Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Marriage of Convenience by Shelley Munro || MISTRESS OF MERRIVALE #Giveaway



A marriage of convenience…full of inconvenient secrets.

Jocelyn Townsend’s life as a courtesan bears no resemblance to the life she envisioned in girlish dreams. But it allows her and her eccentric mother to live in relative security—until her protector marries and no longer requires her services.

Desperate to find a new benefactor, one kind enough to accept her mother’s increasingly mad flights of fancy, Jocelyn is nearly overwhelmed with uncertainty when a lifeline comes from an unexpected source.

Leo Sherbourne’s requirements for a wife are few. She must mother his young daughter, run his household, and warm his bed. All in a calm, dignified manner with a full measure of common sense. After his late wife’s histrionics and infidelity, he craves a simpler, quieter life.

As they embark on their arrangement, Leo and Jocelyn discover an attraction that heats their bedroom and a mutual admiration that warms their days. But it isn’t long before gossip regarding the fate of Leo’s first wife, and his frequent, unexplained absences, make Jocelyn wonder if the secrets of Merrivale Manor are rooted in murder…

Warning: Contains mysterious incidents, a mad mother who screeches without provocation, scheming relatives, and a captivating husband who blows scorching hot and suspiciously cold. All is not as it seems…and isn’t that delicious?


A Marriage of Convenience

I’ve always enjoyed reading a marriage of convenience romance. This type of book is familiar and comforting and popular with readers like me. Since I snap up books using this premise, a marriage of convenience plot was the obvious choice when I decided to write my own historical romances. I’ve written two so far—The Spurned Viscountess and my newest release, Mistress of Merrivale, which both feature this trope.

So what is a marriage of convenience? What are the characteristics of this type of plot?

In times past, love didn’t come into the marriage equation. Parents arranged marriages for their offspring, searching for the links that would bring land, finance and added prestige into the family. Marriage was all about connections and improving your lot in life.

For the romance writer, this is conflict served up on a platter. The hero and heroine start their marriage knowing little about each other, yet since they’re married there is no barrier to those hot sex scenes. The layers of the characters are peeled away as they struggle to find their place in the relationship and, because this is a romance, love.

Modern day marriage of convenience stories are harder to pull off, mainly because times have changed and sex before marriage is common. The modern way is to marry for love, and we generally choose our partners, rather than letting our parents do it for us.

The modern-day couple might marry for more practical reasons such as sealing a contract, securing an inheritance or to perpetrate a pretense of some sort.

If a child is involved, two people might marry to provide that child with a home and safety. Sometimes money comes into the decision, but immigration to allow one half of a couple to enter the country is a modern twist. The need for protection or the insistent tick-tock of a biological clock might persuade a heroine into marriage or even the modern version of mail-order—meeting someone on the internet.

These stories bring inherent conflict because the characters aren’t in love and they don’t have to pretend they’re head over heels for each other. The getting-to-know each other stage of the relationship becomes the conflict. Sexual relations are sometimes part of the deal and sometimes not, and the greater intimacy comes with time.

In Mistress of Merrivale, my latest release, Jocelyn Townsend is a mistress to a titled man. When her protector no longer requires her services, she is desperate to find a replacement in order to keep her mother safe. Leo Sherbourne requires a wife to warm his bed, keep his house in order and to look after his young daughter. They agree that a marriage of convenience will work well between and that—in the spirit of a good romance—is when all their problems begin.

Shelley is offering an ebook copy of THE SPURNED VISCOUNTESS or MISTRESS OF MERRIVALE to one randomly selected commenter. Please comment for  a chance to win!


MISTRESS OF MERRIVALE is available for purchase:


BIO:
Photo Credit: Princess Cruises
Shelley Munro is tall and curvaceous with blue eyes and a smile that turns masculine heads everywhere she goes. She’s a university tutor and an explorer/treasure hunter during her vacations. Skilled with weapons and combat, she is currently in talks with a producer about a television series based on her world adventures.
Shelley is also a writer blessed with a VERY vivid imagination and lives with her own hero in New Zealand. She writes mainly erotic romance in the contemporary, paranormal and historical genres for publishers Carina Press, Ellora’s Cave and Samhain Publishing. You can learn more about Shelley and her books at her website and you might even find her lurking at Facebook or Twitter.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

It's a Mystery: The 4th Snark Child

Miss Bear to Mr. Snark: "There's a mess in the family room."
Mr. Snark: "Really? A mess? Who made it?"
Miss Bear: "Hmmm..."

She actually draws this sound out for a really long time...

Miss Bear: "...mmmmmmmm... It's a mystery!"

Miss Bear turned 4 today and I came to a startling realization--there is actually an invisible child living with us who leaves wet towels on the bathroom floor, shoes scattered throughout the entryway, and doors wide open. He hits his brother when I'm not looking and steals candy without permission.

I'd been aware of something being amiss for some time. I've made inquiries without success.


Mrs. Snark to the boys: "Who left the milk on the kitchen counter?"
The Boy: "Not me!"
Middle Child: "Not me!"
Miss Bear: "Hmm...it's a mystery."

Mrs. Snark growls in aggravation. "Was it 'Not Me' or "It's a Mystery'? We really need to settle on a name for your unseen sibling!"

And...

Egads...

It just occurred to me--what if there's not just one invisible child, but two????????????????


Note from the author:
My friend tells me Family Circus has already done the "Not Me" joke so I wanted to apologize to the creator of the strip. I wasn't intentionally trying to rip off her joke. I simply wasn't aware of it.

Dark Light of Day and Fiery Edge of Steel by Jill Archer || #Giveaway



Dark Light of Day
Noon Onyx
Book 1
Jill Archer

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Ace
Date of Publication: September 25, 2012

ISBN-10: 0425257150
ISBN-13: 978-0425257159
ASIN: B007A9KSMY

Cover Artist: David Palumbo



Noon Onyx has been accepted into the prestigious St. Lucifer’s Law School where her mother hopes she’ll be trained as a Maegester. But Noon doesn’t want to control demons, set fires, or destroy things. She wants to become a Mederi so she can grow gardens and heal people.

Noon's best friend, Peter Aster, is an Angel spellcaster who thinks he has the answer to Noon's predicament - an ancient, mysterious, lost spell that can turn Noon into the Mederi she always wanted to be. Only one person stands in the way of Noon's dream - Ari Carmine, a fellow classmate who seems fascinated by Noon's fiery side.

Excerpt Dark Light of Day:

 “I’ve been watching you, wondering, waiting to see where you’d end up. After all, there are other demon law schools,” Seknecus said, making a moue of distaste that made it clear exactly what he thought of them. “But I was happy to see that you chose St. Lucifer’s.”
Technically my mother chose St. Lucifer’s . . . But there seemed no reason to interrupt to clarify that bit of misinformation. Seknecus wandered around the room, picking through papers, flipping open and quickly shutting the front covers of various leather-bound books, never meeting my eye. I had no doubt, however, that his attention was fully focused on me.
“So, you see, seeing your name on my list wasn’t exactly a surprise, although it appeared much later than I would have liked.”
He did look at me then, with a frown of disapproval. I did my best to look expressionless because none seemed appropriate. It wouldn’t do to look amused, bored or, Luck forbid, rebellious. Seknecus stared at me with narrowed eyes and then went back to wandering.
“You’ve got some catching up to do,” he said, addressing a copy of Sin and Sanction: Codification & Case Law. “It doesn’t matter why or what excuses you’ve got for yourself. You will be held to the same standards as everyone else, regardless of whose daughter you are. And you’ve missed a lot of class already.”
I opened my mouth to protest, but he cut me off with a wave.
“Manipulation class,” he clarified. “You’re going to have to work ten times as hard as everyone else just to pass. Quintus Rochester doesn’t go easy on students and he’s likely to see your absence during the early part of the semester as a challenge. You know, failing is not an option. Not if you want to live . . .”

Fiery Edge of Steel
Noon Onyx
Book 2
Jill Archer

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Ace
Date of Publication: May 28, 2013

ISBN-10: 0425257169
ISBN-13: 978-0425257166
ASIN: B009NY48SO

Cover Artist: Jason Chan




Noon Onyx is the first woman in memory to wield waning magic. Her unique abilities, paired with a lack of control and reluctance to kill, have branded her as an outsider from her peers. Only her powerful lover, Ari Carmine, and a roguish and mysterious Angel, Rafe Sinclair, support her unconventional ways.

When Noon is shipped off to a remote outpost to investigate several unusual disappearances, it seems Luck is not on her side. But when the outpost settlers claim that an ancient and evil foe has stepped out of legend to commit the crimes, Noon realizes that she could be facing something much worse than she ever imagined…

Fiery Edge of Steel Excerpt

“You are familiar with Empyr wine, Ms. Onyx?” Rochester asked.
I nodded warily.
Angels were obsessed with apples. They took their love of this fruit very seriously, worshipping it as a symbol of the lost world they once ruled. A common motif in Angel art was the fallen apple that never rotted. Empyr wines were apple wines that were “enhanced” by some of the best Angel sommeliers in Halja. The enhancements were spells. Each batch had its own name, flavor, coloring, and associated spell. They were served upstairs in the Angels’ infamous restaurant on this building’s thirty-third floor.
I’d had Empyr wine exactly two times in my life. Each time it had produced life-altering effects, although in an indirect manner and not of the kind I could have guessed.
Friedrich turned back toward me and offered me the cup. Inside, the liquid was pink and fizzy and flecked with gold. I reached for the cup and there was a brief moment when I wasn’t sure Friedrich would let go. Was the spell tied to his touch? I yanked harder and the wine nearly spilled out of the cup as it broke free from his grasp. Rochester’s signature nudged mine, like a parent pinching an errant child. I glanced back at Ari, who gave me a tight smile.
I tipped the cup to my lips and drank. Immediately, a bitter, chalky taste filled my mouth. I hid my grimace, finished, and handed the cup back to Friedrich.
“This batch is called ‘Fortuna’s Favorites,’” Friedrich said. “Think you’re one of them?”
Time will tell, I thought, but said instead, “Fortes fortuna adiuvat.” Fortune favors the bold. Another of Dorio’s sayings. Maybe Fitz had the right idea.
Friedrich grunted. Ari grinned.
Rochester held off magically pinching me again. Instead, he handed me a white linen napkin.
“A gift from this batch’s sommelier,” he said. “Some words of wisdom regarding this semester’s assignment.”
I choked back a laugh. From tea leaves to wine tannins, where Angels fear not to tread . . . I accepted the napkin and wiped my mouth gently. I’d been generous in this morning’s application of Daredevil Red lip paint. Who knew what my fortune might be if I added too much of that to the mix? But the laugh died in my throat as I looked down at my napkin. Slowly, a stain of words appeared:
When traveling into the unknown, sometimes the biggest danger is the one you bring with you . . .


Tour giveaway details
$25 Amazon eGift Certificate (or bookseller egift card of winner’s choice)



About the Author:

Jill Archer writes dark, genre-bending fantasy from rural Maryland. Her novels include Dark Light of Day, Fiery Edge of Steel, and White Heart of Justice. She loves cats, coffee, books, movies, day tripping, and outdoor adventuring.






Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Free on Amazon: Romance Novels from The Wild Rose Press || April 22nd - 26th

When the gods realize the beast they unleashed should never have been unshackled, they throw together modern-day Emma and ancient Torin to set the world aright. 


When a superhero meets a guardian of the fairy world,
the bad guys had better watch out. 


When she marries into wealth and position, she discovers the path leads to despair for a love she can never have, as well as a growing awareness of the ruthlessness of her new family's patriarch.




A close encounter with a "crumpet" can change a life forever. 
 

Book Review: WHEN ONE DOOR CLOSES, Book 1 in the Rock Star Series, by Sandy Wolters


 Her marriage a disaster, Lilly closes the door to her personal life.  Can meeting Bruce open a door to a new life or will her fear shut her off from love?

All Lilly has ever wanted to do is sing, but being an internationally famous superstar has turned her life into a living nightmare. Closing the door on her destructive marriage, she runs to her best friend's rural home in northern Arizona, hoping to stay out of the public's eye and sort out her life.

Bruce Silk, a Flagstaff police officer, doesn't approve of his brother's rakish rock star lifestyle but still keeps an eye on his remote home when he's out on tour. More than once he's had to arrest groupies who invaded the property to steal some small memento from the famous Clay Silk. So why does he feel sucker-punched when he slaps the cuffs on this latest trespasser?

When One Door Closes is the first book in the “Rock Star Series.”  Another Door Opens, the second book, will be released in mid-2014.  Both books are stand-alone novels.  


Review by Melissa Snark:
WHEN ONE DOOR CLOSES is the first book I've read by Sandy Wolters. The cover really captured my attention because it's pretty and unique. Likewise, I loved the concept. I can't think rock star romance without recalling a cheesy 80s movie called "Hard to "Hold" from back in the day when I thought Rick Springfield was dreamy.  (Hey, I was 14. :D) Yeah, I'm showing my age but I musta watched that dumb flick a dozen times on VHS.

The story is only 139 pages so the romance develops fast. I usually prefer more time be allocated to relationship development but I'm willing to make exceptions so long as the prose is well written and the editing is solid. I liked both the hero and heroine and felt they shared great chemistry. Perspective changes happened more often than I like, especially since I prefer to stay in one POV for an entire scene.

 Bruce is a perfect hero–a tough, cynical cop with a soft side for teary women and big goofy dogs. I loved his pet, , Barney Fife, a Neapolitan Mastiff.  (Although, honestly, Don Knotts really didn't have those jowls).  Lilly, the heroine, seems almost too nice to be "for real", especially since she's a famous singer. She's very sweet and down to earth, and I liked her a lot.  Love scenes hover somewhere in the sensual range with more emphasis placed on emotion than the physical act.

Secondary characters are all three-dimensional and interesting.  In particular,  I loved Martha. Her antics made me laugh and she brings a great element of humor to the story. 

"Well, I never!" Martha screeched as her handbag made contact with
Officer Paul Durkin's face. She pushed his assault rifle out of the way and
jabbed her finger as hard as she could into his chest. "I changed your diapers,
young man! How dare you point that nasty thing at me!"

WHEN ONE DOOR CLOSES is #1 in the Rock Star Series, so presumably another book is on the way. I'm looking forward to reading the author's next story. Two thumbs up.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.




Available for purchase: 
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Author Bio:
Sandy Wolters is a prolific writer with four other novels to date. Her last novel, Soul Mates, won first place in the Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewer Choice Awards for Paranormal Romance-Novella.

AUTHOR LINKS:
Website  
Blog - Sandy's Spotlight  
Goodreads 
Amazon Author Page  
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