Excerpts

Release Day! Naughty Little Christmas Is Here -- And We're Having a Dance Par-tay!

ella sheridan, erotic romance, romance, author, writer, secrets to hide, naughty little christmas, dirty little secret, damien and harley, backstage passWoot! It's a release day par-tay! :) Naughty Little Christmas is live at Loose Id! And just to prove it, here is the link: Naughty at LI! *UPDATE: We're live on Amazon and All Romance eBooks! Woot!

Keep in mind, ALL ebook formats are available at LI. All you have to do is download the format appropriate for your ereader (or your computer, and they even tell you which format you need on their FAQs page), hook your ereader to your computer, and drag and drop the file to your ereader. Easy peasy! Even I can do it, and that's saying something. ;)

I will update as new formats become available, but I'm not sure how the holidays will affect load time, so even that pesky Nook file that won't be available for WEEKS can be had right away at LI's website. Run right over and get your copy of Damien and Harley for Christmas! You won't regret it!

And now that the practical "stuff" is taken care of...let's PAR-TAY!!! Here's the blurb for the most awesome Christmas story this year. Woot!

Harley Fisher's life changed forever when her twin sister gave birth to a baby one month before she died. This Christmas, Harley wants her adopted daughter to have the very best gift possible: her real father. Determined to discover if Damien Adams is worthy of being a part of the baby's life, Harley forces her way into a job as the manager-in-training for his new nightclub, Thrice. Damien is blunt, challenging, and sexy as all get-out. Desiring him is wrong, but when he touches her, it's oh so right.

Damien needs a manager for Thrice so he can return to overseeing all three of his clubs. Harley's too young, too hip, too damn tempting--and perfect for the job. Wanting her violates every rule he's laid out for his life, but even the strongest convictions can falter under the mistletoe.

Harley's keeping one hell of a secret. When Damien finds out, will Harley and his daughter be the best Christmas gift he's ever received, or will her secrets leave them with nothing more lasting than a naughty little Christmas this year?

I am so excited about this release! Let me tell you, Damien and Harley are hot enough together to singe the pages.We get a glimpse of old friends, and a glimpse of new ones that just might appear *hint, hint* in future books. :)

As you know if you've meandered over to the Extras Page for Dirty Little Secret, I have a theme song for every book. Today, in honor of Naughty's release and the Christmas holidays, I have TWO theme songs to share! The Christmas theme song for Naughty is mentioned in the very first page. That's right, it's George Michael's "Last Christmas." I know, I know, there are much more "sophisticated" versions nowadays, but for me, that song will always be perfect in George's voice. So here it is for your viewing enjoyment: "Last Christmas." (Dig that '80s hairstyle, dude! :) )

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8gmARGvPlI&w=560&h=315]

But wait, that's not all! Naughty had two theme songs. This song, while also an oldie, encompassed everything these characters seemed to struggle through. I had it on repeat so much my kids begged me to stop playing it! So, without further ado, "All I Want" by Toad the Wet Sprocket:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVYYpNaSs2Y&w=420&h=315]

Want some more? How about Damien's song for Harley? Damien might start off skeptical that Harley has what it takes to be successful at managing Thrice, but by the end of the book, he realizes exactly how much they have in common -- and how perfect she is for him. Here's his message for his Wonder Girl: "Hey, Soul Sister" by Train.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVpv8-5XWOI&w=560&h=315]

Harley is not afraid to butt heads with Damien, ever. And they do butt heads, often and hard. What song reminds me most of these two and their explosive reaction to each other? That one's easy! "One More Night" by Maroon 5.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwK7ggA3-bU&w=560&h=315]

Okay, last one, I promise! There are some smokin' hot sex scenes in this book, I'm tellin' ya. One occurs...ahem...outside, atop Damien's low-slung sports car, the one Harley describes as "the equivalent of fuck-me shoes, except for men: all I can give you exactly what you want, all night long." ;) So what song inspired that scene? Why, the same one that inspired the smokin' hot dance scenes, of course; "Hands All Over" by Maroon 5:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQEZ-RiW7X0&w=560&h=315]

All right, all right! I know that's enough. Can you tell I love music for my books? By next week I'll have the extras page for Naughty complete and you can see the entire playlist I listened to for the book. For now, though, how about an excerpt? Okay, here you go!

*

“You’re who?”

Harley came very close to laughing, though she wasn’t sure if it was actual amusement or just plain nerves. George Michael’s voice crooned “Last Christmas” in her head. “Tell me, baby, do you recognize me?” It’s definitely been a year. Guess the answer’s no.

She managed to hold back the laughter. Barely. Nerves wouldn’t get the better of her any more than Damien Adams would. She refused to allow it. Squaring her shoulders, she ignored the fact that she felt like an idiot with her hand dangling out in front of her, waiting to shake, while she faced down the man who had taken the Atlanta bar scene by storm less than a year ago. In person he was more like a blizzard, slamming into her senses, whiting out everything, including her courage. She’d always been good at faking it, though.

Ignoring his obvious impatience, she tried again. “Harley Fisher.”

The jerk stared back silently, full lips pressed tight together, a dark brow cocked up in question.

Okay, she knew she’d interrupted him, but seriously… She raised her own brow, getting a little impatient herself and trying hard to control it. “We spoke on the phone. About the general manager’s position,” she reminded him carefully.

Damien looked at her still-extended hand; then, with casual deliberation, he crossed his arms over his wide, muscular chest. The silk of his shirt stretched to a fit that resembled plastic wrap. Pulling her gaze from the deep V of the open neck, she dropped her hand and refused to be intimidated. She needed this job, and she intended to have it.

A spark of recognition lit those river-brown eyes, and Harley swallowed hard against the heavy, dry lump in her throat until he said, “Right. You’re the one I thought was a guy.”

She caught her grimace before it could get out. Yes, her name was unusual. She was often mistaken for a man until someone saw her in person, after which they simply thought she was an airhead. Or a slut. Her youth and rocker-chick persona often worked against her in the “real” world, but it never took people—men—long to learn differently. Hopefully Mr. Slick here would be quick on the uptake.

From the look of it, she had a better chance of Santa coming down her nonexistent chimney.

Raising her voice slightly to be heard over the remixed Christmas song blaring from the speakers, she said, “Yes, that Harley.” Try a smile, she told herself. “We—”

An impatient shake of his head cut off her words. “I believe I told you we were looking for someone more”—his gaze slid slowly down her body and back up—“more.”

More what, for God’s sake? More ready to jump into bed with him? A strong urge to put her leather jacket back on, as if she were still out in the Atlanta winter cold, bit into her. And pissed her off. Maybe she’d made a mistake in coming here. Damien obviously wasn’t the man she’d thought he would be, the man she needed.

No, give it a chance. This is too important to be making rash decisions. He can afford to; you can’t.

She dug her fingernails deep into her palms and wished her soon-to-be boss wasn’t quite such an ass.

Or quite so sexy. Looking at him heated her body in a way that had nothing to do with the anger she was feeling. The reaction shook her. Of course, Sonny’d always had good taste in men.

Which was definitely not why Harley was here.

Pain tingling in her palms from the digging of her nails, she forced herself to hold his stare. “Mr. Adams, simply because I’m young—and female—doesn’t mean I’m not the right person for the job. If you could just take a look over my résumé one more time—”

“I’ve seen what I needed to see, Ms. Fisher,” he said, voice dropping to little more than a growl. “I own three very successful clubs in three cities hundreds of miles apart. Traveling between them means leaving someone else in charge, someone with the experience and expertise to work independently, wisely, and efficiently. It means I must trust that person implicitly with my livelihood and that of my employees. Being Thrice’s general manager requires more than a familiarity with the bar.” That insulting look returned to his eyes, implying various ways she might’ve gained such knowledge that had nothing to do with her brains.

Oh, he so did not go there.

“So what you’re saying is, a woman in her midtwenties, a former musician, covered in tattoos but looking reasonably attractive is by definition a lush? Or are you insinuating that I’m a whore?”

Damien stared, eyes wide with shock, as if he couldn’t believe the words that had left her mouth. Then a boyish grin transformed him from put-out businessman to dangerously naughty hunk, and the urge to let go of her anger sank its teeth deep. No way. She was not forgetting he was rude, egotistical, asinine, a dickhead…

He laughed before she could let a real hissy fit loose. The sound echoed, rich and full, blending and countering the music filling the room. It deflated the ball of emotion choking her, drew her in, made her want to mix her laugh with his. She held her breath, unable to decide if his reaction was a good or bad thing.

“Forgive me,” Damien said. A wheeze interrupted the last word, and he had to pause to get his mirth under control. “You’re right. That was uncalled for.” Like an old-world aristocrat, he bowed from the waist. His shirt draped away from his chest, giving her a glimpse of smooth, tan skin all the way to his navel. “My apologies.”

Did he plan to kiss her hand next? The man had throwing people off down to an art. And why didn’t he look ridiculous with his shirt unbuttoned down to a lick-worthy six-pack? Reminding herself of her purpose, she said warily, “Accepted. I think.”

His grin said if that was the best he could get, he’d take it. “Ms. Fisher, I appreciate your candor—and that you are willing to forgive my rudeness. But—”

She barely refrained from rolling her eyes. There always has to be a but.

“—the fact remains that a certain level of experience is necessary for this position. I’m sorry.”

He turned to leave, and panic took over, pushing her to close the distance between them. Instinctively her hand shot out, and then she was gripping the heavy muscle of his biceps. Desperation firmed her hold when the shock of physical contact shot up her arm like a lightning bolt. He felt hot. Masculine. This close, he smelled of spice and alcohol, and she found herself breathing heavier just to take in more.

Don’t be a damn fool, Harley! Get your act together.

“Ms. Fisher—”

Before he could blast her for detaining him, Harley firmed both her courage and her voice. “Thrice has been open how long, Mr. Adams?” When he refused to answer, she did it for him. “Six months. I’ve been involved in the Atlanta music scene for fifteen years, the last seven of which I spent not only as a musician but as an event organizer and PR rep for my band and several others.”

That got him to face her fully. “You are either older than you look, or that’s a big stretch of the truth.”

She let a smirk sneak onto her lips. “And you are more unfamiliar with your new market than I would have given you credit for. My mother rotated out of every club in town, dragging me along with her from the time I was ten so she could sing her heart out. At fifteen I became involved with the indie music scene, and three years later formed and managed my own band, Aftershock.”

At the name, Damien’s brows shot up. So much for actually reading my résumé. Anyone with even a basic knowledge of indie music had heard of Aftershock; they were one of the foremost bands in the business, not just because they were damn good musicians, but because Harley had as good of instincts in management as she did with a bass guitar. If her private life hadn’t blown all to hell, she would still be with them.

“I see.”

She could tell he didn’t like admitting he was wrong, but at least the playboy charm was darkening into something more serious, more thoughtful, without the annoyed edge he’d shown at first. Time to close the deal. “You know the national scene, no doubt about it. You know what needs to be done to make things happen in LA or Colorado. You gained that know-how through study, experience, and local help.” She fought to keep the quaver of desperation out of her words. “I can give you that here, Mr. Adams, and with far more depth and speed and with lower cost than anyone else you could hire. I know Atlanta. I know the people here. I know the nightlife and the music and the contacts to make it all happen.” She pulled in a heavy lungful of air to ease her aching chest. “I am the person for this job.”

When the last word left her lips, she knew every ounce of her passion and determination went with it. Her lungs deflated like a balloon with a slow leak, refusing to refill as she waited for his verdict. Thinking of everything that was at stake, she willed him to listen, to see all that she could offer.

“You’re not gonna give an inch, are you?” he finally asked.

Harley narrowed her eyes. “No, and you wouldn’t want me to. It’s exactly what you need.”

Damien’s gaze dropped to the hand still clutching his arm. Harley slowly released him, the burn of embarrassment firing her cheeks. When his mouth, that sinfully full mouth, opened to speak, she braced herself for rejection.

“Okay.”

Wh-what? The single word hit like a brick wall she’d never seen coming. “Okay?” she parroted.

“Okay, let’s talk.” Glancing down, he surveyed the thick black watch encircling his wrist. “I have a couple of things to settle first, but if you’re willing to hang around, I’ll take the time to speak with you.”

Clenching the muscles in her thighs to keep herself from slumping to the floor in relief, she forced calm into her voice. “Yes. Absolutely.”

Damien stared down at her for a long moment, something dark and unreadable in his eyes. Knowing she had to get used to him watching her, judging her, she let him look. Whether he found what he was looking for or not, she didn’t know. He turned to a passing employee, asked the man to escort her to a table in the bar, and nodded before making his way down a nearby hall.

She couldn’t resist a final glance in his direction as she was led across the room. Step one down. They were on their way.

* * * *

He needed to stop looking at her. Every few minutes his gaze strayed toward the corner table in the bar where Harley Fisher sat, sipping a drink with red and silver sprinkles rimming the glass, chatting with every employee who passed. The Christmas lights illuminating the area glinted in her eyes, and he couldn’t keep his fucking gaze off her. Which was bad, because he didn’t do employees—ever. And he wanted to do her, no doubt about it.

Pretending to listen to Brad give him a rundown of the night’s tally, he took in the picture she made. She fit, which was what had made him wary at first. Too young, too hip. From the top of her candy-red-and-cream-striped hair to the toes of her knee-high stiletto boots, she looked like one of his customers—the ones he occasionally slept with—not a manager. She had slipped her tight leather jacket onto the chair back, revealing a silky silver tank that showcased a full-sleeve tattoo along one slender, toned arm. Those muscles came from holding a guitar, he now knew. A musician. Wasn’t that just further reason to be panting after the woman? It was a wonder he hadn’t been forced to roll his tongue back into his mouth like the cartoon characters he remembered from childhood.

“Boss?”

Brad’s voice pulled him back to business, and Damien turned, removing Harley from his line of sight. Tonight’s private Christmas party for Keane Industry’s Atlanta office had been well attended, the bar busy all night. Brad needed his attention, as did a million additional things, both here and at his other two clubs. He needed a general manager for Thrice. Once, his club in LA, and Twice, the Denver nightclub, were both hugely successful, but he wasn’t the kind of owner who could open a place and then leave it in someone else’s hands entirely. He stayed in constant contact with both managers, flying out frequently to each location, this month in particular. The series of charity events planned for the holidays would benefit hundreds of families in the three cities where he ran clubs, but they added more strain to his already overfull schedule.

He and Brad were finishing up the details for tomorrow’s order when Ryan strolled over to lean against the bar.

“Sounds good, Brad,” Damien told the bartender. “Finalize those numbers and have Malik get that order in ASAP tomorrow morning.”

Brad immediately pulled out his phone to shoot the day supervisor a reminder, which was one reason the man had become such a trusted employee so quick. He got things done and done fast. Damien needed all the help he could get. Fifty e-mails waited on his phone for his attention, and that didn’t include the things Ryan, as his assistant, handled on his own, or the things Ryan couldn’t handle when he and Brad took over Thrice while Damien was away. Both men worked hard, but neither had the know-how or experience to run the club without constant input from Damien, not yet. The need for a seasoned day-to-day manager here at Thrice neared desperation level at this point. No one he’d interviewed had felt right for such an important position, though. No one had even come close, not until Harley.

“Remind him about contacting that wholesaler while you’re at it,” Ryan put in. “See what the guy has to offer us.”

Brad nodded, fingers flying, then hit a final button and looked up. “Anything else?”

“No, you’re good,” Damien told him, meaning it.

“Does that mean I get an extra-special Christmas bonus this year?” the bartender asked with a grin.

“I don’t know. Ryan?”

Brad groaned. “You did not put Wonder Boy in charge of our bonuses, did you?”

“I’ll remember that,” Ryan warned.

Brad laughed as he headed toward the other end of the bar, which spanned the length of the club area, to finish supervising the night’s cleanup.

Ryan leaned a little closer, brows up almost to his hairline, and smiled slyly. “So, who’s the girl?”

In the four years Ryan had worked for him, Damien had come to love his young assistant like a little brother, so he didn’t resist the urge to smack the little pissant upside the back of his head.

“Hey, man, don’t mess with the hair!” Ryan smoothed the ruffled strands at his nape, but his smile widened despite the whine in his voice.

“Keep your tongue on a leash,” Damien warned, his words lacking heat. Without his consent, his gaze traveled toward Harley, watching as one of the waiters approached her table to offer a refill. Harley shook her head; then something the man said made her laugh. A twinge of pain shot through his jaw as Damien ground his teeth together. “That,” he told Ryan, “is Harley Fisher.”

Ryan shot to attention at his side. “The Harley Fisher? From Aftershock? Hot damn!” His tongue practically hung out as he stared across the room, and Damien started to wonder if he was going to have to wipe up drool. “I didn’t recognize her offstage. Is this my Christmas gift? Say yes. Please?” The last word definitely approached a whine.

Ryan was much closer to the indie scene than Damien, obviously, but it wasn’t as if Damien had no clue who the woman was. Aftershock was one of those bands that even adamant anti-indie listeners knew and enjoyed. He kept up with their music, if not all the band members’ names. What he did know was the venues they played—good ones, events that took finesse to get, especially for a band without the solid backing of a major record company. If Harley acted as their manager, she knew what the hell she was doing. So why leave that behind to work for him?

Ryan’s gushing made the pain in Damien’s jaw worse. “Down, boy. She’s applied for the general manager’s position.”

“No kidding?” A thoughtful look crossed Ryan’s boyish face. “I’d heard she was on hiatus. Maybe it was more serious than the rumor mill let on.”

Something to think about. She certainly seemed the best choice overall, given her background. And if he was honest, the main thing holding him back at this point was the attraction he felt for her. He liked her spunk. He liked that she didn’t take his shit without calling him on it. Damn it, he liked her, wanted her, and therein lay the problem. She was trouble waiting to happen. With a capital T.

A soft, feminine hand on his arm interrupted his thoughts. “Damien? Is everything all right?”

Mia. Another problem squeezing herself onto his overflowing plate. When he said he didn’t do employees, he meant it, but Mia refused to get the picture.

He straightened. “Fine, Mia,” he said, shifting as subtly as possible away from the petite waitress. Petite but strong, barracuda strong. She, like Harley, was young, maybe twenty-three. She’d been waitressing at Thrice for three months, and if things didn’t change soon, he would be forced to let her go. Being ambushed every time he came in the door of his own club was unacceptable—and unavoidable. She’d made it so.

“Would you like me to gather the staff for the meeting?” she asked, swaying her shoulders side to side in an incongruously little-girl move that emphasized her generous breasts in the low-cut shirt she wore. Damien knew better than to look down. They were nice breasts—he’d noticed; he was a breast man, after all—but a single glance and he’d end up with a permanent attachment to his hip that would take a crowbar to remove.

Keeping his eyes firmly locked with her exotic, almond-shaped ones, he said, “Valentine will let you know when we’re ready.” He glanced over to see his waitstaff supervisor at the far end of the room, pointing two waiters in the direction of a section that had not been taken care of yet. He nodded in Valentine’s direction. “Don’t you have cleanup to get through?”

Mia’s full lips pouted prettily. “I just wanted to help, Damien. I’m sorry.”

Instead of rolling his eyes, he nudged his chin toward the opposite end of the room. “Finish up, please.”

“That is a mess waiting to happen,” Ryan murmured, barely waiting until Mia stepped out of earshot.

“I agree.” He jammed both fists against the bar, arms rigid, and rolled his shoulders to release the tension that had settled there. “One you can take care of while I’m away.”

“Thanks,” Ryan mocked. “I get to cover your ass while you gallivant all over the country, and handle the horny waitress.”

Damien smirked at the disdain dripping from Ryan’s last word. “It’s a dirty job, but at least I don’t have to do it.” Especially not at Christmas. Damien hated letting anyone go, but the young woman had been warned strongly and repeatedly. Knowing what had to be done didn’t mean it depressed him less.

Damien motioned for Brad and Valentine to gather their crews for the “family meeting,” the staff meeting held nightly to go over issues from the shift or things that needed to be addressed for upcoming ones. By the time they finished, Harley had been waiting more than an hour for his attention, but she didn’t act impatient. She’d watched him handle the staff, those green eyes alight with interest. Now those same eyes narrowed on him as he walked toward her table, leaving Brad and Ryan to lock up.

Damien felt the pull of that look, right down to his groin. And that hair. Jesus. Her hair reminded him of those Life Savers strawberries-and-cream lollipops he used to love as a kid, a swirled mix of sharp tang and sweet, creamy goodness. It made him wonder where else on Harley he could taste creamy goodness. When his dick filled at the thought, he groaned. He needed her as a manager, not a good lay. He could get sex anytime; someone to fill the empty slot in his business was far harder to come by.

Harley was it, but neither he nor his cock were jumping for joy over the decision.

*

All right, guys, that's it for today! Enjoy the party? Then be sure and hop over to Loose Id and pick up your copy of Naughty Little Christmas today. Merry Christmas!

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?”

“No.”

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. ;)

Home for the Holiday Blog Hop: Spicy Cheese Cookies!

ella sheridan, dirty little secret, erotic romance, home for the holidays blog hop, holiday recipes UPDATE!!

And the winner is...

Hang on, my daughter's choosing...

And the winner is...

NIKKI McCARVER!!!!

I can't thank you all enough for making my first blog hop and contest such a huge success! I'll definitely be doing this again soon. Happy Holidays!!!

~ ~ ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~ ~

Welcome to the Home for the Holidays blog hop, Ella Sheridan edition! We all know when the weather gets cold, we want something HOT. *ahem* To eat, of course. Oh goodness, that probably wasn't good either, but you KNOW what I mean. ;)

Anyway, one of my favorite holiday treats, and one I love making and giving away as gifts (but not too many, otherwise there isn't enough to eat!) are these Spicy Southern Cheese Cookies. The recipe came from my brother-in-law's side of the family, and they are awesome! They are also much easier to make than you might think, especially if you have the kids help roll them into balls.

ella sheridan, dirty little secret, erotic romance, cheese cookies, home for the holidays blog hopSpicy Southern Cheese Cookies

1/2 lb. grated sharp cheddar cheese          2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. softened butter (2 sticks)                  1/2 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. garlic salt                                    3/4 tsp. red pepper

Add all ingredients into a large mixing bowl. The amount of pepper listed gives you a spicy cookie, but for my family, who prefers things on the milder side, I use about 1/2 tsp. Once all ingredients are incorporated, cover and chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Remove from fridge, scoop out using a tablespoon, and roll the mix into a ball by hand. Place approximately 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten each ball by pressing lightly with a fork. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. If they start to brown, take them out -- browning is not good with cheese cookies! Cool and enjoy!

Ella Sheridan, Dirty Little Secret, Loose Id, erotic romanceAnd to go with your spicy, savory treat, here's an excerpt from my current release, Dirty Little Secret. Both are sure to spice up your holidays. ;) And don't forget to check back on Christmas Eve when the sequel, Naughty Little Christmas, an even spicier offering, is released!

~ ~ ~ ~ Excerpt ~ ~ ~ ~

A pause in the cacophony was followed by the sultry sound of a sax filtering across the dance floor. Cailin stopped to catch her breath at the sound. She hadn’t been completely alone as she danced; several men had approached, partnered her for a few minutes, then left, leaving her available for another dance, another partner. She’d thought she would feel awkward dancing with strangers, but she didn’t. She enjoyed it. And she didn’t feel like a slut, either.

As the timbre of the music worked its way into her bones, she let her body move, sway, absorb the pleasure of sense and sound. When broad, heavy palms landed on her rocking hips, she startled. She whipped her head around, only to meet the darkest, sexiest brown eyes she’d ever seen. They blazed with emotion in a face that put Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, and every other Sexiest Man Alive to absolute shame. Her mouth opened in a soft “oh” as she stared.

God, he was beautiful.

And then he smiled. It was soft, secretive, sexy. Steaming. Her legs wobbled beneath her, but his grip kept her upright. Then his body made contact with hers—full-body contact, her back, point by point, met by the muscled heat of his chest, stomach, thighs. A gasp escaped as his pelvis brushed the base of her spine and an unmistakably rigid bulge made itself known. The next moment, she was lost in the intensity of his touch.

Her head turned to the side, Cailin tried to smile, but nerves and something else had wicked the moisture from her lips. He moved against her, his hips more agile than Patrick Swayze’s in Dirty Dancing, and nuzzled his sharp nose against the cheek closest to him.

“Hi.”

Her head reeled, her tongue tied itself in a firm knot, and she wished the solid floor beneath her would do her a favor and swallow her whole. Fast. “Hi.”

And then she gave herself up to the music. Talking was impossible, but moving wasn’t. And it felt delicious. She melted into the firm body supporting her, countered the sway of his hips, and fell in love with a man she’d spoken only one word to. Of course, she only loved him for his body. Nothing could compare. Nothing could ever feel as good as he felt against her. His arms circled her waist, his hands flat on the soft curve of her stomach. She wanted them on her breasts. On her mound. Between her legs. The music made love to her, one beat at a time, and he partnered it perfectly until her brain couldn’t think, couldn’t tell where she ended and he began. Didn’t want to. All she wanted was for this moment to last forever.

Which, of course, it couldn’t.

At the music’s final note, the man turned her in his arms, his tight grip pulling her into his body until her front was as firm against him as her back had been. She looked up—and up. Her head tilted back farther than she’d imagined it would have to in order to meet those chocolate eyes. He had to be at least six-four, much taller than Sean—

No, she wouldn’t think about Sean tonight. In the fantasy world she’d created, Sean no longer existed. He belonged to tomorrow and reality. Now was for sweet heat and the fantasy lover staring down at her.

“I’m Alex,” he said. His voice was a mix of gravel and velvet, the sound clenching her womb. Cailin blushed as a rush of hot moisture coated her inner thighs.

“Cailin.”

Alex tucked his head down to hear her, and at her name, he turned, eye to eye, his wide pupils mesmerizing her. Time stopped. Sound receded. And then he wet his bottom lip with a slick pink tongue. “Nice to meet you, Cailin.”

That seductive smile flashed again, so close she could touch it, taste it, before he straightened. The press of the heavy wall of his chest into her sensitive breasts brought a moan to her lips, one she abruptly cut off as soon as she realized what she’d done. Jeez, Cailin. Get it together. But he didn’t seem to mind. In fact his eyes heated further, and he rubbed lightly against her. In the back of her mind was the thought that if anyone else had pulled that move, she would have to remove his balls with her knee, but with Alex, it felt right. She didn’t know why. It just did.

Music swelled again, and Alex took control, moving her against him, the subtle rubbing of their bodies the most sensual foreplay she’d ever experienced. She knew in that moment that she would have sex with this man. If he wanted her—and the erection still going strong between them said he did—she would have him. She wouldn’t lose this opportunity. Guess she’d found her courage…in his arms.

The minutes passed with no regard to how much she wanted them to pause. As the next song came to an end, she realized they were close to the edge of the dance floor. Alex stepped aside, took her hand in his, and led her toward what looked like a dark hallway heading off to one side. Cailin balked, some unwanted feminine instinct waking her to reality and danger, but Alex soothed her. “Offices. The owner’s a friend of mine. I thought we could talk someplace quieter.”

Turning for a last look at the crowded dance floor, she followed him down the long hall, berating herself for the stupidity of the move but unable—or unwilling—to say no. Something deep down in her soul, some gut feeling she thought she’d lost when her marriage fell to pieces, trusted this man. Maybe it was the way he seemed to read her mind, to know what she needed before she did. The way he anticipated every move, as if even a breath didn’t escape his notice. She’d never felt like the center of a man’s entire concentration. She wanted more, wanted to bask in the intensity of Alex’s attention.

And the occasional employee passing them assured her they weren’t completely alone. If she screamed, someone would hear. Wouldn’t they?

A wide, heavy door marked, appropriately enough, OFFICE waited at the end of the passageway. Alex knocked, and a dark-haired man with classic playboy looks opened the door. The surprise on his face eased more of her worry. So this wasn’t a regular occurrence; thank God, even if she did want to sink through the floor in embarrassment.

“Damien, could I—”

“No problem.” The man didn’t ask for an explanation, and his cheeky grin said he didn’t need any. “Just lock up when you leave.” He nodded politely at Cailin before turning to walk back the way they’d come.

Alex gave a rueful snort and dragged her inside. The minute the door clicked shut, he had her backed against its unforgiving surface.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered roughly. “I need—”

Cailin kissed him before he could finish.

~ ~ ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~ ~

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The winner of the Amazon/B&N gift card will be notified Sunday, November 17, 2013. And keep an eye out for that big TRT winner -- it's a doozy (and second place ain't bad, either)!

*UPDATE: For some reason I was thinking the end of the hop was on Sunday. It's not -- it's Monday! So I'll be announcing my winner on Monday as well. That's an extra day to get your chances to win in, and to pass the info on to friends if you'd like. Keep an eye on your e-mail Monday evening for the notification!

Ella

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Arik

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!