Friday, 25 July 2014

Kotar & Gessler: Strawberry Fields

It's our pleasure to welcome back the writing duo, SL Kotar and JE Gessler. We first met SL and JE back in January when they released their first novel, Pirate Treasure, book one in the Kansas Pirates Saga. Then in May, they were back with the first book in a new series -- First Draw, The Hellhole Saga, book 1.

Today, we're back to welcome the second book in the Kansas Pirates Saga -- Strawberry Fields.

 First, let me tell you about this dynamic writing team.

S.L. and J.E. wrote for Hollywood. One of their earliest sales was to the Gunsmoke franchise -- Kitty's Love Affair. What makes this episode so important is that it was the first time ever in which a kiss was shown on screen for this series. Until then, hand holding was as steamy as Gunsmoke ever got. It was a good old shootem up western, not a romance. But we all know, Kitty and Matt had a thing between them since the series first aired in 1955. Kitty's Love Affair also earned the franchise their highest ratings ever! Well done, ladies.

S.L. and J.E. went on from there to write pilots for William Shatner, who gave S.L. her nickname, Captain. They've both written for a number of magazines and periodicals, and as medical professionals in their 'day job', the pair have also written some very important medical texts which are used in universities today -- Smallpox: A HistoryCholera: A Worldwide HistoryThe Complete Guide to Ambulatory Cardiac Monitoring and Full Disclosure Telemetry; and their book, Yellow Fever: A History, is due out later this year.

If that wasn't enough, S.L. and J.E. also wrote and published historical nonfiction -- The Steamboat Era: A History of Fulton's Folly on American Rivers, 1807-1860Ballooning: A History, 1782-1900The Rise of the American Circus, 1716-1899; and Riverboat: The Evolution of a Television Series, 1959-1961.

AND I hear-tell they have about 150 novels in a shoe box under the desk! Fortunately for their publisher, Tirgearr Publishing, S.L. and J.E. are slowly revealing some of these gems.

Which brings me back to Strawberry Fields.

The Kansas Pirates Saga is not your typical series of stories. These stories focus on the Ward family. Pirate Treasure introduced readers to Seth Ward and his two children. A widower, Seth was not looking to marry again, but in walks a strange woman with even stranger tales. Barbara Nelander, who just goes by Nelander, is the daughter of a seafaring man. She grew up on the sea and is full of pirating tales. It's with her love and understanding that Seth's family can move away from the tragedy that took their wife/mother and make a future together.

In Strawberry Fields, we're back visiting Seth's family as they advance in the next stage of their adventures. Seth remembered the fields of wild strawberries when he was a child. He always wanted to find a way to acquire the land. As an adult, that dream has never left him. He confides in Nelander and she vows to find a way to help make that dream come true. When the land comes into their possession, Nelander uses the last of her seafaring savings to buy cultivated strawberries with the hopes of creating a hybrid variety that will yield them a great return. Obstacles get in their way. Jealousy, anger, and ne'er do wells try stopping the family at every turn.

As with the first book in the series, Strawberry Fields is just as engrossing as Pirate Treasure. Through their expert writing abilities, Kotar and Gessler pulls readers in from page one, back to post-Civil War Kansas and into the lives of a small family just trying to survive harsh conditions in the expanding American West. There's always someone there to try pulling you down, but often there can be someone there to help pull you up again. Seth and Nelander are an ideal couple with an enviable and apparent love for not only each other, but also Seth's children. These characters are well-written and easy to become endeared with. Nelander is such an interesting and unusual character that her part in this series is essential. No other type of heroine would bring these stories alive as she does. SHE is the reason there are pirates in land-locked Kansas. This is a wonderfully engaging story, and anyone who loves historical romance, pirate stories, Civil War and post-Civil War stories, and how has a bit of a sense of humor will love this series.

Before we get to an excerpt, be sure to drop S.L. and J.E. a note in the comments below **with your email address** to enter the draw for a copy of this book.
• • •

What is a dream but a fight against the odds; a struggle to rise above the ordinary and express a creativity that encapsulates the soul. When love is shared, that emotion becomes a dual consciousness. As a small child, Seth Ward had seen a valley filled with wild strawberry plants and had imagined that one day he would own that land and cultivate those plants. Growing to adulthood and facing the harsh reality of raising two small children in Lawrence, Kansas of the 1850's, however, life was reduced to dreary survival and dreams were tucked away into the recesses of yesteryear.

When love and remarriage came to Seth unexpectedly in the person of a strange, wild, nautical woman named Nelander, he shared his dream and she determined to make it a reality. A sad twist of fate brought the strawberry field into their possession and using the last of her seaman's savings, she bought 5,000 plants to add to the wild variety in the hope the family could make a success growing and selling the sweet berries.

The enterprise faced nearly insurmountable obstacles but as often as disaster struck, the touch of a higher power seemed to guide their way. With the assistance of two former slaves, an elderly woman and her son, the small clan of "Kansas Pirates" persevered, ultimately discovering that one dream had the power to blossom into dozens.

All the wrath of the sea gods, combined, could not have come close to approximating the pain she felt. Barbara Nelander-Ward had prepared herself for the worst, but this agony surpassed her wildest expectations.
Face flushed, heart racing, fists clenched, she stifled one cry, but as the spasms came again in fresh waves, she howled an invective.

“Damn!” Ashamed of her weakness, for she was not one to surrender easily, Nelander clenched her teeth, spat, then offered a weak apology. “I am sorry. I had not meant to cuss. But at least,” she tried, “I did not put a ‘God’ in front of it.”

The tall, solidly-build man at her side, himself the color of a furled topsail, forced a grin. “That would have been swearing.”

“I promised I wouldn’t, but you damned landlubbers have such delicate ears.”

He didn’t remark on her second use of the impolite word.

Offering his hand, Seth Ward encouraged her to take it.

“Hold onto me. Squeeze as hard as you can. Concentrate on —”

“Crushing your fingers? That is an incentive, if ever I heard one.”

Despite the temptation, she did not oblige. “Go to the door and look out. Just one last time, to see if anyone is coming.”

Slipping silently away with the grace of a deer, which belied his stature, Seth crossed the living room and stood in the open entranceway. A breeze blew in from the north, cooling his body, if not his nerves. He might have saved himself the trip. The road leading to the farm had not been traversed in several hours, and then by the doctor. No sign of any wagon, carriage or foot-weary traveler met his eye.

He wished it otherwise. His wife put a great deal of stock and not inconsiderable faith in the arrival of her friend. As unlikely as it seemed for a woman to travel by herself from the Nebraska Territory all the way to Lawrence, Kansas on a journey of mercy, such events were known to happen.

But not by an ordinary woman, he reminded himself. By an extraordinary one.

Barbara Nelander-Ward, familiarly called “Nelander” by friends and foes alike, had undertaken just such a trip only five months before. It had been winter then, but she swore to go, and by God, she had. Making her way across one territory and into another, she had sought and ultimately found the temporary home of their former neighbors, Terrance and Beth Windsor and their two sons, Jed and James.

The reunion had not been a happy one. During the summer of 1859 when drought held the land in a viselike grip, burning the soil and parching all living creatures to the point of death and beyond, the Windsors had opted to pack their bags and seek greener pastures. While the Wards held steadfast and ultimately persevered, they had not.

Nebraska had proved proven greener, but only in a figurative sense, for it did the Windsors no good. Without land to till or money to take them further, they had settled in a shanty town named Snow Bluff.

For all their chance of escape, it might better have been named Hell's Bottom.

• • •

S. L. Kotar and J. E. Gessler's first writing success was an episode of the television series GUNSMOKE. The episode, "Kitty's Love Affair," guest-starred Richard Kiley as a gunfighter who saves Kitty's life and then becomes romantically involved with her. This was the highest-rated episode in the series' 20-year history. They published an iconoclastic Civil War magazine called "The Kepi" for many years, specializing in new historical perspectives of the battles and leaders as well as presenting detailed articles on life in the 1860's. Their published works include a detailed account of the series starring Darren McGavin, "Riverboat: The Evolution of a Television Series, 1959-1961" and historical non-fiction texts including, "The Steamboat Era: A History of Fulton's Folly on American Rivers, 1807-1860," "Ballooning: A History, 1782-1900," "The Rise of the American Circus, 1716-1899," "Smallpox: A History," and a cardiology textbook, "The Complete Guide to Ambulatory Cardiac Monitoring and Full Disclosure Telemetry." Their book, "Cholera: A History" is due out later in 2013 and they are currently working on "Yellow Fever: A History," due out in 2014. Outside of writing and cardiology, their main interest is baseball; they are close friends with Whitey Herzog, the great Hall of Fame manager, who inspired them to move to St. Louis and they have rooted for the Pittsburgh Pirates for many years.

Find S.L. and J.E. online at --

Facebook --
Tirgearr Publishing --
Tirgearr Publishing --

Don't forget to leave a comment with your email address for the draw!
Strawberry Fields, The Kansas Pirates Saga, book 2
Pirate Treasure, The Kansas Pirates Saga, book 1

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

C. Margery Kempe: One Night in Rome

Joining us again today at Heart of Fiction is none other than the mysterious, jet-setting author, C. Margery Kempe.

I say jet-setting because she divides her year between the US East Coast, and northeast Scotland. And I say mysterious because . . . well, a woman has to have her secrets!

C. Margery has long been touted as the Queen of Erotic Fairy Tales who puts her own spin on the old classics . . . Spinning Gold, The Swan Prince, and Love Me Like a Reptile. Her Man City series (Shai, Lizzy, and Martin) has also been a great hit, especially for Man City United fans, and fans of soccer and the World Cup, with characters enjoying juicy three-ways.

C. Margery is a very prolific author with many other stories. But fans will also know her as Kit Marlowe (author of the Constance and Collier Series) for historical romance, and as K.A. Laity (author of the Chastity Flame Series) for whatever else suits her fancy. If that weren't enough, she also dabbles in crime noir as Graham Wynd!

Today, C. Margery is visiting to tell us about her latest venture, One Night in Rome.

This story is part of the City Nights Series by Tirgearr Publishing. We've already visited with Troy Lambert who talked about his One Night in Boise, and Lucy Felthouse about her One Night in Paris. One Night in Rome is book three in this series. Stay tuned at the end for more information about what's coming next for the series.

One Night in Rome is Celia's story. What started out the romance of a lifetime suddenly made a wrong turn and she found herself alone in Rome while her ex was probably back home with the woman he'd been seeing while all along telling Celia she was 'the one.' She had decided to see Rome without him. On her own, she wouldn't be encumbered by the whims of travel companions. She could come and go as she liked, saw what she liked, and sample as much of the Eternal City as she could in her short time here. Then she meets Lorenzo at the Galleria Borghese. He's handsome, gregarious, knowledgeable about the paintings, and sexy as hell. He's agreed to be her tour guide for the day, but will she accept the single day he's offering?

One Night in Rome scores high on many levels. In classic Kempe style, C. Margery pulls the reader in from page one with a scene which sets the stage for the remainder of the story. We meet Celia right away and quickly become endeared to her character. Once in Rome, the city comes alive through Celia's eyes, and we can't help but fall for Lorenzo right along with Celia. One Night in Rome is not just another fabulous Kempe erotic romance, it's also another wonderful addition to the City Night Series from Tirgearr Publishing.

Before we get to an excerpt, be sure to drop C Margery a note in the comments below **with your email address** to enter the draw for a copy of One Night in Rome.

Also please note that Tirgearr Publishing has marked down C. Margery's erotic romance collection, Love on a Spoon, to celebrate the release of One Night in Rome.

From now through the month of August, get Love on a Spoon for just 99c on Amazon US, or 77p on Amazon UK, or 89c on any of the European Amazons.

• • •

After a lifetime of wishing, at last Celia's in Rome! But exploring the timeless art and ancient monuments on her own wasn't part of the plan. Will the magic of the Eternal City provide some romance before her holiday ends?

"Take off your dress."

Celia murmured about the need to close the curtains. The hotel room overlooked the glorious eternal city. Sure, they were up high enough no one would be looking directly in but the bright morning light made her feel too exposed, too naked already.

"Off, now." Hugh swept that long delicious lock of hair from his eyes and stared up at her with mischievous lights dancing in his warm brown eyes. He already lay on the bed, his pale skin looking surprisingly golden against the crisp white linen of the sheets.

Celia faced him and slowly began to unbutton her dress. She had chosen this one deliberately for that effect. Not that she was calculating or anything. Maybe she'd seen too many films—okay, maybe she'd seen waaaay too many films and it suited the cinematic view of her dreams to finally finally FINALLY be in Rome and everything had to be exactly perfect—

Just like she'd always dreamed.

"Turn around," Hugh urged her, his voice lower than usual in that way it always got when he wanted to make a meal of her.

"But someone might see me," Celia said. Her protest was little more than half-hearted and she had already begun to turn back when he spoke again.

"What do you care? You don't know anyone here. And why shouldn't they see you? You're perfect."

Celia smiled to herself as she finished unbuttoning the blue shirt dress and dropped it to the floor. She had on her best matching brassiere and panty set, the ones she and Helen had shopped for at that ungodly expensive boutique in Soho. She ran her hands over the silky red cups of the bra and squeezed her breasts with delight.

"Oh, yeah," Hugh hissed from the bed. "Squeeze them tight, honey. I love to see you touch yourself."

Celia looked over her shoulder at him and grinned broadly. She stuck out her tongue at him, but then slipped her hand under the waistband of her knickers until her fingers touched wetness. She sighed and closed her eyes.

"Come over here." Hugh's voice betrayed his hunger. So did the erection he was stroking ever so slowly as he lay on the sheets.

Celia turned and gave him her best sexy look. "Should I take off my shoes?"

"You know you can leave them on for me, but I bet you'd be more comfortable without them," Hugh said with surprising thoughtfulness.

Celia kicked them off and got onto the bed beside him. "Do you like my new lingerie?" She mushed her breasts together even more than the push-up cups did, the lace tickling her tender skin.

Hugh's only response was to bury his face in her cleavage then assault her with his hot lips and tongue while she sank back into the soft pillows.

• • •

C. Margery Kempe is a writer of erotic romance distinguished by its humour, intelligence, and fearless sensual pleasures. Her stories range from contemporary thrillers to medieval era fairy tales.

An English professor by day, she also writes on medieval literature, film, creative writing and New Media, as well as humor, drama, mainstream and genre fiction under her real name and non-explicit romance as Kit Marlowe.

She's a weekly blogger at Nights of Passion on Sundays.

Find C. Margery online at --

C.M.Kempe -
Facebook -
Twitter -
Goodreads -
Amazon -
Lady Smut -
Tirgearr Publishing -

Don't forget to leave a comment with your email address for the draw! 
One Night in Rome, book 3
Don't miss the rest of the City Nights Series. Available now --

One Night in Boise, book 1
One Night in Paris, book 2
What's up next?
One Night in New Orleans, book 4
One Night in San Francisco by Cass Peterson - Available 26 September
One Night in Amsterdam by Jaz Hartfield - Available 24 October
One Night in Edinburgh by Charlotte Howard - Available 18 November

Be sure to bookmark the City Nights page for upcoming releases.

If you're interested in writing a book for this series,
check the submission guidelines on Tirgearr Publishing's website.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Kristi Ahlers: The Trouble with British Lords

Whenever I say or hear the phrase, I'm back, I don't think of the movie, Poltergeist, but the movie Somewhere in Time. There's a scene when Christopher Reeves' character, Richard Collier, wakes up in the room he fell asleep in, only in the past. He hears singing coming from another room, and the key jiggling in the door. Fast, behind a chair to fold his 6'4" frame from view, just as a man walks through the door and proclaims, "Maude, I'm back!"

I mention this scene because I know Kristi loves this movie as much as I do. And I know, in her head, she's saying, as we welcome her back to Heart of Fiction, "Readers, I'm back!" :-)

And back, she is, with a **special** issue in her Trouble Series -- The Trouble with British Lords -- set in London in 1812!

You read that right. British Lords is the first historical in The Trouble Series.

Jocelyn Ramsey, an American, is new to London society, and when her aunt and uncle introduce her to the Ton, Jocelyn makes a splash, and it’s far from socially acceptable kind. In the midst of her social faux pas, Jocelyn meets a knight in shining armor and everything changes for her, but is she ready for that change? She’s finding the trouble with British Lords is they are never predictable.

Cameron Rutledge is the Duke of Chattaris and he is instantly charmed by the little American beauty and can’t understand why she seems ambivalent to his advances. She intrigues in and the more time he spends with her, the more he wants her. He’s not about to let this woman walk out of his life. He doesn't care what trouble he has to go through to get her.

The Trouble with British Lords is another fun read in The Trouble Series. Kristi's voice rings through this story as clear as each previous title in the series. She writes fun characters and situations, and surely includes some giggles and lots of sighs. Jocylen is a headstrong American in Regency London, a fish as out of water as a ever there was one. She's certainly not prepared to have a man as handsome as Cameron come to her rescue, but a Duke at that! The sparks between the two are palpable. This is a real page-turner, and a nice historical surprise in an otherwise contemporary series. Love it!

Before we get to the blurb and excerpt, remember that we're giving away a copy of this book to one lucky commenter. Be sure to leave your email address for contact.

• • •

London, England 1812

Wallowing around in Earl of Seaton’s country estate’s fountain on the night of his engagement ball was not the grand entrance Jocelyn Ramsey wanted to make into English society. She’d planned on being more graceful. And dry. A shiver of cold wracked her body as she sat on the slick bottom of the fountain, her expensive Worth gown floating in a silky mass amongst the koi.

No amount of wishing, bargaining, or praying would change the fact she had made a splash all right, but not the good kind. Somehow, she didn’t think her current situation, no matter how prim and proper she tried to appear with a lily pad resting in her hair, was going to win her the approval of London society.

She looked at her ruined frock, resisting the urge to moan aloud and draw even more attention to her water-logged self. A quick glance through her lashes proved that instead of a few members of society seeing her incredible faux pas, a mass was gathering around the fountain.

Oh bother, her aunt was going to let her have it now. There was going to be no way to smooth over this mistake any time soon, not with all of London society gaping at her. A kaleidoscope of shapes and sizes of women, their mouths open in horror or shock, some outright giggling behind kidskin gloves or decorative fans, faced Jocelyn. Regardless of either any attempt or zero attempt at hiding their reactions to her mishap, Jocelyn fought the need to hide from their silent and cold censorship; instead she gathered her courage and smiled.

Jocelyn plucked at the uncomfortable bodice of her gown in an attempt to free the material clinging to her bosom in a very indelicate fashion and grimaced at the sucking sound her action caused when the fabric peeled away from her body. The noise seemed over-loud to her and her face heated with embarrassment. So much for being a diamond of the first water and not in a positive way.

“Is that the Ramsey gel? Such hoydenish behavior,” a feminine voice whispered. “I understand she actually bathed in ponds back in American, like a commoner.”

“Pish, what do you expect? She is an American,” another female voice intoned a tad louder than the first. “Brash and disrespectful of common decency, I tell you.”

“Well, this will prove to be her undoing, no suitor would dare align himself with someone so clumsy no matter her dowry.”

Jocelyn closed her eyes and prayed for patience or divine intervention. Really, at this point she couldn’t afford to be picky. Did these women not understand she could hear them? Or that English was a language she understood fluently, along with French, Spanish, and Greek? She may be an American—odd how the aristocracy could make that sound dirty and shameful—but she was an educated one. Her beloved mama saw to that.

If she had learned anything in her brief stay in England, manners were paramount to good breeding. However, if whispering loud enough that the subject of the conversation could hear the words spoken was considered polite—well, Jocelyn had to question the ton’s moral way of thinking.

• • •

Kristi Ahlers is a California girl! She grew up in Northern California in a small city called Yuba City. Since then she's lived in Brussels, Belgium, and England along with a myriad of other locations. A former flight attendant, she was able to continue to feed her love of travel. This has greatly influenced her writing, allowing her to pen stories about places she's managed to visit and things she's experienced.

Kristi loves to hear from her readers.

Find Kristi online --

Kristi Ahlers -
Facebook -
Kristi's Blog -
Tirgearr Publishing -

Grab your copy of The Trouble with British Lords at Tirgearr Publishing today for just $1.99.

While there, grab a copy of The Trouble with French Kisses for just 99c, on sale through July. This is book one in the Trouble Series.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Joyce Brennan: Misplaced

It's my pleasure to welcome Joyce Brennan back to Heart of Fiction.

Joyce joined us in January with her book, The Hidden Journal. Today, she introduces us to another wonderful story -- Misplaced.

Living in warm and sunny Las Vegas, Joyce in the prefect city for researching mobs and a Mafia criminal underbelly. After all, it was Bugsy Siegel and his Mafia crime friends who founded the first casinos in the city, and murder and mayhem in their history. Applying a creative twist, Joyce tells the tale of a woman who has witnessed and been victim to a Mafia hit.

Gilda Scarlotta is in a very happy place in her life. Nothing is perfect, but it's feeling pretty close. Then one day, she visits her parents in their home, only to find their bloody, lifeless bodies. And their killer is still in the house! He can't leave any witnesses and shoots her, leaving her for dead.

It's a long recovery, emotionally and physically, but things will never be the same. In fact, her life changed forever in many ways, that day she was shot. Including agreeing to testify against the Buffalo Family, and then she's placed in witness protection, forced to take on a whole new life, with a new identity and career. Now, as Jillian Martin, a teacher in the small Ohio town of Quincy, she must try piecing her life back together.

Police chief, Nate Spencer, is the town's only full time officer. Quincy is about as sleepy as a town can get without it actually falling asleep on itself. When Jillian Martin moves to town, Nate feels change is on the wind. The call from a US Marshal is just the beginning. He tells Nate who Jillian really is and why she's in Quincy. Unbeknownst to Jillian, Nate promises to protect her.

Nate's secretary,Celia James, is secretly in love with him. When she sees how close Nate and Jillian are becoming, Celia begins an aggressive campaign to discredit the newcomer, including finding out who Jillian really is and tells the Mafia where to find Gilda Scarlotta!

Oh, my goodness! Misplaced is a fabulous romantic suspense, with equal measures of romance and suspense. Though I'm not sure if that should be suspense and romance. Really, it's hard to tell which is more evident. The story opens with Gilda discovering her parent's bodies and getting shot herself. Suspense from page one. The attraction between Jillian and Nate is palpable. We follow this couple in their budding relationship, never really getting a fair chance at a normal relationship. What's normal for Gilda-Jillian anymore? Neither are looking for a relationship, but both needing something the other can provide, until a very personal relationship evolves, despite (or is that in spite of) Celia's interference and collusion with the Mafia. This story is well-paced and engrossing. Joyce's voice is strong as she weaves her tale, pulling the reader in on invisible threads and ensnaring them within her pages. The only way out is to finish the story. Believe me. You'll want to read this in one sitting. How can you help but not?!

Misplaced is right up there with any of Linda Howard's romantic suspense novels. I dare say, Linda has some stiff competition with Joyce Brennan! This is definitely a must read for anyone who likes edge-of-your-seat romantic suspense/suspenseful romance. Great job, Joyce!

Readers -- Before we get to the blurb and excerpt, remember that we're giving away a copy of this book to one lucky commenter. Be sure to leave your email address for contact.

• • •

Gilda Scarlotta discovers her parent’s lifeless bodies in their upscale home only to have their murderer turn his gun on her. Left for dead, she recovers and identifies the assassin as a member of the Buffalo mob. The FBI places her in a small Ohio town under the Witness Protection Program. Gilda falls in love with the local chief of police, and just when she believes her life is safe, the mob learns of her new identity.

Buffalo, New York

Gilda Scarlotta hooked her purse over her arm, grabbed the specially wrapped box of imported Belgian chocolates from the front seat of her chili red Mini Cooper, and dashed up the porch steps. She barely touched the handle on the double hand-carved front doors when they swung open.

She hesitated. Papa always insisted they keep the doors locked, even when they were home. Noting a car parked in the driveway, she shrugged it off. A guest? Her parents were always entertaining. She stepped inside. Her spike heels sinking deep into the thick green carpet muffled her footsteps as she walked through the foyer.

The house was dark with the exception of the dining room where she could see the end of the set table, graced with a white lace cloth and flickering candles. She smoothed her skirt and brushed back her hair. Her entire body tingled. Her parents thought she couldn’t come home for their thirty-fifth anniversary celebration because she had to study for finals. She anticipated their astonished expressions. She walked toward the room.

“Momma, Papa, surprise! I’m home.” Her voice trailed off in the silence. A hardened lump formed in her throat.

Why didn’t they reply?

She ventured further into the doorway and gasped. Momma, head hanging grotesquely to the side, slumped in the antique dining room chair. Papa’s body sprawled face down on the Oriental rug. Blood. Blood everywhere.

Her hands flew to her face. “No.” Her scream pierced the deadly silence as she backed away in horror. Before she could turn and run for the front door, two shots ripped through the room in rapid succession. The impact spun her sideways. Her head throbbed. A fierce pain raged in her chest before she crumpled to the floor.

Footsteps clicked on the parquet floor that bordered the Oriental dining room rug. Gilly kept her eyes closed. Held her breath and kept her body limp. She sensed the killer standing beside her. A shoe jabbed her ribs.

Oh my God, he’s checking to make sure I’m dead.

It took all of her resolve not to react as she mentally braced for another gunshot. It seemed like forever before the carpet moved and the killer stepped over her. She blinked open her eyes as he casually strolled through the entry way and out the double front doors, not bothering to close them. Gilly choked back a sob, terrified to move or make a noise until she heard the soft purr of an engine as the car spun out of the driveway.

She pressed her hand to the side of her head. Warm sticky fluid oozed through her fingers. Each breath tore at her chest. A burst of blood had soaked through her sweater. She struggled to stay conscious. She had to call for help. Eyes blurred, she fumbled in her blood soaked Gucci bag and pulled out her iPhone, willing her fingers to punch in the numbers.

“911, what’s your emergency?”

“Help me,” she coughed, gasping for air. “I’ve been shot.”

• • •

Joyce Brennan writes Romantic Suspense and Cozy Mysteries. She served as editor for a business school newspaper before embarking upon a career with American Airlines. She has authored three Romance novels: Hidden Journal, Broken Promises, and Don't Dance on My Heart. Her short stories have been published in four anthologies and in an internet magazine. She is an active member of the Las Vegas Romance Writer’s, a Chapter of the Romance Writers of America, The Las Vegas Valley Writers, and The Henderson Writers Group. She gives presentations on writing, hosts a critique group and a leads a Creative Writing class. She writes articles for the community newspaper and gives writing advice on her blog. Joyce volunteers at a warehouse that provides medical equipment for seniors. She resides in Las Vegas, NV, with her husband, Tom and their two Yorkies.

Find Joyce online --

Website -
Blog -
Facebook -
Tirgearr Publishing -

-- > Don't forget we're giving away a copy of this book to one lucky commenter. Leave her a question or comment here with your email address to be automatically in the draw.

Or you can grab a copy of this book now for just $4.99 through Tirgearr Publishing.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Charlotte Howard: The Black Door

It's my pleasure to welcome Charlotte Howard to Heart of Fiction.

Author of two previously published books in the Paige Holmes Series, Charlotte celebrates the publication of a much different story -- The Black Door.

One day, Imogen Pearce thought she'd surprise her husband by returning home early from work, only she was the one surprised. Imogen learned two things in the instant -- what reverse cowgirl was and that her husband was cheating on her. Years of marriage and four children, Imogen suddenly finds herself single mother going on 40 and trying to raise her kids on her meager income. She's unsure about her future with Ryedale Inc, as much younger employees (read: paid less) compete for work with her. If she's going to raise her kids properly, she's going to have to fight. Even if it means taking on the account of a local adult store, owned by Cherry and Sean Rubin.

The black door at the back of the shop had intrigued Imogen since she first saw the descrete sign -- Adventurers Only. She works up the nerve to ask the Rubins about. Imogen discovers her new friends are running a private club at the back of the shop, and that she knows several members. The black door leads Imogen into a life she never knew existed, and one which reveals not only her innermost passions, but also reveals the life she thought she knew was full of lies. Just when she feels she's starting to get her life back on track, deep secrets start emerging.

The Black Door isn't your typical erotic romance. It's much more -- contemporary romance and romantic suspense, as well as a tale of revenge and forgiveness. Imogen finds herself in an all-too-common scenario of a suddenly single mother trying to make ends meet, while her philandering ex husband lives the life of Reilly. It's bad enough he's been cheating on her, but when other secrets begin surfacing, Imogen's life feel like it's shattering around her. Charlotte's voice pulls the reader into Imogen's story in such a sharp way that one can't help but see and experience everything alongside Imogen. It's not difficult to feel her struggle, and her path through the dark to a new life. This is an emotive story that one will want to try reading in one go. Charlotte has done an excellent job with this story and put a fresh spin on the genre, introducing us to a heroine we can't help but find engaging and likable. Great job, Charlotte!

Charlotte visited with us for a quick chat --

Welcome to Heart of Fiction, Charlotte, and thanks for taking time from your busy day to have a quick chat.

I know you to be a busy woman with lots of irons in the fire, with your own family, growing pet family, and loads of writing projects. How do you get it all of your projects done? Do you have a routine or wing it . . . planner or pantser, as they say?
I don’t particularly have a routine, as such. I work during the day, and have two small children, so it really is “when I get the chance”. Plus, with what I write, I have to wait until they’re not around! I tend to do my writing at night once the kids are in bed.
I have to have a large mug of tea while I’m writing. I tend to use my favourite red and white spotty mug. Wow. That sounds so boring!
There's something ironically amusing about this revelation . . . writing erotic fiction while drinking tea form a boring mug. If only that mug could talk!

So, when the kids are in bed and you have a chance to write, what is your space like?
Sofa, laptop, cup of tea. I used to have a desk with two screens, but felt like I was abandoning the family by locking myself away in an office, so I moved downstairs. I still ignore them and let them all fend for themselves while I’m writing and editing, but at least I’m in the same room now!
Ah! The one thing people don't realize about writers . . . the isolation and locking oneself away for hours to *create*.

What do you enjoy doing when you're not writing?
Drinking tea, watching action and thriller movies, eating curry, and reading books!
Mmm . . . curry!

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Charlotte. Best of luck with The Black Door.

Readers -- Before we get to the blurb and excerpt, remember that we're giving away a copy of this book to one lucky commenter. Be sure to leave your email address for contact.

• • •

Imogen Pearce is a single mum of four children and fast approaching 40, she works at Ryedale Incorporated where she has to battle a younger and smarter generation to get to where she wants to go. If that means taking on the account of Cherry and Sean Rubin’s adult shop, then she will. But what happens when Imogen discovers the private club that they run at the back? And what happens when she realizes she knows quite a few members?

Men. All the bloody same.

My mind traced back to the day I had given up on one-sided monogamous relationships.

The children were at school or work, and the sun was beating down. It was a glorious day, and I had decided to go home for lunch, rather than spend it in a stuffy office.

I pulled up outside the house and a fleeting thought passed through my mind when I saw Connor’s car sitting in the driveway. My husband of eighteen years had had the same idea.

I crept into the house, hoping to surprise him. But, it turned out that his idea had involved a slutty bottle-blonde.

I wanted to blame the events that followed on a red mist descending over me. The truth is that in the time it took for my mind to register that some tart was riding my husband in what I later found out was known as reverse cowgirl, my mind had calculated the necessary response.

The skank lost a good handful of bleached hair, roots and all. I allowed her to gather her clothes and watched as she tugged her pants on whilst running out of the house. If nothing else, the neighbours got a good show.

Connor yelled at me. But his words were drowned out by the blood pumping in my ears. I marched back up the stairs and into his little study. Opening the window, I saw Miss Slut stood in the middle of the road, screeching obscenities at me. I looked at the Ferrari in our driveway and smiled.

I think his Xbox enjoyed its first and final flying lesson as it sailed out of the window. The fact that it landed in the bonnet of his prized mid-life crisis proved that Karma does exist.

Connor. Holly.

I made a mental note of the two names at the top of my imaginary hit list.

I blinked and I was back in the boardroom.

• • •

British author, Charlotte Howard, was born in Oman and spent much of the first part of her life flitting between Oman, Scotland, and England. Now settled in Somerset, Charlotte lives with her husband, two children, and growing menagerie of pets.

Her career as a writer began at an early age, with a poem being featured in an anthology for the East Midlands. Since then Charlotte has written many short stories and poems, and finally wrote her first full-length piece of fiction in 2010.

During what little spare time she has, Charlotte enjoys reading and writing (of course), spending time with her family, and watching action movies whilst eating curry and drinking tea.

Charlotte is an active member of Yeovil Creative Writers Group.

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Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Marie Maher: An American Detective in Paris

One of the best things I enjoy is introducing the world to a new author and to new stories. Today I get to do both.

Joining us today is Marie Maher. Marie is a prolific writer living in the English countryside with her husband, daughter, and a beautiful rescue dog. Marie is a prolific writer, having published two novels before today, as well as writing for a number of magazines.

Today, Marie releases the first book in a new romance series, An American Detective in Paris, book one of the American Detective series.

Kelly Saunders is an American woman living in Paris and working as a private detective. Young, pretty, and feisty, one would think she'd have Frenchmen knocking down her door. This is the city of love, after all, right? But not so. Rather than dwell on the fact her love life is a bit quiet at the moment, she concentrates on something she really enjoys doing -- catching bad guys. And she's just been hired to track down and bring in a notorious jewel thief. She's aided by (or should that be hampered by) two police detectives, Capitaine Martieu and Lieutenant Basteaux.

Then she runs into Michel Philippe -- literally runs into him with her car as she's chasing a bad guy -- who faints in her arms from shock. After a trip to the emergency room, Kelly finds she enjoys the company of her new friend who ends up helping her with her big case.

What a story! One cannot help but hear Henry Mancini's Pink Panther theme music while reading this story. Marie has delivered an excellent first edition to this new series with a story full of humor, intrigue, and sweet romance. Kelly is a fun character who's not afraid to get her hands dirty to catch the bad guy, and she's smart enough to know a good thing when it's staring her in the face. Even while being hampered by the French authorities, Kelly is determined to get her men (both the crook and Michel), no matter what obstacles get in her way. This is one of my funnest reads so far this year. I can't wait to see what Marie has up her sleeve for the next story in this series!

Readers -- Before we get to the blurb and excerpt, remember that we're giving away a copy of this book to one lucky commenter. Be sure to leave your email address for contact.

• • •

Kelly Sanders is an American private eye living and working in the romantic city of Paris, though romance for her is thin on the ground at the moment. She doesn't have time for love anyway, having been commissioned to catch a jewel thief! This thrilling chase in the run-up to Christmas leads her across Paris, and up the famous Eiffel Tower. She is aided and abetted by her new friend, Michel Philippe, and hampered by police detectives, Capitaine Martieu and Lieutenant Basteaux. Will Kelly find her jewel thief and, hopefully, find love?

What could be more romantic than Paris in the springtime? Imagine idling along the Left Bank, an ardent lover in the offing and the prospect of a burst of diamonds and gold on your finger. That would be nice, but now this is winter, a week to go until Christmas, with lashing rain threatening to turn to snow. Oh, yes, and a dangerous jewel thief is on the loose.

Well, I’ve no proof he’s dangerous, not yet. Nevertheless, in my job I have to prepare for anything.

Trying not to rattle my teeth by shivering, I jumped into my trusty Citroën, which was chomping at the bit, and prepared to follow my suspect through the slow-moving traffic.

I was sure my attention hadn’t slipped, but suddenly there was a young man sprawled across my hood. Slamming on the brakes, I jumped out.

“Are you all right?”

“Oui”…I think so.”

“Well, you’ve no right to be! What the hell do you think you’re playing at, jay-walking like that?”

I scanned the traffic while trying not to jump up and down in frustration, but it was as I suspected. The cab containing my suspect was fast disappearing into the distance.

“Now look! He’s gotten away!”

The guy was staring at me with bulging eyes, as though I was some sort of screwball or something.

“I…I am sorry, mademoiselle,” he said, slowly.

His voice was weak, and my heart missed a beat when I took a proper look at him.

“Hey, you’re bleeding! Come on, jump in and I’ll take you to the hospital.”

He touched his face and squinted in surprise at the redness on his fingers. Then he fainted.

• • •

Marie Maher has written for a number of magazines. She also has two books published on Amazon Kindle, Thirteen Days in Spain, and Ciao! Amore. These are light-hearted romantic mysteries set in various locations on the sunny Mediterranean, and are part of a series entitled 'Mediterranean Mysteries'.

Marie lives in South Yorkshire, England, with her husband, Patrick, and daughter, Sarah. She has another daughter, Helen, and a son, Karl, who have four lovely grandchildren between them! She also has to find time to keep up with her rescue dog, Poppy.

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-- > Don't forget we're giving away a copy of this book to one lucky commenter. Leave her a question or comment here with your email address to be automatically in the draw.

Or you can grab a copy of this book now for just $1.99 through Tirgearr Publishing.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Kim Iverson Headlee: Snow in July

Some years ago, I had the pleasure of reading Kim Headlee's debut novel, Dawnflight: The Legend of Guinevere. In my review, I had said --

"Dawnflight" is as seamless a story as they come . . . First time readers of Arthurian legend will find "Dawnflight" packed full of action and adventure with a generous dollop of romance. Well read readers of this legend will find themselves enthralled, sitting back to contemplate the validity of the this new theory on Guinevere's legend, as well as Arthur's. "Dawnflight" has been compared to "Mists of Avalon" by Marion Zimmer Bradley; no truer a compliment. All I can say is "Wow!!"

To this day, I stand by my previous review, and Dawnflight has remained one of my most favorite reads.

Today, Kim celebrates another release in her repertoire -- Snow in July.

This is the story of Sir Robert Alain de Bellencombre. He's been promised a great estate as a reward for his service at the Battle of Hastings. In order to claim his prize, he must marry the estate's Saxon heiress. Alain hadn't counted on this being a condition of the reward, and before he'll agree to anything, he disguises himself as a squire and takes a little look around the estate -- the lands, the rumors of evil sorcery, and of course, the lady.

Lady Kendra of Edgarburh suffers the guilt that her mother's powers of healing have not been passed down to her, making her unable to save her brother's life. Then she has been given the horrible news that she'll be wed to the man suspected of inflicting her brother's mortal wound. She vows she will not marry this Norman . . . unless it snows in July!

Kim Headless has penned another wonderful tale in this story. Her captivating voice draws readers in from the first paragraph, her story rich and engaging, and her characters leaping from the pages. She makes it easy to understand the plight of both of her protagonists, and weaves her own sorceress tale of love and forgiveness. Snow in July is a must read, and will certainly capture readers' hearts, as it has mine. Yet another favorite Kim Headlee tale.

Kim took some time from her busy schedule to have a quick chat with me --

Welcome, Kim, to Heart of Fiction, and thank you for taking some time to share some interesting tidbits about yourself from the other side of the computer screen.

I know from reading your books that a vast amount of research is done before you even put 'pen to paper'. Between research, writing, running your own self-publishing company, and everything else, how do you fit it all in? Do you have a daily routine, and if so, what's that routine like?
Lately I’ve been swamped with a ton of editing, and learning to create my own print book layouts via Adobe’s InDesign. Plus it’s now summer, which means EVERYone is home, including my husband, the high school math teacher, so my efforts to write new fiction won’t start back up until fall, at least. But whether creating, editing, or formatting, my day is pretty much like this: check email & social media for an hour or two, then get to work and try like heck to ignore the Facebook notifications I get on my phone… :-)
Ha! Sounds like me. I had to finally turn off Facebook notifications if I was going to get anything done. A total Pavlovian Effect! :-)
Please share for us what it's like in your writer's world. What's the space like around you in which you write?
I’m lucky enough to have a couple of options these days. 
When doing work that’s interruptable – editing & formatting – I usually set up on my recliner couch for maximum neck support. Eleven years ago I was in a near-fatal car accident that left me with pins in my neck, so I place a high value on being comfortable as I work. (Regular deep-tissue massages are a must too, but that’s for a whole other interview!)
For those times when I need to minimize interruptions because I’m deep into the process of creating new material, we have a second house on our hundred-acre property – two pastures removed and deliberately devoid of TV, Internet, and a land line. We have dubbed it The Retreat, and it is exactly that: a fully functional 2-story, 1-bedroom house decorated with all the inspirational items I’ve collected in my decades of travel and attending conferences. Wonderful energy, and wonderfully quiet!
OMG! Every writer's dream to have a personal retreat to escape to for writing. You'd never get me out of it. How do you stand not moving into it? LOL A topic for another conversation, I'm sure!

Okay, when you're not writing, editing, formatting, and not cocooned in your retreat, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Since I’ve been in the throes of having to prepare TWO books for release – of which Snow in July is the first – there isn’t a lot that I do that’s not writing related. But when I do take a break, I usually fire up Netflix; lately my husband & I have been enjoying going through the old episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. When my daugher is home, all of us have been watching Remington Steele DVDs together. Nostalgic? Who, me??
You're as bad as me. Lately I've been rewatching old episodes of The Streets of San Francisco and Hawaii Five-O LOL Something about those older programs that you don't see today.

Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to visit with us and share more about yourself. I, for one, am looking forward to reading your next release.

Readers -- Be sure to grab a copy of Snow in July on Kindle. It's currently just 99c on Amazon US, and 77p on Amazon UK . . . Almost a steal, and most certainly, it's a keeper :-)

• • •

Sir Robert Alain de Bellencombre has been granted what every man wants: a rich English estate in exchange for his valiant service at the Battle of Hastings. To claim this reward, the Norman knight must wed the estate's Saxon heiress. Most men would leap at such an opportunity, but for Alain, who broke his vow to his dying mother by failing to protect his youngest brother in battle, it means facing more easily broken vows. But when rumors of rampant thievery, dangerous beasts, and sorcery plaguing a neighboring estate reach his ears, nothing will make him shirk duty to king and country when people's lives stand at risk. He assumes the guise of a squire to scout the land, its problems, and its lady.

Lady Kendra of Edgarburh has been granted what no woman wants: a forced marriage to an enemy who may be kith or kin to the man who murdered her beloved brother. Compounding her anguish is her failure to awaken the miraculous healing gift bequeathed by their late mother in time to save his life. Although with his dying breath, he made her promise to seek happiness above all, Kendra vows that she shall find neither comfort nor love in the arms of a Norman…unless it snows in July.

FIFTEEN THOUSAND MEN and horses writhed across the valley below, appearing as toys in a children’s game.

Many might consider war a game, but Sir Robert Alain de Bellencombre, knight of Normandy bound to the service of Duke William and commander of a unit in the cavalry reserves, did not number among their ranks.

Edward the Confessor, King of England via his Saxon father but Norman by his mother, was dead. This battle, raging near the coastal hamlet called Hastings, would decide the right of one man to wear the English crown: William the Norman, acknowledged by Pope Alexander to be Edward’s lawful successor; or Harold the Saxon, brother of Edward’s wife, the man alleged to be Edward’s deathbed choice.

Stroking his war horse’s glossy charcoal neck to calm her, Alain pondered Harold’s claim. It had to be true. This many men would not sacrifice their lives for a lie. Yet the vast majority of Harold’s supporters were Saxons harboring no wish to bear the Norman yoke. Perhaps such men might be desperate enough to fight for a lie that promised to restore Saxon rule.

A trumpet blared. He signaled his men forward, couched his lance, and spurred Chou to send her careening into the melee.

Harold’s shield wall, which had seemed impregnable, began to crumble under the onslaught of Alain’s unit, hastened by the desertion of men who no doubt decided they weren’t quite so willing to die. Their lord stood exposed just long enough for a Norman archer to sight his mark. Harold fell, screaming and clutching an arrow that protruded from one eye.

Harold’s supporters closed ranks around him, blocking Alain’s view and giving him more than enough to do as the Saxons redoubled their efforts to guard their lord’s body.

A familiar whirl of colors caught Alain’s attention. The saffron leopard prowling on a green field—Étienne! A Saxon knight, with a blue arm and fist blazing defiance across his gray shield, bore down upon Étienne with leveled lance. Étienne tumbled from his horse. He scrambled to his feet and retrieved his sword, putting it to good use on the Saxons surrounding him, although the knight who’d unhorsed him had already ridden in search of other targets.

Lance long since discarded and sword now rising and falling with fatal precision, Alain surged to reach his brother’s side. Protection of her youngest son had been their dying mother’s wish, and he had sworn on his own life to keep Étienne safe.

Before he could close the distance, another Saxon knight fought past Étienne’s guard to thrust a war-knife into his throat. Through the visor the knight’s eyes gleamed with startling, fathomless malice. Alain could only watch in stunned disbelief as he laid his hand upon Étienne’s chest for a few moments. Uttering a soul-freezing howl, the Saxon yanked out his seax and disappeared into the press with Étienne’s shield, denying Alain vengeance.

Shame and grief rent his heart asunder.

He had failed the two he loved most; failed them so utterly that he could never beg their forgiveness in this lifetime.

Pain slammed into his shoulder, toppling him from the saddle. Étienne’s body broke his fall. He tried to roll clear, but a spear through his chest pinned him to Étienne. His gut convulsed, and bile burned his throat. Blinding agony killed his struggle to free himself. Death’s stench invaded his nostrils.

He closed his eyes and waited for his final journey to begin.

• • •

Kim Headlee lives on a farm in southwestern Virginia with her family, cats, goats, and assorted wildlife. People & creatures come and go, but the cave and the 250-year-old house ruins—the latter having been occupied as recently as the mid-20th century—seem to be sticking around for a while yet.

Kim is a Seattle native (when she used to live in the Metro DC area, she loved telling people she was from "the other Washington") and a direct descendant of 20th-century Russian nobility. Her grandmother was a childhood friend of the doomed Grand Duchess Anastasia, and the romantic yet tragic story of how Lydia escaped Communist Russia with the aid of her American husband will most certainly one day fuel one of Kim's novels. Another novel in the queue will involve her husband's ancestor, the 7th-century proto-Viking king of the Swedish colony in Russia.

For the time being, however, Kim has plenty of work to do in creating her projected 8-book Arthurian series, The Dragon's Dove Chronicles, and other novels under her new imprint, Pendragon Cove Press. She also writes romantic historical fiction under the pseudonym "Kimberly Iverson."

Find Kim online --