Saturday, April 28, 2012

Just found out...

Nothing is sweeter than getting a release day for a story. Well, I take that back, getting the cover tops it. 

I just found out that My Boogie Woogie Bugle Guy will be out on June 1st. Better yet, I received the mock-up and it's pretty.

But a mock-up isn't final, so I can't show you that yet. But I will share an excerpt from my newest 1NightStand story. Please excuse any typos or grammar. This is still in edits.
Here, Grace meets Frank for the first time. But is he in the cemetary to have more than a drink with his dead buddy?

Grace lie on her belly, her cheek pressed into the lush grass, staring a full shot-glass of liquid, which from the fumes, was most likely whiskey. It sat at the base of her brother’s tombstone, as if someone waited for him to take a drink.
George Daniels, born June 18th, 1987, Died August 8th 2011. Hero, Son, Brother.
            Whoever left the whiskey, had set it on an ace of spades. Probably one of the Green Beret’s Geordie had served with. They’d liked to play that game. She smiled, remembering the stories her brother told her about his downtime while deployed, the heated spade’s matches, the stomach churning dares to eat creepy crawlers, roach races, anything to keep them entertained between patrols.
          “I miss you.” She sniffed and wiped a tear from her cheek. It had been a year since she’d lost her brother, and the hole still gaped open, raw, unbearable.
She wouldn’t be off her shift for another thirty minutes, but on the anniversary of his death, she couldn’t stay away. She'd needed to talk to him. So, she’d sprawled over his grave in her uniform, getting grass stains from the freshly cut lawn, telling him about how much her life sucked without him.
“For my next number, I’m gonna play something a little more laid back,” a slurry voice rang out over the headstones, echoing through what was supposed to be a closed grave yard. A trumpet began to play. “Dah, dah, dum. Dah, dah, squawk.”
Grace bolted up. “What the hell?” Believing she’d been alone, she’d bared her soul to her brother, and certainly wouldn’t have had the conversation she’d just had if she’d known. She turned around three-hundred and sixty degrees, until her gaze landed on a mausoleum backlit by the moon. There, a man stood on the roof with brass to his lips, butchering Taps. In his other hand, he held a bottle of what was probably in the glass on Geordie’s grave.
            Grace swatted the debris from her pants and stomped toward the mausoleum, irritation prickling up the back of her neck. She stopped at the base of the stone structure and glared up. “What are you doing here at three in the morning? The cemetery is closed.”
“Whoa, hot chick in the audience.” He swayed, threatening to fall off the roof. “Feel free to toss your panties up on the stage in appreciation.”
She clicked on her flashlight and cast the beam on him. “I suggest you get down from there before you fall, or I have to arrest you for public intoxication.”
He gave her a shit-eating grin. “You got handcuffs?”
“Oh, God,” she groaned under her breath. “Of course I’ve got handcuffs. I’m the police.”
He rocked and blinked his eyes. “You’re hot for a cop.”
“Thank you, I think. Now get down.”
“Okay.” He jumped, hit the edge of the roof, rolled off and dropped like a stone at her feet, doing it with all the grace of a bag of potatoes. Yet he’d managed to keep hold of the bottle and not spill a drop. He put the horn to his lips and blew, but nothing more than a raspberry came from the mouth piece. “For my next number, I’m going to play....” He looked up at her. “Any requests?”
“Yeah, tell me where you’re staying, so I can take you to your room.”
“Easy, girl. What kind of guy do you think I am?”
“Drunk, cocky and full of shit.” She reached her hand down. “Come on. You either tell me where you’re staying, or I take you to the drunk tank.”
“Are you a meter maid?”
Grace sighed. “I’m an officer. You obviously knew my brother, so I’m going to cut you a break. Come on soldier, you need to sleep that booze off.”
He gave her his trumpet. She tucked it under her arm and extended her hand to him again. After several attempts, his palm made contact with hers and she pulled him to his feet.
 “So you’re Geo’s sister.”
“Geordie’s, yes.”

Have a great weekend!

D L

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Here, There and Everywhere

Forgive me for flaking out for the past few weeks on my post day here at Paranormal Romantics, I've been uber-busy.

I went on vacation. Saw lots of sights.



Even went to a few museums (I, for one, love museums and yes, that's a tornado...indoors).


Attended the RT Convention in Chicago. Got lots of great books and met lots and lots of fabulous people.



Though I'm still scratching my head over the small flatscreen tv's embedded in the mirrors of one of the bathrooms at the convention hotel.


And I've been furiously preparing for the release of my next book - my 13th one in fact, darn good thing I'm not suspicious - which releases tomorrow at Ellora's Cave! http://www.jasminejade.com/p-10037-chasing-sin.aspx


There's nothing paranormal about Chasing Sin - unless you count storms that seem to always find my characters. Rather, I think, my characters have a knack for getting themselves in trouble. LOL Both with storms and matters of sex and love.

Ever want to know what it's like to chase a tornado? You can find out today, as the entire first chapter of Chasing Sin is going to be posted on my site (after 8:30 am EST): http://www.sarabrookes.net/ Come visit and get sucked in!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Paperback Blues


I've been using a Nook exclusively for over a year. I love it. I live in a rural area so the closest Barnes and Nobles is a 45 minute drive away. With the Nook, my purchases are one click away. :D

I went to a convention recently and recieved many, many free books and bought a few two but mostly in paperback. I didn't think anything of it at the time except what a pain in the ass to lug around. (OH my aching back)

Then this weekend I finally got some time to crack one open. I'd forgotten how to hold a book with one hand. There's a knack to keeping your fingers in the right place on the spine yet keep them out of the flipping way of the words. Not only that, there's no save a place button when you close the thing. LOL The font was too small for my old eyes and I couldn't adjust it. Then when I wanted to read in the bath I couldn't fit in a plastic ziplock bag to protect it and still flip the pages.

I love looking at them though.

It's odd how easy it was to adjust to my ereader and how I take it for granted. (hugs her Nook)


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Whatcha Reading?

Happy Sunday!! I've just started my marathon of the Dragonfire series by Deborah Cooke, and I'm already hooked! Not much of a surprise since I'm a HUGE fan of dragons! But it's more than the yummy dragons that has me unable to stop reading, I adore the humor in it like this little snippet below:

"She'd really prefer that the man in question not be nuts. Or weird. Or a stalker.
She was fussy like that."


Awesome, right? Besides all that greatness, the plot and world are fantastic, and I'm totally engrossed! If you haven't checked out this series and you love paranormal romance, then I highly recommend it!


When ace accountant Sara Keegan decides to settle down and run her quirky aunt's New Age bookstore, she's not looking for adventure. She doesn't believe in fate or the magic of tarot cards, but when she's saved from a vicious attack by a man who has the ability to turn into a fire-breathing dragon, she questions whether she's losing her mind - or about to lose her heart.
Self-reliant loner Quinn Tyrrell has long been distrustful of his fellow Pyr. When he feels the firestorm that signals his destined mate, he's determined to protect and possess Sara, regardless of the cost. Then Sara's true destiny is revealed and Quinn realizes he must risk everything - even Sara's love - to fulfill their entwined fates.

BUY LINK

EXCERPT:

The reckoning had begun.

All around the world, gazes turned skyward for the total lunar eclipse. Not everyone realized that it was the first eclipse of a new cycle, that it was the beginning of an age of reconcilation and reckoning.

There were thirteen who knew.

No sooner had the shadow of the earth passed over the full moon than the first six met in the quiet reaches of southern Libya. The moon glowed red and unnatural, as unnatural as many might have found the sight of the dragons circling out of the darkened sky. The dragons gathered silently, as prearranged, honoring custom. They landed unobserved beneath the path of the eclipse.

There was no need for conversation: the process of ordination had taught them their responsibility, though none had known whether they would be summoned until now. Dread and anticipation mingled in one of the eldest, Donovan, as he watched his fellows arrive. He didn’t like foretold events, didn’t like the sense they always gave him that there was more controlling his future than his own will. Heat rose from the sand underfoot and the sky appeared to be stained with blood.

Erik arrived last, his onyx and pewter figure casting an erie shadow as he wheeled with confidence out of the sky. He carried a black velvet sack, moving as if it weighed nothing. Donovan knew that sack’s contents and the weight of the burden Erik carried.    

The blessing was murmured in old-speak by all of them, even skeptical Donovan. The bag’s cord was loosed to reveal the treasure of their kind, still nestled in the shadowed interior. The Dragon’s Egg was as dark as night, as fathomless as obsidian, and the surface of the stone gleamed as if wet.

The sight of it gave Donovan the creeps.

“It’s not working,” Niall said with alarm. He was young, and more inclined to panic.

“Nonsense. It must taste the moon’s light,” Erik said, impatient with doubt. “Give it room.” The others withdrew slightly and Donovan restrained the urge to destroy the sacred relic. It was older than any of them, mysterious and potent, and to his thinking, it brought more trouble than it solved.

Erik spun the Dragon’s Egg three times, requested an augury of the Great Wyvern, and released it. The stone spun like a top across the hot sand. When it came to a halt, the six clustered closer, as close as Erik would permit.

For a long moment, only the reflection of the moon’s red glow was visible in the orb. The eclipse was already progressing - if Erik felt the press of time passing, he gave no outward sign. Their leader was as cool and composed as always, as confident as Donovan had always known him to be.

Donovan was impatient and inclined to prod the stone. Before he could move, though, the orb sparkled, as if lit from the inside. Lines of gold appeared in the darkness, running across and around its surface.

“First it traces the planet,” Rafferty said, for those who had not witnessed the marvel before. The outline of continents appeared, as if drawn in gold by a frantic mapsmith.

“North America,” said Donovan, recognizing the shape of the continent displayed on the top. He sighed. “It figures. Why can’t we ever be dispatched to Italy, where the women are gorgeous, or some South Sea island where they’re naked?”

“Silence!” Erik commanded.

Nothing happened after the continents were drawn although the shadow of the earth moved relentlessly across the full moon.

Then suddenly finer hairlines appeared on the Dragon’s Egg, straight lines of force, and the six exhaled in relief. The leylines could have been lines of longitude and latitude, because they triangulated a precise location. What they really marked was lines of energy, earth energy, energy that might as well have been Roman roads for the readiness with which Donovan and his kind could follow them.

The lines targeted the nexus where the next firestorm would begin. The leylines glowed briefly as they made a conjunction and the six leaned closer, anxious to read the location before the gleaming lines faded to darkness.

“Ann Arbor,” Erik murmured, his old-speak echoing in the thoughts of his fellows with authority. “I will go.”

“I will be your second, if you wish it,” Donovan said, speaking out of some impulse he could not name.

“You will all second me,” Erik declared and Donovan felt a frisson of alarm pass through the group. He exchanged a glance of understanding with Rafferty, knowing that the old prophecy must be correct for Erik to make such a demand.

The final battle had come.

And the world would ever be the same again.

~*~

So, whatcha reading? Any new books on there I should be looking out for?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Decadent's Elatia Series Launches Next Week

Very excited about this. Courtesan Boot Camp, is one of the flagship stories that will help to launch Decadent Publishing's new erotic science fiction line called, Elatia.

Now, I'd show you the cover, but there is a exclusive cover reveal of all the launching stories this Sunday night on the Galaxy Express, and until then, what it looks like, is a secret. So, I hope you'll stop by and check out the big cover reveal. Here's the link:  http://www.thegalaxyexpress.net/

Until then, I'll share an excert from my story, Courtesan Boot Camp.

Excerpt:

“Wakey, wakey, princess.” Someone slapped her cheek.

Shay knocked the hand away. “I’m not a princess.”

“We’ll you’re not an ornament for my transpod either. Get off. You’re drooling on my deck.”

Shay’s eyes snapped open and she found herself face to face with the mud slug again. “Courtesans don’t drool.”

“You aren’t a courtesan yet, cupcake, and what do you call that puddle on the deck?”

She turned and her eyes widened. No, no, no. She’d committed the unforgivable. Her hand shot up to cover her mouth and chin, hopefully blocking the view of any spittle left on her face.

“Yup, Dayne’s going to have fun with you. What street corner are they finding you girls on these days?”

“They didn’t find me. They bred me for…why am I explaining this to you?” She kept her hand over her mouth, waiting for him to look away so she could take care of business.

He shrugged, dropped her bag beside the transpod, and headed for the front entrance to a large minnica spire.

She used her palm to wipe her chin and watched him go. “Hey, do I go in there?”

If he heard her, he didn’t indicate that he had. He entered, leaving her to her own vices. Okay, she wasn’t some helpless flower. She could make the introduction herself and didn’t need Mr. Personality’s help.

Shay reached into her bag, retrieved a mirror, and checked her face and hair. All evidence of the mishap had been wiped away, and without smearing her makeup. At least something had gone well. Once satisfied, she climbed to her feet with as much grace as she could muster, smoothed the fabric down on her overdress, and grabbed her bag.

Sometime during the trip to her new home, her right ass cheek had gone to sleep. Combined with the missing heel, she hobbled like a crone. Not the most elegant example she wanted to put forward, but also not her fault. Too bad about the boots. The heels were hand-carved crystal, irreplaceable, and her favorite pair.

She stopped in front of the tall door and stared at it for several seconds before she found her courage. Shay cleared her throat. “Open,” she spoke in her most commanding tone. Stepping forward on instinct, she smacked face first into the hard surface, which had failed to vaporize as expected.

Shay reached up and rubbed the tip of her nose. What kind of freaking planet is this?

She poked it and cleared her throat. “Open.” The door didn’t move. Shay glanced around for a button, or something, anything to activate the mechanism that opened it. Lever? Fuck. Nothing but a round thingy. She bit her lip again. Certainly nothing as primitive as….

“You have to turn the round thingy, honey.” This time Milos’s voice came through by brainwave, telepathy, or whatever he was using to annoy the shit out of her.

“Stay out of my head.”

“Turn the knob. Open the door. It’s not rocket science.”

“I know rocket science. I don’t need your instructions.”

“Of course you don’t.”

“You’re an asshole!”

“Nice language.” Shay lifted her chin to look in the face of…dear gods. Dark hair, green eyes, strong jaw and chin. The man standing in the doorway had looks that would melt a woman where she stood. And she’d just called him an asshole, or he thought she did. Her mouth dropped open.


To celebrate the launch of this new line, I'm giving away some romance trading cards for two of my upcoming releases. Two lucky commentors will win a Courtesan Boot Camp card, and I'll toss in another of my erotic science fiction romance cards for Rebel Souls. Two winners get two cards each. All you have to do is leave a comment. That's it.

Have a great weekend. And don't forget to comment to get in on a chance to win the cards.

Best,

D L

Friday, April 20, 2012

It's Friday

A SHOUT OUT AND A BIT OF INFO.

As you can see we're UNDER CONSTRUCTION...It's Friday will be vanishing after next week and will become something else catchy...oh my, a new name, I need to find a new name. Hmm, maybe High Five on the 5th, The Other Fifth Avenue (ooh, I like that one!) or Take Five? Ouch, my brain hurts from me digging deep so early! *smile* I'll run It's Friday now and again with the hot men and more over at Sovereign Spot.

But not to worry, we have lots of new friends joining us and that makes me happy! Hope you'll be dropping by to say high and follow along with the fun and madness I know some of these folks will create.

Now, the SHOUT OUT: Annie Nicholas--she is one awesome lady and would put the best wedding planner or campaign coordinator to shame. The lady keeps us all beautifully in sync!! Love ya, Annie.

Growl and roar-it's okay to let the beast out.-J. Hali Steele

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Paranormal Romantics is under construction so please excuse the mess while I play with our new skin. The work seems to have scared off our regular bloggers for some reason. I guess they fear my weilding a hammer or something.

As of May 1st we'll be welcoming a whole bunch of bloggers to our family and I expect a little celebrating will be taking place, so stay tunes.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Hint of Frost Blog Tour

I am touring all month long--and into next month--promoting the release of my new fantasy romance novel, A Hint of Frost.

Here are the planned stops. Swing by and comment for a chance to win one of my backlist titles.


16 - Booked Up – Interview - http://boookup.blogspot.com/

17 - Grave Tells – Interview (short story style) - http://gravetells.com/

17 - Angela Blount - Interview - http://perilous1.blogspot.com/

18 - My Tower of Books – Interview - http://mytowerofbooks.blogspot.com/

19 – Romanceaholic – Guest Post - http://romanceaholic.com/

20 – Novel Thoughts (RR@H) - Guest Post - http://rrahnovelthoughts.com/

23 – Sidney Bristol’s Blog – Interview - http://sidneybristol.com/

24 - Short and Sweet Reviews – Interview - http://shortandsweetreviews.blogspot.com/

25 - Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews – Character Interview - http://lauriethoughts-reviews.blogspot.com/

26 - Vamp Chix and Bite Club – Guest Post - http://vampchix.blogspot.com/

27 - Booked Up – Giveaway - http://boookup.blogspot.com/

30 - You Gotta Read Reviews – Interview - http://yougottaread.com/

1 - Paranormal Haven - Guest Blog - http://www.paranormalhaven.com/

2 - Red Hot Books – Interview - http://www.redhotbooks.com/

10 - Readinista – Interview - http://www.readinista.com/

21 – Book Lovers Inc. - 3 day event (dual review, giveaway, interview) - http://www.bookloversinc.com/


Hope dangles by a silken thread.

When the head of the Araneidae clan is found poisoned in her nest, her eldest daughter, Lourdes, becomes their clan’s new maven. If her clan is to survive, she has but one choice: she must marry before her nest is seized. All she needs is a warrior fierce enough to protect her city and safeguard her clansmen. Such a male is Rhys the Cold.

Born the youngest son of an impoverished maven, the only things Rhys has to his name are his sword and his mercenary reputation. His clan is starving, but their fondness for the flesh of fellow Araneaeans makes them unwelcome dinner guests. Torn between loyalty to his clan and fascination with his future bride, Rhys’s first taste of Lourdes threatens to melt the cold encasing his heart.

Amid the chaos of battle, Lourdes’s sister disappears and is feared captured. Lourdes and Rhys pursue their enemies into the southlands, where they discover an odd plague ravaging southern clans as it travels north, to Erania. Determined to survive, Lourdes will discover whether she’s worth her silk or if she’s spun the thread by which her clan will hang.

Warning: This book contains one mercenary hero with a biting fetish, one determined heroine who gets nibbled, and an answer to the age-old question, “What does dragon taste like?” Matricide and sibling rivalry are available upon request. The house special is revenge, best served cold.


Monday, April 16, 2012

OMG, I need to detox

I've just returned, late last night, from Romance Times convention held in Chicago. Wow, what a party. To say the least, I need to detox and sleep. It was like going to spring break in my almost 40 body. My recovery will take time.

I will post about it next week when I have found some braincells that are not damaged.

WARNING 

Paranormal Romantics will be under construction for the next two weeks. So don't let any weirdness worry you. As of May 1st we will be welcoming new bloggers to our agenda!! And having a party to celebrate it.

Yes, more parties. *head pounds*





Saturday, April 14, 2012

It's the Best Line Blitz

It's that time of year again. I've asked some of my author friends to give me their best lines. Below you will find a mixture of great books. If you just have to read more, never fear, I've included the links below the covers.

“Hello?” She held out her hand. “I’m Eleanor. Nice to meet you.”
He looked down at her gesture then back to her face. At least they’d sent a hunk. Maybe he wasn’t very smart, but he didn’t have to be, did he? ~ Senator Mine by Kerry Vail
"I can't take much more." She eased Yong back and lifted up on her elbows. "Tatsu, do you have any condoms and lube?"
She caught his unmistakable smirk. "Now? You're ready?"
"I'm more than ready—it's time to wrap the dragons." ~ Double Dragon Seduction by Kali Willows

Erik should be the one she thought about kissing, not Melina, not a woman. She knew everything about him, or once had. But Erik had turned into an asshole, and Melina wanted to be friends. Maybe more? Her body warmed at the thought. ~ Never Gonna Let You Go by Jessica Subject
Love meant taking the wig off and she would never expose her bald head to a man again. If that meant a life of one-night stands, so be it.
She reached into her shoulder bag and pulled out the red lace teddy she’d bought the day before. If there’s one way to get a man to fuck me, it’s with sexy lingerie. ~Beneath the Starry Sky by Jessica Subject


He licked her thigh and a second orgasm tore through her, stronger, more intense than the first. It pulsed around his fingers. He hooked one of her legs and rested it on his shoulder. His lips traveled up and she gasped. The man was sexy—crazy as shit, but oh, my God, sexy. ~ This Endris Night by D L Jackson

Okay, maybe he should have let her shoot him. Seth yanked on the cuffs that linked him to the solid iron headboard. The last thing he was inclined to do was explain to anyone how he’d found himself cuffed to the damned bed, his pants down around his knees, with his ball-sack glued to his thigh by dried cum. And when he didn’t contact his ship for his nightly check-in, they’d come looking. Whoo-hoo for protocol and bio-tags. ~ Rebel Souls by D L Jackson
“You’ll win her with ya Irish charm and green eyes, so ya will. Now drink up ya coffee and stop whining like a baby. This girl’s gonna have a fantastic night tomorrow. She’s gonna worship da ground ya cock drags on.” ~ Sweet Irish Kiss by JoAnne Kenrick
Her candle snuffed out from a breath, and not her own. The chill exhale kissed her neck and skated down her body like an icicle drip. The horror of it sent her hurtling backward. Had it not been for the wall behind her, she would have landed on her butt.
“Who’s there? Bar dude, is that you?” She pressed herself against the cool stone bricks, too excited to be truly afraid. After all, this was what she wanted. To not know what was going to happen next, and to fully engage in life again. And the way her heart jumped and her chest pounded, she felt alive for the first time in years. ~ Dracula's Kiss by JoAnne Kenrick 

"My body is a mess of sensation—pleasure, pain, piping feral need. The room spins, and I feel faint. I’m frustrated, angry, frightened. My desire is bigger than anything I’ve ever imagined and I don’t know what will sate it, how to let go." ~ From Gigolo Seduction by Fierce Dolan (Releases May 4, 2012)
She couldn’t let it end  like this. Rising from the couch, she slipped the straps of her gown off her  shoulders, and let the dress fall off her body to pool around her ankles on the  floor. 
“Just one night, Colin.” She stood in front of  him, stripped naked to the soul in nothing more than her strappy heels. ~ Second Chance by Debbie Gould.
A military warrior, she reminded herself. Not her lover. Raven tapped her finger on the table. “I should apologize for, um, what happened on the bridge.”
He looked at her. His predatory gaze sent delicious tingles down her spine. “Not necessary.” He swallowed. “I didn’t mind.”
Her heart skipped. He didn’t mind? Her brain jumped to other activities he might not mind. ~Mech Man by Laura Garland.

“Abby.” Her name rolled from his tongue in a mix of desperation and lust. A voracious hunger to taste every inch of her body washed over him. The urge to kiss the small of her back, to run his tongue along her skin, delving and dipping into her secret, sensitive places, all but overwhelmed him. “Tell me to stop. If you’re not ready, honey, tell me to stop right now and by all that’s holy, I will. But you need to know how much I want you right now.” ~ Sins of the Mind by Debbie Gould and Laura Garland (Releases April 20th, 2012)

Thanks for stopping by for my Saturday Blitz. Do you have any favorite lines from your books or ones you've read? Post in the comments and share with us.
Have a great Saturday.

D L









Friday, April 13, 2012

It's Friday

And it's the 13th!

Of course I'm wondering how all this got started so I went blitzing around the net to find out what I could find out about myths, mad fears, and phobias related to Friday the 13th. What I found was nothing concrete as to why millions and millions of folks are scared silly by the day. Seems to be a rather new idea, like around the 20th century and involving Black Friday and falling stocks. There was a paragraph or two about a Pope and the Knights of Templar on Friday the 13th in the year 1307. Also found an odd word or two: friggatriskaidekaphobia and paraskevidekatriaphobia... trying to say either of them is a scary proposition for me. Could I pick any day of the week and have a phobia day all my own? Evidently not. In some cultures it's Tuesday the 13th, and then there's Friday the 17th. Guess I could find another day of the week, or even a number to tag to any one of my odd phobias.

Have you ever been to a hotel where there is no 13th floor? Where the heck did it go? In reality the 13th floor is still there - it just got another number! When you're on the 14th floor, it's actually the 13th floor. So who are they really kidding? Do you think the guys who built the Empire State Building just skipped on up...wait, they have a thirteenth floor.

Sigh, I've boggled my own mind with questions that have few answers, and now I'm going to leave you wrestling with the problem! :)

Happy Friday...uhhh...let's make it the 14... no, lets repeat the 12th, well don't do that unless it was a really good 12, like the 12 hours, or 12 Olympus Gods or, oh hell -

Have a Happy Friday the 13th.

Growl and roar-it's okay to let the beast out.-J. Hali Steele

Monday, April 9, 2012

New Cover Pretty!

Up until recently The Omegas has always been my favorite cover and Daedalus my favorite hero. Then I wrote Sigma. I'm not sure I found Sam but he's a keeper and Lyrical Press made a beautiful cover for him.

Releasing August 2012  book five of The Vanguards series.



Unofficial Blurb:

To defend and protect, at any cost.


Sam’s self confidence never recovered when he failed to protect his best friend Sugar from an attack months ago. The urge to guard the weak ran strong in his shifter blood. So much his pack gave him the position of Sigma, defender of the innocent and frail. Too bad he sucked at it. On his way home he becomes entangled in a vampire skirmish and is left with an injured female in his arms.

As a vampire accountant for Pal Robi inc., Clementine never imagined her master would ask her to commit corporate espionage. She’s discovered and shot but a shifter, made of her fantasies, comes to her rescue. In the few hours spent with him she’s lived more than the decades spent among her clan.

Hiding on the streets of Chicago, together they fight to stay alive but can a petite vampire female break through her hero’s jaded heart?


I'll be at the Romance Times Convention this week! I'll be posting pictures on my blog all week long.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Upcoming release: DEMONICALLY TEMPTED!

DEMONICALLY TEMPTED
Frostbite, Book Two
Release date: April 13, 2012



Tess Jennings, now a member of the Memphis Police Department, is on her first cold case. The suspected suicide of Lizbeth Knapp ten years ago isn’t a theory her family accepts—they believe she was murdered.

But the case is only one of Tess’s worries. Ghosts are talking, and word of her abilities rapidly spreads. A dark ghost is terrifying the spirits of Memphis, and she must force the entity to crossover.

Tess doesn’t have to do this alone. Not only does she have her ghost-lover, Kipp McGowen, but the department has brought in a medium. Dane Wolfe might answer all her questions, but he also brings a world of trouble. Will Tess finally have all she’s ever wanted, or will everything she’s vowed to protect be ripped away?

~*~



~*~

Copyright © STACEY KENNEDY, 2012


Chapter One


The old farmhouse had seen better days. Not only could it use a coat of paint, but it also needed a dose of love. Dry, brown grass surrounded the home, and the only flowers topped four-foot high weeds.

I glanced next to me at Zach—a cop with the Memphis P.D.—and crinkled my nose. “Someone actually lives here?”

His blue eyes met mine and he ran a hand through his blond, stylish hair and shrugged. “Max said the victim’s sister still resides in the home where the death happened.”

As he lowered his arm, he cringed, and I winced at the memory. Heck, only weeks ago he’d been stabbed and shot in the shoulder.

The man who caused Zach’s injury got it worse—by my very hand, no less—but I was glad Hannah Reid’s murderer hadn’t returned to haunt me.

I might have suffered some serious remorse. That is, if I didn’t believe God wouldn’t punish me because I killed a murderer. Brody would’ve done the same to me if I hadn’t gotten to him first. I tried my best to stick with that theory. It saved me from the lingering guilt I might—and would never admit to—have for taking a life.

Sure, there was an internal investigation through the police department, and I had been questioned until my voice went scratchy. But in the end, the shooting had been declared self-defense, and I was perfectly happy with that. Or so I told myself every day until I finally believed it.

Besides, the cops that I now worked alongside had my back throughout the investigation, and nothing would change that. We’d grown close through the time spent during the Reid case, and even closer in the weeks that followed.

“I’m going to see if Lizbeth is out here somewhere,” Kipp—a ghost, and my lover—said, dragging me from my thoughts.

Yes, our relationship was complicated and it’s insanely sick that I’m in love with a ghost, but I wasn’t about to fight my heart’s desire.

“If you find her, then come tell us, immediately. The less time I have to spend in that house, the better.” Scummy houses and me didn’t mesh well. I like cleanliness and hate spiders.

“He’s going off on his own then?” Zach asked.

As of late, Zach had caught on to our conversations better. Seeing that I was the only lucky one—or not so lucky as I viewed it—who could hear ghosts’ communication was annoying, at best.

Maybe I gave more descriptions in my answers than I normally did, or maybe he’d gotten used to having to fill in the blanks. Whatever it was, I appreciated the ease of our conversations now. The back and forth got on my last nerve.

As Kipp strode away, I stared at his scrumptious ass filling his dark blue jeans. The man might be a ghost, but he was sex packaged into muscular goodness.

One of his eyes was chocolate brown, while the other was crystal blue, and he had untidy brown hair that no matter how messy only made him look more attractive. And he was all mine.

I blinked, pulling myself away from my ogling, and frowned at Zach. “Ready?”

His gaze danced with laughter, yet a smile never appeared. “For someone who accepted a job with the department, you would think you’d hold more excitement.”

“Just because I can officially call myself part of the police department—which is absurd, by the way—doesn’t mean I still don’t have hesitations.”

My gift took a while to adjust to but I knew when to see reason. Helping ghosts that had met a horrible fate wasn’t a bad job. That is, as long as I didn’t run into any more crazy-ass killers who wanted to make me a ghost, too.

Zach approached the house, and I trailed after him, not showing half the confidence he carried in his gait.

I climbed the old steps, slightly worried the wood would break under my weight, but seeing Zach went first and the man was all power, the wooden planks could support my slender frame.

He knocked on the door. And a moment later, it opened to a woman who matched the house. She appeared to be in her fifties, but the dark circles under her eyes and the hunch to her shoulders made her look well worn.

“Ms. Knapp?” Zach asked.

“Yes.” Her voice dripped with despair. “Are you the detectives?”

Zach nodded. “Is it still all right if we come in?”

She widened the door, and moved aside. “Please call me Anna.”

“Thank you, Anna.” Zach entered the home. “We appreciate you taking the time to discuss Lizbeth with us.”

I hesitantly followed and tried my damndest not to let my repulsion in the house show. Not an easy feat.

“Please, will you have a seat?” She waved out to a couch that I wouldn’t sit on even if it had a layer of plastic over top of it.

I held back my desire to gag, and twirled my finger in my brown, shag-cut hair. “I’m okay here, thanks.”

Zach grimaced at me before he took a seat and shed all emotion as he turned to Anna. “We’re aware that this will be difficult for you to discuss, but we need you to remember anything you can from when Lizbeth died.”

“I’m not sure I can tell you anything that…” She peeked up at the ceiling. I followed her gaze seeing dark brown stains, and restrained my shudder. “…Max, was that who I spoke with?”

“That’s right. He’s the sergeant.” Zach smiled softly. “He told us the necessary information, but I’ve learned it’s always best to hear it directly for myself.”

In all actuality, I hadn’t heard all the details except that I was officially on my first cold-case.

“Well,” Anna paused, glancing down at her fingers as she fiddled them. “It started a year before Lizbeth’s death. She began to act differently.”

Zach pulled his pad of paper and pen from his pocket, and flipped the notebook open. “Can you explain that in more detail?”

I clasped my hands in front of me. Just because I was now part of team didn’t mean I would start acting like a cop in any official capacity. Let’s be serious now. I wasn’t really a detective.

Anna continued, “She’d talk to me about an evil presence around her.”

“Evil?” I gasped.

“I know how funny it sounds. At the time, it did to me, too. But looking back, Lizbeth just didn’t seem like herself, and maybe I should’ve listened to her.” Anna crossed her arms and shifted in her seat. “She used to be a very happy young woman. Full of life and spirit, but all of a sudden she seemed so dark.”

I gave my head a shake, trying to make sense out of her nonsense. “Dark how?”

“Depressed.” Anna exhaled. “She never came out of her room, and totally withdrew from life.”

“She was suicidal, then?” Zack asked with a gentle tone.

“I suppose you’d draw that conclusion from what I’m telling you now, but the truth is I never took her to be the type.” She gave a knowing look. “Like I said, she was well adjusted and quite happy.”

“But you just said she was depressed,” I countered.

“Yes, I did, but still, Lizbeth was a fighter. She used to tell me that this evil presence was overtaking her soul, and she tried so hard to fight against it.”

Zach made a face. I made one of my own. We were speaking English, yet gibberish would have made more sense.

Seeing that we were getting nowhere, and I suspected Anna had lost her mind a long time ago, I moved along. “Did her condition get worse?”

“It got so bad, my parents had no idea what to do. You have to remember it was a different time. The medications for depression that exist today didn’t back then.” Tears welled in her eyes, but they cleared just as quick. “My parents took her to a doctor, even admitted her into a hospital, but my mother couldn’t manage to leave her there. She thought love would bring Lizbeth out of her trouble.”

“Clearly, it didn’t.”

“That’s right, it only got worse. Lizbeth started to hurt herself.”

Zach’s eyebrows rose. “You mean, caused injuries to herself?”

“No one ever knew—and Lizbeth never said—how she did it. But she had lacerations all over her back.”

Zach scribbled notes, and then peered at Anna. “Did Lizbeth ever say anything to you about the wounds?”

Those tears now weren’t so easily pushed away. “She was adamant she had never caused them.”

One conclusion came to my mind. “No one believed her, did they?”

“Who else would have done it?” Anna retorted. “At that point, Lizbeth hadn’t left the house in over six months.”

Zach stared at Anna, his gaze probing. I inhaled deeply, understanding the frustration. The dust in the room settled into my nostrils. I rubbed at the tickling in my nose, and considered what she had told us.

It seemed to me Lizbeth had clearly been suicidal. I’d watched television shows were people cut themselves. Maybe this was all that was going on here. Case closed.

Zach scribbled a few more lines of notes then scrutinized Anna. “How did Lizbeth act in the days before she died?”

“Strange.” Anna wiped the tears from her face. “She always had this dark cloud over her, but in the week before her death it became much worse. She’d stopped eating and we had to force liquids down her throat.” Her chin quivered, more tears spilling. “But it was in her eyes where I saw her demise.”

“What did you see?” I whispered, not totally sure I wanted to hear her answer.

“She was already dead.”

Zach coughed. “Pardon?”

“Lizbeth was no longer in her body.” Anna shook her head, sending more tears rushing down her cheeks. “I know that sounds crazy, but that’s the only way I can describe it. She had already left.”

“Where did she go?” I urged.

“I have no idea. All I know is she was gone.”

My assumptions that Anna was off her rocker deepened. One question would solidify if I believed she held any sanity at all. “Why do you stay here…in this house?”

Anna’s eyes swam in sadness. “I’m afraid that Lizbeth is still here, and if I leave she’ll be all alone. I don’t have the money to fix the house. Since her death—times have been hard.”

Wasn’t I a shit? Her answer was clear and concise, and, well…I could understand her reasons. If she were insane, I assumed her purpose for staying here would be, too.

Zach closed his notebook, and placed it into the pocket of his black slacks. “Would you take us outside to the water and discuss what happened the night she died?”

“Of course.” Anna stood from the couch and approached the front door.

Zach gestured toward the hall. I took the hint. Since Kipp hadn’t returned yet, it confirmed he hadn’t found Lizbeth’s ghost. Before we left I needed to check out the house to see if she remained. “Do you mind if I use your washroom?”

“Not at all.” Anna dabbed her tears with a tissue, and then raised her chin. “It’s down the hall—third door on the right.”

“Thank you.” I headed toward the hallway while Zach continued to ask Anna another question as they exited the front door.

The hallway was in a similar condition to the rest of the house, completely in shambles. The flowered wallpaper was peeling off the walls and the color of it resembled something not worth discussing. I wrinkled my nose, catching a whiff of mold, and continued walking.

To my left was an open door to a bedroom. I peeked in and clothes were thrown over the light blue bedspread. Furniture was scarce, but the room seemed lived in. It did appear slightly more taken care of than the rest of the home, which drew the conclusion that this had to be Anna’s bedroom.

I scanned the room and couldn’t see Lizbeth’s ghost, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t there. She could be hiding. “Lizbeth,” I whispered.

No one responded.

Leaving the room, I carried on down the hall to another bedroom on the right, but as I called out her name again, I received the same response.

The bathroom was to my left and another room lay on the right. The door was closed and I did my best to keep quiet as I opened it. I couldn’t hear Zach or Anna in the house anymore, but I didn’t want to chance it. I pushed the door open and it creaked.

I peered in and my heart skipped a beat. “Creepy.”

The room wasn’t in the same condition as the house. It looked brand new, even the paint on the walls appeared fresh, and Lizbeth’s name was written in wooden letters above the dresser.

Of all the rooms to keep nice, Anna chose this one. I couldn’t decide if that was sweet or freaky.

“Lizbeth,” I whispered again only to be met with silence. I’d never had a ghost hide from me before, usually they were so intrigued by my ability they always approached.

I closed the door, headed for the bathroom, and went straight for the sink. At least the room was clean. Yes, in horrible condition, but the yellow bathtub had been scrubbed recently.

At the sink, I turned on the faucet to wash the icky feeling off my hands. I wanted to get home and have a shower. Being in this house for even a few minutes had left my skin feeling filthy and downright gross.

I waited a moment to let the water warm since the pipes thumped indicating trouble stirred, and just as I placed my hands under the water, a voice startled me. “Why are you in my house?”

I looked over my shoulder and spotted a middle-aged ghost dressed in a double-breasted black coat, white dress shirt, and fitted tanned breeches.

“I beg your pardon,” I snapped. “But I don’t deserve to be glared at—or spoken to in that nasty tone—when I’ve done nothing wrong.”

“You can hear me?” His eyes widened. “You can see me?”

“Yes I can.” I returned the glower he not-so-kindly offered me. “Why are you so rude?”

“I-I-I…”

“Classic.” I snorted. “The ghost is beside himself. Isn’t it supposed to be the live person who is shocked when they see a ghost?”

“You’re alive?”

Now he was being just downright mean. I shut off the faucet, and with the water dripping off my fingertips, I turned to face him. “Do I look dead to you?”

He gave me a once over with an expression that left something to be desired. “No, but why are you glowing?”

“Yes, well,” I wiped my damp hands on my skinny jeans, “that’s my ability.”

He examined my gold hue—or so I’d been told that is how it appeared—and by his huge eyes this revelation stunned him. “And this ability is how you can see me?”

I wasn’t in any mood to get into this with him. A change in topic was in order. “Have you seen a young girl around here?”

“No,” he responded without haste.

I nibbled my lip, considering that. “Not ever, or not lately?”

“Never.”

If Lizbeth died in misery, it made no sense that her ghost wasn’t here. Ghosts always lingered and needed help to cross over. Someone who committed suicide wouldn’t be a settled soul. And most of the ghosts I’d met returned to a place that had meant something to them. Considering Lizbeth was young when she died, I had assumed she’d come home. Where else would she have gone?

“How long have you been here?” I asked.

“I have no idea.” He paused, thoughtful, then said, “I think it’s been quite some time.”

His response didn’t surprise me. Ghosts never remembered much except what they needed to, to move on. Seeing that this ghost would lead me nowhere, I figured I might as well try and help one ghost today. “Do you want to cross over?”

He scowled. “Are you threatening me?”

“Good God. You’re foul. I’m asking to be nice. I can help you, if you’d like.”

“This is my house. I don’t want to leave. I want you to.”

I grunted. “Trust me, I want the same damn thing.”

He gestured toward the door in what might have seemed like a bow of respect, if his tight features hadn’t thoroughly flipped me off. “Best you see yourself out.”

I had just about enough of his bad attitude. I pointed at him. “You better not go scaring Anna. She’s been through enough.”

“I don’t scare her.” He scoffed. “She’s a lovely woman and I don’t mind her sharing the home with me.”

“I’m glad to hear it, but if I find out you’re frightening her, I will Ghostbuster your ass. Got it, jacko?” I flicked my hair over my shoulder, not waiting for him to respond because frankly, I didn’t give a shit.

I exited the bathroom, heard him grumbling something after me. I really couldn’t blame him, though. If I’d been dead since the eighteen hundreds, from the looks of his clothing, I’d be pissy too.

Once on the front porch, I spotted Zach and Anna. They talked down by a creek that was completely overgrown with weeds, rocks lining the shore.

On my approach, Zach glimpsed at me. I shook my head to indicate I hadn’t found Lizbeth in the house.

He visibly sighed, turning to Anna. “Now that Tess has arrived, would you please tell us what happened?”

I took a moment to scan the area, and listened hard to see if I could hear anything, but only the sound of rushing water and chirping birds filled my ears.

The air around the home smelled so fresh, and thrived with nature, it was a wonderful contrast to the dust and mold inside the house.

Anna drew in a long, deep breath. “It was a spooky evening that night. The fog settled above the water and the full moon provided a lot of light.” Her eyes glazed over, lost in memory. “I heard Lizbeth leave the house, so I went over to my bedroom window.”

I glanced at the house. One lone window faced the creek.

“I saw Lizbeth walking out to the water. She wore just her white nighty, and she was so frail.” Anna rubbed her arms. “She was all skin and bones.”

“She came out here alone?” I asked.

Anna nodded. “I didn’t see anyone with her, at the time. She stood by the water’s edge and was so pretty.”

I had a hard time imagining anyone as pretty in the way Anna had described. But I wasn’t about to bring up that point and merely listened as she went on.

“Lizbeth looked over her shoulder, and I’m still not sure how she knew I was watching her, but she smiled one of the coldest smiles I’d ever seen.” Anna hugged herself. “I’m sure that smile will haunt me forever.”

I gulped, a sudden nervousness wrapped around me and icy fingertips ran up my spine.

“What did she do after that?” Zach asked.

Anna inhaled sharply, clearly pulling herself away from the horrifying memory. “She turned toward the water, walked in, and killed herself.”

Had I heard her right? “Are you saying she drowned herself?”

“I know that’s hard to believe, but the second I saw her walk into the creek, she submerged herself into the water. That’s when I ran out after her.”

“What happened when you reached her?”

“She was floating, head first, and so I pulled her out.” A tear slid along her cheek, and she wiped it away. “I tried to do CPR, but it didn’t matter, she was already gone.”

Silence drifted around us. I welcomed it. This story needed some time to process, and even after a minute or so, I still came up empty.

Anna gazed out at the water, as she cried. I couldn’t imagine what it’d be like to be here, staring at this water, and remembering what happened. How did she continue to live in that house?

A nudge on my arm had me glancing over at Zach. He mouthed the words, “Is she here?”

I shook my head.

His brow puckered.

Lizbeth’s lack of appearance seemed unusual even to me, but I hoped Kipp had better luck.

Zach cleared his throat breaking the silence. “After you pulled Lizbeth out of the water, what happened?”

Anna wiped her damp cheeks. “My mother and father came down and chaos erupted. They yelled, wanting to know what happened to her. When I told them, it was no surprise they didn’t believe me.”

She brought up a good point. “Where are you parents now?”

“Both, long dead.”

Insert foot into mouth! “I’m sorry.”

Anna sighed. “It’s for the best. Lizbeth’s death hit both of them very hard. My mother was never the same and my father became an alcoholic.”

Saddest thing I’d ever heard.

“I can’t find her outside.”

I glanced over my shoulder and Kipp approached, lips pressed into a thin line. Seeing that I couldn’t answer him with Anna here, I simply gave a short nod to show I understood his defeat.

“At what point did you see Hector?” Zach asked.

I gasped, unable to hide my shock. “Someone else saw her in the water?”

Zach nodded. “He’d been the main suspect in her death but—”

“My statement ruled him out,” Anna interjected. “He probably would’ve been found guilty of her murder since he’d been the only other person present at the time of her death. But I said it then, and I’ll say it now, he didn’t kill her. I saw Lizbeth walk into the water and drown herself. I couldn’t make up what I saw.”

“Ask her how she can be so sure,” Kipp said to me.

I shook my head, which I tried to hide by shifting my stance. There was no way I would argue with Anna. Kipp hadn’t heard the rest of the conversation and I believed every word she said.

Instead, I pressed on. “Did you know he was there when you first came out of the house?”

“No,” Anna replied. “He showed up out of nowhere. I hadn’t seen him near the house at all and his arrival startled me. But I’ll tell you one thing, his eyes were exactly like Lizbeth’s.”

My heart did that full skip-a-beat thing, indicating whatever she meant by that, scared me shitless. “They were?”

“When Lizbeth smiled at me, Hector did the exact same thing when he approached. To say it was creepy is really putting it mildly, but it was as if I stared at Lizbeth again—or what Lizbeth had turned into.”

The side of my temple hurt. I zeroed in on Zach. “So after they questioned Hector, they released him?”

“That’s right. But he’s now serving time for an unrelated crime he committed a month after Lizbeth’s death.”

I gave Zach and Kipp a knowing look, and they returned it. As much as Anna was sure of what she saw, I suspected she was wrong. A person in a state of shock might not be able to think straight. I surmised that’s exactly what happened.

“I know what y’all are thinking, but I know what I saw,” Anna said, adamantly. “Lizbeth walked into the water and killed herself. Trust me, I’ll never be able to forget it.” Sadness gone. Determination risen. “No matter how much everyone wanted me to retract my statement and pin it on Hector, I wouldn’t send an innocent man to jail for something he didn’t do.”

Innocent, my ass!

Zach inclined his head, as if he agreed with her, but I knew better. “Is there anything else you can tell us, Anna, that could help us?”

“I’m sorry. That’s all I know.”

“Thank you for talking to us.” I smiled, reached out for her hand and squeezed it. “We’ll do what we can to find out what happened to her.”

Anna returned the smile, but on her, it was despaired. “I appreciate y’all working on this case again. I do hope that you’ll discover what truly happened to Lizbeth. If it’s all right, I’d like to go into the house now.”

“Yes, of course. Thank you for your time.” Zach shook Anna’s hand, and then she started toward the house.

“This is by far the weirdest situation I’ve ever been in,” I whispered to Kipp. “I’ve never experienced a missing ghost before.”

“Quite unusual, to say the least,” he grumbled. “Let’s go to the station and fill Max in on what we’ve discovered.” He sighed. “Or not discovered.”

Without hesitation since I was more than happy to leave, I headed to the truck with the boys following. Anna climbed the steps of her porch, and I remembered there was something I needed to tell her. “Anna,” I called.

She turned.

“You have a very grumpy old ghost in your house, but don’t worry, he likes you.”

She didn’t appear nearly as surprised as I’d expected. Maybe she already suspected a ghost lived with her. Maybe not. But my job was done.

Now on to finding a missing ghost…

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