2015-05-01

Happy Bealtaine!

Here’s a little May Day excerpt from The Oak King…

Over the next several months, as Aine came to know Kieran better, she was pleasantly surprised to discover he was not as cold and unfeeling as she’d initially thought him. Dour his mien may have been at times, yet she sensed a dark, seductive warmth smoldering deep within, needing only a spark to bring it to light. It called to something wild within her, something that yearned to be that spark, to be the one to set his heart ablaze.

Like a roaring fire on a bleak and bitter night, there was something about him that made her want to draw close, far too close for safety’s sake; that tempted her to curl up naked beside him and dare his heat to sear her skin. Only it wasn’t just her skin she risked by getting too close to Kieran’s fire, but her heart as well.

By the first of May the tension between them, and within her heart, had begun to wear on Aine’s nerves. She was tired of the lying, of the raised eyebrows she encountered every time she met one of her neighbors, tired of having to make up stories to explain Fionn’s absence and Kieran’s presence in her home. It was Kieran who first dreamed up, and later promulgated, the unlikely pretense that he and Fionn were brothers.

“You’ll forgive my saying so, but I don’t see a resemblance.” If Aine had heard that once, she’d heard it a dozen times over. “Why, the two of you are as different as night and day!”

Each time, Kieran would respond with equanimity and an impish gleam in his eyes, either cheerfully claiming it was something he and Fionn had been hearing their whole lives, or sadly confiding that indeed he wished he could be more like his brother.

“You’re a shocking liar, do you know that?” Aine groused as they returned home from shopping in the village, their arms laden with bundles. It was a beautiful spring day. New life was burgeoning all around them. It was the kind of day that should have gladdened her heart. Instead the sight of all those green and growing things brought Fionn to mind and all the foolish dreams and wishes she’d entertained the previous summer.

Kieran’s green eyes danced with mischief as he shot a mocking glance her way. “And are you just now discovering this about me? Who was it you thought you were honoring with your prayers when you came into the woods to pay homage to the Holly King?”

Aine’s temper flared at the reminder. Her religion, once a comfort to her, was now a sore point. Though she’d never acknowledged the fact, meeting Fionn and Kieran had called all her beliefs into question. She should have felt validated, yet all she knew was loss. Since December she’d been eschewing all the rituals that had once brought her solace and peace. “What I thought of you when you were but an ideal to me is neither here nor there. It annoys me to see my friends and neighbors being played for fools.”

Kieran shrugged. “Why is that? Surely you don’t expect me to tell them the truth?”

“No. But must you take such pleasure in deceiving them?”

A dimple appeared in Kieran’s cheek as he smiled. “I confess it does amuse me. But why should I not derive what pleasure I can from such things? As Lord of Misrule, it’s a part of my duties. I am obliged to play the trickster whene’er possible and set conventions on their heads. But it’s all in good fun, is it not? Who am I hurting?”

Aine firmed her lips and said nothing. In truth, she did not know how to answer that. In his own way, Kieran was every bit as compelling as Fionn, especially when he flashed that particular smile. But whereas Fionn was like sunlight and green grassy fields—filling her heart with joy and making her want to sing and dance and make love for days on end—Kieran’s pull on her emotions was more subtle and perhaps more dangerous. She did not entirely trust herself where he was concerned.

“Come, you must have known something of my nature,” Kieran pleaded. “This cannot have come as a complete surprise?”

He sounded so lonely. Despite the sunlight, warm against her skin, the soft desolation in Kieran’s voice left Aine chilled. “There are times when I question whether I know anything about anything.”

“I know there is that about me which is twisted and dark,” Kieran continued in earnest tones. “I have never denied it. But I am what I am, and whether you choose to believe me or not, I do regret that my presence here has disrupted your ordered world. Perhaps such disruption is necessary at times. All new life begins in chaos, does it not?”

Aine sighed. “You may be right, I suppose.” Despite her best intentions, she could no more harden her heart against him than she could spread her arms and fly to the sun. “And despite what you say, I doubt you’re as dark and twisted as you pretend.”

Again the dimple appeared. Kieran’s eyes lit up. “Ah, but as we’ve just discussed, you hardly know me. You have no idea how dark my tastes may run or what twisted desires I might be harboring.”

Aine stopped in her tracks, caught between dread and anticipation. “Perhaps you should tell me about them?”

Kieran stared back at her, his eyes heavy-lidded and dark. “Perhaps I should show you instead?”

Before Aine could think of a reply, Kieran had dropped the packages he’d been carrying and was reaching for the ones in her arms as well.

“Here now, what are you doing?” she asked as her bundles joined his on the grass by the side of the road. Instead of answering, he glanced up and down the empty road, then stepped close and caged her face in his hands. Aine froze. She stood unmoving as Kieran’s lips touched hers. He tasted different than Fionn—that was the first thing she noticed, not that she’d expected anything different. He tasted darker, spicier, still equally tantalizing. Kieran crowded closer. He tilted her head to the side, then slid one hand into her hair to anchor her there. When the pressure on her head made her moan, he quickly took advantage and slid his tongue into her open mouth. Then he wrapped his other arm around her and pulled her so tight against him Aine could scarcely catch her breath.

Heat flared between them and continued to build until, finally, she kissed him back. Her mouth opened wider to allow his probing tongue better access, and her hands found their way to Kieran’s waist without any conscious thought at all. His body felt hot to her touch. Hard and strong. Better than she could ever have imagined, but different, somehow, than what she’d been expecting. He was a different size, a different shape. He wasn’t Fionn.

The thought of her husband broke the spell. Aine wrenched her mouth free and pushed at Kieran’s chest. “Stop.”

He did so at once, letting her go and stepping away with a look of dismay on his guilt-stricken face. “Aine…”

“We cannot do this.”

“I know. I-I’m sorry. It will not happen again. I give you my word.”

He’d said exactly what she wanted to hear. So why was she as disappointed as she was relieved? Why did her traitorous body continue to clamor for more? Aine smiled at him sadly. “And is your word worth anything, O king?”

Kieran glanced away, shamefaced. “It used to be.”

The Oak King is currently available in digital format at Amazon, Loose Id, All Romance eBooks, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble


Twice each year, Aine Murphy ventures into the woods to hold ceremonies to honor the Oak King and the Holly King, never dreaming these Lords of the Forest could be anything more than myth. When the legends spring to life in front of her, how can she help but fall for the sexy demi-gods she's loved all her life?

From midwinter to midsummer, Fionn O'Dair rules the Greenworld as the Oak King--a role he feels is beyond his abilities, and one that dooms him to a loveless future, forever craving the one man he can never allow himself to have. How can he resist what Aine offers--the sweet devotion that soothes his aching soul, and the slim chance to live a "normal" life as her husband, if only for half a year?

Holly King Kieran Mac Cuilenn never desired a human lover--until now. Seeing Fionn and Aine together fills him with longing for the love he threw away and awakens feelings he thought he'd buried with the last Oak King. Is there enough magic in the solstice to correct the mistakes he made years ago? Or is he doomed to be forever left out in the cold?

2015-04-30

RT Bound

Okay, I'm not leaving for another week or so, but it's not too early to get started packing, is it? This is what I'll be bringing with me to RT next month along with some other miscellaneous goodies...is it really less than two weeks away? GAH! I am sooo not ready! 



Anyway, if you're there, and you haven't read Such Fleeting Pleasures yet, the price will never get lower. lol! Ao hit me up for your free download! And if you have read it, why not pick up a few for some friends?

I should be easy to spot. I'll be the one whose hair matches the Welcome to Oberon boxed set. No, not the girl on the cover, the cover itself, all turquoise and rose. See what I mean? Yep, that's me. 



And, if all else fails, you can definitely find me at the Giant Book Fair on Saturday! I'll be signing books from my Children of Night series...and anything else you feel like bringing in!  















Hope to see you there!

2014-12-30

New Year's Blog Hop



Happy New Year everyone! I'm deep in edits at the moment, but I wanted to wish everyone a bright, blessed and bountiful new year. Happy 2015. 

My year is getting off to a good start with three new releases--in February, March and April (read more HERE). Later this year I'll be hoping to self-publish the Inked in O-Town trilogy, featuring hot tattoo artists in Oakland, CA. This is a spin-off series to last year's Inked Memories, which is set in New Orleans, and was originally released as part of the Midnight Ink anthology. Sadly, the anthology is going away at the end of the month, but the individual stories will still be around. Right now, Inked Memories is only available at Amazon. However, look for it's re-release in late February--just in time for Mardi Gras! 

In the meantime, here's a short excerpt.

Sophie started as a passerby stumbling along the banquette suddenly lost his footing and slammed into her table. She grabbed for her coffee to keep it from spilling when the wrought iron table tilted precariously under the man’s unsteady weight.
“Watch out!” Glancing up, she found herself staring into the bleary blue eyes of a drunken, storefront Santa. Well, that was life in the Quarter for you, she supposed as her heart continued its attempts to beat itself right out of her chest. The smell of whisky and peppermint schnapps wafting off the man was so strong it made her head spin. She pressed her free hand to her chest, willing her heart to slow the fuck down.
Santa blinked back at her, still resting his weight on the tabletop, a crumpled piece of paper clutched in one fist. A slow smile curved his lips. Eyes twinkling, he leaned in closer and leered.
“Well, hey there, boo.Where y’at? You bein’ naughty or nice?”
Before Sophie could even fashion a reply, Rousseau appeared in the doorway. He scowled menacingly at the man. “Get out of here. Quit harassing my customer.”
Santa straightened up, his expression one of affronted dignity as he glared at Rousseau. “Ain’t harassin’ no one. She tripped me.” 
 “I did no such thing,” Sophie spluttered. She flashed the man an indignant look, then watched in relief as he lurched stiffly away. A flicker of motion from her tabletop caught her eye. The badly creased paper Santa had left behind fluttered weakly in the slight breeze. “Hey, wait!” she said as she snatched it up, intending to return it. Then she took a closer look.
 Midnight Ink. New Beginnings Special. Discounted rates for survivor and memorial ink. Are you ready for a new beginning? Say it in ink. Call, or visit us online for more information…
It’s a sign, that same soft voice insisted.
Oh, it was a sign all right. Sophie bit back a sigh. Hearing voices was a definite sign that she was losing her mind. Still, she couldn’t help but appreciate the irony. It wasn’t as if New Orleans was hurting for tattoo shops, so what were the odds she’d be handed a flyer for the very shop where she’d gone for her own tattoos?  Come to think of it, maybe it was a sign after all.
 “What you got there?” Rousseau asked as he ambled closer. He tilted his head to read the flyer. “Are you thinking of getting another tattoo?”
Was she? She already had several, but she hadn’t added anything to her “collection” in several years. “Oh, I don’t know.” But even as she said it, an image flashed through her mind of a picture she’d recently seen online. It had shown a woman’s heavily tattooed torso, flowers and elaborate scrollwork covering over the scars from her mastectomies.
That tattoo hadn’t really been Sophie’s style, but the idea of once again being able to celebrate her body, of enjoying it, flaws and all, of showing it off rather than always feeling the need to hide it away beneath layers of clothing, that had appealed to her. A lot. She wasn’t even sure if it was possible for her to feel that way about herself ever again, but if it was, if there was any chance at all…
Sophie felt a thrill of excitement as the idea took hold. A new beginning, huh? Well, why the fuck not? “You know what?” Smiling, she unzipped her jacket pocket to get to her phone. “I think maybe I am.”
Sophie dialed the number quickly before she could chicken out and change her mind. It was before noon, so she wasn’t even sure the shop would be open yet, but the phone was picked up on the second ring.
“Midnight Ink.” The lilting voice on the phone was female; she sounded young and perky, carefree—everything Sophie wasn’t. Sophie’s heart lurched. Shit was about to get real.
“Hi. I’m, uh…I’m calling about your new beginnings special.” Sophie fingered the flyer in her hand. “I…I had surgery a couple of years ago for breast cancer, and I’m interested in getting a chest piece done. You know, to cover the scars? Would that qualify for your special rates?”
“Yes, of course,” the voice replied, no longer quite so perky. “Um…let me see where I can fit you in, okay? Did you have a particular artist in mind? Or a particular time frame that was better for you?”
“No. Not really. I mean, I just saw your flyer and…I haven’t actually had time to think about it all that much.” Sign or no sign, Sophie suddenly found herself wondering if getting a new tattoo was such a stellar idea after all. Memories of the last time she’d gotten inked flashed through her mind bringing heat and longing and even more uncertainty.
Declan’s voice teasing her through the worst of it; his hands, firm yet gentle on her flesh, reassuring; the expression on his face, focused, patient, intent
Sometimes a tattoo was not just a tattoo; it was personal, almost too personal to trust to a stranger.  At the moment, it seemed that her exhibitionist streak had gone the way of her breasts. Could she really go through with this? Did she really want to bare her chest to a stranger when she could hardly stand to look in the mirror at herself? Maybe she could ask about a female artist? Maybe that would help. Or maybe she should just forget the whole idea. “Maybe I should think about it some more.”
“Hmm. Okay, well, actually, it looks like all our regular artists are pretty booked up right now,” the voice on the phone told her.
Sophie exhaled. Her shoulders sagged—relief, mixed with just a trace of disappointment. “Oh. All right. Well, thanks anyway for checking. I guess it’s not meant to be. Maybe another time then.”
“Whoa, hold on there. Not so fast. I wasn’t done yet. I’m sure we can squeeze you in somewhere. You know, we’re also making appointments for our guest artist, Declan Ross. He’ll be tattooing here for a few weeks. Is there any chance you’d be interested in working with him?”
“Declan’s back?”  Talk about signs! This one was billboard-sized and covered in day-glo neon. “Isn’t he…I mean, I guess I thought he was still out on the West Coast.”
“Oh, yeah. Well, I mean, he’s not here yet. Like I said, he’s coming in primarily for the fundraiser at the end of the month. So…I take it you’re interested then?”
Having Declan here—that was a game changer. If he was the one tattooing her, it would be just like old times. And the chance to see him again… That alone could make it all worthwhile. Maybe she could do this after all. “Yes. Yes, I think I am.”
“Well, good! Why don’t you go ahead and give me your information, and we’ll get you signed up.”
“Yeah, okay. Sure,” Sophie answered, barely aware of what she was saying. Declan was coming back. It was the last thing she’d been expecting. And, now, in just a few weeks she’d be seeing him again.
Now, that one you can have, cher. This time, Sophie would swear the voice laughed out loud. That one’s all yours. He’s got your name written all over him.  


Every memory leaves its mark. 

All Sophie wants is a tattoo to commemorate her battle with cancer. What she gets is celebrity tattoo artist Declan Ross, the same sexy bad-boy who, once-upon-a-time, used to rock her world. 

With his hit television show on hiatus, Declan is back in the Big Easy. A New Year's Eve charity event at Midnight Ink, the shop where he got his start, seems like the perfect opportunity to use his celebrity status to publicize a good cause…and just maybe improve his own image in the process. The last thing he’s expecting, or thinks he needs, is a chance meeting with the girl he left behind. 

Last time they were together, Declan was the one who was damaged. This time, they’ve both got scars; and those you can’t see are the hardest to cover. 


Check out my free read, The Start of Something Wonderful, which was originally written several years ago for the Romancing the New Year blog hop. 



2014-12-21

Winter Solstice!

As it happens, I've set a lot of stories around the Winter Solstice--including a new one, The Oak King, which releases in March. So today I thought I'd celebrate with a few excerpts.


The first one is from The Spirit of the Place (Oberon, book 6) which is also included in the second Oberon box set, Return to Oberon.

In this excerpt, Marsha explains some of her Winter Solstice traditions to her fiance, Sam.


Marsha stood at her living room window and stared out at the blackness.  It had been a long, long, tiring day, even if it was, technically, the year’s shortest.  The last of her guests had finally departed, and still, the longest night of the year was only half over.
“You look tired, angel,” Sam murmured, coming up behind her to massage her shoulders and plant a soft kiss on her cheek.  “Why don’t we go to bed now, and leave the rest of the clean up for morning?”
“I am tired,” Marsha agreed, as she relaxed against him, breathing a happy sigh.  She turned her head to smile at him over her shoulder.  “You can go ahead, if you want to, Sam.  I’m gonna stay up—or at least, try to.  It’s kind of traditional to keep vigil at the solstice, and stay awake until sunrise.”
“Really?”  Sam looked surprised.  “And what exactly do you do during this vigil?”
 Marsha shrugged.  “Well, it depends.  It’s a change of cycle, you see, from dark to light, so I’ve always liked to spend it thinking about the past and making plans for the future.  But, that’s just me.  A lot of people pass the time baking cookies, or bread, or whatever else they plan to eat for breakfast the next morning.  Making wishes for the new year.  Celeste always made rice pudding with crystallized ginger and dried fruit.  I don’t know if there was any particular significance to it, it was just...”  It was just something she always did.  Spiced with cinnamon and cardamom and eaten cold, it always seemed  to Marsha that the dish evoked a feeling of bright sunshine on even the darkest winter’s day.
“You really miss her, don’t you?” Sam’s voice was soft with sympathy.
Marsha nodded, too overcome to speak.  It was too cold at the window, the night too dark, and she felt…vulnerable, exposed.  As though hostile forces might crash through the insubstantial glass and steal away her happiness.  She turned away, and went to sit on the couch, where the fire’s heat could warm her, where the fire’s light could keep her safe. 
Even now, after a year and a half, it still seemed so impossible that Celeste could be gone.  It was like a bad dream, one that would surely be over soon?
“I’m sorry we never actually met,” Sam said, as he sat beside her, and took hold of her hand.  “I imagine I would have liked her.”
Marsha smiled at him.  “I think she would have liked you, too.”  She had a feeling Celeste would have enjoyed matching wits with Sam, although it was possible there would have been a little jealousy there, as well.  As there had been with Alex. 
     Marsha had loved Celeste as a friend, and always would, but she was never in love with her.  Not the way Celeste wished she could be.  It was something her friend had  seemed to accept, but still, there was always a doubt in the back of Marsha’s mind.  How much of Celeste’s dislike of Alex was actually due to envy?
     That doubt was the main reason she hadn’t confided in Celeste when her marriage began to crumble.  And it was why she never mentioned the spells she’d taken to casting on Alex, until it was too late.  How different would her life have turned out if she’d had the sense to listen to her friend, all those years ago?
     Sam gave her hand a little squeeze. “So, all this thinking and planning, is it something you need to be alone to do?  Or can someone keep you company?”
     Someone?  She smiled at him once more.  “Well, that depends.  Is the someone you, Sam?  Because, you know the answer to that is always yes.”
     They stared into each other’s eyes for a long moment, and then he leaned in and kissed her, soft and sweet. 
     A wave of peace washed through her.  I am so lucky, she thought, as he gathered her into his arms.  I am so blessed to have this chance, to have this man in my life, to know even this much happiness, for however long it lasts.  She felt his love surround her, bringing light into her darkness, and she closed her eyes, and gave herself over to the feeling of being loved, unconditionally.             
     The room around her wavered.  Worries and concerns that had plagued her ceased to matter.  Their love was a sacrament, as real and as holy as any prayer she could offer, any ritual she could perform.  And, like all things sacred, it existed outside of ordinary reality, in a place where space and time could bend and change and melt together.  Where dreams of the past and memories of the future could coexist in an endless present. 
     Where love, changeless and evergreen, reigned supreme.

Read more about this title here:  http://www.oberoncalifornia.us/Return.htm


Next up is Iron. This is the scene where Gavin comes face to face with one of Winter's princes: 


Stray sunbeams piercing the gloomy gray sky lit up the landscape like visions of heaven. They did nothing to lighten [Gavin's] mood, however. Neither did the sight of the horseman stopped in the middle of the road just where it crested the hill overlooking the forge. The stranger’s aristocratic features were set in a sneer as he gazed down at Gavin’s demesne, causing an upwelling of territorial pride and anger in the smith’s heart.

“Can I help ye then?” Gavin asked as he came to a swaggering stop several feet from the stranger. If truth be told, between the drink and the bitterness besetting his spirits, he was spoiling for a fight; and the idea of wiping the boreen with this arrogant-looking young prick seemed all too appealing.

The horseman turned to him, a look of cold surprise on his face. Gavin was surprised, as well, and none too pleased. Bless my soul, if it’s not another bloody, damned Fae’Tis a fekkin’ plague of t’em, is what it is. This one had the look of a hunter, though, and coming so close on Aislinn’s heels it didn’t take a genius to figure out it must be he from whom she was running.

Not my kind, Aislinn had said of the fae that was in pursuit of her, and now that he’d had a look at him Gavin was much inclined to agree; the two were as different as day and night. As he took in the wintry expression in the stranger’s eyes, the cruel curl of his mouth, he felt the hackles rise on his neck. His temper flared hotter, burning off the effects of the alcohol, leaving him clear-headed, alert and murderously calm. How now, you cheeky devil? he thought angrily. You think you can just ride up to my door, bold as you please, and take her away from me, is that it? Well, think again.

Even without the promise she’d wrung from him and despite the anger he still harbored toward her; without knowing anything beyond what his senses had already told him about either fae, or anything at all about the argument between them, Gavin knew he’d not be handing Aislinn over to this brigand. Not without a fight.

But what weapons did he have with which to fight against one such as this? Despite the somewhat effete cast to the fae’s features, Gavin could sense the power that lay coiled inside him, as cold and deadly as any serpent.

“I’m looking for someone,” the stranger drawled at last. He had a voice like dry leaves scuttling across bare rock.

His mind racing as he searched for a solution, Gavin let his face relax into a drunken leer in an attempt to buy himself some time. “Lookin’, is it? Well, sure and I’d say you’dfound someone. Or amn’t I someone then?”

The stranger shook his head impatiently. “I’m seeking a particular someone. A woman. A young lady, in fact. Tall, with long, blonde hair, quite fair to look upon, she’s to be my bride. I thought to meet up with her hereabouts, but she seems to have ... gone astray.”

“Yerra,” Gavin shook his head sorrowfully. “’Tis a turrible t’ing that, young ladies goin’ astray. Have ye searched down in Cork for her? That’s usually where they end up, you see, on the streets o’ Cork City.”

“’Tis not what I meant,” the fae replied, staring down his nose at the smith. “I believe she passed through here quite recently. Perhaps you might have seen her?”

“What’s that?” Gavin feigned horror. “Me? Keeping company with some harlot outta Cork? Are ye daft, man? Who’s been telling such lies? You’ll have the missus down on me poor head if you go about spreading such stories as that!”

“Enough of your nonsense,” the stranger uttered in frosty tones. “Silence!”

Gavin fell dumb as the interdiction hit him. Like a cold hand it wrapped around his neck stealing his speech, almost stealing his air entirely. His heart labored as he struggled to breathe. Meanwhile, the stranger’s horse tossed its head and stamped impatiently, teeth snapping as it extended his neck in Gavin’s direction.

“Now, tell me,” the fae demanded, attempting to fix Gavin with his steely gaze, as he urged his restless mount forward. “Have ye or have ye not seen, or heard tell of, the woman I seek?”

It took all the willpower Gavin possessed to keep from answering; or to keep his eyes from meeting that fell gaze, but he knew he was as good as lost if he did. So he focused his attention on the stranger’s horse, instead. With an Irishman’s appreciation for horseflesh, he couldn’t help but be impressed, even despite the danger he was in. It was a beautiful creature, with eyes of coal, a dappled gray coat that shone with the same dull gleam as pewter, deadly white teeth, and those hooves--black as iron and probably just as heavy--ripe to cut a man down with a single kick, he didn’t doubt. Suddenly, Auld John’s words came back to him: “Nary a fae can abide the black metal--and their steeds be just the same.” And Gavin knew he had just one chance to save himself.

“I see how ’tis now,” he muttered, nodding like a simpleton, though it was a battle to say anything that was not in answer to the fae’s question. He dropped his packages carefully on the dried grass at the side of the road, hands fumbling slightly as the dug into his jacket pockets. But as they closed around his all-but-forgotten tools, he felt the pressure from the fae’s spell ease. “Sure and your beastie must have a stone stuck in his hoof, to put him in so foul a mood. But, ‘tis your lucky day, for I’ve just the thing for it.” And, so saying, he held up the implements of his trade--hoof parers and cleaning knife. The gray reared in alarm. Eyes flashing, whinnying fearfully, it stamped and twisted as it tried to back away from the smith.

“Put those away, you fool!” the fae ordered, savagely working the reins while his horse continued to pivot and buck in its efforts to distance itself from the iron.

“Now, now,” Gavin soothed, keeping an eye out for those hooves as he moved closer to the frightened animal. “It must be hurting him turrible to put him in such a state. But ’twill be all right. Just hold him still, can’t you?” Reaching out, he quickly swiped the tip of the parers along the horse’s flank, as though he were striking a match. The response was every bit as immediate and inflammatory.

The horse let out a scream of pain, as though it had been burnt; its hind legs shot out in a vicious kick that had Gavin jumping back to stay out of range, and that nearly unseated its rider. Then it bolted down the road, while the fae, howling furiously, tried in vain to halt its flight.

“Yerra,” Gavin jeered after them. “Off with ye then.” Laughing softly, he watched the pair disappeared from view. “And a good riddance to ye both.” Then he pocketed his tools, collected his parcels and resumed his journey.


Finally, an unedited excerpt from The Oak King...


December, 1895. At the time of the Winter Solstice…
“You’re thinking about him again, aren’t you?”
At the sound of her husband’s voice so close behind her, Aine’s thoughts scattered like a flock of wild birds flushed out of hiding. She paused in the act of lighting the solstice candles in her parlor window and turned round to face him. The look on Fionn’s face, so brooding and unhappy, caused an ache in Aine’s heart. For all that he’d wronged her by tricking her into this marriage, keeping the truth of his nature a secret until after they’d wed, Aine still loved him.  For an instant, she even considered denying the charge, but what good would that do? If the guilty blush heating her cheeks hadn’t already given her away, there was still naught that would be solved by lying. Nor would she insult them both by asking Fionn who he meant. He could only be referring to Kieran, Fionn’s other half, his opposite number and Aine’s…
Ah, well, that was the question, now wasn’t it? What was Kieran to her?
He wasn’t family. Though he and Fionn were as intimately connected as twins, their lives forever entwined, the two men were definitely not brothers. He wasn’t her lover yet either, no matter how much she might desire him, or how much Fionn might fear that was already the case. In fact, now that she’d thought on it, she did know what Kieran was to her. He was a geis—a curse. He was a burden she’d taken on, all unknowing, when she’d married Fionn, one she must now live with for six months out of every year.
Very soon, Kieran would be by her side once again with those eyes that seemed to gaze straight into her soul—and which also gave away far more of his own feelings than he ever intended—with a smile that could tempt even the most virtuous of angels into sinning and a voice that…well, even thinking about it now caused her heart to race and her chest to ache with longing.
Strong but wounded, charming yet aloof, handsome, tormented, and just the slightest bit wicked—had there ever been a more enticing combination in a man? Just like last year, he’d soon be sleeping under her roof, sharing the meals she cooked, keeping her company throughout the long winter nights and soft spring days whilst Fionn was away…
In truth, the prospect excited her far more than it should.
Aine shook her head. She could hardly tell her husband that! “The solstice is nigh upon us, my love,” she said instead.. “’Twould be wondrous strange were I not to be thinking of him at such a time. Would it not?”
“Aye,” Fionn replied in grudging tones. “I suppose it would at that.”
Aine felt her gaze soften as she looked upon her husband. He was so handsome, so serious, so concerned—and he looked so completely out of place in her little parlor, which she supposed he was. He appeared larger than life somehow, also not a great surprise. 
Even in the depths of winter, Fionn’s skin retained the same rosy flush she’d observed when first they’d met, as though he spent every day standing outside in the hot sun. He radiated warmth, vitality and strength—the very picture of every lush, summer day that had ever been, all rolled into one. All hers to enjoy. The thought sent a delicious thrill rushing through her, as it did each time she remembered it. Tonight, however, it also brought a renewed sense of urgency. For with Kieran’s arrival, Fionn would once again be forced to leave her.
Six long months would pass before they would see each other again and all she’d have to carry her through them was the memory of these days together. She ached to once more feel his body on hers—now, while she still had the chance. She yearned for those strong arms to wrap around her and hold her close, for those sure, masterful hands to caress her skin and bring her to ecstasy over and over again. The time left to them grew so short.
“’Tis you I married,” she said at last, for that was so much more important than the rest. “I bid you remember that, Fionn. ’Tis you who are my husband.”

“Aye. That I am.” A satisfied smile curved Fionn’s lips. His eyes lit up with a fierce, possessive gleam. Holding out his hand, he beckoned to her. “Now come here to me, wife, and let me remind you of that fact.” 
Read more here: http://www.pgforte.com/OakKingExcerpt.htm 

Check out my free holiday reads This Winter Night and Counting On Christmas here: 

2014-12-17

Return to Oberon, now on sale pretty much everywhere...


Well, it's been a very long two weeks for me, waiting until all the vendors got on board with my new release, but I'm pleased to announce that--so far as I can tell--the second Oberon boxed, Return to Oberon, set is finally available at e-tailers everywhere.

Available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble , All Romance eBooks, Smashwords, Kobo, and SynergEbooks.

AND...even better...it's on sale for only .99. That price should be good until the end of the month, but why wait?

Welcome back to bewitching Oberon, California! This small, coastal town is an enchanting place. Anything can happen here—and all too often it does! Clinging to corrugated cliffs above a windswept beach, and isolated amid a tangled network of canyons and creeks, Oberon can be a hard place to get to.  But, as all too many visitors have learned over the years, it can be an even harder place to leave behind.

In Return to Oberon the series continues with books four through six. Once again, these are full-length novels. Although many of the same characters appear in each one, all the books in this collection can be read as stand-alone stories.

Book Four: A Taste of Honey

As far as Lucy Greco Cavanaugh is concerned, her life is a dream come true.  She has it all, the perfect family, the perfect husband, the perfect marriage.  What more could she wish for—other than the chance to do it all again, to experience once more the agony and ecstasy of falling in love with the man of her dreams, to recapture the joy and uncertainty that comes with starting over.

For her husband, Shakespeare-quoting Dan Cavanaugh, however, that dream has just become a nightmare.  His storybook marriage is on the line thanks in part to Deirdre Shelton-Cooper, the runaway daughter of a former girlfriend. Deirdre’s intent on proving Dan is her father. When she accidentally hooks up with Dan and Lucy’s son, Seth, the Cavanaughs are left to wonder: how did their fairy-tale romance turn into a classic Greek tragedy?

It’s going to take an entire band of angels to bring the Cavanaughs’ story to a sweet conclusion. Lucky for them, that’s exactly what’s coming to town.

Book Five: Touch of a Vanished Hand

Sinead Quinn has always been something of a drifter.   But now, with her ex-husband trying to blackmail her, and her ex-boyfriend's widow trying to put her in jail, she has no choice but to go to ground.  What better place to hide than with your family?   After all, what are sisters for—especially when you're a twin?  But the first rule of hiding out, is to keep a low profile.  That does not mean kissing your sister's boyfriend (even if he can't tell the two of you apart); rescuing a troubled teen; or taking a highly visible job as hostess of Oberon's most celebrated new inn.

 Adam Sasso has always dreamed big.  But big dreams beget big complications.  First, his goal to turn the vineyard he inherited from his grandfather into a world-class winery is threatened by a mysterious saboteur.  Next, his plan to run the finest bed & breakfast Oberon has ever seen, is broadsided by a hostess who seems to want to run him instead!  Finally, his fondest wish, that of finding love-everlasting with the soul mate of his dreams, is about to go up in smoke when he can't convince the lady in question that they're destined to be together.

Things are really heating up in Oberon this summer—and it’s not just the arson! It's going to take all the wizardry the town can summon up in order to craft a happy ending for the drifter and the dreamer.

Book Six:  The Spirit of the Place

It’s a week before Christmas and Marsha Quinn has a lot on her mind, like the fact that her entire family is about to arrive—including her daughter, Jasmine, who’s far from happy about Marsha’s upcoming wedding. In fact, there’s only one thing about her future stepfather that Jasmine can't help but admire, and that’s the graduate student he’s recently hired as an intern.

 Brandon Ablemarle was already having a hard time finding the holiday spirit, and that was before the fiery redhead he can’t manage to keep his hands off hit town. If his new boss’s radical book is published, it could sink both their careers.  Can he and Jasmine ignore the attraction between them long enough to stop the wedding and the book, or will the psychic energy they unwittingly raise put a stop to them, instead?
With so much chaos going on, is it any wonder Marsha finds herself wishing on a star? But it’s not just any star she chooses; it’s Venus, the Star of Love. Now Marsha’s about to be visited by three very special ghosts.

If you haven't already, join me on Tsu: https://www.tsu.co/pgforte

2014-12-10

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

It's Day Two of the Smutketeers' annual Twelve Days of Xmas event. I'm one of the authors featured today and I'll be GIVING AWAY a copy of the first two Oberon Boxed Sets, so hurry over and leave a comment! 

http://www.smutketeers.com/

And don't forget, in order to be eligible for the big, grand prize, you'll need to comment on each of the twelve posts.

In the meantime, here's a Christmas-themed excerpt from The Spirit of the Place.


“So...what are you doing tomorrow?” [Jasmine] asked as they pulled up in front of her house. 
Brandon cut the engine and turned off the lights.  “Tomorrow?  Not too much, why?” 
“Well, because it’s Christmas, that’s why.”
“Yeah?  So?”  Christmas.  Right.  And wasn’t that special?  Come to think of it, that probably went a long way toward explaining his lousy mood tonight, didn’t it?  He walked around to her side, intending to simply hand her the keys and leave, and then decided to walk her to the door.  After all, there was no place he had to be and, with no one expecting him, he was in no hurry to get there.
“Don’t you have any plans at all?” she persisted, as they headed toward the house.  “What about dinner?”
“I haven’t really thought about it.  Your aunt’s going out somewhere, so I guess I’ll be on my own.  Maybe I’ll go into town for dinner, or something.”  Or maybe he wouldn’t even bother.  How long could one day be, after all?
“You could always come to dinner with us,” she offered climbing the steps to the front porch.  “We’re going to my Aunt Lucy’s house, but I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if you joined us.”
Another aunt?  Not on your life, sugar.  “Thanks,” he said, trying hard to hide his lack of enthusiasm.  “But I’m kind of looking forward to the time alone.”
Jasmine bit her lip.  “You can’t want to be alone, Brandon.  It’s Christmas.”
Once again, Brandon found himself staring at her mouth.  She was right.  He didn’t want to be alone, he wanted to be with her.  No, he wanted to be inside her.  He felt the beast’s claws rake his insides again and all but snarled at her.  “I told you.  It’s not a big deal.  Besides, if I don’t want to spend Christmas with my family, what makes you think I’d want to spend it with yours?”
The words registered in his brain several seconds after they’d come out of his mouth.  Oh, shit.  He hadn’t meant it to come out that way, but the sight of her teeth worrying her lip made him crazy as always.
“I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean it like that,” he said, sighing a little at the hurt she tried to hide.   He put his hands on her shoulders and stared into her eyes, hoping to look and sound sincere.  “Really, I didn’t.”
She shrugged, still looking like she didn’t believe him.  “I just thought...it might be nice for you not to be alone,” she said, quietly.  “That’s all.”
Nice?  He couldn’t keep from smiling.  “You really want to help me have a nice Christmas, Jasmine?”
She nodded, looking surprised and slightly confused.  Brandon knew another brief moment of guilt, remembering Paco’s words.  Could she really be as innocent as she looked right now? 
Oh, impossible.  She has to know exactly where this conversation is heading
“Then why don’t you give me something nice to think about, while I’m all alone tomorrow,” he murmured as he crowded her against the wall of the house and lifted her chin.
He thought, at first, she was going to resist, but, apparently she was sincere about wanting him to have a nice Christmas.  She raised her face willingly.  Her lips opened under his and, when he felt her arms slip hesitantly around his neck, he moved his hands to her waist.  They closed around bare skin and he was all at once wrestling with himself to maintain control.  He wasn’t going to make the mistake of rushing her again, but it was definitely time to take this thing to the next level.
He deepened the kiss deliberately.  Taking his time.  Gauging her mood.  Waiting for the moment when he could finally begin sliding his hands slowly up her sides, under her sweater.  Ahh, yes... 
She was breathing hard by the time his hands came to a stop just beneath her breasts.  He shifted his hands slightly, felt her shudder as his thumbs brushed across her nipples.  He did it again.  And again.  And then...he shifted his hands once more to cup her breasts in his palms.  She moaned deep in her throat as she pressed herself against him.
Oh, yeah, that’s what I call nice, all right, he thought, all but growling in satisfaction.  But still he wanted more.  He pulled back a bit and, as he’d hoped, she followed after him, pushing herself even closer.  He slid his arms around her.  His hands skimmed down her back to her butt.  He held her against him and let one hand move lower still, lifting her leg and wrapping it around him, and then trailing his hand back up along her bare thigh.
She was clinging to him now, trembling slightly, almost whimpering, barely seeming to breathe.  And then— with a muffled shriek she pushed away from him.  He stared at her in surprise.
“Something bit me,” she exclaimed, looking down at the floor.
He followed her gaze.  Her mother’s cat sat at her feet, ears laid back, an angry look on its furry little face.  He moved his gaze to Jasmine’s ankle and, sure enough, blood was oozing from several small wounds. 
“Why would she do such a thing?”
Oh, who the fuck knows?  Brandon sighed, tiredly.  The whole world seemed joined in a conspiracy to interrupt them every time things got even slightly interesting.  But, just like always, it was probably for the best.  “You’d better get inside,” he said.
She turned startled eyes to him again.  “What?”
“It’s late,” he told her.  “It’s probably already Christmas by now.  And you’ve got a big dinner to go to, remember?”
“Brandon,” she paused, frowning uncertainly.  “Please come with us?”
He smiled and shook his head.  “No.  But, thanks for asking.”  He leaned in to brush one last kiss against her lips.  “Have a merry Christmas, Jasmine.  I’ll see you in a couple of days.”

*  *  *

Jasmine watched as he walked away.  She hadn’t meant to let things go so far tonight, but Brandon had a way of getting to her.  A way of short circuiting her intelligence, derailing her good intentions, screwing up her judgment and making her act all crazy.  He was bad news.  No doubt about it.
She leaned against the door frame as she stared into the night; gazing down the empty road long after his car had disappeared from sight.  Shadow meowed plaintively and rubbed against her ankles, her earlier hostility obviously forgotten.  Finally, Jasmine stirred, opened the door and let them both inside. 
The house was dark and quiet.  Obviously her mother was already asleep.  Jasmine didn’t know whether to feel relieved or disappointed about that.  Could she talk to her mother about something like this?  She needed to talk to someone—but who?   The dog stood motionless in the shadows like a sentinel, but for once Jasmine felt a stray surge of sympathy for the mutt.  It must be hard, after having been raised in one environment, trained for a certain purpose, to find yourself thrust suddenly into another life altogether. The poor dog must feel as out of her element here as Jasmine knew herself to be.
And she couldn’t even be certain anymore that it was all Sam’s fault she felt this way.  What if she succeeded in making him leave, only to find that her problems remained?  What then?
She fed the cat and headed for bed, although she doubted she’d get much sleep tonight.  Her body hummed with an unfamiliar energy.   Her head was spinning.  And if Brandon were to show up again, unexpectedly, if he were to throw rocks at her window, like they always did in movies, would she sneak out to meet him?

She didn’t even have to think about that one.  She’d go in a heartbeat.  It was foolish, and she was no doubt dooming herself to heartbreak by even thinking like that, but for the chance to explore more of this feeling, she’d take the risk.


Welcome back to bewitching Oberon, California! This small, coastal town is an enchanting place. Anything can happen here—and all too often it does! Clinging to corrugated cliffs above a windswept beach, and isolated amid a tangled network of canyons and creeks, Oberon can be a hard place to get to.  But, as all too many visitors have learned over the years, it can be an even harder place to leave behind.

In Return to Oberon the series continues with books four through six. Once again, these are full-length novels. Although many of the same characters appear in each one, all the books in this collection can be read as stand-alone stories.

Book Four: A Taste of Honey

As far as Lucy Greco Cavanaugh is concerned, her life is a dream come true.  She has it all, the perfect family, the perfect husband, the perfect marriage.  What more could she wish for—other than the chance to do it all again, to experience once more the agony and ecstasy of falling in love with the man of her dreams, to recapture the joy and uncertainty that comes with starting over.

For her husband, Shakespeare-quoting Dan Cavanaugh, however, that dream has just become a nightmare.  His storybook marriage is on the line thanks in part to Deirdre Shelton-Cooper, the runaway daughter of a former girlfriend. Deirdre’s intent on proving Dan is her father. When she accidentally hooks up with Dan and Lucy’s son, Seth, the Cavanaughs are left to wonder: how did their fairy-tale romance turn into a classic Greek tragedy?

It’s going to take an entire band of angels to bring the Cavanaughs’ story to a sweet conclusion. Lucky for them, that’s exactly what’s coming to town.

Book Five: Touch of a Vanished Hand

Sinead Quinn has always been something of a drifter.   But now, with her ex-husband trying to blackmail her, and her ex-boyfriend's widow trying to put her in jail, she has no choice but to go to ground.  What better place to hide than with your family?   After all, what are sisters for—especially when you're a twin?  But the first rule of hiding out, is to keep a low profile.  That does not mean kissing your sister's boyfriend (even if he can't tell the two of you apart); rescuing a troubled teen; or taking a highly visible job as hostess of Oberon's most celebrated new inn.

 Adam Sasso has always dreamed big.  But big dreams beget big complications.  First, his goal to turn the vineyard he inherited from his grandfather into a world-class winery is threatened by a mysterious saboteur.  Next, his plan to run the finest bed & breakfast Oberon has ever seen, is broadsided by a hostess who seems to want to run him instead!  Finally, his fondest wish, that of finding love-everlasting with the soul mate of his dreams, is about to go up in smoke when he can't convince the lady in question that they're destined to be together.

Things are really heating up in Oberon this summer—and it’s not just the arson! It's going to take all 
the wizardry the town can summon up in order to craft a happy ending for the drifter and the dreamer.

Book Six:  The Spirit of the Place

It’s a week before Christmas and Marsha Quinn has a lot on her mind, like the fact that her entire family is about to arrive—including her daughter, Jasmine, who’s far from happy about Marsha’s upcoming wedding. In fact, there’s only one thing about her future stepfather that Jasmine can't help but admire, and that’s the graduate student he’s recently hired as an intern.

 Brandon Ablemarle was already having a hard time finding the holiday spirit, and that was before the fiery redhead he can’t manage to keep his hands off hit town. If his new boss’s radical book is published, it could sink both their careers.  Can he and Jasmine ignore the attraction between them long enough to stop the wedding and the book, or will the psychic energy they unwittingly raise put a stop to them, instead?

With so much chaos going on, is it any wonder Marsha finds herself wishing on a star? But it’s not just any star she chooses; it’s Venus, the Star of Love. Now Marsha’s about to be visited by three very special ghosts.

2014-11-18

Dads Behaving Badly

Three of my very favorite authors have new releases out now that share something surprising in common--no, not the suberb writing, that was a given, as were the hot heroes, hot sex and heated exchanges. Nope, this is something else entirely. All three books featured less than exemplary fathers. Let's explore this phenomenon...

Stacy Gail's new release, Where There's a Will has not one but two nasty dads, and oh, the issues they have caused for the hero and heroine! All the lovely, lovely angst! If you like a bad-boy hero to die for and characters who come with a heaping helping of baggage, this is the book for you! 

This is installment number four in the Bitterthorn, Texas series, and it just might be the angstiest one yet--no mean feat when you consider that the series kicked off with last year's Starting from Scratch, and OMG, I knew that one was going to be a three-hankie read from the moment Stacy first told me the story line! Yummy...and I don't just mean the cookies. Both books are also reunion stories--and that is probably my all time favorite trope. Come to think of it, book two in the series, Ugly Ducklings Finish First was also a reunion story. No wonder I love this series so much! 

Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Kobo 

Next up is Kelly Jamieson's new menage Three of Hearts, which is set in Nashville, TN. I was privileged to have spent time with Kelly in Nashville last year while she researched locations and wrote the song that is at the heart of this story. Yes. She wrote a whole, entire, frickin' country song. In like...half an hour. The woman's ridiculously talented. This book has only the one disappointing dad--he belongs to the heroine, who is also saddled with a cheating, hockey player boyfriend, by the way (because even Kelly's throwaway characters are delish). But before you get to feeling too sorry for our poor heroine, you should know the girl gets two smokin' hot heroes in exchange for those losers. And they're both swoon-worthy musicians, don't you know. Yeah, I'm thinking that's sooooo much better and sooooo worth it.

Three of Hearts is set at Christmas time. Is there anything better than a Christmas menage? No, I didn't think so. This is a sparkly Christmas present of a book. Sadly, it's not part of a series--yet. I do have hopes of changing that, however. Oh, Kelly, we need to talk...

Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Kobo

Last, but certainly not least, is Jenny Schwartz's Kiss it Better. Don't you just love that title?  This is a tale of two dads.  Okay, not really. It's a delightful steamy romance set in my new favorite Australian coastal town, Jardin Bay. The hero of Kiss it Better is a doctor and a CEO with a taste for motorcycles and classic cars. Mmmm. I'd call that a triple threat! There are two dads, however--along with an assortment of other relatives, both good and bad. One dad I loved. He's totally deserving of his own HEA. Are you listening, Jenny? The other dad, I wanted to strangle! Grrr. It's called parenting, people! Let's get it right!


So there you have it. Bad news fathers and, sadly, all of them seemed pretty true to life. But are they part of a trend? A new trope? A sign of things to come? Or is it all no more than coincidence? Why not pick them all three books up and decide for yourself? Any way you look at it, these books make for some great reading.