Monday, May 31, 2010

The Epilogue is the Thing

Who doesn't love a good epilogue?

Well, honestly, there are a few readers who have told me they hate epilogues on principle, but most (including me) love an epilogue that gives a glimpse of the HEA lived out.

That's the reason I wrote the free online Epilogue for "The Italian's Suitable Wife" & its companion book, "The Playboy's Seduction". I felt like readers deserved a glimpse of the characters I had in my head as their lives played out on my internal movie screen. :)

Wikipedia defines the Epilogue as this:
An epilogue, or epilog, is a piece of writing at the end of a work of literature or drama, usually used to bring closure to the work. The writer or the person may deliver a speech, speaking directly to the reader, when bringing the piece to a close, or the narration may continue normally to a closing scene.

And Merriam-Webster's has this entry for the Epilogue:
Etymology: Middle English epiloge, from Middle French epilogue, from Latin epilogus, from Greek epilogos, from epilegein to say in addition, from epi- + legein to say — more at legend
Date: 15th century
1 : a concluding section that rounds out the design of a literary work
2 a : a speech often in verse addressed to the audience by an actor at the end of a play; also : the actor speaking such an epilogue b : the final scene of a play that comments on or summarizes the main action
3 : the concluding section of a musical composition : coda


Epilogues aren't always about the character's lives months, or even years later. Sometimes, they're merely days or even immediately following the close of the literary work. Epilogues can wrap up story questions that remain unanswered once the main story arc is finished. I've done this satisfactorily a couple of times and a bit abruptly once. It's a dicey proposition and as I learn and grow as a writer, I realize what makes the best kind of epilogue and it's not always what I want it to be.

I don't mind growing in this way. If I stop learning and improving, I'm not giving the best I can to my readers and I know that. But I also think that just as with the Prologue, the Epilogue can be a tacked on tid-bit that wouldn't really be necessary if the author (me included) took their time improving the bits that came before (rather than after - as with the unecessary prologue).

Epilogues can also ruin a book. I've read more than one that I wanted to just bean the author for writing. Some have frustrated me so much, the author got put on my "be wary of" list immediately. I found that extremely disappointing - to have a book so engaging be absolutely ruined by a lousy epilogue.

My least favorite of these horrific episodes is George Bernard Shaw's Epilogue written for Pygmalion, so that no romantic should be in any way deceived into the thinking the end of the play led to any sort of happy ending. Oh, if he were still alive and near to hand, he'd get such an earful and probably a right boot to his backside. (Can you tell I've been re-reading Pygmalion? LOL)

But he wasn't the first and certainly not the last author to flip the hope of a happy ending, or make the one written seem trivial and wholly unbelievable. I remember reading an epilogue for a romance that left me wanting to rewrite the whole book, which right up to that point I had thoroughly enjoyed. Aargh...the pain of it!

I'm much more enamored of the author who writes an epilogue tying up loose ends and showing the HEA lived out in such a way that leaves me sighing happily and with a smile on my face.

It's your turn: do you have a favorite epilogue? An author who writes them consistently and you just love him/her for it? What about an epilogue that actually went as far as to save a book - or absolutely ruin it...?

I can't post my epilogues this week as that might be too much "Ending Spoilers" for any one blog to perpetrate, but if you'd like to read the special Epilogue I wrote for "The Italian's Suitable Wife" & "The Playboy's Seduction", you can find it here.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

New Book by Denyse Bridger

Shades of Death (Print Edition)
by Denyse Bridger
ISBN-10: 1452850135
ISBN-13: 978-1452850139
Genre: Dark Fantasy

Buy the Book

This book is non-erotic, is a full-length novel, and is now in Trade Paperback. Paranormal (vampires) mainstream, with a touch of romance and mystery....

Death has many shades and shapes... Deep within the ageless Carpathian Mountains, an ancient evil wakes. Imprisoned many centuries ago, the creature has waited, patiently, for the one destined to grant her freedom. Arienne Lereaux has studied the preternatural menace called "vampyre" for most of her life. She is an expert in the field. Loosely affiliated with a secretive organization called The Institute of Paranormal Research and Investigation, she turns to them when she unearths what may be the first representation of the vampyre ever to exist.

The enigmatic and attractive Head of the Institute, Adam Raven, has spent a lifetime tracking the clues left by his mother's disappearance in the mountains of Romania nearly twenty years past. When Arienne arrives at the secluded island headquarters of the Institute, he wonders if she holds the key to finding his lost mother. But before too many days pass, the city of Vancouver is rocked by a series of grisly murders. As it races to find the culprit, the Institute faces an evil unlike any it has encountered before...

In the middle of their hunt, another branch of their network is making a scientific breakthrough in genetically heightened telepathy. The team responsible may soon hold a weapon that will have world powers at their door—until their lead scientist vanishes after leaving Toronto to consult Raven and his people. Ancient myth is suddenly not myth, and evil may take many guises before the Institute can restore the delicate balance that was destroyed the night Arienne stumbled into a remote castle in the mountains half a world away…

Read an Excerpt

Saturday, May 29, 2010

New Book by Margaret Mallory

KNIGHT OF PASSION
3rd Book in All the King’s Men Series
by Margaret Mallory

ISBN-10: 0446559865
ISBN-13: 978-0446559867
Publisher: Grand Central
Release date: May 25, 2010

Buy the Book or Read an Excerpt


HOW CAN THIS PASSIONATE KNIGHT…

Renowned beauty Lady Linnet is torn between two desires: revenge on those who destroyed her family or marriage to her childhood sweetheart Sir James Rayburn. One fateful night, she makes a misguided choice: she sacrifices Jamie’s love for a chance at vengeance.

TRUST A BEAUTY WITH A PAST?

Jamie Rayburn returns to England in search of a virtuous wife—only to find the lovely Linnet as bewitching as ever. Their reckless affair ignites anew, even hotter than before, although Jamie vows to never again trust her with his heart. Then just as Linnet begins to make amends, she’s tempted by one last opportunity to settle old scores. But a final retribution could cost her Jamie’s love – this time forever.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Prologue for Annabelle's Courtship

Annabelle's Courtship

Samhain 2008 ~ (c) Lucy Monroe



This is the first historical I ever wrote and I had more fun with the prologue than I probably have had with any other. :) What do you think? A good addition to the book? Or unnecessary?


Prologue


Graenfrae, Scotland 1816


Laird Ian MacKay, Earl of Graenfrae, wanted to slam his fist into the gray stone wall of his study. “Ye’re telling me that my stepfather left me a fortune, but I canna get it unless I marry?”
Ian impatiently watched the elderly solicitor, Eggleton, as he removed his spectacles and carefully cleaned them with a cloth. Replacing the eyeglasses on his face, the solicitor shuffled the papers before him. He cleared his throat. “Precisely speaking, milord, if you marry within the year.”
A year. Ian clenched his hands and pivoted away from the other man. Bloody hell.
The tenants on Graenfrae’s farms needed seed and farming implements. Many of their homes would not last another winter without new thatch on their roofs. Ian needed blunt. Money that was only available if he wed within a year.
The urge to slam his fist into something grew stronger. Ian’s chest constricted with anger and another emotion. Betrothal and marriage would make him vulnerable to betrayal.
Again.
He had a difficult time believing that the late Earl of Lansing would take such drastic measures to see his wishes fulfilled. “Did my stepfather tell you why he placed this restriction in his will?”
Again the white head bent as the solicitor went through the ritual of cleaning his spectacles. Ian wanted to tear the wire frames from Eggleton’s hands. Were na the man’s eyeglasses clean enough?
“Lord Lansing believed that after the unfortunate incident with your broken betrothal you might hesitate to marry. He wanted you to secure your line, so to speak.”
“Then why did he no just add another rider requiring I set up my nursery?” Ian asked with disgust, ignoring the issue of his ended engagement.
Eggleton appeared to take his sarcastic question seriously. “He did in fact wish to do so. I convinced the earl that these matters are uncertain. It would be difficult to predict, ah hem…” Eggleton coughed delicately. “When your wife might begin increasing.”
Things were not as bleak as they could be. Without the requirement for an heir, nothing would stop him from finding an obliging woman and entering a paper marriage. An annulment could be secured in due time. Feeling better than he had since the solicitor had begun reading the will, Ian sat down.
A look of relief passed across the Eggleton’s face. “There is one final matter regarding the inheritance.”
What could be worse than marriage? Ian raised his brow in question and Eggleton continued. “Your wife must be English.”
“Bloody hell.” Ian shot from his chair. “You canna be serious.”
Eggleton looked offended. “I assure you, I would never make light of the last wishes of one of my clients.”
An English wife.
“How am I supposed to find an English wife and marry her in the next year?”
Were he looking for a proper wife, he knew it would be easy. He could think of several ladies who would be thrilled at the opportunity to be Lady MacKay. He could not envision any of them going without new dresses and fripperies while he made necessary improvements on his tenants’ properties, however. Finding a wife would not be hard. Finding a woman who would sacrifice for the good of Graenfrae might be impossible. Far better to plan a paper marriage.
“The London season opens in less than a month, milord.”
Of course his English stepfather’s lawyer would think in terms of London. It was a fair distance away, but the season attracted many ladies. One of them would surely be practical enough to fit his purpose. He needed a plan of action.
Ian moved toward the desk, amused when the lawyer hastily retreated toward the window. Grabbing paper and a quill pen, Ian dipped it in the ink well. He started writing. Several minutes later he blotted the paper. Blowing on it, Ian read again the words he had written.

Requirements for a wife:
Plain.
Modestly dowered.
Older.

Eggleton cleared his throat once again. Ian looked up from his paper. The solicitor said, “The late earl instructed me to give you a message when I told you the details of the will.”
Ian felt a premonition of disaster on the horizon. “Aye?”
The solicitor shifted from one foot to the other and repeated the process of cleaning his glasses, this time taking an inordinate amount of time to wipe the lenses. “He wanted me to remind you…” The man let his words trail off.
Ian prompted him, “Aye?”
Eggleton coughed. “He said to tell you that when a man takes the holy vows of matrimony, he is giving his word to the woman he takes to wife. The earl wanted you to remember that honor demands the gentleman in question keep that word for a lifetime.”
Ian could no more deny the honor demanded by his stepfather than he could deny the responsibility to his tenants he had learned at his da’s knee. Feeling like a man facing the gaol, Ian accepted that there would be no paper marriage.
After the solicitor had left, Ian settled against the dark leather of his favorite chair and studied his surroundings with a critical eye. A man’s room, his study fit his need for stark simplicity. Bookcases on either side of the massive fireplace relieved the unending gray of the circular stone walls.
Multiple windows high in the walls of the turret’s chamber bathed the room in the fading light of evening. A scarred oak table served as his desk. Only two other items of furniture had made it into his sanctuary, another chair and small round table.
Soon a woman, an English woman, would be living in his home. A wife. He did not have time to cater to the needs of a woman, especially the romantic ideals so many ladies seemed plagued with. Taking a sip from his brandy, he thought of another requirement to add to his list for a wife.
Practicality.
The list would do him well in selecting a woman to wed for a lifetime. He would not make the same mistake he had with Jenna. He would find a woman as unlike her as possible, a woman who would be faithful.

For Writers

Week 2 of my class on the “11 Senses, Who Knew?” based on Marilyn Kelly’s book by the same name in my free online Yahoo class group.

To make it fun, I’m giving away weekly “mentoring” prizes including two copies of Marilyn’s book over the 11 week course. It’s a very light course – no huge time commitment. If you aren’t a member, but would like to join, it's not to late. :)
This week we're discussing the Sense of Hearing. :) New "lessons" posted every Friday.
NB: While I'm not giving Marilyn's workshop per se (though I *highly* recommend anyone attending RWA Nationals to take it), I am doing an 11 week not-so-intensive course on the use of the 11 senses.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Guest Blogger - Monica Burns

Lucy and I have been friends for a while now, and we're like soul sisters in so many ways. So when she asked me to come visit (thank you Luce), I wasn't going to refuse to come talk hot Italian guys! I mean Lucy does them so well. And while it's hard to compete with her alpha Italian heroes, it was kind of her to ask me to chat up my Sicari heroes. They're guys who are hot, wear black leather, can trace their lineage back to ancient Rome and their ancestors were soldiers who once defended the Caesars. On top of that, these alpha males have telekinetic powers and they wield swords in a way that would make their ancestors proud.

Seriously, is there anything sexier than a man with a sword? Ok, let’s pull our minds away from that naughty image shall we? I’m talking silver blades that flash in the moonlight before they take out the bad guy as hero protects his heroine. Hmm, well, that’s not always true because my heroines are pretty strong gals in this new paranormal series of mine. In some cases, they can even kick the butt of the heroes. So where did I get the idea for this series? A whole lot of places.

In early 2005, my agent wanted me to write a paranormal. Well, actually what she said was “big, bold, sweeping romance,” but paranormal was part of that conversation. I was stumped. I’d never written a paranormal let alone a series, although I’d written a historical romance where the heroine could talk and see ghosts. I confess I was stumped. Not sure what to write, I sat down at the computer and just wrote. I got five pages into this really hot, steaming love scene when I realize it wasn’t a paranormal. It was historical in an exotic setting, an ancient Rome setting with a Centurion and his wife. Something else that wouldn’t sell. *sigh* So, I kept thinking and thinking and thinking.

Two years later I was still thinking. I’d suggested Atlantis to my agent. Nope that’s been done. Try something else. What about _____ (fill in the blank), nope that’s been done too. I was fresh out of ideas and thinking about quitting the writing biz. Depressed, I ordered a hot fudge sundae (my personal assassin – aka the DH went to Friendly’s for me) and sat down to watch the HBO mini-series Rome.

It was at that point that I realized I’d been fixated on Rome since 2005. Everywhere I looked, I’d been seeing symbols. Symbols that kept pointing back to Rome. There was the mini-series ROME, a commercial I saw with a Roman soldier, the DaVinci Code movie set in Rome and a whole host of other little signs that kept pulling me back to ancient Rome. Now, I believe in signs. I pay attention to them, and when I finally woke up to look at these signs, I realized that they were telling me that I had something already in the oven when it came to a paranormal series, I just hadn’t fleshed it out.

I went back to that hot, steamy love scene, which went something like this…

Rome, Seat of the Roman Empire
310 A.D.
He watched her. From the open doorway of the small spa, he studied the voluptuous curves of her body as she stepped out of the marble bath. A slave tried to cloak her in a pristine white cloth, but with an elegant wave of her hand, she took the towel and sent the servant away. Tendrils of hair the color of a midnight sky escaped the makeshift knot on the top of her head to caress the nape of her neck.

Outside the final heat of the day had eased, leaving Rome cool. But in here, his body burned hotter than Apollo’s chariot blazing its way into the west. Marble cooled his shoulder as he leaned against the hard column of the bath’s entrance. The stone’s chilly smoothness did nothing to quench the fire in his blood or stop him from growing hard at the sight of her.

Arms folded across his chest, he drank in the beauty of her full curves. The olive bronze of her skin shimmered beneath the layer of water skimming down her back before it danced off her softly rounded buttocks. The lushness of her body shot a familiar ache through him. Cassiopeia, daughter of Manius Quinctilia Atellus, Roman senator, was his.

There had always been women in his life, but the idea of leaving a wife behind if he died in battle wasn’t a worry he’d been willing to accept. Of course, that was before she chose him. What had made her choose him over all others? He was a soldier. A plebian by birth. Far removed from the patrician clan she belonged too. It was doubtful he would ever know the reason why, he could only thank the gods that she had chosen him.

His gaze greedily swept over her, his body reacting as it always did whenever he was near her. He suppressed a sudden growl of desire as she bent over to pat her legs dry with the linen towel. The view from this angle was more than enticing—it was erotic. He remained where he was. He had no desire to rush tonight. If he did do so, she’d know he would be gone at dawn.

“Really, husband. Must I beg you to lay with me?”

Cassiopeia turned to face him, her sultry expression of amusement making his erection even harder. He folded his arms across the breastplate of his military uniform and shook his head as he smiled at her teasing.

“Never, mea amor. I simply wanted to watch you, and take pleasure in the knowledge that you’re mine and no other man’s.”

The linen cloth she held slip out of her hand and pooled at her feet. With the grace of a one of the gazelle’s he’d seen in Africa, she walked toward him. The moment she reached him, she pressed her hand into his forearm. The touch sent a pulse of gut-wrenching emotion racing through him straight to his heart. How he loved this woman.

Okay, maybe that wasn’t as hot and steamy as I remember. *sigh* Anyway, I realized I was looking at the birth of a series. I was looking at my back-story. Back-story is all that history a character(s) has before the start of the actual book. And the love scene above (abbreviated and censored *smile*) was part of my back-story for my Sicari and their origins. All the what if questions I’d been asking started giving me answers. What if I had several hot Italian guys in black leather who were descendants of an ancient Roman bloodline, what would they be like? Got my answer to that really quick. HAWT! Alpha! Italian love words in a gal’s ears. Okay, so I had hot, alpha, Italians, where was the paranormal. I reached for the TV remote, damn I left it on my desk. Now I have to get up, if only…BINGO! Paranormal ability—check.

Now my Sicari didn’t come together quite this easily. I worked on my proposal (five chapters) for six months, sent it to my agent, and she said put more romance in it and less world-building. Back to the drawing table. I worked for another five months on developing the five-chapter proposal and sent it back to my agent one more time in 2008. She loved it, and was convinced we could sell it. One by one, publishers passed then it happened. Berkley loved the premise and my writing. They offered a three-book contract, and here I am with book one of the Order of the Sicari about to hit the shelves next week.

It’s such an exciting thing to see a book you’ve put so much into on the shelf, even more so when you know there are at least two more of the books to come from the same series. I’ve a lot more Sicari heroes begging for their stories to be told. As I said, book one hits the shelves next week, and book two in the series hits stores the first week of September. If you’d like to get a feel for the books, check out the first three chapters on my website here.

~ ~ ~ ~

Assassin's Honor by Monica Burns
Book 1 in The Order of the Sicari series
Berkley Sensation
ISBN - 978-0-425-23416-7
List Price: $15.00

Coming June 2010


Archeologist Emma Zale sees the past when she touches ancient relics. It’s how she uncovered evidence of an ancient order of assassins—the Sicari. When a sinfully dark stranger shows up on her Chicago doorstep demanding an ancient artifact she doesn’t have, he drags her into a world where telekinesis and empaths are the norm. Now someone wants her dead, and her only hope of survival is an assassin who’s every bit as dangerous to her body as he is to her heart.

Ares DeLuca comes from an ancient Roman bloodline of telekinetic assassins. A Sicari, he’s honor bound to kill only in the name of justice. But when the woman he loved was murdered, Ares broke the Sicari code and used his sword for revenge. Love cost him dearly once before, and he’s not willing to pay the price again. At least not until hot, sweet, delectable Emma walked into his life. Not only does she hold the key to a valuable Sicari relic, she might just hold the key to his heart.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Prologue for The Shy Bride

I felt this prologue was needed to set up the Traditional Greek Husband's mini-series and Neo's point of view. What do you think? BTW - Zephyr's prologue in The Greek's Pregnant Lover is quite different.

The Shy Bride
Harlequin Presents
July 2010 ~ (c) Lucy Monroe


PROLOGUE

The Port of Seattle didn’t look so different from some of the hundreds of other ports Neo Stamos had been in since joining the crew of the cargo ship Hera at the age of fourteen. And yet it was unique from all the others because this is where his life changed. This is where he would walk off the Hera and never walk back onto it.
He and his friend Zephyr Nikos had had to lie about their ages to join the Hera’s crew six years ago, but that had been a small price to pay in order to leave behind the life they’d known in Greece. Neo and Zephyr had been Athens street thugs that found a common desire – that of making something more of their lives than rising to top ranks in their gang.
And they were going to do it, twenty-year-old Neo vowed as the sun broke the eastern horizon.
“You ready for the next step?” Zephyr asked in English.
Neo nodded, his gaze set on the port growing closer by the minute. “No more living in the streets.”
“We haven’t lived in the streets for six years.”
“True. Though some would not consider our bunks here on the Hera much of an improvement.”
“They are.”
Neo agreed, though he didn’t say so. Zephyr knew and shared his feelings. Anything was better than scavenging to eke out an existence that still required living by someone else’s rules. “But what is to come will be even better.”
“Yes. It may have taken six years, but we have the money to take the next step in our new lives.”
Six years of a hell of a lot of hard work and sacrifice. They had saved every drachma possible of their earnings. For two men who had grown up in an orphanage and then the streets when they ran away, that had been a lot. They knew how to come by clothes, books and other necessities through interesting if not necessarily illegal methods. Not unless one considered underage gambling a stumbling block to legality.
When they were not working, or gambling to augment their meager salaries, they had been reading everything they could get their hands on about business and real estate development. Each had become an expert in a different aspect of the field, combining their superior brain power rather than duplicating effort.
They now had a detailed plan to increase their assets through initially flipping houses and eventually full scale, high end real estate developments.
“Next it will be business tycoons Zephyr Nikos and Neo Stamos,” Zephyr said with conviction.
A slow, extremely rare smile curved Neo’s lips. “Before we are thirty.”
“Before we are thirty.” Zephyr’s voice was filled with the same determination Neo felt deep in his gut.
They would succeed.
Failure was not an option.

Humpday Hottie

In keeping with today's Prologue, here is the visual hero inspiration I used for Neo Stamos in The Shy Bride:


Blog Winners for Last Week

Congratulations to last week's blog winners!

Winner of Coming Together Against H8 Autograph Book with multiple author signatures, is:
Winner of miscelaneous goodies from RT and a signed copy of the special UK trade paperback edition of "The Greek Collection: The Greek Tycoon's Ultimatum by Lucy Monroe & "Constantine's Revenge" by Kate Walker, is:

Email your details to Andre, so he can get your prize sent out to you. (If the link does not work, use the contact form on this page - http://www.lucymonroe.com/contactadmin.htm - messages go directly to Andre.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Prologue for Come Up & See Me Sometime

This prologue did not end up in the book at my agent's suggestion. What do you think? Should I have included it?

Kensington Zebra 2005 ~ (c) Lucy Monroe

PROLOGUE

All hospitals smelled the same.
The sterile odor of filtered air and disinfectant clung to the ICU room and Alex Trahern’s eyes burned as he looked at the man lying in the hospital bed.
Would he die?
The thought left Alex cold deep in his soul.
This was his father, a man that had been a constant if not attentive presence throughout his life, one of the few people that Alex loved.
He transferred his gaze to the woman standing near the window, her posture a stiff imitation of her customary relaxed grace as she focused on the typical gray scenery of an Oregon winter on the other side of the glass. “How long has he been like this, Mom?”
Priscilla Trahern shifted slightly so she faced Alex. Her eyes moved in an otherwise immobile face until she met Alex’s stare. She blinked. “He’s been unconscious since they brought him in.”
“What happened?”
He’d promised himself he wouldn’t push his mom for answers. Not yet. She had too much to deal with as it was with her husband of thirty-one years suffering the after effects of massive heart failure. But gathering information was ingrained deeply in Alex’s being. It was what he did, who he was.
His mom didn’t even flinch. In a neutral voice that belied the pain she must be experiencing, she recited the day’s events in precise order. “We were leaving the conference room. Mr. Harrison approached your father. I suppose he meant to attempt an amicable resolution, but Ray wouldn’t have any of it. He started yelling at Mr. Harrison.”
His mom’s abnormal stillness unnerved him. He wanted to offer comfort, promise her that everything would be all right. But looking at the fragility of the man lying in the bed, he knew he couldn’t make such a promise.
“I tried to calm him down, but Ray ignored me. He threatened to get even with Hypertron when suddenly his face contorted. I thought at first it was just more rage, but it was pain. He grabbed his chest and fell to the ground.” She stopped speaking and closed her eyes briefly.
“Someone called an ambulance and the paramedics came. He lost consciousness on the way over here. They got his heart beating again, but he’ll need surgery if they can stabilize him to a point where it will be safe to operate.”
Alex picked the piece of information out of his mother’s recital that would have been most important to his father. “The arbitration panel’s verdict was for Hypertron?”
“Yes. They said that the intellectual property rights agreement that Ray signed was airtight. Added to the fact that he’d done his research on company equipment, they felt Hypertron’s case was open and shut. Ray’s discovery belongs to the company.”
“He did all of his research after hours. Hypertron has always allowed their employees to use their computers for all sorts of personal reasons. Some people even use them to play networked games in the evenings.”
A small, sad, smile tipped the corners of his mother’s lips. “I hear they’ve changed that now. Management has made it clear that company equipment, including computers, is intended solely for company use.”
“It’s a little late for that, isn’t it? They should have had the policy in effect before Dad made his big discovery. A discovery that made John Harrison’s company a strong buy and more than doubled its value in the stock market.”
Alex didn’t know why he was going in to this now. Perhaps because in the face of his father’s collapse and his mother’s calm, he didn’t know what else to say.
Priscilla sighed, the weariness and strain she was under finally showing through her calm façade. “I’m sure you’re right, but to be honest – I just don’t care anymore.”
She moved to stand near the bed, reached out and touched her husband’s hand where it lay unmoving against the utilitarian blue hospital blanket. “The fact that your father may die has me much more concerned than Hypertron’s value in the stock market.”
Remorse washed over him and he laid his hand on her shoulder. “I’m sorry, Mom.”
She turned to him, her face crumbling and he awkwardly pulled her against him. Their family had never been very demonstrative. The last time his mother had hugged him, he’d been going away to college. So, he was surprised when she wrapped her arms around him and held on as if he were a life preserver and she was drowning in a storm she didn’t have the strength to fight.
Her entire body shook with sobs as she clung to him. “I don’t want him to die. I don’t want it to end like this.” She said the words over and over again in a broken whisper between her tears.
Not knowing what to say, or anything else to do, Alex simply held her. She cried for what seemed like an eternity, but in reality was probably no more than ten minutes.
The entire time he held his mother, he cursed Hypertron and the man that owned it, John Harrison.
She pulled away, wiping at her wet face with the back of her hands. “I’m sorry, Alex. I didn’t mean to fall apart on you. I know this is difficult for you too.”
He pulled some tissue from the box on the table next to his dad’s bed and handed it to her. “It’s all right.”
He wanted to say more, but wasn’t sure what. This type of thing was new for him.
She turned away, clearly needing a moment of privacy to collect herself. He let his gaze rest on his dad’s face. The other man’s eyelids fluttered.
“Mom, I think he’s coming out of it.”
She came to stand by his side, her tense posture evidence of her hope. “Ray. Can you hear me? Ray. Please, wake up.”
The desperation in his mother’s voice touched him. He prayed that his father would hear her. Then his dad’s eyes opened. They focused first on his wife and then his son.
“That…”
“Please, don’t try to talk, Ray. You need to conserve your strength,” she pleaded.
His dad didn’t look away from Alex. “That bastard stole my idea. Make him pay…”
His father’s voice trailed off.
“Ray, don’t talk about that right now,” Priscilla begged.
He lay, his breathing shallow, his eyes shifting from Alex to Priscilla. “At least the insurance is current.”
His eyes shut again as he slipped into unconsciousness.
Alex’s mother made a small sound of distress, a look of pain and disappointment marring her features.
Ray Trahern died later that night.

Monday, May 24, 2010

To Prologue or to Prologue

...that is the question.

One of my dearest friends shocked me a couple of years ago when she told me that she never reads Prologues. What??!! I mean, really?

I just finished writing a prologue for a story when I realized it simply had to be done and no amount of tweaking Chapter One was going to replace it. This sparked me asking a question on my Facebook and the discussion that followed was both gratifying and illuminating.

No, my friend is *not* alone, but nor is she the majority...or even representative of a larger minority. :) Breathing a sigh of relief on that, I'll tell you...

Though not always technically part of it, a prologue contains important information for the understanding and enjoyment of the story that follows. Or it's supposed to anyway.

Wikepedia gives this definition for Prologue:
A prologue (Greek πρόλογος prologos, from προ~, pro~ - fore~, and lógos, word), or prolog, is an opening to a story that establishes the setting and gives background details, often some earlier story that ties into the main one, and other miscellaneous information. The Greek prologos included the modern meaning of prologue, but was of wider significance, embracing any kind of preface, like the Latin praefatio. In a book, the prologue is a part of the front matter which is in the voice of one of the book's characters rather than in that of the author.

Mirriam Webster has this entry for Prologue:
Etymology: Middle English prolog, from Anglo-French prologue, from Latin prologus preface to a play, from Greek prologos part of a Greek play preceding the entry of the chorus, from pro- before + legein to speak — more at pro-, legend
Date: 14th century
1 : the preface or introduction to a literary work
2 a : a speech often in verse addressed to the audience by an actor at the beginning of a play b : the actor speaking such a prologue
3 : an introductory or preceding event or development


Okay, so clearly...the prologue is what comes before. I've noticed that some authors label as a prologue, what for me feels like the beginning of Chapter 1 - simply because there is no significant time, location or character circtumstance change between the prologue and first chapter. I find these prologues truly annoying, only because they simply aren't. Prologues, I mean. And labeling them as such feels wrong. ;-) It feels sloppy, like the author didn't want to take the time to figure out how to make the opening work, so s/he just moved it to the prologue so Chapter One started in the place s/he wanted it to.

This always makes me leery going into the book and less likely to read it with my full attention.

But that begs the question even more then, doesn't it? To prologue, or not to prologue. :)

I've come to the conclusion that some books absolutely need a prologue. Inserting the backstory, setting, character motivation in as backstory later will feel clunky and not as visceral for the reader (those that read the bloody things anyway). Those that don't are going to be lost for a good part of the book, aren't they? I talked to my friend about this and she felt a lot of prologues were simply wasted words. The more I paid attention to prologues and what came after, the more I learned she might well be right.

For some authors, not only do they write a prologue, but then dump all the info in it in the first chapter regardless. Heck, I've done something similar myself (if not as wholesale in execution). Why? Because I want to give the reader the visceral connection to what came before on-screen (as it were) rather than merely referring to it. I want to share the emotions of the moment, not the reflections of time.

Still, if that prologue happens directly before the book "starts" - it's going to end up Chapter One instead.

For a while, I tried to avoid prologues all together because of what my friend said. I mean, I figured she wasn't the only one, right? But some books? Just need a prologue and that's simply that. So, my current WIP has one and it sets the tone for the book and the motivation for the heroine's rather scandalous and out of character proposition to the hero.

It's your turn: do prologues annoy you? Do you like them? Are you bothered by a scene being labeled a prologue that feels like it's part of Chapter One?

Over the week, I'll be posting prologues from some of my books, past releases and upcoming releases. You can tell me if you think they're necessary. :)

The first one is in the post below this; it's the prologue for my current WIP, tentatively titled "The Sheikh's Runaway Bride" - it's Zahir's story.

And you know? I think we'll talk about Epilogues next week. :)

~ ~ ~ ~

This week there will *AGAIN* be two blog winners! Each will receive a copy of a "My Romance Story" - a romance graphic novel containing two illustrated romance novella produced by Arrow Publications.

Prologue for The Sheikh's Runaway Bride



The Sheikh's Runaway Bride
Zahir's Story
Spring 2011 ~ (c) Lucy Monroe


PROLOGUE



Did love die?

Angele had asked her mother that question once, after realizing her father, Cemal bin Ahmed al Jawhar – dear friend to the King of Jawhar and her personal hero - was a serial adulterer. She’d been an extremely naïve university sophomore, so certain of her father’s integrity, she had at first believed the tabloid story stuffed in her student mailbox a hoax.

To this day, she did not know who had disliked her so much, they felt the need to shred her illusions and with them, her heart.

The Brazilian former super model had looked at her daughter, eyes for once revealing her every emotion, all of it pain, and said, “I would consider it a great blessing, but some of us are cursed to love unwisely and to do so until death.”

“But why do you stay with him?”

“I do not. We live quite separate lives.”

And another belief was crushed under the pounding hammer of reality. They did not live in the United States for the sake of Angele’s education and the chance for her to be raised in relative anonymity. They made the modern country their home because Americans had plenty of their own scandal, they didn’t have to go looking for it among the wealthy in a small Middle Eastern country like Jawhar.

In a way, her mother had been protecting Angele. From the truth. But she’d also been protecting herself from the embarrassment of being the well-known wife of an undeniable philanderer. It explained why their trips to Brazil and Jawhar were always short and infrequent.

“Why not divorce him?”

“I love him.”

“But he...”

“Is my husband. I will not shame my family with a divorce, or his.”

Angele had vowed never to be her mother that day, never to be trapped in a marriage by duty and a helpless love that caused more grief than joy.

She had believed she was safe making the vow. After all, while no formal announcement had been made, Angele had been promised to the most conservative and duty conscious sheikh in all of the Middle East since she was sixteen years old. Crown Sheikh Zahir bin Faruq al Zohra was heir to the throne of Zohra and no more honorable man existed.

Or so she had believed. Before receiving the packet of pictures in the mail.

She stared down at the topmost picture. It showed Zahir kissing a busty blonde, wearing a barely there bikini. Angele did not recognize the couple’s surroundings, though it looked like a mountain chalet she’d once stayed in while skiing in Switzerland with friends.

She did recognize the passion between the two lip-locked people in the glossy eight-by-ten though.

And it brought back a memory she would rather forget.

She’d been eighteen and in love with Zahir since she started having sexual feelings. She did not care if others understood, or believed such a young teen capable of the emotion. She knew what she felt and it was not a simple crush. It went so much deeper.

She’d assumed Zahir had treated her with such restraint since the deal had been brokered because she was too young. But at eighteen, she was formally an adult. At least by standards of the country she’d been raised in, the United States.

They were at a formal dinner together and she’d cornered him in the courtyard. She could still remember the smell of jasmine as it swirled around her on the gentle summer breeze. And his scent, that spicy cologne he favored and the faint trace of masculine sweat as the party was well into its later hours.

Filled with trepidation that could not stand against her determination, she had looked up into eyes that looked almost black in the dark, though she knew they were grey. She grasped both his arms and tipped her head back, letting her own eyes close.

“Kiss me,” she’d pleaded, certain this man who was to be her husband one day would comply.

But he had gently pushed her away. “This is not the time, ya habibti. You are still a child.”

She had been crushed, but later, consoled herself with the fact he had called her darling. She was twenty-six and still waiting for him to realize she was no longer a child.

She looked down at the pictures again, a hole opening where her heart was supposed to be. He did not think this woman was a child. No, Elsa Bosch was everything a man was looking for in a lover. Extravagantly beautiful. Voluptuous. Experienced.

Angele winced at her own assessment, knowing she was none of those things.

She was not sure Zahir’s honor was besmirched by his liaison with the German actress. After all, their betrothal had never been formally announced and he treated Angele like a favored sister, not a lover. They’d never so much as shared a kiss on the lips.

But he was always so kind and they got along well, despite her shyness and his reserve. She’d believed that one day, he would realize she was not the young girl the marriage contract had been negotiated around.

She’d been waiting ten years. At twenty-six, it was past time she woke up and smelled the dead roses.

Her nose wrinkled at the thought and for a moment, she could almost smell the decaying blossoms.

Unlike her own father, who didn’t seem to care who knew about his extramarital activities, Zahir had been more than discreet in his relationship with Elsa Bosch. He’d kept the secret so well, there had never been a whiff of it in a scandal rag. And Angele was certain his family were completely in the dark about the buxom blonde’s role in Zahir’s life.
Angele was sure she would never have found out about it either, if someone had not sent the packet of pictures. So much like that time when she was at university, shouldn’t her pain be every bit as profound?

But all she felt was hollow. Empty. Devoid of the emotions that she’d nurtured in her heart toward him for so long.

Unlike the last time too, this sender demanded money in exchange for silence. If Angele did not pay, the note accompanying the pictures promised every American and European tabloid would get the opportunity to buy a set of photos along with a very embarrassing tell-all story.

The fact Zahir was having an ongoing affair with an actress who had starred in a skin flick was enough scandal to cause considerable upset in the royal families of both Jawhar and Zohra. Angele shuddered to consider their response to a full-on exposé. The moment she’d gotten the pictures, she started researching the German actress.

While the woman spent less time in the spotlight than someone might expect, she was in no way a suitable companion for the heir to a kingdom.

And no one would be more humiliated by these revelations than the woman who had waited ten years for her almost-fiancé to make the betrothal official, much less the wedding.

Because, although no formal announcement had ever been made, everyone in their social set was aware of the agreement between the King of Jawhar and his brother-in-law and good friend, the King of Zohra. Ever since King Faruq had married King Malik’s sister Adara, they had been thick as thieves.

In fact, the only friend King Malik considered as dear as a brother was Angele’s own father. King Malik was her godfather and favored “uncle” though no close blood ties existed between them. Thus the brokered marriage years before she had discovered her father’s feet of clay.

She did not see clay feet when she looked at the pictures spread across her writing desk.

She saw skin. She saw passion. And she saw happiness. Zahir’s happiness. She had never seen him smile like he did in some of the shots not depicting some sort of lip-locked clinch. Even when he wasn’t smiling, he had an air of relaxation he never had around her.

Love might keep a woman married to a philanderer, but it might give another woman the courage to set the man she loved free.

Looking at those pictures, Angele knew deep in her heart, that she could not allow Zahir to be held to a contract brokered by men who had never given love between the two people involved even a fleeting thought.

Her love for him demanded more.

His lack of love for her demanded freedom.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

New (sort of) Books by Theresa Scott

Talented author of more than a dozen incredibly researched and written historical romance novels for Dorchester publishing, Theresa Scott has released two of them in eBook format. So, if you didn't get a chance to read her the first time around, now is your chance!

Bride of Desire
ebook By Theresa Scott
Published: Jan. 03, 2010
Words: 117698 (approximate)
$4.99

When Brand, a strong and handsome Viking, crosses the northern seas, he discovers that the beautiful Indian woman he takes captive on his voyage threatens to become more important to him than his mission. For Winsome, capture by the virile Viking means she fights her feelings for him until she realizes she must become his bride of the heart, as well as his bride of desire...
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Montana Angel
eBook By Theresa Scott
Published: Feb. 14, 2010
Words: 90435 (approximate)

$4.99

Justin Harbinger returns to claim his bride-to-be at the end of the Civil War and finds her married to another man, and holding a baby in her arms. When Amberson Hawley sees the man of her dreams stride back into her life, it is far, far too late. She is married to another man. How can she again face the man who’d once claimed her heart, and who is now a dire threat to her new way of life?

Friday, May 21, 2010

For Writers

I’ve started a class on the “11 Senses, Who Knew?” based on Marilyn Kelly’s book by the same name in my free online Yahoo class group. While I'm not giving her workshop per se (though I *highly* recommend anyone attending RWA Nationals to take it), I am doing an 11 week not-so-intensive course on the use of the 11 senses.

To make it fun, I’m giving away weekly “mentoring” prizes including two copies of Marilyn’s book over the 11 week course. It’s going to be a very light course – no huge time commitment. If you’re a member of the group and on web only – you may want to change your message delivery settings. If you aren’t a member, but would like to join. Please do so. :)

This week we're discussing the Sense of Sight. :) New "lessons" posted every Friday.

Contest Prizes for this Week's Blog Drawing

It occurred to me that I'd forgotten to let you all know what this week's prizes are for the weekly drawing held from the blog comments.

Again, we will have two winners this week. Though I'm not guest blogging anywhere, so there are no double counting comments. :)

A few months ago, I readily agreed to participate in an autograph book, Coming Together Against H8, which proceeds would all go to the Against H8 campaign, a now nationwide campaign fighting anti-gay and GLBT discriminatory legislation. Each author involved paid to have their autograph page included, but its sales of this autograph book that will generate the most income for the campaign. I ordered several copies to give away at RT and one to have Hubcap take around and get author autographs for a lucky winner off my blog. Despite the mad crush at the Giant Book Fair, my intrepid Hubcap did just that! And this multi-author signed autograph book, with plenty of room for more signatures is the first prize for this week. :) Cool, huh?


The second drawing winner will receive miscelaneous goodies from RT and a signed (by me) copy of the special UK trade paperback edition of "The Greek Collection ~ The Price of Passion" with "The Greek Tycoon's Ultimatum" by Lucy Monroe & "Constantine's Revenge" by Kate Walker.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Because I love Words

I love words. You probably all know that. I mean, I use them to earn my living, to connect to people from all over the world in a way it would be impossible to do without the stories I tell.

But did you know I adore etymology too. What is it, you might ask? (As I did when I first heard this delicious word.) According to Wikepedia: Etymology is the study of the history of words and how their form and meaning have changed over time. For a woman who read the dictionary as a young girl for *entertainment*, etymology is a natural fascination. Words are my other lover (and Hubcap knows it very well lol) ~ their meanings, their histories and their progressions fascinate and tittilate. Yes, really.

My children know me so well, they've given me books on etymology for Mother's Day and birthdays. :) I'm a lucky woman, I know. ;-)

I have about a dozen thesauri as well as online word reference links in abundance in my Favorites folder. I talk with the words I read, but certainly don't always pronounce them correctly. For years I thought façade was pronounced [fah-kade]. Yep, I'd never heard it spoken, I'd only read it - in my romance novels, thank you very much. The first time someone corrected me, I blushed and gushed. [feh-sahd] sounds *so* much nicer!


So, I thought I'd share some of my favorite links with you all today.

Online Etymology Dictionary for words.

Online Etymology Dictionary for names.

Terrific article in the Daily Mail on this history of some of our best loved words and phrases.

It's your turn: do you have a favorite word/phrase? Something that just tickles your fance every time you hear/read it? Do you know it's origins? Is there a word you read but mispronounced just because you had to use it once you'd learned it, like me?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Humpday Hottie


To feed your facination with firemen. :)

Last Week's Blog Winners

Last week's blog winners are:

Winner of the RT Goody Bag:
Winner of the Kensington Mixer Swag Bag:


Email your details to Andre, so he can get your prize sent out to you. (If the link does not work, use the contact form on this page - http://www.lucymonroe.com/contactadmin.htm - messages go directly to Andre.)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Playing Dress-Up

This weekend we celebrated my b-i-l's 50th birthday. My sister threw him a huge murder mystery party where we all came as celebreties alive in 1961. I went as Mae West and Hubcap came as John Wayne. The man gets overheated way too easily, so he carried his hat more than wore it. (Get your minds out of the gutter, I was *not* talking about that!)

I decided I much prefer myself as a brunette, or redhead. LOL But I had a lot of fun. So did everyone else. My sister really knows how to throw a party and she pulled out all the stops for this one. We had appetizers and a sit down dinner for more than 30 "Celebrity Guests". ;-) Before you ask, no I did not figure out who "done it", but then I never do at these things. It's still a blast and I *did* win for best female costume. :)

I've got more pics up on Facebook, if you want to see...they're not as good as the ones my sister took, but I think they give you a pretty good idea of how involved and truly spectactular the party was.

Given a choice, I would have gone as Hercule Poirot, but was told that I had to come as someone who was not fictional. My little sister sat me down and looked soulfully in my eyes while she told me Poirot was a figment of Dame Agatha Christie's imagination. I cried...not. LOL It was a truly funny moment and the rest of the family laughed like loons.

It's your turn: if you could be anyone you wanted to for a day, who would it be?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

New Book by Leigh D'Ansey

Kincaid's Call
by Leigh D’Ansey

Nathan Kincaid reckons any man’s testosterone would go into overdrive at the sight of a dynamite-looking woman with wild hair and topaz eyes, a gorgeous pair of legs and a peek of satin panties right there on his desktop. This is not the matronly PA he was expecting. Even worse is the nagging sense of familiarity. Carrying the burden of his brother’s death and the breakdown of his family, the last thing Nathan needs is a pocket dynamo from the past complicating the life he’s just begun to salvage.

Kate Summers has created the life she wants and knows exactly the kind of man she needs: someone compliant, steady and calm. She’s constructed a model of her perfect mate and is bent on finding him when Nathan Kincaid, with his disturbing reminders of her fractured past, strides back into her life and makes a mockery of her database.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hubcap & I Celebrate 22 Years :)

Today is our 22nd Wedding Anniversary. Hubcap is taking half a day off and we are going to go do romancey stuff. Sound fun? I'm really looking forward to it! Here he is removing my garter after the wedding (I don't think I stopped smiling once that entire day):




Hope you all have a wonderful day and weekend! :) Tomorrow is a Murder Myster party for my b-i-l's 50th! I'm going as Mae West and Hubcap will be John Wayne. "See" you on Monday. :)


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Humpday Hottie


A man who trims the hedges shirtless? Is a man worth watching...well, I admittedly only watch Hubcap, but he's all the entertainment I need. LOL

Last Week's Blog Winners

Because you all were so great about commenting on my post on the Brava Authors blog, I decided to give away an additional prize this week to a random commenter from that post. Thank you!!! So, without further ado, last week's blog winners are:




Winner of the RT Goody Bag:

RobynL



Winner of the Kensington Mixer Swag Bag:


Anna (s7anna)


Winner of the extra prize - a signed book of choice from my current or backlist:

Lisa G (Lady Graeye)

Email your details to Andre, so he can get your prize sent out to you. (If the link does not work, use the contact form on this page - http://www.lucymonroe.com/contactadmin.htm - messages go directly to Andre.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Guest Blogging & Chat Tonight

I'm guest blogging on Writerspace and I *Heart* Presents today. Just like I did for last week's blog drawing, I'll give double entries for every comment posted on my blogs at EITHER Writerspace or I *Heart* Presents or BOTH (should you really feel chatty today) so long as you comment here that you did so. :)

Tomorrow, I'll be guesting on Donna Grant's blog and Delilah Devlin's blog. Same goes.

In addition, TONIGHT - MAY 11 at 9 pm EST - I'm chatting about the release of my Showcase at ADC. I'll be giving away two signed books during the chat and it promises to be lots and lots of fun! Hope to see you there!!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

BOOK RELEASE DAY!!!

The Sicilian's Marriage Arrangement
Harlequin Showcase: Reissue
ISBN-10: 0373688024
ISBN-13: 978-0373688029

Hope Bishop is stunned when darkly sexy Sicilian tycoon Luciana di Valerio proposes marriage. Brought up by her wealthy but distant grandfather, she is used to fading into the background. But Luciano’s sensual lovemaking makes her feel vibrantly alive. Hope falls in love with her husband and is blissfully happy—until she discovers that Luciano married her to fulfill his own ruthless agenda...!

The book also includes the fabulous "The Greek's Virgin Bride" by Julia James.

Look for Showcases in the single title romance section of your favorite bookstores!

Buy the Book





EXCERPT
(C) Lucy Monroe







CHAPTER ONE




“Have you heard? He’s trying to buy her a husband.” Feminine laughter trilled mockingly.

“With his millions, it shouldn’t be hard.”

“The old man will live to see a hundred and five and keep control of his company right up until he dies,” the woman said. “That means over thirty years married to a woman who is hopelessly introverted, hopelessly ordinary and probably hopeless in bed, to boot. Practically a lifetime before her future husband will see any fruit for his labor.”

“Put in that light,” the man drawled sardonically, “the return on investment does seem pretty low.”

“Why, darling, were you thinking of applying for the job?” Scornful disbelief laced the woman’s too-knowing voice.

The masculine laughter that came in reply grated on Luciano’s nerves. He had arrived late to the New Year’s Eve party hosted by the Boston based multi-millionaire, Joshua Reynolds. Nevertheless, he knew exactly whom the cynical woman and her male cohort were discussing: Hope Bishop — an extremely sweet and sì, very shy, young woman. She was also the granddaughter of their host.

Luciano hadn’t realized the old man had decided to procure her a husband. It should come as no surprise. While she had the innocence of an eighteen year old, she must be twenty-three or four, having completed her degree at university two years ago. He remembered attending a formal dinner to celebrate.

The dinner, like any other social gathering hosted by Reynolds, had turned into a business discussion and the guest of honor had disappeared long before the evening was over. He had thought at the time he might be the only person to have noticed. Certainly her grandfather had not, nor had any of the other businessmen present remarked upon Hope’s absence.

Luciano turned away from the gossiping couple and stepped around a potted plant easily as tall as most men. It’s bushy foliage obstructed his view of what was behind it, which was why he didn’t realize Hope Bishop was standing there in frozen mortification until he had all but stepped on her.

She gasped and moved backward, her corkscrew curls catching on the leaves behind her, their chestnut color a startling contrast to the plant’s bright green shrubbery. “Signor di Valerio!”

He reached out to stop her from landing on her bottom in the big Chinese pot housing the plant.

Wide violet eyes blinked in attempt to dispel suspicious moisture. “Oh, I’m sorry. How clumsy I am.”

“Not at all, signorina.” The skin beneath his fingers was soft and warm. “I am the one who must apologize. I walked without looking ahead of myself and am at your feet in regret for my precipitous behavior.”

As he had hoped it would, his overly formal, old fashioned apology brought a small smile to tilt the generous lips that had a moment before been trembling. “You are very kind, signor.”

She was one of the few people who believed this to be so. He let go of her arms, finding it surprisingly difficult to make his fingers release their captive. “And you are very lovely tonight.”

It had been the wrong thing to say. Her gaze flitted to the shrub and the still gossiping couple beyond, her expression turning pained. Their voices carried quite clearly, now discussing an adulterous affair between two of their acquaintances. No doubt Hope had heard their earlier words.

She affirmed his thoughts when she softly said, “Not lovely, I think, but hope lessly average,” telling him too that she knew he had heard the unflattering comments.

He did not like the sadness in her eyes and he once again took her arm, leading her toward the library. It was the one room unlikely to have a lot of New Year’s Eve guests milling about. “Come, piccola.”

Little one. It suited her.

She did not demur. That was one of the things he had always liked about the girl. She did not argue for the sake of it, not even with her overbearing and often neglectful grandfather. She was a peaceful sort of person.

They reached the library. He guided her inside, quickly ascertaining he had been right and no one else was present. He shut the door to keep it that way. She needed a few moments to collect herself.

Once again he was surprised by a desire to maintain his hold on her, but she tugged slightly on her arm and he released her. She faced him, her tiny stature accentuated by her three-inch heels, not diminished as he was sure she had hoped.

She really did look lovely in her formal gown of deep purple. The bodice outlined small, but perfectly proportioned curves while the shimmery fabric of the full skirt floated around her ankles in a very feminine way. She was not ravishingly sexy like the women he dated, but pretty in a very innocent and startlingly tantalizing way.

“I don’t think he’s trying to buy me a husband, you know.” She tucked a reddish brown curl behind her ear. “He’s tried to buy me pretty much everything else since his stroke, but I think even Grandfather would draw the line at a buying a husband.”

He wouldn’t put anything past the wily old man, but forbore saying so. “It is natural for him to want to buy you things.”

She grimaced. “Yes, I suppose so, but in the past he’s always been impersonal with it.”

A husband would be a pretty personal purchase, Luciano had to admit. “What do you mean, signorina?”

“Oh please, you must call me Hope. We’ve known each other for five years after all.”

Had it been that long? “Hope then.” He smiled and watched in some fascination as her skin took on a distinctly rosy hue.

She averted her face, so she was looking at the overfull bookcase on her left. “Grandfather has raised me since I was five.”

“I did not know this.”

She nodded. “But I don’t think he noticed I even lived in his house except to instruct the servants to buy me what I needed, clothes when I grew out of them, books when I wanted them, an education, that sort of thing.”

It was as he had always surmised. Hope had been relegated to the background of Reynolds’ life and she had known it.

“But just lately, he’s been buying things for me himself. My birthday was a month ago and he bought me a car.” She sounded shocked by the fact. “I mean he went to the car dealership and picked it out himself. The housekeeper told me.”

“This bothers you?” Most women of his acquaintance would find a car a very appropriate birthday gift.

Her pansy eyes focused back on him. “No. Not really. Well, except that I don’t drive, but that’s not the point. It’s just that I think he’s trying to make up for something.”

“Perhaps he regrets spending so little time with you through your formative years.”

Her soft, feminine laughter affected his libido in a most unexpected way. “He had the housekeeper take me out to dinner for my birthday after having the Porsche delivered by the dealership.”

“He bought you a Porsche?” That was hardly a suitable gift for a young woman who did not even know how to drive. Porca miseria! She could kill herself her first time behind the wheel with such a powerful car. He would have to speak to Reynolds about making sure she had received proper driving instruction before she was allowed onto the roads alone.

“Yes. He also bought me a mink coat. Not a fake one, but the real thing.” She sighed and sat down in one of the burgundy leather reading chairs. “I’m, um... a vegetarian.” She peeked up at him through her lashes. “The thought of killing animals makes me nauseous.”

He shook his head and leaned back against the desk. “Your grandfather does not know you very well, does he, piccola?”

“I suppose not. I’m really excited about the six-week European tour he gave me for Christmas, though. Even if I won’t be leaving for six months. He booked it for early summer.” Her eyes shone with undisguised delight at the prospect. “I’ll be traveling with a group of college students and a tour guide.”

“How many other young women will there be?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. There will be ten of us in all, not including the guide of course.” She crossed one leg over the other and started to swing the ankle back and forth, making her dress swish with each movement. “I don’t know what the ratio of men to women will be.”

“You are traveling with men?”

“Oh, yes. It’s all co-ed. Something I would have loved to do in college, but better late than never, don’t they say?”

He didn’t know about that, but the idea of this naïve creature spending six weeks with a group of libidinous, college age men did not please him. Why he should care, he did not stop to analyze. It was his nature to act on not only his behalf, but that of others as well.

“I do not think it is wise for you to go on such a trip. Surely a wholly female group would be more enjoyable for you.”

Her leg stopped its swinging and she stared at him, clearly dumbfounded. “You’re kidding, right? Half the reason for going on the trip is to spend some time with men close to my own age.”

“Are you saying you object to Joshua buying you a husband, but not when it comes to him buying you a lover?” He didn’t know what had made him say it. Only that he had been angry, an inexplicable reaction to the news she was interested in male companionship.

She blanched and sat back in her chair as if trying to put distance between them. “I didn’t say that. I’m not looking for a...a lover.” Then in a whirl of purple chiffon, she jumped up. “I’ll just get back to the party.” She eased around him toward the door as if he were an angry animal threatening to pounce.

He cursed himself in his native tongue as she opened the door and fled. There had been tears in her lavender eyes. What the gossiping duo had not been able to do with their nasty commentary, he had managed with one sentence.

He had made her cry.

***

Two now familiar hands grabbed her shoulders from behind. “Please, piccola, you must allow me to once again apologize.”

She said nothing, but she didn’t try to get away. How could she? The moment he touched her, she lost all sense of self-will. And he did not have a clue, but then why should he? Sicilian business tycoons did not look to hopelessly average, twenty-three year old virgins for an alliance...of any sort.

She blinked furiously at the wetness that had already trickled down to her cheeks. Wasn’t it enough that she had been forced to overhear her shortcomings catalogued by two of her grandfather’s guests? That Luciano of all people should have heard as well had increased the hurt exponentially. Then to have him accuse her of wanting her grandfather to buy her a lover! As if the idea that any man would desire her for herselfwas too impossible to contemplate.

“Let me go,” she whispered. “I need to check on Grandfather.”

“Joshua has an entire household of servants to see to his needs. I have only you.”

“You don’t need me.”

He turned her to face him. Then keeping one restraining hand on her shoulder, he tipped her chin up with his forefinger. His eyes were dark with remorse. “I did not mean it, piccola.”

She just shook her head, not wanting to speak and betray how much his careless words had hurt. She was not blasé enough to take the type of sophisticated joking he had been indulging in with equanimity.

He said something low in Italian and wiped at her cheeks with a black silk handkerchief he had pulled from his pocket. “Do not distress yourself so. It was nothing more than a poorly worded jest. Not something for which you should upset yourself.”

“I’m sorry. I’m being stupidly emotional.”

His gorgeous brown eyes narrowed. “You are not stupid, piccola, merely easily hurt. You must learn to control this or others will take advantage of your weakness.”

“I—”

“Consider... The words of that gossiping pair distressed you and yet you know them to be false. Your grandfather has no need to buy you either a husband or a lover.” He accentuated his words with a small squeeze of her shoulder. “You are lovely and gentle, a woman any man would be lucky to claim.”

Now, she’d forced him to fabrication to get out of the sticky situation.

She made herself smile. “Thank you.”

The stunning angles of his face relaxed in relief and he returned the smile.

Good. If she could convince him she was fine, he would let her leave and she could find someplace to lick her wounds in private.

No one else would notice if she disappeared from the party. Well, perhaps Edward, her colleague from the women’s shelter would notice. Only she had left him thoroughly engrossed in a debate over archeological method with one of her grandfather’s colleagues and doubted he would surface before the party ended.

She stepped back from Luciano’s touch, as much out of self-preservation as her need to get away completely. His proximity affected her to a frightening degree.

“I’m sure there are other guests you would like to talk to.” Again the small polite smile. “If you’re anything like Grandfather, you see every social occasion as an opportunity to advance your business interests. Most of the guests are his business contacts.”

“You are a poor prevaricator, Hope.” He stepped toward her, invading her space with his presence and the scent of his expensive cologne. She wondered if he had it mixed especially for him because she’d never smelled anything as wonderful on another man.

“P-prevaricator?” she asked, stumbling over the word in a truly gauche fashion because of his nearness.

“It means one who deviates from the truth.” His mouth firmed with grim resolve that warned her she would not get away so easily. “Rather than discuss business with men I can see any day of the week, I would prefer you to show me to the buffet table. I came late and did not eat dinner tonight.”

She’d already known he had come late. Actually, she had thought he was not coming at all. The first she had known of his arrival had been the debacle by the banana tree. “Then, by all means, allow me to show you to the food table.”

It was her duty as hostess, after all.

She turned to lead the way and almost stopped in shock as she felt his hand rest lightly against her waist. By the time they reached the buffet, her emotions and heart rate were both chaotic.

“The food,” she croaked out and waved her hand toward the table.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Not-so-new Book by Minnette Meador

THE CENTURION & THE QUEEN
by Minnette Meador

Marius is disciplined, precise, as cold as his armor. A twenty-five year veteran, the Centurion is dedicated to the principles of Rome. No one has ever dared to challenge his command… until now.

Queen Delia struggles to save her dying Celtic people, fighting to lead in a world dominated by savage men. The last thing she expects is to feel her body craving the touch of an enemy. The revolution that sparks their desire betrays them both. They find themselves on opposing sides, in love, and unable to stop the future.


Saturday, May 08, 2010

New Book by Jess Granger

Beyond the Shadows
by Jess Granger
ISBN: 978-0425234150
May 4, 2010
Berkley Sensation

A man of deception. A woman of justice. Can their fragile trust be strong enough to prevent a war?

Commander Yara knows perfect leadership requires perfect control and discipline. She has spent years living without the distraction of caring for anything—or anyone. It’s a sacrifice she’s willing to make. Yara has honed herself into the perfect heir to the Azralen throne, but a bloody coup could destroy everything she’s worked so hard for. She must return home to prevent war. Unfortunately the only ship available belongs to an Earthlen trader with no regard for authority—especially hers.

Cyn is a rebel, driven to protect those suffering at the hands of the Elite leaders of Azra. Using his alias to manipulate the lovely but icy commander onto his ship, he has to keep her from Azra long enough to ignite the revolution. But when he awakens a vibrant and feeling woman beneath that icy exterior, he gets more than he bargained for—love. He must find a way to convince Yara to join him, before they get caught in a web of deception that could tear their world apart.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Lucy's Guest Blogging

In honor of Mother's Day, I'm guest blogging about "My Mom, My Hero" on Brava Authors (a slightly longer post) & CataRomance this week. Please take a moment and stop by to tell me about your family. :)

My mom is such an important part of my life and having this opportunity to share with others about her is really a blessing to me. :)
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Those who comment on the Brava Authors blog and tell me about it here, will get double entries for those comments for the prize drawing this week. Remember, I'm giving away an RT Goody Bag and a Kensington Swag Bag, so there will be two winners this week. :)

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Humpday Hottie

In honor of Cinco De Mayo...a gorgeous Mexican model turned actor for your Humpday Hottie!


For more pictures of Fernando Noriega, visit this blog dedicated to hunky manflesh.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

RT Booklovers Convention 2010

RT was amazing. In some ways truly inspiring (talking to readers is always a huge blessing for me), in some ways nerve wracking (there were A LOT of people) and in other ways, the convention was just plain fun.

We arrived on Sunday with the hopes of spending time with our long term Korean host student, Hoonmo. (Very much like a son to us.) We managed a 2 hour dinner. Sigh... College kids! They're still teenagers at first. ;-) It gave us plenty of time to get ready for the conference and decompress before people started arriving. Although Tuesday, I got sussed out. I had breakfast with Karla (a reader) and she told on me to Lora Leigh, who called and convinced me to come visit her (in my pajamas no less) that night. I ended up in JoCarol's suite with the RT prep team (yes, still in my PJs). LOL

Wednesday there was plenty going on for the conference and I ran into old friends, online pals I had not yet met and lots of readers! It started with the Welcome Party which included a memorial for Kate Duffy, which I participated in. It was hard and yet a celebration of her life that was entirely appropriate. Later, I trekked forth to procure you all goodies! The line for the goody bags was insane, but Hubcap and I perservered. I had a fangirl moment as Stephani Hecht was in line with me and I love her books. :) I attended Debra Parmley's "Yoga at Your Desk" and Marilyn Kelly's "Eleven Senses - Who Knew?" - both amazing workshops.

Thursday was so jampacked, most of it is a blur. I was on the Multiplatform Publishing panel in the morning with Arrow Publications, Chrissy from Samhain and Liz Schier from B&N (I want a Nook!!!) - all of whom were not only brilliant, but incredibly nice. I had lunch with Donna Grant and her husband, as well as a few others we managed to drag along. :) She's so incredibly sweet and what a writer! I met my new editor at Kensington (Alicia Condon) and my not so new agent (Ethan Ellenberg) face-to-face for the first time. Both meetings were fantastic! After taking pictures at the Awards Ceremony, Hubcap joined Alicia and I for dinner and came up with a set of titles for my new Atrati series for Brava. Very cool! You are going to love them!

Friday started of with a bang and the Top 10 Dead Sexiest Heroes panel I put together (Dianne Castell, Sylvia Day, Erin McCarthy, LuAnn Maclane & me). We laughed, we played games, we threw prizes out into the group of attendees. We had a blast! I met up with Cissy from Writerspace, Dianne Castell & Rosemary Laurey for lunch. Another great time with truly lovely people!
My afternoon panel, Paranormal: the Melting Pot was interesting. I was the only paranormal romance author on a panel of Urban Fantasy writers discussing straddling the genres. Can you say odd man out without cracking a smile? I think this picture sums it up quite nicely. LOL

That night, I got stood up for dinner, not once, not twice, but by three different friends I had made plans and subsequent plans with. I got worried my deoderant had stopped working! But another friend showed up (Debra Parmley) and we had a really relaxing dinner at Max & Erma's with Hubcap. Just goes to show how incredibly busy and insane RT really gets. ;-)

Saturday I had a reader breakfast and then the huge Book Fair, where I sold out of all three titles they stocked for me and met dozens of readers who lifted me up and gave me great memories to pull out when the writing gets rough. Afterward, I had another reader get together, this one with Lori Foster and Kate Davies as well. We ate at the Pope's table and shared wonderful Italian food family style. I met up with more readers and Rosemary Laurey again upon my return to the hotel, but eventually made a much needed escape to my room where I vegged and watched Taken for the second time. Love that movie!

Sunday, I chatted more with readers, said some final goodbyes, did the souvenir shopping for the kids and headed home. It was a long and wonderful week, but I'm not sure when I'll be up to repeating it. ;-)

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To see more pictures from RT 2010, visit my Facebook group page or MySpace.
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I'm guest blogging about my mom on CataRomance. She's my hero. Stop by if you have a minute. :)

And I've got a guest blog about my Top 10 Dead Sexiest Heroes panel at RT on the RT Booklovers website.
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This week I'm giving away two prizes from blog comments. One is a goody bag from RT and the other is the swag bag from the Kensington Morning Mixer. :) All you have to do to enter in the drawing is comment on any of the posts from this week.