Wednesday, November 29, 2017

I hated romance until…

There was a period in my life when I had no money. Well, I could’ve borrowed, but I refused to trouble anyone. Yet the biggest worry for me was how do I get a new book? I hated the idea of borrowing books from the library and having to return them. It was a chore, though these days you could with an e-book.

Out of desperation, I turned to my mother’s old Mills & Boons collection. I started with one book, initially wondering if I would be able to finish it. I mean, what’s a young man doing reading a romance novel? Answer: I was desperate; I needed something to read.

I did not expect to enjoy such books, but soon I found myself engrossed in them. I recalled telling myself, “Now I understand why women love these books.”  It’s not trashy. I found depth in the passages. If anything, these books teach you empathy and how to cultivate emotions. It also taught me how women think and what stirs them emotionally. There’s also suspense, adventure, mystery and drama, which made me want to turn the pages. 

While reading romantic novels was one thing, writing a story and injecting romance into your own was another. As a writer you’ll have to invoke emotions as you evoke your words. Somehow, I could not bring myself to do it. I felt squeamish.

Strange. I could read novels by romance authors, but I refused to follow the path. In writing my first two thriller novels, I eschewed creating love scenes.  The pages were filled to the brim with aggression. No flowers and candies, so to speak. It could be a psychological thing. Or maybe it was just plain ego, so I refused to tap my feminine side as it made me uncomfortable.

So how did I end up writing a story like Gun Kiss that was romance oriented? Well, a blonde actress motivated me. I won’t say who, but I watched some of her older movies and I felt inspired by her acting. Perhaps it was because she never appeared helpless and needy. It made me realize I could write a novel where the female character does not have to appear weak and in distress.  There are, after all, women who are strong and independent. I decided to focus on such characters without turning them into a Cyborg as women have emotions. If I could balance the two, I thought, that would be perfect.

I realized the reason I was apprehensive about including romance in my earlier stories is because I expected women to behave in a certain way. For my first novel, Smokescreen, I just could not bring myself to show the protagonist pairing up with the female co-character. I had written the female character in such a way that if she was a real person, I wouldn’t date her. She was not my type. Such being the case, I found it difficult to invoke and evoke the writing. I just didn’t want to have anything to do with her although she was a fictional character.  I found it hard to detach. I should’ve been more professional, but I found it funny to create a scene where she kisses the protagonist. It made me feel squeamish.

By now, I had developed a prejudice about including romance. My second novel, also a thriller, had a female character, but she was depicted as someone capable of handling herself in dire situations.  She was not frail. And not the type who writes poetry and thinks of having kids.

Then I realized that I did not have to write female characters who love flowers and love letters.  There are all kinds of women out there. I could choose what I like to suit the story.
In truth, I was writing about myself, the type of women I prefer. Who knows? My attitude might change in future, but in Gun Kiss, I created a famous movie star. Someone exuberant, independent (of course), smart, and ambitious.

By the same token, I knew I could not pretend to write a character that was equal to a man. Although I made her character strong, I had to bring out her emotions and insecurities. Not that men are devoid of such feelings, but I wanted to show a woman’s point of view, while at the same time not making her totally needy.  I hope I have achieved that as I created the character as someone who finds herself in different situations against a suspenseful backdrop, and evolves with experience. I guess reading all those romance novels and observing people did help me inject the qualities of being feminine into my story while at the same time realizing that there are all types of female characters out there that could inspire my creations.

There are all kinds of romance novels. I guess I’ve found my own style of writing. After all, there are no rules. I can make the character how I want him or her to be, set the scene and decide how it ends. It doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day every day. The female character doesn’t have to stand at the balcony and wait for her man. I can place her in any situation and set her on a journey of self-discovery. After all, I’m not dealing with gender stereotypes; I’m writing about individual characters. A person… even though a fictional one.  And if I’m allowed to say so myself, an exciting group of characters. 

And to the actress who inspired my work, thank you.

Khaled Talib


A stolen piece of history, an abducted actress and international intrigue…

When the Deringer pistol that shot Abraham Lincoln is stolen and ends up in the hands of a Russian military general, covert agent Blake Deco is tasked by the FBI to head to the Balkans to recover the historical weapon. Meanwhile, the United States media is abuzz with news of the mysterious disappearance of Hollywood movie star, Goldie St. Helen. 

After Blake’s return from overseas, he receives a tip from a Mexican friend that a drug lord, obsessed with the beautiful actress, is holding her captive in Tijuana. With the help of a reluctant army friend, Blake mounts a daring rescue. What he doesn’t expect is to have feelings for Goldie—or that a killer is hunting them.

Author webpage:

Monday, November 27, 2017

Exclusive Excerpt


Haunted by the mistakes he made while fighting for his country, Rand Duncan has become the CIA’s go to man for tough jobs in an effort to atone for his sins. Late-night phone calls and covert meetings are the norm. Until she arrives and his past crashes into his present.
Sarah Collins never thought she’d see her brother’s former best friend again. But one of Sarah’s fellow undercover informants has been captured and the briefcase containing the identities and locations of twelve other operatives are in Chinese hands. If Sarah and Rand can’t retrieve the documents, people will die.
The shock wears off quick as the two must figure out how to retrieve the briefcase before it can be opened or sold. If they want to save lives, they must confront their past, while avoiding an enemy that will stop at nothing to crush them.

Exclusive Excerpt:

“What are you carrying?” he said again.

“N-nothing. My clothes. The package. There’s a tracker on the package.”

“There has to be something else on you. The package is on a long-delay device. They can’t track you in real time. Lose the jacket and scarf. Come on.”

Sarah wiggled out of the coat. The scarf went with it. Rand shoved both into a garbage can. He snatched her hand, and they took off at a fast jog. They zigzagged across the streets, through alleys and a train station.

At one point, Sarah caught a clear visual of three people right behind them. Not just the two she’d seen before. She patted down her pockets, her hair, even groped her bra.

Rand pulled her into an alcove after another fifteen minutes of silent evasion.

“Have you had surgery recently? Anything that would put you under?” He was close enough that his breath warmed her forehead. This was her Rand—and he didn’t even know her.



“Once.” She held out her left arm. “The radial bone got crushed. I’ve got rods and pins all in this arm now.”

“Goddamn it.”


“That’s what they do.” He took her arm, pressing none too gently along the inner side of it where the scar was the most pronounced.

“You think there’s a tracker in me? The Koreans did that?” She couldn’t even begin to fathom that.

“No. The company. There. Feel that?” He put her thumb over the fat-lump at the swell of her forearm, a few inches down from her elbow.

“It’s nothing.”

“It’s a tracking device.”

About the Author:
It can never be said that NYT & USA Today Bestselling author Sidney Bristol has had a ‘normal’ life.  She is a recovering roller derby queen, former missionary, tattoo addict and board game enthusiast. She grew up in a motor-home on the US highways (with an occasional jaunt into Canada and Mexico), traveling the rodeo circuit with her parents. Sidney has lived abroad in both Russia and Thailand, working with children and teenagers. She now lives in Texas where she spends her time writing, reading, hunting Pokemon, playing board games and catering to her furry overlords, aka the cats.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Exclusive Excerpt: The Financier

Giveaway Alert!


Nick Dawes just had to go and prove something to himself. The brilliant moneyman of the Hudson Kings is in deeeep trouble after losing $20 million during a “freelance” heist, and now a Russian crime boss wants the money and Nick’s head. Nick needs to make himself scarce—and find someone to babysit his fish. Someone like lush, gorgeous Jane MacGregor, who might just be the death of him . . .

After being swindled by her jerk of an ex, Jane can’t say no to house-sitting a luxurious Fifth Avenue penthouse. The only downfall—aside from Nick’s tendency to show up covered in bruises and blood—is an increasingly strong attraction to her superhot and expensively suited-up new boss. Never make the same mistake twice.

But when Nick’s dangerous profession crashes in on Jane’s quiet little world, all hell breaks loose. And Jane is about to find out just what kind of man she’s falling for.

From the moment they left the car in the courtyard and entered the building, chaos ensued. Jane and the puppy followed Cecily and her boyfriend, Shane, into a room that Jane managed to register as being full of very, very attractive men. Ally suddenly dropped back behind Jane. A waifish redheaded girl in a black jumpsuit launched a mile-a-minute speech at a muscular guy wearing a band T-shirt about how inappropriate it was that “civilians” were all piling into the “war room.” At least it sounded like she said “war room.” 

Through the drama Jane finally pegged Mr. Dawes leaning against a desk next to a guy she recognized from photos as Cecily’s brother Dex. 

Jane had fully intended to lead with an admittedly pissy-sounding take on the phrase “Say hello to your new dog, Mr. Dawes!” But when he stood up and came toward her, she realized he looked like death. The most beautiful, bruised, sad, sexy version of death you could ever imagine. He was just a mess of bruises, cuts, and bandages, plus he had an end-of-the-road look in his eyes that just cut her to the bone. 

“You look terrible,” she blurted instead.

“Yesterday was a rough day.” 

“Yesterday I called and yelled at you,” Jane said. 

“Yeah, that was actually a highlight,” he said. 

Jane stared at Nick; he stared back at her. And then he smiled. 

“This is where you work?” she asked. “The Armory?” 


It was then Jane noticed that the dog wasn’t pulling against her hold anymore. The dog was sitting by Mr. Dawes’s feet, tail wagging, excitedly nuzzling the pocket of his cargo pants like he expected there to be a treat therein. Mr. Dawes was still staring at her, but his hand was absently petting the dog’s head. They looked . . . suspiciously . . . like . . . old friends. “You’ve already met,” she said. 

“Yeah. This is Rochester. My neighbor’s dog.” 

A sinking sensation pooled in Jane’s stomach. “You didn’t order a new dog.” 

“No dog. Like I told you yesterday.” 

Jane winced. She could feel herself getting hot all over, and not in a good way. 

“You okay there, Jane?” 

“I’m aware that extreme embarrassment is not my best look.” 

“I’m not looking my best either,” Mr. Dawes said. 

Jane’s eyes went back to examining the damage to his face and body. “Dangerous people?” 

“It’s my problem alone. It’s not going to touch you, Jane,” he said very seriously.

“I wasn’t thinking that,” she said. 

He relaxed a little. 

“I’m sorry. I misinterpreted.” She gestured lamely to Rochester, who was pawing at Mr. Dawes’s abdomen, clearly hoping for a tussle. “He came with a suitcase and a lady who looked like a breeder or something.” 

“I like to dog-sit. Especially like goldens. Known Rochester since he was weaned. He’s almost a year old now. My neighbor doesn’t give me notice anymore—just comes over, and if I’m there, I’m there. If I’m not, she takes him to someone else or boards him. Guess you were there, so . . .” 

He likes to dog-sit. Jane watched as Mr. Dawes led the dog into an adjacent conference room, knelt on the ground and started playing with him. It was a display she would have liked to enjoy from the comfort of a plush velvet chair, with a bucket of popcorn—yes, butter, please. Unfortunately, that was not to be. 

The redhead made her way over to Jane’s side, giving unusually wide berth to an Ally-Dex conversation as she passed. She’d obviously made peace with the situation in the, uh, war room, because she said to Jane in a friendly enough voice, “Hi, I’m Missy.” 

“I’m Jane. Mr. Dawes’s fish sitter. Well, I think I got a promotion to pet sitter. Although come to think of it, I didn’t get a raise.” 

“I know who you are,” Missy said. “And since you’re here, I need to make sure you’re cool with everything.” 

Jane got the impression that meant a lot of things. Not just “Jane, are you okay with the weirdness?” More like “Jane, we need to feel okay that you know about the weirdness.” Though Jane couldn’t imagine what would happen if the answer ended up being no. 

So, she and Missy talked for a while, each of them keeping one eye on the Nick Dawes Show playing live through the glass windows of the conference room. Missy asked her a lot of questions, which Jane had no trouble answering. Questions that basically took the pulse of how comfortable Jane was with how much she already knew, or which prodded Jane to reveal additional information that perhaps she shouldn’t know but had figured out. 

Missy also asked her not to leave the room without an escort. If Jane was supposed to think this was all too strange and suspicious to deal with, these people were going to be disappointed. And they should know better; they’d already “vetted” her for Nick Dawes’s job and obviously decided that her questionable parents weren’t enough to keep her from being invited into—if not the inner circle where Ally and Cecily lived—at least one of the rings next to it. Weirdness is relative, thought Jane. I am not one to be spooked

She suspected there was an intersection between her boss being a mercenary in one part of his life and some sort of investment banker or fund manager in the other. She knew Cecily’s fiancĂ©, Shane, had skills in a variety of areas, including stunt driving and hand-to-hand combat. Mr. Dawes undoubtedly did tricky things with money. Hopefully, he did not steal from the poor and elderly, because that would be a deal breaker. Not that she had any business wondering what her deal breakers with her boss would be in the first place. 

The more Jane listened to Missy talk (vaguely) and ask questions (pointedly), the calmer she felt. Nick Dawes might be a white-collar mercenary with the ability to use his expertise for things Missy referred to as “gigs” and “missions,” but he also liked to roll around on the floor and snuggle with a dog. 

Roll around. And snuggle. 

Live and let live, Mr. Dawes. If you expect me to have concerns about your mercenary ties, you are sorely mistaken. 

Author Biography
Liz Maverick is a bestselling and award-winning author and adventurer whose projects have taken her from driving trucks in Antarctica to working behind the scenes on reality-TV shows in Hollywood. Known for her smart, funny, and emotional romance novels with fast-paced plots, Liz has written more than fifteen books. Her bestselling book Wired was a Publishers WeeklyBook of the Year, and Liz also created the USA Today bestselling Crimson City series.

Liz currently lives happily ever after in Brooklyn, New York, with her daughter and husband, and loves to stay in touch with readers through her website,

Social Media Links

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Quiet Ones

With: J. L. Lora

Congratulations to "Christine B.", the winner in J.L.'s giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

You know that saying it’s the quiet ones you gotta look out for? It has special meaning for me and my characters. A few weeks ago, Made, The Trinity Book 2, went live.  The heroine in my book, Gia, is one those women. People often think she’s just sweet and beautiful. Even though, she is part of The Trinity, the most powerful cartel in New York, they still tend to underestimate her.

There’s a misconception that when someone is quiet they’re content or complacent. Nothing can be furthest from the truth. The quiet ones sometimes hide the most pain, live in great turmoil, and hide the biggest heartbreaks. That’s why they also have the most strength, because they’ve always had to be strong.

Gia is one of those quiet ones. She’s everyone’s ray of sunshine, a dreamer without hope, living a life that chose her, and running from a past that’s never far behind. Beautiful smiles are there to cover bone deep scars.

Her role in The Trinity, which she runs with her two best friends, is as powerful as that of the other two members.  Each member of the Trinity has an equally important role in the organization. That is why the series symbol is The Trinity Knot. No matter which way you flip it, it doesn’t change its shape or strength. It’s equally powerful from all angles and their main asset is their unity.

It's one of Gia’s points of empowerment and the friendship is her sanctuary.

While their strength is wonderful to see, it can all be daunting for the men who are trying to
love them. Noah, the hero in Made, has his work cut out for him. Gia only trusts two people, the ones that have never let her down. Noah isn’t want of them. Their story is a long battle of love vs. Trust.

Will they learn to trust each other before it’s too late?

About the Author
J. L. Lora is a Dominican-American author. Her stories explore the dark side of good characters, people living in the gray areas of life while playing the cards life has dealt them. She loves strong heroines and their equally powerful Men. She currently lives in Maryland, pursuing her dream of writing compelling, sexy, can’t-put-down stories about empowered, badass alpha heroines and takeyour-breath-away alpha heroes.

Social Media Links
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Newsletter

I’m giving away an ebook copy of Made and a $5 Amazon card. To participate, please answer the following questions in the comments: Who is your favorite quiet one heroine or hero and why?

JRS will choose the winner of the contest.

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST November 23rd. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway. 

Monday, November 20, 2017


Congratulations to "Peggy", the winner in Maria's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

USA TODAY bestselling author Angi Morgan kicks off her new series with a spellbinding tale of crime and passion—Texas Ranger style!

Jack MacKinnon, Jr. didn’t expect to retrieve a fugitive in the middle of his vacation. Thinking he was doing a favor for his Company, he gave his word that he’d escort Megan Harper to Austin where another ranger could escort her to Dallas. Then his best friend claims she’s being framed and will be killed if placed in jail. He wants Jack to hide her on his ranch.
Jack can’t afford trouble during homecoming week while he fills in for his dad, a newly-elected state senator. With no desire to fill his father’s shoes as mayor, he’s anxious to get back to Company B. Keeping his dad appeased and a determined, capable woman secluded from the person trying to kill her might just be the hardest thing this ranger has ever done.
Accused of murder, Megan wants to find out who’s framing her. That’s what she does as an investigative analyst. Should she ignore the ranger who’s putting his life and career on the line? Or play it safe and hide with his family? Her question is soon answered when trouble arrives in the form of a hit man. Jack has to find a way to keep Megan alive before her self-sufficient attitude gets them both killed.

Can they ignore the desire ratcheting up the stakes, tempting them to take one last risk before a killer erases their future?

“I wouldn’t do that.” The deep voice slowed her steps.

A couple of steps away from her, a man lifted his finger in the air. He wasn’t the same as the man who’d accosted her at the gate. His serious scrutiny caught her off guard as he guided her out of the way of the revolving door.

“Are you following me?” She looked through the glass—the man trying to accost her and the carryon were gone.

“Nope. Someone wants to chat with you.” Serious guy extended a phone, and she heard an unfamiliar voice of a friend she hadn't seen in years.

“Megan. Megan, are you there?” The moment caught her off guard, and she paused. The stranger gently took her elbow, guiding her out of foot traffic, nodding as a couple of people passed and then handing her the phone.

She flipped the cell over and was on a video call. “Therese? I haven’t heard from you since I moved to Austin. What in the world is going on?”

“Thank God he found you. Listen, the man with you is Jack MacKinnon. He’s a friend and you need to leave with him. Now. I’ll explain later. Trust that your life is in danger.”

Megan looked straight into aviator shades and an expressionless pair of lips over a dimpled chin. His gesture to wrap up the call infuriated her a little bit more. But when she stumbled it was nice to have him there to steady her.

“I can explain everything in three or four days. Until then, MacKinnon can keep you safe.” Therese’s voice was shaky with fear. The man looked around without offering any explanation.

“I can take care of myself. But why do you think I need to? And why don’t I just go to the police?” She was certain she was capable.

Therese’s fear seemed to be seeping through the speaker, affecting her ability to reason. Either that or… Great, the room was spinning. “Why does it feel like I’m on that baggage carousel?”

“Wrap it up. They must have slipped you something.” The man gripped her elbow tighter and headed toward the exit.

“Someone’s trying to kill you, Megan. We don’t know who. At least not yet. And until we get a handle on this, you need to stay someplace safe. We think you’re being framed— What?” There was some noise on Therese’s end, and the screen went dark, like she’d covered the phone’s camera. Then nothing for a long couple of seconds. “I wish I had time to explain and I’m sorry I put you into this position. You can trust MacKinnon. He’s practically one of us. Maybe better since he’s a Texas—”

The phone went dark again. The connection was gone.

“Can you walk faster? I’m parked in a loading zone.” Therese’s friend wrapped his arm around her waist.

The mirrored aviator shades he wore blocked wherever he was looking, but it didn’t matter. She was quickly losing her footing and the grip on her laptop. “My bagsheze ish…”

Slurred speech and no muscle coordination. Her inability didn’t slow her escort down. He lifted her laptop bag onto one shoulder and stretched her arm around his other. She couldn’t even protest now. Her eyes were getting heavy, right along with every other part of her body.

“Stay with me, Megan,” he whispered close to her ear. “Yeah, we’re good. Pregnant. Just need to get her home.”

He’d told someone she was pregnant, and she couldn’t make her mouth object. Her brain seemed to be working, but nothing else. He lifted her onto the front seat of a giant truck and pulled the seat belt around her.

Eyes closed, her head fell to the window with a thud. They moved forward, and that was it. She’d been kidnapped, abducted. If anyone asked her to identify the man driving, she had a good image of a dimpled chin under shiny, reflective aviator shades.
~ ~ ~
RANGER PROTECTOR kicks off the TEXAS BROTHERS OF COMPANY B series. Available in stores mid-December and online January 1st. Available for Pre-Order
~ ~ ~
ANGI MORGAN writes Intrigues where honor and danger collide with love. Her work is a multiple contest finalist and Publisher’s Weekly best seller. She drags her dogs –and husband– around Texas for research road trips so she can write off her camera. They now have a map with highlighted roads they’ve traveled. Every detour somehow makes it into a book.
Website   Facebook   FB Fan Page   Twitter @AngiMorganAuthr     
Check out A Picture A Day, my newsletter or my monthly Giveaway

~ ~ ~
Leave a comment to be entered for a $5.00 gift card. Giveaway on JRS ends at midnight November 21st.  Contestants enter drawing by leaving a comment on Just Romantic Suspense.

Megan is in danger and her friend sends Jack to help.
Would you accept protection from a stranger?

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Good Girls Don’t Read that!

Giveaway of $5 gift card!

I am a proud Kindle user. Not only is reading your books electronically the best way to avoid clutter, it offers something else some of us may need…. PRIVACY. Let’s be honest who wants the world to know your reading Fifty Shades of Grey while your kids are around? I have always loved to read and when I became a writer it was obvious I would write the kind of stories that I read. I love the alpha bad boy that doesn’t always take the law into consideration. Let’s get even more personal… I love a down and dirty Mafia love story. I had my genre chosen and I was thrilled…. Until I told my friends.

When I was asked what my first book was about and I uttered the words Mafia Romance, I was given the “eye”.  We all know “the eye” don’t we? Those eyes are filled with suspicion. I am a nice, quiet girl who goes to church regularly and I wanted to write about Mafia Romance? I was basically told I was going to hell in my own taxi and I should write about the nice guy who goes to work, pray and attend bible study. There is nothing wrong with any of those things, but it’s not what I wanted and daydreamed about. I am a good girl that attends church often but I want something different. I NEED something different.

I want the alpha male that will throw me on the bed and tell me that I am his. I want the tattooed, bearded man that is willing to break a few fingers if someone pissed me off. I want the man with balls that knows how to use them. Good girls do read that and some of us want those things in our lives too!


Before Pop got sick, I considered my family to be the perfect little Italian family that still had dinners on Sunday, but I suppose all families have something buried in the backyard. Unfortunately, with my family, it’s probably a body.

When Pop realized that he couldn’t defeat his cancer, he had a talk with each one of us. We all spoke to him privately and he told us his wishes. We never confided to the others what was said, but Ma, Alex, and Alexis seemed to have peace with what was said. I was the last one to enter the hospital room to hear his wishes and have the dreaded talk. I hated entering the room. It is so heartbreaking to see the man you looked at like he was Superman, find his kryptonite. Pop had lost so much weight; he looked like photos I had seen of his pop, which was at least fifty pounds lighter than my pop. His face was sunken in and he was so weak. I hated seeing what cancer had done to him. He was a fighter and he fought to the very end. As I walked closer to the hospital bed, I could feel myself getting weaker and weaker. I knew in my gut that this would be one of the last times I would talk to my father, my hero. He turned his head slightly to look at me and his weak voice said he had something important to ask me.

“I am dying Frank. I can no longer fight it, it’s too painful.” It hurt so much to hear my father admit to his pain. My father spent the next twenty minutes making his final request and I was shocked by what I was hearing. My father was a criminal. My entire family is criminals. Hell, I may be a criminal by blood. My father is the fucking don.

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About Author:
Rumer Raines is a good girl that will take her men the same way she takes her coffee…. HOT.  Reading about the Alpha male didn’t curve her appetite so she started creating her own. While most girls love the nice guy who does the 9 to 5.  You won’t be reading about those guys in any of her books… my men will always be just above legal, until they are caught.

Comment on what qualities your dream man has and one lucky winner will win a $5 Amazon Gift Card

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST November 19th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway. 

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