Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book Spotlight with Heather Gray

I'm happy to have Heather Gray with me today talking about her new release, Jackal. It's book 2 of her Regency Refuge inspirational historical romances. I love Regencies but could never write them. I take my hat off to Heather for writing in this fascinating genre. She's conquered other genres too. The cover is beautiful!


JACKAL
(Regency Refuge #2)
Media Kit

Back Cover Blurb:
Hiding in the shadows just got harder.

When tragedy strikes, Juliana and her family must flee their home. Can they persuade a virtual stranger to help them? Juliana isn't so sure, especially after their chaperone threatens to cane him. Even as Juliana struggles to trust him, she finds herself drawn to this mysterious man. Surely all she wants from him is refuge…

Rupert is a man whose life depends on his ability to remain unnoticed. What, then, is he supposed to do with this family he's inherited?  His life is overrun with an ancient chaperone who would terrify a lesser man, two spirited girls, and the secretive Juliana – someone he comes to think of as his own precious jewel.

With this new responsibility thrust upon him, Rupert will have to make sacrifices – but will God ask him to sacrifice everything?


Excerpt:
1810
A duke had been cut down in the prime of his life. According to the War Department, The Hunter was to blame.
Jackal had been put onto The Hunter's scent and told to ferret him out at all cost. It was his job, his duty to the crown, and he treated it with the seriousness it demanded. Evil could not be allowed to go unpunished, and people who took pleasure in destroying the lives of others would not walk away with impunity, not on his watch.
Jackal met with his contacts in the Austrian government and found no gratification in revealing they had a traitor in their midst. It had been a necessary move, and now the problem would be dealt with. The Austrians would put The Hunter down, and England's hands would remain clean of the mess, exactly as the minister wanted.
Grim foreboding furrowed his brow as he left the meeting with the Austrians. His lack of evidence mocked him. He'd done as ordered, and they'd believed him, but had it been his choice, he'd have gathered more proof first.
Jackal climbed into his carriage and slapped his hand against the roof, signaling the driver with his readiness to depart. A lengthy ride awaited him. He would leave the carriage and his current identity behind in Munich once he arrived there. New papers and fresh horses were waiting for him. The same would happen again when he crossed over into Stuttgart, and then again in Brussels. His task was clear: remain alive long enough to claim each of the new identities and return safely to his homeland.
Sitting back on the roughly cushioned seat, he accepted what he'd begun to suspect. This would be his last assignment for the crown. He was getting too old for the job. The time to retire was upon him. The younger bucks were willing – if not entirely ready – to take their place among the ranks of the unseen, unknown, and unnamed heroes of war. Jackal shook his head. Not too long ago, he'd been one of those young bucks. Ready for retirement at age thirty-two? The thought would be laughable in any other career. In his line of work, though, only those who retired young lived to be old and grey.
Lost in melancholy, Jackal barely noted the change from the raucous noise of a bustling merchant district to the quiet pastoral sounds that would accompany him on most of this journey. Europe was a large land with rich cities interspersed with vast emptiness dotted with small hamlets. Traveling by carriage would take weeks, but as long as he could report back that he'd done as ordered, it would be worth the time.
He settled into his seat. They were still days from their first sanctioned stop. As always, the best defense was to keep moving.

****

A change in the carriage's soothing methodical movement woke Jackal from his doze and alerted him that something was amiss. Awareness coursed through his veins, pushing away the remnant of sleep. A quick glance at the curtained window told him it was late morning. They'd ridden through the night to put as much distance as possible between them and Vienna – the current hub of Austrian government.
The carriage was moving with a wildness he'd felt only one other time in his life. Dread snaked through his middle as he accepted the truth. There was no longer a driver in control of his conveyance. Jackal crouched low on the floor for balance as he prepared to throw open the door and jump. Perhaps he should have sought retirement one assignment sooner.
Before his hand could touch the door, a jarring force threw Jackal against the seat to his left, shooting pain up his arm. They'd been boarded, then, and his driver – an agent he'd worked with for years – had likely not been alive to sound the alarm. Emotion would come later. For now, Jackal needed to focus on one thing: Survival.
The carriage gained speed under the skillful hand of whoever now sat in the driver's seat. I should have jumped when I had the chance. Jackal shook his head as he calculated the odds of survival.
Palming his gun, he pounded on the roof of the carriage, commanding the driver to stop. Surprise flared to life as his conveyance did indeed come to a standstill. Rather than slow to a gentle stop, the carriage halted its forward momentum in a skidding bone-shaking fashion. It was the kind of stop that guaranteed no beast would be able to walk away from it afterward.
Jackal jumped before the dust could settle. His best chance would be to go on the offence and catch the driver off-guard. Though he'd assumed the driver had a partner, nothing could have prepared him for the vicious attack awaiting him on the other side of the door.
Jackal no sooner touched the ground than he was trampled under the anxious feet of a high-stepping horse. He'd not even had a chance to gain his footing. As he lay on the ground, Jackal both heard and felt the breaking of bone in his left leg. A couple of his ribs surrendered to the heavy hooves as well. Rolling onto his side, he took aim at the perpetrator. The sun blinded him, and he could distinguish no features on the man whose gun dared him to move. In the split second it took for him to reassure himself he was not aiming at an innocent bystander – for they were indeed in one of the numerous modest hamlets that dotted the continent's countryside – the rider pulled the trigger, and pain seared through Jackal's already throbbing leg. It felt as if the lead had burrowed its way into his very bone.
He pulled the trigger of his flintlock pistol, and the man on the horse recoiled. Even as Jackal reached for the gun concealed at the ankle of his wounded leg, he knew it was futile. The rider had a second gun in-hand before his own fingers even brushed against the grip of his hidden weapon. Pain tore through his shoulder, immobilizing his shooting arm. Another ball of lead ripped into his middle. He felt his blood seeping out onto the street.
Accepting his fate, he asked only one thing. "At whose hand am I to die this day?"
Laughter vile enough to sour port met his question. "Today the Jackal shall meet his end at the hands of The Hunter."
The Hunter? The Austrians were supposed to have him by now.
"Your plan failed, and I am free. Prepare to die."
Blackness closing in around him, Jackal released the last thought held captive in his mind.
Why God?
Cold claimed his body as he slipped into darkness. He neither heard nor felt the next shot.

Author Bio:
Heather Gray is the author of the Ladies of Larkspur inspirational western romance series, including Mail Order man, Just Dessert, and Redemption.  She also writes the Regency Refuge series with titles His Saving Grace, Jackal, and the soon-to-be-released Queen.  But that's not all!  Interested in contemporary Christian romance?  Take a look at Ten Million Reasons and Nowhere for Christmas.

Heather loves coffee, God, her family, and laughter – not necessarily in that order!  She writes approachable and flawed characters who, through the highs and lows of life, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her.  And, yeah, her books almost always have someone who's a coffee addict.  Some things just can't be helped.


Buy Links:

Where to Find Me:

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Book Spotlight - Krysten Lindsay Hager

Krysten Lindsay Hager is a fellow Astraea Press author. She's written her debut novel and it looks like a great read for teenage girls.


Krysten Lindsay Hager is an author and book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and also writes middle grade, YA, humor essays, and adult fiction. Her debut novel, TRUE COLORS, will be out June 17th from Astraea Press. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and currently resides in Southern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows.

I so agree, Krysten, bookstores are great!!



Blurb:


Every day I walked down the sidewalk to school and wished I were one of the interesting popular girls who ran up with exciting news. Just once I’d like to be one of those girls instead of the being the one who didn’t get invited to things because people “forgot” about me.

Landry gets pushed into trying out for the American Ingénue reality show modeling competition with her two best friends.  She doesn’t think she stands a chance, but she advances to the next level in the competition and her friends ignore her when they get cut.

Enter the gorgeous Devon, who also makes the first cut and includes Landry in her clique. Devon becomes the perfect best friend, but can their friendship survive the competition?

Landry hopes her big break could come at any moment, but soon sees there’s much more to modeling. She begins missing out on being with friends and has the chance to have a boyfriend when she meets a boy named Vladi from another school.


Part of Landry wants to be famous (and have her hair look good for once), but part of her just wants to be accepted. She learns about friendships, being true to yourself, and that a good hair conditioner doesn’t hurt.

Excerpt:

The competition was for girls between the ages of thirteen and seventeen, but it felt like Ericka, Tori, and I were the youngest ones there. I only saw a couple of girls from school, and the lineup looked more like something you’d see on a music video set. All the girls were gorgeous, and they had these curvy womanly bodies. I looked like a skinny little kid next to them. The first girl walked out, and I heard the judges say she “owned the runway,” and, “walked like a gazelle.” I was starting to feel ill. I wasn’t sure which way it was going to come, but I knew I had to find a bathroom — fast. I started to get out of line when Ericka grabbed my wrist.

“It’s almost time,” she said. A tiny bit of spit flew out of her mouth and hit my cheek.

I wasn’t sure why she was so intent on me going through with it, but she had a death grip on my arm, so I didn’t have much of a choice. Her number was called and she walked out to the stage. One of the other girls said she walked like a kid with sand bucket stilts on her feet, but she came back with a smirk on her face like she knew she’d get chosen.

“They said they had never seen such long legs,” she said.

Tori was next.

“She walks like a gorilla at feeding time,” said the girl behind me. I went next, and I tried to focus on not tripping over my feet. My mom’s pumps had a rubber sole on the bottom, which probably wasn’t the brightest idea seeing as my shoes were making squeaking noises as I walked. I was so nervous I couldn’t stop smiling as I walked. I looked like the plastic clown who blows up balloons with its mouth at the Pizza Palace. When I got to the end of the runway, I tried to cross my feet to turn like the other girls had, but I over rotated and ended up doing a full spin which made my kilt fan out and gave the mall walkers a view of my blue underpants. I tried to act like it was intentional and did an extra turn. One of the judges put her hand up to stop me, and I held my breath as she started to speak.


Ooh, that excerpt makes me so curious!!


You can find Krysten here:


Buy Links:




Wednesday, June 18, 2014

New Release Spotlight and Book Review

The last of the series is now out - Winds of Change of the Island Girl's Trilogy. I just finished reading the book today so find my review below. Don't you just adore this cover?


Blurb:

To be with him feels like playing Russian roulette blindfolded all while knowing she bet from borrowed lease. Can something this wrong be....right?

Neha Hemant has always been called the neutral one – like sensible Switzerland. She’s never rocked the boat, and has always done everything expected from her, an Indo-Mauritian woman.

So where’s the fulfillment, the sense of completion...

And worse, why does she find this feeling of coming home with a man totally not right for her? She’s a widow with three teenage children, and Logan Warrington is a reformed bad boy, and her boss.... He shouldn’t have the power to make her burn, make her yearn, and wish for nothing more than damning the consequences, not when she has lived her whole life trying to do the right thing society expected of her.


As the winds of change blow on Neha’s life, could the time have come for her to step out of her bubble, and live for the moment, and herself?

You can catch all of the first two chapters of the book here, and if you want to delve into the whole deal, then here are the links where you can find WINDS OF CHANGE (Island Girls #3)




My Review

Zee is a master story teller. She's woven a tale of complex, real characters who go through the storms of change in this heart-wrenching and touching novel. Neha doesn't like change. She likes her world in a perfect flux but when her husband disappears in a flood and they can't find his body, she and her kids presume him dead. She's coped so long with a distant and uncaring husband anyway, so her life changes little until she obtains a new job at a TV broadcasting company and she meets Logan. Logan brings a storm into her passive, resigned existence and stirs up Neha's true heart. Logan is a fascinating character. He's a New Zealander - reminds me of one of the All-Black bulky rugby players - although he's an ex-boxer. He's got his own baggage and at first he seems harsh and unreachable. Neha's attracted to him but also intimidated by him. He reminds me a bit of a bull in a China shop with a very soft heart hidden inside. Neha is the opposite - she's soft, pliable, peace-loving and one of those woman who does the right thing even if it hurts. I love the way they work out to be perfect for one another but it takes Neha a long time to come round. At times, I was annoyed with Logan, especially around the middle of the book. I wished he would just make a move and follow his heart, but I know deep inside that if he had, he would have scared her off. She reminds me of a doe in the bush - you dare not make a sudden, harsh movement, because then she'll make a dash for it. As much as Logan can be brash and bulldoggish at work, he's really gentle with Neha and he takes his time with her. This story has many facets and will keep you going for some time - it's like a real family saga. It was lovely to learn about the last sister in the trilogy and discover her story and her heart.

To be honest, Neha and Logan remind me eerily like my husband and I before we married - very similar personalities and conflicts that we went through so I could identify with a lot of the book. Logan is a lot like my husband who eventually couldn't take my nonsense anymore but it was a good thing, lol. I loved the way Logan broke through her shell of "right" and warmed her heart to his passion. The love scenes were touching and beautiful and real. A romance with a very realistic feel to it.


If you haven't already, you can find Zee here:

Blog and Website
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads
Pinterest



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Author Interview and Spotlight - Mary Cope


Today, I have fellow Astraea Press author talking about her brand new release and debut novel - Beautiful One. Talk about beautiful, the cover is amazing.

Mary Cope is a freelance writer of romance. Her book, Beautiful One, is the first in a planned trilogy. She enjoys spending time with her family, baking gourmet cookies, listening to music and taking long walks with her yellow Labrador, Maggie.


Blurb:

Elizabeth Ryan is a beautiful, shy, naïve high school senior. Having never dated, she meets the boy of her dreams, Aidan Mitchell. Despite his history of womanizing Liz is drawn to him.Soon Liz becomes the envy of all the girls on campus, when they become a couple and her dream boyfriend sweeps her off her feet and into the dating world that is all too new and strange for her. When other guys start to take notice of Liz, Aidan's fits of jealousy quickly turn into physical abuse.

Elizabeth meets the ruggedly handsome, Spencer Hayes and they quickly bond over their passion for music. Liz begins to struggle with the feelings that spark between them.

In the end Elizabeth finds herself torn between helping Aidan overcome his jealousy and anger and giving into what her heart truly wants.

Author Interview:

What is the best thing for you about being a writer?
The best thing about being a writer is the creativity in the writing process. I love to develop the characters, dream up a story and see where my imagination takes me.

What is the hardest thing for you about being a writer?
The doubt you feel, second-guessing yourself, wondering if the story is good enough.

What genre/s do you write and what genre is your latest release?
I write New Adult Romance. Beautiful One is my first novel.

What essential things have you learned about writing in the last year?
I have learned so many things but the most valuable is to keep writing. The more you write, the better you will become, learning new things along the way.

Who is your favourite heroine from your books and why?
Elizabeth is the heroine from Beautiful One. I love her transformation from uncertainty and doubt to gaining confidence and staying true to who she is. She always sees the good in others.

What type of hero do you like? Super alpha, wounded or somewhere in between? Or even something totally different? You could give an example from a movie or well-known book.
I like my heroes to be super alpha with a tender side to them.

Tell us about your journey in writing this book.
My journey in writing this book came to me while walking my dog. I was in the process of trying to shed a few pounds, my daughter was about to graduate High School and that spiraled me into thinking about what it would be like to be an intelligent, overweight teen who finally comes to terms with wanting to change her outward appearance to match the person she was on the inside.

Tell us three quirky or interesting things about yourself.
I am a bit of a klutz, and usually have at least one bruise on my body.
I listen to music everyday.
And I love Red Vines licorice.

What rituals do you use to help you focus or get the words down on the page e.g. music or a snack.
Definitely listening to music. I have been inspired to write a whole chapter just from hearing the lyrics to a song.

Mention something unique about your books and your writing style.
I refer to myself as an organic writer. I don't outline my story. I start with a beginning and have an idea for an ending. That way I am writing towards something. Jotting ideas down as the story unfolds in my head.

What book would you like to work on next?

I am currently writing, Beautiful Mess, the second book in a planned trilogy. Beautiful Life will follow.

Excerpt from Chapter One

The faint sounds of a guitar drifted through the walls of my bathroom as I savored the last of the hot water before it became lukewarm. Stepping away from the spray, I turned the shower knob and watched the droplets trickle down the drain. Inhaling a deep breath my mind focused on one thing. Aidan Mitchell.

Hearing Mason’s band practicing meant he would be here. I was ninety-nine percent sure Aidan wouldn’t blow off their practice. He knew how serious my brother was about the band, but he also had been avoiding me for days.

The past week had been awful. I was determined to talk to him. All I wanted was a few answers. My emotions had run the gamut from confusion, frustration, regret, and sadness… sadness consumed me most of all, at night usually, and I was exhausted from it. But at this moment all I felt was anger. Anger was good. It was certainly better than pain.

As I rushed down the hallway, the floorboards creaked beneath my feet and the walls began to vibrate with the beat of Derek pounding on the drums. When I entered my room the music was deafening, but today I didn’t mind. I untwisted the blue-and-white-polka-dot towel from my head and tossed it to the floor.

The deep conditioner I used helped my fingers glide through my long damp curls. If I was going to confront Aidan, I wanted to look my best. No Frizzy Lizzie for me. That nickname, coupled with my big butt, had tormented me, growing up in a beach town surrounded by beautiful people. I had longed to look like a typical California girl: tall, blond, perfect. But, with dark hair and bordering on five feet three inches, that was never going to be me.

After I blow-dried and flat-ironed my hair, I took off my purple robe and draped it over my desk chair. I slipped on a pair of jeans… yes, slipped them on. I didn’t have to tug, pull, or jiggle my butt to get in my pants anymore. When I easily pushed the button through the top of my jeans, it still made me smile. I couldn’t even count how many times I had to lie on my bed and suck in my stomach so I could zip up a pair of pants. Every time I slipped them on, I never took it for granted. I had worked my butt off… literally. I put on my bra and a green sweater before I pulled on my boots.

I rushed downstairs to the door that led to the garage. Thinking about confronting Aidan and having to stare into those piercing blue eyes started to intimidate me. But this was my chance. I knew he was a few feet behind the door, and I needed to deal with him. Before I completely lost my nerve, I inhaled a deep breath and exhaled then pushed open the door.

The stream of sunlight coming in through the open garage door blinded me for a moment. With squinted eyes, I made a beeline to the old brown sofa in the corner. My heart was beating so fast it almost seemed in tempo with Derek pounding the drums. I scooted over our yellow Labrador, Maggie, and wedged myself between her and the arm of the couch. Finally, I looked up to focus my attention on Aidan.

He didn’t show.

I sunk my head back into the cushions, exhaling a deep, long sigh, trying to rid the tension from my body. The guys were practicing their newest song. Indie-Alternative was their style, and they called themselves Random Plan. I glanced at Mason and could tell he was angry. I mouthed the word “Aidan?”

Mason just shook his head.

“Derek!” The tone in my brother’s voice made me sit up straight. “Derek!” Mason snapped again.

Finally Derek stopped and silenced his cymbals.

“What?” He lifted the front of his black t-shirt to wipe the sweat from his forehead, exposing his six-pack. His brown eyes bored into Mason’s. “Hey! Just ‘cuz you’re ticked off at the pretty boy, don’t take it out on me.”

Derek reached back and grabbed a water from an old bookcase that held a few water bottles, electrical cords, an old CD player, and a collection of CDs. “Hey, Kyle, ya want one?”

Kyle nodded and Derek tossed one across the garage to where he stood behind the keyboard.

“Mason?”

“Yeah, I’ll take one… Sorry, Derek.”

Derek gave Mason a head nod and tossed him a bottle. He took a sip while Derek chugged his down.

“Okay, start again.” Mason commanded.

Derek picked up his sticks and began tapping.

I leaned my head back, closed my eyes and listened to the music. Funny, I’d come into the garage so fearless it almost made me laugh. Who would have thought the once-overweight Elizabeth Ryan would stand up to the likes of Aidan Mitchell? I smiled to myself, allowing my mind to drift back to the time when I’d found it hard to even look at him…

Buy Links



Where you can connect with Mary online: