Free Summer Reading Time!

Yes! It’s summer at last! I always go on a relaxing vacation (yes, I am aware of my good fortune), where I eat, drink, and be merry until it’s time to slog back to work.

This summer, I propose a free armchair vacation for my readers. How about a trip to King Solomon’s Court? Perhaps a journey to a magical kingdom where princesses disappear each night, only to return with their dancing shoes worn through? Or maybe you’re in the mood for Tokyo, Japan? And in honor of the new Wonder Woman movie (and Amazons in general), why not spend some time in a world where women rule and men are kept only as tools for pleasure?

It doesn’t matter which destinations you choose, because I‘m making them ALL FREE this summer! Yes, every day you visit my Amazon author page, there will be something offered for free. (Besides One Night to Tango, and Taking the Reins, which as you know are always yours for the fantastic low price of 0.00!)

Enjoy your summer reading!

 

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BAM! 3 new releases out today!

Yes! The day has come! If you pre-orderd, you are now no doubt enjoying (at least, I hope you’re enjoying it!) one of my brand new, just-released, fresh-off-the-press erotica stories. Two fairy tales and one sort of sexual travelogue… yeah, I’m a bit all over the place these days. But I’m happy with the result.

Now, if you DIDN’T pre-order, you’re still good, because today’s the day they’re all three on sale at our favorite little small-town bookshop, Amazon.com. I think Senegal Beach and The Seal Wife are some of my best work yet…. and Little Big Man & The Rani makes me laugh. (And we all know laughing is sexy!) If you’re curious — and you know you are — check them out!

Senegal Beach — a young Peace Corps volunteer confronts her prejudices. Culture shock can be sexy!

The Seal Wife — a lonely Irish fisherman, a legendary creature; an erotic fairy tale tragedy.

Little Big Man & The Rani — doomed to death if she does not spin straw into gold, Shivangi is willing to bargain with everything she has…

It’s Earth Day every day!

I was in Hawaii for a brief vacation a couple months ago, and various cafes, acai bowl shops, and juice bars proudly proclaimed on their travel mugs and tote bags: Earth Day Every Day. Which is easy to remember when you live in paradise, with plumeria trees and coconut palms swaying in the tropical breeze. The rest of us often need more frequent reminders to love and care for this planet we all share.

Everything we do – our mere existence – has an impact on the environment. The trick is to make choices to minimize our impact, or help alleviate it. Species (including our own) are threatened daily by loss of habitat and natural resources. So thoughtful individuals ask themselves, “What can I do?”

One of my all-time favorite erotica authors, Patient Lee, was inspired by that question. Monarch butterflies, much admired for their beauty and incredible migration, are at risk. This article from 2014 gives a good overview of the monarch problem: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/01/29/the-monarch-butterfly-population-just-hit-a-record-low-heres-why/?utm_term=.8b3c6e59c01e

Patient Lee says: “Depletion of milkweed is only one of the factors contributing to the decline in the monarch population, but it is the one factor individual people can do something about. If we plant milkweed in our gardens, we can replace some of the plants lost to farming.” And if we CAN do something, then we SHOULD. And must.

milkweedIf you wonder how diminishing butterfly population could possibly be made into a sexy story, then you are in for a pleasant surprise. Milkweed & Gossamer is one of the most extraordinary, romantic stories I have read in a while. It’s a page-turner, but also thoughtful, bringing up questions we’ve all considered when grappling with the pressures of family, work, school, and a new relationship. There’s also a fun little surprise… but I won’t give everything away!

Whether you’re looking to laugh, cry, or fall in love, this story will deliver. Here’s just a little peek of what you’re gonna get:

Excerpt from Milkweed & Gossamer

During the second week, Carlos and Josh strung the white lights over the party pavilion in preparation for the outdoor party season.

“Yeah, this place is, like, number one for parties for little girls now. They all wear their fairy wings and come party with the butterflies,” Carlos said. “It’s more popular than the bowling alley and the roller-skating rink.”

“What are the lights for? They have these kids’ parties at night?” Josh asked.

“No. It’s a whole different crowd at night. The butterfly house closes at four, but they’ve turned it into a place for all kinds of parties—wine tastings, pig roasts, weddings. You’ll see.”

Josh was climbing the step ladder when the blonde who had given him the hard-on the other day walked into the pavilion. He stumbled a bit when he realized it was the same girl. “Who is that?” He asked in a low tone.

“Hey, Milkweed,” Carlos called. “Come over here. Josh wants to meet you.”

“No! Hey! You didn’t have to call her over,” Josh stage-whispered as she approached.

“Josh, I guess you don’t remember Scott’s little sister, Jaime,” Carlos said. “Jaime, this is Josh. He used to work here when you were still in a training bra.”

“Thanks, Carlos,” she said dryly. “Thanks for pointing that out.”

“Jaime. Holy shit,” Josh said. “You grew up.”

“Yeah. I did,” she said. Josh could tell by the look on her face that she thought he was a few sandwiches short of a picnic.

“I’m sorry. I just . . . Wow,” he said.

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” she said. “Sorry, guys. I gotta go shop for a dress for my party next week.”

She turned and left, once again causing Josh’s cock to stiffen a bit as he watched her ass moving away from him.

“You heard the boss,” Carlos said. “She’s off-limits.”

“Yeah,” Josh said, shaking his head. “Off-limits.” He reached for the lights and then stopped. “Why did you call her Milkweed?”

“Everybody calls her that,” Carlos said. “She’s obsessed with saving the monarchs.”

“Saving the monarchs . . . you mean the butterflies? Aren’t there, like, tons of them?”

“Not as many as there used to be, I guess. That whole greenhouse in the back is milkweed she planted to give away.”

“Why would anyone want to plant weeds?” Josh said.

“The monarchs need the milkweed. It’s her graduation project. Just watch yourself. If she gets an opportunity, you’ll get the whole lecture,” Carlos said. “Twice if you’re alone.”

“I’m not sure she’d want to be alone with me. I didn’t make a very good first impression.”

“Well, it’s probably better that way. Mr. Yaple would fire your ass if he found the two of you alone and your pants were sticking out like that.” He gestured toward Josh’s fly. “And Scott would kick your ass after Mr. Y fired it.”

“Scott is hyper-protective of her.” Josh shook his head. “I don’t get it. Did something happen before?”

“Personally, I think he can’t get a date, so he doesn’t want his little sister dating.”

“He always had girlfriends in high school.”

“Yeah. He was actually engaged for a couple months, too. I think the girl got sick of his ‘waiting until marriage’ philosophy, though.” Carlos grinned. Josh couldn’t tell whether or not he was kidding. “Now c’mon. Back on the fuckin’ ladder. We gotta finish this.”

**

I know, it’s SO good! And the rest is even better.

Author D.E. Vice says: “This story […] managed to be sweet while also showing just the smallest bit of teeth, like a quick, teasing kiss, sandwiched in the middle of a grinding day. The characters were likeable, almost adorable, and your dialogue was exceptional. Unpredictability is a trait I admire as well, and your tale provided that. It was a pleasure to read and left me with a warm, fed but still hungry feeling—satisfied but never sated. Sexy and succulent.

Yeah, I can’t add anything to that. You’re going to want to buy this one, plain and simple!

 

The Sad and Shocking Truth…

… is that, although I write romance and erotica, I honestly don’t read a lot of either.

Because so much of it is bad.

I know! That’s a terrible thing to say! (Especially for someone in my business.) But here’s how it came about. I was down in Portland (Oregon, not Maine) last weekend, and made the inevitable pilgrimage to Powell’s City of Books. (Don’t know it? You haven’t LIVED until you’ve been there! Hope remains for independent bookstores, yet!) Anyway, as anyone who’s ever been to Powell’s knows, it’s organized by genre. Eagerly I perused the aisles of historical fiction, contemporary fiction, graphic novels, classics brought to the forefront again, even the latest-and-greatest nonfiction on display. At last, my arms full of books, I ventured into the back corner, behind the cafe, where they stash all the romance and erotica.

From the moment I entered, I felt turned off. What met my eyes was shelf upon shelf of waxed, muscular, glowering male torsos (in various states of undress, to indicate their respective settings), swooning maidens, and cringe-worthy titles. (“His Christmas Bride,” anyone?) I did my best to give a couple covers a chance, but the blurbs had me running back. Back, back into the relative safety and dignity – indeed, the superior sexiness – of the other fiction aisles.

So what gives? Why is so much romance and erotica so god-awful bad? Honestly, it bums me out, because a story without sex is like bread without butter for me. (Hence my lackluster appreciation of YA… but that’s for another post.) Also, I know for a fact that there are many excellent erotica and romance writers out there, who do far more with their work than deliver the necessary bump and grind. And yet, romance remains a genre I am hesitant to read – despite my interest and appreciation of its content – because the vast majority is, sadly, unpalatable. (Even more appalling… might I be lumped in with authors of such books? Worse, is my writing just as – gulp – bad?!)

What is a person like me to do? I love sexy books, but I also love GOOD books. They have to be one and the same! And that, alas, is the pickle. Until we readers demand smart, literary erotica that stimulates our minds as well as our tingly bits, Powell’s is going to have to keep that section hidden in the far corner of the cafe. Where few people venture anyway, and with good reason.

It’s here! The last book in the excellent November Snow series!

Those of you who actually read my blog know I am a HUGE fan of A.M. Manay’s November Snow series. I’ve had the great pleasure to read them all, and the frustration of finishing book two – which ends in a nail-biting cliffhanger, by the way. Now, at last, the long-anticipated third book is here! She Marches Through Fire : November Snow book 3.

I’m not a vampire-romance groupie, and usually books about supernatural creatures… well… bore me. There’s so much magic in the real world I’d prefer to sink my teeth into! Therefore it was my delight and surprise to fall utterly in love with A.M. Manay’s characters and story. Despite all their special powers, the fairies, werewolves, demons, and vampires in this series are never one-dimensional. Their world is our own, with all its challenges and joys, its hope and disillusion. It’s rare when an author can blend to much reality into a fantasy tale, but this is it! And the result is something even more rare: a rich, fast-paced, thrilling series that I could not put down.

Please do yourself a favor and buy all three November Snow books today! I’m serious. They’re THAT good.

Celebrate Romance!

Valentine’s Day is coming soon, and to celebrate I’m offering a lovely selection of erotic-romantic stories for your FREE reading enjoyment! These giveaways only last for a couple of days, so get in there now before they’re done. Because everyone knows, the best way to celebrate romance is with lots of steamy hot erotica. To be enjoyed alone or en couple. 😉

Here’s what you can get:

An Amazon’s Equal – free on February 13th!

amazonequal3DcoerPyrena, an Amazonian warrior, lives in an idyllic society. All sisters, the Amazons share everything: work, meals, homes… and captive men. The men they keep are for pleasure; love is unknown among these fierce women. For Pyrena, things become more complicated after she captures a handsome Greek warrior, Astrastos. As she comes to know him, she begins to realize that her world is not so perfect, after all.

Flowers for the Ancients – free through Feb. 14th!

flowers-working-coverThis collection of erotic stories features women across the ancient world, from Africa, through the Middle East, to Asia. Their stories are as diverse as the heroines. They are queens and peasants; virgins and mothers; loveless and adored. Some of their names are familiar. Others are unknown. All of them lived, and lusted, and loved. Just like us.

 

lemonscoverLemons In Their Slippers: an erotic romance retelling of ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’– free through the 14th!

If you’re in the mood for some erotically imagined fairy tales, this one written just for you! Why did those princesses really wear out their dancing shoes? (It should come as no surprise that more than the shoes got some action every night!) Romantic and sexy, this remains one of my fuzzy-good-feelings favorites.

And finally, ALL the ‘Ancients’ stories are FREE on the 14th only! The stories (also to be found all together, in Flowers for the Ancients) are: Sheba’s Lovely Maidens,   Queen of Beauty,   Buktu’s Well,   The Girl With The Golden Eye,   A Bride for Seven Brothers, and   How The Lotus Blossoms.

Beauty Never Dies

For my second “Ancients” collection giveaway, I’m going to go ahead and offer what is perhaps the best story in the entire collection: Queen of Beauty. It’s the best, I think, because of the situation and Nefertiti’s character – an older woman, uncertain in her role, battling midlife worries everyone faces. At the same time, her husband is dying, the kingdom is being torn apart from within, and if that weren’t enough, she’s falling in love!

Falling in love is the worst thing that could possibly happen to you. Also, potentially, the best. What I tried to explore with Nefertiti’s story is the many ways love can manifest, especially as we mature and grow into ourselves. (Which begs the questions: is teenage love the “real thing?” Is love ageless, or does it deepen with time? Is romantic love possible without physical attraction? At what point does friendship give way to love?)

Sink deep into love’s many incarnations (and the meaning of beauty, too) with this free story. It’s a visit to a fascinating moment in Egypt’s history, too, during the reign of the first known monotheist king.

History fans: read the original post here: Nefertiti On My Mind

And every kind of fan, be sure you grab your free copy of Queen of Beauty!

The importance of a varied diet

We all know we need to eat our fruits and vegetables, limit fat and sweets, balance our whole-grain carbohydrates and healthy proteins. The importance of a varied diet is well documented. But the same goes for reading: if we overindulge in our favorite things (and be honest about your sugary favorites!) we end up with rotted teeth and diabetes. Or, in the literary sense, a lazy, mushy mind.

To that end, I encourage everyone — writers especially — to diversify their reading diet. Truly, it keeps your senses sharp, and offers plenty of perspective that can improve your own writing. If you don’t read, you can’t write. Period. (And if you don’t read many different genres and styles, you can’t write well.)

And just so no one can claim I don’t practice what I preach, here is a list of some recent books I have read and enjoyed, more or less in order. Amazon buy links included, as well as genre. With a growing stack on the horizon, I’ll be busily eating my literary vegetables for a long time! (And, you know, indulging in candy bars regularly too…)

Currently reading: The Things They Carried – fiction – The Vietnam War revisited through a series of brief, vivid tales, each a visceral reminder of the horrors of war.

The Cellist of Sarajevo – literary fiction – A gritty, wrenching portrayal of a city under siege, and the struggle to preserve humanity under inhuman circumstances.

Knight of Jerusalem: a biographical novel of Balian d’Ibelin – historical fiction – Well researched and unique, focusing on a little-known character during the medieval Christian occupation of the Holy Land.

The Shipping News – contemporary fiction – Superb characterization, snappy writing, and a darkly humorous look at love, life and struggle in modern-day Newfoundland.

Saga – graphic novel/space opera – One of the best things I have read, ever. Great adventure story, excellent dialogue, and gorgeous artwork. Go get yourself a copy now!

The Sport of Kings – literary fiction – A new take on the dark, gothic Southern family saga. Incest, violence, wealth, and racism intersect in all the worst possible ways.

My Antonia – American fiction – It’s a classic for a reason. People just don’t write like this anymore.

I Won a Basket of Porn – erotica/humor – In case you needed another reason to love author Patient Lee! Hilarious fun poked at small-town politics. Plus sex.

Because Beards – erotica/romance anthology – A fun collection of sexy stories, all with some kind of bearded hero. Some were excellent; all were okay. Plus, it’s for charity!

A Heart’s Promise – romance – On the sweet side, a classic romance novel featuring a horse-loving gal and a hot, modern cowboy.

Little Birds – erotica – Sexy short stories, from back in the day when erotica was all about turning on classy, well-read rich people.

Ancillary Justice – science fiction – An unusual SciFi adventure, featuring a ship that is also, somehow, a person. Totally unique.

All The Light We Cannot See – historical fiction – The kind of book that moves you to tears… and makes you wish you could write like that. Utterly superb.

 

Effortless Diversity : a book review

Some books can justifiably be defined as masterpieces. These are literary works that stand the test of time; The Classics, and all the other fine novels and texts we can read over and over again without tiring. All of us have books like that. I, for one, have always loved losing myself in words, in the geography of my imagination.

My husband, however, is not like that. If he reads a text-heavy book, it is probably nonfiction. However, a true Frenchman, he has long been an admirer of graphic novels. In the American context, these have until recently often been dismissed as (or rather, lumped in) with comic books. Superheroes and stuff. No offense if that’s your thing; too much spandex for my taste.

One book we can both agree on, now, is Saga. This is fast becoming one of my favorite series ever. It is, essentially, a space opera. Think SciFi/Romance. Yet of the deepest, most engaging kind. Yes, sexy aliens are getting naked and busy on a regular basis (That’s fun! And hey, graphic novel, so you get the artsy eye candy to go with…), but there’s so much more to it. Themes of diversity; clash of cultures; discrimination and stereotyping; the meaning of family; even the uniting power of literature; are woven throughout the main story. Adventure can be found aplenty, but for me, Saga is an inspiring example of effortless diversity. (Much like the delightful online cartoon I previously mentioned, Fated.)

15704307With my recent musing on how to address white privilege in writing, reading the recently-released sixth book of Saga was a welcome reminder that there is lots of great literature out there already fighting the good fight. In Saga, aliens come in all shapes, sizes, ages and colors. They live together, fuck together, fight each other, and generally are no better or worse than most “humans;” except way more badass. The blend makes this fantastic world excitingly familiar. Reading Saga, I can totally imagine how an inter-galactic, multi-species society might be. And you know what? All of a sudden, small differences are erased by the bigger picture. That picture happens to be an endless (and pointless) civil war, but hey, conflict has to come from somewhere.

Saga is the real deal. If you want some seriously good science fiction – and enjoy beautiful art, snappy dialogue, an un-put-downable story, thoughtful sexiness, and effortless diversity to boot – then you need to buy a copy right now. I’ll just be counting the months until the next book comes out…