Monday, February 19, 2018

Promo & Questions with.... JUDITH B. GLAD on COMMONER BY CHOICE


1.  Tell us about your release.

Well, first of all, it's a romance, probably because I can't seem to write anything else. In my first historical romance (The Queen of Cherry Vale), I introduced Hattie Rommel and Emmet Lachlan, Silas DeWitt, William and Flower. Pretty soon they became real people to me, clamoring for their own stories to be told. The clamor didn't stop there, though, because after a while another generation was waving hands, yelling, "Me too! Me too!"

Commoner By Choice (book X in the "Behind the Ranges" series) is about a young Black man in a family where most of his generation has lived exciting, interesting lives. Micah King, on the other hand, has never been much of anywhere, has never had a grand adventure. When he's offered a chance to step outside his ordinary existence, he takes it only reluctantly. That's when he meets Eliza Jane Dollarhide, independent and adventurous, who is seeking what might be buried treasure, but could just as easily be a hopeless cause. Of course, there is a villain who believes he has a better claim on whatever she's seeking and is willing to kill to see that he gets it.

The story is set against the rugged, grand background of Idaho's mountains, where gold lured honest miners and those who preyed  upon them. I won't claim to have been everywhere Micah and Eliza went, but I've spent enough time in the area to have a good feel for how challenging survival must have been with only what they could carry on three mules, and a hundred miles of wilderness to traverse. And having a really nasty bad guy after them would only make it more perilous.

2.  Without giving away any spoilers, give us a hint about a favorite scene.

Micah and Eliza began the day with a spat, and they are riding along a narrow canyon in single file, not speaking. Suddenly the ground begins to shake, the hillside above them to slide. Rocks crash all about Eliza, who manages to get her mule out of danger. When all is finally silent, the trail ahead is blocked. She sees the pack mule, but where is Micah? She is miles from the nearest gold camp, in country where wolves, bears and cougar hunt, and the man she is afraid she is falling in love with may be dead.

What can she do? The only thing possible. She copes.

3.  When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I learned to read? Seriously, though, even before that I made up these fantastic stories, until one of my great-aunts decided I was a confirmed liar and made sure everyone knew it. What she would never admit was that my "lies" were actually stories about imaginary people doing exciting stuff.

4. What is a typical writing day like?

Make tea, check email, read news, edit (I am an editor for Uncial Press), and when my job is out of the way, the afternoon is mine. I write, promote (I don't so as much of this as I should), plot, research (love to research!), or play solitaire or do jigsaw puzzles on the computer. Such mindless play lets the creative juices flow (and if you believe that, there is this nice bridge in Brooklyn for sale).

5. Do you have an interesting writing quirk or habit?

I'm really left-brained and it often interferes with my writing, because I am compelled to edit as I go along. The result is dry and pretty boring--too many years writing scientific stuff. So I either turn off my monitor or work on an Alpha-Smart (tiny screen holds about 15 characters). The result is sometimes close to incomprehensible because I'm a terrible typist, but it's almost always worth keeping, once I get rid of all the typos and misspellings, and it works for me.

6. What has been one of the most surprising things you’ve learned as a published author?

That folks are impressed. I never really thought about that aspect, although of course I dreamed of being rich and famous when I won the Pulitzer Prize or one of my books was made into a movie. I'm still waiting for those events. In the meantime it always comes as a surprise when someone thinks being a writer is enviable and wonderful. And making me rich. That last hasn't happened yet either, but I keep dreaming.

7. What authors or friends influenced you in helping you become a writer?

My great-aunt Luella (not the one who called me a liar), my husband, and Glenn Balch. My aunt encourage me to tell my stories, convinced me to write them down when I was older, and always said I'd be published someday. Alas, she was long gone when I made my first sale, but I'd have never done it without her encouragement when I was a child. Glenn was our next door neighbor for several years and a successful author of YA westerns, mostly about horses and dogs. When I decided to settle down and write a book, I remembered how he'd gone to his office every day, just like a real job. So I decided that if I was serious about becoming a published author, I had to treat it like a real job. I probably would never have finished the first book otherwise. As for Neil, he simply believed I could do anything I set my mind to. He was more excited than I when I sold that first book.

8. What does your family think about your career as a published author?

By this time they are pretty well used to it. At first I think the kids all figured it was just another one of my hobbies. Now they're proud of me. As for the grandchildren, I have never figured out how they feel. "Cool, Granny," is not a helpful comment.

9. Besides writing, what other interests do you have?

Gardening (mostly vegetables), knitting (socks, anyone?), traveling, cooking, bicycling, and reading. The last is more of a compulsion than an interest. I can't survive without at least one book underway. I used to sew clothes for myself and my children, but not so much anymore, since mostly I wear jeans and knit shirts. I tried quilting and found I didn't enjoy it, not like many of my friends do, so my sewing machine just sits there growing cobwebs.

10. Can you tell us about what’s coming up next for you writing wise?

A couple of "Behind the Ranges" novellas, if I ever get the research done. Well...truth be told, I'm procrastinating, because when I look something up  on the web, it invariably leads to something else, and pretty soon I'm so far off topic that I never get back to the original question. I honestly will finish those novellas one of these days, though. Other than that, I've been toying with an idea for another Regency, but so far that's all it is--an idea.

11. How can readers connect with you online?

I've got three websites, a Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/pg/judewritesromance/posts/ ), and a Now-and-Again blog (http://judithbglad.blogspot.com/ ). Why three websites, you ask? Well, there's the Gladhaus one (http://www.hevanet.com/gladhaus/ ), that has a lot of non-writerly information I want to share, my writerly one (http://www.judithbglad.com/) that's all about my books, and my alter ego's website (http://www.jayewatson.com/). They all have active email links. Or everyone can just write to me at heyjude@judithbglad.com . I love hearing from my readers and promise to answer every single email.


Commoner by Choice by Judith B. Glad

The heyday of gold discoveries is over in Idaho Territory, but there are still fortunes to be found. Eliza Jane Dollarhide believes that one is buried somewhere near a tiny mining camp deep in the wilderness. Her guide is Micah King, young, widowed, highly recommended--and Black. Never having known a person of color, Eliza is at first apprehensive, but soon learns that Micah is both a gentleman and a superbly competent guide. A good thing, too, for soon after they reach the isolated gold mining town of Yellowjacket, they realize they face deadly danger. Someone is after the papers Eliza came to retrieve, and will stop at nothing, not even wanton murder, to get them. Only one road leads out of Yellowjacket, so Micah guides Eliza along a dangerous trail through the wilderness, depending on dim memories of a long-ago journey through almost impenetrable mountains. As they travel, each learns to know the other, and soon love blooms between them. Impossible love, for Eliza is white. So even if they survive their ordeal--and escape whoever is trying to kill them--sooner or later they will have to part. Or will they? Surely there must be a way they can be together, be happy.

Buy Links:


Saturday, February 17, 2018

Gift Card Contest



Well, Winter is still here in the USA and I decided to do a gift card contest.

Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card
Open to: USA and Canadian winners
What you need to do: Tell us about a new author you've recently discovered.
(And yes, I should've added...new to you)

Contest winner will be chosen next weekend.

Book Winner!

The winner of THANKS FUR LAST NIGHT is..... Karielle Stephanie!
Please email me @  Pattifischer@yahoo.com  by 2/28/18 to claim your prize.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Promo: THE COWBOY WHO CAME CALLING by LINDA BRODAY


Title: The Cowboy Who Came Calling
Author: Linda Broday
Series: Texas Heroes, #2
ISBN: 9781492646471
Pub Date: February 6, 2018

He’ll do what it takes
To win
Her heart

Glory Day may be losing her vision, but that doesn’t mean she’ll ever stop fighting. Determined to provide for her struggling family, she confronts an outlaw with a price on his head. But when a mysterious cowboy gets between her and her target, Glory accidentally shoots him instead. Flustered, she has no option but to take the handsome stranger home to treat his wounds.

Former Texas Ranger Luke McClain didn’t plan to fall in love, but there’s no denying the strength of Glory’s will or the sweetness of her heart. But Glory’s been burned before, and Luke will have to reach into the depths of his own battered soul to convince her to take a chance...

And trust that love is worth fighting for.


At a young age, LINDA BRODAY discovered a love for storytelling, history, and anything pertaining to the Old West. After years of writing romance, it’s still tall rugged cowboys that spark her imagination. A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Linda has won many awards, including the prestigious National Readers’ Choice Award and the Texas Gold. She resides in the Texas Panhandle where she’s inspired every day.

Find Linda Online:
Twitter: @LBroday


Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of the first book in Linda Broday’s Texas Heroes series, Knight on the Texas Plains
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Excerpt:


A light touch on Glory’s shoulder gave her a start. The hand surely belonged to Luke, for only he could loosen this flurry inside. She blinked several times, cursing the inability to see what he held. At last the item came into view.

A toothbrush. A real one.

Glory whirled. Every well-planned, scathing remark vanished, not even the mere footprint of one remained in her head. She cradled the treasure with wonder.

“You hankered for one of these the first time I saw you in the emporium. I also recall how you had to bite your tongue to keep from giving those girls their comeuppance.” Quiet challenge lay beneath Luke’s words. He dared her to refuse something she so desired. If she could.

Moral indignation that had burned so hotly before deserted her. “I thought you didn’t notice me that day. You appeared quite taken with the…other patrons.”

“Oh, I noticed.”

In a Monday that held more twists and turns than a dog’s hind leg, his barely audible reply and intent stare added yet more bewilderment. Why did he have to go and make her forget her outrage? Awfully difficult to harbor a grudge when he seemed intent on filling her head with hope.

She stared at the object in her palm, afraid it would fade into thin air as the genie in the Arabian Nights had. Fairy tales were for children, not grown women who knew better. McClain couldn’t be Aladdin—unless he whipped out a magic carpet. This night she wouldn’t rule out anything.

“Say something, Glory.” Hope gave her a sharp poke.

Patience grinned. “If you wanna kiss him, we’ll hide our eyes.”

Hell’s bells!  If she didn’t die of mortification, it would be a sheer miracle.

“I know you want to,” Patience crowed. “Leastways that’s what you wrote in your private book.”

“What kind of woman would pass up a kiss?” Luke raised her chin with the lightest of nudges.

Her legs threatened to buckle. Powerless in the spell of his gaze, she marveled at the rakish curve of his mouth. The essence of him wrapped around, over, and inside her as she gladly stepped onto his magic carpet.

One more kiss wouldn’t hurt anything.

A sudden scurry of feet seemed in the distance. Glory’s ears pounded. His frenzied heartbeat jumped through the fabric of his shirt. She sank into the curve of his arm because he stole her will to step back.

The kiss that began with tender softness deepened. She shuddered under his caress, a piece of clay in the hands of a master.

Her feverish skin throbbed with some strange need she didn’t comprehend. She only knew if she died in his arms this second, she would depart the world in a state of bliss.

When he lifted his head at last, she would have fallen without his steadying support. She rested her face on his broad chest for a moment to still the dizzying whirl.

“Thank you.” His murmur came faint as a breeze through willows. His ragged breath ruffled her hair.

A few seconds later, she remembered where they stood and the liberties she’d allowed. Never before had she been so carefree. Or so warm. “Good heavens!” She patted her hair, giving the room a sweeping glance, relieved to find it empty. “I don’t know what came over me.”

“Whatever it was, I hope it remembers the way back.”

She groaned inwardly and lowered her eyes before he saw the answer. For the cost of a handful of wind she would stand before the preacher with him.

Darn him and his magic carpet!

Fact remained, no amount of wishing could erase the truth. Her father left…and so had her mother, though each in a different way. At the end of the day, she could put faith only in herself.
What hand of fate had flung him into her life? The man seemed to take extraordinary liberty in assaulting her with his presence at every turn—with no intention of staying.

“I need to ask where you got the money to pay off our note—and buy all this.” The pain inside made her voice sound cold.

“Will it matter?”

Glory wished for things that could never be. To stifle yearnings that swept her along like a dandelion in a sudden gust would take more will than she possibly had. And even more impossible…blocking the knowledge that she could forgive all else as long as he promised to never leave. She gripped the toothbrush. “I must know.”

“In my own time.” He brushed her cheek lightly with a fingertip.

Only after she could do a sight more than melt did she dare raise her eyes. “You’ve involved us in whatever it is you do.”

“Fair enough. First tell me what you were doing with your esteemed Dr. Dalton.”

Anger put her on familiar ground. She rested her hands on her hips and jutted her chin defiantly. Magic carpet rides were for damsels without obligations and those who could afford to daydream. “He’s not my anything. And I don’t have to justify it. Don’t let us keep you from wherever it is you need to mosey on to.”


“Fire and damnation! I’m trying to help.”


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Promo: FALSE START by REBEL FARRIS

Title: False Start
Series: Falling Small Duet #1
Author: Rebel Farris
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: February 7, 2018


CJ Loves Books - “Sensational Debut”

2 Amy’s Love Reading Blog - “What a way to set the bar!!! A can't miss read!!! Emotional rollercoaster but so worth it!!”
Books Laid Bare - “A sensational debut!!”
Sometimes bad decisions... are made for the right reasons. 
I lost everything with the death of my bandmate—my privacy, my reputation, my career, and the love of my life.
I’m nothing but the living ghost of Madelaine Dobransky. Still, I’ve managed to make a new life for myself and build a successful business from the ashes. And even though my world is filled with guilt, secrets, and suspicion... it lies buried beneath the surface.
All I wanted was a tattoo. I didn't know that it would bring him—the one who watches—back into my life. Nor did I expect the tempting tattoo artist, Dexter McClellan, to lay claim on a place in my world. Dex wants to know me, to know the truth.
But I can’t let that happen. Because the truth is buried for a reason.
The truth will destroy me.
Rebel Farris is a romantic suspense author. She's also the mom of three lunatics plus two perfect pups (Spike and Snakefinder) currently residing in Austin, TX. A native Texan and former military wife, she spent three years living in Seoul, South Korea (where part of her heart will always belong) and every corner of her home state before settling down. One day she hopes to live out the dreams of her nomadic soul, by traveling the world. All while pouring out the myriad of stories that fill her not-so-normal mind. She'll just have to wait until her brats graduate and leave the house first.
When she's not busy writing her newest project, she can probably be found curling up with a good book, hiding behind a lens of one of her many cameras, or going on adventures with her kids. Champion of the anti-hero, Rebel loves to write suspenseful and unpredictable stories while making people fall in love with the bad guy and the broken souls.
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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Promo: A WEB OF FROST by LINDSAY SMITH


A too-young queen must learn to control her powers in order to save her empire, but can she trust the man who’s taught her to use her gift?

Grab your copy of WEB OF FROST and add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads! Then keep reading to get an EXCLUSIVE sneak peek at WEB OF FROST!



Title: Web of Frost
Author: Lindsay Smith
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: February 13, 2018
Publisher: Eventide Press
Series: The Saints of Russalka
Page Count: 402 pages
Format: Digitial
ASIN: B078X1K8VP
ISBN-13: 9781370549054



Synopsis:

The saints of Russalka work their blessings in mysterious ways, allowing the royal family to perform miracles for their people. But the young princess Katza fears her powers. She’s seen grave visions of her bloodied hands destroying her family’s empire. When her older brother succumbs to illness, leaving her next in line for the throne, Katza turns to a young rebellious prophet named Ravin who promises to teach her how to control her gift. As unrest grows in Russalka and a foreign monarchy threatens, Ravin understands Katza's fears and helps her find confidence in her gift, and her own heart. Under Ravin’s unorthodox training, Katza learns to hear the saints once more—until revolutionaries claim her father’s life.

Reeling and desperate, Katza draws upon darker and darker powers to stop the revolutionaries, the foreign invaders, and the members of her own court who would see her fail. But the more Ravin whispers in her ear, the more Katza questions whether he—and the saints—have her best interests at heart. She must choose between her love of Ravin and her love of Russalka itself—and decide whether her empire might not be better off without her.

Available at:  


Enter to win a $50 Gift Card from Lindsay Smith
or 3 runners up will receive 1 ebook from Lindsay Smith’s backlist (winner’s choice)!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Web of Frost Excerpt
Copyright © 2018 Lindsay Smith
She sank to her knees on the prayer cushion. Scanning the rows of icons, her gaze slid past Saint Marya and her bloody crown, and she searched, trying to settle on which saint to beseech. But none seemed to embody the nameless feeling inside her. Regret, but then again not. Hatred, maybe, of the world that had made such acts necessary. Of the agitators who threatened order, growing lies from seeds of truth.

Perhaps, as Ravin and his old order said, it was best sometimes to commune with Boj directly.

Is this the way to make Russalka safe, o Boj? Katza’s lips moved in time with her prayer. These shows of might. The fear that settles like frost on the streets. Is this what you want from me?

Dark whispers spun around Katza like smoke. She shivered, expecting a vision to wash over her. The hairs raised on the back of her neck and arms. But no proper vision coalesced. All she felt was a faint fluttering, like the visions were too afraid to approach her.

It felt like a warning. Like she was only just keeping her vision of bloodied hands at bay.

And then she saw the figure. Solid black, drinking up the light in the sanctuary doorway. The altar candles guttered, and briefly their light flickered over him, illuminating that elegant nose, sharp cheekbones, plush youthful lips.

Ravin.

Katza trembled, feeling tears threaten the corners of her eyes. His jaw tightened, as if he was nervous too, and he stepped toward her.

“You are afraid,” he said.

Katza swallowed. “I’m not certain what it is I feel.”

His tilted his head to one side.

Katza sank back onto her heels and tucked her hands into her lap. “I thought the blessings would help us spread order through the city, but instead it only seems to have brought fear. And then—then I believed I was showing strength, but perhaps it was merely cruelty.”

“Your father’s agents are rooting out the agitators,” Ravin said.

“I thought they were. But it sounds as if they’re only sweeping up children. Misguided commonfolk, desperate for change. This fear they feel—it isn’t any way to bring them around.”

“They chose to follow the agitators,” Ravin said. “And some of the agitators, too, have been stopped.”

Katza supposed that was true. But it did not forgive what she had done.

“You love your people,” Ravin said gently. “It’s why you strive to be more for them. Why you beseech the saints, though the priests would try to stop you. You know the blessings can be used for good.”

“But also for ill,” Katza said. “I didn’t mean to cause any harm.”

“And now you have learned. Haven’t you?” he asked.

Katza studied him for a moment, but her eyes were still adjusting to the dark. “I suppose so.”

“You must stay on course, tsarika.” Katza craned her neck up to look at him as he approached. “There is always a pain that comes with great change. It will chafe at you like uncut stone if you let it, but the pain will guide you onward. It will see you through the storm. And you will be all the better for it.”

Ravin paused before her. He wore simple black peasant’s boots and loose black trousers to match; his tunic was rough wool of dark gray, as was the sash at his waist. His hands clasped before him like crows at rest, ready to flutter away if startled. And that face, those dark eyes that pulled her into his void and refused to release her—

Katza swallowed and forced herself to look away.

“What are you?” she whispered. For he was no prophet—his order had cast him out. Temnost. The word lodged stubbornly in her throat. If he was forsaken, then surely she, in her desperation, was too.

Ravin let one of his hands hover over her shoulder—a question. Katza nodded and his palm pressed down. With a gasp, her heavy heart lifted. She felt cleansed. His touch was as cool as the clear mountain spring behind their summer palace in Zolotov.

“Change is painful but inevitable,” Ravin said. “Once you harness the saints’ blessings, truly master them, then you can return order to Russalka. You must endure this temporary discomfort, tsarika, for the good of your people.”

“Temporary,” Katza repeated.

He turned his palm upward and slid his hand beneath her chin. Her lips parted. The coolness of his touch soothed her, calmed her. “Yes. Temporary.”

Katza sank into his touch, relieved. He was right. She’d done no lasting harm. And if the protesters learned to respect the Silovs—if they learned to respect her—and she in turn learned the proper boundaries for her gifts—

He smiled at her. “Once you’ve realized your power,” Ravin said, “your work can truly begin.”


Other Books by Lindsay Smith

DREAM STRIDER  http://amzn.to/2EEox6y

Author Bio:
Lindsay is the author of the young adult novels SekretDreamstrider, and A Darkly Beating Heart, and is the showrunner and lead writer for Serial Box's The Witch Who Came In From the Cold. Her work has appeared on Tor.com and in the anthologies A Tyranny of Petticoats, Strange Romance Vol. 3, and Toil & Trouble, and she has written for Green Ronin Publishing's RPG properties. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband and dog.

 ​



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Promo: ONE NIGHT IN HAVANA by KATHLEEN ROWLAND

One Night in Havana 

#34 in the City Nights Series from Tirgearr Publishing
by Kathleen Rowland

Kathleen will be awarding 3 lucky winners a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate. Winners will be chosen randomly with Rafflecopter. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other tour stops. You may find those locations here. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway



  About the Book:   A desperate competition and sizzling attraction leads to dangerous desire. New York Marine biologist Veronica “Roni” Keane is attending the Havana Bay Conference in Cuba. Tomorrow only one grant will be awarded which will provide the winner with professional recognition, resources for a project, and living expenses for two years. She hopes to continue her deceased father’s work, but smooth operator, Carlos Montoya, has won many grants in the past. Carlos, a freelancer for the Havana Port Authority, works to help protect Havana’s reputation as a bastion of safety. As international travelers flock to the island, attracted by its 1950’s time-warp and colonial architecture, the drug business is running rampant, particularly on Roni’s cruise ship. Something’s not right, and when her scuba tanks are tampered with, Carlos brings in the military police to investigate. For her safety, he keeps her close, but he craves her body. Their attraction leads to a fun night with a bit of kink. But Roni finds herself in more trouble than she bargained for when the criminals blame her for alerting the military police and come looking for her. Can Roni trust Carlos to protect her? Will she stay in Havana if Carlos wins the coveted grant, or kiss her lover goodbye?
An erotic romance with mystery. 

Amazon Buy Link


Excerpt:

-- Chapter One
“Why, Veronica Keane.” A voice heavy with a Spanish accent drawled from behind her. “A dive bar?” A taunting tsk. “What do we have? A slumming New Yorker?”
She stiffened and closed her eyes. She knew that voice and its owner, Dr. Carlos Montoya, a finalist like her, competing for the same damn grant at the biggest Cephalopoda conference of the decade. Her heart pitter-pattered against her ribs. To turn toward him would intimate distress, or worse yet, weakness. She wouldn’t fail to win this grant, not when she was a final contender. “I like this funky little place.” Sia Macario Café, smack in the center of Havana, allowed her to observe locals and their daily lives.
“You need to eat with all the mojitos you’ve downed.” The big tease wasn’t  counting. This was her first drink, but his rumbling, sexy timbre hinted at all kinds of dark, hot promises. She’d rubbed shoulders with the Cuban scientist all week. This splendid specimen of Latin male brought on a physical ache that punched low.
A flare-up stirred fear. For her own good, she needed to resist. “I ordered camarones enchiladas.” By now she knew the menu on the chalkboard by heart. She tipped her head back to whiff grilled shrimp soon to arrive in sofrito sauce with fried sweet plantains.
“The flan is good. Just like my abuela makes.”
“I bet. Your grandmother would be happy to hear that,” she said, knowing he brought out the best in most people. Two days ago he'd invited her and a handful of others scuba diving. The chance to ogle him had been one of the perks. He’d worn nothing but swim trunks, his bare chest on display. Every glistening muscle was finely etched. Not a drop of fat on him. Since he’d not given her the time of day, she’d checked him out without him noticing.
The hard-bodied host had led the way toward habitats of soft-bodied creatures. To find where invertebrates lived was never an easy task. Octopuses squeezed into narrow passages of coral for protection and gave females a place to keep their eggs. She’d discovered the remains of a few meals nearby.Octopuses scattered rocks and shells to help them hide.
 This grant meant so much to her and no doubt to him as well. Veronica mindlessly toyed with the gold necklace around her neck, but anxiety crackled through her brain. Unlike this man of action, she lacked the flamboyant personality necessary to talk people into things. Carlos had that ability. He'd made friends with judges on board while she’d conversed with an older woman about a box of scones made with Cuban vanilla cream.
That day the wind had picked up to a gale force, and this woman named Bela with Lucille Ball red hair needed help walking to her home. The half mile down the seaside promenade, The Malecón, had provided her with time to practice her Spanish. Turned out Bela was Carlos’s grandmother. She’d worked as a maid when the Castro government came to power. When private homes were nationalized, titles were handed over to the dwelling occupants. Bela owned a crumbling home in the respected Verdado district and rented out rooms.
What Veronica detested about Carlos was his abnormal level of talent for schmoozing. Not that he wasn't charismatic; he drew her like a powerful magnet with emotions hard to untangle. Why was a self-assured woman who ran her own life thinking about a man who commanded everyone around him?
She inhaled a breath and turned around on the barstool, caught fast by a gut punch of Carlos Montoya in the flesh. She sighed and surrendered to the tendrils of want sliding up between her thighs.
Tall and muscular, his lush dark hair curled to his collar giving him a wild, roguish appearance. His face was lean and chiseled. His mouth full and tempting. His eyes the smoky-gray of a grass fire and fringed with black lashes as dense as paintbrushes. He smiled. A faint hint of mockery curved his mouth, a sensual mouth she imagined to be either inviting or cruel. Or both at the same time when he leaned over a woman with a diamond-hard gleam in his dark eyes while she drowned with pleasure. She fought a fierce desire to run her hand across his broad chest, tip her face upward, and…
His breath tickled her face.
Not going there. She blinked and forced her mind to focus. Carlos Montoya was not the kind of man you lost focus around. But that image of putting her mouth full on his and peeling away his shirt once introduced in her mind was impossible to expunge. Pointless even to try.
He was an intimidating blend of intellect and sexy danger. Both qualities had her leaning back against the bar’s edge. If it weren’t for him, she’d have a chance at winning the grant.
His lips twitched. “You’re staying on one of the cruise ships, am I right?” He rolled up the sleeves of his linen jacket to reveal a dusting of manly hair.
”Yes." Her cabin served as her hotel room while attending the January meetings with perfect high-seventies temperatures. His eyes locked with hers. She willed herself to move and yet she remained seated, clutching heat between her legs, a wetness so intense that her breath stalled in her chest while her heart hammered faster. Soon she’d return to freezing New York City.
“So, Bonita, give.” He slid onto the bar stool next to her. “What brings you down from a lofty ship to grace us lowly Cubans with your presence?”
Bonita. Pretty lady was not an endearment coming from the mouth curved in a taunting smile, but not a slight either. Not with his deep, melodic voice speaking words as if he knew secrets about her. What secrets did he know? Would he pry into her personal life? She doubted this bad-boy college professor acknowledged boundaries.
“Just drinks and dinner.” She scrambled for composure. “Aren’t we attending a world-class conference? I find the local population to be friendly and kind. That’s not slumming.”
The bartender set down a saoco. “Hope you like it, senorita.”
“Gracias,” she said. “Very nice, served in a coconut.”
“Ah, the saoco,” Carlos said. “Rum, lime juice, sugar, and ice. The saoco,” he repeated, disbelief heavy in his words. “Um. Wow. Once used as a tonic for prisoners of the revolution.”
“Medicinal?” She couldn’t help it. She chuckled and sounded as if a rusty spoon had scraped her throat raw, but it was genuine. The warm glow in its wake was welcome and needed. .
He leaned an elbow on the bar, his beer bottle with the green-and-red Cristal label dangling between his fingers. “Be careful with that one.” He dipped his head toward the front door as if he needed to go somewhere soon.
That fast, the glow snuffed out. She cleared her throat and gripped the fuzzy surface of the coconut container.
He placed a five-peso coin with a brass plug on the counter and whirled it. The spinning motion mirrored a dizzying attraction going on in low parts of her belly.
She cleared her wayward mind and nodded toward artwork on the opposite wall. “I plan to buy a painting tonight.”
“Don’t buy anything unless the seller gives you a certificate. You’ll need one to take art from Cuba. Artists deal in euros in case you don’t have pesos.”
She’d come prepared but said, “Thanks for the info.”
His coal-black eyes widened as he gazed from her head down to the tiny straps around her ankles as if she wore high heels and nothing else. “You give off a Barbie doll image,” he replied and stood up.
“Huh?”
“Where’s Ken, anyway? Kenneth Morton. He came with you to the talks in Antarctica. Five years ago.” He grinned, and the mortification in her belly gave way to a longing which she had no business feeling toward her competitor.
“Ken and I broke up.” She hesitated for a moment. “You have a gift for remembering names. Like a salesman.”
“A person’s name is, to that person, the most important and sweetest sound. Back then I introduced myself to Ken in the men’s room.”
“I remember now. Didn’t you give a talk on a specialized pigment in the octopus?”
“Ahh, si.” He splayed his fingers over his chest. “A pigment in their blood is—”
 “—called hemocyanin. Turns their blood blue and helps them survive subfreezing temperatures. Were you awarded something?”
“The antifreeze protein grant? No. It went to a deep-diving photographer. He wasn’t chicken about getting lost or trapped under the ice.”
She slid from her stool and strutted around, jutting her chin in and out like a chicken. “Bock, bock, bock, bock, bock, begowwwwk.”
He chuckled. “Cute chicken dance. Very cute in that skimpy black dress.”
Her cheeks heated, and she clutched her necklace. He’d seen plenty of women in body-fitting attire. In Cuba, women wore dresses to meetings. If she'd harnessed sexier mojo, she’d have livened up presentations. Her presentations with an abundance of dull data went south. She slid back against her stool and clutched her purse to her stomach as if the small satin bag could calm the nerves playing deep down kickball. She belonged in her tidy New York office filled with computers, modems, and research manuals. Not in this softly lit café where passion oozed from a man’s pores, and artists displayed their canvases. Here was where Havana’s trendsetters congregated, and Ernest Hemingway wrote about desire.
“Good luck with your purchases, Veronica Keane.”
Okay, so they weren’t going to pretend they were going head to head for the grant.
As if he had more to say, he grinned at her, his perfect white teeth flashing.. “Do you find us different, like apples and oranges?”
“What am I, an apple or an orange?”
“Hmm. You’re an apple.” He was doing that sexy voice thing which made her brain shut down. Heady. 
It started with an unexpected spark, an instant attraction, the jolting jab of oh-I’m-feeling-something. Something like a flashfire in her belly, but now they were talking. “Am I the apple of desire? Want to take a bite out of me?” She pulled in a breath. Had she really said that?
Bonita, do I ever.”
“Tomorrow is the final ceremony.” Would she watch him walk to the podium to accept the grant? 



About the Author: 

Book Buyers Best finalist Kathleen Rowland is devoted to giving her readers fast-paced, high-stakes suspense with an erotic love story sure to melt their hearts.  Her latest release is One Night in Havana, #34 in the City Nights series.
Kathleen also has a steamy romantic suspense series with Tirgearr Publishing, Deadly Alliance is followed by Unholy Alliance. Keep an icy drink handy while reading these sizzling stories.
Kathleen used to write computer programs but now writes novels.   She grew up in Iowa where she caught lightning bugs, ran barefoot, and raced her sailboat on Lake Okoboji.  Now she wears flip-flops and sails with her husband, Gerry, on Newport Harbor but wishes there were lightning bugs in California.
Kathleen exists happily with her witty CPA husband, Gerry, in their 70’s poolside retreat in Southern California where she adores time spent with visiting grandchildren, dogs, one bunny, and noisy neighbors.  While proud of their five children who’ve flown the coop, she appreciates the luxury of time to write.

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