USA Today Article on Sexually Abused Male Heroes

One of the characters, Cam from BE MINE FOREVER, book 3 in my debut trilogy, is a very special character to me. He has always been my favorite of the BENNETT series. I know many readers felt the exact opposite, especially in books 1 and 2. And I get it. Completely. He made some real jerk moves in the first part of the series. I guess what I loved were the things the readers didn’t know about him yet. How tender and affectionate he could be. How much of a reprieve his art had been from the truly horrid existence of his childhood. The sexual abuse he had suffered and how it shaped him. Made him desperate enough for affirmation, affection, acceptance to marry a girl he didn’t love in the right way. To marry a girl he suspected loved his best friend.

So, yeah. There were things I knew that readers didn’t know yet.

I don’t see a lot of sexually abused heroes in romance, but I knew a few writers who had tackled this challenging topic. I talked with them and with the folks from 1in6, a national organization helping male sex abuse survivors for the piece I wrote for USA Today. The response was overwhelming. It was shared in so many places. At one point, a friend tagged me on  a comment on Facebook. When I went to check it out, she was posting in a thread Anne Rice had posted about my article. She called it interesting and encouraged her followers to read it. Yeah, that Anne Rice. Um…freak out.

I guess what I’m saying is that the article hit a nerve for many. Resonated with many. I hope, maybe, helps some who may have hesitated talking about their abuse. It was an article about sexually abused males in romantic fiction, but never have I been more conscious that the fiction I created was someone’s reality than when I wrote that piece.

Find the article HERE. Writing this helped me understand Cam even better. Maybe it will do the same for you. If you haven’t read BMF, all the links are below. :-)

 

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Candace Shaw’s MY KIND OF GIRL

I’m so pleased to have bestselling author and fellow Georgia peach Candace Shaw on the blog today! She has a sale going on and a fabulous excerpt to share with us! Take it away, Candace and thank you for being on deck! :-)

 

My Kind of Girl Bookcover Final

Book Spotlight from Candace Shaw

Thank you so much for letting me stop by to share an excerpt from my latest release, My Kind of Girl. It’s the 5th book in my contemporary romance series, the Arrrington Family. Enjoy!

Blurb

Dr. Sean Arrington loves his family, patients, and the ladies. With no interest in settling down with one woman, he dates women—who like him—just want to have fun with no commitment and no strings attached—unless they like being tied up. Literally. However, when he lands his eyes on the cute-dimpled, quirky botanist Traci Reed, something tugs at his heart and he figures rules can be broken.

Traci has been infatuated with the rivetingly handsome bad boy since his mother showed her Sean’s picture a few years ago. When he asks her to design the gardens in his backyard, Traci can’t refuse. After they share a heated first kiss, she can’t believe Sean actually has feelings for her. She’s drawn to his smooth charisma and intellect; however, she’s cautious for she knows he prefers his bachelor lifestyle. Can Sean prove to Traci she’s his kind of girl after all?

 

EXCERPT

Following the directions of his car’s navigation system, Sean made it to the Memphis Nursery on time. He shook off his tie—tossing it in the passenger seat—and unfastened the top two buttons of his dress shirt. He’d noticed the day before that Traci drove a lime green Volkswagen Bug. Odd car in his opinion, but then again it sort of went with her quirky personality. He glanced in the rearview mirror and spotted a flash of lime green pull into the lot and park next to his Porsche. She waved and fiddled around with her cell phone while he hurried out of the car and made his way to her driver’s door. After opening it, she glanced up at him with a weak smile and back to her cell phone screen which had a series of text messages he couldn’t make out. She shut it off and grabbed her purse from the passenger’s seat.

“Hi,” she said softly, placing her tennis shoe clad feet on the pavement.

Taking her hand, he helped her out and closed the car door. She was dressed casually in jeans and a yellow T-shirt that pulled against her cleavage. He was suddenly aroused, but remembered she wasn’t happy about something.

“Hey. Everything all right?”

“Yeah … just some family stuff. Ready to go flower shopping?” she asked in a more upbeat tone.

“Lead the way.”

For the next thirty minutes, they browsed a variety of flowers and plants for his tranquility hummingbird garden she was creating in the right corner of the yard. Traci informed him that a landscape company would arrive the next day to pull up the grass. The day after, another company would lay the pavers for the walking trails, along with a patio for the pergola and fire pit area.

“So if all goes well this week, I’ll be able to begin planting the hummingbird garden on Friday around two o’clock,” she said, glancing over the work order for the flowers that were scheduled for pick up on Friday.

“All these plants can’t fit in your little beetle.”

She stooped down to look at the leaves of a ground cover plant he’d noticed was also in his mother’s garden but couldn’t remember the name.

“I have a truck with a trailer. I do it all the time.” She stood and they continued walking along the trail of plants.

“Cool, and I’ll be home by that time to help you unload and plant. I only do half days on Fridays unless it’s an emergency.”

“Thank you. It shouldn’t take too long. I’m sure we’ll be done in time so you can hit the streets on Friday night.

“I don’t have any plans for this weekend.”

“Mmm … I’m sure someone will pop up.” Traci winked and sat on a bench in the middle of a slew of potted crepe myrtles.

Sitting next to her, he stretched out his long legs. “I hope not. What you saw yesterday was actually out of the norm. My pet peeve is people showing up unannounced. That’s one of the reasons I told her to leave.” And the other is since I’ve met you, I’ve only wanted you. Wait. What? Did I say that out loud? Realizing he hadn’t, he exhaled in his head.

Traci giggled. “Well, Ms. Thang was heated strutting down your sidewalk quite fiercely to her Range Rover.”

“She’ll be fine. She’s in New York and then off to Paris and Milan for the next four to six months. She’s not thinking about me nor am I thinking of her. Not that kind of relationship.”

“Of course. I’m sure you have other women to take her place while she’s gone.”

“Contrary to what you may think, I don’t have a bunch of women lined up waiting. I go through dry spells like every other single person.”

“You just prefer to stay single.”

“Yes. And you? How’s your dating life?”

She pondered for a minute. “I guess you could say a dry spell at the moment. It’s the beginning of April, and I haven’t had an actual date since January.”

“What happened?”

“Nothing. No sparks. Nice guy, but not my type.”

Her cell phone vibrated in her purse. Letting out a frustrated sigh, she checked the caller ID and smacked her lips as she tossed the phone back into her purse as it continued to vibrate.

“Family issues again?”

She stood and motioned for him to join her as she looked at the potted crepe myrtles.

“Yep.”

“Care to discuss? I’m a really good listener … or so I’ve been told.”

“I’m sure you are for a couple of hundred bucks or more an hour, but there’s nothing to discuss.” She turned toward him, sliding her hands into the back pockets of her jeans. “I’ll deal with it like I always do.”

“How? By working all day at the gardens even on your off days, and then moonlighting by designing gardens for residential homes?”

“If that’s what you want to believe, go ahead. Now what color trees would you like? Crepes come in purple, pink, white or red.”

“I like the deep purple ones, and if you want to avoid the question, I understand,” he said sincerely, placing his hand on her cheek. “I just hated the crumbled look on your face when you arrived and again when your phone rang. I love seeing your dimples.”

Traci trembled when he placed his hand on her face, and her chest rose and fell a few times as she breathed out. He found himself in her personal space and the urge to taste her pouty lips ran rampant through him. He’d never wanted to mix business with pleasure, but she was so close and the homemade rose oil she wore engulfed his senses. The puzzlement in her eyes as she stared up at him needed to be answered, so he had no choice but to lower his lips and pray she didn’t push him away.

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About Candace

Candace Shaw was born and raised under the sunny skies of northwest Florida and knew she wanted to become a writer after reading Little Women in fourth grade. After graduating from the University of West Florida with a degree in elementary education, Candace began teaching and put her dream of becoming a writer on hold until one summer vacation she started writing again and hasn’t stopped.

When Candace is not writing or researching for a book, she’s reading, shopping, learning how to cook a new dish or spending time with her loving husband and their loyal, overprotective Weimaraner, Ali. Candace is currently working on her next fun, flirty and sexy romance novel.

You can contact Candace by emailing her at Candace.Shaw@aol.com or chat with her on Facebook or Twitter.

 

 Stalk Candace

My Greatest Release…Is not what you think!

***My Greatest Release***

I am celebrating my greatest release today. Yes, BE MINE FOREVER is out today, but that is not the greatest release I’m talking about. Today is my son’s 14th birthday. How apt that the book I released and the sweet miracle I gave birth to share this date. He has been my greatest gift and my greatest challenge. As parents, sometimes we get things we didn’t count on with our kids. Check that. As parents, we ALWAYS get things we didn’t count on. For my husband and me, it was autism, and it capsized our world and every expectation we had for our son.

Can I tell you something? I used to cry on his birthday. I’m ashamed to say that, but I did. Because every year I found myself saying, “Gosh, I just knew he would be doing this by this age. I just knew he’d be doing that. I just knew he’d be BETTER!” And I always felt this gulf growing and growing between how old he was chronologically and where he was cognitively and socially and developmentally. I am crying as I type this, not because of that but because this was such a great day. A day that has sometimes been really hard for me, was awesome. And a lot of you were a part of that!

We are about to take him out for his birthday, but I couldn’t go “offline” without making sure that every one who has bought a book or who plans to knows you are doing a small part to raise Autism awareness. 25% of my royalties go to support families living with Autism. So, look what you did! :-)

 

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Thank you!

 

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A glimpse into BE MINE FOREVER, live February 3!

 

 

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Life Is But A Dream…Is A Load Of Crap!

2014 goodbye

2014 saw a lifelong dream of mine come true! I became a published author. Not one book, but TWO this year through Grand Central Publishing, one of New York’s Biggies. When I signed my contract, there was a part of me that felt like I had made it, and a part of me that felt like I had only just begun.

You can guess which part was right!

Sometimes when you’ve waited so long for something, it feels fragile once you have it. That’s how it kind of felt. Like I could lose it if I didn’t work hard enough or do enough. Like it was my one shot and I couldn’t blow it. So I threw everything into it. My house got messier. Home cooked meals became fewer and farther between. Some days my husband and son got a lot less attention than Twitter. For awhile there, my life was a blur. A chaos I allowed for the sake of fulfilling my dream.

Life is actually more than just my dream.

In many ways, I was living my dream and neglecting my life. I resolve in 2015 not to do that.  Not to live in that space where I feel like if I’m not focused on it 24/7, it might just go away. Or like I could be blowing my one shot. I have one shot at being a wife. I have one shot at being a mother to my son. Those are the things I can’t blow. I’ll work hard, but I’ll rest more. I’ll play closer attention to those things I can’t afford to miss.

Watch and see.

Having said that, I’m really excited about the writing I’ll do this year. BE MINE FOREVER releases Feb 3, completing the BENNETT series, and I’ve got other things in the works I’ll be talking about soon.

I hope in 2015, you focus on the things you can’t afford to blow. That your path and priorities will be clear, and the rewards will be great! I’ve loved connecting with so many of you this year and can’t wait to meet more of you in the months to come! YOU are the best part of this dream!

#PinchMe

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The Gift of Good

In a way I am “re-gifting” this post since it originally appeared on another blog last year. The things I said last year still hold true today, so I’m sharing again. :-)

 

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What gift would I give a total stranger?

I actually consider this question, so appropriate for the Christmas season, almost daily. I established and run a foundation called Myles-A-Part. We provide financial and emotional support for families living with Autism. The “Myles” is my son, who was diagnosed with Autism at two years old. We’ve been living with this diagnosis for more than a decade, and I’ve been running the foundation for seven years. A unique set of sacrifices and rewards are part and parcel of this special community my family was grafted into involuntarily. Serving this community philanthropically exponentially increases those sacrifices and rewards because you find yourself not just managing your own, but also engaged in the challenges and rewards of others.

 

This diagnosis could have gotten the best of me. Watching your bright, engaged, delightful child “disappear” in so many ways – losing language, eye contact, social connection, emotional expression – proves difficult for most.

 

Difficult for me.

 

Anger, guilt, resentment, despair all tried to have their way with me, but my faith and my husband wouldn’t let me succumb to the dark bliss of depression. Eventually, little pinpricks of light penetrated that darkness and I could see my way to help my son; to help myself. And eventually, to help others.

 

I know most little girls don’t even know the word “philanthropy” much less care about it, but from the first time I understood the essence of philanthropy, it resonated with me at a cellular level, seeped into my understanding of what I wanted to do and be. The thought of making a difference, though, always overwhelmed when I saw large organizations helping thousands. I couldn’t do that. Living with Autism, though; negotiating its rough terrain, compelled me to figure out how I could do some good for somebody. It might not be curing cancer. It might not be a famous telethon, but it would be something.

 

I believe you can start doing good in your immediate domain. That space right around you which you can influence and shape and improve. The first year, we served just a few local families. We helped a few marriages struggling to hold on living in the autism pressure cooker. We awarded a few therapy grants and medical scholarships to children needing financial support. We helped a few single parent families at Christmas. These early steps taught me about what I have come to think of as my circumference of good.

 

In that small area right around you, recognize need. Then feel compassion so deeply it compels you to take action, even a tiny one. That action draws resources to meet the need. Before you know it, you’re engaged in this magnetic cycle, drawing more need, feeling more compassion, taking more action, drawing more resources. Until those needs, that compassion, those actions, those resources swell in that space right around you; pressing against the sides of your circle. Stretching that space to make room for more. And before you know it, you’ve helped more people than you did the week before, the month before, the year before. You have done more good than you imagined you could.

I see this all the time, but never as much as at Christmas. This season primes people’s hearts; ripens their compassion and propels them to seek opportunities to do good. I see it every year through the Holiday program my foundation sponsors for single parents raising kids with Autism.

Last year, a young mother fled an abusive relationship and moved to a new state with nothing but her two sons, one of whom was severely autistic. English being her second language only complicated the situation. I still carry the first conversation she and I had in my heart, tucked away for days when I want to give up, to give in, to settle for less than the clarion call in my heart to do good. Her family’s need pressed against the sides of my circle. I did what I could, and once others heard, so did they. By the end of this story, she found herself outfitted not only with the basic necessities, but also  owning a car outright to take her son back and forth to therapy, which had proven difficult. Reading her thank you letter and meeting her boys, affected me profoundly. I’ll never forget getting back in the car with my husband after I gave her those car keys. I stared out the window, tears streaming down my face, stunned by the feelings burning in my chest. Such a good burn!

Even this year, we’ve seen the same cycle of good with dishwashers, dryers, iPads for therapy, basics like food and clothes. You name it. People need it, and anyone involved in assisting them stretches their own circumference of good.

There’s a secret that I whisper in any ear and scream from any rooftop every chance I get. The central question isn’t what gift would I give a stranger. The real question is what gift could a stranger give to me? I didn’t know that abused mother.  Not personally, but her life affected me profoundly. Her need, the compassion I felt, the action I and others took, the resources it drew – that process did good for her, but it changed me!

Doing good for others transforms you. It’s not just that circle whose shape stretches until it’s almost unrecognizable. It’s you! Your shape changes. Your compassion deepens. Your empathy grows. Your passion burns for someone other than yourself. You are bigger than you ever imagined you could be. Impacting more people than you could ever have fathomed. Rippling through the lives of those around you who experience deep, real need.

And it’s addictive. Instead of feeling overwhelmed or depressed when I get a call from someone in deep need, I find myself excited. I can’t wait to see how those needs will be met. I have seen it happen. I believe it can happen, and I get to be a part of it. It is not an obstacle. It’s truly an opportunity. Not just for them.

But for me.

Question for you:  What is your circumference of good?

My True Love Gave To Me Holiday Blitz & Giveaway!

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A Holiday Greeting From Kennedy Ryan….

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Enjoy a bonus Christmas scene from Cam’s POV from book 1, When You Are Mine HERE!

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READ THE SERIES

3 Bennetts

Book 1 – When You Are Mine

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Book 2 – Loving You Always

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Pre-Order Book 3 – Be Mine Forever *can be read as a standalone but the richest reading experience comes with reading all three in the series*

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Kennedy wants to reward readers who spread the word! We are building a team of readers who will shout about BE MINE FOREVER. In exchange for your voice, we’ll give ARCs of the book, gift cards and other prizes. Sign up HERE if you’d like more information or to be involved!

AboutTheAuthor
Kennedy Ryan writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction. She always give her characters their happily ever after, but loves to make them work for it! It’s a long road to love, so sit back and enjoy the ride. In an alternative universe and under her government issue name, Tina Dula, she is a wife to the love of her life, mom to a special, beautiful son, and a friend to those living with autism through her foundation Myles-A-Part, serving Georgia families.

Her writings on Autism have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, and she has been featured on the Montel Williams Show, NPR, Headline News and others. She is donating a portion of her proceeds to her own foundation and to her charitable partner, Talk About Curing Autism (TACA).

Her interview series MOMMIES DO THE MOST AMAZING THINGS is featured each month in Modern Mom.

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DEVOTED TO HIM by Sofia Tate is HERE!!!

Devoted-to-Him-Blog-Tour

I am so grateful I met Sofia Tate. Yes, as a friend and publishing buddy, but also as a gifted writer who can burn up the very pages with the heat of her words, layering so much emotional intensity between every line. Do not miss DEVOTED TO HIM, the sequel to BREATHLESS FOR HIM, out today!!! Check out the excerpt for a spicy taste! :-)

About DEVOTED TO HIM:
Two months ago, Allegra Orsini nearly lost the man of her dreams. Thankfully Davison Cabot Berkeley, a powerful billionaire who always gets what he wants, had refused to allow anything-or anyone-to come between them. Now back in the arms of the man she loves, Allegra receives an incredible proposal. Allegra is invited to study under the opera world’s most legendary diva. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity . . . but it means moving to Italy for a month. Thirty days without Davison’s touch. Allegra isn’t sure she can survive it-especially when Davison begins pulling away for reasons she can’t figure out. Is the man who has given her more passion and pleasure than she has ever known about to break her heart? Soon Allegra starts to realize that Davison could be guarding a secret even more devastating . . .

 

Excellent Excerpt!

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I take a few steps into the cabin, staring in awe. While the exterior of the plane may have been simple, the interior is the complete opposite. The leather seats and carpeting are in a soothing shade of cream, while the fixtures like the light switches and door handles are covered in gold. Couch pillows and a cashmere blanket in taupe cover a long sofa on one side of the cabin. Yet I don’t feel intimidated by the opulence of the space. It’s elegant yet comfortable. The entire plane signifies that someone of means and power owns it, but when you look inside, it’s calming and reassuring, just like Davison.

I sit in one of the single chairs by the window when I hear my phone ring. I almost forgot to turn it off.

When I check the caller ID, I smile.

“Hi, Harvard.”

“Hey, baby,” his deep voice greets me with that rumble I love. “You on the plane?”

“Yes, and it’s gorgeous. Thank you for doing this for me.”

“Always, Venus. Did Gerard give you the tour?”

“Um, no. I think he’s busy at the moment.”

“That’s all right. Even though I’m not there, I can do this for you over the phone. Did you know there’s a bedroom in the back?”

I never sleep well on planes, so the thought of having a decent rest before I get to Milan excites me to no end. “Really?”

“Of course. Why don’t you go check it out? It’s the door on the right.”

“Umm, okay. I guess I have time.”

I look up to the front of the plane to scan for Gerard, but he’s probably disappeared into the galley. I unbuckle my seat belt, walking slowly to the back. I turn the handle on the door to the right just like Davison instructed.

The door swings open, and I scream at the sight in front of me.

“Ready to fly my friendly skies, baby?” Davison asks me, a wicked smirk on his face, his eyes alive and shining and locked on mine.

I fly into his arms, coiling my legs around his waist. Grabbing his hair in my hands, I lock my mouth over his, kissing him furiously even though it’s been less than twelve hours since I last saw him.

When I can’t breathe anymore, I pull back to look at his beautiful face. “What are you doing here?”

He can’t stop smiling. “I thought I’d go with you as far as the airport in Milan, then fly up to London for some client meetings before going back to New York.”

I stroke his face with my right hand. “What a clever man you are, Davison Berkeley.”

“What can I say? I’m the king of multitasking.”

“That’s not the only thing you’re the king of.” I grin back at him.

“Damn right, Miss Orsini.”

I unwrap my legs as he puts me back down on the floor, where I can finally take a look at him and my surroundings. He looks so hot, his dark hair all rumpled thanks to my eager hands, dressed in a white button-down shirt, the pushed-up sleeves revealing his corded forearms, worn blue jeans, and the brown driving shoes I love on him. In the bedroom, the same color palette of cream and gold decorates the walls and fixtures, save for one thing—the double bed in the middle of the room that’s covered in a black cashmere duvet.

“Wow. That looks…comfortable,” I comment, envisioning the events to come later in the flight with great anticipation.

“Oh, it is, my love. Very comfortable,” he assures me slyly, planting a kiss on my hand before taking it in his, leading me out the door. “Come on. It’s almost time to take off.”

“So, wait. I’m guessing that I was the last to know that you were planning this, judging by the mischievous looks that Charles and Gerard were giving me.”

Davison sits me down in the seat next to his. “Pretty much,” he confirms as he’s locking his seat belt.

I give him a long stare. “Evil. Pure evil.”

He takes my hand again, stroking it with his thumb in that way of his that always arouses me. “But you love it, baby.”

TateBREATHLESSFORHIMSofiaSofia Tate grew up in Maplewood, NJ, the oldest of three children in a bilingual family. She was raised on 70s disaster films and 80s British New Wave music and classic tv miniseries. Her love for reading started when she received a set of Judy Blume books from her aunt when she was ten. She discovered erotic romance thanks to Charlotte Featherstone. She loves both writing and reading erotic romance. She graduated from Marymount College in Tarrytown, NY, with a degree in International Studies and a minor in Italian. She also holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Adelphi University. She has lived in London and Prague. Sofia currently resides in New York City.

 

 

 

 

 

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INSIDE OUT by Lia Riley is HERE!!!

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I’ve met some truly remarkable folks so far on this writing journey. One of my absolute HEARTBEAT girls is Lia Riley. Her Australia-set OFF THE MAP series is getting rave reviews because her writing is fresh and her voice is so distinct. When I read anything she’s written, it is apparent immediately that it is HERS! She leaves her mark on every sentence! You’ll see in the nifty excerpt I’m sharing with you. All the dets are below.

Don’t sleep on this one! Congratulations on a series well done, Lia! :-)

 

EXCELLENT EXCERPT!

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Who was I when I first fell in love with Bran?

A person who had courage to stare down an unfeasible situation and say, Sure, I’m up for the challenge.

Who was I when Bran threw himself at me like a wounded animal, all claws, abandonment fear, spit, and fang?

A person who accepted that the moon has two sides, light and dark.

Who am I now?

I feel like a lost soul rocking in the corner, fresh out of ideas.

Bran pushes me through the long line until it’s our turn at the passport desk.

“How long do you plan to stay in the United States?” The customs official glances from Bran’s face to his passport photo and back again.

My stomach squirms like a writhing snake. We’ve avoided any discussion about future plans, focused instead on the short term. I had to accept the reality that I couldn’t return to the Peace Corps, even with the medical separation. I was too sick, too shattered. Our discussions about the logistics of leaving Africa were easier to concentrate on than the looming issue of what we were going to do with each other. I treated the topic like an abandoned lot, filled with weeds and rusting cars, a subject to walk past and pretend to ignore.

Now a stranger is forcing the issue.

“Until this one gets better.” Bran cocks his head in my direction.

The woman scoots forward, peers at me with a faint frown. “May I see proof of a return ticket, sir?”

Bran digs out the photocopy of his itinerary. When we bought the tickets, he had to borrow money from his dad. He hasn’t said much, but I know the fact must eat at him. Add another bitter drop to my guilt bucket—soon it’s going to overflow.

“You’re on a temporary tourist visa.” The customs agent flips the passport to a blank page and stamps with obvious relish. “You have three months, starting now.”

Here we go again.

Visa issues.

Ticking clocks.

People imagine international romance is excitement, hot accents, and adventure. They don’t want to hear about the bureaucratic drudgery that threatens to harden the arteries of even the most passionate hearts.

I thought I was going somewhere.

Nope.

I am an idiot Icarus who flew too close to the sun.

Bran leans forward, his lips hover an inch from my ear, his breath a hot caress on my cool skin. “You okay, Captain?”

“Fine.”

“What are you thinking, thinker?”

“I’m just sitting here, a sitter.”

We roll past an American flag overhanging a framed photo of the president. His smile seems smug, as if to say, You really thought you’d get away?

Yes, sir. I kind of did.

“We’re up next.” Bran hands a final customs form to yet another officer who waves us toward big silver doors that open and shut like gnashing teeth. On the other side is California. I can’t shake the disorienting sense we’re heading in the wrong direction.

“Ready?”

Nope.

Bran crossed an ocean for me. I have to find the way out of this black swamp, but I’m manacled to an island of self-doubt, and the tide is rising.

 

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Lia Riley_Photo Credit Kitti Homme Lia Riley writes offbeat New Adult and Contemporary Adult Romance. After studying at the University of Montana-Missoula, she scoured the world armed only with a backpack, overconfidence and a terrible sense of direction. She counts shooting vodka with a Ukranian mechanic in Antarctica, sipping yerba mate with gauchos in Chile and swilling fourex with stationhands in Outback Australia among her accomplishments.

A British literature fanatic at heart, Lia considers Mr. Darcy and Edward Rochester as her fictional boyfriends. Her very patient husband doesn’t mind. Much. When not torturing heroes (because c’mon, who doesn’t love a good tortured hero?), Lia herds unruly chickens, camps, beach combs, daydreams about as-of-yet unwritten books, wades through a mile-high TBR pile and schemes yet another trip. Right now, Icelandic hot springs and Scottish castles sound mighty fine. She and her family live mostly in Northern California.

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10 Fascinating Facts from Alyssa Alexander’s IN BED WITH A SPY!

What a treat I have for you today! I typically feature contemporary writer friends of mine. I am DELIGHTED to draw your attention to a fresh, outstanding voice on the historical fiction scene. Alyssa Alexander, an incredibly gifted writer, garnered praise from critics and readers alike with her debut THE SMUGGLER WORE SILK. She has come back even stronger with book two of her A Spy In The Ton series, IN BED WITH A SPY.  Both books are RT Top picks. Alyssa is my agent buddy and someone I have loved getting to know. Why don’t you get to know her right now? :-)

 

InBedWithASpy

 

Thank you, Kennedy, for having me! I’m excited to share my next book with everyone, and even more thrilled to be here today.

Writing a book is both a joy and a labor of love: details to keep straight, writing when my fingers can’t move quickly enough to keep up with my brain, and writing when my muse is being stubborn. And sometimes I write in the strangest places, such as on the back of an envelope at a gas station because it’s the only piece of paper in my purse. But it’s always, always, a dream come true. For me, that dream continues tomorrow (!), when my second book in the A Spy In The Ton series, IN BED WITH A SPY, hits the shelves.

 

There are also funny moments and inspirational moments when writing a book, and times where I simply put my head in my hands and realize I’m crazy. Here are a few of those moments during the writing of IN BED WITH A SPY.

  1. I wrote almost the entire first draft of IN BED WITH A SPY in the coffee shop across the road from my day job. I think I lived on tall skim chai lattes for a good six months.
  2.  In one scene, I state the number of seconds in an hour…and I miscalculated. Thank you to the copyeditor who noticed I’m really bad at math!
  3.  I listened to the theme from Mission Impossible while writing the action scenes. I may, or may not, have acted out a few of those scenes in my home office as well. I promise the curtains were closed, however, so my neighbors didn’t run away screaming.
  4.  Come Away With Me by Norah Jones is the inspiration for the emotional sex scenes because, first, there is song-writing in this book, and second, it’s all about lies. And if only Angel and Lilias could leave all the lies behind, life and love would be a lot simpler.
  5.  I spent hours researching the color of British heavy and light cavalry officer uniforms (scarlet and blue, respectively) and whether they used swords or sabres (again, respectively), and I still got it wrong and had to change it during the edits. In fact, despite the hours of research, I even had to double check it for this post.
  6.  I tossed out and completely rewrote the last 100 pages…about six weeks before my deadline. But, oh, is the ending better for it!
  7.  I spent at least two hours researching carriage lamps, what they were made of, and whether they were actually invented or something I’d conjured in my imagination—and finally came across a patent for them a few years before the book took place. Turns out, they’re real. Yay!
  8.  The hero, Angel, has a crooked nose because it was broken, which, as our heroine Lilias noted, saves him from the burden of perfection. You’ll have to read the end of book #1 in the series, THE SMUGGLER WORE SILK, to find out how it happened.
  9.  I spent hours and hours and hours—weeks, really—researching violins, what they were made of, how one played them, and how to keep them in good working order. I also spent a lot of time on YouTube watching violin videos…There is a very, very good-looking model who is an amazing violinist as well.
  10.  Last but not least, the working title was Deception. I’m very, very glad it was renamed IN BED WITH A SPY! Enjoy!

Thanks again for having me, Kennedy, and I hope everyone has a glimpse into not only some fun facts about IN BED WITH A SPY, but the writing process as well. Since I’ve teased you with some details, here is the prologue of IN BED WITH A SPY. (And now you know why I had to research British uniforms and weapons!)

 

June 18, 1815

On a bloody field near Waterloo

 The woman shouldn’t have been in the thick of battle. But she rose out of the acrid smoke, perched high atop a chestnut horse and wearing the blue coat of a light cavalry officer.

The Marquess of Angelstone staggered through rows of trampled corn, shock rippling through him as the woman’s sabre flashed. A shrill whistle sounded overhead. Instinctively, Angel ducked as cannon artillery pounded into the ranks, blasting into the earth and showering him with dirt and black powder.

The woman on horseback didn’t flinch.

He staggered forward, coughing, ears ringing, as soldiers around him fell or scattered. Pressing a hand to his jacket pocket, Angel fingered the square shape of the letter he carried there. He hadn’t known he’d have to fight his way to Wellington to deliver it.

The horse turned a tight circle, one of the woman’s hands gripping the reins while the other brandished a cavalry sabre. Her grip on the blade was untrained, her movements awkward.

But fury and hate blazed from her eyes and fueled her sabre as it sliced across the chest of a French soldier. The man collapsed, shrieking and clutching at welling blood.

The woman turned away, already arcing her sabre toward another enemy soldier, and Angel lost sight of her.

Reflex sent Angel’s bayonet plunging as a Frenchman reared up in front of him, face contorted by fear. When the man screamed, regret shot through Angel before he forced it away. It was kill or be killed. There was no time for regret.

He surged forward with the ranks of foot soldiers, compelled to look for the woman. The muddied ground sucked at his feet, threatening to pull him beneath thundering hooves and panicked soldiers. Broken cornstalks slashed at his face. The sulfur smell of black powder burned his nose, mixing with the scent of men’s fear.

He fought past a charging enemy soldier, spun away from another and saw her again.

Soot streaked her grim face. She grinned at the enemy standing before her—and the smile was terrible. The man paled, but aimed his rifle at her. He was not fast enough to beat her sword.

When that soldier, too, fell under her sabre, she looked up. Over the dead soldier and through the swirling gray smoke, Angel met her eyes. They were a chilling, pale blue and held only one thing.

Vengeance.

She pulled on the reins and her horse reared up, hooves pawing at the air. Angel planted his feet and braced for impact. But the hooves never struck. The woman kept her seat, her jaw clenched, and continued to hold his gaze.

The battle faded away, booming cannons falling on his deaf ears. The gray, writhing smoke veiled every dying soldier, every hand-to-hand battle being waged around him.

He only saw her merciless eyes. Blood roared in his ears and the beat of his pulse became as loud as the cannons. A high, powerful note sang through him.

The woman’s horse whinnied as its hooves struck the earth again. Standing in the stirrups, she thrust her sword aloft and howled. The battle cry echoed over the field and carried with it the sting of rage and unfathomable grief. She wheeled the horse, spurred his sides and charged through battling soldiers, her blond hair streaming behind her.

And she was gone, obscured by clouds of dark smoke and the chaos of battle.

 

Alyssa AlexanderAlyssa Alexander is the author of THE SMUGGLER WORE SILK, which garnered 4.5 Stars and Top Pick from Romantic Times and has been nominated for 2014 Best First Historical by Romantic Times. Her second book, IN BED WITH A SPY, releases December 2, and received 4.5 Stars and Top Pick from Romantic Times as well as a Starred Review from Publisher’s Weekly. She is a Google-Fu aficionado, lives with entirely too many cats, and is grateful every day for the wonderful Mr. Alexander and her small boy-child, Biscuit, who often wears a knight-in-shining-armor costume. She also likes bacon, thunderstorms, very high heels and long naps.

 

 

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