Southern Nights series

Smart Heroines

The heroine of the book I’m working on now, CAPTURE ME, is a little different than the other heroines in the Southern Nights series. She’s not a kick-ass warrior like Elliot or a sassy fighter like Maddie. She’s a computer nerd.

That’s right. A geek.

A cute geek, but still…Lyse is way out of her depth when it comes to her Irish mercenary. 😉

So what was my inspiration for this quieter heroine? Honestly, my family. My husband is both a scientist and engineer, and my son is into electronics and computer science. They have smarts I can only dream of, and so does Lyse. I wanted to take the typical “male nerd” character and turn it on its head. And make her sexy in her own way.

You’ll have to tell me how I did the final week of November when CAPTURE ME releases. In the meantime, how do you feel about geek characters?

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💚 💚💚 SEPTEMBER MONTHLY CONTEST 💚 💚 💚

Summer is drawing to a close (and all the moms say HALLELLUJAH! :P ). I gave myself the gift of more reading time and just generally more time off this summer. We need that time, and our brains definitely need that time! I’d love to know what you read or watched this summer. Tell me your favorite romance novel from your TBR pile this summer OR tell me what show you binge watched this summer that you really loved. (Links welcome if you want to make it easy for fellow readers to find your faves!)

* * * I’ll choose a winner on Friday, September 28thto win a $10 Amazon gift card and a signed paperback copy of TEACH ME! * * *

Come on over to my Facebook page for a chance to win!

(Likes and shares with your romance-loving friends appreciated but not required!)

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Ireland

I’ve been looking for inspiration as I work through the early chapters of Capture Me. Lyse runs from her past and the man she loves to a remote Irish village. In looking for images to spark my imagination, I began with one of my favorite places during my visit to Ireland in 2017: Howth.

(That’s pronounced “hoat,” like ho-ho-ho but with a T at the end. ;) )

What do you think? Would a place like this make a good blueprint for Lyse’s hideaway?

https://www.nomadasaurus.com/things-to-do-in-howth-ireland/

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📯📯📯 AUGUST MONTHLY GIVEAWAY 📯📯📯

I'm working away on CAPTURE ME this month, the next book in the Southern Nights: Enigma series. And that means...you guessed it! I'm giving away a paperback set of the first two books, along with a special surprise giftie that you'll receive with your books. (I'm not telling, so don't ask. 😛) 

Head on over to my Facebook page for a chance to win! I'll choose a winner on Friday, August 31st. 

***Likes and shares with your book-loving friends are appreciated but not required.***

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Writing Inspiration

What inspires the next book?

Usually, the inspiration is whatever is next on my publishing list. 😊 I try to switch between my different series so no one set gets neglected, although if you’ve been following me for very long, you know a hiatus last year has meant quite a gap in all of my series.

ASSASSIN’S PREY is almost complete. So what’s next? Fionn and Lise! That’s right—SOUTHERN NIGHTS will have a new release this fall! I’ve been champing at the bit to write their story since I visited Ireland this past summer. This book will be set there, and I can’t wait to return, if only in the pages of my book!

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Romance and Giveaways!

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* * * February Monthly Contest * * *

It’s February, the month of LUV! Let’s celebrate with this month’s contest. What is the most romantic line you’ve ever read in a romance novel? A poem? Heard in a film? Share it with us! Comment below and you could win a $10 Amazon gift card (or other retailer, if desired) and a signed paperback copy of DECEIVE  ME.

Head on over to my Facebook page for your chance to win!

 

*** Likes and shares with your booklover friends are appreciated but not required! Contest ends FEBRUARY 23rd! ***

 

Balance

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How do I find that balance?

In all honesty, I think that’s a never-ending journey. Every time a rock shifts, we have to realign. Every time something settles, we have to readjust. In this new stage of life, I’m still finding my way. I know I’m doing something right, though, because I’m writing. And I’m finding joy. Those are the best indicators of balance for me.

How about you? How do you find balance? How do you know when you’ve succeeded?

Balance.

It’s an easy word to say. Not so hard to live.

A lot of the parts of my life are out of balance right now. Getting my oldest settled in college. My youngest getting his driver’s license—oy! Reorganizing my work so I have more time to focus on writing. Things falling by the wayside, and new things cropping up to stuff themselves in their place. If I’ve learned anything in over four decades of life, it’s that the chaos never stops, but my body and emotions need balance.

 

 

 

 

International Hotties!

International hotties are on my mind—Fionn since I've just returned from his home country, and my fave Aussie, Isaac, while I write his and Kennedy's book. I thought, while I'm thinking about them, I'd take the time and also introduce them. (You know you wanna see, right?)

Fionn is the redhead, of course, and Isaac is the one trying to get out of his clothes as fast as possible, LOL!

And don't forget, this month's contest is a giveaway for title suggestion for Isaac and Kennedy's book. Be sure to enter for a chance to win one of five ebook sets of the two IF ONLY books!

Moanday Monday: First Glimpse of Dain!

Sometimes--okay, pretty much all the time in my case ;) --characters surprise you. I'm coming to the end of Dain and Olivia's novella, and Dain has done just that. Here I thought I'd be dealing with some rough, tough dudes with no sense of humor and plenty of pissiness. The pissiness has definitely made an appearance, but these characters...boy, can they get me to laughing! I thought today, I'd give you two things: your very first taste of Dain, and the character inspiration images for him.

(And no, this is not at all how I pictured him when I first recognized him in my mind, but again...surprises. :) )

 

~ ~ * ~ ~

 

When they grabbed Livie, Dain fought. He didn't fight when they slammed him facedown on the floor, but only because SWAT Supervisor Hedlon had released his hold on Livie in exchange for grabbing Elliot. The bastard got a kick to the groin that had Dain laughing all the way to the ground.

The snick of cuffs around his already sore wrists cut off the laughter, of course. When a cop in regular uniform hauled him to his feet by his cuffed arm, he thought about kicking the guy just like Elliot had kicked their supervisor. In favor of getting out of this sooner rather than later, he refrained.

Barely.

 

~ ~ * ~ ~

 

(Yes, he's like this all the time. Where is my eye rolling emoji?)

On My iPod

It's Friday! Normally on Fridays, I post a feature on my Facebook author page called "On My iPod" where I share songs inspiring my current project (songs that will later appear on that books official playlist). And because there's not a ton of crossover, I thought I'd begin sharing those Friday tidbits here on the News as well. Would you enjoy that?

Good! ;)

I'm still hard at work on both Dain and Olivia's story AND Deacon and Elliot's story. And the whole clan seems particularly drawn to Fall Out Boy for some reason. :) In fact, every time I think about Deacon and Elliot butting heads, one particular song comes to mind. Elliot is a bit of a firecracker, after all...

(Enjoy!)

Fall Updates!

Is it really already fall? It doesn't feel like it here in the South. It's still hot and muggy and sticky. Ugh! But the cotton is starting to puff out in fluffy white balls, so cool weather isn't too far off.

The summer has definitely been busy. I spent it at the coffee shop near my house, typing and editing madly in an effort to get new books to you. So what's coming? I guess it's time I let you know... ;)

The first Archai Warriors book, Griffin Undone, is almost ready. BUT...there's always a but, isn't there? *insert evil laugh here* BUT I've decided not to torture you with a new release in a new genre with no second book ready yet. So I'll be holding on to Griffin until book two is almost complete, and then I'll let you know about a release. No worries! It should be this coming spring if Sun and his warriors will cooperate. His woman, Risk, might make things difficult though!

In the meantime, I'm currently working on two books at once, the next installments in the Southern Nights series. Teach Me and Trust Me, books one and two in the series, were based on Conlan James and Jack Quinn, owners of JCL Security. The next trilogy (and bonus novella) will be centered on one of Jack and Con's security teams. Want to meet them?

Dain Brannan, AKA "Daddy"

Position: Team Lead; in charge of intel and research.

Dain is known for taking care of his team, especially their female member, Elliot, as well as he takes care of the love of his life, his wife, Olivia.

* * *

Elliot Smith, AKA "Otter"

Position: Dain's Second in Command

Elliot is as surly as she is secretive. The team calls her Otter because she's anything but playful.

* * *

Kingsley Moncrief, AKA "King"

Position: Team Liason

King might've been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but when it comes to danger, he's deadly.

* * *

Saint Ignatius Solorio, AKA "Saint"

Position: Weapons and Logistics Specialist

Iggy might be the joker of the group, but when it comes to his name, he's not laughing, so don't make fun. You don't want to end up on the wrong side of his weapons.

* * *

The team's stories begin late this fall with Dain and Olivia's story, as yet untitled. In the meantime, I'll be releasing the first three Southern Nights books in an all-in-one e-book anthology, so keep an eye on your inbox this fall!

TAKE Me Is Live!

TakeMeRBBannerThe day is finally here -- TAKE ME is live! There were days I had my doubts. :) Working with two heroes is never easy, but Peyton wrangled them well, and in the end Gabe and Sam were panty-meltingly awesome. I'm hoping you enjoy the three of them together as much as I do.

Take Me is available at the "Reader Appreciation" price of $1.99 until July 5th! You can get your copy at:

A nightmare coming to an end…

Peyton Harrison came to Claywater to bring her kidnapped son home. The last thing she expects is to run into Gabe Harrison, the man who abandoned her before her son was born. Her body might want to take up where they left off, but her heart remembers Gabe’s betrayal all too well—and everything she’d risk for momentary pleasure.

A past catching up to them…

Gabe always knew he’d share the love of his life with his twin brother, Sam, except he’d found that love far too young. He did the honorable thing and walked away, but now an adult Peyton is in his hometown and keeping secrets behind her world-weary eyes.

Sam is knee-deep in a drug investigation threatening the town he loves. Peyton’s arrival is a distraction he doesn’t need; still, he can’t deny her pull. He and Gabe have always stood together, but now the one woman they both want may be the one thing that divides them.

A future threatened…

When violence shatters their world, the past and present intertwine in ways none of them expected. Anticipating their enemy’s next move is the only way to keep their son safe, but what about their hearts?

To celebrate release say, I'm giving away a $20 Amazon Gift Card and a complete print set of the Southern Nights series! You can enter to win HERE.

TM3 Giveaway ImageI can't thank my loyal readers enough for making this possible. Each book starts with a kernel of an idea, but it is the love and encouragement of readers that helps me bring that kernel to fruition. I appreciate you all!

And now...let's celebrate!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GwjfUFyY6M&w=420&h=315]

~ Ella (*dancing around the living room!*)

TWO Days & Counting...

Teaser 3

Almost here! Only two more days to wait. In the meantime, want to read the first chapter of TAKE ME? Keep reading to see how it all begins...

* * *

Peyton Harrison’s battered old Ford pulled to a rickety stop at the curb across from the Claywater Elementary School. Buses lumbered through the circular drive out front, discharging students of all sizes. Bigger kids hurried inside, while the younger ones followed a teacher’s direction into the fenced playground. Expending energy and first-day jitters before the day began, probably. If only Peyton’s nerves could so easily be dispersed.

Her heart beat a booming drumroll of desperation in her throat, the sound loud in the stifling silence of her truck. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think. All she could do was watch the schoolyard across the street with greedy eyes. The child she was searching for was impossible to miss. Right in the center of the play area, a small, sturdy figure hurried up to the monkey bars and began his climb to the top. Even at six years old, he was strong, pulling himself higher and higher, outpacing his classmates until he threw one tan leg over the top rung, clamped down tight, and stopped to assess his playground domain.

King of the hill. Lord of all he surveyed. Just like his father.

The thought added to the blaze of agony threatening to drown her as it mixed with the ravenous ache of yearning clenching her belly. Just a few moments of inattention by the teachers chatting together on the park bench, some wire cutters for snipping the chain-link fence, something to keep him quiet as she ran for the safety of her truck— She pictured every step in her mind, saw how easily it could be carried out, how quickly he could become hers.

Hers.

The word throbbed in her oxygen-deprived brain, right at the forefront, taunting her. So simple, just four little letters. And yet the hundred yards dividing them screamed exactly how impossible that word was. Almost as impossible as it had been for the past six years.

He belongs to someone else; you know that. At least for now.

The ache in her fingers where they clenched the steering wheel centered her, pulling her back into reality, into now. She dragged in a gulp of hot Texas air and forced her focus back on the playground, on the child’s clear blue eyes and their steely determination. His soft, full lips displayed the last tiny shreds of remaining toddlerhood. The clothes he’d worn for the first day of school—a short-sleeved, white button-down shirt that looked too adult for such a young child, tan cargo shorts with every pocket neatly fastened, pristine white ankle socks and sneakers—now bore streaks of red clay and wrinkles, the starched collar of the shirt wilting under the onslaught of August heat and childish perspiration. What she wouldn’t give to bury her nose in the sweaty curve of his neck and inhale the wild, little-boy scent of him.

So serious. Even at such a young age, he was deep-down-to-the-bone serious. More little man than little boy. She could see it in his eyes.

Then he smiled.

It hit her like a punch to the gut, that smile. His daddy’s smile. The thought burned like tears behind her eyes, but she couldn’t look away, couldn’t stop eating up every discernible detail she possibly could. His solemn face lit up with that smile, his beautiful eyes bright under the shaggy fringe of thick blondish-red hair across his forehead. That hair was ruffled by deep furrows, as if he ran his fingers through it frequently. The white of his baby teeth was a stark contrast to the depth of his tan, possibly from playing outside all summer. The mottling of bruises on his knees and down his shins attested to that. At least she hoped that’s where they came from. Her heart ached to know for sure. She ran through scenario after scenario in a feverish search for the one that would enable her to bring him home, to finally have him in her arms agai—

Knock, knock, knock.

The drumroll in her chest became crashing thunder. A curse made it to her lips and froze there, held back by the wall of chest that blocked her sight of the playground. The material stretching across that wide expanse of solid muscle was dark blue, crisp and clean, with the title “Claywater Police Department” clearly emblazoned on the patch to one side.

A cop, right outside her window. Tall and broad and intimidating. Her breath stuttered across suddenly dry lips.

“Ma’am?” The cop rapped the back of his knuckles against the glass again. “Roll down your window please.”

The man’s voice tickled something in the back of her fear-frozen mind, something that drew her gaze against her will. Up the precisely buttoned shirtfront. Past the small triangle of skin at his collar, the neatly trimmed red-gold stubble. Lips. Nose. Eyes.

Blue eyes. Familiar blue eyes.

Peyton stared, certain she was caught up in some crazy nightmare. The devil taunting her. Because she knew those eyes intimately. Knew this man—except he wasn’t a cop. Or at least, he hadn’t been when she knew him.

“Ma’am?”

That deep, commanding tone again. It washed over her like molasses, trapping her in memories buried for so long. With hands shaking and tongue tied, Peyton slowly rolled down the window.

“Gabe?” she choked out. Please don’t let this be happening. Despite the all too real rush of air brushing her face, she prayed someone, somewhere, would hear her prayer and make it true.

One of Gabe’s hands rested casually against the side of her truck. A relaxed pose belied by his laser-sharp gaze and the fingers toying with the catch on his holster. She forced her eyes away from the gun and back to his. A flinch shook her as their eyes met.

“License and registration, please, ma’am.”

“Gabriel?” It was all she could get out. She glanced at the name tag, prominently displayed on the left side of his solid chest. Williams. “God, I can’t believe it’s you.” She didn’t want to believe it, not now, when secrecy was paramount. When her heart was already torn to pieces.

He shouldn’t look the same, not after all these years. But he did. He shouldn’t be here in Claywater, but he was. Standing outside her window. His big body was tense, ready for anything—he looked every inch the wolf he was. Cornflower-blue irises gleamed with impatience in his ruggedly handsome face. Too handsome, she’d always said. And empty. Not a hint of recognition.

Gabe didn’t shift, didn’t back down, just narrowed his eyes. “Ma’am, your license and registration. Now.”

The comply-or-face-the-consequences tone got through when nothing else could. She’d never forget that tone, no matter how many years it had been—every cop and prison guard used it daily. Her hand was halfway to the glove box before she even realized it. Registration in hand, she retrieved her license from her purse, nerves jittering in her stomach like a thousand butterflies. In a surreal haze she passed her paperwork through the window. The breath in her lungs stuttered as she watched his strong, calloused hand come closer, closer—the hand that had introduced her to the joys of sexual pleasure, the fingers that had ensured her readiness before he took her virginity. She waited for a touch she’d both longed for and cursed for seven excruciating years. And when that touch came, when his fingers brushed the backs of hers as he grasped the papers and pulled them away, she looked into his eyes once more, searching, fearing.

And saw absolutely nothing. Not recognition. Not curiosity. Disdain. Nothing. “And you are?” he asked.

She stared, certain he had to be kidding. “Peyton.” He waited. “Harrison?”

It came out a question, as if she didn’t know her own name. He didn’t, apparently. “Is there a reason you stopped here, Ms. Harrison?”

Relief coursed through her confusion. A question she was actually prepared for. “I’m lost.”

And she dared anyone to prove otherwise. A glance over her shoulder would plainly show a map of Claywater and a notebook detailing properties in the area. She was, after all, looking for a site for her new restaurant. Had already chosen one, in fact, but he didn’t need to know that.

“Oh? New in town?”

His tone wasn’t interested, and his gaze didn’t drop to her license, the one that had the same date as her move into her bland new apartment over by the highway. She didn’t trust herself to answer.

Her silence drew only one reaction: “How long?”

“Not long.”

He continued to watch her, unsmiling. His eyes hid everything he felt—or didn’t. And then he turned without a word and walked back to his patrol car, her license and registration in hand.

Even the walk was the same. A harsh laugh escaped as she watched him in the rearview mirror. The hair was longer, spiky instead of the buzz cut he’d worn when she knew him, the face harder and yes, now that she thought about it, older, but there was no doubt this was Gabe. Her Gabe. The Gabe that had ruined her life. She’d imagined this moment since the tender age of seventeen, imagined what she would do if she ever came face-to-face with him again. She’d never considered that he wouldn’t even remember the moment that changed her forever. But his blank stare had told her the truth. No memories of hot, sweaty nights and drenching desire lurked there. Not even a hint of recognition for someone he’d seen daily for weeks, no matter how long ago.

Just a quick, easy lay, that was her. Forgettable. Replaceable. Guess she didn’t have to wonder anymore. What she did have to wonder was how the hell her first lover and her son had ended up in the same rural Texas town. Had Gabe been involved all along?

But no, he’d definitely recognize her then. If he didn’t remember her, he didn’t know about Micah. And she was determined to keep it that way.

Gabe returned with the same unhurried pace as before, tapping her license against his thigh. When he came to stand outside her door, dark sunglasses hid his eyes. She felt the loss even though she shouldn’t, a fact that sent anger pounding through her heart. She breathed it away. She couldn’t risk slipping up and doing anything that would endanger her plans. For her sake—and her son’s—she had to stay under the radar. Assaulting an officer would make her a big ol’ unignorable blip. No clawing his eyes out, then.

Squaring her shoulders, Peyton ignored the strain of her nerves as she focused on the tap, tap, tap of the edge of her license against hard muscle. She could outwait him. She just wished she could figure out what she was waiting for.

“And where did you say you moved here from?”

She almost—almost—rolled her eyes. The raised eyebrow, she couldn’t stop. “Memphis.”

He nodded, ignoring the brow. “Your apartment is across town, Ms. Harrison. What address are you looking for?”

Do you call all your ex-lover’s by their last name? “I’m not looking for an address; I’m familiarizing myself with the town. If I plan to open a business here—and I do—then it’s in my best interest to get to know the area.” She was proud of how smoothly the words came out, ringing with pleasant—and quite false—emotion. “It’s a beautiful, friendly town.”

Okay, that hadn’t been as neutral as she would like. But once again he didn’t respond to any perceived insult. “Yes, it is. We’re small but growing, and we keep an eye on each other. You can see why we would be uncomfortable with strangers parked outside our schoolyards, correct?”

Fear mixed with her anger, making her nauseous. He’s not reading your mind, Pey. Get over it. She dared a glance at the playground as if just noticing it. “Of course, Officer Williams,” she said, pushing confidence into her voice. She kept her eyes wide open and innocent. A whisper of copper traced across her tongue as she bit down, holding back any further words.

Tap, tap, tap. “What kind of business are you planning?”

“A restaurant.”

“In Claywater?” He said it like she wasn’t too bright.

“Of course. This is a beautiful area—and growing, as you mentioned. It’s perfect.” She forced a smile, small but sweet. “You should come by sometime once I find the right location. Hoolihan’s. Coffee on the house.” She watched closely but didn’t catch even a glimmer of recognition. Coffee had always been on the house for Gabe when he visited Mike and Shelly’s place in Memphis. He’d always bragged about her coffee being the best in the world. Now even the name of the restaurant didn’t jog his memory.

“I’ll do that, ma’am.” He tipped his hat before handing back her license and registration. “You have a good day now.”

Right, I’ll just do that. Swallowing tightly, she dragged the words from an uncooperative throat. “You too.”

Gabe walked back to the patrol car parked behind her, his head swiveling as if watching for threats. It wasn’t until he got in and closed the door that she was able to release her breath and allow oxygen into her anxious brain. Movement across the street drew her eye. The kids on the playground were lining up, heading in to begin their day of learning and growing. She had things to do too, but she couldn’t resist one last, long look at her little boy. The desire to throw caution to the wind, to snatch him up and take him home despite the teachers, other children, and even cops in the vicinity who would surely stop her, almost overwhelmed her. Who knew—maybe Gabe would understand if he realized who that little boy was. Or, considering the way he’d left her in Memphis, alone and pregnant, maybe not. But watching that amazing little face, she knew it was too soon to take him, no matter how much the knowledge broke her already damaged heart. She couldn’t risk rocking the boat without more information. She had no idea if he was in a home with people who loved him, who cared what happened to him—who might come after him if he disappeared. Taking him now could risk him hating her forever.

No. No matter how the need for him clawed at her gut and made each day unbearable, she couldn’t risk scaring him, alienating him. Hurting him.

Because he was her son. Their son. And she’d protect him with her life, even from herself.

* * *

Check in Monday for release day fun and an awesome giveaway. And don't forget the preorder price of $1.99 at:

iBooks

Amazon

All Romance eBooks

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

A nightmare coming to an end…

Peyton Harrison came to Claywater to bring her kidnapped son home. The last thing she expects is to run into Gabe Harrison, the man who abandoned her before her son was born. Her body might want to take up where they left off, but her heart remembers Gabe’s betrayal all too well—and everything she’d risk for momentary pleasure.

A past catching up to them…

Gabe always knew he’d share the love of his life with his twin brother, Sam, except he’d found that love far too young. He did the honorable thing and walked away, but now an adult Peyton is in his hometown and keeping secrets behind her world-weary eyes.

Sam is knee-deep in a drug investigation threatening the town he loves. Peyton’s arrival is a distraction he doesn’t need; still, he can’t deny her pull. He and Gabe have always stood together, but now the one woman they both want may be the one thing that divides them.

A future threatened…

When violence shatters their world, the past and present intertwine in ways none of them expected. Anticipating their enemy’s next move is the only way to keep their son safe, but what about their hearts?

THREE Days & Counting!

Teaser 1TAKE ME will be here Monday! Grab it on preorder or no Monday when it releases for only $1.99 at your favorite retailer:

iBooks

Amazon

All Romance eBooks

Kobo

And check back Monday to enter my release day giveaway!

Naughty Hotties Memorial Weekend Blog Hop!

NGWN+mem+day+event+2015 Happy holiday weekend! If you're visiting, you're probably traveling along the Nice Girls Writing Naughty blog hop, right? Well, I definitely have a hunk to share with you, my hero from TRUST ME, Jack.

ella sheridan, author, writer, romance author, contemporary romance, erotic romance, romantic suspense, trust me, southern nights series, romance seriesJack is as alpha as they come, but his woman, Maddie, is more than his match. At the end of TRUST ME, they've only known each other a few weeks, but Jack is certain they're meant to be together.

So what does he do? At a weekend bonfire, he waits until their guests say good night, then convinces Maddie to agree to whatever he asks. ;)

I've included the scene below for your Memorial Weekend enjoyment. Comment on this blog (and the others in the blog hop) for a chance at the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card.

And I'll also choose one lucky commenter to receive their very own copy of TRUST ME so you can read the rest of Jack and Maddie's gripping story. Don't miss out! Be sure and comment.

* * *

She was beautiful in the moonlight, the fire’s faint glow flickering over her skin. Jack couldn’t breathe, looking at her. Knowing she belonged to him. Knowing she’d chosen to stay instead of running, to trust him when everything in her world had taught her that trust meant pain. He reached out, tugging the hem of her tee up to allow his lips access to the smooth skin of her stomach.

“What is that for?” she asked.

“What do you think?” He nipped her in a particularly ticklish spot, then ran kisses over the place where Reed’s bullet had left such a horrible bruise. She’d healed, but he’d never forget it. He never wanted to see her in pain again. He wanted to love her, pleasure her. Right now.

But there was something else he had to do first.

For once words escaped him. He dug in his pants pocket, gripping the jewelers’ box tight before pulling it out for Maddie to see, only she wasn’t looking at him, so he placed the box carefully on her breastbone, right between her perfect mounds. Then he went back to kissing her.

“What’s this?”

He couldn’t answer; he was too afraid his voice would crack.

Maddie stared at him for a long moment. When he still didn’t speak, she sat up, the velvet-covered square in her hand. He held his breath when she opened the lid.

“Oh Jack.”

He sat up too.

Inside, nestled on a satiny white pillow, lay a narrow gold ring. Chocolate diamonds nestled in clusters along the band, formed into small rosettes that sparkled in the moonlight. His throat got tight as the same chocolate sparkles stared up at him from her eyes.

“I know it’s too soon to get engaged, but I wanted—”

But Maddie was already shaking her head. “You’re always worried about too soon, you jackass. Who cares about too soon? Worry about what you want instead.” She dug the ring from the box and slid it onto her left ring finger. “It’s beautiful.”

“You’re beautiful.” And his ring on her finger… His breath got choppy. “Strip for me,” he said. Without waiting for an answer, he unzipped his jeans, the relief bringing a sigh to his lips. He pushed the stiff material down and lay back to watch as Maddie removed her clothes one piece at a time. The little tease was making him wait. Only when he circled his stiff erection and pumped roughly did she hurry up.

“Did you need something?” she asked teasingly.

He growled as she got to her knees, her breasts bobbing in the moonlight. “You on my dick.”

“Aren’t you charming.”

“Always.” He gripped her by the waist and tugged her atop him. Maddie spread her legs, and hot liquid settled against his needy shaft. They groaned together.

Jack swore his voice went so rough it scratched his vocal cords. “I want you, Maddie.”

“You’ve got me.” She rocked atop him, coating him in her sweet cream.

“Forever?”

Maddie went still. She stared down at him for a long time, her eyes too dark to read in the dim light. Jack held his breath. Finally she leaned forward, her full breasts coming to rest on his chest, her lips a whisper away from his. “Forever, Jack.” She kissed him. “Forever.”

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Remember, your comment is your key to two great prizes this weekend! And be sure to return to the Nice Girls Writing Naughty blog to continue along the blog hop for more great prizes.

TRUST ME is available at the following retailers if you'd like a copy of your own:

AMAZON

BARNES & NOBLE

ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS

KOBO

IBOOKS

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Want a Free TAKE ME Preview?

I had the privilege of being included in a fantastic summer anthology called TASTE ME. This free anthology is kind of a "skip to the good parts" preview of more than twenty fantastic erotic authors' summer releases -- and TAKE ME was included! TasteMe-CoverDoesn't it look yummy? ;)

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122,000-WORDS OF DARK ROMANCE AND DANGEROUS ENCOUNTERS!

TASTE ME is a collection of twenty-seven sexy scenes from the hottest releases of 2015, both newly released and coming soon. This all-star lineup of bestselling authors includes...

Tijan, Alessandra Torre, Lauren Blakely, Skye Warren, CD Reiss, Anna Zaires & Dima Zales, Red Phoenix, Cherise Sinclair, Kendall Ryan, Chelle Bliss, TK Leigh, Toni Aleo, Sam Crescent, Jenika Snow, Julia Sykes, Nina Levine, Cari Quinn & Taryn Elliott, Ainsley Booth, Katy Regnery, Shari Slade & Amber Lin, Shoshanna Evers, Pam Godwin, Carolyn Crane, Molly Joseph, Ella Sheridan, Karla Doyle, and Brooke Cumberland

Download TASTE ME now for a sneak peek of Hold Me, the highly anticipated third book in the dark romance Twist Me series from Anna Zaires. Push your boundaries with a twisty scene from Tight by Alessandre Torre, one of the blockbuster books of the year. Sink your teeth into an alpha rocker bad boy in the not-yet-released Second Chance with a Rock Star from Shari Slade and Amber Lin.

Note: This compilation is intended as a FREE preview of this year’s hot releases to help readers find their next scorching read. May not be free in all countries due to price matching delays.

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Gabe and Sam and Peyton's first night together is previewed in the anthology, along with so many other fantastic books. You can get your free copy from AMAZON or IBOOKS today!

And don't forget, TAKE ME is already available for preorder at a special prize of $1.99. Be sure and order yours and have it download to your e-reader the minute it releases on June 29th!

AMAZON

ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS

Take Me Cover Reveal and Preorder!

I feel like I've been working on this book FOREVER! No, it hasn't really been forever, just about three and a half months, but still... I'm so glad to finally be able to share the cover for the final installment of the Southern Nights series with you! Take Me E-Book Cover

What do you think of Peyton and Gabe and Sam? Their story is almost here! In fact, you can preorder TAKE ME already through AMAZON and ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS. The official release date will be June 29th!

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A nightmare coming to an end…

Peyton Harrison came to Claywater to bring her kidnapped son home. The last thing she expects is to run into Gabe Harrison, the man who abandoned her before her son was born. Her body might want to take up where they left off, but her heart remembers Gabe’s betrayal all too well—and everything she’d risk for momentary pleasure.

A past catching up to them…

Gabe always knew he’d share the love of his life with his twin brother, Sam, except he’d found that love far too young. He did the honorable thing and walked away, but now an adult Peyton is in his hometown and keeping secrets behind her world-weary eyes.

Sam is knee-deep in a drug investigation threatening the town he loves. Peyton’s arrival is a distraction he doesn’t need; still, he can’t deny her pull. He and Gabe have always stood together, but now the one woman they both want may be the one thing that divides them.

A future threatened…

When violence shatters their world, the past and present intertwine in ways none of them expected. Anticipating their enemy’s next move is the only way to keep their son safe, but what about their hearts?

Take Me Printable 330 6x9

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TAKE ME will be available for the "Reader Appreciation" preorder price of only $1.99. Newsletter subscribers already have the first chapter in their hot little hands. If you've missed it, be sure to sign up soon to get all the latest news and goodies! And if you would like the chance to read my books before they release, for FREE, consider signing up for my Advance Review Team (must be a newsletter subscriber to qualify). There's no better way to be the first in line AND help get the word out to more readers who might love these stories as much as we do. :)

~ Ella

Take Me Teaser

It's almost here, the final installment of the Southern Nights series. Are you ready? I wanted to share just a taste of what my struggling threesome is going through. Here's a snippet of a scene I finished this past week. What do you think? 021“All this time—so many years, Peyton—I’ve ached for you.” He groaned into the soft slope of one breast, then took the plump side into his mouth and sucked, raising a bruise. Marking her, just like he had that night so long ago at the hotel. The thought filled her with pain and longing. If only it were true.

“You can’t tell me there’s been no one else, Gabriel.” His full name was bittersweet on her tongue, heavy in her heart. “No one you’ve taken to bed.” A deep breath. “No one you’ve shared with Sam.”

He leaned back. “No, I can’t.”

Peyton sucked in a hurt breath.

Gabe’s stare refused to leave hers, however, his eyes intense, burning down to the truth. He took her hand and placed it on his rock-hard erection. “But I can tell you this, Peyton: not one single night, one woman, one jack-off session went by, where it wasn’t you filling my mind. Ever.”

Want more? Be sure to sign up for my newsletter to get the latest news, including this month's cover reveal (May 15th) and the announcement of Take Me's release date in June. Here's what you have to look forward to:

A nightmare coming to an end…

Peyton Harrison came to Claywater to bring her kidnapped son home. The last thing she expects is to run into Gabe Harrison, the man who abandoned her before her son was born. Her body might want to take up where they left off, but her heart remembers Gabe’s betrayal all too well—and everything she’d risk for momentary pleasure.

A past catching up to them…

Gabe always knew he’d share the love of his life with his twin brother, Sam, except he’d found that love far too young. He did the honorable thing and walked away, but now an adult Peyton is in his hometown and keeping secrets behind her world-weary eyes.

Sam is knee-deep in a drug investigation threatening the town he loves. Peyton’s arrival is a distraction he doesn’t need; still, he can’t deny her pull. He and Gabe have always stood together, but now the one woman they both want may be the one thing that divides them.

A future threatened…

When violence shatters their world, the past and present intertwine in ways none of them expected. Anticipating their enemy’s next move is the only way to keep their son safe, but what about their hearts?

Insta-Love, Virginity, and Other Wonders

Authors can't get away from reviews. Much as we try to avoid them, there are those times when you must go look at your book page, and there they are, staring you in the face. And I have to admit, readers come from varying backgrounds and interests and personal opinions and, therefore, have differing ideas about books they read -- as it should be. But I've noticed a disturbing trend that, for me, is a bit sad. Some readers can no longer suspend disbelief, even when it's necessary, while enjoying a book.

Picture 167

Suspension of disbelief is a concept we are most often taught in high school lit classes. There are a lot of readers who love romance out there, and many of them understand that the romance genre is not, for the most part, reality. Even so, when it comes to parts of the story that are realistic, they label it fantasy and claim it ruins the book for them. It's sad that, instead of widening our world as we claim over the past hundred years, we've actually narrowed it in many ways, seeing not the many possibilities of how people come to love, marry, live, and think, but how WE love, marry, live, and think -- and believe no one else's experience is valid. But it is. Our world is made up of many possibilities, including ones you might think are fantasy.

Like insta-love.

I kinda get a chuckle over this when I see it in reviews. "I hate that insta-love stuff. It's so fake!" Really? I have to admit, I didn't come to love in an instant; it took me a while to realize that my husband was "the one." But he knew the day he met me. I've seen posts on Facebook of readers commenting that not only did they fall in love immediately, but they married shortly after (like weeks), often to the dismay of those around them. And when someone trots that out, they most often end with "and we're still together today." Didn't happen to me that way, but it HAS HAPPENED. It's not only in fairy tales that you see someone or speak to someone and know in an instant they are the one for you. Love doesn't come with a strict timeline, thank you very much!

Here's the other reality of romance and "insta-love": readers say they don't want two characters to just fall instantly into love at first sight with each other, but no editor in their right mind is going to buy a book featuring a long, drawn-out courtship (except maybe a historical). Time is necessarily compressed in books, just like they are on TV.file0002050295530 Do you think we can really get DNA results in real life as fast as they do on CSI? Heck, no! Do you want to follow the lab techs as they go about their daily business for the weeks it takes to get that info in -- and have the suspect disappear in the meantime? Uh, no, you don't want to see that. Time is compressed so that you, the watcher (or reader) will stick with the story. That's the reality of the entertainment industry today -- what we the entertainees have demanded. It's just how it is.

And then there's the dreaded virginity question...

I'm not sure what it is that people have against virginity. It's almost reverse peer pressure: "Your heroine MUST NOT be a virgin; it's unrealistic!" And God forbid your hero be a virgin, because, ya know, men cannot possibly control the urge to have sex, even if they're raised in monstrous conditions with severe psychological scars (the same goes for women). That's sarcasm, by the way -- I firmly believe virginity is a reality for everyone on the planet, and that the first time comes at its own pace for each and every person, not on a timeline. Jess, in Teach Me, is a virgin. So many reviewers complained about me "trotting out the virgin card." But there was a very good reason why Jess was a virgin, and here it is:

SONY DSCIt fit who she was.

Why? Jess was and is incredibly shy; it's the very first thing Conlan notices about her aside from her eyes. That's why he equates her to a doe. Hesitant, beautiful, SHY. If you aren't shy, maybe you can't understand, but I AM SHY, and that attribute kept me from being very forward as a teen. I didn't get into a lot of parties and other situations that might've led to sex. When you have body issues or are unsure of yourself, you are often left in the background. That's reality. Does that mean shy people never lose their virginity in high school or college? No, but it can go either way.

But that's not all. Jess did meet and start to date in college. She met Brit, her very first "serious boyfriend." College isn't really that old, around age twenty, give or take, for most of us? Brit was helping Jess through a tough situation with her parents' death, and I don't know about you, but if my parents just died and I was in college and I was trying to figure out life from that point on, having sex for the first time might be a bit of a stretchy decision for me at the moment. Not only that, but though she was grieving and uncertain (and SHY, don't forget shy!), Jess felt that something was off about her feelings for Brit and the way he treated her. Given that we find out later he might've had something to do with her parents' deaths, we can intimate that his behavior at that time might've been a bit on the stalkerish side already. Lots of red flags there.

Now, we preach that women should listen to their instincts and not sleep with someone just because they feel it's expected, but I guess some people don't really believe that. They felt like surely in and amid all this turmoil, Jess should've had sex at some point, right? WRONG. She did what she was supposed to: she listened to what her mind and her heart and her body were telling her and said no. And almost died for it.

Surely then she had sex, right?

O.o

Yeah, I think if my first and only boyfriend beat me up because I wouldn't have sex with him, I'd run right out and find the next willing partner and... Well, you get the idea. Sarcasm aside, maybe some readers haven't been through a traumatic experience, but I know what it's like to face a terrible situation and then try to rebuild your life on the other side. It doesn't work that way. It takes time, and it takes trust, and Jess finally found that in Conlan. Why is that so hard to find realistic?

A fellow author (whom I love!), Sandra Owens, wrote the K2 series featuring a hero in Someone Like Her who was a virgin. That point of the story caused the biggest issue in reviews: no man who was a SEAL would still be a virgin! Not only that, but the reason he was still a virgin was flimsy at best -- his mother was a prostitute who abused him and his sister, and surely no such woman could ever be even slightly realistic. (Sarcasm again...) And yet that entire part of the story was based in a true life story, Sandra's father's story. That was his life she was writing about in many ways, and yes, it was true. But for whatever reasons, some reviewers felt it was "unrealistic."

I've written before about the writing advice "write what you know" and how we might not be able to experience dying of cancer, but we can relate to the emotions. As a reader, I might not have been a SEAL and decided to remain a virgin, but I can understand the reasoning. I can see the legitimate motivation. I can see someone else's experience -- that wasn't anything remotely like mine -- and empathize with it. That seems to be something some people have lost. I've never seen genocide, but I know it happens. I've never had sex before marriage, but I know it happens, and that it's a valid experience for many people. My own experience is different, for whatever reason, but no less valid. Maybe it's time to bring that tolerance we all talk about to the world of fiction, of romance, and start seeing each story as the adventure it is, the chance to step into someone else's shoes and experience something we ourselves haven't, not just a homogenized plot that reads as exciting as milk by the tenth incarnation.

What do you think? Do you feel some things are just too off-the-wall to believe? Can you suspend disbelief if the author motivates a character's choices well enough? I'd love to know which side of this idea you fall into!