Thursday, 6 March 2014

Betsy Bennett: Her Puzzle

A great big welcome back to Betsy Bennett. Today, she's celebrating the release of her newest title, Her Puzzle.

Betsy was with us previously with The Frog Kiss and Santa Takes a Wife. She's quite an eclectic author, writing a number of subgenres. However, all of her work is based in romance, which means readers will be guaranteed a wonderful story of a couple's coming together.

Her Puzzle crosses subgenres to include paranormal aspects, fantasy aspects, as well as a contemporary setting. But this makes the story all the more intriguing.

To lawyer, Tina Aaron, men were a puzzle. When she meets the intriguing Brodrick LoMaren, he's a puzzle she can't figure out. He says he's infinitely wealthy, yet common, every day things like tipping and having a Coke are foreign to him. The more he confuses her, the more she wants to figure him out.

Brick, as Brodrick is called, is a dedicated soldier in his world, honor-bound to protect the Empire.After a bloody uprising and his father, the Emperor, is assassinated, Brick finds himself exiled to Earth. Falling in love with Tina was the last thing he expected. When his exile is lifted and he returns home, he thought he'd forget the enchanting Tina. When he can't, he brings her to the Empire to show her his world. But when he's accused of murder, is her love for him strong enough?

Her Puzzle full of adventure and romance. Characters are well-fleshed, and if one suspends traditional reality while reading, the story is quite plausible. Tina is an engaging heroine and quite likeable. Brick is an honorable hero who tries to find balance in his life which includes serving the Empire and having the love he deserves. This is a fabulous read and highly recommended.

Readers -- Betsy would love to get to know her readers, AND she's giving away a free digital copy of The Frog Kiss to one lucky winner today, so just leave her a comment or question with your contact email address for your entry to be put in the hat.

• • •

He was a puzzle and none of the pieces fit together
Lawyer Tina Aaron considered men as puzzles. She liked to have all the pieces neatly in place. But Brodrick LoMaren’s puzzle made no sense. He is reputed to be extremely wealthy but he doesn’t know how to tip New York City cab drivers. He never had pizza or Coke. And he could disappear into thin air after kissing her senseless. 

Earth was not his homeland
Brick had no intention of falling in love with a human. He wanted to take the Vow and become a soldier, to dedicate his life to the defense of the Empire. Then after a bloody uprising where his father the Emperor was assassinated, he found himself exiled to Earth. 

Brick learns to find beauty in New York, but his heart finds completeness in Tina’s love. 

He promises her one night as Cinderella
After his exile is lifted, Brick still believes he can return to his homeland and forget her, but he finds that impossible. So he invites Tina to the Empire, to show her how different they are. There, a unihorn mare kneels to her, offering Tina honor and a wish. Dressed in a ball gown, with a necklace of priceless rubies around her throat, more of the pieces of the puzzle start to make sense. She is starting to understand Brodrick and the love she feels for him. 

He is accused of murder
Brick is found guilty of the gruesome murder of the emperor and hundreds of the Empire’s citizens. Tina is given the opportunity to forget him and go back to her life, knowing that it will mean his death. Then Brick and Tina realize life is not worth living if they are not together. But what remains to be seen, is her love for this prince enough to save his life, even when she suspects he will still choose his homeland over her?

Monsters surrounded him. He couldn't see them, but he could hear them, sharpening their claws in the dark, secret places just beyond the limits of his vision. His nose twitched with the pungent odor of decay. Their stench reminded him of his own land when he had dabbled in things better left alone. He should leave. This wasn’t his country. It wasn’t his fight. But Brodrick knew he would seek them out. He curled his fingers around the hilt of the broadsword and found the familiar weight reassuring. He could deal with monsters.

Though he’d never been here before, Brodrick LoMaren moved silently through the night, seeking the shadows, where, since he didn't know the terrain, he felt more comfortable. He had been raised without fear, not because he lived a quiet, cloistered existence, but because he knew his abilities, his strengths and his heritage. He had been trained to embrace the courage of warriors.

The cold wind carried a bite. Instinctively he straightened the fall of his cape, clearing his broadsword before he continued, cursing under his breath his brother's odd habits and odder rendezvous points.

The fact that his brother was not present to meet him came as no surprise. Bruce LoMaren was not overly concerned with responsibility. Brodrick decided to give him another hour to finish whatever devilment he was up to and finally make a command appearance. If he hadn't located his brother when the time limit expired, Brick would call it a night, start the search again in the morning. After all, it could just as easily be him their father was after. It wasn't likely he'd need to come back. Eventually Bruce would appear, unrepentant and tardy, dragging unbelievable excuses—or with no explanation at all. Bruce would give their father the chance to vent some steam, rage for a few hours, and then he would be off again, creating another incident which might create complications which no one on this planet could possibly understand. Bruce had plucked Brick out of half a dozen such incidents. With the exception of their father, no one else kept score.

Although it was deep into the night, it was fairly obvious nothing slept. Sounds layered the darkness, from the creaking, chirping, buzzing of nocturnal insects to rushing traffic and the muffled roar of engines overhead. Laughter, sharp and shrill erupted to his left, unintelligible words shouted in anger from so many locations he couldn't identify them all, and behind him, in the deeper reaches of the dark, retching. Brick listened, finding in none of them the ripple of his brother's careless swagger. Bruce had never practiced subtlety in anything.

A new noise, one he recognized, exploded, bringing him to battle readiness causing adrenaline to surge through his system. Screams. The monsters had made the first move after all.

The screams sharpened, cutting, bloodcurdling, and informative. A woman alone. Not exactly alone, for she was being attacked. Fixing the location in his brain, he ran, no longer in need of stealth. The screams would hide his approach. For the moment, surprise was on his side.

His hand found comfort in the familiar grasp of the broadsword, and he knew of all the things he’d been called in his life, coward was never one of them. From the gyrating shadows he heard the start of a scream. It ended painfully, unnaturally, with a muffled cry.

The glaring, artificial brightness of the city diffused by vegetation, the lack of a moon made the light practically non-existent, but Brick could see all he needed to. A short but heavily muscled man, pants wadded down around his ankles, knife blade in his hand, prepared to do grievous harm to the woman struggling under him. Brick saw her legs twist in a futile effort to escape. A second man with an ugly leer and saliva running down his chin held her hands while the first fondled her breasts through torn material of her clothing. Brick couldn’t discount the possibility this man was armed as well, and although a knife was no match for his broadsword, Bruce had described other weapons, more frightening and powerful things, against which he wouldn't stand a chance.

She tried to plead, tried to beg, but the drooling man made free use of her lips. In a glance too quick for conscious acknowledgement, Brick noticed bruises on her face, an eye already darkening, a lip split and bloodied.

"Don't fight me," the man with the knife said in an acidic alien accent that held as much promise of violence as the weapon itself. Brick knew the type. It didn't really matter to the monster if he finished his wicked deed with her alive or dead. Either way, Brick was well aware if he did not intervene the woman had little time to live.

Brick scanned the area and saw no other assailants. Two to one. Discounting far superior weapons which might or might not exist, the odds were in his favor. He crossed the last few feet in a flash and lashed out with a booted foot, catching the man at the woman's breast with the full force of his anger. The stranger toppled and stayed still. Then Brick lifted the sword from its sheath, the blade making the song of prelude as it slipped from its housing to arc in the darkness, and while the man with the knife was otherwise intent on his assault Brick rested it, almost casually, against his neck.

"Drop your weapon or you die." He spoke with the quiet assurance the military had drummed into him over countless training sessions and several times as many hours in real warfare. Brick ran the blade almost idly against the rapist's carotid artery, knowing he would get the hint without much difficulty. A thin, shallow slice opened on his neck, bleeding freely.

"Do you understand?" The point of the weapon would be impossible to misinterpret.

The would-be rapist looked up at him with eyes suddenly wild. He tightened his grip on the knife, and rolled quickly to his feet. At any time during the maneuver Brick could have killed him with frightening ease. There would have been no challenge. There still was no challenge. A hand-held knife, even with a nine inch blade, was no match for a three-foot broadsword wielded by a trained warrior.

The woman, freed from her captors, took full advantage of the opportunity presented her and ran as if her life depended on it, screaming bloody murder, which, Brick decided, she had a perfect right to do.

"Drop your weapon. I have no desire to kill you." He held the sword straight, aiming for the heart. His hands were steady, his elbows locked, his knees loose, ready to move should the man present more of a challenge than he anticipated. Brick looked into the rapist's eyes, determining exactly how stupid the man wanted to be about all this.

The rapist debated his options, then taking a hint from the woman, started to run. He didn't even get one clean step before the tip of Brick’s weapon sliced the back of his right leg open, a lateral cut behind his knee. He went down hard, the knife flying.

"Drop it, hit the ground." The new command came from directly behind Brick, and he turned to see two uniformed patrolmen with guns. He'd never seen a gun before, but had no doubt he now faced what Bruce had described often enough.

Following shouted instructions, he was soon on his knees, hands behind his head, then on his stomach, gun muzzle against his neck, his hands roughly chained behind him, while the two men called for back-up and an ambulance. 

"Will you look at the size of that sword," the one policeman said to the other. "Looks like Sir Lancelot’s in town."

"Yeah, that's all we need in this town, another frigging weirdo."

Silently Brick growled, and knew his father wasn’t going to be pleased with this latest development.

• • •

Betsy J. Bennett lives in Michigan with her husband, two adult daughters, three obnoxious cats and an English bulldog. She has five grandchildren. She collects dragons, creche's and Santas. She has always believed in Christmas and in Santa, and although she has yet to meet the real Santa, she has hope that with the publication of this book he'll seek her out. She is currently at work on her next novel.

Find Betsy online --



  1. Welcome back to Heart of Fiction, Betsy, and congrats on Her Puzzle.

    You're such an eclectic writer. Is there a deciding factor when choosing a story to write? I know you tend to focus on paranormal romance, but from time to time, you do add in elements of fantasy and the fantastical alongside things which are reality based. How does that process work for you when plotting your story?

  2. Wow, Betsey...that looks an amazing story. Can I ask - with all the subgenres you write in, which is your favourite?

  3. Jennifer, first thank you for your question. I love hearing from readers, and those who support writers. I like paranormal fiction best, but I also write science fiction. I live in the real world and understand (a bare basic amount of) physics, but when I write I like to explore other possibilities and worlds. I want my Santa Claus to be real and find love. If I'm having a really bad day, I want to think I could bend down to kiss a frog and find a rock star who will soon be composing lyrics to me.
    Romance as a genre is so popular because there's always a happy ending, and who doesn't need that?

  4. Kem, thanks for your comment. I do love Her Puzzle. I like a feisty, intelligent heroine who meets her match in a lover not of this world. Brick and Tina are made for each other.
    I like to write two or three (or more) novels simultaneously. Should I get stuck on the plotting on one, I've always got somewhere else I can explore my passion for happily ever afters.
    I'm a firm believer in elves, in wizards, in aliens, in portals that open to other worlds, so I doubt I'll run out of heroes and heroines any time soon.
    Sometimes I think it's sad that in our daily life we can't wish on a star and get our heart's desire, or find a genie to give us three wishes. But I also believe there is enough magic on this planet to satisfy everyone if we all work together.
    As for writing in different genres, that's one of the great powers of romance. Everyone, even aliens from outer space and dragons understand the power of love.

    1. Excellent response, Betsy! And I heartily agree.

      I like that you can multitask between books. It makes sense, though I can't really make it work for me. I took a break on one book and ended up writing a trilogy! Still trying to go back to the initial book. I have the first half and last half done, but I think someone blew up my bridge! ;-)

      What's up next for you? Anything you want to mention??

  5. What's next for me? I've got a few really exciting things coming. I have a trilogy coming this spring and summer called Dragon's Roost. They take place in a bed and breakfast in upstate New York, that spans several worlds. the first book, Dragon Tea is about a dragon who can take human form and who finds Lori, a woman strong enough to tame him. The second, Gargoyle's Mate is about a gargoyle cursed before the beginning of time. He finds his true love while on quest, but first he must betray her. The third book in the series I've almost finished. It's called a Wizard's Spell, about a wizard who 'dies' from gunshot wounds, and while having an out-of body experience, finds his own true love. Then after he leaves the hospital, he must find her before others who are trying to kill her do.
    After that, I am planning on writing a sequel to my Santa Takes a Wife book. This one takes place some twenty years later, when Santa's daughter is set to take over the reindeer reins. The only problem, Marshall, the guy she's got her eye on, doesn't believe in Santa at all, and especially not a female one.
    Again, thanks to Tirgearr publishing. I hope to be here at Heart of Fiction promoting my romance novels for years to come.

    1. Keep writing great stories, and we'll keep hosting you on Heart of Fiction! ;-)

      Love the premise for the Dragon's Roost series. Let's show off those amazing covers, shall we? --

      A Dragon's Tea --

      A Gargoyle's Vow --

      A Wizard's Spell --

      You really scored on those covers, lady!

      Love the idea of the Santa sequel! Maybe we'll see it ready for winter 2014 ;-)

    2. I really love the book covers for the Dragon's Roost series. There's nothing more exciting than seeing your name printed across some gorgeous man's chest. It's a fun series with I hope a lot of twists and turns and certainly some romance. Those books are due out soon, but check out the covers and see how happy I am.
      Second thing, yes, I certainly hope to have Yes, Virginia, the working title for my Santa sequel ready by fall of this year. I'll write to Christmas music, and need Christmas cookies to get in the mood to write, but then, no sacrifice is too big for my books.

    3. Oh my! That really is suffering for your craft . . . Xmas cookies in the spring ;-)

      What other sacrifices have you made for writing?

    4. Honestly, I rarely have to sacrifice anything to write. Creating my characters is my pleasure. Although sometimes it bothers me that I have to give them conflict, I know they'll be ok in the end.

    5. Betsey, I posted your information on twitter, facebook and to my friends on google+
      Here's wishing you the best of luck.

  6. Hi Betsy - Congratulations on "Broderick" getting published! I remember well reading some of the early drafts! What subgenre are you working on next?

  7. Greetings and Salutations Betsy,

    Super fantastic on the publishing of your third book. I cant wait to read it! I sure it will be as enjoyable and fun and romantic as "The Frog Kiss" and "Santa Takes a Wife".

    Gods Blessings on you and your family as you continue to share your gift of writing!

  8. Genie and Amy, so glad to hear from both of you. The writing is going really well. My publisher is offering a lot of support.
    Writing for me is what I need to do to keep breathing. Getting published, well that's a dream come true.

  9. Congrats on the release, Betsy. Long time coming, but should be great. Love the cover, even though I didn't get a chance to create it :-)

  10. Love the sound of your story, Betsy, especially the mix of real life and paranormal. All best with it.

  11. Congratulations, Betsy. Paranormal romance is slightly outside my comfort zone, but I could be persuaded... Best of luck with Her Puzzle.