romance

Assassin's Heart!

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In case you haven’t heard, I’ve been releasing a few books lately.😉 ASSASSIN’S PREY released just yesterday, and the next installment in the series will be out AUGUST 26TH!

 ♦ ASSASSIN’S HEART ♦

My brother believes he made me a killer. The truth is, I’ve always been different. I can smile while sliding a knife between your ribs—and not feel a moment of regret.

 Until Leah.

 A man like me shouldn’t have a family. But the minute I opened my eyes from a coma and saw her, I knew I’d forever be tied to her. A nurse who nurtures life. A mother.

 I’ve stalked her for two years, unable to stop but refusing to give in to the need to have her. To love her. Until the night her daughter is taken. I’ll light up the world to get Leah’s child back to her.

 And then I’ll walk away for good. Not because it’s the right thing to do, but because I know how she’ll look at me after seeing who I truly am.

 She’ll see the murderer inside me. And God help me, but she’ll be right.

💚 💚💚 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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Gratitude

Gratitude.

The contest this month is about gratitude, but not only because this is the month of the US Thanksgiving celebration. I’ve been thinking about gratitude a lot. I have so much to be thankful for:

 

* Wonderful readers—I have no delusions! There are so many choices out there for fantastic books, and to know that so many readers have picked up one of my books, read it, and loved it (and often read more) is a tremendous blessing in my life.

 

* A supportive family—I’ve been blessed with a family, including my awesome sister and loving daughter, who understand the long hours of writing and marketing, the frustrating blocks, the endless loops of nerves and “I don’t think I know what I’m doing’s.” 😝

 

* Fantastic characters—They’re deep, emotional, difficult, and always riveting to me. I couldn’t create meaningful books with characters that were anything less. I’m thankful these characters choose to reveal themselves to me (or, in some cases, that they choose not to reveal themselves and I have to get angry on their asses, LOL!). They make work worth it every day.

 

So I know I’ve asked you to share the people you’re thankful for in this month’s contest, but today, I want you to share what you’re thankful for. What else has been a blessing in your life?

Come visit me on my Facebook page and tell me what you're thankful for!

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Another Year, A New Year

About eighteen months ago, I was in one of my favorite places ever, a small town in Michigan where I take my kids to visit with their uncle and his family every other summer. It was the year my health had finally started going haywire enough that I was able to find a couple of solutions (and even more questions). It was a time when I was heading into self-publishing and taking control of my career, and also the time when my ability to write was beginning to break down.

Recipe of the Month: Flourless Chocolate Cake

I've talked a bit in my Hump Day Healthy Writer posts about the food allergies I've developed over the last couple of years. The change in my diet is never felt more keenly than at the holidays, when all the traditional family treats I've made for years are now off limits. So what's a girl with gluten, soy, and dairy allergies supposed to do?

Romance Readers' Movie Night!

Are you a romance reader? Wanna have a girls' night out but too tired to go anywhere? My friends in the Nice Girls Writing Naughty group have the solution! Every month we feature a different event just for romance readers, and this month's event is a GIRLS' NIGHT IN.

Teaser Tuesday: Only for the Weekend

This Teaser Tuesday is a brand-new release: ONLY FOR THE WEEKEND is hot off the presses for only 99 cents. Find out how Vincent and Jane start their weekend together, and then grab your copy to read the rest of this short, sexy story!

Release Day PARTY!

ONLY FOR THE WEEKEND is here! It's been a long time coming, it seems, though TAKE ME only released at the end of June, a mere five months ago. I think I just got used to having a new book out every other month. :) But...no more waiting! You can read Jane and Vincent's story right now, for only 99 cents.

Hump Day Healthy Writer: Journaling

The past couple of weeks have been stressful, and the next couple of weeks promise to be more so. See, I'm releasing a book this Friday. I'm also having surgery. Yes, the same day. It was either that or ruin Christmas with my kids, and I would rather miss a release day. I've been scrambling to get everything finished ahead of time, get my ducks in a row, deal with the anxiety of going under the knife, finish my next book's rough draft that is a month overdue

What I've Been Reading: Dungeon Games

Dungeon Games (Masters & Mercenaries 6.5)Lexi Blake

Obsessed

Derek Brighton has become one of Dallas’s finest detectives through a combination of discipline and obsession. Once he has a target in his sights, nothing can stop him. When he isn’t solving homicides, he applies the same intensity to his playtime at Sanctum, a secretive BDSM club.

Hump Day Healthy Writer

I have a secret: for the past year I've worried that I'd lost my mojo. Sometimes I wondered if I wanted to write at all. Every day at the page seemed to be a battle, and I knew deep down it would be easier to give up the fight and just go back to being someone's employee instead of the boss. The responsible one. The creative one. So why didn't I? Because I couldn't.

Teaser Tuesday: Hank & Sage

Guess what! Hank & Sage's book finally has a title! In April 2016, their book will be released as...ONLY FOR THE NIGHT! Keep checking back for excerpts from their book and the first book in this series, Only for the Weekend, available December 4th. I can't wait!

Teaser Tuesday - Jane

Want a little taste of my heroine, Jane, from Only for the Weekend? She's quirky, sweet, and oh so ready for a change.

Only for the Weekend UPDATE!

OftW Final Cover_SMWe have a cover -- and it's gorgeous! What do you think? I've also set up preorders. You can go ahead and order your copy of Only for the Weekend on Amazon right now for 99 cents. I'll have the book up on other retailers within the next couple of weeks, and will add the links to the Bookshelf page as they go live. The links will also be in my monthly newsletter.

So when will your copy arrive on your e-reader? DECEMBER 4TH! As I announced in my newsletter, I've had some health issues this summer that pushed my schedule off, and I wanted V. and Jane's story to come out a little closer to the other book in this mini-series, Hank and Sage's story (out the first week of April, 2016). Since the books go together, I figured a little delay now was better than a bigger delay between them. But this novella is definitely hot enough to wait for! I think you'll love Vincent and Jane--their chemistry is explosive. I had to take a few breathers between scenes, let me tell ya.

Oh, you want to see? Hmm...Okay, I guess I can share. ;) How about an excerpt?

* * *

Straightening her shoulders, his sister met his gaze. "I got a call from Jane last week."

Vincent's gut tightened. "Jane?"

"Yes, Jane," she said impatiently. "My best friend, Jane? You are so hopeless."

"I hope not, considering you brought me here to do you a favor. I know which Jane you're talking about." As if he could ever forget. He rubbed his thumb and forefinger over his eyes, hoping to hide exactly how much he remembered from his too-observant sis. "Get on with it."

"She's been...unhappy with her current relationship for a while. Actually, she hasn't been happy with her last couple of boyfriends, but I didn't really understand why until she called to tell me she and Lane had broken up." Kennedy's mouth twisted into something not quite a smile, not quite a frown. "We got to talking about what, specifically, was the problem--"

V. put his hand up to ward off the rest. Jane's relationships were the last thing he wanted to discuss. The history between him and Jane--history his sister knew absolutely nothing about, he was pretty sure--might be water under the bridge, but that didn't mean he wanted to think about her with anyone else.

Kennedy wouldn't be denied, though. "No, Vinny, this is important. See, we were talking, and I started to realize that some of their...compatibility issues are because Jane is...uh...submissive."

Fuck. Now he was starting to get the picture. His fingers started a steady beat on his thigh as he struggled to bring his racing thoughts under control. "And you want me to talk to her about BDSM."

There weren't many secrets between him and his sister. When she'd read 50 Shades and started questioning things, he'd openly discussed his natural need to dominate and what that might look like in a hypothetical relationship. Though ultimately not drawn to the D/s dynamic herself, Kennedy was well-educated enough to recognize the tendency in her best friend.

"Not exactly."

"Then what exactly?" He couldn't keep a bit of bite out of his words.

Kennedy took a deep breath as if steeling herself against something. Not a good sign. His gut tightened again.

"Jane actually asked about hiring an...escort that could dominate her." V. thought the top of his head might just fly off. "She didn't. You didn't," he growled.

"No, idiot," she insisted, her words as loud as his were low, "I didn't." She stared into his eyes, but she wasn't really seeing him, he could tell. "She wants to learn but doesn't know anyone in the lifestyle. She didn't know what to look for if she went to a club, and didn't feel safe with a stranger."

V. wasn't quite ready to give an inch. The thought of Jane with a stranger--okay, with anyone, but especially a stranger--made him feel like his blood was boiling in his veins. "She wouldn't know an escort either."

"But I would." Kennedy shrugged. "That was it. She thought, this being Vegas, that I might've met someone in the lifestyle that she could trust. A personal recommendation, so to speak."

"You told her no, obviously."

This time her stare connected, but she didn't speak. She just waited, her determination ticking like a clock between them, until the truth finally smacked him between the eyes.

"You're hiring me?"

"She's my best friend, Vinny. I'm not gonna hand her over to have sex with just anybody!"

"And you're not handing her over to have sex with me either." Frustration drove him to his feet to pace across the room until the floor-to-ceiling windows stopped him. If only Kennedy knew. Jane would probably prefer to castrate him, even now, ten years later. She certainly wouldn't want to be vulnerable to him, not the way a sub was vulnerable with their Dom. Even considering it was an enormous mistake. He scrambled for anything that might deter her.

"Jane's just a kid." Ten years his junior, like Kennedy was.

"She's not a kid. She's my age, and I have sex all the time."

He shot his sister a withering look. "Now stop that shit right now."

Kennedy's eyebrow cocked up. "The sex?"

"Telling me about it." He shuddered. "It may or may not happen, but I do not need to know."

Kennedy's smirk was salt in the wound. "My brother the perv is freaked out by his baby sister's vanilla sex life."

"Yes. Very."

It took a moment, but eventually he was able to join a smirk with Kennedy's laughter. His sister's amusement eased some of the tension stringing his body tight, enough that he could return to the couch. Kennedy patted his leg when he sat beside her.

"She's always had a bit of a crush on you, ya know."

He kept his sigh inside. Damn right, he knew. What Kennedy and especially Jane didn't know was that the feeling had always been mutual. Which spelled certain disaster if he gave in to what his sister wanted.

He didn't say it aloud; instead he deflected. "Jane isn't a one-night-stand kind of girl." He knew that much--all too well.

"She's not looking for forever, just a quickie intro to BDSM." She tilted her head, seeming to consider her words. An impish grin tugged at her lips. "Well, not a quickie, really, but you get the idea."

His frown probably made him seem like a stuffy old geezer, but what the hell... "Yeah, I get it." All too well. Perversely, the assumption that he was available to be used for the night bothered him. "Thanks, Sis. I'm good enough to stud out but not good enough for more than one night?"

He mentally kicked his own ass. Why was he even arguing about this? He didn't want more than one night. He'd always said so, a fact Kennedy quickly reminded him of.

"'Commitment takes time,'" she quoted.

He'd said those three words so many times, and never regretted them. His band had been all the commitment he had room for besides Kennedy. It had always been true, but now Weekend Washout was on hiatus for who knew how long--at least until Chad came back from gallivanting around Europe with his latest lover. V. and Hank were exploring a new solo project, true, but even then, he had way too much time on his hands.

But not time for a commitment, V. You're not commitment material. If you were, you'd have taken Jane up on her offer ten years ago, whether she was sixteen or not.

No... Okay, maybe. He really didn't know. He'd like to think he was a better man than to take advantage of a sixteen-year-old girl's infatuation, but this was Jane they were talking about. And whether it was ten years ago or now, the thought of having her for far longer than a single night reverberated in his chest with more force than the echo of his bass drum.

"Vinny." Kennedy closed her eyes, probably praying for patience. When she opened them again, determination shone through. "Jane is a sweet person who's just trying to find her way through this." She sat forward. "You're my brother. I trust you, and most of all, I trust you with her. Please, just... Please help her."

V. thought about her words for a long moment, thought about his first faltering forays into a nonvanilla sex life, how much easier it would've been if he'd had a guiding hand. He considered the pleading in Kennedy's eyes, and the fact that she might hand him his balls if he said no. And finally, he let himself picture Jane, the pretty sixteen-year-old he'd rejected and the quietly beautiful woman he'd seen in Kennedy's frequent pictures. Could he really let Jane make herself vulnerable that way with anyone else? Could he turn his back knowing she wouldn't be safe? Because she would continue to explore; that much he knew. He wouldn't have been able to stop his own search, safety or not. Jane needed to find her answers, but no way in hell could he allow her to do it alone.

His sigh was pure capitulation. Kennedy heard it and smiled.

"All right," he told her, "I'll do it--but on one condition." He thought about that a moment. "Two, actually."

Kennedy's triumph dimmed a bit. "Okay."

"Anonymity. I don't want her knowing who I am. No, Kenn," he said firmly before she could interrupt. "This could affect your friendship later. She could feel awkward, avoiding you if she thinks I'll be there." He normally had no issue with having sex with a woman he'd just met, if they both knew the score, but not Kennedy's best friend. It wasn't the only reason for the caveat, but it was a good one. The other... Well, Jane would never knowingly let him near her, much less trust him if she knew he was the one with her, not after what had happened between them. "Anonymity is a must."

Emotion warred in Kennedy's eyes, but she finally gave in. "You're the right person for this job," she told him, conviction shining in her eyes. "I guess what she doesn't know won't hurt her. She'd never see any other guy I picked again, right?"

"Right." He said the word she wanted to hear even though he didn't think it was necessarily true. If they hit it off, Jane would probably see another Dom again. Not him, though. She wouldn't see him the first time if she knew.

Kennedy reluctantly nodded. "And?"

He squared his shoulders. "And no sex."

"But--"

V. shook his head. "I can teach her what she needs to know without it. Hell, some subs get more of a release from the submission than they do an orgasm." For him D/s was all about the sex, but that wasn't the case across the board. "Jane is vulnerable, and I won't take advantage of that. I can't."

"So...you won't touch her at all?"

"Oh, I'll touch her." A lot, probably. More than was good for his sanity. "But no full-on sex."

Kennedy agreed, but the uncertainty wrinkling the corners of her eyes said what she wouldn't say aloud. No sex meant Jane's fantasy might go unfulfilled. But he'd rather give her something and leave them both unscarred than indulge himself in something he'd dreamed about for longer than had been appropriate and hurt Jane in the process. If Kennedy knew the whole story, she wouldn't have any doubts. All V. had doubts about was his ability not to go too far. This was Jane, after all. The woman he'd fantasized about dominating since she was sixteen years old.

Heaven help him.

* * *

Don't forget, you can go ahead and reserve your copy of Only for the Weekend now on Amazon. And don't worry--I'll remind you when it's almost here. :)

*

Jane Jacobs is ready for a change. She’s determined that a history of lackluster relationships and even more lackluster pleasure will end this weekend, when she meets the Dom her best friend has set her up with. Exploring dominance and submission with her blind “date” could answer all her questions—and help her forget the one man she wants to master her.

With his band on hiatus, Vincent O’Connell grabs the chance to visit his sister in Vegas, but she wants a favor more than a family reunion. V.’s not above indulging himself with a willing sub, but when he realizes the sub is his sister’s best friend, Jane, all his instincts scream at him to back out—and fast.

V knows Jane; she’s young, pretty, sweet. Definitely sub material—for someone else. But one look at her on her knees and all the reasons to avoid her disappear. She needs a Dom to guide her, and he needs to indulge himself with just a taste. After all, it's only for the weekend.

 

Am Writing!

Y'all know I've been working on Hank (from Naughty Little Christmas) and Sage's book. I'm still working on it and hope to have it out in November. But in the meantime, a wee little novella crept up on me featuring Hank's best friend, Vincent. And that book will be ready before Hank's. Which means... You guessed it -- a new book out in early October! Title and blurb got some work this past weekend, and now it's ready to share with you. Let me introduce...Vincent and Jane.

Im Writing Collage

Only for the Weekend (If Only Book 1)

A Vegas weekend. A temporary submissive. Can he control both her and his heart?

Jane Jacobs is ready for a change. She’s determined that a history of lackluster relationships and even more lackluster pleasure will end this weekend, when she meets the Dom her best friend has set her up with. Exploring dominance and submission with her blind “date” could answer all her questions—and help her forget the one man she wants to master her.

With his band on hiatus, Vincent O’Connell grabs the chance to visit his sister in Vegas, but she wants a favor more than a family reunion. V’s not above indulging himself with a willing sub, but when he realizes the sub is his sister’s best friend, Jane, all his instincts scream at him to back out—and fast.

V knows Jane; she’s young, pretty, sweet. Definitely sub material—for someone else. But one look at her on her knees and all the reasons to avoid her disappear. She needs a Dom to guide her, and he needs to indulge himself with just a taste. After all, it's only for the weekend.

*

I'll share more news as it becomes available. I can't wait to share this sexy Dom and his sweet sub with my readers!

~ Ella

What I've Been Reading: Cell by Stephen King

I finally got in a little reading last weekend! Reading is one of the things that falls off my list when I struggle to find time for everything, but I took a Saturday for myself and read Stephen King's Cell from cover to cover. What did I think? Well, as a romance author, I have to say my reactions were mixed. hardcover_prop_embedArtist Clayton Riddell had been in Boston negotiating a successful deal to sell his comic book project.  His joy at finally hitting it big is shattered by an event called The Pulse which causes all those who were using their cell phones at the time of The Pulse to become zombies attacking and killing anyone in their way.  Fortunately for Clay, he does not own a cell phone.  In the panic to get out of Boston and find his way home to his wife and son in Maine, he is joined by Tom McCourt, a man he meets in the meleé immediately following The Pulse and a young girl, Alice, who they rescue from being killed by one of the “crazies.”  The story follows their terrifying journey, avoiding capture—and worse—by the “crazies” who are beginning to “flock” and are led by one they call Raggedy Man as they attempt to reach Maine and a place called Kashwak which they hope will be their salvation.

This is the first Stephen King novel I've read. It's been something on my to-do list for a long while, but other than reading On Writing, I haven't delved into his writing. I've seen almost every movie version, though. :) And since I began reading the books of Jonathan Maberry (and enjoying them immensely) -- and since it was a book on hand (my daughter had a copy) -- I decided this was a good start.

The story itself, I really did love. It was exceptionally well plotted, the characterization was spot on, and the ability to make even the smallest, most repetitious actions interesting was phenomenal. King has long been lauded as a master author, but I did not realize quite how seamlessly that skill played out on the page. I didn't necessarily care about the characters immediately, but I wanted to understand what was happening to them. They were interesting, and as time went on, I found myself rooting for them, living through their eyes, feeling what they felt despite the sparsity of language.

And that was where I wavered.

I've heard it said that King abhors adjectives and adverbs. I did find them used only rarely. King's style is bare, almost more of a report than a retelling, though what he is reporting are thoughts and feelings. Descriptions aren't flowery or overstated, but the details King chooses to focus on bring the entire scene to life. They're just right. It's very interesting -- and very different than what I was used to. The romance genre doesn't work that way, and I think a romance novel written in this style would never have worked. And yet, with the subject and the genre of Cell, King's style enhanced the other elements of the story instead of taking away from them. He let us focus in on what was important, not everything around us in the story.

Oh, one caveat: Cell ends on a cliffhanger (and since there's no book two, you never find out what ultimately happens with Riddell and his son, though the state of the world itself is pretty clear at the end). I had a heads-up that this was the case before I read the story, so I was prepared for it. Others who weren't warned told me they wanted to throw the book across the room. :) Be warned ahead of time!

So, did I enjoy it? I did. Not in the way I'd expected, but I did. I will definitely try another, maybe The Stand, since they are remaking the movie version. Next, though, will probably be Lisey's Story (since I already own a copy, and since it's about a writer). But for next month, I'll be returning to romance, I think. I have to switch it up, doncha know!

~ Ella

Starting Anew

file0001693526020Starting a new book isn't easy for me. I see a lot of authors post about writing "The End," and then the next day's post is all about the book they just dived right into overnight. Believe me, I wish I was like that, but I'm soooo not! I'm currently working my way into Hank and Sage's book, and not only do I not have a title, but I don't have much actual "book." The scenes read more like sketches than anything else. There's no pizzazz, no wonder, no spark. It's like a story "bud" instead of a story ready to flower. Lord help me.

But really, this is how every book is for me. I am a plotter, so I almost always have an idea of where the book itself is going, but also where the next few scenes are going in detail. Still, it takes me a while to find the "spark" that ignites both my interest and the characters' personalities. And with every book I worry I won't discover that spark. Where is it? When will I happen upon it? What if it never appears and this book sucks wet stinky socks?

...

You get the picture. I've never not found the spark, but it weighs heavy on my mind until I do. In the meantime, I pick up tiny bits of my characters' lives and personalities, bringing them slowly to life. Hank, for instance, has a dog. I didn't know that until this morning. Of course, neither Hank nor said dog care in the least that I have no dogs and know almost nothing about actually owning a dog. Hank said he had a dog, and so he has a dog. Oy. Now to figure out the dog's personality. :)

Thankfully I have plenty of time to meddle in other story ideas while this one fleshes out. Ian and Cassie's book, for instance, which I'm hoping to put out as a Christmas novella. And another small surprise novella that may or may not come out this year. Just depends on if I have time to figure out those characters along with my two currently ornery couples. We'll see. So many love stories, so little time!

Have a great week!

~ Ella

Hard on Ourselves

I've recently lost some weight. I know, I should be jumping for joy, right? But before a recent trip to see family, I stood in the dressing room at Target despairing because my new size was "only" a TEN. I haven't been a size ten in twenty years. I didn't look in the mirror and see all the things that have improved about my body; I saw all the flaws I thought should be fixed still. Why are we so hard on ourselves?

Recently cyberspace has been full of articles that "debunk" the idea that marriage is hard work. (Something about a celebrity couple and marriage and what they had to say about it... Whatever.) A couple of weeks ago I happened upon a thread in a friend's Facebook feed asking if the women who followed her agreed or disagreed. So many women said marriage isn't supposed to be "work," and if it is, you're doing something wrong. Which of course means I looked at the marriage I've worked very hard on and despaired. "I must be doing something wrong."

No, no I'm not. Sometimes I think we only value what is easy, when in fact it should be just the opposite. It's easy to value the $50 dinner you only pay for, not prepare, but nothing can compare to that feeling of buying the best ingredients, spending time at the stove, and striving hard to make food you and others will love. Both are good options, but easy doesn't = better.

imageI'm beginning this week working on my latest book. It doesn't have a title yet, but it has a premise. The things you have to work for are often the best. Hank, my hero, isn't looking for love; he certainly isn't looking for anything complicated. But the moment he meets Sage, he knows she's worth it. She's complicated, and she's hiding secrets that she's afraid Hank won't want to deal with. She's hard on herself. But Hank truly sees her, and is willing to work to make their relationship fulfill both of their needs. There's nothing better than that.

And that's why he's my hero. :)

Try not to be too hard on yourself this week. Enjoy what you have, what has come easily, what has come the hard way, and look forward to both in the future. Every journey is worthy, no matter how hard we have to work to complete it -- we just have to be willing.

~ Ella

FUN New Contest!

I've got a contest going this week to guess my next book hero! Before I reveal the details, I thought it might be exciting to have my readers guess -- and possibly win a little treat ($15 Amazon Gift Card). :) Check out the hints on the photo below, then go to the Rafflecopter giveaway to enter your best guess (no points off for wrong names either!). The winner will be revealed (as well as the hero) in my newsletter this weekend and here on the blog. (Contest ends Saturday, 7/18.) Contest picTo enter, go to the Rafflecopter giveaway page and enter your best guess! And if you want to learn more about this sexy hero, sign up for my newsletter before this weekend.

Have a great week!

~ Ella