Saturday, July 27, 2013

Careful...I might use this in my next book

There's always been this cliche of "write what you know." When I was younger, this baffled me. How on earth could I write about all the places I dreamed of going, characters who were bigger than life, and situations that were downright deadly if I had to "know".  Yeah, I was young and didn't get it.

Or maybe I did. When I look back to my notebooks filled with love stories when I was in high school, I was writing what I knew--teenage crushes, basketball, horses, parent conflicts, high school hierarchy.  Yet for some reason the "write what you know" saying always irked me. It felt limiting.

How do science fiction writers write about aliens? How do mystery writers write about crime?  I was being too literal for my own good.

All writing, regardless of genre, is fueled by emotion and driven by imagination. In my romantic suspense novels, I've written about diamond smuggling, stalkers, and human trafficking--yet I have no criminal record, I swear! But in all of these novels, I've used my personal experiences in character development.

In Kiss Me Slowly, the two characters are exes who have a lot of resentment about the way their former relationship ended, yet now they need to work together to stay alive. I have exes--and regret. I used those feelings to drive both characters, to form conversations, to stage the emotional conflict.

In Riptide, I actually survived a scary experience with a stalker that I then amplified in the story. I used what I knew about fear, about doubting myself, and about trusting again after a trauma when creating the character of Lauren Biltmore. The story unfolded naturally from there.

In Reckless Endangerment, I have never been a war veteran or a war correspondent, but I have survived great loss in my life and know what it's like to start over--and to be scared. I wrote what I knew.

The quote from Jorge Luis Borges strikes a chord with me now as I'm truly mining my personal experiences in my first memoir about surviving the suicide of my husband and rebuilding my life.  Some people have questioned my using this experience as "material".  The truth is, everything in my life has been material in one way or another--whether writing fiction or non.

People have told me "there's no need to talk about it, it's in the past." Well, I'm a writer. Everything that's happened to me has shaped the way I view the world. I express myself through writing--an artist paints, a songwriter sings. Heartbreak has definitely fueled Taylor Swift's career.

It is true...all of my experiences are resources for my creativity. If I'm writing a sexy scene, a suspenseful one, or a true narrative, they all have one thing in common--they're from the heart. I doubt I'd be able to touch readers' emotions if I lived in an insulated box where I'd experienced no pain or no joy.

So now I get it...the "write what you know" cliche has more to do with the intangible than the tangible, regardless of genre. Perhaps I'd change it now to "write what you feel."
Memoir coming in August 2013

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Can't we all just get along?

All of my life--since I was a nine year old scribbling in notebooks--I dreamt of being an author. I had grand visions of book signings across the country, advances that would enable me to splurge on a new car, and respect from my peers.

As an aspiring author attending writers' conferences, I got giggly and out of breath after meeting published authors, agents, and editors. When an editor or agent at a pitch session would ask me to send my completed manuscript, I'd barely conceal my glee until I could get somewhere alone and let it loose.    IT was happening...that feeling that all my dreams were about to come true.

The dream came true and you know what? I'll never forget that first YES that had me shaking uncontrollably and crying with happiness. After all that time, finally a YES, an offer of publication.  The feeling is indescribable. Bliss comes to mind. A rush of adrenaline so strong it's like spiking the ball after scoring a touchdown for the win.  

Yes, I feel a great sense of accomplishment after years of hard work spent reaching this place, but let's just say my rose colored glasses are not only off, they've been crushed. No, I'm not jaded. I still love writing more than anything else on the planet. I'm thrilled when I connect with readers or receive a great review. The sight of my published book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or iTunes makes me feel like, "yes, I did IT!"  But I was unprepared for the snobbery of the publishing world that comes not only from publishers, but reviewers, and, yes, fellow authors.  

A well respected review site that shall remain nameless contacted me saying they would "allow" me to submit a "request" for a review this week only because they were expanding to the romance genre. Along with the request, came a set of stipulations about the romance genre saying some of their members may not pick up my book for a long list of reasons--most of which are complete rubbish.  Of course their generous offer involved me sending in a free copy of my latest release, too, for the chance--the honor--of maybe being reviewed on their site if the description of my novel wasn't too shocking or cliche for them.  Hey, you guys, you contacted me

Romance is the highest selling genre of all fiction.  It is not cookie cutter or cliche.  Most of my fellow romance authors are extremely talented writers with brilliant, out of the box plots that will have you on the edge of your seat. Most genres--including sci fi, mystery, thrillers--have some romance in them. Whether people like to admit it or not, love is what it's all about at the end of the day. 

But that's not all...the snobbery also comes from within the genre, too, where erotic authors are snubbed by sweet romance authors and romantic suspense is snubbed by get the idea. It's like high school amplified to the world stage.  I say ENOUGH! I reject the idea and won't play.  

I worked hard to get here, which means I don't plan on giving it up very easily. It also means I will not tolerate being snubbed by a review site, fellow authors, or friends simply because I write romantic suspense.  I've spent hours honing my craft, going to workshops, reading, adapting, revising, plotting, tweaking...just like any author does.  

Also as an aspiring author, I had no idea the amount of time and energy I'd need to put into marketing myself. I had grand illusions that my publisher would pour money into launching my career., that's not the case. For anyone of any genre, that's not reality. Not in today's world anyway.  It's a full time job...a real job...and it's not for sissies.  Once you're published, you're tossed into the fray---you'd be right imagining the Hunger Games because that's what it feels like on some days.  

I'm not complaining--it is what it is. Hard work got me here and hard work will sustain me.  It's the snobbery that I was unprepared for--especially from fellow authors.  I once worked at a brokerage house where I spent my days looking over my shoulder, locking my desk when I went for a break, and not trusting anyone around me. I expected more from fellow authors, no matter what their genre.  

So far the readers have been not only receptive to my work, they've gone out of their way to write glowing reviews all over the place and nominate my books on Best of lists on Goodreads. That's who I'm writing for...the readers of romance. I'm writing for my audience who loves LOVE. Lucky for me, there are a lot of them out there. Like I mentioned before, romance is the highest selling genre.  So why the snobbery? Why the infighting? 

With writing, perhaps like nothing else, the work speaks for itself. I prefer helping other authors, regardless of genre, promote themselves because I respect the craft. If a reviewer doesn't like romance or has a bias toward it to begin, why would I want them reading my book just so they can go out of their way to find a fault that bolsters their prejudice? I'm not stupid. I'm an author. An educated, worldly, well-traveled, hard working, professional author. I'd much rather have a reviewer who loves my genre give me a fair review in comparison to like works. That's common sense.  

As for the people in general who scoff at romance, I ask...what are you afraid of? That you might like it? The snobbery is ridiculous. Someone writing science fiction is not a better human being than me--and vice versa. It's all an equal amount of dedication, passion, and old fashioned hard work.  

Monday, July 15, 2013

An interview with Author Missy Martine

Today I'm hosting a fellow Siren-Bookstrand author, Missy Martine, who's also giving away a PDF Copy of "Blind Acceptance"--soooooo much fun! You must comment with your email address to be eligible to win, which you're able to do beneath the interview, excerpt, etcetera. Drum roll, please...cue the's Missy Martine taking the stage for "Open Mic Monday!"

Thank you for taking the time to stop by Kisses, Caresses & Whispers in the Night today.  I really appreciate your time.  Can you tell us a little bit about your newest release?

My newest release, “Blind Acceptance”, is the first book in my 12-part series – “The Wind River Pack” It ties in directly with my “Wolfen Heritage” trilogy a couple of years ago.  Now, it’s 25 years later and Alpha Remus’s family is all grown up.  They’re looking for their mates, and fighting an unseen foe that’s eerily similar to a past enemy.  I don’t want to tell you too much, but I can say that all the original characters are back, plus a whole lot of new shapeshifters to catch your attention.

What inspired this novel in particular?
I’ve written in several genres, but I always find myself coming back to my shapeshifters.  The Wolfen Heritage trilogy ended with everyone mated, and beginning to have pups.  They’d thwarted the bad guys, and began to look toward a bright future.  That was great, but I just couldn’t stop thinking about those pups.  What would they be like when they grew up?  They were only 2/3 shifter so there was a possibility that some of them could turn out to be human.  I finally decided that the story needed to move forward and “The Wind River Pack” was born.

Who is your favorite character in this novel and why?
It’s a tie for this book.  First, you have Maddie.  She was always my favorite character in the Wolfen Heritage trilogy.  She had overcome so much pain in her life, only to mature into a beautiful, strong alpha female capable of handling anything thrown her way.  In “Blind Acceptance”, she still the undisputed leader of her family, always knowing what’s best for them, even when they can’t see it themselves.

In “Blind Acceptance” you will meet Laynee.  She’s also had a very tough life, but managed to overcome every obstacle in her way.  She was my favorite because I got to show that a person who makes the best of what they have can go far and still have their dreams come true.

What comes first--characters or plot ideas?
I always have an idea for a plot long before I create the characters for the story.

How important is setting? Does it play an integral role in this story?
Setting is very important.  It can make or break a storyline.  In the first part of my book, they heroine is left to die in the wilderness.  I used one of my favorite places, Wind River Valley, as a basis for the setting.  It’s remote, with very few people.  You can drive on one of the roads there for hours without seeing another car or house.  It would be an ideal place to dump someone and hope that the wild animals took care of your problems for you.

In the second part of the story I needed a slightly upscale, ritzy neighborhood for down-to-earth individuals.  I went with the St. Paul-Minneapolis area.  There are some beautiful homes with wealthy people, and it has a certain stand-offish vibe to the place.  If the setting isn’t right for the plot, I don’t think the story will make as much sense.

What motivates your main characters?
My book is a paranormal, shapeshifter ménage romance.  The characters are motivated in finding, winning and keeping their mate safe from any harm.

What is the central conflict?
Someone wants Laynee dead and she doesn’t know why.

What is your favorite aspect about being a novelist? 
Getting to write about whatever I want, whenever I want.  I can let my imagination run wild creating new worlds, and fictitious characters.  I can live my own fantasies between the pages, and I get paid to do it J

What draws you to this particular genre?

Paranormal books have always fascinated me.  There’s nothing sexier that a sexy, handsome man who can turn into a fierce beast.  My favorite characters so far have been wolves and bears.  When writing paranormal romance, anything goes.  You’re not bound by rules when you create your characters, or other-worldly places.  You can just tune the world out and let your imagination soar.

Are there any other genres you can see yourself writing and why/why not?
I’ve already written in several genres.  “Star Wishes” is an historical ménage set in the mid 1800’s.  The Anna Doubles Down trilogy is a combination historical, paranormal time-travel ménage.  And I tried my hand at paranormal M/M/M with “Meredith’s Pride.”  So far, I’ve enjoyed writing in each of the ones I tried.  The mid to late 1800’s fascinate me so I can easily see myself writing more in that era.  Doing the “Galactic Nuptials” series was great fun because I got to create whole new planets and races of aliens.  I can’t imagine ever doing anything in horror because I don’t know how I’d work the romance into it J

What’s your goal as an author? By that, I mean...why write? Why is it important to you? 
Writing was my salvation after I recovered from a series of strokes.  I had to give up my nursing career and I was floundering with nothing to challenge my mind.  Hubby talked me into giving writing a try about four years ago and I’ve never regretted it.  From being sick so long, writing romance reintroduced romance into my life and my marriage benefited from it.  Now, with each book I write, I hope that someone, just like me, is getting a type of inspiration from it.  I do all that I can to encourage new writers to give it a chance.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

If you could snap your fingers and transport yourself anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? 
Wind River, Wyoming.  It’s my favorite place in the world, and hopefully my husband and I will retire there someday.  The scenery is breathtaking and there are very few people in the area.  You can hike, or take nature drives and it’s a cameraman’s paradise.  The wild animals are still ‘wild’ and you never know what you’ll see when you go around that next corner.  I’ve been all over the world, England, Wales, France, Japan, China and there’s no place as nice as Wind River Valley.

Tea or coffee?
Alas, I’m sad to say neither.  I had stomach surgery two years ago for weight loss – lost 145 lbs – and I can’t have tea or coffee.  What I am, is a 1% milk person pretty much anytime day or night.

Night person or early riser?
Yes!  LOL!  I am a night person and I’m up early because I seldom sleep.  I’ve suffered from severe insomnia for a very long time.  I go to bed with hubby, then get up when he goes to sleep.  I work for a few hours and then go back to bed so I can get up with his alarm in the morning.  Most days it’s fine, but about once a month I crash and sleep for almost a whole day.  I don’t worry about it because it’s normal for me.

Tell us 5 little known facts about yourself. 
1. I was married twice.  My first marriage was twenty years of misery with an abusive partner.  It took me twenty years to get up the courage to stand up for myself and walk away.  My first book, “Table for Three” is loosely based on my experiences with an abusive marriage.
2. I’ve been with to my current husband for 17 years and he is truly my soul mate.   We met in an internet chat room back in 1996 while he was living in Oklahoma and I was in Tennessee.  We chatted online, exchanged letters and finally ran up huge phone bills getting to know one another.  For both of us it was love at first sight when we finally took the plunge to meet face-to-face.  We drove to W. Memphis, Arkansas because it was halfway between our two homes.  By December of that year, I packed my bags and headed west.  We’ve been together, happy, ever since.
3. Almost two years ago I was diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension and told that if things did not change I’d be dead within the next eighteen months.  Let me tell you, that can scare a gal pretty badly.  I was a huge person, right around 310 pounds and only 4’11” tall.  My sister said I was as round as I was tall.  There is no cure for Pulmonary Hypertension, but it can be controlled with the right lifestyle.  I had to lose weight but the big question was ‘how?”  I was taking 23 different medications daily, walking with a walker, and on 6 liters of oxygen per minute continuously.  It wasn’t like I could jog or ride a bike.  It was decided I would have weight loss surgery.  I had the surgery two days before Christmas and was home in time to be with my husband when he opened his presents.  Luckily for me, the surgery worked.  I lost 145 pounds and I have kept it off.  I only take a couple of medications now, no more oxygen and I packed away my cane in the closet.  I still have “Pulmonary Hypertension” but my prognosis for a long life has greatly improved.
4. When I was on vacation last year, we stopped at the old ghost town of Hamilton, Nevada.  We got out and walked around, trying to see some of the old buildings.  The town flourished as a mining town back in the 1800’s.  Now, it’s just a crumbled shell, but the old mill is still down the dirt road within walking distance.  I hiked down to it, wandering the path and listening to nature.  It’s too far away from civilization to hear traffic noises, and there are no light poles to ruin your view.  It’s easy to imagine what it must have been like to live back in that time, forced to walk to all your destinations.

When I got to the mill, I walked up around it carefully.  The doors are blocked, but all the windows have been busted out so you can see inside really easily.  The wind was blowing and I could hear things inside being tossed around by the stout breeze.  Several times I thought I heard a voice coming from the upstairs, and I watched the windows diligently for shadows to prove I wasn’t imagining things.

Of course, it was my imagination, but that was how my book “Anna Doubles Down” came to be.  I stood there and wondered what I would do if somehow I could transport back in time to see the mill in operation.  Anna became me and her adventures started.
5. Although I feel like I’m in my late thirties or early forties, I’ll be sixty years old on my next birthday.  Hubby doesn’t know it yet, but he’s going to throw me a big party and get me some outrageous gift. J.  For my fiftieth birthday, he bought me a diamond ring.  Not just any ring, but one he designed the setting himself and took it to the jewelry in Minnesota to have made.  It’s beautiful, with a flawless one karat diamond in the center.  He’s going to have to go a long way to beat that!  J

I’d like to thank you for having me here, today.  I’ve enjoyed ‘tooting my own horn.’  I would be so happy if some of your readers would check out my site (I designed it myself and it was my first attempt at web design).  I’m always throwing up contests and sharing news.  You can find me at

Thank you so much for sharing so much of yourself with us. It's truly an honor to have you. Now let's check out this book because it sounds amazing! My door is always open for a colleague--thanks for stopping by. 

Blurb of "Blind Acceptance"...
Laynee Conners has been in a school for the blind since her mother died when she was five. Now, her father wants her to come home so he can get his hands on the inheritance her grandfather left her.
David and Eric Rivers are brothers, adopted into the Wind River Pack. They’re called home to Wyoming when their alpha wants to do a head count of all his pack members. Children are disappearing from other packs, and he’s concerned about his family.
The brothers find Laynee in the woods, drugged and left to die. Both their beasts claim the fragile young woman as their mate.
Can a bear and a wolf share a mate?
Time’s running out. They have to convince Laynee she’s theirs before her father succeeds in his plans.

An excerpt...
Groaning, Laynee slowly opened her eyes and shivered. “Father?” She felt groggy, her head almost spinning. Her tongue felt thick, and a bad taste coated her mouth. She could smell an earthy, pine scent mixed with the odor of damp, rotting wood. The air was crisp and bitingly cold. She reached out her hand and trailed her fingers over the rough bark of a tree. A cold wind ruffled through her hair.
“Ugh,” she groaned when she felt the moisture seeping into her jeans. She could feel the prickle of briars against her palms as she pushed to a sitting position, the spongy ground making her draw back in horror. Why can’t I think clearly? Everything seems so fuzzy. “Where the hell am I, Father?” she screamed.
She froze and tried to calm her breathing, listening carefully for the sound of voices. The only sound was the branches creaking and the groaning of the trees in the wind. She wrapped her arms around her waist and tried to stop from shaking. “What am I gonna do now?”
Trying to control her fear, she struggled to her feet and reached out with her hand to steady herself against a tree. Dizziness nearly overwhelmed her as she dropped to her knees. She turned her face to the wind and strained to hear a familiar sound. After a minute, she tried to stand and froze. The rhythmic sound of footsteps beating against the path caused her breath to catch. “Who’s there?” she whispered.
“I can hear something panting.” Using her legs, she pushed back toward the tree when something plowed through the brush. When she heard an excited yip, she turned to the direction it came from and smiled. “Doggy, here boy.” Barely able to keep her eyes open, she held out her hand. Moments later, something cold and wet pressed against her palm.
She took a shaky breath and laughed. “You’re a big fellow, aren’t you?” Laynee continued to pet him, laughing when he licked her cheek and neck, partially leaning on his firm back. The heat from his body drew her. She scooted closer and hugged him tight.
“You’re so warm, boy. Do you think I could warm myself for just a minute?” It was almost like he understood, cuddling closer, giving her the warmth from his body. “Fellow, we need to get out of here. You’ve got to have a master somewhere.” Her hands rubbed over his neck. “You don’t have a damn collar. Are you a stray?” She sighed when he licked her cheek. “Do you think you could lead us out of here, big guy? I can’t make it on my own. You’ll have to let me lean on you. I’m not feeling too well.”

* * * *

Eric sniffed Laynee’s neck, whined, and then growled softly. She’s my mate! There was something off about her scent, but there was no doubt, this woman was his mate. He spotted a drink can on the ground and leaned down to sniff it, growling when he caught the unnatural scent. She was drugged, just like the man said. When she stiffened, he stopped growling and licked her cheek, whining when he felt her relax against him.
Turning, he stared at her face and froze. Her blank gaze was directed his way, but it was obvious she didn’t see him. My beautiful mate is blind! What kind of a man would leave his blind daughter to fend for herself?
Another unusual scent caught Eric’s attention. He raised his nose and breathed in deeply. With a low growl, he pulled away from Laynee and moved to the other side of the tree.
“Wait,” Laynee cried, and tried to grab for him, nearly falling flat on her face.
He hurried back so she could touch him, but not before he saw the raw meat lying on the ground. It’s a miracle some animal didn’t find her before I did. I’ve got to get her moving toward the highway so David can find us. They were too far from the road for David to pick up her scent unless he shifted. I’d hate to see how she’d react to hearing a bear lumbering through the woods.
Eric nudged her thigh and watched in horror as she tumbled over onto her side. Damn, I didn’t mean to knock you down.
Laynee groaned and pulled herself up. “I’m sorry, boy. I can’t seem to wake up. I’m so dizzy.”
Eric growled softly. I know why you’re dizzy. All those drugs are still in your system. It’s gonna be hard getting you back to the car if I don’t shift.
Determined, he nudged her thigh again and gripped her shirt between his teeth and pulled. She got the message and pulled herself up.
“Okay, boy. I’m coming. Keep your shirt on.” She got shakily to her feet, leaned heavily against Eric, and threaded her fingers in his ruff, holding on tight. Eric leaned down, closed his jaw around the soda can, and then prodded her forward, moving her around rocks and limbs as carefully as he could. Slowly they made their way toward the highway.

Author bio...

I was born, and raised in the great southern state of Tennessee.  In my youth, I studied nursing, and spent several happy years working in the hospitals there until I branched out into medical management in 1980.
In 1998 I was managing a medical supply house in Chattanooga, when I met the love of my life.  The only problem facing me then, he lived way out in Oklahoma.  You see, we had met in a chat room!
He romanced me daily with love letters, flowers and phone calls.  It wasn’t long before I uprooted myself, and moved west to join him.  We married in 1999, and then continued our fantasy romance all over the world.  Together we have traveled in almost all of the Continental United States, and taken trips to Canada and China.
I retired from working in 2002 and it wasn’t long before my husband was encouraging me to find some kind of outlet to occupy my time, something that was challenging, and rewarding.  I was already obsessed with reading about romance, and I began to think I could probably write a good, romantic story.  My husband heartily agreed with me.  With that encouragement, I began writing my first book.  I wasn’t really convinced that anyone else would find it interesting, but he pressed me to take a chance and send it in to a publisher.  To my surprise, it was accepted, and now I’m able to share it with readers everywhere who like a “happily ever after” story.
Today, I’m living in California with my, still romantic, husband of twelve years, and our boys.  Our boys consist of Beau, Midnight, and Bubba, three male cats that allow us to live with them and serve them at their leisure.  I continue to write almost daily, hoping that someone, somewhere will get the same enjoyment from reading my stories, that I get from writing them.

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Jessica Lauryn returns to Open Mic Monday with a Dangerous Proposition...

Romantic suspense novelist, Jessica Lauryn, returns to "Open Mic Monday" with a DANGEROUS PROPOSITION...and a giveaway of a beautiful bracelet (see picture below post). Yeah, that's right--fun post, great excerpt AND bling! It's your lucky day. Welcome, Jessica! 

Thank you, Amber!  I’m very excited to be back on Kisses, Caresses and Whispers in the Dark!  In my last post, I talked about The Pinnacles of Power Series, and mentioned how the heroes—Ryan, Alec, Colin, Lucas and Jack—must battle against their obsessions for power as they struggle to become the heroes they are destined to be.  The desire to have power can be very tempting, and even the greatest hero is capable of struggling with his own desire to maintain power, and amass it.  Today I’d like to talk about power in greater detail, and how it plays a common theme in romance novels today.
The heroes in my past releases—Alec and Lucas—have already begun to let go of their appetites for power as their stories begin.  Alec Westwood, now a small-town doctor as Dangerous Proposal kicks off, has been fighting to step out of the shadow of his overbearing, older brother Colin for most of his life.  At nineteen, in an attempt to show Colin up once and for all, Alec accepts an assassin mission, which he runs from before completing the kill.  Lucas Ramone, hero in Dangerous Ally and former villain in some of my other stories, has been living in isolation for years, and consequently has had a long opportunity to let go of his appetite for power before his book begins. 
Now, let’s look at Colin Westwood, Alec’s older brother and Lucas’s former partner, hero in my latest release, Dangerous Proposition.  Unlike his predecessors, Colin’s appetite for power is at its peak when his story begins.  He is now the sole chief operator of the series’ core focus group, Project Gemstone.  And upon learning that one of his top recruits is missing in action, he keeps all knowledge and leads regarding his whereabouts to himself, even when the man’s daughter, heroine Julia Dyson enters the picture.  Julia suspects that Colin is sitting on something big, but Colin doesn’t falter, no matter how attractive he thinks she is.  He refuses to tell Julia the truth, and instead, makes her an offer that he believes will satisfy her curiosity (and his desires) while keeping all of the cards in his hands.  He asks Julia to come to New York with him, and search for her missing father—as his mistress.
According to the Wikipedia, in politics and social science, power is the ability to influence the behavior of people.  This definition makes perfect sense, when you think about it.  In everything we do, there is a power structure in place—in business, in government, in family dynamics, in life.  It is no wonder that is it so tempting to heroes—and heroines—to try and amass as much power as they can.  And it is often very interesting to see how a person, or character, will deal with their obsession for power when they are hit on the head by one of life’s greatest curve balls—finding true love.
Since love is the central theme in all of our romance novels, there must be an equally (or almost equally) opposing force to challenge it.  We writers often refer to that force as conflict.  Conflict (which is synonymous with antagonism or opposition) is what sustains the plot of the romance novels we love, by presenting our characters, namely the hero and heroine, with challenges they will have to overcome before they can live happily ever after.  Conflict is often internal as well as external, and it is more than likely that on some level, internal conflict will have something to do with a character’s personal struggle for power.
Sometimes a character may struggle with re-establishing power over their own life, like Lena Benson, heroine in Dangerous Proposal, who struggles to remain hidden from her maniacal fiancé.  Other times, like with Colin Westwood, they are trying to maintain their own power, as well as establish power over others.  Or, as is the case with Raphael Ramone, (villain in Dangerous Ally) and other villains/former villains, they may be trying to amass as much power as possible, and establish it over everything and everyone they cross. 
The quest for power is one that will probably never be satisfied—in books or in real life—no matter how much time passes.  But fortunately for those of us who love romance, this theme provides us with an endless variety of stories to tell and enjoy.  After all, what could be more satisfying than reading about a hero who faces his demons, conquers them, and gains the true love he has been unknowingly seeking all along?

As he stepped into the hotel elevator, Colin loosened his hold on Julia. She was clearly terrified, but he didn’t suppose he was going to help her any by crushing her to death. Wincing at the sight of her tearstained face, he pressed the button for the second floor.
The elevator doors closed and he retightened his hold on her. He stroked her back, which was the same thing he had been doing for most of the ride there.
He sincerely hoped it was helping. Julia had stopped shaking, but her lack of chatter indicated that she was still very much in shock. Though he imagined any woman would have been in shock, had she just been held in a room against her will.
Only, Julia Dyson wasn’t any woman. She was as courageous and headstrong a person as he had ever known. Which was why it was worrying him so much that she hadn’t yet snapped out of her trance.
Maybe Dylan Rossler had done something to her. Maybe the bastard had hurt her, or worse, maybe he’d taken her against her will. So help that prick if he had touched one hair on Julia’s head…
Keeping Julia firmly within the groove of his arm, Colin stepped inside the hotel room and flicked on the light switch. After shutting the door, he double-bolted it behind them.
Short of a pale complexion, Julia didn’t appear to be injured. At least, it didn’t look as though she had any bruises. But he knew he wouldn’t feel better until he saw this for himself. Though it was completely unethical, he had half a mind to give her a physical. And if he actually believed he could perform one on her and control himself, he would do just that.
He led a trembling Julia to the bed. Looking into her tearful eyes, he knelt beside her, cupping her cheek. It killed him seeing her like this, killed him even more knowing that he was completely to blame.
Speaking as gently as he could manage, he said, “You’re safe now. It’s all right, sweetheart. You’re safe. I’m right here—no one’s coming after us. No one’s going to hurt you ever again.”
Julia nodded, but she said nothing, causing him to have a horrifying realization. Maybe something had happened between her and Dylan Rossler in that room. She’d been dressed when he found her, but that didn’t mean she hadn’t put her clothes back on afterward, or that Rossler had bothered to remove them at all.
Feeling as though he were on the brink of an explosion, Colin said, “Did that guy—I mean—Dylan Rossler didn’t…you and he didn’t—”
“Of course not! Holy crap, Westwood. What kind of girl do you think I am?”
“One who clearly has a death wish,” Colin muttered under his breath.
“Me?” Julia exclaimed. “I went over there to save your ass. Not the other way around.”
“Which you were obviously doing a phenomenal job with while you were locked inside that bedroom.”
Her chin squared. “You may have been the one to kick the door down, but I would have gotten out of that room with or without your help.”
“If you really believe that, Julia, then you really are naïve. Do you realize what Dylan Rossler would have done if I hadn’t gotten there when I did? Allow me to clue you in, since you’re obviously not aware. Because it’s the same thing every other red-blooded bastard at that party wanted to do to you!”
“You mean”—she bit her lip—“that he—”
“Was planning on having sex with you? Of course, Julia. Of course those guys thought you were sexy, of course Dylan Rossler wanted to have sex with you! I’m not blind. I can see what’s right in front of me. Any man at that party who didn’t want you was either gay or in a drunken coma!”
Her blue eyes narrowed, and Colin bit his tongue. He hadn’t intended to say all that out loud. Hadn’t intended to say any of it, in fact. But he was glad it had happened because he was done holding back.
There was something between him and Julia. A need that ran deep and had been building since that night in his bed. Sometimes it seemed as if it had been longer, particularly at moments such as this when he wanted nothing more than to toss her onto the bed, rip off that damned cocktail dress she was wearing, and sample every last inch of her skin.
He’d wanted to keep his desires to himself, wanted to keep things simple between them. The complications they were risking were great, and God knew he hated the idea that he might be taking advantage of Julia when her father was missing. But right now, he couldn’t seem to think about those things. And after everything they’d been through tonight, he was no longer sure that holding back was going to be possible.
“Does ‘every other red-blooded bastard’ include you?” Julia asked, blinking her blue eyes furiously.
Colin took a staggered breath. Narrowing his gaze, he approached her with two hastened steps. “If you didn’t want me to behave like a red-blooded bastard, Julia,” he whispered, “then, you shouldn’t have worn this dress.” 


In the course of one disastrous evening, diamond smuggling kingpin Colin Westwood learns that his best recruit is missing in action, and that the man has been keeping a secret for years—he has a twenty six year old daughter. Determined to protect his identity, Colin vows to find the young woman, and keep her silent at any cost. Intrigued to learn that she is actually the attractive woman he kissed, he makes Julia an offer. Come to New York City with him to search for her missing father…as his mistress.
When Julia Dyson learns her father has been abducted, she believes his hidden profession may be to blame.  But when she discovers a man’s name in her Dad's caller history, a man suspected of shady business activity and also her teenage crush, she decides to take matters into her own hands.  She confronts her father's presumed abductor, resulting in an unforgettable kiss, and his offer of a dangerous proposition indeed.
Though becoming Colin’s mistress could very well be her undoing, Julia must choose—give in to her desires, or protect her already-broken heart…

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