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Love Least Expected Author — Kris Calvert

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Kris Calvert

Roses are Wrong, Violets Taboo by Kris Calvert

On the night before Valentine’s Day, floral and greenhouse owner, Alexander Chase Tabeau should be preparing for the biggest day of his family’s business. Instead he’s drowning his sorrows at the Voodoo bar after burying the only real parent he’s ever known – his grandfather, Pops. The rugged and handsome man promised Pops he would get his life together, leaving behind a string of undesirable women and focusing on what was most important – family.

Rose Westwood has always known what she wanted and planned her life down to the tiniest detail. She’s packed up her belongings and is ready to take a new and challenging position with her company as their first female vice president. Not wanting to be alone on her last night in Tampa, she stumbles into what she never planned on – the best night of her life.

With nothing to lose and everything to gain, Rose and Chase spend one night confessing their hopes for the future and their failures of the past. After opening their hearts to one another, the morning after sheds new light on their destiny. Can one night together change them both forever?

About the Author:

Kris Calvert is a former copywriter and PR mercenary who after some coaxing, began writing romance novels. She loves alliteration, pearls and post-it notes. She’s married to the man of her dreams and lives in Lexington, Kentucky. She’s Momma to two kids, now in college – one at the University of Kentucky, and one at New York University -Tisch. She is also responsible for one very needy dog. When she’s not writing, she’s baking cupcakes.

WEBSITE

www.kriscalvert.com

FACEBOOK

www.facebook.com/kriscalvert30

TWITTER

https://twitter.com/kriscalvert

PINTEREST

http://www.pinterest.com/kpottorf/

NEWSLETTER

http://www.kriscalvert.com/#!blank/cu4c

Other books by Kris Calvert:

SEX, LIES & SWEET TEA BOOK 1

SEX, LIES & LIPSTICK BOOK 2

SEX, LIES & PEARLS BOOK 3

BE MINE NOVELLA 1

SPARKS FLY NOVELLA 2

Excerpt from Roses are Wrong, Violets Taboo

At first it was her purple dress that caught his eye. Then it was the fiery red hair she tossed with a flip of her hand as the wind blew in and projected her fresh smell into the old joint. When she turned around and began her catwalk into the bar, Alexander Chase Tabeau visibly caught his breath.

He didn’t realize he was staring until she caught his eye and raised one sexy brow in his direction. Embarrassed, he immediately turned back to his bourbon and drank it down in two swallows. He thought whomever belonged to the woman was one lucky son of a bitch.

Grey Goose martini up with a twist, please?”

Her voice was sweet and childlike and Chase took notice. He dropped his chin and placed his empty glass on the bar and turned without thinking in her direction.

She gave him a smile, and Chase reciprocated with a single nod. The tension he’d felt in his body all day seemed to dissipate if only for a split second and somehow his face relaxed into a casual smile.

Hi,” she said.

Hello,” Chase replied as he tapped the rim of his empty bourbon glass again.

Grey Goose martini up with a twist,” recounted the bartender as he tossed a cardboard coaster onto the bar top and carefully placed the full glass down without spilling.

The barkeep pointed to Chase. “Another?”

Chase nodded.

Rough day?” she asked as the bartender walked away.

Something like that,” Chase replied as he eyed her drink and then raised his eyebrow to her.

Yeah,” she replied. “Me too.”

I’m Chase. Chase Tabeau,” he said as he held out his hand.

Rose Westwood,” she replied, giving him a firm shake.

Chase turned back to the fresh bourbon and took a sip. His body was beginning to relax. Whether it was from the alcohol or the company he was unsure.

How many is that?” she asked with a smile as she sipped the top of the martini glass, trying not to spill.

I beg your pardon?” Chase asked, turning to look at her again.

How many bourbons?” Rose asked with an embarrassed shrug. “I mean, if you don’t mind me asking.”

Chase couldn’t tell if she thought he was drunk or if she was trying to save his soul. He answered her with no pretense. “Three.”

Okay then,” she said as she nodded to herself and lifted the martini glass to her lips.

Chase watched her every move and for a moment imagined her full red lips on his body. She placed her mouth on the frosted martini glass and took a sip. The clear vodka and vermouth washed against her lips as if in slow motion. Chase thought it was the sexiest thing he’d ever seen. Either that or the third bourbon had kicked in with a vengeance.

Okay then, what?” Chase asked, lowering his voice and moving in closer to the sexy redhead.

Rose Westwood turned and looked Chase dead in the eye and cocked her head. “I was just curious how many drinks it takes to have the courage to sit in a bar alone.”

Alone?” he asked

Yes,” she murmured as she lifted her glass to her lips again. “You are alone, aren’t you?”

Chase Tabeau softened his demeanor and for a bit forgot the long haul of the last six months of caring for Pops. The hospice workers, the pain meds and bedpans all left his mind and he focused on one thing – the beautiful Rose Westwood.

Well?” she asked.

I’m not alone if you’re here.”

Rose paused and gave Chase a tiny nod. “Good answer.”

Here’s a little about Kris:

Kris Calvert is a former copywriter and PR mercenary who after some coaxing, began writing romance novels. She loves alliteration, pearls and post-it notes. She’s married to the man of her dreams and lives in Lexington, Kentucky. She’s Momma to two kids, now in college – one at the University of Kentucky, and one at New York University -Tisch. She is also responsible for one very needy dog. When she’s not writing, she’s baking cupcakes.

 

Take a peek at Kris’ latest release:
http://www.amazon.com/Lies-Pearls-Moonlight-Magnolias-Novel-ebook/dp/B00P2S5H2Q/ref=asap_B00GQP4E46_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416853739&sr=1-1

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Love Least Expected – Meet Katie Stephens

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Alphabetical Disorder
Everyone in Mason’s Circus understands and respects the powers of the resident gypsies—the Romani tribe—and most steer clear of any involvement. But when Susie gets caught in a web of prophecy and magic that brings danger to the troupe, her non-Rom interpretation turns out to be flawed. She pushes aside the man of her dreams to date alphabetically, in the hopes of saving her circus family.
Sam has had his eye on Susie since she joined the company. He’s puzzled by her actions, but not blind to the way she responds to him. A patient man by nature, he battles his need to claim her immediately or allow her game to continue. When disaster strikes, they join forces with their Romani friends to stop the curse before it destroys the circus.

About the Author:

If you discovered a sealed box with “Katie’s memories” scribbled on the side, you’d find a lifetime of partially completed stories, plays and musicals. A retired music teacher and curriculum writer, Katie Stephens has opened that box and switched her need to create from music to literature. She writes both non-fiction and fiction, where she happily experiments with all genres.

When her muse takes a break, Katie is a staff reader for freeze frame fiction and a grant writer for the Empire & Great Jones Creative Arts Foundation. Although her grown children are scattered east and west across the country, she lives solidly in mid-America with three kitties and a husband who keeps asking when she’s really going to retire.

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Katie-Stephens-Author/1633141843579542

Twitter https://twitter.com/standardishue

Website http://standardishue.com/

Email standardishue@gmail.com

 

Praise for stories by Katie Stephens:

“It just resonated with me … I found it powerful.” –Bryan Thomas Schmidt (author)

“… an inspiring, involving story.” –Lisa Shea (owner/editor, Mused, the Bella Online Literary Review)


“Well written—poignant without being pitiful.” –Brian Lewis
(owner/editor, The Empire and Great Jones Creative Arts Foundation)

 

Publications:

Mused, the Bella Online Literary Review (Summer 2012, Spring 2014—includes featured author interview)

Spark, A Creative Anthology (Volume I—Spring 2013)

The Seven Deadly Sins: A YA Anthology (releasing Spring 2015)

A Family Genealogy

How Do I Do That? Series (Spring 2015)

 

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Alphabetical Disorder, Excerpt

She’d known Sam for years, thought about him, dreamed about him. Why had he never asked her out on a date?

She probably wasn’t his type.

Susie faced forward again. She couldn’t date Sam anyway. She wasn’t to S yet. She needed to find someone whose name began with … what was the next letter? Oh, yeah, J. Better yet, someone with a name using all the letters between J and R. Maybe there was someone out there with the name Quapolkman, Jr. Then she could skip all the way to S without breaking the rules. But that would defeat her purpose, wouldn’t it?

Um, Sam, do you know anyone—a man—whose name begins with J?”

J.” A small frown creased his forehead. “Well, there’s Jason, over in the clown troupe. Then there’s Jonathan in the arcade. And Jarod—”

Crap. I’m sorry, Sam.” Susie put her hand on his arm, turning him to face her. “I still can’t believe he’s dead. I mean, I know he was your friend, and—” She broke off, at a loss for words.

Sam looked away without speaking, but not before she saw grief and pain clouding his blue eyes from the recent suicide of the troupe’s Elephant Man. A muscle twitched as he clenched his jaw. She wanted to hug him.

So she did.

She put her arms around that handsome, perfect man and just held him. A moment later, his arms slid around her waist. They stood there for a few minutes, for an eternity, holding each other. His one hand slowly rubbed up and down her back. The other pulled her closer into his warmth. She lifted her head from his chest, and the next thing she knew, he kissed her.

Soft, sweet. A whisper of lips moving together, stroking over and over. Not one of those desperate kisses, with tongues and teeth clashing. Susie had never felt a kiss like Sam’s before. That feeling, brought on by the tenderness of his touch, fulfilled a yearning deep inside. She didn’t know if he noticed it or not. She became lost in the moment. Lost in him.

She lifted herself on her tiptoes, moved her arms up to surround his neck, caress his shoulders, pressing closer, wanting more. He never paused, just kept on melting her with those amazing kisses. Butterfly kisses. Angel kisses.

Minutes or hours later, Sam ended the kiss. Susie sighed as she opened her eyes and he smiled, his hands gliding down her arms, raising goose bumps.

What were you saying about the letter J, love?”

A small explosion inside her brain, like the magical poof as the rabbit disappeared, brought her back to reality. “Crap. I have to go.” She pulled back and headed for the stables, annoyed for breaking the rules.

Disappointment winged through her, and she wished again that she fully understood what the prophecy and cards had told her. Then maybe she could give up this half-assed alphabetical curse and concentrate on the man she wanted.

 

Love Least Expected Author: Valerie Twombly

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Love Least Expected Author: Valerie Twombly

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Any paranormal romance fans out there? Say hi to the lovely Ms. Valerie Twombly. She writes some pretty steamy stuff and you’re sure to find plenty of super-hot, supernatural men in her stories so definitely check her out! Here’s a little bit about Val:

As a child, Valerie would often get into trouble for peeking at her mother’s favorite TV show, Dark Shadows. She can still hear her mother saying “It will give you nightmares.” She was right of course, but that did not stop Valerie from watching. As an adult, her love of the fanged creatures never waned. She would watch any vampire movie she could find.

Being a true romantic, Valerie was thrilled when she discovered the genre of paranormal romance. Her first read was one of Lara Adrian’s, Midnight Breed Series and from there she was hooked.

Today, Valerie has decided to take her darker, sensual side and put it to paper. When she is not busy creating a world full of steamy, hot men and strong, seductive women, she juggles her time between a full-time job, hubby and her two German shepherd dogs, in Northern IL.

Valerie recently released a book with a smokin’ hot jinn. Add it to your #TBR list today:
http://www.amazon.com/Spanish-Nights-Seduction-Valerie-Twombly-ebook/dp/B00MQ7YNG2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416510266&sr=8-1&keywords=a+jinns+seduction

Valerie is a member of Romance Writers of America and Fantasy,
Futuristic and Paranormal Romance Writers.

Find Val on the web:
http://www.valerietwombly.com/
http://twitter.com/fangedfantasySee More

Paranormal Romance by Valerie Twombly – Valerie Twombly creates worlds full of steamy, hot men and strong, seductive…
valerietwombly.com
Did you know you don’t have to wait until Valentine’s Day? You can pre-order #LoveLeastExpected now!
When #love drops in unexpected, the strangest things can happen. Nine short #stories from sweet to #sultry, full of #romance, #magic and #love from award winning and USA Today recommended #authors.
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About Love Least Expected

When love drops in unexpected, the strangest things can happen. Nine short stories full of romance, magic and love from award winning and USA Today recommended authors.

Under The Mango Tree: (Historical Romance) ~ by Meredith Bond

Lakshmi is a good 18th c. Indian girl who should not be hiding among the branches of the mango tree avoiding her chores. She truly should not be seen by a man who is not a member of her family—an Englishman, no less. And she absolutely should not even contemplate speaking with this man. But Lakshmi has never been one to follow the rules.

Rolf’s Quest: (Historical Romance) ~ by Aubrey Wynne

Time is running out for the royal wizard of Henry II. Rolf’s quest: find genuine love and lift the enchantment that has imprisoned his ancestor, Merlin, for centuries. Now he must win Melissa’s heart without the use of magic. She desires him, but will she defy her family and refuse her betrothed? Or will Rolf be doomed to a life of bitterness like his ancestors before him.

Fall Into Darkness: (Paranormal Romance) ~ by Valerie Twombly

Eli, bounty hunter for the Tribunal, is sentenced to earth to find his humanity. But when temptation is thrown in the angel’s path in the form of the soft curvy Ashley, he is unable to resist. Fate may bring them together, but desire could bond them for eternity.

Roses Are Wrong, Violets Taboo: (Southern Romance) ~ by Kris Calvert

When Alexander Chase Tabeau and Rose Westwood meet by chance, neither planned on stumbling into the best night of their life. But timing is everything and fate has a cruel sense of humor. With love on the line and nothing to lose, will one night together change their destiny forever?

Alphabetical Disorder: (Fantasy Romance) ~ by Katie Stephens

When a trick horseback rider gets caught up in a dangerous prophecy that jeopardizes the circus, she believes she can solve the problem by dating alphabetically. Now all she has to do is figure out how to manipulate her flawed interpretation so she can be with the man she loves.

Love’s Not Viral: (Contemporary Romance) ~ by Nessie Strange

When a crazed Hollywood star puts Aster Sanderson in the media crosshairs, her home becomes a prison. With her life out of control, the last person she expects to rescue her is her captor’s brother, James. Is their attraction a result of circumstance…or could it be something more?

Taking The Plunge: (Contemporary Romance) ~ by Kishan Paul

When Pete, Eve’s high school crush, shows up in her life, she pepper sprays him. Despite her efforts to push him away, Pete finds himself drawn to the red haired beauty. When logic and emotion don’t agree, which path should she follow?

The Trouble With Never: (Southern Romance) ~ by Isabella Harper

When Summer and Caleb run into each other after a long absence, sparks fly. Her painful past makes it hard for her to open up, but he’s more than willing to help. He’s loved her most of their lives. Can she learn to love and trust him, or will her fears push him away?

Keep Calm And Eat Chocolate: (Contemporary Romance) ~ by Michaela Miles

When institution residents Elle and Chris meet, their personalities clash. During a quiet moment in the garden together, secrets are shared and a bond is formed. Will their connection be their downfall or lead to the fresh start they deserve?

 

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Did you know you don’t have to wait until Valentine’s Day? You can pre-order #LoveLeastExpected now!
When #love drops in unexpected, the strangest things can happen. Nine short #stories from sweet to #sultry, full of #romance, #magic and #love from award winning and USA Today recommended #authors.

All Romance https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-loveleastexpected-1681062-166.html

Amazon http://amzn.com/B00PMOM9NA

 

 

Enter below a chance to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card!!

Reaper Madness Release Day

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Reaper Madness Release Day

Reaper Madness (Living Dead World #2)
by Nessie Strange

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Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Etopia Press

Date of Publication: November 21, 2014

Blurb:

Jen MacLellan can’t get the hang of being a reaper. She’s been separated from her lover, Jack. She’s also stuck with that annoying telepathic link to her ill-tempered mentor, Sam. But when reapers start disappearing back on earth, Jen and Sam are recruited to help. Can they figure out what’s causing it before it’s too late?

Jack Norris has no memory prior to waking up on the half-demon Nulcifer’s couch six months earlier. As he begins to investigate his origins, he discovers a string of past lives, tied together by a beautiful, mysterious brunette. Does she really exist, and if she does, can he find her?

Fate reunites them after Sam falls victim to the attacks on earth. As they work to save Sam, can they rekindle what was lost? Or have things become too complicated…

Bio:

Nessie is a Massachusetts native and mother of two who has dabbled in everything from abstract painting to freelance sports reporting. She also loves a good story, whether it’s reading or writing one. Living Dead Girl and Reaper Madness, the first two novels in her urban fantasy Living Dead World series, were published by Etopia press in 2014.

On the Web:

http://nessieslivingdeadworld.blogspot.com
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorNessieStrange
https://twitter.com/NessieStrange
http://amazon.com/author/nessiestrange
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7463821.Nessie_Strange
http://www.pinterest.com/nessiestrange/

 

Other Works by Nessie Strange:

Living Dead Girl (Novel/Living Dead World #1) January 2014

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Add it on Goodreads

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Kobo
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Love’s Not Viral (short story/Love Least Expected anthology) February 2015

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Confessions of a Punk Rocker (Novel/connected to Living Dead World series) TBA 2015

 

Excerpt:

Sam wasn’t kidding when he said I had no idea what I was getting into. And now, as I stared Death in the face—literally—from an uncomfortable black leather executive chair, it occurred to me for the first time that I was in way over my head. Between the pinstriped suit and dark, slicked-back hair, he resembled a character from The Godfather more than a deity who ruled over the dead and dying. Death was one scary motherfucker. And he was smiling.

Care for a drink, Jennifer?”

I shook my head, but he rose anyway, retrieved two glasses from the cabinet behind him, and filled both with amber-colored liquid. “Relax, I’m not going to bite.”

That wasn’t what I was worried about.

Now, how long have you been with us? About six earth months?”

I cleared my throat. “Ah yes. About that long.”

I find it intriguing,” he said. “You have been telepathically linked to one of my reapers this entire time, yet you really demonstrate no capability when it comes to this job. One would think that would give you an edge, hmm?”

Ouch.

You’d think,” I laughed. OK, I sucked at it. It was only recently I’d been allowed to travel back to earth to help retrieve souls. Sam did most of the work, while I trailed behind, like one of those ankle-biting little purse dogs. What I wanted to know was why he’d insisted I do the job in the first place. I’d never asked to be a reaper. It wasn’t like I wanted this.

The occupation listed from your most recent incarnation on earth was a mortician, was it not? So you should be accustomed to working with the deceased and the sensitivities that go along with it.”

These two jobs are absolutely nothing alike.” Shit. I’d reacted again, lost my cool because of something he said. Now that my brain had caught up with my mouth, the fire snuffed out and with it went my nerve. I needed to learn to bite my tongue. Considering the habit crossed over with me from my last life, maybe that was wishful thinking. “Well, I mean, because when I was a mortician, those people didn’t talk back to me.”

Death studied me. “No, I don’t imagine they did.” He scrunched his lips up, his brow furrowed—the only hint of emotion I’d seen from him—but it quickly faded. “What exactly is it that’s holding you back or hanging you up? I’m just trying to understand here.”

Well, I guess some of it is that I feel bad for them. I want to make things easier, but Sam’s all about scaring them and intimidating and manipulating them. It doesn’t seem right. I mean, we’re their first point of contact with the afterlife; why does it have to be frightening?” I was doing it again. OK, I needed to breathe. “I just… I see the fear in their faces, and it tears at me. It doesn’t feel right. It’s not me.”

Fear makes them more pliable. Which in turn, makes your job easier when it’s time to collect.”

But I don’t…”

He held up a hand. “I don’t like excuses, Jennifer. You may not agree with all of the methods you have been taught, but you still need to learn them and be able to utilize all of them. Years down the line, when you actually have some experience, perhaps then you can develop your own strategies. For now, as a rookie in the division without a single reaping under your belt, you are obligated to follow the instruction of your mentor. Do you understand?”

 

 

Renea Mason’s Book 2 of Symphony of Light is Finally Out!!

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Renea Mason’s Book 2 of Symphony of Light is Finally Out!!

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Magic is no match for love…

 

   Trapped somewhere between life and death, demigod Cyril has lost the ability to communicate with his love. But not before giving her valuable lessons in magic, as well as his blessing to move on without him.

 

Coming to terms with Cyril’s absence isn’t easy, but Linden is doing her best to honor his wishes. Until she receives an unusual request from Moreaux, an estranged member of Cyril’s family. Bizarre things are going on with Mary, the former housekeeper, and Linden can’t let them go. But when her investigation leads to a mistake that nearly costs her life, Cyril’s best friend, Overton, steps in and violates a promise he made centuries before to bring her back from the dead.

 

Gratitude turns to comfort, comfort turns to desire, and desire leads Linden to a shocking revelation. In her charge to uncover the truth behind Mary and Moreaux, she discovers a spell she can’t undo without leaving wounds on her heart, wounds she knows will never heal…

 

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Etopia Press

Between the Waters
Symphony of Light Book 2
Renea Mason
Genre: Paranormal Erotic Romance
Length: Novel
Word Count: 63434
Page Count: 42
ISBN: 978-1-94169-20-66
Release Date: 05-15-14

 

Buy the book

Amazon.com (available at other international Amazon sites – Canada, UK etc.)

http://www.amazon.com/Between-Waters-Symphony-Light-Renea-ebook/dp/B00KD3P108/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1400247610&sr=8-1&keywords=Between+the+waters+Renea+Mason

BarnesandNoble.com

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1119535446?ean=2940149353644

All Romance eBooks

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-betweenthewaters-1515271-340.html

 

Check out the trailer for the book.

 

 

Coming Soon in 2014

 

Curing Doctor Vincent – An Erotic Novella Trilogy

 

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Renea Mason writes steamy romances to help even out the estrogen to testosterone imbalance caused by living in a house full of men.

 

When she isn’t putting pen to paper crafting sensual stories filled with supernatural lovers, she spends time with her beyond-supportive husband, two wonderful sons and three loving but needy cats.

 

Her debut novel, Symphony of Light and Winter, finished second for Best New Paranormal Series of 2013 in Paranormal Cravings’ Battle of the Books and received a third place award for Best New Paranormal Romance of 2013 in The Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewers Choice Awards.

 

Renea is a member of Romance Writers of America, The Paranormal Romance Guild and The Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal subchapter of the Romance Writers of America.

 

She is also a founding member of Coffee Talk Writers and the Coffee Talk website–a site designed to support established writers and foster new talent.

 

 

Follow Renea Mason

 

 

http://www.ReneaMason.com

 

http://www.Facebook.com/ReneaMasonAuthor

 

http://www.Facebook.com/symphonyoflightandwinter

 

http://www.Pinterest.com/ReneaMason

 

http://www.goodreads.com/ReneaMason

 

http://reneamason.tumblr.com/

 

https://twitter.com/ReneaMason1

 

S.ReneaMason@gmail.com

 

http://www.amazon.com/Renea-Mason/e/B00DIMOX2S/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

 

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Renea Mason’s Symphony of Light and Winter Blog Hop

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One woman. Seven men. All bound by one man’s undying devotion.

Fundraiser Linden Hill has a knack for reading people. She always knows which conversations will put a prospect at ease, which drink will loosen a patron’s lips—or his wallet, and how cleavage will make a donor sweeten the deal. She’s even foreseen her dateless weekends four hundred and sixty-four times in a row.

But ten years after watching life drain from her former mentor’s and first love’s eyes, her skills for divining the predictable are lost. When Cyril returns, he’s still gorgeous, but this time he’s beyond human, far less dead, and pissed. His lack of memory drives him to desperate acts, and his turbulent re-acquaintance with Linden pulls her into his war with a creature hell-bent on his destruction. His group of six supernatural men share a tantalizing secret, but despite the hunger, it’s love that leads her to sacrifice everything to save him…

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Excerpt from Symphony of Light and Winter

Your eyes are so lovely; please don’t hide them from me. Don’t be afraid. I would never hurt you.”

His sincerity must have been contagious because the words slipped through my lips without permission. “I know you’d never hurt me intentionally. It’s the unintentional consequences I fear.”

He brought his other hand up to cup my other cheek and, with my face firmly held he said, “Linden, I’m not fool enough to think that the gods don’t intentionally f**k with us.”

His use of that word was unexpected. Always a gentleman, but always something more carnal beneath the surface too. The inconsistency seemed natural.

But if that ever happens, I will spend forever trying to atone. Don’t turn away from me.” He stared at me for a moment and when his face started to move toward mine, I thought for sure he would kiss my lips, but instead he placed a lingering kiss to my forehead and pulled me into a hug. If he felt anything for me other than friendship, that was his moment to prove it. I had my answer. I gave a forced smile and pulled away.

Please, play,” he said while trailing his hand over my back.

Facing the piano, with my fingers lingering above the keys, I tried not to allow disappointment to lace my words. “How did you know about the song?” My racing heart slowed as I realized the kiss wouldn’t happen.

His response was casual. “I have very keen hearing and you start to hum it every time you walk away from me to return home. Where is the song from?”

Strange. Maybe I was louder than I thought.

I don’t know where I learned it. I think I made it up, but it’s hard to know for sure.”

It’s beautiful, please…” He motioned to the piano.

He stood and I pressed one key to test to see if it was in tune. Pitch-perfect, of course. I should have expected no less. I stretched to measure the distance to the pedals. After my assessment, I began to play. As I pressed the keys, I tried to forget he was even in the room, but that became impossible as he provided subtle hints as to how I should adjust my posture. He pushed back on my shoulders and lifted my elbows with a light touch. The adjustment made a difference, and in time my composition transitioned to something more graceful.

He placed his hands on my shoulders as he stood behind me and whispered, “Now relax, the music is in control. Give in to it. Let it take you, command you, while you find freedom in its control.”

His finger made small massaging circles on my neck and shoulders, and the more he touched me, the more at ease I became. I played better than I ever had.

He ran his hands up and down my forearms, coaxing the notes from my fingers as he whispered in my ear, “That’s it. You are much more relaxed. Music is energy, Linden. With energy, you must first make

yourself an attractive conduit. Energy does not like resistance. The less resistant you are, the more it can take hold, become stronger—make you stronger. Allow it to embody you, become one with you, and embrace its possession.” His breath teased as his words sent waves of electricity through me.

I added improvisational parts to the song I had never imagined. I played sequences far beyond my skill level without effort. As I neared the end of the song, the magical feeling broke down, and with it went my newfound ability. It was as if I took a drug to make me a better musician and it had begun to wear off, but I knew it wasn’t a drug. It was Cyril.

As the last notes breathed their final whisper to the air, I heard him say, “Well done! I bet you even surprised yourself.”

How did you do that?”

I didn’t do anything. I simply taught you to sit up and concentrate. Other than that, it was all you. Music can’t possess the unwilling.”

I shot him a suspicious glare. “All right…your turn.” I went to get up.

No, please stay. Let me see…I’ll play something you know. How about Beethoven’s Sonata quasi una fantasia? You may know it as the Moonlight Sonata.”

I nodded. He could have played Chopsticks and I would have been happy.

He began with the solemn phrasing of the piece. Every languid note held so much emotion. My fingers mindlessly stroked the side of his leg in the slow melodic tempo of the first movement. The mournful

timbre accented the sadness I felt knowing that every minute I stayed with him, it was going to be much harder to accept I could never have him.

I had only heard the first movement of the piece but as the somber melody transitioned into a more energetic strain, I knew it would be an experience I would never forget.

His enthusiastic gestures, the bounce of his hair as he pounded out the rapid notes, all added to the look of determination on his face. The notes were saturated in passion, and violence defined him. I watched him with intense concentration and wondered if he brought that same passion to his kisses, his bed, and his love. It would be a miracle if one person could harness him.

When he played the last note, his breathing was heavy and a thin film of perspiration coated the skin of his brow and neck. He looked down at the floor and then slowly into my eyes. That instant, the connection formed again. He reached up and brushed the hair from my face and I did the same to him, draping his thick, dark, sweat-moistened locks behind his ear.

That was magnificent. I’ve never…”

His hand reached up to cup my face. His thumb caressed my lower lip as I spoke.

Heard…or seen…anything like you. I mean that.”

He smiled and continued to outline my lip.

Linden…” he said with a breathy whisper, “there are so many things I want to show you, teach you. I want you to make me a promise.”

I answered without hesitation. “Yes.”

The way you are looking at me right now… Please, always look at me this way. Stare into my eyes and see me for who I am and know that there is nothing more than this. When the world calls things into question, you need not question me because I will always be here for you. The comfort I find in your eyes is new and frightening.”

I found it difficult to believe anything frightened this man. He cupped my cheek and with tenderness that mirrored his words, he caressed my face and trailed his hand to rest on my chest just below my neck. I wrapped my hand around his wrist, holding him to me.

He leaned in, pinning our arms between us, and breathed, “Promise me.”

I closed my eyes, reveling in his closeness, his scent, his heat. “OK.”

Good.”

He inhaled. “I will make you a promise in return. I cannot bring you into my world as I would like, so I will not ask you to indulge me further. I should let you go, but I’m sorry, I am far too selfish to break all ties. I do promise to always be your friend, your mentor.”

Deep down, hopeful he might love me and see me as a woman, I opened my eyes and managed a smile filled with sadness and disappointment.

Protégé was the title bestowed upon me, not girlfriend, lover, or wife. I looked away from him to try to pull back the tears that escaped my eyes.

Already breaking your promise?”

I looked up and he brushed my tears away with his thumb.

I’m not immune, Linden. I feel it too. I just need to be stronger than this, for you.” He pulled me into his embrace.

His arms were tight around me. He smiled but something sad lingered behind it. “It’s getting late. I should get you home.”

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About the author

Renea Mason writes steamy romances to help even out the estrogen to testosterone imbalance caused by living in a house full of men.

When she isn’t putting pen to paper crafting sensual stories filled with supernatural lovers, she spends time with her beyond-supportive husband, two wonderful sons and three loving but needy cats.

Renea is a member of Romance Writers of America, The Paranormal Romance Guild and The Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal subchapter of the Romance Writers of America.

She is also a founding member of the Coffee Talk Writers. http://coffeetalkwriters.com/

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