Sunday, July 10, 2016

Newsletter, July 2016

Book News

Red Alert

I’ve signed a new three book contract with Kensington Lyrical, yay! It’s a spinoff from the Emperors series, but will be completely new. It is to concern three members of the Shaw family, the children of the Marquess of Strenshall. One of them will be a novella concerning the gay son of the family, Darius. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to tell his story, particularly since so many of you have written to ask me about him!
There are still two Emperors stories left to be released, so it will be a little time before you get to see them, but they are coming!

The Even Gods series from Samhain is now complete, but I’m working on a new series, historical, for a different publisher. More news soon!

Aaand, the STORM series is coming out again. I’ve had the books re-edited, but it’s a very light one, to remove some of the highly erotic stuff and make them more mainstream, the way I originally envisioned them. They have spiffy new covers, and they are coming out under the L.M. Connolly name. I still love these books and I would love them to find a new lease of life! If they do well, it means I can write some more.



Publishing is in a constant state of change. A few years ago, I was happily settled with three publishers, being paid for my work and planning more stories.

Then came self-publishing. In 2010, that market really took off. I wasn’t too keen, because I’m a writer, not a business person and anything that takes me away from writing isn’t welcome.

But I had to pay attention, because sales were going down.

I tried, but I’m not as clever as some people out there, and I never got that stroke of luck that really matters either. So my self-publishing career is fairly average. I’m doing all right, don’t get me wrong.

But I haven't set the world on fire. Yet. Very few writers do.

The world changes, and a professional writer has to make some adjustments, which I’m doing right now.

I’ve spent this month writing like crazy. I had several requests for a historical novel I was writing, when I attended RT in April. So I had to finish it and polish it!

Writing the first in a new series (and you know me, I tend to write in series) is exciting and difficult. I’m learning a whole new set of characters and situations, finding out what makes them tick and how they are led into something exciting enough to engage a reader.

I tend to make characters as close to real as I can. That means they don’t always behave the way they should, they aren’t always trammeled by the needs of the genre I write. Sometimes I’ll write a plot, and when I get there in the book, I’ll discover that the character is too smart for that, or that the stakes have changed. I love it. Then I have to stop and reconstruct the whole thing.

Anyway, changes. I’m looking to move my newsletter from Yahoo to somewhere else. As far as you’re concerned, that will mean you’ll get an extra, short email to make sure it’s working. If you don’t want to continue, please let me know and I’ll deal with it. Yahoo is becoming more unreliable and it’s time I looked somewhere else for a newsletter program.

So this month I’m at the RNA Conference at Lancaster Universtiy. We’ve had some fascinating speakers, including an ex police detective speaking on murder cases. It’s been fascinating and as always it’s so enjoyable catching up with old friends and finding out what everybody is up to.

New Releases

Yes, releases! The covers are below, and then I’ve put the links to my webpage, where you can find all the buy links to the books!

Red Alert is set ...tomorrow.

The day a dragon flies over Central Park, the world changes. People know what they’ve suspected for centuries––Talents exist, and they’ve been living among us all the time.

Dragons, vampires, shape-shifters, sorcerers with incredible psi gifts form a special agency to protect the rights and interests of Talents.

New enemies arise, and they are forced to struggle to meet the new challenges and protect the people they love.

 The books are coming out at weekly intervals, starting on the 27th July, and they're up for preorder now.
         


You can see descriptions and buy links here: http://lmconnolly.com/storm/
Here's the Amazon link to the first book: https://www.amazon.com/Red-Alert-paranormal-romance-STORM-ebook/dp/B01HAOEOD2


Red Alert Excerpt:


A scuffle outside the door made Dr. Jones turn his head toward the sound. Megan took the opportunity and lashed out with her foot. It struck with a satisfyingly solid whump, right in his solar plexus.
Dr. Jones doubled up, gasping for air. Well, the first step to getting out had been easy. But facing the “student” standing between her and the door, Megan knew he wouldn’t be such a pushover. He stood, feet planted wide apart, knees slightly bent in a position she recognized from her weekly karate class.
Fuck.
She had to hurry, before Jones regained his breath. When she kicked up toward the guy’s balls, intending the kick to be a feint for an upward hand jab, the bastard grabbed her ankle and threw her to the hard floor. The very hard floor. Her head hit the ground with a solidity Megan felt in every bone of her body, intensifying her ever-present headache, and she kicked back with her free foot, only to find it caught in the same meaty fist.
Pressure on the side of her pants alerted her to the syringe pressing into her flesh.
The door burst open, propelled by the heavy body of the red-haired “student”. He fell next to her, already unconscious, his big body completely relaxed. One massive arm dropped over her body, dislodging the needle’s trajectory.
A whirlwind followed the student, or what seemed like one to Megan. Dark, unruly hair was the only feature she was absolutely sure of topping a tall, powerful body with excellent reactions, because the intruder spun around on his heel, his arm already whipping out to take her attacker full across his face.
The open-handed slap knocked the African-American aside but he came back, one blow too superficial to cause any real damage. Just in time to receive the jackhammer punch under his chin that knocked his head back with a crunch that sounded fatal.
The student fell back against the room’s only chair, collapsing it with the sound of breaking wood and the fleshier crunch of breaking bone.
It was the man she’d glimpsed earlier entering the main ward. Closer up he was even more lethally sexy. Arousal, totally unexpected, purred through her veins. “There are more outside, so the only way we’re going to get out of here is through that window.” He swept the room with an appraising glance and picked up the metal bedside table as if it weighed nothing at all, ignoring the clatter as the drawer fell out. “Close your eyes if you’re scared of heights and hold on tight.”
Lifting the table over his head, he swung it at the window. The sound of shattering glass rewarded him and he stepped forward to knock out the remaining jagged shards and drag the wrecked blind aside.
Was that a hand or a claw? A claw, she realized, as fingernails lengthened into talons and blue-green scales clustered over his hand and arm.
She gasped in shock. “Holy fuck!”
He turned to face her, scales gathering on his neck, his voice throaty and raw. “Climb up and hold on. Or stay here and face them.”
Feet pounded up the hallway outside and at the same time, her rescuer completed his transformation into a man-sized dragon. Clothes ripped and tore, falling from his body, and she felt a sense of irritation in her mind that came from him. Irritation?
Yeah, I liked that jacket. Grab the pieces and let’s go. Pick up your stuff too. Then put your arms around my neck. Or stay here and let them kill you.
His neck was much longer and greener than it had been a minute ago. When she heard the shout “In here!” from outside the room she knew this was decision time.
She grabbed her purse, pausing to sling it over her head so the strap crossed her body, and picked up the remains of the leather jacket, only remembering the folder containing her scan results at the last minute, then she obeyed him—it—and put her arms around his—its—neck.
When we’re through the window, I’m going full size. Be prepared to hang on ‘cuz we ain’t coming down for a while.
I must be mad.
If you are, I am too. Ready?
As I’ll ever be.
Her feet lifted off the ground just as she was beginning to wonder how the hell she could talk to somebody mind to mind. She closed her eyes and hung on.

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Lynne Connolly
L.M. Connolly

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Newlsetter, June 2016


News

June has come in beautifully here. The sun is out, the cats are prowling, and I’m indoors looking at it all, writing. It could be worse!
Politics are steaming ahead either side of the Atlantic, the Europe vote over here garnering hysteria on both sides, and the Presidential campaign in the US. When the sun comes out it doesn’t seem to be so important!
So, here’s the news, and you’re the first to hear it.
I’ve been offered a contract at Kensington. With the last Emperors of London book in the works (there are two left to be published!) I didn’t want to leave their world, so I put a proposal forward for the stories of the Shaws, the family of the Marquess of Strenshall.
And they offered it to me! I am thrilled to be able to write these stories for you. If you recall, the family has a gay member. I am endlessly fascinated (and horrified) by the fate of gay people in the eighteenth century, especially men, when the sin of sodomy was punishable by death. It’s wonderful that I get to tell his story. It will be a novella, and set between the two books about two of the Shaw women. Writing a story about gays means treading a fine line between the cruder, more condemnatory views of the time and the modern approach. I can’t wait!
The books will be coming out after the last Emperors book comes out. I would like to tell the other stories, Ivan, Poppy, Augustus and the rest. I feel privileged to tell their stories.
But this month I’ve been busy writing the story of some brand new characters. Still set in the mid-eighteenth century, these stories will continue the story begun in “What He Wants...Is What She Needs” from the Seven Nights Of Sin anthology. In that one, Gerald, the new Earl of Carbrooke, is supposed to marry the daughter of a duke to help his sisters enter of society. He meets and falls in love with Annie, the widow of a City merchant, and the owner of a business. He could make Annie his mistress and marry the duke’s daughter, except Annie won’t do that, and when he gets to know her better, he wouldn’t do that to her. So what to do?
I’ve planned a trilogy based on that story, where Gerald’s three sisters find their own mates. Not without problems, or where would the stories be? Over in the first chapter!
So far these books don’t have a home, but several publishers and agents have expressed interest. We shall see how it goes! It’s wonderful to have the freedom to shape this book the way I want to. I do have a partial written about a different set of characters, but they’ll have to wait until I can get around to them. The series was accepted at Samhain, but of course it won’t be going there now.

New Release

I have a new release this month, and it’s a contemporary. “Escaping The Past” continues the story begun in “Learning To Trust,” but it’s a stand alone, and I’m selling it as a single title.


Buy the Book and Read An Extract:
Jade has come from England to New York to find work and to live incognito. Two years ago she received a message from her brother, Miles, the last she’d heard of him. Since Miles works for a shadowy organization called the Increments, she’s more than worried, but she obeys his request and leaves home. She found a new life, one she enjoys, even though she only has a job in a department store and lives modestly.
Gary, part owner of the store where she works, has a shady past. Although he can claim a personal fortune, his father nearly bankrupted the family company, then he went back to his Italian roots and took strictly illegal work from his gangster family. Gary’s Neapolitan family still rule in Italy, and Gary has kept strictly away from them.
Jade and Gary have an instant connection, but the social gap between them is huge. When Jade is put in danger, Gary is forced to act to save her. Unfortunately, Jade’s brother is working undercover for Gary’s family, something both his family and the government agency watching them are aware of. Back in Italy, they’re faced with unpleasant choices. Jade won’t allow the danger she and Miles are in to lead Gary to follow in his father’s footsteps and rejoin the family business. Not that Gary has any such intention, even if it means he loses his life protecting the woman he loves.



Monday, May 02, 2016

Newsletter, May 2016, Part Two

Industry news
I do have some exciting news I’m not quite ready to reveal, but first, the sad bit. Samhain Publishing is closing. Crissy Brashear has assured us we will get our rights back on the company closure, and she is continuing to do her best to generate sales and interest in the books. Samhain should be open for another year or so, but they aren’t taking any more submissions. That means, that unless another publisher shows an interest, “Her Quicksilver Lover,” due to come out in May, will be the last Even Gods Fall In Love book. I’ve thoroughly  enjoyed writing this series, and getting an idea of how gods would survive in the eighteenth century. Very well, as it turns out! I have started on another story, of Hades and Persephone, but it’s unlikely to reach the marketplace, at least in its present form.
When and if I get the rights back to my Samhain published books, I’ll try to turn them around as fast as I can, so they’ll still be available.
On the other hand, I’m really proud of the finale to the series. It’s Amidei’s book, the man who has featured in every episode, and finally he gets a book of his own.
So here, without further ado, are the details and an extract:

Love knows no bounds, and keeps no secrets.
Even Gods Fall in Love, Book 6
Joanna Spencer is doing more than just serving tea at the Pantheon Club. She’s secretly collecting society gossip and evidence of foreign spy activity for her father’s journal articles.
Instead, she finds the club’s walls shield Roman gods in human form. One of which she must keep at arm’s length at all costs—the club’s alluring, enigmatic owner, Amidei, Comte d’Argento. Otherwise known as Mercury.
Joanna catches Amidei’s attention long before she drops and shatters an expensive tea caddy. He knows she’s spying, but he never suspected she’d be his nemesis in human form—or that she would stir his strongest protective instincts.
Those instincts will be tested to the limit when an enemy strikes from an unexpected corner, threatening their lives. And Amidei will have to face every last one of his fears to protect the woman he has come to love.
Product Warnings
Contains a woman who’s too honest to be a good spy, and a mind-reading god sent reeling down the fast track to passion the moment he touches her thoughts. Excessive heat could cause readers to reach for a fan, but remember—fanning the flames only makes them burn hotter.

Extract:
“Joanna Spencer?”
“Yes. I thought…” She didn’t know what to think. His proximity confused her, sent her mind into a spin, spiralling down her body to the juncture of her thighs, where she heated and dampened.
He smiled and stroked her cheek again. It was all she could do not to press into his touch, to beg silently for more. His heat seeped through her, warming any residual chill, but the nervousness remained. She could not move.
“Your skin is so soft,” he said. “It begs me to touch it. It has from the beginning. Like the ripest, plumpest peach.”
She should not allow him to do this, or say such things, but the lonely core deep inside her body opened and blossomed at those words. Men passed her by. It went without saying that she had no dowry, nothing to offer a man in marriage, so she had closed the door on such thoughts, except for dreams she could not control. She made a last effort. “You should not do this, sir.”
“I know. I do not make a habit of it. But you—you intrigue me, Joanna Spencer. I want to know more about you. Like why you did not tell me, or anyone else in this house, that your father owns the Argus.”
A sharp gasp escaped her and she spun away, intent on reaching the door. She would leave and never come back, and pray that he didn’t follow her.
He lashed his arm around her waist and turned her back to him.
They were pressed chest to chest, the fabric of her coarse gown meeting his smooth, fine silk waistcoat. Her mind racing, she said nothing, but met his gaze boldly. “Everyone has to earn a living,” she said when she had finally worked out what to say.
He watched her, waiting for something, she did not know what. His cheekbones were tinged with colour, his eyes back to their light silver, disconcerting and beautiful. They were both breathing deeply, as if they’d run up St. James’ Street and back.
“Would you rather I earned it another way?” Without allowing him to speak, she went on, anger sparkling through her. “Oh yes, I see you would.”
Something in his eyes flared, and then she could see no more as he closed them and dragged her closer, bringing his head down.
Then he kissed her.
His scent was of lemons, a tinge of the sea, and pure, wild, masculinity. It wreathed around her, its intensity overwhelming her efforts to remember who she was, who he was, and pull away. His lips pressed against hers, firm and full, pressing so she had to tilt her head back.
Flattening her hands on his chest, the metallic threads of the embroidery rasping against her palm, she shoved. He did not move, didn’t even seem to register her protest. He continued to kiss her, but kept his hands around her waist, holding her close, but not roaming. His fingertips dug into the fabric of her jacket, the pressure insistent, into the flesh beneath, burning as if they were naked and he was claiming her.
One kiss, what harm would that do? She couldn’t pretend she did not want it, had not lain awake in her narrow bed dreaming of this, but he should not, she was a respectable woman…the protests became mere echoes in her mind.
He touched her lips with his tongue, and as if he’d commanded it, she let him in.


Newsletter, May 2016

Newsletter, May, 2016

What a month I’ve had!
This was my month in America, the month when I refresh and reset my writing, and when I get to see the wonderful things the USA has to offer. This time, my husband came with me, so we had double the fun!
The elegant ladies of the NOLA RWA chapter - plus husband and me.
Since I went for five weeks this time, there’s no way I can write this in one newsletter, but I do plan more detailed summaries to come. I can, however, do a flying trip around the highlights. There were so many!
The first ten days were spent in New Orleans, first staying with a lovely friend and her family in Mandeville, over the longest bridge I’d ever travelled on. We went to places I would never have discovered as a tourist, and got a fascinating glimpse of what it would be like to live in New Orleans, or close by. We had lunch with ladies from the NOLA RWA chapter, and had the enormous privilege of enjoying an Easter Sunday brunch with our hosts, author Leah Penn and her family.
On a trolley car in New Orleans
Then to New Orleans itself, and there we met up with Aussies Megan Bamford and her husband. What fun we had! Our hotel was right in the French Quarter, but after one quick Bourbon Street experience, we opted for the other delights NOLA has to offer, like shopping on Royal Street and listening to the fabulous music produced by the jazz bands there. It was the perfect way to start our visit.
After lingering in New Orleans, we took the plane to Las Vegas, and a completely different experience! Our hotel, Planet Hollywood, was kind enough to upgrade us, so we found ourselves in a beautiful suite overlooking the Paris balloon, and the Bellagio fountains. Sitting in a comfortable armchair, watching the fountain display is a memory that will remain with me for a long time. Vegas is everything I expected –– noisy, busy, and chiselling, in the sense that they want every last dime you’re prepared to give, and then some. It’s the last “some” that I found unpleasant. Resort fees, where you’re basically paying upwards of $30 a day for the privilege of using the hotel’s internet and fitness facilities, for instance. That’s something that should be included in a hotel package, but presumably the use of personal hotspots have reduced the way the hotel can charge. The deposit taken at check-in, which depletes disposable income, even if it is returned at the end of the visit, and the constant surcharges for this and that, that turn affordable into extortionate.
Me blocking the view of the Grand Canyon
But everybody should see Vegas at least once, and this was my once. I’d go back for a day or two, perhaps to see a show, which I didn’t manage this visit, but probably not for an extended visit.
We took a couple of days out to see the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon.
That was so worth it, I might have travelled over the ocean just to see that. The Canyon is – staggering, unbelievable, wonderful, stunningly beautiful and so much more. It’s like I said when I posted my picture on Facebook – there are no words. Of course I’ve seen pictures and read descriptions, but, like Michelangelo’s David, it’s something you have to see in order to appreciate.
Megan and yours truly in the prep room before the convention.
After that, came the RT Convention. This was a strange one, mainly because of the hotel. It was half a mile from our room to the convention centre, so every time I forgot something or needed a break, I had that mile to trudge, through the smoky casino which was nearly always empty, or close to it. It was one of the most depressing places I have ever been in my life! The Rio is in desperate need of a facelift, as everything is tired. The rooms were tired, but it was nice to have a refrigerator and plenty of space. There was no central bar or lobby area for people to gather informally, either, although the hotel did its best to accomodate us. The staff were pleasant, but there wasn’t a lot they could do to alleviate the slowly deteriorating hotel. On the first and second days, it rained, sending the whole of Las Vegas into meltdown. Several rooms in the hotel leaked, and occupants had to be moved.
But the convention was fun, and I got some business done as well. More of that, later. And while I was there, “Dilemma in Yellow Silk” came out and did very nicely. It was really nice to have copies to sign at the Kensington party!
After the convention, we went to stay with a friend in Texas, Anna Albergucci. She has the most astonishingly lovely house, every corner of which demonstrates her creative imagination. I’ll try to get her permission to post some photos!
Martin and I with a fantastic guide at the Alamo
We ended our trip with a day in San Antonio. It’s always fun to walk by the Riverwalk and watch the lights, have a meal and watch the world go by. Plus, there’s the Alamo. We stayed at the Menger, a lovely old hotel built twenty years after the Battle of the Alamo. San Antonio is a beautiful city full of history and interest. My husband said he could easily have spent more time there, but it was time to go home.
The journey was long, and for me, arduous, since for the first time ever, I got airsickness. It was dire. I climbed aboard the plane with a migraine, and that was probably why I was so ill. For the most part the stewards pretended not to notice, but that was okay with me, and my lovely husband took the greatest care of me.
I got home and slept, and here I am now, writing this.


See you next month!



Lynne Connolly


 


Friday, April 01, 2016

Lynne Connolly Newsletter, April 2016

Happy April!
I’m having to write this in advance, because I’ll be on the road when the first of April rolls around! I’m about to leave on my big annual adventure, and I am so excited I could burst! I’m flying with my husband to New Orleans, where I’ll visit lovely Laurie Pennison, who writes amazing romantic suspense novels, and then stay in the French Quarter for a few days.
If I have time, I’ll do some updates.
After New Orleans, we’re flying to Las Vegas! I’ve never been to Vegas before, and I really want to dig into the history for a while. There is some, although the minute something isn’t useful to them any longer, they knock it down. I’m still mourning The Sands. I so wanted to see it!
RT Convention will probably be its usual mad self. We don’t come home until late April, after a quick visit to lovely Anna Albergucci.

New Release
And of course this month I have a big release! DILEMMA IN YELLOW SILK is the latest offering from the Emperors of London series.
This book features the seemingly staid Marcus Aurelius, Lord Malton, and the daughter of his land steward, Mr. Gates. Viola knows the deadly secret that follows her around, but until she is attacked, she believes she is safe. Marcus steps up. Of course he does!


Ever ready to do the right thing, The Emperors of London act bravely—and when it comes to matters of the heart, impetuously…
Despite her cover as the daughter of the land steward for Lord Malton, Marcus Aurelius, spirited Viola Gates is tied by birth to the treacherous Jacobite legacy. Not that this keeps her from falling for the dashing Lord from afar. Despite his staid demeanor, Marcus is devastatingly handsome—and hopelessly beyond her reach. Then Viola’s father is mortally wounded and her secret identity revealed, sending her straight into danger’s path—and Marcus’s arms…
For years, he’d only known her as a wild child, the tempting—and forbidden—daughter of his trusted steward. But when Viola’s life is threatened, Marcus must act as duty—and his barely contained passion—dictates. Ferrying the bold beauty on an eventful journey to safer quarters, he offers her the protection of his name. Their tempestuous union might succeed in vanquishing their enemies, but will the chivalrous lord and his unsuitable wife surrender to the power of love?
“Lynne Connolly writes Georgian romances with a deft touch. Her characters amuse, entertain and reach into your heart.” —Desiree Holt
“Plots, deviousness and passion galore…a truly enjoyable read.” –Fresh Fiction on Temptation Has Green Eyes

Excerpt:
Concentrating on her music, Viola nearly jumped out of her skin when a large body plumped down on the stool next to her. She shrieked, spun around, and closed her eyes. “You!”
“Why, weren’t you expecting me?”
His expression of innocence did not fool her for a minute.
“Not here, not like this. Did you run from the last staging post?” she demanded. She should not talk to the Earl of Malton like this. Right now he was less the earl and more Marcus, the boy she’d known so long ago. “Oh, my lord, sir, I’m sorry!”
She should recall her place, but she was finding the task difficult when he was wearing the same mischievous grin he’d used at nine years old.
“I couldn’t resist. Do you know what you were playing?”
The heat rushed to her face. “Yes.” No sense dissimulating. Of course she knew.
“And if you don’t stop ‘my lord’ and ‘sir’ing me, I’ll have you sent home forthwith. When we’re alone, it’s still Marcus.”
What had happened to him? Marcus had slowly moved away from her, gone from a childhood friend to a dignified, proper aristocrat. She understood the move, because he would have responsibilities to take care of, but sometimes she missed him. He’d remained a distant figure ever since, growing more pompous every time she saw him. Now he seemed to have cast all that off.
“I thought—that’s not right.”
Sighing, he shook his head. “And I’ve stopped you playing. A pity—I was enjoying that. Carry on.”
“Is that an order—sir?”
He growled deep in his throat, such a small sound she’d have missed it if he were not sitting so close to her. “Stop it. I’ll be Malton in about an hour.” He pinched the bridge of his nose. “I’ve spent the last three days in a closed carriage with my father, and I want to forget the stateliness. He would, given the chance. But with outriders and men riding ahead to warn innkeepers we were on our way, we had little chance.”
“So they commit the great crime of ensuring the best bedrooms are free. The cook is bursting from his waistcoat, trying to cook the best meal he’s capable of making. If only my journeys were so tedious!”
His laugh rang around the room. “Exactly. But we’re welcomed with ‘Good evening, my lord,’ and ‘How can I serve you, my lord?’”
“You poor thing.” She should guard her tongue, but she delighted in reacquainting herself with the man she used to know.
He rewarded her with another laugh. “I know. It’s such a hardship.” Lifting his feet, he spun around on the bench so he faced the keyboard, as she did. “You got a phrase wrong. The tune is based on the traditional one, but it’s varied in the last line of each verse. Slightly different each time. Like this.”
When he demonstrated, Viola understood exactly what he meant. But with the amusement, her heart ached. She had missed him so much. At the delicate age of nine, two years after his breeching, Marcus had begun his training, and since then, he’d become engrossed in his life’s work. Before then, the laughing boy had had no cares, and they’d played together.
Until someone remembered their different stations in life, and she did not think it was Marcus.
“Your turn.”
After giving him a doubtful glance, she copied the phrase. He sang the verse along with her, his baritone blending with her untrained mezzo. At the end of the verse they continued with the next one. Then he added one she hadn’t known about.
By the end of the song, she was quite in charity with him. The years slipped away. Or rather, they did not, because never at any time did she forget that a man sat next to her, not a boy.
Viola hadn’t been this close to Marcus for years. In this lovely room, with sunshine streaming in through the windows, they could be in another world—one of their own, a place out of time.
Playing scurrilous songs on a valuable string instrument seemed part of their world. Eventually she joined with him as his infectious laughter rang around the room.
“Do you remember this?” She played a few notes. A two-handed exercise taught to children to help them accustom themselves to the keyboard.
“Ha, yes I do.”
He joined in, taking the upper part of the tune. It was simple but capable of infinite variations. At the end of the piece she changed the pitch and they continued. Four times they went around, until she stopped with an emphatic chord.
She rested her palms on the edge of the harpsichord. “This was tuned last week. I was only supposed to check it, not play it until it’s out of tune again.”
“Do harpsichords lose their tuning so easily?”
He really didn’t know? “It’s a harpsichord. The strings are delicate. Even damp can send them completely wrong. Each quill has to be checked and replaced if necessary. Don’t you know anything?”
He shrugged. “I know how to address a duchess and how to dance a minuet. I can shoot straight and use a sword.”
“So can I. The last part.”
He widened his eyes. Such a perfect shade of blue they were. She hadn’t seen them this close for years. Far too long. “You can fence and shoot?” he said, his voice rising.
“I shoot better than I fence, but I know one end of a sword from the other. I know how to stop someone taking it off me.” Considering her position, her father had considered the training useful. The daughter of a land steward, especially an only child, needed to know how to take care of herself.
“I will certainly test you on that.” He patted his hip. “But I don’t generally travel with a sword at my side. We have them in the carriage, though. Shall I send for them?”
She bestowed a jaded smile on him. “No. Or fetch them yourself, come to that.”
His cheek indented slightly, as if he were biting it inside. Stopping laughter? Then she was a source of ridicule? No, he wouldn’t do that, not the Marcus she’d known.
But she had not known him for years. Only seen him at a distance and occasionally exchanged polite nothings.
He shook his head as his smile faded. “Why did we not tell my tutors to go to the devil, Viola? What harm did our friendship do?”
“They were teaching you to be an earl, and eventually a marquess.”
“Ah yes. That. But you continued to play with my brothers and sisters.”
She lifted one shoulder. “I hardly missed you at all.”
That was a lie. She had missed him very much. His way of talking, the way he would say what he was thinking without hesitation—but he would hardly do that any longer. People hung on his every word, at least some people did. The people wanting the ear of his father, or for Marcus to do them a favor.
“I missed you,” he said softly. “I would like us to be friends again, as we used to be.” He covered her hand with his own.
Startled, she stared at it, but she didn’t move. His warmth seeped through her, heating more than her fingers. He’d been her childhood sweetheart, but they had both known they were only playing.
He did not mean it in that way. Occasionally she’d allowed herself to dream of him, but never allowed her fantasies to creep through to real life.
Marcus had grown up tall and handsome, and unlike most men she knew, he wore his own hair tied back in a simple queue. He rarely powdered, his one concession to his wishes rather than the dictates of fashion, but he would consent to wear a wig on ceremonial occasions.
The first time she’d seen him dressed for a grand occasion had served to distance him completely from her. Without those glossy dark brown locks, and dressed in the finest London could provide, Marcus appeared a different person, one Viola didn’t know at all. So when he said he missed her, he probably meant the carefree days of his childhood.
Viola could not pass this opportunity by. She turned her hand and curled her fingers between his. He clasped her hand warmly.
She stared at that symbol of friendship, as if it weren’t her hand. “I missed you, too.”
“You’ve grown up a beauty, Viola,” he said softly.

Watch for the March Mayhem banner! There are interviews and extracts galore!




Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Donna Thorland's The Dutch Girl

I'm delighted to be able to present you with a beautiful excerpt from Donna Thorland's The Dutch Girl. It's out now and I really recommend that you take a look. 
This is part of the March Mayhem promotion, so keep an eye open for the banner and the social media tweets! 

Manhattan and the Hudson River Valley, 1778. The British control Manhattan, the Rebels hold West Point, and the Dutch patroons reign in feudal splendor over their vast Hudson River Valley estates. But the roads are ruled by highwaymen. Gerrit Van Haren, the dispossessed heir of Harenwyck, is determined to reclaim his inheritance from his decadent brother, Andries, even if that means turning outlaw and joining forces with the invading British. Until, that is, he waylays the carriage of beautiful young finishing school teacher Anna Winters…Anna is a committed Rebel with a secret past and a dangerous mission to secure the Hudson Highlands for the Americans. Years ago, she was Annatje, the daughter of a tenant farmer who led an uprising against the corrupt landlords and paid with his life. Since then, Anna has vowed to see the patroon system swept aside along with British rule. But at Harenwyck she discovers that politics and virtue do not always align as she expects…and she must choose between two men with a shared past and conflicting visions of the future.From Penguin NAL. Available to preorder in paper, ebook, and large print editions:waxcreative-amazon-printwaxcreative-amazon-kindlewaxcreative-bn-printwaxcreative-bn-nookwaxcreative-powellswaxcreative-indieboundwaxcreative-bamwaxcreative-ibooks



Manhattan, 1778
The sampler above the fireplace was a beautiful lie. Everything about the silkwork picture was a fantasy, from the house and trees at the bottom to the inscription stitched at the top: With utmost care I’ve wrought this piece according to my skill. Anna Winters, daughter of Charles and Hannah Winters, in the fourteenth year of her age 1764.
The six girls stitching earnestly beneath it did not know. To them it was the standard of excellence to which they aspired. Their parents certainly did not know. For them, it was a symbol of the status they hoped to acquire for their daughters. A good dame school could teach a girl to sew, to spell, to darn, and to mend, but finishing academies like Anna’s offered more: a polite education for females, acquisition of the ornamental domestic and social skills that materially improved a provincial girl’s marriage prospects.
The picture was a lie, but Anna delivered on its promises. She taught the daughters of New York’s wealthy merchants embroidery, mathematics, geography, decorative painting, and drawing in charcoal and pastel. For extra tuition her charges could attend the Tuesday-morning dance class where Mr. Sodi taught the minuet, the louvre, and the allemande. For another fee they could study voice, composition, and the harpsichord with Mr. Biferi.
It was a complete education for ladies, and the finest available in New York, sufficient to make an American girl show to good effect in even a London drawing room, but Anna’s visitor was not impressed.
“Geography is an unusual discipline for a finishing school,” said her neatly attired guest, observing the scene in the parlor. Anna could not tell if she approved or not. Then she added, “But you offer an otherwise narrow curriculum, and a deceptive one”—her eyes moved from the silk picture on the wall to the girls stitching below it—“when life’s hardest lessons are sure to be learned outside these walls.”
Anna had heard similar sentiments from parents before, particularly those in the more volatile trades whose fortunes were at the mercy of the changing market, although something about this woman’s manner suggested that money was no obstacle.
“Education,” replied Anna smoothly, “is an investment in a woman’s future. It is a dowry that cannot be squandered by a spendthrift husband. It is an evergreen inheritance that can be passed to her children no matter the condition of her husband’s estate.”
“And if the times call for a woman who can do more than dance and sew?”
That was not one of the usual questions.
It forced Anna to turn and examine her visitor. They had been talking for a quarter of an hour. Anna had led her on a tour of the house, shown her the parlors and garden and a selection of her most advanced students’ works in progress, but somehow in that time Anna had failed to look at her guest closely.
The woman had given her name as Ashcroft. Anna had addressed her as “Miss,” and the woman had not corrected her. Miss Ashcroft was young, probably the same age as Anna, in her middle to late twenties; too young to have daughters old enough for finishing school, but not too young to be entrusted with the education of a sister or a niece.
From a short distance, Miss Ashcroft was pleasant-looking, but she wouldn’t turn heads on the street. Her linen gown was that shade of beige that blends into every background. Her straw hat was practical and plain. But the face beneath it . . . Anna was forced to take a closer look.
Miss Ashcroft was more than pleasant-looking. She had flawless skin, Cupid’s bow lips, and wide, dark brown eyes. The hair tucked into her plain straw hat was a rich chestnut. The body beneath the dun-colored linen was classically proportioned.
Miss Ashcroft was in fact beautiful, but it was not the sort of beauty that advertised. She wore no paint or powder, no rouge to color her cheeks. She did nothing to court attention, and everything to divert it away from her.
The simple costume struck Anna all at once as a disguise. Her heart skipped a beat. She had only ever known one woman capable of such artful subterfuge, and the Widow was dead. That dangerous lady had taken her secrets—and Anna’s—to the grave with her, and this enigmatic stranger could not possibly know the truth.
“We offer Latin and French to girls who will need it,” said Anna, putting the Widow and the treacherous past from her mind.
Miss Ashcroft turned her penetrating gaze on Anna, and their eyes met. “And what about Dutch?”
Anna’s heart raced. This woman knew. It did not matter how much she knew. When you lived beneath layers of secrets piled like blankets against the cold, losing a single covering meant you’d freeze to death. She pulled them close around her now and brazened it out as her late mentor, the woman who had shaped the path her life had taken, would have done.
“There is no demand for it,” Anna said. “The Dutch rarely marry outsiders, and they only speak their language amongst themselves.”
“But you speak it fluently,” said Miss Ashcroft.
Anna could feel all the color drain from her face. The girls went on stitching as though nothing had happened while Anna’s carefully constructed world fell down around her ears.
With it went all hope of safety. Anna Winters, English gentlewoman of disappointed hopes and modest means, mistress of Miss Winters’ Academy, did not speak Dutch, but Annatje Hoppe, fugitive from the law, the girl she had once been, did.
Donna Thorland
www.donnathorland.com


Friday, March 04, 2016

Newsletter March, 2016

News

March, and yes, it came in like a lion, as the saying goes. I heard on Friday that Samhain Publishing is closing, but then I heard different things. It's too early to tell. Whatever happens, I can promise you that my Samhain books, the Triple Countess series, the Secrets series, Richard and Rose, the Waterloo book and the Even Gods Fall In Love books will continue to be available. The books are still for sale at Samhain, and if I get my rights back, I'll turn them around and get them straight back up. That's a promise.I am plodding along, and writing. I'll always write, published or not, but it looks right now that it's either the big publishers or self-publishing, which is a shame. The admin, the promotion, the production parts of self-publishing all stop me from writing, which is what I really want to do.Ideally, I'd write historical romance, sprinkled with a few contemporary romances to leaven the mix. It's great to get away from the intensive research needed for the historical romance, and write in this world for a change but the thirst for the historical comes, and I can't resist it.I've done a new intro for my website, and tried to express what I want readers to feel. I want them to be taken back to a new place, but a place that existed in time, so they can feel the cobbles under their feet and hear the horses clattering past.I'll be releasing the STORM books soon. I loved writing them so much, and they're ready for a revamp. I've given them a light edit, cutting some of the graphic language in the sex scenes, and making them more romantic suspense, but they're still hot stuff!Later on this month, I'm travelling across the Atlantic for a little vacation before RT kicks off the second week of April. I am so psyched about this, I can't tell you because I'm not going alone! No, this time I'm sharing the madness with my husband. We're having a break in New Orleans first, then flying to Las Vegas, with a side visit to the Grand Canyon. So cool!So he gets to see the convention for himself. I wonder what he'll make of it?New Releases and Excerpt:The next release is  Dilemma in Yellow Silk, the next Emperors of London book, out on 12th April, but already up for pre-order. I'll tell you about it now, because I'll be on the road next month, and I don't know if I can get a newsletter out.
Ever ready to do the right thing, The Emperors of London act bravely—and when it comes to matters of the heart, impetuously…Dilemma in Yellow SilkDespite her cover as the daughter of the land steward for Lord Malton, Marcus Aurelius, spirited Viola Gates is tied by birth to the treacherous Jacobite legacy. Not that this keeps her from falling for the dashing Lord from afar. Despite his staid demeanor, Marcus is devastatingly handsome—and hopelessly beyond her reach. Then Viola’s father is mortally wounded and her secret identity revealed, sending her straight into danger’s path—and Marcus’s arms…For years, he’d only known her as a wild child, the tempting—and forbidden—daughter of his trusted steward. But when Viola’s life is threatened, Marcus must act as duty—and his barely contained passion—dictates. Ferrying the bold beauty on an eventful journey to safer quarters, he offers her the protection of his name. Their tempestuous union might succeed in vanquishing their enemies, but will the chivalrous lord and his unsuitable wife surrender to the power of love?“Lynne Connolly writes Georgian romances with a deft touch. Her characters amuse, entertain and reach into your heart.” —Desiree Holt“Plots, deviousness and passion galore…a truly enjoyable read.” –Fresh Fiction on Temptation Has Green Eyes

Excerpt:

The first time she’d seen him dressed for a grand occasion had served to distance him completely from her. Without those glossy dark brown locks, and dressed in the finest London could provide, Marcus appeared a different person, one Viola didn’t know at all. So when he said he missed her, he probably meant the carefree days of his childhood.Viola could not pass this opportunity by. She turned her hand and curled her fingers between his. He clasped her hand warmly.She stared at that symbol of friendship, as if it weren’t her hand. “I missed you, too.”“You’ve grown up a beauty, Viola,” he said softly.She shook her head vigorously. “No. I’m ordinary. You’re—” She cut off her words, fearing she would give away more than she meant to.“Your hair is darker than mine, and it shines like a raven’s wing. Your eyes are fathoms deep.”His words made her laugh, but that was to prevent her heart cracking. Once she’d dreamed of a man saying such things to her. But now she knew better. She would never hear that in love. Friendship would have to serve. “My face is too narrow, and I’m too tall.”“You are only too tall for short men,” he said. “I’ll show you. Stand up.”His voice did not ring with command, as she knew it could. Nevertheless, she pushed against the floor and got to her feet, rounding the end of the stool to avoid stumbling. She wanted to put something between them, because her emotions rose until she was barely able to keep her features still.Their hands were still linked. “Satisfied?” She made to pull her hand away, but he only gripped it more firmly.“Not nearly.” He stood too, and then stepped over the bench so they were close.Far too close. In his simple traveling clothes he had the appearance of a gentleman rather than a great lord, but that did not fool her for a minute. She could not think that way. Must not, if she wanted to keep her peace of mind. This close, closer than he’d been for years, he devastated her senses.“See?” he said brightly. “You come up to my shoulder. Far too few ladies do that.”“It makes me stand out too much,” she grumbled. She was not freakishly tall, though. Lanky Annie, the woman in the village who took in sewing from the hall, she was oddly tall. Six feet, her father said.“Not at all. It makes you graceful.” He touched her chin, tilting her head up.This close, the little black pinpricks of beard under his skin were apparent. The way his eyes shaded darker at the edge, to the brilliant shade inside. She stared in wonder, reacquainting herself with him this close.Something else sparked in his eyes, passion and heat, passing from him to her and back again.“A kiss of friendship, Viola,” he murmured, and suited words to actions.Viola lifted her hands, grasping for purchase, and found his coat. She clutched it gratefully as her world spun, realigning into a new space.When he touched her lips with his tongue she opened for him, and he tasted her. Delicately at first, licking softly, like a cat at milk, but then stronger, he entered her mouth with a mastery that made her helpless under his onslaught.Nobody had ever kissed her like this.
You can buy Dilemma in Yellow Silk here:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple
All Romance Ebooks
Kensington (Publisher)

See you soon!

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

What He Wants is What She Needs

This one comes out on March 14th, but you can pre-order it now.

What He Wants is What She Needs in the anthology

Seven Nights of Sin

Seven Nights of SinOrder the Book and read an extract:
One night, one tryst can change everything... Seven Sensuous stories by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Sabrina York, with bestselling and award-winning authors Maggi Andersen, Lynne Conolly, Eliza Lloyd, Suzi Love, Hildie McQueen, and Victoria Vane. Enter a world of passion and mystery where dashing heroes and dauntless heroines come together in a scorching conflagration that will will tip your world on its end.
LUSCIOUS by Sabrina York
ONE SCANDALOUS NIGHT by Maggi Andersen
THE DEVIL YOU KNOW by Victoria Vane
UNDER A SILVER MOON by Hildie Mcqueen
MY DEAR MR. FORRESTER by Eliza Lloyd
WHAT HE WANTS by Lynne Connolly
PLEASURE HOUSE BALL by Suzi Love
[su_divider divider_color="#990000" link_color="#990000"]

Excerpt:

Annie let herself dream of something other than the business, her sons and their increased prosperity. She’d thrown herself into the challenge, subsuming all the passion in her nature into achieving it. Somewhere along the way it had become more than earning a living and keeping her family off the streets. It had grown to ambitions of creating quality items for people like her.
But that lay in the future, although this was one step toward it.
“Of course,” he said smoothly. “Though I would prefer to show it to you myself.” He lifted his hand, as if to touch her cheek, but held it a few inches away. What was she thinking when the urge to meet it took her? She wanted to close her eyes, lean her cheek into his palm and let him take control. Such impulses were foreign to her. To give someone else jurisdiction over her was unthinkable.
A knowing expression entered his eyes, warming and softening their expression. “Perhaps I should show you where I used to sleep in the house. Would you use the same room? Sleep in the same bed? We left it behind when we moved. It should still be there.” Snaking a hand around her waist, he drew her closer.
She didn’t pull away.
“Madam, I find you utterly bewitching. I am about to test a theory.”
His breath heated her skin as he brought his mouth down on hers.
His lips caressed hers, his tongue stroking her lips until she parted them and let him in. His hold on her tightened. Annie flung out her hands for balance, finding purchase on the silk of his waistcoat, roughened by gold threads that snagged against her gloves.
Her comfortable world exploded in heat and desire.
He delved deep, and she responded, her head going back until he dug one hand into her hair, holding her in place. His caresses thrilled her, took her to a place she’d never visited before, never dreamed existed.
Firmly and deeply, he explored her until she moaned into his mouth. A soft thud indicated her hat falling off, and landing—somewhere, she didn’t care where. His fingers rounded her skull, his other hand spread over her back, spanning the distance between her shoulder-blades. He took his time, caressing her with his tongue, building her arousal to a height she couldn’t define.
When he moved away, she pressed closer, urging him on because otherwise she’d have to stop and think.
Thinking was the last thing she wanted to do. Every tenet she had grown up with, every moral impulse her parents had instilled in her, every Sunday sermon she’d endured—all of it told her she shouldn’t do this. But inside, her body awoke, as if from a long sleep.
Why had nobody told her this lay in wait for her?
With a sound suspiciously like a chuckle, he moved away, only to return. He came at her from a different angle, drawing her closer to lay her head on his shoulder, while he kissed her and kissed her.
The initial overwhelming surge of passion settled and receded enough for her to think. The world surged in on her with a rush. When she pulled away he made a sound of protest and drew her back, but she insisted, pushing harder.
He released her quickly, so she had to grab the edge of his desk to retain her balance. She swallowed, staring at him. He spun around, then turned back to her. “I’m not apologizing.”
“No.” He was too arrogant for that. The aristocracy were all the same, demanding without paying the price. But even as she told herself that, the words rang hollow in her head. She was as much at fault as he. “Neither am I. But you should know everything I told you was true. I am a widow, searching for a way to expand my business. I want that house, but I don’t want a lover and I will not pay for the place with my body.”
He closed his eyes in a slow blink. “Are you sure?”
No, she wasn’t. She was far from sure. She couldn’t fit a lover into her life. She’d never had one before, so why should she not continue as she’d begun?
Her mind reeled, until she forced it back under control. “Perfectly sure.” Straightening, she located her hat, which had tumbled on to the desk, and plonked it back on her head. A curl tumbled down and with a most unladylike curse, she removed the hat and dropped it back on to the desk. The surface was covered with papers and cards, which scattered in all directions. “I’m afraid I made rather a mess—”
With a harsh laugh, he scrubbed a hand around the back of his neck, where she’d so recently touched. “It was worse before you started.”
Looking around, she found a mirror, a small, gilt-framed one on the wall by the largest bookshelf. Tilting her chin up she strode to it. Unfastening the strings of her cap, she dropped it on a nearby table. Then she plucked out a pin from her hair, using it to secure the curl. “Not perfect, but with my hat on nobody will notice.”
Silence from behind her. Turning around, she faced him, meeting his gaze. His eyes met hers, stark and honest. “How long is your hair?”
She gave a shaky laugh. “Too long. I should have it cut.”
“No, don’t do that.”
His response was so swift and vehemently expressed that it made her blink. “What are you talking about?”
“It’s beautiful.”
“Th-thank you. I think.” Her hair was somewhat—red. She’d tried to control it, and wore larger caps to cover most of it, but it sometimes shone through nevertheless.
“You should never powder.”
Had they gone this far? To exchange remarks so personal? They had missed out some important elements of acquaintanceship. “I can assure you sir, I rarely powder my hair.”
She shook his head, an expression of rueful sorrow curling his lips. “Madam, I’m sorry. You should not be so indescribably attractive.”
“Nobody has called me that before.” Her heartbeat quickened, then stilled back into its regular, steady rhythm. “I hate to call a lord a liar, though. Perhaps I should settle for outrageous flattery.” This time she kept her distance, at least two feet from him. Her heart was still throbbing double-time.
“You are lovely, you must know that,” he said bluntly.
She wanted to drag her hair back until it was completely hidden. “No.”
“Then the people around you are blind.” He leaned against the wall, stuffing his hands into his pockets. “Madam, I have a proposition for you.”