.

          Hadrian Ames, the Duke of Clayton, needs a bride. He even has the perfect one picked out. That is, until he meets the lovely, free-spirited Natalie Fanshawe. She’s the opposite of what a man of his high rank should desire in a wife—an outspoken American who has never even set foot in a London ballroom.
But Natalie doesn’t have time to be swept off her feet by a handsome duke who must be a spoiled scoundrel like every other British lord. And she couldn’t care less about Hadrian’s title. After all, it’s not as if he actually worked to attain his wealth and status. He surely can’t understand what it’s like to be a busy woman, planning to open a school while trying to reunite a six-year-old orphan with his English relatives.
Nevertheless, Hadrian launches his campaign to win her heart. Can the utterly delightful American beauty ever find a way to love him…despite his being a duke?

Now please join me in welcoming Olivia as she answers some questions for me about this delightful book and series. Welcome, Olivia.

What inspires you to write in this genre?

When I was in third grade, I penned a story about triplets who get lost in a cave. It was utterly forgettable--but a writer was born! Then, in high school, I went through a brooding poet stage and scribbled verse during study hall. In college, my love for English-set novels was sparked by authors like Victoria Holt, Jane Austen, Mary Stewart, and Georgette Heyer. After working for a few years in the corporate world, I decided that I’d much rather spend my days making up my own romance stories.

Why write a story set in London instead of Texas?

There’s something about the beautiful fashions, the fine manners, and the glamor of the English nobility that intrigues me. It’s a world of princes and dukes, jewels and estates, the stuff of girlish dreams. Don’t get me wrong, I do love a good cowboy story, just as I enjoy reading suspense novels and murder mysteries. But when it comes to writing a book, I’m most fascinated by the elegant world of nineteenth century English aristocracy.

Do you have certain rituals that you follow when writing - like particular time, place, music, etc.?

When my two daughters were young, I stuck to a 9-4 workday while they were in school. But at heart, I’m a night owl. Now that I can set my own hours, I find that I do my best writing from 6 in the evening until midnight.  There’s something about it being dark outside that inspires my creativity!

What are the favorite three things you like about your two main characters in this story?

Hadrian, the Duke of Clayton, has a lofty view of how a man of his high rank should behave. To that purpose, he’s decided to wed a blue-blooded young lady who will be the perfect duchess – or so he thinks. But on his journey across England to make his offer to her, Hadrian encounters Natalie Fanshawe, a free-spirited American who turns his world upside down. I love writing about a hero who’s knocked off-kilter by a woman who challenges his long-held beliefs. 

It was also great fun to put an American heroine in a Regency England setting. Natalie is no wealthy heiress, either. She’s hard-working, independent, and plucky, with a definite preference for America’s system of equality over England’s class hierarchy. The last thing she wants is to marry an English duke, which made for a very interesting conflict! 

My favorite kind of romance is when a man falls so deeply in love that he’s willing to change and grow in order to win the heroine. Once Hadrian is smitten, he has to convince Natalie that they’re well-suited. In turn, she must revise her dislike of the nobility in order to be with the man she comes to love with all her heart and soul.  

Here’s a teaser:
She drew a shaky breath.  “Outward appearances cannot change the fact that I’m not bred to your world.”
“Perhaps those differences are part of the reason why we’re attracted to one another.  It’s a way for both of us to break out of dullness of norms.”  He tucked a wisp of her hair behind her ear, her skin tingling from his touch.  “I was raised with the fixed belief that the perfect wife was a docile young lady with impeccable bloodlines.  That it was my duty to wed a well-born debutante.  Then I met you, Natalie.  And all of that went out the window.  Simply put, you’re everything I never knew that I needed.”
His declaration melted her heart.  There could be nothing more romantic than to be chosen by a powerful man who made her feel alive, body and soul.  A duke who could have any woman he wanted.  Yet logic whispered that it would never work.  She could list a hundred reasons why he was all wrong for her, not the least of which was the life she had planned back in America.  Still, the fire that heated her blood could not be denied...

What genres do you enjoy reading and do you have a favorite author from your childhood?

I’ll read just about anything that catches my fancy – mysteries, romance, women’s fiction, sci-fi, and research books. I recently read the official biography of Queen Mary by James Pope-Hennessy, a fascinating look into the upbringing of a princess told through excerpts from letters written by such royals as Queen Victoria, a cousin to Queen Mary’s mother. 

As to my youth, I loved Nancy Drew stories most of all. My sister and cousins and I used to pass them around. That’s probably why there’s often a little mystery/suspense in my own books. 

Are you already working on your next project (if so what) or are you taking a bit of down time for yourself?

I’m presently writing the third book in the “Unlikely Duchesses” series. This one centers around a heroine who grew up poor and works in a millinery shop. Determined to identify the noble father who abandoned her, she masquerades as a governess in a ducal household. Her quest throws her in conflict with the duke, who soon suspects she isn’t who she claims to be. And so the sparks fly! 

Olivia, thanks so much for joining us today and sharing this insight into your writing and your new book.

Author Olivia Drake
For those who aren’t familiar with the author, here’s a bit of background on her.

Olivia Drake is a New York Times bestselling author who lives in Texas. Her novels have won critical acclaim and numerous industry awards, including the prestigious RITA.

Olivia is the author of Scandal of the Year, Never Trust a Rogue, and If the Slipper Fits among others. Olivia’s books have won the Golden Heart Award, Best Historical Romantic Suspense, Best Regency Historical, and the prestigious RITA Award from Romance Writers of America.

She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and a pair of feisty cats. Her two daughters have flown the nest, but they still come back whenever they want a home-cooked meal.

Olivia has also written under the name Barbara Dawson Smith.

Thanks for stopping by today. If you’re a writer, does bits of the genre you read in your youth tend to show up in your writing now? As a reader, do plucky characters tend to stay with you longer after you finish a book?

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Sealer's Game (+Giveaway)

* Sealer’s Game
* by Kathy Coleman
* (Sealer Saga #1)
* Publication date: October 22nd 2019
* Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Hell hath no fury like a goddess scorned…

As Champion, Carita of Bel Auryn thought she would spend her days fighting demons. Instead, she is drawn into the latest scheme of the Moon Goddess, Ruby: a contest to choose a man who will have the “honour” of fathering her child. When Ruby encourages Carita to choose a man for herself, she picks the man she is most drawn to–and immediately regrets it.
Lucian Veradayne is the Lord of Death. He knows he must win Ruby’s game at any cost. It doesn’t matter that he has avoided her for two thousand years. Nor that she tried to kill their first child. And it really doesn’t matter that he would much rather woo Carita. The Soul Well has given Lucian a prophecy: he and Ruby must have another child. A child who will save the world.
Dealing with their mutual attraction will be the least of Lucian and Carita’s problems. They are not the only ones who have been drawn into Ruby’s game. Someone else wants to win. Someone who wants Ruby dead. Will Carita and Lucian be able to protect her long enough for a victor to be named? And if they succeed, will they be able to walk away from each other to ensure the prophecy is fulfilled?
Sealer’s Game is a 55,000 word fantasy romance novella about the King of the Underworld, a kick-butt warrior priestess, and a ruthless goddess who will stop at nothing to get her own way. It contains language, descriptions of violence, and sexual themes that may not be appropriate for all readers. Recommended for ages 18+.

Now here is an excerpt to tempt you even more.

Those eyes. He was doing this with those damned, accursed eyes. They had to go. Now.
Her fingers trembling, she gripped the hilt of the dagger that hung at her waist. Could she do this? Was she capable of hurting a child?
Memories of the night she had gone to Lucian flooded her. The bravado she had carried herself with as she went through her plan to seduce him in her mind. Her nervous uncertainty, trying not to shudder as he removed her clothes. The amount of self-control it had taken not to vomit as his body covered hers. And then the horror, the utter, skin crawling horror, when she realized that was not all he intended to do.
I don’t want—
The words had died on her tongue, a strangled knot in her throat that she could still feel nine months later. The smell of fresh cut grass and cinnamon still made her want to gag.
That night, their scents had been so potent she could taste them. The power of Earth magic in the air had been so strong it had been hard to breathe. The swell of her breasts, the arch of her hips, and the subtle shift that had flexed through her stomach as her body prepared to carry Lucian’s child… Recalling any of it made her want to tear something apart.
Lucian had caused her entire plan to backfire and he hadn’t even been trying.
With one quick jab, Ruby sliced into the flesh of the baby’s face. A fine line of black and red spotted blood began to seep down his cheek like a single crimson tear. Jerking the dagger up, she jabbed its blade through the offensive dark blue eye that had peered at her so intently. She twisted the dagger around the eye’s socket like its tip was a key and his face a lock, then cut through some skin near his eyebrow as she pulled the dagger out.
One down, one to go.
Or not. The baby’s wails turned into a full-on scream. The long screeching sounds reminded her more of a dying animal than of any proper, sentient being. If he kept that up someone would find her doing this. That was an outcome she could not afford.

Author Bio:
Kathy Coleman lives in a little town in Ontario with her parents, one younger brother and two mischievous little dogs named D'Argo and Coco. She attended Trent University, majoring in English and Cultural Studies.
When she is not being kept awake at 3 a.m. by characters who refuse to quit talking, she can be found performing karaoke at charity events, updating her book blog I Write, I Read, I Review, shopping, or playing video games.
Thanks for stopping by today. Isn't it fascinating when an author takes you to another world they have created just to entertain you?