Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Review Tuesday: Mother of Pearl -- #ReviewTuesday #literature #serendipity

Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes
Washington Square Press, 2000

In this world of transient fads and media hype, books endure. One can discover and enjoy a book written decades, even centuries ago. Time does not diminish the impact of a great story.

I happened on Mother of Pearl at a used book sale. It was cheap enough that I didn’t spend much time debating. I just tossed it into my basket with the other dozen volumes I’d found. I didn’t realize I’d acquired a treasure until maybe a year later, when I began reading.

Mother of Pearl is a complex, lyrical, emotionally intense novel that doesn’t really fit into any genre category. Set in the small town of Petal, Mississippi in the mid nineteen fifties, it evokes a strong sense of place. Yet at the same time the conflicts and themes Ms. Haynes explores are universal.

It’s a bit difficult to summarize the plot of Mother of Pearl. Many events occur during its 500 or so pages, but the book is driven by the characters and their interactions. Central to the book is fourteen year old Valuable Korner, the precocious daughter of the town slut and an unknown father. She has grown up with her best friend Jackson McLain, but puberty has changed their relationship, bringing dangerous and confusing desires.

Meanwhile Even Grade, a black man from the next state, settles in Petal. A serious, intelligent sort, he wins the love of local witchy woman Joody TwoSun, who lives in the forest by the creek. Joody can read people, but she can’t read Even. That’s one reason she loves him. She can see that Valuable is headed for tragedy. However, knowledge doesn’t necessarily give you the power to change someone’s fate.

Then there’s elderly Canaan Mosley, the self-educated janitor of the Petal library, who has been working for years on his “thesis”, entitled "The Reality of the Negro", and wealthy, cautious Neva, Jackson’s lesbian aunt, who lives with her frivolous partner Beatrice in a forbidding mansion near the river and nurses her secrets. And sleek, dark-skinned Grace, competent, calm, spending her life in service to white folks while nursing her own dreams. And teenaged Joleb, Jackson’s hapless sidekick, who finds a sort of wisdom in madness.

Each character in Mother of Pearl is vivid, real, and multi-faceted. Though their world could hardly be more different than mine, I felt that in some sense I understood them. As the strands of history and emotion entangle and connect them, I found myself swept along, like twigs in the River Leaf at flood.

Ms. Hayne’s prose is beautiful and evocative. She excels both at description and at dialogue. In particular, I loved her portrayal of the growing attraction between Valuable and Jackson, and its ultimate consummation. Teenage sex is a forbidden theme in erotica, of course, but perfectly permissible in literature. In this case, the book pulled me into their desperate confusion, making me feel the breathless, scary exhilaration of first love.

Mother of Pearl is not an easy book to read, categorize or review. Readers on Amazon have ranked it from puzzled or frustrated one-stars to ecstatic five-stars. The novel doesn’t flinch from darkness. It includes some violence, both human and natural. It deals with difficult topics. Although it’s a realistic book, it shimmers with hidden magic. Perhaps this is the overarching theme—that the world is simultaneously painful and full of wonder.

Really, I’m having a hard time conveying how much I loved this book, or why. I guess you need to read it yourself.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Treasure in the Montana mountains -- @ConstanceBretes #SmallTownRomance #Montana #rafflecopter

Montana mountains

By Constance Bretes (Guest Blogger)

My husband and I love to go sapphire digging, and gold panning up in the mountains behind our home. We brought property in Montana some years back, that had mining rights along the Missouri River, where we could dig for sapphires. The name of the place is Eldorado Heights Bar. There are several of these types of places in our area, there is the Spokane Bar, and The American Bar all nearby and along the Missouri River. Back in the early 1900s, miners searched for gold along the river, and as they dug, they kept finding these colored stones. Not knowing what they were, the miners cast them off to the side as the continued to dread the area for gold.

Later, it was learned that the colored stones, were indeed sapphires, rubies and garnets.

This was not the only place in Montana where you could find these gems and gold. Philipsburg, Alden, and a few other places have sapphires and gold. The town of Philipsburg was of great interest to us. It is a small, historical town and was used as a backdrop for my story, Blue As Sapphires. In the story, I changed Philipsburg to Frankenburg because I’ve added some things that Philipsburg did not have. But one area that my husband and I was very interested in was Gem Mountains. It had a mining operation there. The owners went into the mountains and dug a couple of truckloads of gravel and brought it to the base of the mountain for visitors who could either search through the gravel there or buy buckets of gravel, to dig for Sapphires. There are also claims along the Rock Creek River of gold. My love for these things found its way into my ebook, Blue As Sapphires



Marissa's home was her haven, until Riley invaded her space.

Escaping from her abusive ex-husband, Marissa Simpson returns to her hometown to start over. She spends her days working at the local jewelry store, and the rest of her time is dedicated to mining along Red Rock River, searching for precious gems. Marissa has no intention of getting involved with another man, or with the community she left behind all those years ago. That is, until Riley McCade shows up.

Riley is the Sheriff of Quartz County. He loves his community and goes out of his way to protect and serve. When he meets up with Marissa, he's bound and determined to get to know her even though she insists she's not interested.

The more Riley learns about Marissa's past, the more he concludes that she may be in danger. When her ex-husband shows up, can Riley protect her? And can he earn her love in the process?


Hello, Sheriff. What can I do for you today?”

I thought you would have listened to me and reconsidered trying to make this place livable again.”

Nope, I’m going to try to make a go of it.”

Riley splayed his hand on the back of his neck and gave her a small smile. “You need to go to the county office and get an inspector to come out here and determine what needs to be taken care of before you make this your home. The house has to be up to code.”

And if I don’t?” she said evenly.

I’d have to serve you with a notice and remove you from the premises until the house meets the building code.”

Really,” she replied in a low voice, taut with anger. “I guess I’ll contact the inspector tomorrow and see when I can get someone out. Is that all, Sheriff?”

For now. Tell me, Marissa, how have you been?” Riley asked. “You haven’t been here
in a long time.”

I’m doing well. Thank you,” she replied icily. A suggestion of annoyance hovered in her eyes.

So, are you married? Do you have children?”

No, and no, and why?”

It seemed to Riley that Marissa was being evasive and noncommittal. She sure was an attractive woman, maybe a little too thin, but she had a lovely face and perfect rose-colored lips. Something about her piqued his interest.

I just wondered how you were. Is this the first time you’ve been back to Frankenburg since high school?”


What brings you back?”

I wanted to come back.” She crossed her arms over her chest.

He was aware of her annoyance, he tried to coax her into a better mood, but failed.

Marissa, if you’d like, I could make you an offer on the twenty acres of land. That would giveyou enough money to buy a nice home in town and live more comfortably than you would here.”

Why are you so bent on me leaving this house?” Marissa shot him a cold look, uncrossing her arms and squeezing her hands into fists.

I’m not bent on anything, but I told you before I think the house is dangerous to live in.”

Well, it’s my problem, so I’d appreciate it if you would mind your own business.”

Why are you so testy? We’re a tight community here in Frankenburg, you know that. We look out for each other and try to help when we can. I’m only trying to be neighborly and keep you safe.”

I’m not interested in you being neighborly and keeping me safe. I’m capable of taking care of myself, and I don’t need any help.”

All right, Marissa, but you get that inspector out here as soon as possible.” Riley’s voice was smooth, but insistent.

Yes, Sheriff.” She spat out the words contemptuously, did a mock salute, whirled around, walked into the house, and slammed the door in his face.

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About Me

I started writing contemporary romance and contemporary romance suspense fifteen years ago, and after multiple rejections, got my first contract for Delayed Justice, released in 2014. 
I lives in Basin, Montana, where three feline furballs own me and my husband, and a dog that lives next door named Sara, who thinks she also lives with the Bretes family. I love the mountains that surround my home, I love basket weaving, jewelry making, and just visiting all the folks in the small community we live in.

I currently have seven books published, and a number of other ones in various stages of edits. Right now, I’m working on a new book, called Roadside Love, a murder mystery/romance in a small town in Wyoming. I have two other books that are at the end of their editing days and now at critique partners, Elkhorn In The Moonlight and Rocky River Gold. Both are small town romances.

I can be reached through the following media.

Email: bretesc [at] gmail [dot] com

Be sure to visit my webpage, navigate to the News & Things, and enter the monthly rafflecopter at the bottom of the page. Join my newsletter mailing list also at that site, and you will get my newsletter, once a month and only occasionally, anytime the rest of the month, if I suddenly have something that has come up after the newsletter was sent out.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Charity Sunday: True Colors Fund #lgbtq #homelessness #CharitySunday

Charity Sunday banner

Welcome to my December Charity Sunday! In case this is your first visit—once a month I devote my Sunday blog post to some worthy cause that needs support. I talk a bit about the charity, then share an excerpt from one of my books. Then I encourage everyone I can think of to come by and comment.

For every comment I receive, I donate one dollar to the month’s selected charity.

Doing a good deed doesn’t cost you anything but a bit of your time.

I was torn about what charity to choose this Sunday. The holiday season always makes me grateful for having a warm, comfortable, secure home. What could be more awful than being on the streets at this festive time? So I was thinking that I wanted to select a charity that’s working to combat homelessness.

At the same time, I felt like celebrating the recent Australian law legalizing same-sex marriage, by highlighting a charity working for LGBTQ rights.

I managed to find a cause that combines these issues. True Colors Fund (https://truecolorsfund.org/) is a charity co-founded by singer Cyndi Lauper to help address the problem of homelessness among LGBTQ teens. Although youth identifying as LGBTQ make up only 7% of the overall population, they constitute more than 40% of the homeless teens in America. Often these kids are forced out of their homes by families who can’t handle their alternative sexuality. Once they’re on the street, LGBTQ teens are even more vulnerable to violence, sexual exploitation and mental health issues. 


True Colors Fund works through advocacy, education, and youth collaboration to raise awareness of this problem and develop leadership and self-sufficiency among LGBTQ youth. During this season of sharing, I hope and pray that every person has a safe, loving home—no matter who they are.

For my excerpt, I’ve got a bit from my short holiday romance Slush, which happens to feature a homeless heroine who’s camped out in a chilly garage. Read and (I hope!) enjoy!

And as special holiday gift, I’ll send a free PDF copy of Slush to any commenter who includes his or her email address! (In addition to donating to True Colors, of course!)

Happy Holidays!

An odd sense of well-being stole over him as he propped himself against the wall, watching Daisy move around her rudimentary shelter. Her every gesture had an economical grace. With her back to him, she busied herself at a makeshift counter of planks and cinder blocks along the opposite wall. He caught the snap of a match, the chemical odor of Sterno. Her blond tresses were a shower of gold, illuminated by the single dusty bulb in the ceiling, When she stood on tiptoe to grab something off a shelf near the ceiling, her pert buttocks flexed under the red long johns. Ian mentally scolded himself as his cock twitched and filled. But what could he do? She was, quite simply, enchanting.

A heavenly aroma filled the space. Ian’s stomach rumbled. “Oh my God, that smells delicious! What is it?”

Daisy smiled over her shoulder. “Just Campbell’s tomato soup. About all I can afford these days. You want some?”

Is there enough?” He felt so guilty, craving her meager supplies.

Sure. I’ve got some crackers, too.”

She brought him a steaming bowl and a bent, stamped metal spoon. “Careful, it’s hot.” She scattered cellophane-wrapped two-packs of saltines over the blanket. “Help yourself. It’s easy to filch more from work.”

You have a job?” He dipped his spoon into the soup then blew on the hot surface. The smell reminded him of his childhood. His mom used to make tomato soup when he came in from playing in the snow.

Sure. What’d you think, I was some kind of bum? At Donut Heaven, down on Huntington Ave. Only part time, and not even minimum wage, but I get a free uniform, lunch if I don’t have a split shift, and all the day-old doughnuts I can eat. Unfortunately, they make awful doughnuts.” She gave a rueful chuckle. “But it’s a lot better than nothing!”

Seating herself cross-legged on the mattress beside him, she tucked into her soup with the single-minded intensity of someone who was famished. “I was off today, though,” she added, as if in explanation.

For a while, they savored their soup in silence. What a mystery she was – beautiful, kind, self-sufficient, living on the streets, or nearly. What was her story?

Been homeless for nearly six months now.” She spoke matter-of-factly, as if he’d asked the question aloud. “Came here last spring from West Virginia with my boyfriend Hank. Hank had folks here, an uncle who swore he’d get us good paying jobs in the hospitality industry. Turns out the uncle ran a so-called strip club up on Route 1. He’d paid Hank to bring me up here. Once I saw how things were, I ditched Hank and set out on my own.”

That was brave. Why didn’t you go back to West Virginia?”

She set down her empty bowl. “Honestly? Weren’t much down there for me either, unless I wanted to marry some jerk and pop out kids. No, I figured I’d have a better chance here in the city. I didn’t realize how hard it would be, not knowing anyone. I was willing to do pretty much any kind of legal work, but with economy in the toilet and the cost of living...”

Her head bowed, her hair falling over her face. For the first time Ian heard weariness in her voice. How could he begin to understand what this girl had been through? He’d never lacked for anything – at least not anything material.

He reached out, stroking her golden locks. He couldn’t help himself. Her hair was as silky as it looked. Daisy glanced up at him through the blond curtain, her smile returning.

How’s your head?” she asked, the brightness in her voice almost believable.

Much better.” He allowed his hand to drift to her shoulder and down her arm. She trembled when his fingertips brushed her bare skin. “Thanks to you.” He squeezed her tiny hand in his larger one. “You’re my Christmas angel, Daisy.”

Don’t forget to leave a comment! Every one means more resources for homeless LGBTQ youth. And include your email address if you want a free copy of my story!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

When Your Story Blows Up in Your Face! @AnniFifeAuthor #romance #jealousy #giveaway

By Anni Fife (Guest Blogger)

I’m a detailed planner rather than a pantser. This means I don’t write by the seat of my pants, rather, I like to plan every scene, then move on to the research, and end by checking that my character development and arcs are complete. This works for me because when I start the actual writing of my novel, I can focus fully on the creative process without panicking about what is going to happen next. You see, I have a pathological fear of writer’s block!

For Gray’s Promise, my plan seemed to be on track until I started to write. Then, by the end of Chapter One, I realized Gray and Zoey’s journey to their happily ever after was going to be so painful and intense, and so darn beautiful, that a complicated suspense plot would only distract from their explosive relationship. So I started to ask that magical question a lot of authors resort to when a plot isn’t working: ‘What if…?

Out went my intricate suspense plot that was built around fracking, the theft of lucrative gas by tunneling into a neighboring ranch, and a kidnapping that exploded into death and mayhem. I reworked the suspense plot and brought the evil much closer to home, making the horror and pain more threatening and claustrophobic. I also reworked their physical relationship. The sexual chemistry between Gray and Zoey is explosive but it’s also intricately linked to their long and unbreakable bond to each other. Complicated emotional factors (clear in the story when you read it) determined that I delay the actual consummation between them. This presented a huge challenge because I had to find a way to make the sexual encounters between them smoking hot but without them actually doing the deed until the final chapter of their story.

Yowza! The love scenes between Gray and Zoey have ended up being the hottest scenes I have ever written, most likely because the emotion between these two is intensely raw, but also because Gray is just that darn hot!

I hope you enjoy the Blurb and the short Excerpt I’ve selected that gives you just a hint of the heat between Gray and Zoey.

Happy reading…Anni x


A jealousy that destroys everything in its path…a love that refuses to die.

Zoey Morgan seems to have it all as a successful surgeon in Boston. However, perfection lies only on the surface. Plagued by nightmares and amnesia from a tragedy that ripped her family from her fourteen years ago, she finds the courage to reach out to the only man who can make her feel safe. She’s buried the memory of their love, but her heart—and her body—responds to the ex-marine in ways that are all too familiar.

Grayson “Gray” Walker’s heart shattered when Zoey chose another man over him. Since then, he’s built an impenetrable wall around his emotions. But from the moment she implodes back into his life, her vulnerability breaches his defenses. His skills as an elite member of the King Security team cannot shield him from the devastation of learning he might have left Zoey high and dry when she needed him most. Now, Gray must navigate the tripwire of helping her heal while protecting himself from being hurt again.

As the embers of their potent love reignite, an old threat awakens, leading to greater danger than ever before.


The porch door was open, letting a soft breeze move through the cottage. I breathed in the dewy dampness, and a faint pain echoed near my heart. If I closed my eyes, I could almost hear Mama chattering to my dad in the kitchen. She always got up early to make breakfast. The memories were buried but when they surfaced, they were mine to treasure. I drank my coffee and washed down the last of my cinnamon roll. And with it, gently nudged the memory away.

The breeze gusted and I brushed away a curl of hair fluttering in my face. Gray was cracking eggs now and a wave of lust crept over me. His easy—and mostly naked—confidence in the kitchen was weirdly heady. An image of his face when he came last night slipped into my mind. The dampness in the air transferred to my skin and I shivered, goose bumps prickling up my arms. Jeez. He was so sexy. Even more than I could have ever imagined. Rubbing at my goosies, I peeked at him through my lashes. A vague heaviness fluttered in my tummy. He was confident and seductive as hell, but he was also holding back. He might have had reason last night, but I wasn’t going to let him get away with it for long. Gray’s running days were coming to an end. Soon.

Butterfly.” His sexy growl demanded my attention. He was sipping coffee, his electric gaze focused on me. “You wearing panties?”

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Luke’s Redemption (King Security Book 1)
Currently on sale for only 99c. Limited time so be quick!

About Anni

Anni Fife is an exciting contemporary romance author who has already made her mark in the popular genre of Steamy Romantic Suspense. Her debut novel, Luke’s Redemption, has been acclaimed by critics and readers and was a Finalist in the 2017 RONE Awards. Anni says she credits Kristen Ashley as her guiding inspiration, and strives to make her characters equally as heart-wrenching and unforgettable. She is currently working on Eva’s Peace (King Security Book 3).

Last year, Anni closed the door on a successful career in television production to fulfill her lifelong passion, writing. In the space of a month, she shut her business, packed up her city life, and moved to a small seaside village. When she’s not writing, she can be found on the beach searching for pansy shells, or drinking red wine and gabbing with her gal posse.

If you want to know when Anni’s next book is releasing and be first to get regular updates and BONUS TREATS, visit her website and sign up to join her POSSE.

Anni is published by The Wild Rose Press, and is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA).

Anni’s Social Media Links

You can read all about Anni on her website, and join Anni’s Posse to get regular updates and Bonus Treats—www.annifife.com

Or LIKE Anni on Facebook www.facebook.com/AnniFifeAuthor/

Or follow Anni on Twitter—https://twitter.com/AnniFifeAuthor

Amazon— https://www.amazon.com/author/annifife

BookBub— https://www.bookbub.com/authors/anni-fife

ENTER Gray's Promise Release Giveaway! 
You can be a lucky winner of one of three free ebook copies
of this brand new release. Good luck!

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Friday, December 8, 2017

A Code of Honor - @BeverleyOakley #historical #romance #giveaway

Forsaking Hope cover

Beverley is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the RaffleCopter below to enter. Remember you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other tour stops. You may find those locations here.

About the Book

Two years ago, she missed their secret assignation and disappeared without a trace. Now the divine "Miss Hope" is in Felix Durham’s bed - a 'surprise cheering-up gift' sourced by his friends from London's most exclusive brothel. Felix is in heaven - and he wants to stay there.

So does Hope, but she can’t.

Hope Merriweather lives by a code of honour – even if she’s a prostitute.
Having sold her soul, she’s prepared to sacrifice everything else to protect what she believes in.

Even if honour – in her eyes – comes at the cost of thieving and breaking hearts. Including her own.

Available for preorder here:

Excerpt: Chapter One

Wilfred Hunt.

If there was a name to tip Hope into the abyss of despair she was hearing it spill from Madame Chambon’s lips now as the older woman directed Hope to take a seat in the reception room, presumably so Madame could loom oppressively over her.

With her hands on her ample, expensively padded hips, Hope’s benefactress—procuress, employer and gaoler were other monikers—sent Hope a beetling look that needed no interpreting: Regardless of Hope’s true feelings, Hope must project the required show of warmth and delight at being the chosen one.

Madame patted the side of her faux curls. Years of hot irons had reduced her hair to the texture of wool but her crowning glory these days was supplemented by the lustrous locks of those girls who dared cross her – before they were thrown back into the street from where most had come.

Nevertheless, Hope had to make her resistance clear. Surely Madame who knew her history would understand her loathing for this man, above all others. “I shan’t do it,” she whispered. There was little evidence of the willful child and wild adolescent who’d been the despair of her family. “I won’t—”

Outside, the noise of the traffic rumbling over the cobbles and the shrill calls of competing vendors settled upon the tense silence. Madame Chambon’s other girls, ranged around the sumptuously appointed room on red velvet upholstered banquettes, watched the exchange with prurient fascination. Hope knew it had been a calculated ploy of Madame’s to conduct her interview in public so that Hope would serve as an example to them.

No one crossed Madame Chambon.

The shrill cry of a fishmonger caused Madame to look pointedly out of the window. With something between a smile and a sneer, she smoothed a Marcel wave. “Is that where you plan to return, Hope? The gutter?” Her nose twitched and in the sunlight that filtered into the room, the grooves chiselled between mouth and chin were thrown into harsh relief, highlighted rather than hidden by the thick powder she used to conceal her age.

Madame Chambon’s comfort, now and into retirement, depended on obedient girls. Hope knew that as well as anyone. She’d had to bury her rebellious streak just to ensure food in her belly.

The Frenchwoman raised a chiselled brow and began to pace slowly in front of her girls. A painter with an eye for beauty would have been ecstatic at capturing such a spectacle on canvas. The discerning young man about town who visited 56 Albemarle Street was frequently rendered ecstatic by the range of delights Madame Chambon's girls offered in addition to the visual.

You forget yourself, Hope. I put a roof over your head and deck you out as handsomely as Mr Charles Worth ever did for his most discerning customer.” There was acid in Madame Chambon’s tone. “But for me, you'd be starving and glad of the pennies you could trade for a grubby stand-up encounter in a dark alley.” Madame Chambon thrust out her bosom and breathed through her nose, her response a calculated warning to the other girls arranged in various languid poses about the ornately decorated reception room that intransigence would not be tolerated.

Mr Hunt has requested you.” She paused and when Hope remained silent, though her stance and expression left no one in any doubt as to her horror regarding this enforced assignation, went on. “Remember what I told you—what I tell all my girls when they first come here? The past must be forgotten the moment you step over my threshold. You are reborn, remodelled, refashioned into the most exquisite delectation of womanhood. A marquess, a prince, is well recompensed for the tidy sum he hands over in order to enjoy your sparkling wit, to converse with you in French, or if he chooses, on philosophy…to enjoy your charms…and,” she added significantly, “your gracious hospitality and tender ministrations to his needs. That is our agreement and you are no different. If Mr Hunt wishes you, Hope, to attend him at his residence then you will go.”

Faith, one of the kinder girls, patted Hope’s arm in silent solidarity. Hope didn’t expect any of them to speak up in her defence. Not when they all relied on Madame Chambon as much as she did to provide them with the necessities of life. Anything more than that was part of a strict contract that indentured a girl for life unless she was able to secure a generous benefactor to settle Madame's severance bill. The fine clothes were part of the charade, necessary to entice a more elite clientele. Hope’s exquisite wardrobe did not belong to her though she'd have forsaken all the dupion silk and Spitalfields lace for the freedom of the gutter and to be mistress of her own destiny – and her body - if she could only be sure of a plate of gravy and potatoes every second day.

Closing her eyes, she hung her head, the carefully coiffed curls that fell forwards brushing against her tear-streaked cheeks. It was as well that they not be in evidence. Tears, weakness, vulnerability were like a red rag to a bull where Madame Chambon was concerned.

How long…do I have to prepare myself?” She was not so stupid she couldn’t admit defeat when there was no alternative. Obduracy was beaten out of one, but tears ensured a girl got the very worst next assignment. Their clients weren’t all marquesses and princes, though they did require a very fat pocket book.


Tomorrow.” Hope repeated it in a leaden tone, and stared at her hands, clasped in her lap; white-knuckled. As white as the rabbit-fur that edged her fashionable black-and-white striped satin cuirass. Hope had the tall, slim figure suited to the scandalously tight tie-back skirts that were all the rage, the back flowing into a train adorned with elaborate swags and trimmed with bows. She'd turned heads the length of Oxford Street as she’d promenaded along the pavement following a walk through Hyde Park earlier that afternoon. In fact, for the first time in two years, she’d almost felt happy as she’d pretended a sense of freedom in the afternoon sun, blocking her mind to the prison to which she was returning.

She drew in her breath and forced herself to be brave, knowing the punishment she’d invite for daring to speak her mind. “Please tell Mr Hunt I will see him again under sufferance.”

Madame Chambon’s voice was surprisingly caramel. “Well then, now that you have made your objection clear, Hope, you will be pleased to hear that Mr Hunt’s desires are not only motivated by fond memories of your no-doubt mutually satisfying congress. I believe he wishes to acquaint you with news of your family.”

Hope hid her shock. “I have no family.” With care, she modified her tone so it was as leaden as before though emotion roiled close to the surface.

Not even a sister?”

Hope raised her chin. Here was the chink and Madame knew it. The woman did her research.

Aware that the other girls who surrounded her were tense with anticipation, Hope struggled not to respond. Camaraderie existed at surface level but one never knew when it might profit one to have the dirt on a fellow prostitute. It was, clearly, another reason Madame Chambon had chosen to make this conversation public.

Mr Hunt will see you at nine tomorrow evening,” said the so-called Frenchwoman who, it was whispered, was from the gutters of Lambeth, not Paris. “At his apartments in Duke Street. Now go and prepare yourself for Lord Farrow. Married to a monolith like the venerable Lady Farrow, he likes his girls vivacious and free-spirited. There’ll be less coin in your pocket if you sully the transaction with that long face, Hope.”

About the Author

Beverley Oakley was seventeen when she bundled up her first 500+ page romance and sent it to a publisher. Unfortunately drowning her heroine on the last page was apparently not in line with the expectations of romance readers so Beverley became a journalist.

Twenty-six years later Beverley was delighted to receive her first publishing contract from Robert Hale (UK) for a romance in which she ensured her heroine was saved from drowning in the icy North Sea.

Since 2009 Beverley has written more than thirteen historical romances, mostly set in England during the early nineteenth century. Mystery, intrigue and adventure spill from their pages and if she can pull off a thrilling race to save someone’s honour – or a worthy damsel from the noose – it’s time to celebrate with a good single malt Scotch.

Beverley lives with her husband, two daughters and a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy the size of a pony opposite a picturesque nineteenth century lunatic asylum. She also writes Africa-set adventure-filled romances tarring handsome bush pilot heroes, and historical romances with less steam and more sexual tension, as Beverley Eikli.

You can get in contact with Beverley at:

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

My sexy, respectful hero @JLPeridot #giveaway #heroes #respect

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By JL Peridot (Guest Blogger)

I grew up in the 80s. I thought nothing of it when Han Solo hounded Princess Leia until she took him on. Or when Maverick got Charlie by being publicly romantic. Or when Deckard hooked up with Rachel after getting rough with her in his apartment. As far as I was taught, this was normal — this was sexy.

Of course, I wouldn’t be comfortable with any of this in real life. A too-eager guy encroaching on my personal space is an instant turn-off. I’ve heard moments like these in 80s cinema contributed to the toxic masculinity rife in the world today. So with every sexy story I write, I wonder what kind of influence my misbehaving characters might have on real people, now and in the future.

Do male heroes coming on strong teach us to expect that men must come on strong to be desirable and heroic? I’ve seen plenty of men who behave aggressively to appear strong. Or worse, passive aggressive to demonstrate strength while still appearing polite. Is it because they’ve been taught this behaviour is normal — that it’s what they need to do to be sexy?

Are there ways we can depict masculine strength with both situational realism and respect for women? This is what I wanted to explore.

Rhys Carver is the strong and respectful hero of my new novel, Chasing Sisyphus. As a cop, he holds fast to a sense of duty without having a stick up his butt about it. He’s aggressive, but not boorish and thoughtless. And when it comes to sex, I figure he was more of a maverick in his younger years, but learned to rein it in after all the fucked up shit he’s seen. At 35, he’s professional, he’s on the level, he’s got his act together.

Then he’s confronted by Adria, the femme fatale protagonist who won’t back down. What do you do when the woman who gets you going could kill you when your back is turned? What do you do when you owe her one, but it’s your job to put her in jail? What do you do when answering the call of duty means putting your whole city under threat? You know, dilemmas that really test his mettle.

For him, the struggle is in balancing the impulse to act with the rational smarts and reasonable use of force that make him a good detective. Taking the cop and bounty hunter stuff out of it, Rhys’s dilemma mirrors the real dilemma I’ve observed in and discussed with almost all the men in my life — especially the ones who I respect the most.

In both fiction and real life, I turn to strength’s more stoic characteristics. It’s not the same as coming on strong, using grand public gestures to coerce love, or forcefully imposing your will upon others. Instead, it’s a deep-seated perseverance in the face of your flaws, your dirty thoughts, your unsavoury impulses. It’s a commitment to maintaining that balance in a productive way, resulting in a quiet fortitude that makes you someone who can be counted on when the stakes are high.

To me, that’s sexy.

Thank you so much, Lisabet, for having me on your blog.


Bounty hunter Adria Yuan is hot on the trail of her final hit: a notorious hacker wanted by the city’s elite. With the reward, she can pay for her brother’s surgery and finally get out of Basilica City. Trouble is, her line of work’s not exactly legal, and she’s barely staying ahead of the cops who want her target, too.

Detective Rhys Carver may be a little unorthodox, but he’s a good cop. Born and bred in Basilica, he does his part to keep his city clean. As clean as it gets, at least. And with Adria suddenly in his sights, it’s going to take more than falling in love for him to let her go.

As the pair close in on their mark, they are unwittingly drawn into a high profile conspiracy that could thrust the whole of Basilica into chaos. Can Adria and Rhys set aside their differences, and their desires, to save the only home they know?

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He couldn’t make out her face, but he sure noticed her tight silhouette as she walked by the Nova Legion statue. She seemed a little upmarket for the scene and, come to think of it, he didn’t remember seeing her leave. She was probably still there, waiting under the streetlamp like a femme fatale in those movies Keats kept on mute at his desk on a tiny TV.

Somewhere nearby, a door shut. At any other time, it would have been another pip of noise in a filthy district. But it was too quiet around here. Too few people to make a sound like that seem normal. Anywhere else, it would be the sound you shut out. Here, to Rhys, it was a dog whistle.

Keats, I heard something,” he said. “Gonna go check it out.”

Not a good idea, Carver. There’s a chase at the north end. Cap’s called the cars in. You got no backup.”

Don’t need it. If the kid’s still here, he’s alone.”

You’ll be in deep shit if the boss finds out. How do you even know it’s him?”

We’ve been watching this guy for weeks. I got a feeling he’s onto us. Or, if not us, then someone else who wants him out of action.”

C’mon, Carver—”

Keats, I just know, all right? I’m going in. You got eyes on me or not?”

Jeez! All right…where you heading?”

Building two thirty-four on the corner. Going in via the south entrance.”

CCTV’s busted on the west side, but I got eyes on the north exit. Actually, building report says the east and west fire escapes are busted, too. You keep the south door covered and your boy ain’t going nowhere.”

Weapon in hand, Rhys crept inside and shut the door behind him. It was dark. The only light came in from the street through gap-tooth blinds and dusty windows. It took a second to adjust.

Broken floor tiles and peeling wallpaper lined the foyer. A lamp hung from a wall, still intact. This might have been a nice place once, before the city’s worst years. Now it stood waiting for the official condemnation that would put it out of its misery. Like the rest of this district.

The stairs creaked under his weight, the ceiling creaked above him.

Keats, we got residents here?”

Negative. Power and water were cut off twelve years ago. Why, you see something?”

Gunshots exploded above. No time to answer. Rhys popped the safety and legged it up the stairs.

* * * *

Adria hadn’t counted on the tripwire. This kid knew someone would follow him home one day. He’d strung a line of empty soup cans across the apartment hallway. When she kicked that out, a hefty serving of iced water came down squarely on her head. Gooseflesh prickled her neck and shoulders. The muscles in her jaw seized in the cold. Against the shock, she scrambled to her feet, fired up to catch the stomping and crashing in the other room before it got away.

A figure ran past the doorway.

Stop!” she yelled.

It rounded the corner. Adria gave chase.

She scanned the room. It was dim at best, thanks to the streetlights from outside, but she saw enough. Computer equipment and various peripherals lay strewn across the floor, some still plugged into a transportable battery in the corner, emitting tiny lights and numbers.

A window slammed shut. The glass shattered. Shards crunched and ground beneath Adria’s boots as she hurried in pursuit of her fleeing target.

When she stepped out onto the fire escape, two hands rammed her into the ladder. The whole balcony shuddered from the collision. Pain flared down her shoulder, but she kept her grip on the gun. She held it up with her good arm and fired.

Two shots.


She stumbled backward, clutching her burning shoulder, but the railing crumbled under her weight. Adria grabbed what was left of it with both hands as her footing slipped away.

It looked like a four-storey drop. Maybe five if she’d miscounted. Her legs dangled over thin air while from below came the clatter of broken pieces of railing, along with her gun, as they hit the concrete.

Overhead, her target stomped away on the rungs and disappeared onto the roof.

Adria’s shoulder raged. She tried to pull herself up, but couldn’t take the weight with just one good arm. Her feet kicked out, searching for a foothold, but the grill beneath had long withered away to slivers of rust and sharp edges.

Water and sweat dripped into her eyes. She swiped them helplessly on her sleeves and winced as rough seams grazed the skin. The railing creaked in her clammy grip. She could always let go. If she timed her landing right, maybe she’d get away with a broken ankle and a tetanus shot. Surely it only looked like a long way down.

Then she heard a gunshot from inside the apartment.

About JL Peridot

JL Peridot finds it very attractive when a person can own their ego and overcome their flaws. She’s also open to the idea that this might be asking a lot. From her home in sunny Australia, she writes romance and erotica while two cats and a strong, respectful man keep the rest of the house warm.


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