What I'm Reading: Hard As It Gets by Laura Kaye

ella sheridan, romance, writer, author, erotic romance, what I'm reading, laura kaye, hard as it gets, hard inkTattoos. Special Forces. A damsel in distress. What could be hotter than that? In this first book in Kaye's Hard Ink series, absolutely nothing. Becca Merritt goes head to head with Nick Rixey when her brother disappears, leaving only Nick's name as a clue for help. I have to admit, shocking as it was, Nick's hard-ass attitude in the first scene was enough to wet panties, just because you knew all that badness would eventually be channeled into taking care of his woman. Yum! For me, Nick was the driving force behind enjoying this book, though his sexy, tortured teammates came a close second. And the dog. The bit about the dog was hilarious -- and I am not a dog person by any means.

Here's the blurb from Kaye's website:

Tall, dark, and lethal...

Trouble just walked into Nicholas Rixey's tattoo parlor. Becca Merritt is warm, sexy, wholesome--pure temptation to a very jaded Nick. He's left his military life behind to become co-owner of Hard Ink Tattoo, but Becca is his ex-commander's daughter. Loyalty won't let him turn her away. Lust has plenty to do with it too.

With her brother presumed kidnapped, Becca needs Nick. She just wasn't expecting to want him so much. As their investigation turns into all-out war with an organized crime ring, only Nick can protect her. And only Becca can heal the scars no one else sees.

Desire is the easy part. Love is as hard as it gets. Good thing Nick is always up for a challenge...

ella sheridan, author, writer, romance, erotic romance, what I'm reading, laura kaye, hard ink, hearts in darknessNow, I have to admit, while I enjoyed this book and all its alpha-male abundance, I did not enjoy it as much as I did Hearts in Darkness, which is a stand-alone novella that got me interested in Kaye's writing. She has a way with wounded, tough-on-the-outside, gooey-on-the-inside heroes that just works for me, and HiD was a phenomenal example of that -- I highly recommend it. Then again, I enjoyed HAIG, too. It took me less than a week to read, which is always an indicator of how much I'm enjoying something. I have so little time to read that, if you haven't hooked me early, I have to set the book aside. I kept going back to this one, even reading on my iPhone occasionally. And I definitely plan to read the rest of the series: The second book, Hard As You Can, featuring teammate Shane, has just come out. Book three, Hard To Hold On To, will be out in August.

There you have it! If you're looking for tough heroes with wounded bodies and hearts, look no further...or should I say, harder? ;) Oh, just go buy it already! And don't stop reading till you get to the scene where the guys sing on the stairs. You'll know it when you get to it -- and you'll probably roll on the floor laughing as hard as I did!

~ Ella

What I'm Reading: The Night Prince Series by Jeaniene Frost

ella sheridan, romance, author, writer, erotic romance, paranormal romance, what I'm reading, jeaniene frost, night prince, vlad, leila, once burnedI admit I'm just now starting on this series, which began in 2012, for one very good reason: I hate first-person point of view. I'd heard several people raving about Jeaniene Frost -- totally deserved, by the way, and thank you, thank you, thank you, M. V. Freeman! BUT...I wouldn't pick up her books because it takes a very good writer, with just the right touch, to allow me to enjoy first person. Kristina Douglas (a paranormal pseudonym for Anne Stuart) is one. And now Jeaniene Frost. Her prose is compelling. To be honest, I can't put my finger on why -- it's clean, almost feeling too concise and uncluttered, abrupt, though it isn't. Not normally what I enjoy; I admit to preferring a more descriptive voice. But I couldn't put it down. I've really enjoyed finishing it, and I'm looking forward to reading more. (Hurry, hurry, hurry! :) )

The Night Prince series centers around the vampire Vlad, who is the original Dracula, and a psychic named Leila who -- get this -- is a carnival performer. Yes. I didn't think it would work either, but it did! The first book in the series is Once Burned; here's the blurb from Frost's website:

She’s a mortal with dark powers…

After a tragic accident scarred  her body and destroyed her dreams, Leila never imagined that the worst was still to come: terrifying powers that let her channel electricity and learn a  person’s darkest secrets through a single touch. Leila is doomed to a life of  solitude…until creatures of the night kidnap her, forcing her to reach out  with a telepathic distress call to the world’s most infamous vampire…

He’s the Prince of Night…

Vlad Tepesh inspired the greatest  vampire legend of all—but whatever you do, don’t call him Dracula. Vlad’s ability to control fire makes him one of the most  feared vampires in existence, but his enemies have found a new weapon against  him – a beautiful mortal with powers to  match his own. When Vlad and Leila meet, however, passion ignites between them,  threatening to consume them both. It will take everything that they are to stop  an enemy intent on bringing them down in flames.

ella sheridan, romance, author, writer, erotic romance, paranormal romance, what I'm reading, jeaniene frost, night prince, vlad, leila, twice temptedThe book drew me so much I immediately bought book two, Twice Tempted. This book begins with Leila leaving the emotionally closed-off Vlad -- which is a good point about this series: Frost does a lot of those "Do Not Do This!" things most of us have been told is the death of a story. Vlad is no clean-cut alpha hero. No meditation for him when he's stressed; no, he tortures people. He's so emotionally constipated that Leila leaves him. Why doesn't he go after her? He says later he thought she was bluffing. Yeah, constipated. Leila's not your typical heroine either -- the torture she suffers in book one is pretty unpalatable. But her knowledge of '80s pop rock is a thing of beauty. :)

I cannot wait for the third and final book in this series to come out. I highly recommend the first two books in the meantime, so go check them out. Now!

Don't make me take a page from Vlad's book and impale you.

~ Ella

What I'm Reading: Kresley Cole's MacRieve

ella sheridan, kresley cole, reading, macrieve, immortals after dark, paranormal romanceWow! That's all I can say. I first read Kresley Cole years ago when A Hunger Like No Other, the first in the Immortals After Dark series, came to bookstores. I loved it, but I could never get into the whole "race" thing that took over the next few books. I could see how an Olympic quest would be interesting, but for me, I just couldn't get into it. Fast-forward to this past year when I saw Cole at RWA Nationals in Atlanta. She won her 2013 Rita Award and was inducted into the RWA Hall of Fame. I admit I paid special attention because Unbroken, my paranormal romance, was nominated for the Golden Heart. I remember looking up at her on the stage after I'd lost in my category, wondering if I'd ever even publish, much less be nominated for a Rita.

ella sheridan, paranormal romance, kresley cole, macrieve, immortals after darkThough Unbroken is still on hold, I have published--and, I'm happy to say, I've read a new Kresley Cole book. :) And it  has me blown away and shown me what I have to strive for. The book is MacRieve, about a damaged werewolf and his innocent half-Lorean mate. It is truly awesome. Knowing I was uncertain about the series, I picked up MacRieve reluctantly, but I couldn't resist the cover (isn't he yummy?!?!). And what was between the covers was far more pulse-pounding than the guy staring out at me from the front of the book! Here's the description from Cole's website:


Uilleam MacRieve believed he’d laid to rest the ghosts of his boyhood. But when a brutal torture revives those ancient agonies and destroys his Lykae instinct, the proud Scot craves the oblivion of death. Until he finds her—a young human so full of spirit and courage that she pulls him ba ck from the brink.


Seized for the auction block, Chloe Todd is forced to enter a terrifying new world of monsters and lore as a bound slave. When offered up to creatures of the dark, she fears she won’t last the night. Until she’s claimed by him—a wicked immortal with heartbreaking eyes, whose touch sets her blood on fire.


With enemies circling, MacRieve spirits Chloe away to the isolated Highland keep of his youth. But once he takes her to his bed, his sensual mate becomes something more than human, evoking his savage past and testing his sanity. On the cusp of the full moon, can he conquer his worst nightmare to save Chloe . . . from himself?

You know me, I like dark and gritty and emotional. MacRieve was certainly a roller coaster ride in that respect. The characters felt and felt deeply. What woman wouldn't want to heal MacRieve's wounded soul? The things he has endured were horrific, but you can't heal what you don't know, and Chloe can't break down the walls her mate has put up between them. Cole has a talent for throwing together characters who are diametrically opposed, in the most believable ways, and then letting their differences wreak havoc on them. I thought MacRieve was as wounded as he could get at the beginning, but oh no, the worst was yet to come. His story touched my heart and made me cry. And though I typically focus more on the male character, Chloe tore at my heart too. I even enjoyed the soccer talk (Chloe's a pro soccer player), though I pretty much hate sports. :)

So, run, don't walk to pick up MacRieve. There's even an audio excerpt on Cole's site. This book has certainly turned my eye back toward this series. I guess now I'll have to see how long it will take me to read the other books. ;)

~ Ella

Zombies, Plagues, and Head Shots...Oh My!

ella sheridan, romance, jonathan maberry, joe ledger, dead of night, countdown, zombiesHello, my name is Ella and I'm a romance junkie. But that's not a romance picture over there on the left, is it? That's because recently I've been so focused on my own writing that reading romance has stressed me out more than it has helped me relax. One day, totally fed up with reading my old "keeper" romances for the billionth time, I pulled out my Kindle and did something I really don't like doing: I went shopping. And brought home zombies.

Really, I'm not kidding. I am a huge fan of World War Z (the book AND the movie), and so I started looking at zombie books. And ran across Jonathan Maberry's Dead of Night. I was hooked immediately. Being a romance writer, I wasn't sure I would like the commitment-phobic heroine, but hey, there were zombies, so I read it anyway -- and actually came to like her. :)

At the end of Dead of Night, there was a short introduction to Maberry's Joe Ledger series. The series begins with "Countdown," a short-story introduction. I immediately loved Joe Ledger's "voice." He is a hero both strong and fallible, horrified at what he has to do but doing it without flinching. He is human and, at times it seems, a superhero. I could identify with his pursuit of martial arts to gain control of his life after a tragedy nearly destroyed him as a teen. I could follow his thinking and relate to the fact that he didn't always "get" the science (which thankfully is explained in fairly simple terms!). He is gritty and raw and broken and heartbreakingly deadly (and makes more head shots than I think is probably realistic, lol). This was no romance, but I loved it!

ella sheridan, romance, zombies, jonathan maberry, dead of night, joe ledger, assassin's codeThe series begins with zombies, but it doesn't stop there. Plagues, secret societies, conspiracies out the wazoo. It's a smorgasbord of evil with Joe in the middle. And Joe deals with it all the best way he can, which is not to say he brushes all the death and dismemberment off. The man has a therapist on speed dial, for goodness sake! And for good reason. :)

Sometimes, we need a change. We need to step out of our comfort zone and broaden our horizons and feed our creativity with something different. I'm glad I did. And I'm glad there are six books in this series, because I'm hooked. For Christmas vacation I went through the first three, so thankfully there are still some Joe Ledger adventures to fill my downtime in the coming weeks.

What do you read outside of the romance genre? Anything else "float your boat"? I know a lot of writers who read YA novels for fun. Or maybe, like me, you enjoy dark and gritty. Which is it? For now, I'm off to spend my last night on vacation with Joe... ;)

~ Ella


On Characters and Collaboration

ella sheridan, erotic romance, romance, author, writer, secrets to hide, naughty little christmas, dirty little secret, damien and harley, backstage passNaughty Little Christmas marks a first for me. Since people discovered we both wrote romance, my sister Dani Wade and I have been asked if we would cowrite a book. Until now, we hadn't really considered it seriously. And then the idea for Naughty Little Christmas came to me. I realized somewhere in the planning process that I had a hero who ran nightclubs, and a sister who wrote about a rock band in her Backstage Pass novels. "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if your band could appear at Damien's club?" And so Solar Uprising's visit to Damien's world began.

I'm not sure how collaboration works for actual writing teams. For Dani and I, it was a sort of organic process. Once the idea for the scene was fleshed out, I sent it to Dani, and she began brainstorming dialogue for her characters. Daniel Korvello, the lead singer of Solar Uprising, is the central character for the scene. Solar is participating in a charity concert at Damien's Colorado club, Twice, and Daniel gives Damien some very interesting advice regarding his relationship (or lack thereof) with Harley. :) We tweaked the scene back and forth until Dani was happy with Daniel's participation and I'd wrangled Damien into line, and then the scene went into the manuscript.

And our first collaboration was born. :)

ella sheridan, erotic romance, dani wade, finding her rhythm, backstage pass, naughty little christmasFor those of you who aren't familiar with Dani's Backstage Pass novellas, they are based on the members of the rock band Solar Uprising. Guitarist Michael Korvello appears in the first novella, Finding Her Rhythm, out now. This spring, Daniel's book will be released. He and sassy publicist Becca Buchanan are in for one wild ride! And later in the year, drummer Sean is having his own Irish adventure with a brand-new heroine -- woot! Can't wait! You can check out more at Dani's website.

So, want a taste? Here's just enough to whet your appetite. Daniel and Damien are discussing Harley as she works the other end of the room at a fan cocktail party.

"Dude, don’t pass up the opportunity to get some of that,” Daniel said.

“I plan to.” Damien's eyes rounded. Shit, did I say that out loud? Yes, he had, because Daniel was off on fits of laughter again.

“Oh, go to hell. Isn’t it about time for you guys to get warmed up?”

Chuckles continued to escape as Daniel checked his watch. “No, I’ve got a few minutes. Wanna invite her over?”


Daniel smirked. “You know, I remember a conversation with my brother that sounded very similar to this one.”

You'll have to wait till December 24th to find out exactly what Daniel tells Damien about that conversation and its results!

Will Dani and I ever do this again? What about a full-length book? Honestly, I have no idea. Who knows what the future holds? And with a series in the works for Harley's band, Aftershock, the possibilities for rock-star interaction are endless. Guess we'll all just have to wait and see. ;)

Weekly Web Search: Ode to Colin Farrell

ella sheridan, damien, damien adams, colin farrell, naughty little christmas, dirty little secret, secrets, secrets to hide series, erotic romance, contemporary romance, loose id, christmasOkay, y'all, I couldn't resist. With the exciting news yesterday -- title and release date for Damien's Christmas story -- I had to point you in the direction of my inspiration for Damien. Colin Farrell is TO DIE FOR!!! He's beautiful, and the perfect inspiration for my bad boy in the bar, sexy boy in the bed, and sweet boy when he's holding his woman in his arms. (And he doesn't dance bad either. :) ) So have a gander over at Colin's official website, and while you're looking at all those pictures, keep Damien in mind. He'll be available for your "pleasure" on Christmas Eve in his very own book, Naughty Little Christmas!



My First "Call": Dirty Little Secret

Loose Id, Rory Olsen, LI, Ella Sheridan, first sale, Dirty Little Secret, erotic romanceI never expected to sell this story. Really. In fact, at one of my local RWA meetings I offered the query for a cold read and was told by fellow members, "That would never sell." Why? Because my modern-day hero is in a marriage of convenience. Yes, dear reader, he is, so no, I never expected to sell Dirty Little Secret.

But I did. And not only did I sell it, but it's the first of my stories to sell.

You can all relax -- my hero isn't committing adultery on his heartbroken wife. They are friends, never anything more, who married to protect her company from being stolen away by her dad. My hero is a hero in the truest sense of the word, giving up everything to save his best friend's dream. So what happens when that hero finds something -- someone -- who is his dream? Well, that's the premise of the story. c;

Thankfully, Rory Olsen at Loose Id saw beyond what many others stopped at -- the word "married" -- and took on my story! I was in Florida when I received the news, an early morning e-mail just waiting for me when I opened my bleary eyes on the Yay, Ella Sheridan, Loose Id, first call, Rory Olsenlast day of my vacation. "Congratulations from Loose Id! Acceptance of Dirty Little Secret!" read the subject line. Woot! I never thought I'd see that word, "acceptance," in association with this little story, but there it was. :D

I rushed right over to my daughter and showed her the e-mail on my phone. She squealed. Then I rushed outside, the only place where I could get reliable phone service, and called my husband. He was excited. I called my sister at her work and listened to her squeal. Then I took a quick shower and drove to my mom's workplace, walked inside, and told her in person. She squealed and was excited! It was a squealing, excited kind of day in the Deep South -- and I'm so thankful to Rory for seeing the possibilities and giving me that special, special day.

We authors only ever get one very first "call" (even if that takes the form of an e-mail nowadays). It's a special time in a writer's life, and though I never expected to sell this story, never expected to get that "call" for Dirty Little Secret, I'm so very grateful I did. Thanks, Rory and Loose Id! I can't wait to work with you and make DLS an amazing book for every reader. :)


I spent many years dreaming of writing around diapers, every-evening dinners, and the amount of laundry only two kids two years apart can create. My sister, Dani Wade, was writing romance novels targeted at Harlequin, and I remembered how that felt, the evolving of a new world, the playing out of a scene across the screen of my mind that somehow, through the miracle of the pen, translated itself to the page. But I didn't try it.

See, I was afraid. Afraid of what people would think, especially my sister. Afraid I couldn't do it. And most of all, afraid I truly had nothing of value to share. And then came Arik.Ella Sheridan, Unbroken, Archai, Arik, tattoo, blond, chest, romance, paranormal romance, hero, perfect hero, loner, griffin, shape-shifter, shape shifter

I don't even remember exactly how he came into being. I only remember asking myself, if I could write my fantasy hero, what would he be like? Well, Arik is it. He is dark, sexy, a loner, a male in need of healing and yet the embodiment of strength. He's everything I ever wanted in a book hero. But then I had to write him.

And that's where everything changed. Because I didn't write Arik immediately--I spent three years honing my skill as a writer before I ever let myself touch his story (and yes, for me most stories are about the hero; the heroine is just a replacement for me, lol!). The world of the Archai and the supernatural characters that populated it deserved my best, and I refused to begin the story until I knew for certain I was ready to give that best. So, in a way, Arik is responsible for the writer I've become, not just someone who dabbles, but a committed, skilled author who can finally bring that scene stuck in my head onto the page in a way that makes readers forget they're reading a book and not actually walking along beside the characters themselves.

Wanna know more about Arik? How about a little treat? Here's Arik's introduction in the first chapter of Unbroken. Go on and read it; you know you want to! Indulge yourself with the hero who changed my world. ;)


The roads were rank with the scent of recent rain, exhaust, and unwashed human. Stalking through the midnight-black streets, skirting the circles of light cast by an occasional irritating streetlight, Arik held back an ugly grin at the expressions on the few bums and far-gone club hoppers he happened to pass. No long hair flowing like a curtain behind him, no leather duster flapping in the slight wind--who the hell needed the theatrics, anyway?--but it didn't stop the fear that sparked in the eyes that witnessed his passage through the night. And they should be afraid. He wasn't the only one on the hunt tonight.

griffin, archai, paranormal romance, romance, ella sheridan, unbroken, golden heart, shape-shiftersHis senses flared, humming like a refrigerator on full cold as he followed the shifters' trail through the maze of sidewalks scattered with flashing neon lights and the occasional roar of sound when a bar door opened abruptly. Downtown Nashville was full of nightlife, but the middle-of-the-night cold kept most of the revelry inside rather than spilling onto the streets as it did in the summer. Hunting was harder then, but tonight, with a full group of shifters moving through the heavily traveled area, most of the oblivious population wisely kept their sport indoors and out of his way.

A yellow cab, the "available" light a beacon for customers, passed on the narrow street. A blast of exhaust clouded the air, fucking up his nose, and Arik hissed. The sound startled a drunk on the darkened steps jutting out from a nearby alley, and the man jerked, his bottle of cheap liquor rattling as it hit the concrete. He slid wild eyes in Arik's direction before hastily shuffling farther into the yawning cavern between two buildings. Arik ignored the interruption and continued on.

They were close, he knew, the ones he sought. Not Archai like him. These were the dark ones, the Anigma that had risen in the Great War, after life for the Archai--and Arik--had changed forever. Shifters that had given up their honor for... Well, whatever the hell they'd given it up for, they hadn't won. No shifter had. But still Arik hunted the Anigma. They were his enemy, and he'd be on them in moments.

Turning left at the next corner, Arik allowed his animal to the fore, using his griffin sight to scan the next several blocks. Even in the darkness of this less frequented section of downtown, he instantly homed in on the group of males dispersing at the entry of a local blues bar. The lit sign lazily proclaiming the place to be Lenny's shone on the half dozen black-clad figures entering the building, the rest of the Anigma team fading into the surrounding shadows. Arik had no doubt the males stayed close. When he followed their team members inside, the rest would know.

"Let 'em," he said, low and mean, the animal strong in his voice. Power surged in his muscles, the adrenaline of the hunt, and he found himself standing outside the bar in seconds. Too fast for human eyes to see, but not the Anigma. The whisper of their shifting weights as they noticed him was easily discernible to his sensitive ears. He ignored them and stepped inside.


Over on The Mutual Admiration Society, we have what we call Friday Feature Foto--the first Friday of every month, we feature a character from one of our books, including a photo. Hop over there and check out my personal message for Arik this month!