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Monday, December 31, 2012

It's That Time of Year - Again

2012 is coming to an end and I think the biggest lesson learned was never to trust the Mayans again!

Many of us will be up until midnight ready to toast in the New Year.  Some will be at lavish parties, others will be hanging out with friends, or at your favorite nightspot, or home on the couch watching the ball drop in Times Square.  Me, I will be at a party with friends, eating more than I should.  A few years ago I was at this same party and the host made the most delicious punch.  It did not taste like there was any alcohol in it and even though I had been warned, I probably had more than I should. Okay, there is no "probably" about it.  Below is a picture taken of me signing "Dance: Ten; Looks: Three". Given this was a community theatre crowd the music selections for the evening were from musicals and something moved me to join in on the song that was currently playing.  I am just thankful there was only a camera and nobody recorded that moment.  Had they, I would be living no differently than those in witness protection.  I love musicals but my performances are better suited for the the shower.  I wish it were forgotten by everyone and just when I think it has, a reference to "Ti. . . ." (well, I can' really type that lyric here) is directed toward me.

Now that I've shared that humiliating moment I guess I can't put off the purpose of this post any longer. It is RESOLUTION time.  I read a quote once, and I really wish I knew who had said this so I could give them credit, but I don't. I have a suspicion I read it on Facebook.  Remember when all great quotes came from great books? Now they seem to come from Facebook and Pinterest.  Oh, how far we have fallen - lol.

The quote went something like this:  "New Year's resolutions are like crying babies in church. Both should be taken out immediately."

I can't remember when I first read and/or heard the quote but it stuck with me.   If anyone knows who said it first, please let me know so I can give them credit for the quote.

So here it goes:

Personal Goals
1)   Eat healthier
2)   Exercise more regularly (actually, any exercise at all would be an improvement).  The whole thinking about exercise hasn't gotten me very far this year.
3)   Try different wines (I tend to avoid reds and it is so narrow-minded of me)
4)    Listen to 24 audiobooks (I signed up for a challenge and this is probably the easiest goal)
5)   Be better about attending church (I have been a serious slacker this year)

1)   Write every day, even if it is only for 15 minutes.
2)   Visit more blogs.  There are a lot of cool ones out there. Actually I should correct that because I do read a number of blogs, I just rarely comment.  I will fix that.
3)   Be more active on Twitter
4)   Figure Pinterest out
5)  Meet more people at conferences (this is the toughest of them all.  I am very, very, very uncomfortable simply starting up a conversation with strangers and tend to stick with the ladies I know) I am in awe when I see my fellow authors and critique partners talk to anyone and everyone.  It has never been anything I can do.  I am much more comfortable at a keyboard.
6)  Complete the fourth book for A Gentleman's Guide (Noah has waited long enough); Complete the fifth and sixth Tenacious Trents novels; finish the last of the To Love a Governess series and DO NOT EVEN think about working on the others that are calling to me.  They will simply have to wait their turn or nothing will get finished.

So, how about you? What are your resolutions this year?

Happy New Year and may 2013 be your best year yet!

Jane Charles
also writing as Amy De Trempe

Friday, December 28, 2012

Lady Scribes Welcomes Zoe Dawson!

The Memories of Holidays Past

They reside in our minds just waiting to once again form and in a way haunt us.  I’m talking about ornaments that are a tradition of many people.  The ones I cherish most are the ones that were made by my children.

This ornament is one of three.  I bought this kit at Micheal’s as a fun holiday project for us to do.  We had so much fun.  I taught my daughters how to use a needle to sew up the two halves of the ornament, but leave a small hole for the batting.  You can see where it was stitched.  I helped my daughter’s with the mouth because that was a bit tricky.  I think it’s endearing that the rosy cheeks aren’t quite level.

I got this one from a secret santa party at work.  Everyone draws names and you buy a gift for that particular person.  The fun part came with trying to get it into their office when they weren’t looking.  It had to just appear.  It was so nice to find the gaily wrapped box with this happy guy inside that year.

This wreath is very simple and made out of beads on a yarn string.  But I put this on the tree every year to remind myself about humility.  Being a single mother, some Christmases were tough.   My church had The Giving Tree and I put my daughters’ names on that year because I couldn’t afford presents.  I got two of these in the box of goodies my church dropped off a week before Christmas.  I was overcome.

Then there are just fun ornaments.  My oldest daughter loved this Winnie the Pooh character and when we found it in the store we, of course, had to have it.  Love his cute whimsical smile and the jingle bells.

These are two of my favorite reindeer that my daughters made.  The first one are my daughter’s thumbprints and the second is a clothespin with googly eyes and a fur ball nose.  Love them.  They evoke so many memories of my children growing up.

And that brings me to my last ornament.  This is a symbol of the novels I’ve completed in my Going to the Dogs series.  Who doesn’t love furry, lovable dogs?

Tell me about some of your traditions.  Anything that evokes memories of the Holidays for you.

Zoe Dawson is the alter ego of Karen Anders, award winning, multi-published author for Harlequin. Her writing journey started with poetry and branched out into fiction. With a couple of college English courses under her belt, she penned a historical, then moved onto contemporary romance fiction. Today, she is happy producing romantic suspense, romantic mystery, and paranormal novels. The words feed her soul and the happily ever afters feed her heart.   Leashed is the first book in the Going to the Dogs series.  Groomed for Murder, Book #2 is scheduled to release this month!  Check her blog for the cover reveal this Saturday, December 22.

For more information, visit Zoe on her Website | Twitter | Facebook | Blog

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

The amazingly talented Carly Phillips tagged me in this new blog hop … so I get to answer ten questions about my “Next Big Thing” and tag another 2 victims … and they continue the madness! The good news for you is that you get to find out a little something about what your favorite authors are up to while being introduced to authors who might be new to you. And you don’t have to do anything in return. 

Coming February 2013
1. What is the working title of your book?

Just Desserts

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
I had to think of a way to get Sebastian Romanov to Holland Springs *and* how to work in the whole Christian and Sebastian's dad bought a title.

Turns out, after a little research, there are quite a few titles needing their heirs due to the Crown taking them (the titles, not the heirs) for committing treason during WWI. It was called the Titles Deprivation Act of 1917.

And since we all know Vladimir Romanov is ruthless as all get out...I won't spoil exactly how he claimed the title. You'll have to read the book. ;)

3. What is the genre of the book?

Contemporary, and while it's small town, Sebastian and Daisy take a long trip to England. :)

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Paul Walker and whoever this girl is beside him on my Holland Springs Pinterest Page. ;)

5.What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

The new earl of Spenserfield has a problem only a fake engagement to Holland Springs favorite caterer can solve, but as fake turns real will Sebastian's inability to reconcile himself with his past make Daisy serve him his just desserts instead?

(I also like to refer to this as 21st Century Downton Abbey meets one generation removed from Dukes of Hazzard. heh! ) 

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency/publisher?


7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
About one month. I wrote it during Nano. :) Now I'm polishing, polishing before I send it to my editor and beta readers.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I have no idea. :) Honestly, this book lets me indulge my historical fantasies with the whole aristocracy and commoner aspect, and I'm totally excited! 

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My readers. They've been clamoring for Sebastian's story and I am more than happy to give it to them! :)

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Let's see...One Hot earl, a fake engagement, tattoos and a wicked piercing. 

My tagged authors/victims up next are:   Andris Bear 

What have you read or watched lately that seemed like a mash-up of 

two genres or completely opposite works? (I'm still waiting to see the 

Abraham Lincoln and Vampires movie. )

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Can You Always Get What You Want?

By Samantha Grace

When I was a young girl, one of my favorite things to do the day after Christmas was compare gifts with my best friend. She was an only child and the only grandchild on her dad’s side of the family, so needless to say I usually felt jealous at the end of our show-and-tell.

I grew up in a working class family of five. Our parents managed to give us a good Christmas every year, but we couldn’t afford speed skates or that awesome leather jacket I wanted so badly. At the time, I was devastated. I was so sure that jacket was going to change my life for the better. Now I will never, never know. (Oh, the drama!!!)

Fast-forward many years, and I see the value in not always having everything you want. For one thing, there is joy in living in the moment and appreciating what you have. Then there can be great pleasure in longing for something with all your heart.  You imagine what your life will be like once you have it. Maybe you make plans for how you’re going to get it. Perhaps it becomes your passion, something to look forward to.

I heard about a study done with employees working in a very high stress environment where they had to have blood tests done at the end of every day to make sure they hadn’t been exposed to dangerous chemicals. The experimental group was given something fun to look forward to at the end of the week – i.e. a day off work attending a baseball game with the boss. The control group just went about their regular workweek, the poor schmucks. Well, wouldn’t you know it? The blood samples of the experimental group showed lower levels of stress hormones than the control group. It seems that having something exciting or fun on the horizon is healthier for us.

So, if you didn’t get everything you wanted this year, take a moment to consider what you already have in your life. Here’s my list for 2012:
My health
My family
A home
Good friends (even more than I started with in January 2012)
Closer connections with my fellow Lady Scribes thanks to the conferences I attended
Memories of a great family vacation
Three novels published

And here’s what I’m looking forward to so far this coming year:
Having our bathroom remodel finished
Annual Valley Fair trip with our kids
Attending the Romantic Times Convention in Kansas City
Attending RWA in Atlanta
Release day for my fourth book
Finishing two new books

Something I still really, really want:
I want to quit my day job (I don’t know if it will happen this year, but you can bet I’m dreaming about it!)

What about you? What great things do you already have? What are you looking forward to in 2013? What is something you still really, really want?

Monday, December 24, 2012

An Interview with Love Inspired Author Rachelle McCalla and a Giveaway

When I first appraoched Rachelle McCalla about visitng Lady Scribes, I warned her that my December spot was on Christmas Eve. "Is that OK? I totally understand if it's not." And Rachelle laughed and said, "As a minister and the wife of a pastor, that's a working day for us. Bring it on!" And so, she graciously consented to stop by today and talk about A Royal Marriage, her latest book for Love Inspired Historical.

Author Rachelle McCalla. Photograph supplied by the author.
 First, here's a brief introduction to Rachelle:

As far back as the fourth grade, Rachelle McCalla knew she wanted to be an astronaut.  Her best friend wanted to be an author, and so they argued about whose chosen profession was better.  Rachelle soon discovered she had no aptitude for science, math, or weightlessness.  She’s been writing ever since.

Rachelle is a graduate of Hastings College and the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, where she learned her husband’s Greek skills far surpassed her own.  Together they have served a variety of ministries in Iowa, South Carolina, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Nebraska.

When she’s not writing, Rachelle spends most of her time working on her servant’s heart with her four children as relentless but adorable taskmasters.  In her free time, she is an overly-creative cook, a distracted reader, and an avid gardener whose black thumb of death strikes fear into plants everywhere.  She is forever grateful to her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for his eternal love and forgiveness, to her family for their continued encouragement and support, and to her best friend from the fourth grade, who gave her the idea to write in the first place.

LG: What made you choose to write in the inspy genre?
RM: As a pastor’s wife and ordained minister myself, writing about my faith comes naturally.  In fact, I’m not entirely certain I could keep my faith out of my books if I wanted to!
LG: What's the biggest misconception about you as a writer?
RM: Ooh, that’s a tricky question.  I’ve been accused of writing “bodice rippers” because my publishing imprint, Love Inspired, is owned by Harlequin.  Fortunately, people who make that mistake have no clue what they’re talking about!  Every Love Inspired book I’ve ever read is a wholesome tale—as I tell my friends, you can share them with your granddaughters and grandmothers!
LG: How do you get in the mood to write?
RM: I have to have my morning coffee when I sit down to write.  I’ve tried cutting back on caffeine and switching to green tea, but the coffee gets me in gear better than any other beverage.
LG: Have you considered writing in another genre?
RM: I’d love to write books for the YA (Young Adult) market, unfortunately that’s a difficult market to break into right now—but I’m working on it!
LG: Name 1 historical figure who inspires you and why.
RM: Oh, there are so many historical figures I love.  My historical novel, A Royal Marriage, features a real historical figure, Gisela, one of the daughters of Charlemagne.  History records very little about her, only the dates of her birth and death, and a few references about Charlemagne’s family—nothing specific about what she did with her life or how she spent her years.  I’ve taken what little we know and filled in the gaps.  It’s a fun and inspirational tale.
LG: Finish this sentence: "If I couldn't write, I would..."

RM: Lately I’ve been thinking about joining the military.  My husband thinks I’m crazy.  But hey, I’m not too old to join the Air Reserves.  Do you think they’d teach me how to fly a plane?  That would be awesome!
LG: OK--now for the most important question of all--chocolate or vanilla?
RM: I’ve got to have my chocolate, and it’s got to be dark.  On the days I eat chocolate, I write more words than the days when I don’t have chocolate.  It’s that important!

Readers can find Rachelle on facebook, goodreads, twitter, and her website, http://www.rachellemccalla.com/ .

Rachelle, thank you so much for being our special Christmas Eve guest! Rachelle has graciously agreed to give away one copy of A Royal Marriage to one lucky commenter below. Please include your email address with your comment to be entered to win!

Despite her protests, Princess Gisela, headstrong daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne, must enter into a diplomatic marriage. Yet en route to her wedding, her ship is attacked and she's gravely injured. Rescued by a renowned healer, King John of Lydia, Gisela recuperates at his Mediterranean castle. The handsome, widowed ruler soon has her reevaluating her beliefs on love and marriage…but only if King John could be her groom. Their love is forbidden, and duty requires him to deliver her to her betrothed. Unless they can find a way to join their hearts—and kingdoms—with love, faith and honor.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Let's Start at the Beginning....

So. Since we are all still here (I'm assuming they don't have the Internet in the afterlife), I thought, let's not focus on The End. Let's talk about beginnings!
I love beginnings. 
My favorite part of writing a book is the first three chapters. Those first few sentences, actually, are almost always my favorite lines of the entire novel. 
Just about any beginning will do, though. When the plate at a restaurant first gets set down in front of me, I like to just look at it for a moment before digging in. I can hardly hold myself back from picking fruit or veggies from our gardens until they are ripe, I just want to use them so badly. When I buy a book at Barnes and Noble, I study the cover, read the back, then the dedication, the acknowledgements...sometimes I even read who published it and when it first came out, before opening to that first page!
In honor of the Non-Apocalypse, I decided to share some of my favorite personal beginnings, from the past few years, with you. Enjoy the show, and the first person who makes a Swallowed-A-Watermelon crack about my preggers pictures is going on The List. 
You've been warned.

My wedding day! I was dignified & elegant. Clearly.

Pregnant with the Prof. Really, really, pregnant.

Our first winter in our first house! We used that fireplace almost every day.
Poor Flat Stanley came to the hospital when I gave birth to Little Dude. He's still in therapy.
Last summer we tried a kitchen garden for the first time. Eh. Moderate success.
The Prof started Kindergarten last year too! That was huge, only having one kid at home.
This was an amazing career first for me. My first Romance Writers of America conference, this past summer.
Then in the fall, Little Dude started part-time preschool. And suddenly, I had blocks of writing time!
So I was able to THIS. The Lady and the Duke, my first independent novella, which I self-published online.
My first individual (Regency) Bestseller on Amazon. That is a HUGE first. HUGE.

Here's a little R.E.M. for you.... It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine!

What about you? What are some of your favorite firsts?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Grinchmas...

By Andris Bear, The Countess of Sass

So I'm having a bit of trouble connecting with my holiday spirit this year. Normally, I adore everything there is to adore about Christmas--the lights, the music, the food, the gifting and most definitely, the family.

It's the one time of year my natural tendencies--you know, the sweet docile ones--are tempered.


Road Rage? Never. Not with festive reindeer antlers sticking out of my car windows, no sir.

Snark? Why, I wrap her up tight with a pretty bow and tuck her away to be opened with the new year, fresh and rested.

This time of year brings out the best in me.
Yeah, about that...

I'm feeling super Grinchy.
I've never been so merry and bright.
It's no great secret why, but I still feel like a heel for wanting to boot Christmas right in the package.

From my husband's awesome promotion to Detective (Yay! *throws confetti*) and having to drop hundreds on a new and appropriate wardrobe to spending the last two weeks teaching middle-schoolers hopped up on "good cheer," I've not had any time to shop for those on my list.

 Add to that some very unexpected home repairs (love those!) and an upcoming 12 hour road trip with three kids and a dog....
Holly Jolly is soooo not what I'm feeling. In fact, I don't think I'll reach Holly or Jolly without the assistance of some very spiked eggnog (think 2/3 alcohol to 1/10 eggnog. You do the math).

I don't even like eggnog, but will that stop me?

No, no, it won't. I'm going to enjoy the nog right out of it.

My only coping mechanism is to withdraw into my writing, delving into the stories where anything and everything goes wrong and makes me happy. Because it's supposed to go wrong there.

Oh wait. I haven't a moment to scratch my butt in peace much less sit at my computer for two uninterrupted minutes. No wonder I'm staring down the barrel of a Grinchmas this year.

How is your season going? Ever had one that you just wanted to live through?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's All Nutcrackery in Here!

For eleven months of the year, I am not a collector.  I don't love knick knacks.  Or clutter.

Then December hits.  And I transform into someone else.  Christmas Deb.

This is the one time of the year I adore tchotchke's in general and Nutcrackers in particular.

It started when I was in college.  I had a huge crush on Mikhail Baryshnikov.  I discovered dance--as an appreciative audience member, not a performer.   The Nutcracker was the first full production ballet I attended. And I was hooked.  I've been in love ever since.

The collection started, not surprisingly, with my sister--who IS DEFINITELY a collector.  She gave me my first one as a gift the first year I was married--and I'll let you all see where it has led.

I just counted and I have 23 full sized Nutcrackers.  I have a particular affinity for historical or literary themed figures.  Above you can see my Highlander, Chimney Sweep, Eskimo and Pirate.  The boys gave me the Buzz Lightyear, because he was such a big part of their--all of our--lives.

Below you can check out my Sherlock Holmes, Shakespeare and my George Washington

These are Herr Drosselmeyer and the Mouse King from the ballet
This is my Georgian Dandy.  Check out his tasseled Hessian boots!

 And those are just the big ones.  I also have Nutcracker ornaments, pillows, placemats, name holders, mugs, and . . . you get the idea.

You'd think that would be enough, that I'd be satisfied.  But, no.  I have Nutcracker Envy.  My friend Marissa has a Captain Jack.  Want!  This year I found a gloriously tacky, golden Pharaoh that I cannot justify spending so much money on.  I once saw a Henry VIII, complete with turkey leg, that I could not afford.  It still haunts me.

I'm sick, I tell you.  Sick.  And I don't want to be cured.  I enjoy the heck out of my collection for a month out of the year, and then I pack them away and go back to my nice, uncluttered existence.

How about you?  Do you have a Christmas Collection?  Santas?  Rudolphs?  Snowmen?  Tell me I'm not alone in my obsession!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Disconnecting from Over-connection

Ahhh – the internet.  That great nameless, faceless void in the sky that simultaneously keeps us all connected while keeping us apart.  It is almost impossible to assimilate the fact that children born in the last decade have never known a world without this sort of technology.
And really, not just the internet. Cell phones have completely revolutionized the world as we know it. In many, many senses, that is a great thing. No more being stranded on the side of the road, hoping a stranger will stop and help. No more wondering if you need to buy milk, or if there is already some at the house. No more angst about whether a loved one is alright when they are a bit late. For this worrywart, those are all good things.
But in my opinion, we will never again have a true notion of solitude. We are connected to the rest of the world in a way that goes beyond a healthy relationship, into the obsessive, all up in each other’s business sort of way, where you are never alone.  People can’t even end a conversation before going to the bathroom! (Oh, don’t get me started on that). I think the result is, we have forgotten how to be alone. How to be quite, and still, and patient. 
With our smartphones in our hands, we have the internet, games, messaging, email—enough instant entertainment to keep a person occupied for decades.  Do we even remember the days when waiting in the doctor’s office meant exactly that—waiting? Or when we left the house, and we wouldn’t know who called until later that evening, when the red light was blinking on the answering machine?
When I think of life before cell phones, I think of the bliss of living in the moment. Multi-tasking was rubbing your belly while patting your head (which actually works out better than juggling emails, writing, and all the other tasks we try to cram into the same moment in time), and messaging was sitting down to write a letter using pen, paper, and *gasp* cursive.  There was no glow of electronic screens constantly bathing my face, no pings and beeps and wooshing punctuating the day.
Yes, I was young and with less responsibilities, but I know life was slower for everyone back then. And quieter. And less chaotic.  I realized recently that my cell phone is almost never out of my sight. Ever. It’s the last thing I look at before I go to bed, the first thing when I wake up, and my constant companion as I navigate the 50 million tasks of the day.
And you know what? I don’t like that anymore.  I’ve decided that I want to be out of contact a bit. I want to walk away from that siren device, cutting the invisible string that ties us.  I want to be unavailable for a few hours, and out of touch on occasion.
I want to remember what solitude feels like. Not loneliness—just privacy. Holding a few things to myself instead of sharing so much on a constant basis. I want to have something to talk about with friends when I see them that they haven’t already read on my Facebook page or on Twitter.  I miss sharing good news in person—don’t you?
So, for a little while, I’m going to try to take a step back. I’m going to leave my cell phone on the kitchen hours and walk away when I’m in the house. I’m going to turn off the notifications, choosing instead to check on things in my own time.
Who knows—maybe I’ll relearn what it feels like to not instantly know what tomorrow’s weather is, or when Genghis Khan roamed, or how many movies Clint Eastwood has directed. Crazy, huh?

So tell me—how attached are you to your cell phone? Are you ever more than a stones’ throw from it? Do you remember what it was like before they were invented?  I’ll warn you in advance that I’m working the day job today during the Christmas rush, so I won’t get back here until this evening. Fitting, no? ;)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Release Day is Here!

It’s hard for me to believe my second release day is here! Sometimes, I feel like I may wake up from a dream. I can recall a time not so long ago that I only imagined being a published writer and now my second book in my Whisper of Scandal Series, CONSPIRING WITH A ROGUE, is hitting the shelves. The characters in this book are near and dear to my heart. I started developing them years ago when I came up with the original idea for the first book in the series, BARGAINING WITH A RAKE. Back then, I didn’t realize I was embarking on a series, but Whitney, Drake, Sally and Peter took on a life of their own and I knew I had to continue the story. Little did I know in continuing with a second book new characters would evolve and lo and behold I would need a third book and a fourth to make sure all my wacky characters got their chance to find glorious love.

I am super excited to bring you the second book in the series. I hope the suspense and chemistry leave your breathless! Here is a little peek!

In order to save the man she loves from the enemy bent on destroying her, Lady Whitney Rutherford sheds her identity and escapes her past, making a new life for herself as Mr. Roger Wentworth, missing person locator extraordinaire. But when Whitney's best friend from her old life comes up missing and there is every indication the girl was taken by the debauched members of a sex club, Whitney dons a new disguise and infiltrates the sex club, determined to unravel the mystery and save her friend. She never expects to encounter Drake Sutherland―the man who still has her heart. In the dark world of pleasure and sin, Whitney must play a dangerous game and one wrong move could mean the death of her friend or the destruction of the man she loves.

Lord Cadogan leapt off Whitney, but before he could gain his feet, a hooded figure, who Whitney judged to be Drake by the height and the broad breadth of his shoulders, kicked his booted foot out connecting squarely with Lord Cadogan’s nose. A sickening crunch filled her ears. She expected Lord Cadogan to cry out in pain, but the man slumped to the ground, his head hitting the hardwood floor with a thump.

“You’ve killed him,” she whispered, watching as a line of blood dripped down the side of Lord Cadogan’s face and dropped into a dark circle on the wood.

A dark hooded cloak fell beside her causing her to glance up. Drake, looking more enraged than she’d ever seen him, bent in front of Lord Cadogan and pressed his fingers to the man’s neck. “He’s still alive, for now.”

“Did you intend to kill him?” She could hardly imagine Drake hurting anyone, but as his gaze raked over her, pausing on her exposed thighs, and his fist clenched and unclenched spasmodically, she reconsidered what he might be capable of.

Drake leaned back on his haunches, his face twisting into an expression of pain. “Did he…?”

She could hear him swallow repeatedly. It took a moment for her mind to muddle through what he was asking her, but his gaze glued to her rumpled, pushed up costume and her bared thighs made his concern clear. “No,” she answered, hastily snatching her costume down as she remembered her state and the fact that her cousin and Audrey were standing quietly by the door.

Drake was clutching her before she could completely cover her legs. His warm hands griped her arm and he drew her close to him. His labored breathing filled her ears as he brought his lips to her forehead and pressed a kiss to her skin. “Whitney.”

The two syllables were more of a ragged moan than a word. In that moment, she understood what seeing her walk out of the room with Lord Cadogan had done to Drake. What must he have imagined? Her heart swelled with love and regret. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, raising his hands to hers and kissing his fingers.

She half expected some sort of declaration of affection or relief. Instead, Drake’s eyes turned steely, his gaze darkening to almost black. “I’m going to turn you over and whip your backside when we’re away from this place,” he threatened in a tone that brooked no doubt. “I said go nowhere alone with him.”

“I had to go. I have to help Lillian. And now I know where she is.”

“And exactly what did you do to obtain that information?”

“Nothing more than a kiss,” she replied scrambling to her feet.

Drake rose before her, but his eyes remained on Lord Cadogan. “If I’d not found you in time he would have used you in the worst way.”

She rested a hand on Drake’s arm. “But you did find me. All is well.”

“For you,” he said, flinging her arm from his hand and facing Lord Cadogan. “Not for me. All I can see is him looming over you, his hands on your body. Your fearful face. Sin, take them out,” Drake said, not turning to look at her or her cousin.

“Drake, no!” She stepped toward him as he stepped away. Sin’s hand curled around her arm like a vise and dragged her backwards and out the door. It slammed in her face with a deafening smack.

“Sin, let me go,” she demanded, twisting her arm to no avail.

“No,” he clipped. “What did you think would happen? Silly woman. He loves you. Do you think he’ll simply stand by and let another man touch you?”

She hadn’t thought. She hadn’t considered. She glanced at Audrey, but Audrey hurriedly averted her eyes. “He can’t kill him,”she pleaded.

“He’s not an imbecile, Whitney. He won’t kill him. But I’d bet my fortune Lord Cadogan won’t forget you belong to another.”

One thing my characters in this series have in common is that they seem to thumb their noses at the rules constraining them in order to protect, find and hold onto love. Have you ever broken any rules for love? One lucky commenter will win a $35.00 Amazon gift card. Make sure to leave your e-mail so I can contact you!

CONSPIRING WITH A ROGUE can be found at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Now on to some other fun things. Carla Swafford one of my local Southern Magic writing group fellow members and sexy romance writer extraordinaire asked me to participate in a blog hop! I was excited to do it, but I have to admit I dropped the ball and did not ask any one else to follow me. This week has been crazy! I've been sick-can you hear me coughing?, I've had a dinner party to plan, a birthday party to plan, company in town and Christmas looming! So I won't be tagging anyone other than Carla. You can find her awesome blog and amazing books at: http://www.carlaswafford.com/.

I was asked to talk about a work in progress and I'm thrilled to be sharing a bit about my next book slated for release , LORD OF DECEPTION, which will be a departure from my Whisper of Scandal series. Onto the questions I was supposed to answer.

What is the working title of your book? LORD OF DECEPTION

Where did the idea come from for the book? I have always been fascinated with King George III.

What genre does your book fall under? Regency Romantic Suspense!

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie? If I was selecting actors to play the hero and heroine in LORD OF DECEPTION I would pick Henry Cavill to play Grey Adlard and I would chose Tamzin Merchant to play Madelaine.

What is a one sentence synopsis of your book? As Napoleon advances and King George III sinks deeper into insanity, Lady Madelaine Aldridge must prove her father’s innocence in order to save his life, and her only hope for survival seems to be the scoundrel who broke her heart, Lord Grey Adlard.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? A year.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Hmm…that’s a hard one. I like to think my books are uniquely my own.

Who or What inspired you to write this book? I was inspired by my love for sweeping romance mingled with intrigue.

What else about your book might interest the reader? There is a scene in this book based on my life!

Now for a short excerpt! (This is when Madelaine is forced to play Grey's lover.)

            “Listen to me, Madelaine.  Brummell cannot help you.  No matter what you think.  I don’t know what your father dragged you into, or what he told you, but if your allegiance is not with the King then you are against him, against me.” 
            The certainty in Grey’s tone scared her.  What could she do?  She had to keep her promise to her father, and that meant she had to escape.  With her free hand, she struck hard at Grey’s groin.  He doubled over with a groan, releasing her arm.  She bolted out of her chair, but a hand like steel clamped around her arm once again and jerked her down into her seat with such force her teeth rattled. 
            She opened her mouth to scream and Grey’s mouth came down on hers, hard and seeking.  She pressed her lips together, but his thumb touched the bottom of her chin, forcing her to open for him.  To her horror, her body leapt in response to his warm invasion, heating, just as it had days ago.  Were they acting?  Was she?  Confusion reigned in her body as well as her mind.  He broke the kiss then wrapped his arm around her shoulder.  Something hard pressed into her side.  Glancing down, she confirmed what she suspected.  His pistol dug into her waist.
            “I hope you’re good at pretending,” he whispered.
            The fog in her head immediately cleared.  This was most definitely an act, and she needed to remember that.  She glanced across the table, hoping Louisa could help her, help them both.  Louisa gaped at her, fright evident in her darting eyes and flared nostrils.  Her gaze held steady on the pistol in Grey’s hand.
            Grey’s hard breathing resonated in her ears, while the heat from his arm enveloped her.  Fate could be cruel.  She had longed only days ago to be held against him in a lover’s embrace, and now that it had come, it was false, a game. 
            They were not lovers. 
            They were enemies.

Happy reading and Happy Holidays!

Julie Johnstone
The Marchioness of Mayhem