Wednesday, November 30, 2011

These Boots Are Made For Walking

If you ask any writer, one of the things we often struggle with is dedication. We regularly have ups and downs, often depending on whether a book (or life) is working with or against us. One of my tricks for staying motivated (whether it’s my writing or cleaning the house) are my shoes. My sneakers to be specific, or running shoes as some people like to call them.

Once they’re on and laced up (okay, I usually keep them laced all the time and just slip them on) it’s a lot harder to curl up comfortably on the couch with a great book, and I don’t need to tell you guys how tempting that is.

My sneakers give me a purpose and keep me focused on work. Although one of the perks of my job is the freedom to work in my pj’s if I want, I get more done when my feet are ready to go. Just glancing down at them is a constant reminder that I can’t slack off, no matter how much I want to pretend that my three munchkins aren’t often tearing along behind me, sabotaging my efforts when I’m in domestic goddess mode (which isn’t nearly as glamorous as it sounds).

Now if I could just find a way to harness the energy to do my tidying up after my kids were tucked in, I could at least enjoy a clean house for more than twenty minutes at a time and maybe squeeze in a few more pages of writing.

So what tricks do you use to help keep yourself on top of the things you need to get done?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guest Blogger Lorelei James - Arts and Crafts

There are authors who claim writing is an art…and some who claim it is a craft.

Here’s a confession, whenever I used to hear the word “craft” no matter what context it was used in, I couldn’t help but think of the traditional type of craft…a homemade macramé wall hanging, or a painted ceramic frog, or decoupage candles, or other types of knickknacks that are hand-crafted, not the dedication and perseverance I associate with my job as a writer of commercial fiction (which I don’t consider art most days either, just entertainment). When I joined an all female multi-author blog and I was trying to get a feel for their expectations as far as my contributions, one of my blogmates piped in, “We don’t expect you to always do posts on craft,” which sent me into an immediate panic. Craft? Really? Like step-by-step instructions on how to craft beaded napkin rings?

Oh. Right. She meant the craft of writing. Ha ha. Good thing I figured that out on my own and didn’t have to ask for clarification because that would’ve been an embarrassing blonde moment.

As long as I’m in confessional mode, my trepidation about the word craft stems from one thing: I’m not a “crafty” type woman. My mother is. My grandmothers were. My daughters are.

So what happened to me?

My paternal grandmother tried to teach me to crochet one year when I stayed at my grandparent’s farm for a week. Bear in mind, this woman defined patience. After several days where she saw no improvement in my pathetic scarf, she sweetly patted my knee and said, “I’m sure you’re good at other things.”

Same thing happened when my maternal grandmother tried to teach me how to knit. She told me I had too many fingers. When my oldest daughter learned to knit at age 14, and took to it like a duck to water…I’ll admit there was jealousy intermixed with my pride. And don’t get me started on how the visual artistic gene is missing from my DNA entirely. Luckily I married a very artistic man and that gene is has been passed onto our children.

I used to sew—not particularly well, I ended up with a C in home economics classes. And wow, does that date me. Even in the late 70s guys weren’t allowed in the classes designed to make girls better at the domestic arts. Neither were girls admitted to the industrial arts classes. So I was very happy when that all changed in my daughter’s generation and boys and girls were required to take both cooking and shop classes. Probably some of those preteen boys in my daughter’s classes were better at sewing on buttons than I am to this day.

Anyway, in the days I call “pre-published” I used to do counted cross-stitch. I was actually pretty good at it, because hey, even I can count, and I enjoyed it enough to call it a hobby when asked. So when the holidays roll around, I have the urge to make the cute Christmas ornaments I find in my mother’s women’s magazines I always thumb through. I’m stuck in that limbo where I have the desire to return to my hobby…but not the time. And maybe that skill set I thought I had is lost.

What defines a hobby? Does it take skill or just passion? Even though I worked at writing, until I was published, it was more a hobby for me. I don’t consider the interior work I’ve done on our house a hobby because it was a necessity to make the house habitable and palatable. I don’t consider summertime boating a hobby because there’s not much skill involved in hopping in the boat and zipping around the lake. I could try to pass off my obsession with finding funky cowgirl boots a hobby…but it’s more of an addiction J

These days I don’t always see paper pattern cutouts and skeins of embroidery floss in my head when I hear the word “craft.” I’ve accepted I’m crafty in an entirely different way than most people. And I’m pretty sure my readers would rather have me crafting a new book than starting a new hobby.

Lorelei James used to have a life - now she spends her days and nights immersed in the world of writing about sweet talkin', hot bodied cowboys and the women who are tough enough to rope them in. Obviously she has the best job in the world. For more information on the books, visit Lorelei's website:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Holiday Shopping: Easy on the eyes and the wallet

Most people love the holidays, but dread the lingering credit card bills or empty bank accounts that follow.I see the holidays as a challenge--how can I get the most bang for my buck? (*snerk*)

Here are my best tips, and cheap present ideas for the most discerning recipients.

Five ways to cut back your holiday present budget:
1.  Check your Sunday circulars for coupons. This is especially good for makeup and beauty products, because you can "layer" these coupons on top of drugstore sales. Always buy two copies of the paper so you get two sets of coupons! For example: I had two coupons for $1 off Neutrogena makeup. One of the drugstores had their line for buy one, get one 50% off. I used two coupons (one for each item) and saved a huge amount of money. While buying makeup may not seem like the idea present, think about nail polish or bold eye shadow colors--something a friend or teenage daughter would never buy for herself, but allows her to show her sassy side! Coupons for great hair products fall into the same category.

2. Always find the sale or clearance section of the store, usually at the back endcaps of one aisle (drugstores) or in each department (stores like Kohl's or Target). Often you'll find products that were "last season" or discontinued, for a great price. This is especially potent if you gather holiday presents year-round so what was out of season last January will be back in season now! I keep a big bin of gifts that I collect through the year. I don't necessarily know who will get them, but when December rolls around, I've amassed awesome presents on the cheap and just need to wrap and deliver them! Tip: office supply stores have EXCELLENT clearance sections.

3. Create your own gifts. No, you don't need to be crafty to do this--think about getting an airtight jar and filling it with all the dry ingredients for you favorite cookie, cake, or brownie recipe. Print up a tag or label to put on the jar with the full ingredient list and baking instructions. If you're really up for a challenge, find some beautiful ribbon to tie around the neck of the jar. Voila--beautiful, thoughtful, and inexpensive present.

4. Give homemade coupons. For friends and family, this is especially nice. In this economy, we all know that budgets can be tight. So give a mother a doubly good Christmas present with babysitting coupons. Or give your significant other massage coupons (the fine print is up to you!). If you search "coupon templates" online, you'll find awesome pre-made templates where you fill in the information and print. Beautiful!

5. Think outside the big box stores: Wander Home Depot or Lowe's, and see what presents jump out at you. Shop small local stores, or your dollar store. In SoCal, we have the $.99 Only stores which always have awesome gift-basket pieces.

Your gift-giving guide:
1. The Kinkster: Rope! From the hardware store, get a 25 ft. and two 12 ft. lengths of white polyester or poly-blend rope (not cotton). Feel the rope first, to make sure it's soft.
2. The Diva: A spa basket. From a dollar store, pick up a cute wire or wicker basket, line with fabric or tissue paper, and fill with goodies. Look at the dollar store, the makeup department, and the travel-sized beauty and body products carried by drugstores and big box stores--high end brands often sell minis there. Do a themed basket for each friend: Mani/Pedi (polish, toe separators, cozy socks, lotion, nail polish remover); Date Night (high-intensity makeup, volumizing mousse, massage oil); Relaxation (face masque, scented candles, bath salts, and lotion).
3. The Acquaintance: Plants. I know this sounds odd, but giving potted plants is a lasting, unique gift. For an office mate, get a fern or other hardy plant. Wrap the pot in thin fabric like tulle and snug it with a ribbon.
4. The Lover: A date night in basket. Include a blanket, candles, movie, popcorn, bubbly, and massage oil. Set up a gourmet picnic in front of the TV and let your minds--and hands--wander as they will.
5. Anyone: crochet a hat or scarf (super easy!), frame a picture of you two and decorate the frame, assemble a scrapbook, etc. Look at the Michael's Crafts for inspiration and how-to's.

How do you save around the holidays?

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Anti-Traditionalist

When I was a child, I was something of a tradition nazi. Every year I wanted every single aspect of the season from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day to stay exactly the same. Other than the presents I expected to find under the tree, of course. New rituals were allowed into the litany, as long as they didn't displace any of the older ones, but once they'd been admitted, I expected them to show up without fail every year after that.

Food traditions were the worst. The delectable combination of onions, celery and poultry seasoning frying in butter can still recall my very earliest memories of Thanksgiving--putting together a doll-house-sized feast in miniature while the "Macy's Day Parade", Babes in Toyland and Miracle on 34th Street, played in the background.  This, of course, was back in the day before TV marathons had even been invented.

I loved the sense of constancy these rituals evoked. My mother once made the mistake of baking coconut meringue cookies one Christmas, along with all the rest of the usual holiday favorites. No one else cared for the meringues very much, but I loved them. And I pouted every year afterwards, when they didn't automatically appear, until I was old enough to bake them myself. Then there were the struffoli, which an Italian boyfriend accidentally introduced me to one Christmas during my early teens. I left the boy, but I took the pastries.

The same pattern continued for many years. There was the vegetarian holiday lasagna my parents discovered during the 70s, made with bright red pimento sauce, pureed spinach and creamy Bechamel. They served it at a party one New Year's Eve and a lot of their friends found it odd. It was the raisins, I think (yes, raisins. omg, so good, you have no idea!). I, of course, immediately adopted it as my own, along with my mother in law's cream cheese apricot turnovers, the Cuban-style rice pudding the mother of a friend of mine introduced me to and, a little while later, my own take on lemon chess pie, which I developed when we lived in Southern California.

I'd switched my allegiance from Macy's parade on Thanksgiving to the Rose Bowl Parade on New Year's at this point, and was living in a house that had a huge Meyer lemon tree in the back yard. This was during the first few weeks after Clinton was elected and Southern cooking was suddenly on everyone's mind. To this day, cold lemon pie, hot, black coffee, the Rose Parade and bright sunshine is the only proper way to start the New Year in my opinion.

Gradually, however, things changed. Traditions disappeared. People either grew up or they broke up; they moved away or passed away; they embraced vegetarianism (raises hand sheepishly) or they turned their backs on organized religion (hand still up for that one) or they reversed course on both. OR...they moved several years in a row and ended up losing-and/or-permanently-misplacing not one, not two or three, but no less than FOUR consecutive sets of Christmas ornaments.

Honestly, if that doesn't cure you of your obsessive need to keep things the same, nothing will.

These days, about the only holiday tradition I observe is change. However I did things last year, you can pretty much  bet I won't be doing that again this time around. There's a giddy kind of freedom in that, I've found. It's kind of like being single: I can experiment all I want, with whatever I want, without fear of commitment.  I get gleefully excited walking into stores this time of year and wondering, what colors do I want to decorate the tree with this time around...or do I even want to bother with a tree at all? I saw a no-tree display recently--just a spiraling cone of ornaments suspended on monofilament thread beneath a single spotlight--that really has me thinking...

So, what about you? Are you a traditionalist or not? Do you like things the same sometimes? All the time? Or do you fall somewhere in between?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks For Thanksgiving

For the past week and a half, I’ve been living in hell, or close to it. We’re getting our house in Texas ready for sale. That meant clearing out the garage and anything left inside the house—many, many, MANY trips to Goodwill, to the recycling station at the neighborhood elementary school (we filled the recycling container at the house in a couple of hours), to the Habitat For Humanity store. It meant developing what we came to refer to as “Garage Lung” since everybody in the family was coughing from the dust. And it meant camping in the house where I used to live. Sleeping on an airbed. Eating meals off a small camp table. Sitting in folding chairs and the two Ikea chairs my son supplied after he took pity on us.

Through all of this time (and during much of it I was by myself since the hubs had to go back to work in Denver), Thanksgiving shone like a beacon. We would be in Fredericksburg, Texas, in a bed and breakfast where we’d stayed before. We’d be cooking Thanksgiving dinner together, drinking wine, sitting on an actual sofa and having meals at an actual table. And sleeping on an actual bed. Hallelujah.

As I write this, I’m still in the house trying to get the last few details taken care of. But Thanksgiving glimmers on the horizon like the morning star. I’ll be so happy to get out of here and to get to a place that seems normal again. That Fredericksburg is actually one of the towns on which I based Konigsburg, Texas, is a bonus. I can reacquaint myself with one of my favorite places.

Maybe it helps to go through a really rotten experience so that you can appreciate an experience that might otherwise seem pleasant but not extraordinary. This year, Thanksgiving is going to be salvation for me no matter how good or bad the food it.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all. Hope it’s as wonderful as mine will be!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gobble Gobble Gumbo

I enjoy Thanksgiving a lot more as an adult than I did as a child. We always went to my aunt's house and, while I loved my aunts and cousins, there was a lot of friction between my mom and my dad's family (their fault, not hers). Plus my mom wouldn't let me out of her sight for more than five minutes, and my cousins fought all the time, so it wasn't all that jolly.

I much prefer the traditions my sister and I, along with my sisters-in-law, have established. Some years ago my best friend started having people over for gumbo the night before Thanksgiving. Her father and her mother-in-law are both excellent gumbo cooks (and her mother-in-law's crawfish pie is to die for). It started off with just a few couples and now it's huge. So everyone in our family, both sides, eats gumbo on Wednesday night.

Then on Thanksgiving Day we walk down the street to my husband's sister's house. All sides gather there--my sister and her family, her sister-law and her family, her sister-in-law's brother-in-law and his family, and their sister and her partner and their parents, and our next door neighbor, and my husband's family and whomever else hasn't made other plans. This year I think we'll have about sixty people. Kids will roll around in the backyard with a bunch of dogs. One of the brothers-in-law will fry a turkey in the front yard (because the backyard is full of kids and dogs.)

Best thing about all of this? I don't have to cook. There are so many people who can cook that my modest skills aren't needed. I'll bring wine and soft drinks. Diva's old enough now that she can make a trifle all by herself. All I have to do is show up. I'm good at showing up. And cleaning -- I'm very good on kitchen duty. So it's a day of food, and wine, and kids and dogs and about 30 minutes in the kitchen. No prep work, no stress. I intend to keep this tradition going until Diva and her cousins take up holiday hosting and cooking duties.

So what does your family do for Thanksgiving? Have you made your own traditions, or are you still stuck in your parents'? Maybe you like your parents' traditions and want to continue them. Share your Thanksgiving traditions -- the quirkier the better -- in the comments, and Happy
Turkey Day from the Nine Naughty Novelists.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Guest Blogger Teresa D'Amario - Relating

Thanks for having me here at Nine Naughty Novelists!

Let's take a moment and talk about our furry friends. After all, that's what we're here, about, right? Those hot, posessive, powerful males who would do anything for their mate. You know exactly the ones I mean. In SheWolf, Kieran was hot and surprisingly romantic. He killed to protect her the first time he caught her scent. An alpha male with a gentle side.

For Ryland, in Dark Succession, we get the true alpha male, the one who is aggressive and in full control. He has no need of a mate to complete him. Yet he can't resist the sensual scent and beauty of the one named Nora. She is his weakness. She is his strength.

For Blood Moon Betrayed, Sean is different. He's a beaten down alpha male, convinced of his own uselessness who has already let everyone down who's ever depended upon him. Sean is an engima among shifters. He's not the confident, decisive male we're so used to seeing. He doesn't trust his decisions, and he doesn't trust himself. After his wife left him, he pulled inward, swimming in his own self-defeat. But when he saves the life of a pretty human female, he's torn with the desire to open his heart and the need to protect himself. The question is, can he trust his own decisions enough?

We've all been there. Okay, maybe not his exact situation, since your former significant other probably isn't part hyena, (oops, letting secrets out), but we all know the basic feelings. And that's what makes Blood Moon Betrayed work. That's what makes any romance work. We've all felt the same feelings at one time or another, though our reasons may not be different.

So speaking of relating, tell me what it is you see in romance novels that you can NOT relate to. Is it one little thing? or do is there something in romance novels that just drives you nuts that you have never seen in real life, in any form or fashion? And feel free to drop by my website at http://teresadamario.coom and check out the new cover for the re-release of Lone Wolf, scheduled for mid December!

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like...


Well, it is here. Our first snowfall came and went, but yesterday it snowed quite a bit and got very cold, so I think it's here to stay! On top of that, when I went out to do errands last weekend, the shopping malls were crazy busy! Are people doing their shopping already? I'll confess I've started, but this year my goal is to do as much shopping as possible on-line so as to avoid the crowds and traffic.

So since it seems we're into that season I thought I'd let you know about my Christmas story which is now available at Amazon and B&N for just  $.99! (This is a re-release, so if you've already bought it, don't buy it again!) All I Want For Christmas is a fun and sexy little read.

Perfectionist Erin Nordman usually loves Christmas, but this year things aren’t going quite as planned. Lost gifts, too much work to do and organizing the office Christmas party are stressing her out. When Dex Mitchell comes by, the gorgeous Director of Finance who she’s had a crush on forever, she turns into a stammering klutz. What else could go wrong this Christmas?

How about too much to drink at the Christmas party, a sexy encounter in the ladies’ room and an embarrassed hangover the next day? Can anything turn this around so Erin gets what she really wants for Christmas?

Okay so who else has started their holiday shopping?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Twitter Thoughts

It's no secret that I love twitter. In fact, one of the few things I dislike about my new job is that there isn't enough cell coverage inside the building to check my twitter feed on breaks. But sometimes I wonder if I'm doing it wrong.

I originally joined twitter to increase my web presence as Kate Davies, to interact with readers and other authors. And I do those things. But when I look at the majority of my followers, that's not what they're looking for.

I've got followers because of German soap operas. I've got followers because of American soap operas and actors. I've got followers because of Hawaii Five-0. (In fact, I've gotten a lot more followers because of H50 recently, thanks to a semi-ranting blog post about the addition of Lori Weston to the show. And about a half dozen of them sent the link to producer Peter Lenkov. Oops.)

All that is great, and I love chatting about some of my favorite pop culture things with people all over the world. But does it kind of defeat the purpose of being on twitter by being known for everything EXCEPT my writing? Am I enticing new readers to my work, or am I diluting the purpose of twittering?

I don't ever see myself abandoning my interests or focusing entirely on my writing at the expense of everything else. But I do wonder if I'm headed in the right direction.

Are you on twitter? Do you want authors to talk just about writing, or other subjects? Is it okay to be "followed" for something other than the books?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Juniper's Sexiest Men Alive

The lucky editors of People Magazine have spoken, and the official Sexiest Man Alive in 2011 is my longtime friend Bradley Cooper.
I'm happy for Bradley. It's a nice consolation prize after I dumped him to marry my husband.

(Don't believe a word I say here.)

But seriously, I really can't argue with their choice. He's a hottie, no question about it. Talented, smart, French-speaking, charming. But I thought I'd add some other guys into the mix here. And I get to pick my own categories (sorry, People Magazine).


These are the guys I think are hot even though I probably shouldn't. I mean, The Rock? Seriously? But seriously, have you the physique on him?

I put Taylor Lautner in the same category. He is way too young for me to be lusting over. But looking can't do any harm, right?

 In a complete change of pace, let's address the SEXIEST GEEK ALIVE category. I'm a sucker for a cute geek and this guy just does it for me. Meet our winner, Ira Glass, of This American Life.

Now for the I WILL NEVER FIND YOU SEXY AGAIN category. Yep, it's sad but true. Jesse, the bad boy appeal only goes so far. You've crossed a line.

And Mel, I'll just have to remember you from back in the day.

I wanted to include Mickey Rourke in this category but I just don't have the heart to hunt down a picture of him.

Let's move on to a happier category: Juniper's personal HALL OF FAME, the men I will always adore and fantasize about. This is a long list and I could probably spend all day and a long, sweaty night remembering more names. But I'll stick with two. Johnny Depp, you gorgeous, soulful dreamboat. And Daniel Craig, dynamite packed inside muscle and skin. You both do it for me and you always will. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

So there you have it, Juniper's Sexiest Men Alive. Any other nominees? Feel free to share your picks!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Babies and Books.

I'm not one of those authors who'll tell you my books are my babies. They're not. My babies, when they were babies, actually needed to be cared for and protected. My books, once they're in the hands of readers, shouldn't need coddling. Which is not to say I'm a fan of cruel reviews--I'm not. But authors should be able to put on their big-girl panties and not take offense at every little hint of criticism and reviewers need to be able to put on their "I'm-an-adult" hats and not show off how frightfully smart they are at the expense of someone else's feelings. We should all be able to unite over our mutual love of books and just get along...but that's a topic for another post.

What I want to talk about today, is not how books are like babies, but how babies are like books. Hear me out a minute. 'Cause I've given this a lot of thought and it actually makes sense.

First off, there's that new book smell...and yes, for the purposes of this blog post we're talking about physical books. If you've got virtual babies, that's all well and good, but you're on your own with that.

Next, like babies, books are all about the same size and shape. Some are thinner than others, some a bit more thick. But, by and large, none of them weigh so much that you can't sit comfortably and hold one for hours at a time. Which is a damn good thing, when you think about it!

When you first bring your new book or your new baby home, you don't really know what to expect from it. Oh, sure, you have a basic idea, but specifically? Not so much. Will this one be so exciting it will keep you up nights; or will it let you get some sleep? Will it have an internal rhythm you can count on and an attention span that's measurable in more than micro-seconds, or will it restless and high-strung and jump around from one mood to the next? Outward appearances might give you a clue about its temperament, and knowing the genealogy (author and publisher) can also help but, ultimately, you won't know for sure until you're in the middle of it.

Some books are sweet, some more adventurous and some leave you wanting to throw them against the wall. Okay...not like babies so much, more like teenagers maybe. And, no, I'm not advocating you treat either like that in reality; I'm just saying you  might want to. There will be chapters you'll wish you could re-visit for eternity and chapters you hurry through and never want to see again. There maybe be tears or laughter, or a good deal of both. This new book and/or baby might break your heart, or it (or he/she/they) might be the greatest love story ever told.

And, in case you can't tell, my baby's off on another trip right now. My nest is empty and I'm feeling nostalgic.  Guess I'd better go and find a good book to read.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Guest Blogger Nina Pierce - How Forgiving Are You?

It seems authors are looking for that breakout story. The “different” that will make them stand out among all the books shouting for readers’ attention these days.

Like everything, the boundary of what is acceptable and what isn’t is being challenged. Werewolves, vampires, angels, demons and even zombies are competing in the paranormal world, sometimes to the detriment of the human species. Serial killers and stalkers are being chased in crime novels with the gore and horror factors bordering on blood baths. And in the world of romance, it seems every combination of human relationship is available and love is not always found in the bedroom.

But I wonder … how much will readers accept before they throw the book against the wall?

Is a flesh-eating heroine acceptable? How about a serial killer looking for redemption? A cheating partner who wants to be forgiven? Are these characters “redeemable”? And how far would you read before you decide you can’t take it anymore?

I ask, because my newest romantic suspense release, “Cheat Her With Charm” has a hero who at first glance appears to be cheating on his fiancée. As a matter of fact, through most of the story, the reader is left to wonder what he is doing obsessing over another woman and why he is doing it. I fussed and futtered over this premise, not really sure if readers would accept that the hero is truly head-over-heels in love with the heroine. And if he was, why would he cheat? Would they actually make it to the end and discover all the truths?

So what do you think? At what point is a character not worth your time? How much leeway are you willing to give a hero/ine before you decide not to finish a book? One commenter to this post will be chosen at random to receive an e-book of “Blind Her With Bliss”, the first book in this romantic suspense series.

He’s got a secret past. She has dreams for their future. Together they have a problem that may just kill them both…

Floral designer, MEGHAN TILLING, has been in love with her fiancé since college. With her business, his promotion and a family illness, she’s finding the demands on her time are keeping them apart. PETER MADDOCK loves his fiancée with a fierceness that claws at his soul, but finding answers to his past becomes an obsession he can’t ignore. When bizarre accidents threaten Meghan’s life, he wonders if his secrets have finally caught up with him. Can they both discover the truth without paying the ultimate price …their lives?

The disgust mixing with his second scotch churned unpleasantly in Peter’s gut. He’d discussed his options with the hostess nearly fifteen minutes ago, and he was quickly losing both his patience and his nerve.

He was beginning to doubt this trip was worth risking what he’d found with Meghan and her family. But once the questions had formed, Peter had been unable to squelch the curiosity that had begun two months ago when Meghan’s father John had suffered another heart attack.

He’d stood on the fringes watching the three Tilling sisters and their mom huddled together in the ICU. The support the close-knit family had offered one another had been tender and inspiring. Rather than feel part of the Tilling clan, the experience had punctuated Peter’s isolation and lack of roots.

Meghan and her family had no idea what it was like to walk the earth knowing there was no one who shared your DNA. Regardless of how wonderful his foster families had been while he was growing up, they were ephemeral—a temporary place to find a warm bed and three squares a day. They weren’t family.

Long before his engagement to Meghan last Christmas, the Tillings considered him one of their own. The first weekend he’d gone home with her his junior year in college, eight years ago, Alice Tilling had wrapped him in a fierce hug. After he’d passed muster with Julie and Deirdre they too had treated him like a sibling. Even John, the warm-hearted patriarch of the family shared Peter’s love of the Red Sox, Stanley Cup playoffs and fishing.

Peter desperately wanted the Tillings to be enough and satisfy the hungry longing swelling inside.

But they weren’t.

And though he loved his fiancée with a fierceness that clawed at his soul, lately even her love couldn’t fill the growing chasm in his heart. He wanted it to. God, how he’d tried to ignore the gnawing in his gut. The cold emptiness that was sated only when Meghan was in his arms.

When he made love to her, it was with a desperate hunger to brand her on his soul and make her part of him. But the satisfaction lasted only as long as they were tangled in the sheets. Inevitably the bitter loneliness punched through his contentment, spreading like a cancer, chilling him to the very marrow of his bones.

That’s when he’d thought Meghan couldn’t be everything to him and he’d gone searching.

A search that had landed him in the honeymoon suite of a swanky Boston hotel.

As the minutes ticked by, Peter was beginning to realize he’d put too much time and energy into this trip. He didn’t need another woman in his life. Meghan and her family were enough. He slammed his glass down on the table beside him and stood.

“Are you leaving?” Taya hurried to his side.

“I actually just stopped in for a drink,” Peter said, absently shoving the bandana back into his pocket.

“But I’ve come to escort you to see Crystal.”

A private room? In reality, it was what he wanted. Though he’d gotten used to the idea of meeting the woman in this place surrounded by people, a more quiet setting without so many prying eyes might work better. Raking his fingers through his hair, he released some of his nervous energy on a heavy breath that puffed his cheeks. He needed to rein in his conflicting emotions. He’d come this far, backing out now would accomplish nothing.

Peter forced his lips into a smile and stared down into dark eyes outlined provocatively in black. “Why didn’t she come to me herself?”

Taya’s delicate brows furrowed. “It doesn’t work that way.” She pointed to several people being escorted out of the main room. “Crystal is a little busy tying up some loose ends at the moment.” He rolled his eyes at her joke and the petite woman’s smile faded as she cleared her throat. “Yes, well, as you can see, her other guests are already making their way to her.”

“Where is she exactly?”

“In the viewing room, of course.”

Even with his limited knowledge of strip joints, Peter knew this would cost him a lot of money. “How much?”

Again her brows furrowed. “Crystal offers her guests a sample viewing. If you choose something more that will be negotiated.”

The bands of guilt around his chest relaxed. At least he wouldn’t be alone when he first met the woman. He extended his hand in an invitation for Taya to lead the way.

She turned, guiding him through the maze of chairs and couches toward the other side of the room. He kept his eyes focused on the swirling pattern of the rug, not so much because it caught his attention, but to keep him from making eye contact with the other patrons.

He’d jumped so many hurdles to get here and this whole fiasco had taken on a life of its own, but he didn’t need to know that others watched him. Peter’s need to meet Crystal outweighed any compunction he had to retreat from his embarrassment.
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Award-winning romance author, Nina Pierce, grew up in a house full of readers. So becoming enamored with books was only natural. She discovered romance stories in her early teens, falling hopelessly in love with knights in shining armor and the damsels who saved them.
Eventually, reading about alpha males and the journey to find their happy-ever-after endings wasn’t enough. She needed to pen her own stories of fated loves and soul mates. Nina’s discovered the passionate side of romance with her sexy stories. For her, it’s all about the sweet scent of seduction mixed with the heartwarming aroma of romance.
Nina resides in southern New England with her high school sweetheart and soul mate of twenty-seven years, their three grown children and several very spoiled cats who consider her “staff”.
You can keep up with her latest releases on her website and blog, Or follow her on facebook