Monday, November 28, 2016

Playing With Fire


Playing With Fire 
Out now! 


Tightly wound Ryleigh Lawson has it all. The job, the fancy Chicago high-rise apartment overlooking Lake Michigan, and a promising future. Jude Thomas, the sexy backwoodsman, lives in a loft above his bar in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He doesn’t have much and doesn’t need much. The paths of these two people from very different worlds should never have crossed.

With help from a particularly nasty snowstorm, a lemon-yellow AMC Gremlin, and a dog with mismatched eyes, their worlds collide. Snowed in, they are forced to shack up together for a long week. Though they grate on each other, they still spark like flint on steel. A friendship blossoms, and chemistry and passion rage, but when the snow begins to thaw and they are thrust out of their winter wonderland cocoon and back to their previous lives, are they capable of returning to who they were before the snowstorm?

After playing with fire, can they come away anything other than burned?


***


Ryleigh eyeballed him. His blond hair was much longer than she preferred on men. He’d pulled it back into a ponytail, but it didn’t look as though he’d run a comb through it in a while. He had nicely trimmed sideburns, a barely-there blond soul patch, and just a brush of stubble along his strong jawline. His sleeves were pushed up to his elbows, revealing large forearms. The right one had some kind of tattoo disappearing under the fabric of his rolled-up sleeve.
Ryleigh wasn’t certain, but it looked tribal, and the lines sort of mimicked the dance of a flame. He wore a silver band around his thumb and sported a wickedly stern brow. If Ryleigh had a type, he wouldn’t have come anywhere close to falling into it.
“Want a drink?” he asked her as he reached under the bar and pulled out the phone book, then slapped it down on the counter. “To warm you up?”
“Sure, coffee if you got it.” She took her beanie off, slid it into her pocket, zipped it up so she wouldn’t lose it, and did the same to her mittens with the other pocket. Ryleigh hopped up onto a barstool and started attempting to look up a tow truck company in the Yellow Pages app on her phone. It wasn’t loading.
“Uh.” He sucked in a deep breath and let it vent out slowly. “I can make some, but what I meant was like a drink, some brandy, whisky, tequila—whatever you want. Pick your poison.” He paused as she looked up at him with a blank stare.
She finally answered him. “No, thanks.” Her smile was supposed to be pleasant but probably at best just came out curt.
“It’s on the house.”
She shook her head. “Do you have Wi-Fi?”
“Sure.”
Ryleigh stared at him expectantly.
The bartender stared back.
“It says I need a passcode.”
The big blond lumberjack of a man held his hand out for the phone. “Let me see it. I’ll punch it in.” Reluctantly she handed it over.
“You don’t have free Wi-Fi here? In a bar? Why?”
He shrugged one of his broad shoulders. “Then people loiter.”
Ryleigh went wide-eyed. “Isn’t that what you want? It’s a bar. You want people to hang out awhile.”
“They hang out long enough.”
“Isn’t that what people do in bars? Loiter?”
“No. They drink. They shoot pool. They dance. They don’t play around on these.” He wiggled her phone. “And sip on one rum and Coke for hours on end. Nope. Not here. Not in this bar. You come here for a good time with the people you’re with, while you’re with them.”
Ryleigh made a thoughtful noise when he returned her phone, and she began her search for a number.
“What kind of bars do you frequent?”
Without looking up at him, Ryleigh responded first with a deep sigh. “I try not to.”
The big ornery bartender before her quirked his eyebrow at her in surprise as if he hadn’t seen that one coming. “You don’t drink?”
“No, I don’t drink.”
His eyes narrowed in on her. “You don’t look like the type who doesn’t drink.”
“There’s a type?” Ryleigh couldn’t help herself.
“Oh, definitely.” He nodded and set a tumbler and some bourbon on the counter.
Ryleigh waited for him to elaborate and was marginally frustrated when he never did. “I guess you must have misjudged me then.”
His lips quirked, but his eyes didn’t smile along with his mouth. “I don’t think so.”
“Are you going to enlighten me?”
He braced his arms against the bar top. His biceps pulled, visibly elongating the muscles and tendons. “You look like a vodka girl. You look like you drink something clean and mean. Skinny Bitches—”
Ryleigh balked. “Excuse me?”
He laughed and humorlessly shook his head. “Diet Coke and vodka. Maybe a martini? Possibly gin even, with a twist of lime?”
“It’s fine. I don’t need a drink.” She went back to her phone.
“I’ll make you some coffee.” He was ornery. Maybe he figured he had a right to be? It was the middle of the night and here was some broad sitting on his barstool demanding coffee and access to his Wi-Fi, which he was stingy with, apparently. Maybe he had other plans? Maybe there was a woman around. Ryleigh craned her head, searching for one but to no avail. The bar was very dimly lit, even for a bar.
When he shot a look her way from where he stood making coffee, she went back to her task at hand: looking for a wrecker. She took another peek at him when the pot began spitting and sputtering, mixing up some hot brew. He stood there resolutely, arms folded across his broad chest, staring at something on the floor behind her.
Oh, right, that mangy mutt. The dog that had run her off the road was curled up in a tight ball on the floor, shivering. The poor thing.
“Does she need something?” he asked just as Ryleigh had begun to dial a number.
She looked over her shoulder at the dog with mismatched eyes and shrugged. How was she to know? “I told you she’s not mine,” she answered while the phone rang against her ear.
He acted as though he was fighting it, but eventually he sank down in a crouch beside the dog. The dog’s eyelids were heavy, and it barely paid this unkempt man any mind at all. The only recognition he got from the mutt was a lifted paw and a quirk of the ear. Grumpy Ponytail sighed and felt around its neck for a collar. There wasn’t one.
He looked from the dog over to her. Starting from her boots on up. He took his time until his gaze landed on her eyes. She shivered and tried desperately to ignore how incredibly uncomfortable he made her. Especially because there was something very alluring about this man who was so not her type. He oozed testosterone. It was biology; hard to fight centuries of ingrained animalistic tendencies.
“Hello?” A voice came through the line.
Oh thank God! She couldn’t wait to get out of here. She was already losing her mind.
“Hello?” She jumped from her barstool, plugging one ear in an attempt to hear better. “Hi, I need a tow truck. My car is stuck right outside the—” She looked around, trying to come up with the name of the place. Her eyes landed on the sign over the bar. “Calypso’s Tavern, in a snowbank, so if you could…” Ryleigh was so relieved to be speaking to someone. She was going to get a tow into the nearest town, where she would stay for the night at a nice cozy hotel. She would drive the Gremlin home first thing in the morning and be back by midafternoon, just in time for their Lucky Girls’ Lunch.
“Do you have shelter?” the woman asked her.
“Well, yeah, I—”
“Is this an emergency?”
Ryleigh had to pause. She was stuck in the middle of nowhere, in a bar, with a scrawny dog and some kind of hard-core biker backwoods-nowhere dude—in a blizzard.
“Yes.”
“Oh?” The woman already sounded as if she didn’t believe her. “Is there blood? Fire? A casualty?”
“Well, no, but—”
“Is someone actively dying?”
“No, but—”
“Then it’s not really an emergency, and you’re going to have to wait. We’re only taking real emergencies right now.”
Ryleigh sighed and watched him fix the dog a plate of scraps and give her a bowl of warm water. He did seem pretty harmless. Grumpy…but harmless.
“How long are you estimating?” Ryleigh’s eyes found the Budweiser clock that hung above the door.
“By this list we have here…I’d say, oh, about seventy-two hours or better.” Ryleigh’s jaw dropped, and part of her thought maybe she should laugh.
“What? Three days?” She watched as even the blond-haired man’s back straightened at the sound of that. “You’re joking,” Ryleigh said through a smile. She watched him go to the sink and wash his hands before pouring her coffee into a Mason jar.
“No, no joke,” the woman said from the other line. “Unless the snow lets up right this minute, but I’m thinking that’s highly unlikely.” Ryleigh’s heart broke. What was she going to do now?
“I’m afraid I’ll just have to call another tow service.” She watched the man shake his head at her.
“They’re the only one,” he told her and set the jar down on the counter for her while
he turned around and fixed himself something to drink.
The woman, in a tone that suggested she was attempting to cover her exasperation, said, “Go ahead and try, honey. We’re the only one around for miles and miles.”
Ryleigh started to mentally tally up how much money she had on her and if she could afford a bribe. “You don’t understand. I really need to be on my way. I can—”
“Save your sob story because, truthfully, you’re just wasting my time. There’s absolutely nothing I can do.”
“Isn’t there anything I can do to make this a priority for you?” Ryleigh paced with one hand on her hip. She watched the dog slurp down the scraps greedily.
“About the only thing you can do is call nine-one-one, but they’re just going to tell you the same thing. You’re not an emergency, and that makes you low priority, honey. So just sit tight and tell Jude to fix you up a drink for me.” She laughed.
“Who’s Jude?” Ryleigh asked into the phone.
“That’s me.” The biker-bartender raised a glass, and the woman just kept laughing. Ryleigh hung up on her. “What’s your name? Might as well get acquainted. Sounds like we’re going to be stuck with each other for a while.”
Ryleigh sighed and slouched against the bar on her stool. This couldn’t be happening to her. “Ryleigh.” She held her hand out for him to shake. She could not take one more blow. She needed to get back home. “And not if I have anything to say about it.”
He shook her hand, and with a smirk that felt like sandpaper against chapped, wind-burned skin, he said, “Well, it doesn’t sound much like you do.”
Ryleigh gave him a tongue-in-cheek grin, picked her phone up again, and began punching in numbers. She only needed three.
“What are you doing?”
She didn’t answer him. He walked around the bar toward her and snatched the phone from her hand.
“What? Hey!” she shrieked as he slid her BlackBerry closed. “How dare you? That was a personal call.”
Jude opened the phone and accessed the recent call list. “A personal call to…” He paused, seemingly only to add drama to the moment. “Nine-one-one?” The phone started to ring, and he answered it for her.
“Stop!” she yelled indignantly. “I can’t believe this!” She climbed onto the barstool. Her knees pressed against the red vinyl seat cushion. Ryleigh tried desperately to reach for her phone.
“Is everything all right? We just received a phone call from this number.” The operator’s concerned voice broke through the airwaves loud enough that Ryleigh could make the conversation out.
“Yes, I’m sorry, it was a mistake. Everything’s fine,” he responded.
Ryleigh frowned and slouched back down onto the stool with her arms crossed over her chest. Jude hung up on the phone call and handed her device back to her.
“I can’t believe you! You have some nerve…” She huffed until he leaned down with one large flexed arm on either side of her, his hands braced against the bar.
“You can’t believe me?”
Ryleigh almost cowered at the bark in his voice. Since she’d gotten here she thought his voice to be almost comically low, with a forced gruffness that couldn’t possibly be real. In this moment, as his voice sank deeper, harsher, and more unforgiving, she
believed the timbre of his voice to be authentic.
She didn’t back away like she wanted to. She forced her spine to stiffen, and she sat up straighter. Ryleigh pushed her shoulders back and poised her chin up with tenacity. “Yes, that’s right. I have never met another person so…” She couldn’t find the right word. “So…so…so…” Only then, in the quiet breaths each of them took, did she hear the faint noise of the television in the background airing the cheer of a crowd in Times Square. “Disagreeable,” she decided finally on a whisper.
“Says the lady who storms into my quiet bar making ridiculous demands on me. Not once saying thank you to me for allowing her inside, for the coffee, or for the Wi-Fi. Instead of being grateful for my hospitality, she sits here all hoity-toity and insults me!”
A quiet chant began on the television.
Ten…
…Nine…
“Hoity-toity?” She guffawed at his insult.
“Yes, and that’s the nicest word I have for it.”
…Eight…Seven…
“Well, I never…” She didn’t care anymore. Ryleigh was no longer bothered by his close proximity. She completely ignored the biting fragrance of his cologne, along with his heady, rugged, and earthy male scent.
“There are people out doing what they can, tending to the children and the elderly, sick, and the wounded first. Here you are acting entitled and whiny like some kind of spoiled brat. Ungrateful for the fact that you happen to be healthy and alive, warm and dry for the night!”
…Four…
Three…
She’d never met a man so passionate before in her life. She’d never seen that kind of temper flare up before her eyes. Yet, she didn’t feel threatened or insulted. Instead, she felt surprisingly turned on. She rolled her eyes at herself. She watched his face, knowing he thought that eye roll had been in response to what he’d just said.
Fire flamed in his brown eyes. His nostrils flared. Her heart raced. In spite of herself, warm, delicious heat pooled deep between her legs.
Two…
One!
His chest heaved with excited, labored breaths. She could feel and taste his breath blowing against her face. Her gaze lingered on those deep dark-brown eyes and fell down to those parted lips of his. He stood so close. She was trapped against this counter by his strong, tattooed arms.
Ryleigh leaned forward as if to dare herself, to test the heat. Like a person might do, dancing their fingers through a small flickering flame, that was Ryleigh now leaning into Jude. Before she even really registered what she was doing, she pressed her lips to his. The kiss was a surprise. It should have been a short, sweet, chaste New Year’s Eve kiss. There wasn’t a moment of the kiss that was sweet. The second her lips touched his, it flamed into something volatile, dangerous…magnetic.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Edits, baby, RAGT

So my life is a little crazy right now. I've piled my plate high. I'm in the middle of edits for the second book in The Falling series. I'm 40 days from my due date. I'm scrambling to get together a nursery, buy all the things still left on our registries, locate my list for thank-you notes and then write them ... oh and getting ready to head down to Cincinnati for Lori Foster's Annual Reader and Author Get Together at almost 37 weeks pregnant...
Who planned this?! ;)





In all honesty I'm elated about each and every one of the aforementioned aspects of my life right now - even if they decided to happen all at once.
So ... as of right now I plan to be fully present at RAGT but I'm not really the one running the show. But if this precious little girl growing in my belly cooperates will I be seeing you there? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Book Club's Best of 2013 Picks

Every year our book club compiles lists and categories of the best books we read together and on our own over the last year. I compile all our lists into one comprehensive list for your viewing pleasure.
Here they are...
Book Club's Best Of
2013
picks
 
 


 
 
Best Books We Read Together This Year
 
Just Her Luck By Kelli Evans, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and The Sleepwalkers by J. Gabriel Gates
 
 
Best Books We Read On Our Own This Year
 
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans, Sweet Talk by Julie Garwood, Sisters of the Quilt by Cindy Woodsmall, Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, and Slave by Sherri Hayes
 
 
The Books That Gave Us A New Perspective
 
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey & A Class Divided: Then and Now by William Peters
 
Honorable Mentions: When She Flew by Jennie Shortridge
 
The Book With The Ending You Didn't See Coming
 
Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
 
Honorable Mentions: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn & Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
 
The Most Suspenseful Book
 
The Sleepwalkers by J. Gabriel Gates
 
Honorable Mentions: Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and Five Mile House by Karen Novak
 
The Steamiest Book
 
Just Her Luck by Kelli Evans
 
Honorable Mention: The Devil's Pawn by Elizabeth Finn
 
The Book That Made Us Laugh Out Loud
 
Just Her Luck by Kelli Evans
 
Honorable Mention: Getting Rid of Bradley by Jennifer Crusie
 
The Book That Brought Us To Tears
 
The Christmas Clock by Kat Martin
 
Honorable Mentions: Chasing Dreams by Kelli Evans, and Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
 
The Book We Couldn't Put Down
 
Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
 
Honorable Mentions: The Sleepwalkers by J. Gabriel Gates, A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, and The Oxford Project by Peter Feldstein
 
The Genre/Book That We Liked But Didn't Think We Would
 
YA Horror - The Sleepwalkers by J. Gabriel Gates, and Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
 
Our Favorite Author This Year
 
Kelli Evans (I promise I don't pay them to say this.)
 
Honorable Mentions: Kelly Armstrong, Mary Higgins Clark, Robin Cook, Julie Garwood, Irene Hannon, and Crystal Jordan
 
An Author We Discovered We Liked This Year
 
Nicholas Sparks
 
Honorable Mention: Loribelle Hunt
 
And The Books We're Most Excited About This Year:
 
The Bible, Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, Unforgiven by Elizabeth Finn, It Had To Be You by Jill Shalvis, Hot Shot by Julie Garwood, and Playing With Fire by Kelli Evans    

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Want to meet my latest hero?

I've been working on something a bit different lately. First of all it's a SHORT story and I've never in my life been able to write one of those. (Let's keep our fingers crossed.) Also this story flirts a little with that paranormal line. I hope you'll enjoy it.
You'll have to wait until probably around Mardi Gras to read it but I figured I might as well throw you a bone and introduce you to my hunky, sweet, slightly broken hero.
 
Meet
RenĂ© Dubois. Dedicated uncle. NOLA firefighter. Adorable dimple flasher. Lonely widower. And possibly under our heroine Ryce Bebeau's spell... "

Thursday, October 31, 2013

10 Spooktacular Reads For Halloween

Are you staying in tonight? Passing out candy? Are you trying to think of which movie you're going to watch? I'm suggesting you skip the movie and dive right into one of these creepy, spooky, or nail biting, and hair raising books. 
Let's count 'em down.


10.)  Kingdom of Childhood by Rebecca Coleman  - Kingdom of Childhood makes the list because it's dark, disturbing, and Rebecca Coleman constructed a downright creepy female protagonist? Antagonist? Er ... regardless of what we're calling her, I think we can all agree that she was more than a little unhinged.

9.)  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs - So maybe you're not the type who needs a lot of in your face frights to get into the mood of the holiday. If so than this beginning to the uncompleted young adult series might be right up your alley. With its supernatural twists and turns, lots of unforeseen events, creepy monsters all paired with real very strange and odd photographs this pulls off just enough spine tingle without getting too gory or too scary.
  
8.) If You Hear Her by Shiloh Walker - This book packs a punch and Shiloh Walker plays on our fears. Our heroine is blind, our hero has a bum leg, and there's a serial killer on the loose preying on women. Told from multiple point of view including the deranged criminals makes this read suspenseful, intense, and sometimes downright stomach churning but it's a romance so everything gets all wrapped up in a nice little bow at the end ... or does it?   

7.)  Where Are The Children by Mary Higgins Clark - This classic suspense reads quickly. Easily finished in one setting. Once you start this book you will not want to stop turning pages until you get to the end. It's sickening, it's terrifying, it's absolutely maddening because you, just like their mother, need the question answered. Where Are The Children?

6.)  Don't Breathe A Word by Jennifer McMahon - Flirting with the edge of reality Jennifer McMahon spins a tail so eerie, so creepy, so strange that you can't help but keep slipping into believing this bizarre and freaky story - you can't help but to peek under the bed trying to spot the Fairy King's door. This thriller will leave you questioning everything and at times even your own sanity. Although you'll have chills long after you finish this book, once it ends you'll be left wishing there was a least one more page to turn.  

5.) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - Every year about this time the gloomy skies, the rainy weather, the half naked trees inspire me to pick up one of my copies of Jane Eyre and slip into the gothic depressing adolescents and life of Jane Eyre. There is enough spine tingle in this book to last a lifetime. From children locked in haunted rooms, to deathly orphanages, creepy, eerie noises coming from a secret locked somewhere in the hallows of a large cavernous house to the eventual blaze of fire. Jane Eyre is as classically moody and eerie as they come but for someone whose life has been as miserable as Jane's she never seems to lose the light in her and that might be the actual story of Jane Eyre.  

4.) Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell - Another gloomy, dark look into the life of a young girl, this time one growing up in the Ozarks. The prose itself is beautiful, the imagery stunning, and the telling of this tale is done with breathtaking tenderness and precision. It is not for the faint of heart. It's a chilling, gut-wrenching story. Harrowing. Extreme. Stunning. You will not be able to put this one down. An amazing example of the human strength, the seedy underbelly of life in the forgotten places of America and a strangely triumphant story of taking care of your own.
 
3.) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - Twisted. That's the only word for it. It's a little slow at first but it's all necessary information. You just won't know that until you're at the end of the book having one hell of an "Aha! Moment." Twisted. Twisted. Twisted. So dark, so completely messed up and crooked and in your face insane but so unbelievably good.  

2.) The Sleepwalkers by J. Gabriel Gates - I've never quite read a book like this. The premise is fresh, and what was so great about this book was that I wasn't sure where it was going to go. It's an engrossing read. Twists and turns are abundant. It'll keep you flipping pages, through every creepy scenes and every blood curdling scream. Engrossing and unput-downable.
 
1.) Raven Stole The Moon by Garth Stein - One of my favorite books of all time. Stein himself calls it a Native American Campfire Story and it absolutely lives up to that title. Remember the days of sitting around a campfire, holding a flashlight under your chin, and trying to freak out your friends with ghost stories. This is just like that only on steroids.Stein takes you on spine tingling a tour through the Tlingit folklore and Alaskan countryside that you won't want to come back from. This story is chilling, freaky, heart wrenching, unusually romantic, and absolutely perfect.  

Happy Reading & Happy Halloween


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Let's Talk Fifty Shades ...

Yesterday news broke that Charlie Hunnam dropped The Fifthy Shades of Grey movie.
It was a sad, sad, day. I know a lot of people were doubting the pick from the beginning but I was an instant believer. Anyone who has seen any of Charlie's work had to have understood why he was a prime pick. He had the total persona and all the right energy to play the twisted but sexy Christian Grey. 
Now it's back to the drawing bored for the movie execs.
So who do you think they should pick? Who are you hoping the new Christian Grey will be?
Call me crazy but maybe Joseph Gordon-Levitt ...?
I mean he doesn't have the copper locks but look - just look. Look at what great shape he's in from Don Jon.
 
 
 And he's definitely got the whole sexy and mysterious thing going on ... it could be good ;)
But go ahead and tell me I'm wrong. Who's your Christian Grey?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Elizabeth Finn drops by to talk about her latest release, Unforgiven

We are talking today about a book I cannot wait to jump into. If I wasn't a little OCD about finishing a book I'm reading before starting a new one I'd be deep into all the deliciousness of Elizabeth's latest release by now.
Thanks for stopping by and chatting with me a bit today Elizabeth!
 

Hi Kelli!! I’m excited to be here, and thanks for having me.
 
Of course!
 
 
 
 
A mistake made long ago…
Pain buried so deep...
When Bailey Trent returns home to her small little Ozark mountain town after being away for nearly six years, she knows she’ll face the ghosts of her past. It does not mean she’s prepared to come face to face with the cruelest of those memories.
Darren Cory’s life is a shell of what it once was, and when he’s forced to endure the cause of his agony, hatred abounds quickly. But hating Bailey destroys him too.
Can Darren find a way to move past the pain and forgive the woman he once cared so much for before his anger consumes them both? Or will he drag them into the hell of an unforgiven past.
 
 
So tell me, what inspired your to write this particular story? Where their parts that came easier to write than others?
 
I can’t say I have a particular inspiration for this book. It is just one of many stories floating around in my head. That said, I feel passionate about the subject matter. This particular plot was actually part of the Brother’s Keeper plot line at one point in time, but it was just far too big for Brother’s Keeper, and frankly, Rowan had enough on her plate and didn’t need this added story line!! My Brother’s Keeper fans might be shocked to know that Jess was once Sara… I know, how dare I?!?! Anyway, there are always ups and downs in my writing. Sometimes it flows like water, other times it’s more like concrete through a sieve. This was actually a fairly quick write for me—about two months if I’m not mistaken, and for 100k words, that’s pretty decent on my schedule.
 
 
What about Darren and Bailey do you think readers will connect with the most?
 
They’re very real, honest, and flawed, and I think I’ve done a good job of writing that authentically and emotionally. At the same time, they’re loveable. They may not be perfect, and God knows they’re not, but you still want to fight for them and believe in them. I love writing those characters—imperfect, but worthy.
 
I have to say you're really very talented at writing perfectly flawed, yet redeemable characters. Are you a plotter or a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pantster when it comes to writing? What's your process in developing a story?
 
Somewhere between the two. My plots are beyond loose when I sit down to write, but I do have a general plot. It might be safer to say I have a setting and certain elements. I find I’m very much inventing and creating the story as I go, and I have to admit, it stalls me sometimes when I get to part of the story, and I can’t figure out what path to take them down. I don’t do anything to prepare to write at all except sit down at my computer and start typing. I research along the way as needed, and I develop the ins and outs of my story as it flows and as I’m writing. I’m sure some would say I’m going about it the wrong way, but it works for me. I’m a loosey-goosey when it comes to my process.
 
Psst. Same here...
And I know this is such an unfair question but ... Which of your books is your favorite?
 
Unforgiven … and not because it’s my newest release. I truly do love all of my stories and all of my characters, but this one has really stuck with me. I’m obsessed with this storyline and these characters right now.
 
That just makes me about a million times more excited to get into this book! What authors do you think have had the greatest influence on your own writing? Who is your automatic-buy author?
 
I’m a huge Iris Johansen fan, which is odd since I write contemporary romance, but she kind of started it all for me. I fell in love with reading romance from a stack of Iris Johansen books a friend gave me years ago.
 
Do you have a favorite "fan moment" you could tell us about?
 
Not really… Sad really, isn’t it? Maybe I’ve had a fan moment, and I didn’t even know it. That would be like me. OH!! How about being interviewed by the illustrious and talented Kelli Evans??? Does that count?
You get a point for flattery ;)
Who is your book boyfriend?
 
Derek from The Devil’s Pawn. I’ve been in love with him since the moment I wrote him. I love his brooding, dark and mysterious persona. He was terrifying, but amazing, and I LOVE THAT!!
 
Oh I love Derek! Loved every dark mysterious ornery thing about him. *sigh*
So what's next for you?
 
So glad you asked. I have two more contracted books that are both in the early stages of edits. The first, Conflicting Interests, is contracted with Ellora’s Cave. It is a detective/victim scenario. Still loaded with emotion, but there are some great sarcastic secondary characters I had fun writing. And second, The Innocent Liar, is contracted with Musa Publishing. It is a boss/employee set-up with lots of secrets and enemies. The backstory and secrets are revealed throughout the story, so it’s hard to go into too much detail on the plot for that one.
 
Go you. You are one busy lady!  I'm so glad you had the time to stop by here and chat it up with me. I've had such a blast.
 
Thanks so much for letting me crash your blog today, Kelli!! It was fun, and I can’t wait to hear what you think of Unforgiven!!
 
I hope you'll stop by again soon. Good luck with everything you've got on your plate.

Here's a little taste of Unforgiven for all you readers.
 
It was a week after Bailey had told him she was leaving, and he was sitting in his car outside her home, staring at his steering wheel. He didn’t know how to do this, and he wasn’t even sure why he was doing it. But he was absolutely going to fucking do it.
He knocked, and he waited. He could hear her feet padding to the door, and his heart pounded. When she pulled the door open, he watched as her lips parted, and her chest instantly stilled as she held her breath.
“Stay.” She stared dumbfounded. “Don’t leave.”
She shook her head as though she could make sense of what he said if she could rattle her gears back into place. “What? Why?”
“I need you here!” His lips trembled as he spoke. “Because I know if you leave then this is the place I’m going to be for the rest of my life.” His hands were trembling and his chest was tight. He felt as though he were breaking apart.
“Savoy?” She didn’t understand.
“No. This.” He shook his head in frustration. “This! Us. I need to deal with this. I have to, or … or I swear to God, it’s going to kill me.” He could feel his eyes tearing. “I hate you. I really and truly hate you.” He looked over her shoulder, seeking understanding that he just couldn’t wrap his head around. “But… I still… Stay. Convince me not to hate you, because… because hating you is the end of me.”
She started crying then, and he stood forcing his diaphragm to work, trying to calm his emotions—the emotions that had been running rampant since he’d heard her say she was leaving and his heart had lodged in his throat. It made no sense at all. He’d been prepared to leave, and yet, hearing her say she was leaving was painful.
“Darren, I…” She was going to say no, and that damn panic hit again. He grabbed her, pushing her against the wall. She gripped his waist, and he groaned quietly. She had to stay. He meant every word of what he said. He could feel it in his core, though he couldn’t rationalize it to save his life.
He dropped his forehead to hers. He was so close to her, and it soothed him in a way he didn’t want to admit—in a way he recognized from another lifetime. “Please stay. Please.” He was almost whispering, but he could feel her head nodding even though he couldn’t see her. He relaxed for the first time in days, and he sighed. Her fingers were still gripping the sides of his waist, and he could feel their tension release as he relaxed, but she didn’t pull her hands away, and he was so infinitely glad she didn’t.
She held her place, and she let him keep her against the wall. It was far too intimate, but everything they did, even what they did in anger, seemed to feel intimate—always had. He needed to walk away, but he couldn’t. He also couldn’t give her more than this. He wanted to. He wanted to collapse against her, pull her into his arms, crumble to the floor with her in his lap, but he wasn’t lying when he said he hated her. Or maybe he was. He didn’t have a fucking clue anymore. He wanted to hate her. That much he knew. He wanted to hate her because it felt right, and it felt powerful even through the helplessness. But he was no longer sure he was capable of hating her.
He still couldn’t figure out why he needed her to stay, but the words he’d said to her were the God’s honest truth. He knew he had to deal with this if there was ever a hope for him. When he was planning on moving away, he was secure in the knowledge that she would be here in Savoy. He could find her when he needed to, when he was ready to. But her leaving, that was intolerable. She could disappear forever, and he wasn’t ready for that. It felt as though his very last chance at redemption and sanity was dissolving, and he just couldn’t handle that.
“What am I supposed to do here? My mom needs to go to Memphis, and I’m not going to ask her to stay. But I have nothing here.” Her voice cracked for a moment.
“I can’t help you with that. Your life is your own. What you do with it is too. Just don’t run away. That’s all I’m asking. I promise I won’t run either.” She nodded. Her eyes were wide, terrified if he were guessing, and he didn’t quite know what that meant. Was she really afraid of him? Was she afraid of what would happen between them? If she was, then she wasn’t the only one. He was afraid too. There was something so incredibly tantalizing about her. To him, she’d always been the most captivating creature in the world. She still was.
“What does this mean for us?”
“Nothing.” He focused on her eyes, studying her reaction. He knew it hurt her feelings to hear him say it, but it was the truth. He didn’t know what to expect from any of this, and he certainly didn’t intend to make up and place nice with her.
“Then why should I stay?”
He leaned to her ear. He could smell her incredible scent. She smelled of subtle shower wash. Not flowery or fruity but warm and sweet like oatmeal and honey. He was guessing it was something like that. He almost stayed there too long, just inhaling against her neck. “Don’t you at least want a chance at redemption?” He pulled back from her.
“Yes.” She nodded, and he finally backed away from her.
“Well, this should be interesting, shouldn’t it?” He could feel his lips pulling up in a smirk. Then he turned and walked away, out her door, and down to his car. He sat for moment, a bit stunned at what he’d done and infinitely relieved that he’d had the balls to do it. He was right. This promised to be interesting.




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