January 2012

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Bride by Mistake

Anne Gracie here.


I do love a soldier hero. A guy who's born to command. A man of honor with a strong code of personal ethics. A man who's loyal to his comrades, who will follow things through to the end.

I also love a wounded hero, soul-wounded as much as physically wounded. The kind of strong guy who turns his strength on himself, secretly beating himself up for something he did, or failed to do. Secretly, because he's never admitted it to anyone. A guy who's let himself down, who's broken his own code of honor, who believes, deep down, that he doesn't deserve to live, that fate has made a mistake in letting him survive.

Luke, the hero in my new book, BRIDE BY MISTAKE, is both of these — a former officer, wounded soul-deep.

But he wasn't always this way. He started off gallant and idealistic. Eight years before the story starts, Luke came across a young girl being attacked in the mountains of Spain. It was wartime — Napoleon. My hero was just nineteen, a young Lieutenant, and of course, he rode to her rescue. Then he learned she was orphaned and alone —thirteen years old and fleeing a forced marriage. What's a young hero to do?

"I promise you I will look after you. No-one will take you, no-one will force you."

Her eyes narrowed. "You promise?"

"On my honor as an English officer and a gentleman." What the hell was he doing, promising such a thing?

She gave him a long, searching look, then gave a satisfied nod and mounted up behind him. As they moved off, she laid her cheek against his back and her skinny little arms wrapped trustfully around him.

Luke felt it with a sinking heart. What had he done? And how the hell was he going to keep his rash promise?

The answer came to him as they rode into a small village. The first building they saw was a small stone church. A priest stood by the doorway, as if expecting them.

It was Fate, thought Luke. Fate had looked after him so far in this war. He would trust it again. He pulled up by the church and handed Isabella down.

Yes, Reader, he married her.

It was a temporary thing, he thought — the war would make her a widow, or if he survived, they'd get an annulment. So he left her in a convent school and rode back to war.

The story starts eight years later... Luke has survived the war. The annulment has been denied.

Luke is no longer the gallant young idealist he was. He's wounded, soul-deep. He doesn't want this marriage but he's a man of honor and will do his duty. He has no choice but to return to the land of his worst nightmares and fetch the wife he barely knows.

At least, he thinks, she'll be no bother. Having been raised in a convent, she'll be docile and obedient...

Reader, she isn't. Bella is resourceful, loyal, courageous and vulnerable but she's neither docile nor obedient. She has her own secrets, and her own agenda. To a man used to unquestioning obedience, she's both a challenge and a wake-up call.

I loved writing this book and I hope you enjoy Luke and Bella's romance as much as I did.

So, do you love wounded heroes? Soldier heroes? Who's a favorite?

Anne Gracie

BRIDE BY MISTAKEE available from Berkley



Join me on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/1annegracie

Tweet with me: https://twitter.com/#!/AnneGracie


My Life as Zorro

By Jaycie Cash

I’m about to give away my age here, but in my early childhood, back when television was barely out of its infancy, do you know who oversaw children’s programming? A bunch of marketing geniuses, that’s who! Somehow, young viewers like myself become convinced we needed to dress like we were an actual character on that program, while we watched the show. And trust me, any old costume you’d thrown together would not do, not at my house, any way.

Uh uh, you needed the special regulation costume that came in a box with pictures of all your favorite characters on front and a stamped “certificate of authentication.” Is that what that says mommy? The man on the program said I should make sure it said that on the box, is that what it says? Cer-tif-I-cate of…? I told you: marketing geniuses.

All was right in the world whenever I wore my special black Zorro gaucho hat, mask, gloves and cape. And believe me when I say the little rolled up piece of felt that was my whip and my long plastic sword made fearsome weapons, against my imaginary foes. To this day I can remember the thrill of standing on top of the two or three foot wall that surrounded my front porch as I looked around me in search of evil doers who needed to be stopped and wrongs crying out to be made right.

It didn’t matter whether the wind was blowing, in my mind I knew my cape billowed behind me. And I can’t remember anything ever being more emotionally satisfying than shouting ZORRO as I made a giant Z in the air with my sword before jumping off the porch wall to go in search of adventure.

Good times my friends… good times!

That’s probably why I write today. I just want to re-experience that feeling of being totally saturated in a story I love. I don’t know about pens, but my computer is mightier than a sword . . . at least that old plastic one I used to wave in the air!


Jaycie Cash blogs on a regular basis for Writerspace.com. Her debut novel, MRS. GOODFELLER, is available through most major eBook outlets, including Amazon and Barnes and Noble. She’d love for you to like her Facebook Author page.



The Girl Next Door Writes Erotic Romance

by Roni Loren

With the release of my debut, CRASH INTO YOU, this month, I’ve had to finally face one of my biggest concerns--how are people in my real life going to handle what I write?

Just like anyone else, I’m viewed a certain way and have an “image” that people assign to me. And usually that image has been the nice, kind of quiet, girl next door. I wasn’t the rebellious teenager, I went to a conservative Catholic school all my life, and I had a coronary anytime I got anything less than an A on a report card.

If you were to ask most people who knew me casually what kind of book I would write, erotic romance would probably be their last guess. So it does come as a bit of a shock when people in my life find out.

Now I haven’t kept my writing a secret. My closest family and friends know I’ve been writing an erotic romance series. But they don’t read in that genre, so their concept of what constitutes “erotic” probably varies widely. My guess is they would classify a regular, sexy romance as erotic.

So now that my book is out, they can see exactly what erotic means. And in the case of CRASH INTO YOU, that means bondage, sadomasochism, and menage. It means using all the fun words and not closing any bedroom doors. But it also means, I’ve now totally shifted many people’s image of me.

And I’m honestly not sure how I feel about that. It comes with the territory of being a writer, but that feeling of exposure is a little odd. I’m sure I’ll get used to it as time goes on. Now I’ll just be the girl next door who writes those books. : ) Guess I’m giving credence to that old adage, “It’s always the quiet ones.”

So what would people be surprised to find out about you? What image do you think people have of you?  


Brynn LeBreck has dedicated herself to helping women in crisis, but she never imagined how personal her work would get, or where it would take her. Her younger sister is missing, suspected to be hiding from cops and criminals alike at a highly secretive BDSM retreat—a place where the elite escape to play out their most extreme sexual fantasies. To find her Brynn must go undercover as a sexual submissive. Unfortunately, The Ranch is invitation only. And the one Master who can get her in is from the darkest corner of Brynn’s past.

Brynn knows what attorney Reid Jamison is like once stripped of his conservative suit and tie. Years ago she left herself vulnerable only to have him crush her heart. Now she needs him again. Back on top. And he’s all too willing to engage. But as their primal desires and old wounds are exposed, the sexual games escalate—and so does the danger. Their hearts aren’t the only things at risk. Someone else is watching, playing by his own rules. And his game could be murder.


Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. If she’s not working on her latest sexy story, you can find her reading, watching reality television, or indulging in her unhealthy addiction to rockstars, er, rock concerts. Yeah, that's it. Her debut novel, CRASH INTO YOU, is now available from Berkley Heat. Website: www.roniloren.com



Interview with Lisa Dale

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Sure! I’m a total book nerd—I’ll read anything. Actually, my college graduation t-shirt from our English Department said “Will Read For Food.” I thought it was a joke at the time! I live in “Mafia Country” New Jersey with my husband and our pet hedgehog, Cleopatra, who is painfully cute…which is to say…it’s painful to hold her if she’s in a funk, but she’s so cute it’s impossible to resist her. I’ll include a picture.

What do you do when you are not writing?

Reading. Or doing promotional stuff for the writing. Occasionally I have flickers of a social life. I like knitting, SyFy network shows, and good beers with friends, and I recently dusted off my guitar so that my brother and I can learn to play some songs for our friends and fam to sing when we’re having bonfires or camping.

How did you choose the genre you write in?

I think it chose me. ?

Are you a “plotter” or a “pantser”?

A little of both. I like to have a good skeleton plot in place, but then, I also need lots of elbow room for the story to grow into. My latest book, A PROMISE OF SAFEKEEPING, started with a rather simple idea: A woman who reads body language accidentally sent an innocent man to jail. There are three main characters: Our heroine (Lauren), ex-con (Arlen), and love interest (Arlen’s “keeper,” Will…who would HATE me calling him the love interest because that’s a little marginalizing). The more I wrote about them, the deeper and more complex the book became. It was amazing to watch the story unfold.

What project are you working on now?

Eek! You know those authors who can’t really talk about what they’re working on? I’m not always that way, but I am with my new project. It’s almost as if talking about this new project would be like loosening the cap of a soda bottle months before you’re ready to drink it. Don’t want it to go flat!

Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?

I have to say, Will from A PROMISE OF SAFEKEEPING is one of my favorite characters ever. He’s an antiques dealer in Richmond, Virginia. He clawed his way out of poverty to make a good life for himself, and he loves antiques—things that are a little worn down, a little rough around the edges.

Will had a secret that came out about halfway through the book. It quite shocked me, and yet was so….right. Will’s secret has kept him from being in any kind of relationship. But Lauren...she’s tough as nails. And if anyone can handle his problem, she can.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My mom tells people I was born writing. So it was inevitable. But my books always come from the same place…whatever I happened to be fascinated with at the time. So my first novel, Simple Wishes, demonstrates a fascination with Korean culture and woodworking, among other things. My previous release, SLOW DANCING ON PRICE'S PIER—which, I should say, was a Top Pick at Barnes and Noble and Bookpage Magazine—was inspired by a fascination with coffee (the “story” of coffee is staggering). A PROMISE OF SAFEKEEPING was launched in part by my fascinating with body language reading, antiques, and the tragedy of wrongful incarceration.

What books have most influenced your life most?
Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, because it was one of the first book’s I read as a young adult that really spoke to me. I love Virginia Woolf, though it’s been years since I’ve read her now. Austen and the Bronte sisters books are high on the list.

What book are you reading now?
Usually I’m reading many books at once, in order to fully indulge. So… in the car I’m reading Richard Yates Revolutionary Road (which is making me want to drive into a tree). In the house, I’m reading Ellen Meister’s The Other Life, which I would very much recommend. I’m loving it so far. And for nonfiction, I’m reading a big fat out-of-print regional history book that about other three people have ever heard of, since I’m a history nerd.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

A PROMISE OF SAFEKEEPING was difficult to write on many levels. It required a ton of research. Some of the research was a joy (who knew that the direction you cross your legs indicates your level of comfort!). Some was tedious…I will not do another book that has courtroom imbroglios in it. It looks fun in the book, but the research to get one small legality correct was hideous.

The characters are fascinating and gave me no trouble. But I had to write the book quickly…in about seven months. And that was really tough, psychologically. When I came out the other side, I was actually kinda depressed for a little while there. Postpartum book delivery depression. But the response to the book has been fantastic, so it was totally worth it.

Do you ever experience writer's block?

If you’d asked me this question six months ago, I would have said no. But then I had a rather turbulent December. When you sit down to work on a novel, you have to let the fictional world replace the real one. So that fictional world has to be more important, in a way, than the real one. And when you’ve got “stuff” going on in your life (here, “stuff” is a euphemism for another word that starts with “S”), it can be hard to allow the fictional to usurp the real. But lucky for us all, December (and the holidays) ends. Hard times pass. Then it’s back in the saddle. And when you do get back into the fictional world, oh man does it feel awesome.

Thanks so much for this fun interview!


Can you believe it’s already the middle of January? Two weeks into the New Year, and I’m still awash in Christmas. I’ll get everything put away – by Easter. I hope. If not, well, I’ll stick a bunny on top of the tree and call it an Easter decoration. Those round ornaments look a lot like eggs, don’t you think?

Like just about everybody else these days, I’ve been super busy. JUSTICE came out in paperback at the end of November, and then SLEEPWALKER hit bookstores on December 27. While promoting those two books, I’ve been in the midst of writing a paranormal thriller that I absolutely love. It’s called THE LAST VICTIM, and will be in stores at the end of July. In the meantime, the first book I ever wrote, ISLAND FLAME, is being re-released at end of this month, and its sequel, SEA FIRE, will follow it at the end of February.

RT gave SLEEPWALKER 4 ½ stars and named it a Top Pick, and I just received word that SLEEPWALKER was awarded the January 2012 RT Seal of Excellence, the editors’ pick for best book of the month. I’m honored, and thrilled, and I want to share what they had to say with you here. I’m also including a very brief excerpt from SLEEPWALKER.

Micayla "Mick" Lange is expecting to have a relaxing evening housesitting for her father's best friend, her honorary Uncle Nicco. But when she walks in on a robbery in progress and sees evidence that Uncle Nicco is actually a mob boss, Mick realizes that her life is at risk. Thankfully, while Jason Davis may be a thief and a scoundrel, there is no way that he will let an innocent woman get hurt. With a backup plan for almost any contingency, Jason helps Mick escape capture. But as the situation goes from bad to worse, will they be able to survive?

"Robards' latest book is pitch perfect. Her characters are dynamic, her villain jumps off the page and the story takes several unexpected twists. A prime example of everything a romantic suspense should be." - RT Editor

"You won't read this book, you will devour it!" - RT Editor

"The author's smooth writing style and ear for dialogue makes this story cinematic. I felt like I was 'watching' Mick and Jason's flight from the bad guys. This definitely qualifies as a one sitting read, so don't start this story too late because you'll be up all night to see what happens next." RT Editor


When you stole things – like, for example, the suitcase stuffed with five hundred thousand dollars in cash he was holding - for a living, unexpected developments were to be expected. Finding a hot, female, pajama-wearing, pigtail-sporting, self-proclaimed cop pointing a gun at him at 2:36 a.m. on New Year’s Day in what was supposed to be a gangster’s deserted house was, Jason Davis reflected as he obediently froze in response to her command, just one more twist in the game.

“Put the suitcase down. Get your hands in the air. Do it now!”

Her tone, her expression and the gun pointed at his heart were all business. The sparkly pink toenails and pigtails and small, pert breasts with clearly visible nipples thrusting at him through a thin white tank top were something else.

“Lady, you’re making a helluva big mistake....” he tried.

Suitcase down. Hands in the air,” she barked, her stance widening, her grip on her weapon tightening. Forget the girlish tits and braids. Her eyes glinted at him, cold as a shark’s. “Do it now.”

“Now, see, we got a problem.” Still holding onto the suitcase - he was willingly parting with half a million dollars he had worked hard to obtain when Lake Erie sported mermaids - he took a tentative step forward. “I got orders to deliver this suitcase to a certain party tonight. Boss’s orders,” he emphasized. Boss, as they both knew, meant Nicco Marino. He thought he saw the tiniest flicker of doubt in her eyes.

That’s right. You have no way of knowing if I’m telling the truth or not, do you?

“You moron, you’re wearing fucking surgical gloves. Think I’m going to swallow your bullshit? The only place you’re going tonight is jail. Put the suitcases down, get your hands in the air. I won’t tell you again.”

Damn, she had a point about the gloves, which he’d forgotten all about.

“Your ass,” he warned her.

Quick as a blink, she took a step sideways, one-handed her gun and flung her left palm outward, going for the wall. Her tits jiggled. A fraction of an instant after registering that distraction, he realized what she was up to: she meant to hit the panic button placed discreetly on the wall just to the left of the light switch.

He did the only thing he could: dropped the suitcase and dived at her. Before she could reach the panic button or snap off a shot or do anything else remotely effective he connected, knocking the gun from her hand and grabbing her around the waist, meaning to spin her around and lock her down before she could cause him any more trouble.

“Damn it, no,” she cried. He felt steel talons dig into his wrist. Without any more warning than that he heard a triumphant, “Hah!”

Then he was airborne, sailing high before slamming hard into the floor – oomph. The crash landing knocked the breath out of him. Stunned to find himself lying on his back wheezing, he had no time to properly assess the situation before two sharp objects – it took him a second to identify them as her knees - slammed into his rib-cage. A throat chop that would have been disabling if he hadn’t reflexively hunched a shoulder in time to deflect it sent pinwheels of pain shooting through the base of his neck.

Holy cow, Miss Tits was a ninja! Who would have thought it?

Happy reading,



By Jaycie Cash

When I was growing up, despite there being a bunch of kids in the houses all around ours—because an elementary school was catty-corner across the street—I was significantly younger than every other kid in the neighborhood big enough to play outside.

So imagine my delight one day, as I sauntered down the street in my cowgirl outfit, to discover a little girl I’d never seen before, who was obviously my exact age. And she was sitting on a porch step three or four houses down from mine.

Now, to fully appreciate the dynamics of the situation you need to understand that while this little girl was wearing perfectly nice play clothes, my costume alone clearly should have given me the upper hand. We’re talking rakishly tilted cowboy hat, bandana, felt vest and matching skirt with genuine plastic fringe and, the piece de resistance, a holster complete with my six-shooter cap gun, which was primed and loaded. Since I was darned tired of always being the youngest and getting bossed around, I thought it wise to establish the supremacy of my position with this potential new playmate from the get-go.

So, instead of walking up and simply introducing myself to this little girl I’d never seen before, I stopped in front of her, took my cap gun out of my holster, used the barrel of it to push my cowboy hat even farther back on my head and (referring to the rerun of an old movie I’d seen on TV that week) said “Howdy, I’m Annie Oakley and you’re dead. KAPOW.”

I thought I’d handled it beautifully.

But do you know, she absolutely refused to lie down and play dead! Simply would not do it, after I had shot her fair and square, and at much too close a distance for her to try to pretend like I’d missed her. The big cheater! But while she never would play dead, she did end up becoming my lifelong friend. And to this day, despite the fact that we now live almost 2,000 miles apart, when we email or talk on the phone she takes great joy in saying, “You know, I told someone just the other day that when I met my best friend she pulled a gun on me first thing.”

But does she mention how she wouldn’t even play dead? I doubt it.

In my debut novel, MRS. GOODFELLER, a lifelong friendship between the lead character, Elyse Smith, and the town’s hair stylist, Cecelia, plays a big role in the overall story. Through their relationship, the power of friendship and the importance of keeping your priorities straight and recognizing who your real friends are is explored.

Let’s just say there’s no question Cecelia would have played dead anytime Elyse shot her. ‘Nough said!


Jaycie Cash blogs on a regular basis for Writerspace.com. Her debut novel, MRS. GOODFELLER, is available through most major eBook outlets, including Amazon and Barnes and Noble. She’d love for you to like her Facebook Author page.



This month sees the release of WILD CAT, Book 3 of the Shifters Unbound series. Also out is BODYGUARD, a shorter novel (I call it Book 2.5), which came out late in November.

If you’re new to the Shifters Unbound series, here’s some info about it.

I wanted to go beyond the standard shapeshifter / werewolf traditional lore in this series. In my Shifter world, for instance, Shiters have no compulsion to shift at the full moon (although both the Lupines and the Felines feel the need to “go wild,” meaning they want to go for a run in their animal forms, but they can decide). Bear Shifters never feel this compulsion (these guys don’t do anything Felines and Lupines do, and they’re proud of it).

Also, Shifters are born Shifter, they aren’t infected by bites or whathaveyou. You’re either Shifter or you’re not.

The Shifters were bred centuries ago by the Fae, who created half-animal, half-human creatures to be their hunters and fighters. My Shifters, being both smart and ornery, decided to rebel and break free of the Fae.

Shifters come in three species: Felines (wildcats); Lupines (werewolves); and Ursines (bear Shifters). In the wild, these species do not get along at all, and will kill each other on sight.

However . . . about twenty years ago, Shifters found themselves dying out. Their females produced fewer cubs, and many cubs and females died in childbirth. The stress of the industrialized world was taking its toll on the wild Shifters. About the same time, the Shifters were “outed” by a half-Fae, and humans reacted negatively.

In fear of Shifter strength, humans rounded up Shifters, forced them to wear Collars (half-tech, half-magic) that control their “violence,” and make them live in Shiftertowns.

Now that Felines, Lupines, and Bears have to live side-by-side, they grudgingly try to get along. Every Shiftertown has a leader (usually the leader of his clan). This leader has jurisdiction over every Shifter, across clans and across species. It’s a tough job, but the heroes of the Shifters Unbound series can do it.

Shifters allowed themselves to be put in this situation, without fighting, because they realized that by sticking together, and giving up living wild, they will grow stronger and multiply. And then… who knows what can happen?

In the first book of this series, I introduce the Morrisseys--brothers Liam and Sean, their father Dylan, and their nephew Connor (as well as various other Shifters in the Austin, TX, Shiftertown). Liam and his father are the Shiftertown leaders, and Sean is the Guardian of the Shifters.

What is a Guardian? Not a soldier or a guard. Sean carries a sword that sends a dead Shifter to the afterlife (it also turns the body to dust). It’s a lonely job, and Guardians don’t often take mates. Shifters are quite religious, honoring the Father God and Mother Goddess (sun and moon), and follow many pagan Celtic traditions.

The first two books are Pride Mates and Primal Bonds (out now), plus the shorter book, BODYGUARD, about Ronan, a honey of a bear Shifter.

In WILD CAT, Book 3 (coming in January), I move to another Shifter family in Las Vegas: Eric Warden (Shiftertown leader), his sister Cassidy (who has recently lost her mate), and Eric’s son Jace. Police detective Diego Escobar comes up against this family when he arrests Cassidy in all her naked glory after she’s caught trespassing in a construction site. Their first encounter is electric and heats up from there.

This story introduces new Shifter characters, including Shane and Brody, the Bears next door and their mother, Nell (“Mama--she can be one mean grizzly”).

The series will move back and forth between the two Shiftertowns, with characters crossing over in each book as the series and series arc moves forward. Don’t worry, you’ll see the Morrisseys and their friends again!

Not only are there more paperbacks (and ebooks) planned through Berkley, but I’ll be releasing more short novels in the interim, featuring Ellison, Spike, the bears from Wild Cat, and Rebecca from Bodyguard, and others. Lots of stories to tell!

Shifters Unbound, to my delight, has become a bestselling series, hitting the NY Times and USA Today bestseller lists, as well as the Kindle top 100. I hope you enjoy it!

I will be giving away one hardback edition of WILD CAT, Book 3 (signed) to a commenter. Tell me what your favorite Shifter is and enter the drawing!


Jennifer Ashley

Website: jennifersromances.com


Royal Pains: Sick Rich

by D.P. Lyle

The second Tie-In novel for the popular TV series Royal Pains (after Royal Pains: First, Do No Harm) is titled ROYAL PAINS: SICK RICH and was released January 3, 2012. In this story we find Hank and crew preparing for the 4th of July weekend in the Hamptons. Jill is spearheading the First Annual Hamptons Health and Fitness Fair at a local high school. Hank and Divya will man a medical booth at the fair and Evan, of course, involves himself in everything, the results not always as intended.

An Excerpt:

The Hamptons: Home Sweet Home

I’m Dr. Hank Lawson. I live in the Hamptons. Specifically, in the guesthouse at Shadow Pond, a sprawling estate owned by the mysterious Boris Kuester von Jurgens-Ratenicz. I call him simply Boris. The reason for this should be obvious.

The Hamptons weren’t my first choice of a place to practice medicine. Nor the second, third, or any other number you wish to attach. In fact, they didn’t even make the list. Weren’t on my radar.

But life sometimes pushes you along a path you never considered. You’re rolling along, have a great job, a fantastic fiancée, a glowing future. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and violins provide your life’s background music.

Until the train jumps the rails.

The music stops, the birds fly away, clouds darken the sun, and your life looks like the rubble left behind by a hurricane or a tornado or a tsunami.

That’s what happened to me.

I ran a very busy emergency department in a large and prestigious hospital. I was respected by my colleagues and admired by the hospital administration.

Until the train jumped the rails.

I should point out that an emergency room is a very dangerous place, perhaps second only to an aircraft carrier deck during flight operations. People die there all too often. Heart attacks, strokes, auto accidents, shootings and stabbings, runaway infections, and a long list of other maladies can do in even the healthiest among us. And on many occasions do so in short order. I had seen it all and weathered every storm.

Until the train jumped the rails.

My train wreck came in the form of a cardiac death. Not uncommon, but this time the patient was Mr. Clayton Gardner, a man worth billions, with a B, and as fate would have it the major donor to the hospital. I did nothing wrong and in fact nearly saved Mr. Gardner. The board felt otherwise, so I was fired and blackballed from the medical community. No job, no future, and no fiancée. Nicki, who I thought was the love of my life, bailed on me, too. She apparently decided that she needed to marry a real doc, not one who had been kicked to the curb.

The train had not only jumped the rails but had tumbled into a deep, uninhabited gorge.

Unable to deal appropriately with this mountain of setbacks, I drank beer and watched weeks of reruns on TV. This actually made me feel better. Self-pity will do that. It can also be addicting. It hooked me and I settled nicely into a routine of doing nothing. Lucy, Ethel, and I became BFFs.

This stage of my life didn’t last long, though. My brother, Evan, came to the rescue. Not that I went willingly, since I expected that whatever Evan planned would simply be another one of his harebrained schemes. When we were kids it seemed like he came up with two or three a week. Most were stupid and harmless, but a few got us in trouble. Nothing major, but we not infrequently found ourselves on the hot seat. Those are stories for another day. This time his idea was a trip to the Hamptons for Memorial Day weekend. The last thing I wanted to do. But Evan is persistent if nothing else. He also pointed out that I was becoming a slob and rapidly approaching flat broke.

What harm could a trip to the Hamptons do?

Maybe it would cheer me up?

Pushing my doubts on that point aside, I gave up the argument and said yes. My brother is very good at winning wars of attrition.

This little adventure into the wilds of the Hamptons led to a party at Shadow Pond, where I saved the life of one of the guests. A young woman who had inhaled a nasty pesticide while savoring a fragrant rose in Boris’s massive garden.

As a way of saying thanks for my having aborted a medical, social, political, and financial disaster, Boris gave me a gold bar—yes, a real solid gold bar—and settled Evan and me into his guesthouse. He became my first patient.

From there my concierge practice grew. I’m not sure how, since I fought it for months, unconvinced that that type of medicine was right for me. But like breaking in a new pair of jeans, it soon became comfortable.

Now HankMed, the name Evan dreamed up for my practice, is very successful. It still consists of Evan, HankMed’s self-anointed CFO, Divya Katdare, my self-hired physician assistant, and me. Our patient list has grown, we are solvent, even profitable, and once again the future looks bright.

I wish I could feel at ease with that, but the truth is I had my future blow up once before and I know it could happen again. Evan says I worry too much. That it’s in my nature to do so. Divya cautiously agrees. I believe I’m a realist.

D. P. Lyle, MD is the Macavity Award winning and Edgar Award nominated author of the non-fiction books, MURDER & MAYHEM, FORENSICS FOR DUMMIES, FORENSICS & FICTION, MORE FORENSICS & FICTION, and HOWDUNNIT: FORENSICS as well as the Samantha Cody thrillers DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND and DOUBLE BLIND, the Dub Walker Thrillers STRESS FRACTURE and HOT LIGHTS, COLD STEEL, and the media tie-in novels ROYAL PAINS: FIRST, DO NO HARM and ROYAL PAINS: SICK RICH based on the hit TV series. His essay on Jules Verne’s THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND appears in THRILLERS: 100 MUST READS and his short story “Even Steven” will appear in ITW’s anthology T3: LOVE IS MURDER.

He has worked with many novelists and with the writers of popular television shows such as Law & Order, CSI: Miami, Diagnosis Murder, Monk, Judging Amy, Peacemakers, Cold Case, House, Medium, Women’s Murder Club, 1-800-Missing, The Glades, and Pretty Little Liars.

He is a practicing Cardiologist in Orange County, California.

Website: dplylemd.com

Blog: writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com


A Reluctant Dragon

by Deborah Cooke

FLASHFIRE, my current release, is the 7th book in my Dragonfire series of paranormal romances featuring heroes who are dragon shape shifters. I really enjoy writing about these guys - not only are they gorgeous hunks (in either dragon or human form) but they have a nobility of purpose and a loyalty to each other that makes them heroes. Some of them are shameless romantics (like Rafferty in DARKFIRE KISS) while others are concerned with balancing duty and love (like Erik in KISS OF FATE). Because these books are romances, each one focuses on the meeting of one dragon dude with the human woman who can bear his son. This meeting is called the firestorm - sparks literally fly between the two until their match is consummated (when that son is conceived). Although the firestorm is all about biology - each dragon shifter in my world lives a long time but only meets one woman in his lifetime who can bear his son - the heroines tend to have a more long-term view of romantic relationships. Most of the guys in the series so far have been good with the dragon shifting part of their nature, but not always so good with the implications of the firestorm - the love, partnership, marriage and babies bit. For FLASHFIRE, I thought it would be fun to mix it up.

Lorenzo, the hero of FLASHFIRE, intrigued me from the first time he sauntered on to the Dragonfire stage. He had some attitude and he did not play by the rules. He wasn't interested in joining forces with the other Pyr (the good dragon shifters), even to defeat the Slayers (the bad dragon shifters). He didn't answer to anybody and he had me at hello. :-)

What I realized in writing his book was that Lorenzo didn't want to be a dragon. He thought the whole shifter package was a lot of trouble and barbaric besides - the only good thing about being a dragon shifter from his perspective was the longevity. In fact, he was so reluctant to be a dragon shifter that he had a plan to eliminate that side of his nature and disappear from the Pyr forever. I liked that Lorenzo had a plan and a goal. I thought he was wrong about being a dragon shape shifter. (You have to admit that it would be cool to be able to fly and to be able to breathe fire.)

So, I gave him a firestorm, at the worst possible moment - just days before he executed his plan. Lorenzo is a stage illusionist and has a big thing about control. That made it a lot of fun to mess with his game. Plus I couldn't have chosen a better heroine for him than Cassie Redmond. Cassie is a photographer who specializes in images of celebrities, the kind that appear in magazines at the grocery story check-out. She's having a crisis of faith in her chosen occupation when she meets Lorenzo, and when he proves to have a lot of secrets, she decides to find out what they all are. Lorenzo, for his part, is sure that Cassie - who dresses to disappear - is forgettable, and that he'll be able to satisfy the firestorm then move on. Of course, she's full of surprises that intrigue him.

I had a great time writing this story about two passionate individuals, both as determined to keep their own secrets as to uncover the secrets of the other. You can probably guess that Cassie's presence and the firestorm convinces Lorenzo that there are good things about being a dragon shape shifter!


White House Chef Mystery – Affairs of Steak

By Julie Hyzy

I’m a huge fan of all things White House and even though I’ve been a fan for a very long time, it wasn’t until I started writing the WHITE HOUSE CHEF MYSTERY SERIES that I really got my geek on.

My protagonist, Olivia (Ollie) Paras is the executive chef in my fictional White House. Not only that, she’s the first female to hold the position. Several years ago—just before Ollie was “born”—Laura Bush appointed Cristeta Comerford as the real executive chef of the real White House. As you can imagine, I’ve become a bit of a Cristeta geek as well…

I’ve visited the White House several times on guided tours. Shortly after the first book in the series, STATE OF THE ONION, came out, I was in Washington, D.C. for a conference. I took some time out to wander past the White House (I hadn’t been able to schedule a tour), and found myself getting a little choked up. I stared through the fence thinking about my Ollie. This was where she spent all her time. This was her life. I was overwhelmed by the sense that Ollie was a real, flesh and blood human.

One thing I strive to do above all else is to make Ollie’s stories believable. Now, I recognize that having the White House chef involved in a thriller-cozy where she dodges bad guys, discovers bombs, and thwarts conspiracies isn’t exactly realistic, but I do my best to keep White House details as authentic as possible. I have taken liberties now and then and, when I can’t find specific answers, I hazard a guess. I’ve been happily surprised to discover that quite a few of my guesses have proved accurate. Maybe the fact that I do so much research has allowed me to channel protocol.

Here’s a photo of just a few of the books I own. I’ve read or consulted all of them at one time or another. I didn’t take pictures of the documentaries I’ve recorded over the years, mostly because a photo of black VHS tapes is, well, boring.

What’s very cool is that my family knows how much of a White House geek I’ve become. My brother and his partner found these treasures at an estate sale. They’re reproductions of Presidential china. Aren’t they gorgeous? They’re smaller than average dinner plates, but accurate depictions of the china various presidents authorized during their terms.

Friends and readers are always sending me books, or links, or suggestions. I love every moment of learning about the inner workings of the White House. I keep dreaming that some day I’ll be invited to visit—a real visit, not just a tour with “no purse, no pen, no camera” rules to follow. I’d love to be able to see the areas off limits to visitors, to take pictures. Wouldn’t it be fabulous to be able to observe the kitchen staff as they work their magic? Some day, I keep telling myself. Some day.

In the newest book in the series, AFFAIRS OF STEAK (released yesterday), Ollie is assigned to work with the White House sensitivity director, Peter Everett Sargeant. These two haven’t gotten along since he was hired in book one. He’s smug, persnickety, and thoroughly unpleasant. But when the two enemies become involved in a murder investigation, they learn to grudgingly co-exist. They have to, if they want to stay alive. AFFAIRS also follows Ollie as she pursues the romantic relationship that began in BUFFALO WEST WING. It’s a busy book—but then again, it’s Ollie’s life.

I’m thrilled to have been able to pop in here today and share my White House geekiness with you. If you ever have a link, a book, a DVD, or even contact for a staffer to share, please feel free. I can’t ever get enough!