STRIPPED DOWN is officially alive. That’s right, it’s out in the wild. So wild, in fact, I found it at Wal-Mart. On a Saturday. At 2:00 p.m. My friends, fighting those crowds is about as “wild” as my life gets these days. :)  But it’s out there, and I’m happier than a certain blue-jacket-wearing rabbit with open access to Farmer McGregor’s garden. That’s pretty happy, my friends.

 

And maybe (who am I kidding? No doubt!) it’s a stretch to put my first Blaze release in the same category as anything by Beatrix Potter, but here’s what I’ve learned: we’re both authors. That blurs a lot of lines I always considered hard lines between good and great.

What changed my mind? A conversation with a very good friend. This friend, who shall remain unnamed for privacy purposes, is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author many times over. She’s brilliant, charming, gracious and kind–all the things I decided I had to make priorities when I met her. She’s my hero in many ways, and my mentor in many more. I’ve always looked at her work and thought to myself, “I want to be that good. I want to write stories readers gobble up like hers.”

As the Fates would have it, my friend offered to read/critique my first cowboy Blaze, tentatively titled BLOWN AWAY. Her reponse? “My first thought on reading this was that I should just give up writing. I’ve always wanted to write like this, but I never will. As a reader, I knew there were words on the page, but I was too busy sensing and seeing everything you wrote about to consider the words. This is amazing, honey.”  She went on, but anything more will just make me sound like a jerk, and this? There’s a purpose to this.

After I was done weeping post-Skype call, and when the shakes finally settled down, something else dawned on me. I’ve always thought of writing in a ladder system, where you move one rung up or down based on a HUGE variety of factors. I know, I know. The idea was ridiculous. Keep in mind, though, that I don’t do math. At all. The extend of my intimate relationship with numbers runs to memorizing phone numbers. The. End. :D  So anyway, it hit me that she and I are both writers. We both have strengths. Conversely, we both have weaknesses. She works just as hard as I do to be brilliant. She’s been more successful in the brilliance department because she’s written many more books. BUT…I’m learning by continuing to write and continuing to read–read, read, read. I learn so much from seeing how a great story is put together by reading.

But here’s the other truth: I learn just as much from reader feedback. When a reader comes to me and says, “I loved your book, but I wish X had happened too,” I literally make notes. I learn from so many sources on how to improve.

This little revelation turned my ladder into a twisty slide that dumped all of us at the bottom of the sandbox in a giant, laughing heap. Because you know what? There is no ladder system. There’s learning, there’s (massive) effort, there’s appreciation, there’s writing what you love and there’s gratitude. That’s it. Mix those ingredients and the authors, and most of the readers, end up in the same puppy pile laughing and talking and enjoying each others’ company because we have those things in common.

So while STRIPPED DOWN is out in the wilds of McGregor’s garden chomping away on the carrots (I happen to LOVE raw carrots), my inner writer self is giddily at work on Eli and Reagan’s story, preparing to give you a better story every time as I live those five points: I learn; I exert (massive) effort; I appreciate every moment, reader, fellow writer and my editor (waves at Adrienne); I write what I love; I live with an attitude of gratitude. Beyond that? Well, the rest is just words.

I hope you get a chance to read STRIPPED DOWN and enjoy it. WOUND UP releases January 1 (December 16 for print books — thank you, Amazon, for the Christmas gift!). I really do have a serious book-boyfriend crush on the hero of this particular book, and I hope you will too.

Thank you so much for your amazing support and your awesome feedback. You guys rock!

Winners of the STRIPPED DOWN contest are: Marcy Shuler, Tammy Yenalavitch and Carol W. Congratulations! If you’ll send me your contact information through my website (www.kelliireland.com) and let me know if you want the digital book or the paperback, I’ll get those in the e/mail today!

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Greetings Blaze Babes!

I don’t know about you, but I feel as if I’m doing this monthly blog every two weeks. Time is going so fast. August was a blur of entertaining and home repair and enjoying a break from writing. Now it’s back to school for my two junior-year kids, one in college, one in high school, and looking forward to apples and stews and good sleeping nights.

One happy writing note, my October Blaze, Some Like it Hotter, the first of a two-book series in which sisters on opposite coasts switch lives, was a 4 ½ star-rated Top Pick in Romantic Times magazine! The heroine is a quirky individualist who falls for a strait-laced guy and gives him pretty much no choice in the matter of falling for her. A nice switch from the usual.

This month’s recipe was part of a recent dinner party for fourteen (!). We grilled sirloin steaks, sliced them up and offered different sauces to accompany. For sides we served cheesy garlic bread with fresh basil and parsley (I could bathe in that stuff) and a really unusual and delicious potato salad with sweet and russet potatoes and arugula. This month’s feature is our other side dish, a fabulous zingy coleslaw, which will become my new favorite recipe. I don’t know about you, but I think coleslaw is one of those “easy” recipes that never seems right. It’s either too mayonnaisey or too vinegary or too sweet or not sweet enough . . . Most of the time it’s good but kind of boring and gets left over and ignored. Not this one!

Haitian Coleslaw

Don’t know what makes it Haitian, but it sure was delicious. Give it a try.

See you next month!

Cheers,

Isabel

www.IsabelSharpe.com

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I love September!  Yes, I was a back to school geek who loved starting a new year.  Mostly because it meant back to school shopping (love me those notebooks and pens and post its and folders and… yeah).  But also because it meant more reading time!  How about you? Did you love back to school?  How about reading -what’re you reading this week?  pile of books and eyeglasses on the books

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In romance, we write about the fun stuff that happens before people go to sleep, and maybe right after they wake up. But we don’t usually write about how people sleep. I don’t know about you, but sleep is like some elusive thing that I never get enough of. Ever. My life is crazy – in a good way. There are nights/early mornings when my head hits the pillow and I actually say, “I love you pillow. I love you bed. I missed you guys.”

So the Hub works nights a lot, and I’m by myself. For awhile, I was allowing the Great Dane to sleep with me. Elvis (my little Shih tzu) sleeps in her kennel at the end of the bed, and then there’s grumpy Gizmo (part Maltese/Japanese Chin) who only weighs 20 lbs but I swear is the biggest bed hog you ever met. But then Harley the Great Dane grew and grew to 130 lbs. And though she tries to make herself tiny, she’s not. And when my hub was home on the weekends… we’ll it was crowded, uncomfortable and weird. So when I came back from traveling for 8 weeks in a row this summer, I decided to make a change. Elvis only in her kennel. No other dogs allowed. Amazingly, I was sleeping through the night more. Go figure. I have to live with the guilt of the other two staring at me as I walk upstairs, but they get a piece of egg each morning to make up for it. :)

But I’m always curious about how people sleep. I’m all over the place. The hub and I start out all cuddly, but during the night I end up sideways in the bed and he’s on the edge. We’ve been married a long time, so he’s used to it. And he gets all the covers. I’m a side and stomach sleeper. He’s a back and sometimes side sleeper. It works for us. :) And we got a Tempurpedic a few years ago and I have trouble sleeping on anything else. I also have one of those fat Tempurpedic pillows. And I sleep with a smaller pillow over my head. Weird, I know. But I swear it’s to block out sound and light. We have blackout curtains so if the bathroom door is closed, it’s a cave in my bedroom, night or day.

We need new floors in my office, but we have no problem spending a months pay on sheets. Ok. Maybe not a month, but super nice sheets are a luxury I will not go without. And now my Hub is kind of spoiled as well. And it has to be super cold for me. My husband calls me the heater. He’s very cold natured, so again it works for us. The big way we differ is he can go to sleep with lights/tv/a hurricane going on, I cannot. I’m a super light sleeper. Has to be dark, cold and quiet.

So how do you sleep? What kind of conditions are perfect for you? I’m trying to get more sleep. It isn’t easy with my schedule. But how many hours a night are just right for you? ANd I heard a good nights sleep can help you lose weight. So there’s that. :) So tell me how you sleep. I really want to know.

-Candy

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I grew up in a family that read mostly literary fiction, so when I started reading romance novels as a teenager, there wasn’t much support for my new hobby. When I went to college and studied English, I pretty much had my love of romance shamed out of me, and for many years, I didn’t read any at all. Then one of my kids’ teachers introduced me to Outlander. The summer I discovered Outlander, I started reading romance and haven’t stopped since. Outlander turned out to be my gateway not only back to reading romance but also to writing it—and this summer, it also led me to start reading science fiction and fantasy.

outlanderI began re-reading Outlander this summer because I desperately wanted to read the new eighth book in the series but couldn’t remember enough of the first seven to feel comfortable just diving in. So I borrowed my sister’s audio versions of the books and started from the very beginning.

Re-reading Outlander has been, for me, a lot like reading it in the first place. It has reminded me of why I love reading, of why I love good storytelling, and how much a great story can transport me and make me live for a few blissful hours in another world.

Because the experience of having all my shame and preconceptions about romance destroyed was so wonderful, and because returning to Outlander’s amazingly well-imagined world was so rewarding, I decided it was time to get over my resistance to reading sci-fi, YA, and fantasy, too. So I picked up some series that have come highly recommended. Here’s what I read:

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (fantasy)name of the wind cover

My super-quick summary: A young boy grows up to be the most powerful wizard in the world. :-)

What I loved: How beautifully (yet simply) it’s written, and how the secondary characters all hint at expansive, untold stories of their own.

What surprised me: I thought all fantasy was complicated and hard to follow, until I read this book.

golden compass coverThe Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman (YA fantasy)

My super-quick summary: A little girl and her familiar, from whom she is inseparable, travel to the far, frozen north to fight against a terrible evil.

What I loved: Lyra, the little girl, is charming and brave, believably childish and yet still a fully developed heroine.

What surprised me: I was surprised to learn that this book is considered anti-religious because while I was reading, I thought the connection between the children and their familiars was a metaphor for our unbreakable connection to God.

The Game of Thrones by George RR Martin (fantasy)game of thrones cover

My super-quick summary: In a strange land where a terrible winter is coming, men and women struggle for power, and to save their realm from the evil outside the walls.

What I loved: Everything is interconnected, like a mammoth set of dominoes poised to fall, and the world is so mysterious, threatening, and well-imagined.

What surprised me: It wasn’t hard to follow all the intrigues and twists and turns, and even the hundreds of names somehow successfully stuck in my head.

wool omnibus coverThe Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey (sci-fi)

My super-quick summary: A colony of people living deep underground in a silo learn the truth about what lies outside—and what lurks in their own hearts.

What I loved: The spare, evocative writing, and the idea of a whole world of people living in a silo underground, without understanding their place in the larger world.

What surprised me: There was almost nothing science-y or convoluted about this science fiction. It was just a fast-moving, emotional story.

Altered Carbon by Richard K Morgan (sci-fi)altered carbon cover

My super-quick summary: A renegade detective solves a murder in a world where men can’t (easily) die because their souls are stored digitally for “resleeving” in new bodies

What I loved: Even though this book was dark and violent, I loved the premise so much, I didn’t care. Morgan did an amazing job of imagining all the consequences that would fall out of being able to “download” our selves.

What surprised me: I wasn’t drowning in technological details or stuck in trying to figure out how things worked.

Do you read genres besides romance? Have you tried a new one lately? What have you read outside of romance lately that youd recommend?

 

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By Kathleen Scheibling, Senior Editor, Harlequin Blaze

 

Where did the summer go? Luckily where I am in the world, not far. The temperatures for the first week of September in Toronto are forecasted to be in the 80s, so this makes me happy. Oh, winter, how I dread you. Despite the sun and humidity I still have that back-to-school feeling, which means I’m getting excited about a whole new season in Blaze. We’ve got fantastic books coming out this fall – and none of them are going to cool you down!
Sept 811 Tawny

Our first scorcher is New York Times bestselling author Tawny Weber’s A SEAL’S FANTASY. We know you love your military men, and Dominic Castillo is definitely a hero to love! He’s strong, he’s tall, he’s muscled, he’s smart—and even though he’s a sweetheart, he is one serious badass. Dominic’s mission is to protect Lara Banks, a woman who, because of her estranged brother, is not too fond of SEALs. Dominic has to convince Lara that she’s in jeopardy, but it’s their scorching attraction that may be the real danger. This is Tawny’s first Unrated!, meaning you are in for one very sexy story that is also charming, funny and a real page-turner. You won’t be able to put this one down!
Sept 812 Debbi

What sane woman ditches a successful career and moves to Montana to renovate a run-down boarding house? Beth Wilson asks herself that question in BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, the next installment in Debbi Rawlins’ Made in Montana miniseries. Beth has her hands full with her work and with taking care of her sister and niece, who is growing up way too fast. But her main distraction is widower Nathan Landers, a reclusive rancher who wants nothing but to be left alone. Beth finds that very difficult – she can see the man is hurting, but she also sees the desire in his eyes. These two can’t deny their attraction…and it’s becoming impossible to keep their sexy affair on the QT.

Sept 813 Jillian
Who entered New York City fireman Joe Tedesco in a modeling contest? The new “Sexiest Average Joe” is being taken on a Caribbean cruise – and what single guy would turn that down? Especially when there are delightful distractions like Carly Pendleton, a beautiful fashion blogger who just wants to make this photo shoot a big success. Joe and Carly have nothing in common…well, that’s not quite true. They seem to have major chemistry between the sheets! When they return to New York, they go their separate ways, but something keeps pushing them back together. Enjoy CABIN FEVER by Jillian Burns, part of our The Wrong Bed miniseries.
Sept 814 Kelli
New Author Alert! Welcome, Kelli Ireland! STRIPPED DOWN is the first of three books in a brand new series, Pleasure Before Business. Eric Reeves is the CEO of a real estate development firm that’s on the cusp of success. But first he has to earn a living – as Dalton Chase, the sought-after stripper of Beaux Hommes, one of Seattle’s most exclusive adult clubs. When “Dalton” is hired as the entertainer at a bachelorette party, he meets Cass Jameson, the owner of a company who is at odds with Eric’s new venture. Neither is aware of the other’s real identity as they fall into a seductive trap. You’ll love the heat that builds between Eric and Cass!

 

I hope you enjoy all four books this month! Tell me your favourite thing about fall and I’ll enter you in a draw to win one of three sets of our September Blazes. Follow me on Twitter at @KScheibling for our annual SYTYCW conference, where I’ll be chatting about Blaze on Monday, September 15th at 10 a.m. EST.

 

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Are they hot or are they hot?  Stay tuned for Kathleen’s fun update on the latest Blaze titles…

 

 

Sept 811 Tawny

 

 

Sept 812 Debbi

 

 

Sept 813 Jillian

 

 

Sept 814 Kelli

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I am super excited about the release of my latest Sexy SEAL and my first story in the Unrated mini-series! A SEAL’s Fantasy just might be the sexiest book I’ve ever written (Maybe. Possibly. Hmm, I’m not sure… I hope readers will let me know *g*)

I knew it would be fun to combine the Sexy SEAL world I’ve loved creating with the amped up heat the Unrated books offer, and I knew there was no better hero to really bring on the heat than Dominic Castillo (call sign: Auntie). If you’ve read A SEAL’s Kiss, you probably got to know Castillo pretty well and understand why he’s a guy who needed just the right heroine (you can see his first on-page scene here). A woman who would take nothing off of anybody, who had paid her dues and didn’t fall easily. Lara was just right for that! Tough, savvy, intense and driven, she was SO fun to write.

Want a peek? Here you go…

A SEAL's Fantasy“You’ve got an interesting pickup line, big guy. What do you call this? The Neanderthal approach? Grab a woman in an alley, grunt a few times about fake relatives and show off your studly moves for the local cockroaches?” Lara hoped her smile was snarky and not shaky, but her nerves were wound too tight to tell.

If she’d wanted to offend him into letting go, though, she straight up failed.

Instead, he shifted. His thigh grazed hers and while his fingers didn’t actually move, she felt like he’d just caressed her arm. His dark eyes turned molten and his lips quirked into a sexy little smile. Heat swirled through Lara’s system like a whirlwind, filling her body with longings and her mind with crazy thoughts.

“Tell you what, sweetheart. Why don’t we get out of this alley and I’ll work up a line you’ll like much better.” His words were silky smooth. So slick and easy that she doubted he’d ever had a single unsure moment in his life.

Now her nerves were racing for a whole different reason.

Eyes wide, Lara wet her lips.

His eyes dropped, amusement fading.

Lara’s stomach clenched.

Not out of fear.

This was pure, liquid desire.

She’d rather be afraid.

But she also wanted out of the alley. She knew all eyes were still on them, that the creep cadre was only waiting for a chance to unleash their ugly.

“Why don’t we go out front,” she suggested after clearing her throat a couple of times. Out front were real people. Tourists and cops and traffic. She figured it’d take her three, maybe five minutes to ditch him there.

“Let’s go,” he agreed.

As if he knew she was going to bolt, he kept ahold of her arm as they made their way to the end of the building. As soon as they rounded the corner Lara relaxed. Like a lullaby, the sound of traffic, people and music soothed. She glanced at the mountain out of the corner of her eye, then wished she hadn’t.

He shouldn’t look as intimidating out here.

But he was.

The dim alley lighting had hid his scariest feature.

Lara cringed, averting her eyes in hopes that the stained, dirty sidewalk would wipe the image away.

He had dimples.

Damn him.

Dimples on a guy, those were fatal.

“Coffee?” Dimpled and gorgeous asked.

“What?” Lara looked up and almost sighed. She didn’t have time for a guy like him.

It’d take hours, maybe days even, to explore that body. Weeks just to get through her own fantasies about sex with a gorgeous, dimpled guy. God knew how long it’d take if he had fantasies of his own.

Nope, she glanced at her watch. She was already late.

She risked another look at him, noting the stubborn set of his chin and the determined light in those dark blue eyes. Blue, she thought as her nipples tightened. Blue eyes and dimples. The man was toxic.

Her mental debate took all of two seconds. She wasn’t going to convince him to let her go and she couldn’t match his strength. There was only one option left.

Seduce him stupid.

By the end of A SEAL’s Fantasy, Lara had touched my heart and I know she touched Dominic’s (heart… she touched his heart  ;-) ). I hope she does the same for readers, too. If you do check out A SEAL’s Fantasy, please let me know what you thought!!!

A SEAL’s Fantasy is out in print now, and will be released in digital at midnight Sunday.  You know, just as soon as the clock strikes September 1!!

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SPOILER ALERT! Do NOT read the next couple of paragraphs if haven’t caught up with this season of TRUE BLOOD!
Joe Manganiello

Joe Manganiello


Ok, are they gone? Whew! I almost titled this blog Alcide might be dead, but Long Live Joe. Then I realized some people might not have watched this season yet. Now I’m going to cry. And rant. CRY! Alcide, oh Alcide! Say it ain’t so! I’m on TEAM Bill, because I always go with first love=True love in a Romance, but, still… That doesn’t mean you had to DIE!
WHY?? Why did you have to die? As Sookie said, you were so big and strong. And SO sweet! You deserved a happy ending!
Okay, okay, you’re right. He’s not a real person. And at least we still have the beautiful Joe Manganiello to soothe our mourning souls.
regular joe
Start HERE if you skipped ahead.
I hear Joe’s making a Magic Mike 2, ladies! And he is the real reason for this blog post. He’s my inspiration-in every sense of the word- for my latest Blaze hero, Joe Tedesco. MY Joe is a New York firefighter and the winner of a Sexiest Average Joe contest run by fashion blogger Carly in my September Wrong Bed Blaze CABIN FEVER. And to celebrate my new release, and in honor of the very sexy Joe Manganiello, I’m giving away a copy of CABIN FEVER to the first 3 commenters who can correctly answer all these fun questions.

1. In which sitcom did Joe play a guy named Brad Morris? (Hint: It just had its series finale this year)
2. What funny “Baby” movie was Joe in just before Magic Mike?
3. What is the name of the documentary Joe directed about male strippers?
4. In which TV series did Joe have a part with the equally sexy Josh Duhamel? (also an inspiration for a hero in one of my Blazes)
5. Other than True Blood, in what TV series did Joe have a large role? (Hint: he played a pro Slamball player) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29QGAq8dXys
6. Joe is also an author. Last December, he released a fitness book. What was the title? (just the first word will do for the answer)
7. To support himself before he got his first part in Spiderman, Joe worked as a bodyguard and a bouncer. What occupation would you like to see him play if you could write a movie for him?

And now for an excerpt from CABIN FEVER.CABIN FEVER front cover

“YOU’RE LYING, TEDESCO.”
Joe narrowed his eyes at his accuser, brought the can of root beer to his lips and took a long sip. “You’ll have to play to find out, Wakowski.”
Wakowski snarled and studied his dwindling pile of chips on the table in the fire station’s kitchen.
Joe tapped his fingers on his thigh. With his luck they’d get a call before he could lay down his cards.
“Come on, Wakowski,” Everman urged. “In this century.” Everman had already folded, as had Miller and Stockton. Joe maintained his poker face.
Wakowski narrowed his eyes. “You’re bluffing.” He shoved all his remaining chips into the center of the table.
Joe grinned and revealed his Queen-high heart flush. “Read `em and weep.”
The guys whooped and hollered and thudded Joe on the back. Wakowski cursed and pitched his cards down. “You’re a real scootch, you know dat?”
Joe grinned and began gathering up his winnings. His cell buzzed and he grabbed it off the table. At two on a Saturday afternoon it was probably his mother calling to make sure he was coming to the family dinner tomorrow. He checked the caller ID, but he didn’t recognize the number. He hesitated answering. If one of his sisters had set him up with one of their friends again…
Knowing he’d regret it, he punched the answer button. “Tedesco.”
“Mr. Joe Tedesco, of Brooklyn, New York?”
Great. Were telemarketers allowed to call cell phones now? “Uh…yeah?”
“This is Carly’s Couture calling about your entry in The Sexiest Average Joe contest and I’m thrilled to tell you that you are our winner!”
Joe blinked. Contest? Sexiest what? Wait a minute…he grinned at his fellow firemen sitting around the station house table. “Good one, guys.” He spoke into the phone. “So, I won, huh? What’d I win? A hot and heavy night with you, sweetheart?”
“Excuse me?”
Joe winced. The sleet falling outside was no match for the ice in this woman’s voice. If this was a prank, she was really good. “Uh, hold on a sec.” He held the phone to his chest. “Okay, you guys, you might as well fess up. I’m not falling for it.”
All four of his buddies gave him a confused look. Not good. He put the phone back to his ear. “Who’d you say you were again?”
“Carly Pendleton, with Carly’s Couture. I have a fashion blog for the average man and woman, and Modiste magazine cosponsored the national contest searching for the Sexiest Average Joe.”
Fashion blog? Wait. Modiste? Wasn’t that the fancy magazine his sisters were always reading, with all the makeover contests and quizzes on how to please a guy in bed? Alarm bells clanged and they weren’t coming from the firehouse. Joe stood and paced from the kitchen into the common area.
“Mr. Tedesco? Are you there?”
He barely heard her voice. Her previous words kept echoing in his mind. Contest. Modiste magazine. What had his sisters done now?
He cleared his throat. “Yeah, I’m here.” Maybe he should think positive. Maybe he’d won a big screen TV or a year’s supply of beer.
“—and the cruise leaves on Monday. I’ll have your boarding pass and a car will pick you up at your residence at 7:00 a.m.. The flight to Miami departs at 10:00. The ship sails at 4:00. Now, your entry form said you already have a passport?”
“Wait a minute. I won a cruise?” That could be fun.
“Five days and four nights to the Caribbean. Of course, that’s where we’ll be doing the photo shoot.”
“Photo shoot?”
The woman mumbled a request to save her from idiots. “You did read all the details of the contest before entering, didn’t you, Mr. Tedesco?”
He clenched his teeth. “It’s Joe. Mr. Tedesco is my father.”
“Okay. In case you need reminding, Joe. The photo shoot is the reason for the cruise. My blog will feature the Sexiest Average Joe wearing Carly’s Couture clothing choices and posing with a beautiful supermodel in exotic locales. You could end up with a lucrative modeling career, Mr. Tedesco. Maybe even become famous.”
Famous? If he’d wanted money and fame he would’ve signed the contract offer his sophomore year. He sure as hell wasn’t posing for some magazine like one of those pretty boys strutting around in their underwear. No, thanks. “Look, lady, I can’t just take off work at a moment’s notice.”
“Mr. Te—Joe. I promise the shoot won’t take all your time. There’ll be excursions and nightlife and we even provide you fifty dollars’ worth of chips at the ship’s casino.”
“You could offer me a thousand dollars in chips and I still wouldn’t be posing for some women’s magazine, especially not for some sexiest man photos.”
“Oh, ho! Sexiest Man?” called Everman.
Joe swiveled to find his fellow firemen gathered around him.
“Whoa, Mr. Sexy, huh?” Miller mocked.
Wakowski locked his hands behind his head and wiggled his hips. “Oooh, Sexy Joey.”
Joe shut them down with a scowl and an obscene hand gesture.
A split second of silence on the other end of the line suggested that the lady had heard the background commotion. “Look, Mr. Tedesco. When you signed the entry form you agreed to all the terms and conditions of the contest.”
Joe balled his free hand into a fist. “I didn’t sign anything. I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”
“Really? Then, whoever did sign your name on the entry forms could be prosecuted for forgery.”
“Now hold on a minute.” His sisters were going to pay for this. The entry had to be their doing. He couldn’t see any of the guys here at the station risking his wrath. Or ever reading Modiste magazine for that matter. But he couldn’t let Donna-Marie and Rosalie be brought up on charges. He sighed. The chief had been nagging him to take some of his vacation…
“I’ll talk to my boss about the time off. If I’m able, I’ll be ready at 7:00 Monday.”
“Oh, that’s wonderful, Mr.—Joe. I promise you’re going to have a wonderful week in the Caribbean.”
Joe clicked off, ignored his buddies’ questions and stalked toward the chief’s office. A wonderful week? He seriously doubted that.

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With the release of my first Blaze, Triple Threat, only weeks away (SQUEE!), I’m lost in a haze of promotional stuff, things I never even considered when I started writing. Like designing and maintaining my own website. (I’m pretty proud of how it turned out; check it out at www.reginakyle.com). And figuring out how to set up a Goodreads giveaway. (Mine starts in a few days. You can enter here.) Or organizing a Facebook release party. (Mine’s on October 1, and a lot of the Blaze babes are going to be there to celebrate with me. Anyone can join here.) Just designing the cover photo took me hours of experimentation with two different photo editors, GIMP and Picmonkey. Neither of which I’d even heard of before last week.

In the midst of it all, I’m working on the proposal for book three in the Art of Seduction series (tentative title: Triple Dare) and finishing up book two (tentative title: Triple Time). Not to mention keeping up with the dreaded day job. Needless to say, my house is a mess and my family’s eating a lot of take out.

Is it all worth it? I think so. All these firsts are so amazing, so special. Like my first cover. Have you seen it? No? Well here it is:

Triple threat cover

I’m completely, totally in love with it. She’s perfect, he’s yummy, and they even managed to get the theater – the all-important setting for Triple Threat – in the background.

Or my first review, which came out this week in Romantic Times. The reviewer said that “the subject matter at the crux of this story
is well appreciated as a departure from the typical Blaze romance. Heart-melting tenderness is displayed in both the tone of the book and within the bounds of this pairing.”

Heart-melting tenderness? I’ll take that.

As release day gets closer and closer, I’m sure there will be even more last minute things I need to figure out and even more firsts for me to appreciate. And I intend to savor every one of them until it’s time to let my baby go and share Triple Threat with all of you.

Until then, here’s a little Triple Threat teaser for you, from Holly and Nick’s first encounter since high school:

“Hate you? Why would I hate you?” She shook his hand off, her stomach knotting up like a ball of yarn. “You’re freaking me out, Ethan. Who’s waiting for us in there? The pope? Jimmy Hoffa? My ex-mother-in-law?”

Before he could answer, the door fell open with a whoosh.

“Here they are!” Ted opened the door wider, ushering them inside. “Our esteemed writer and director.” He brought them into a conference room where Judith and several others were seated in tapestry chairs around an enormous walnut table. One man stood apart, his back to the door, apparently engrossed in one of the framed photos of the New York skyline that dotted the walls. Black hair curled over the collar of his cream-colored dress shirt, which hugged his broad shoulders and displayed strong forearms beneath rolled-up sleeves.

No. It couldn’t be him. He was supposed to be on a movie set overseas…

“Holly Ryan, Ethan Phelps,” Ted boomed, earning him a stern look from his wife. He either ignored or missed it and continued, not lowering his voice one decibel. “Say hello to our new star, straight from the silver screen.”

The man turned and Holly knew from his slack-jawed expression that he was as shocked as she was.

Nick.

He moved toward her like a tidal wave of gorgeous in an ocean of ohmigod. “It’s been a long time, Holly.” Tall, dark and to-die-for, he held out his hand. His voice, deep and rough, made her breath catch and her nipples tighten. She crossed her arms in front of her chest to hide her unfortunate and completely involuntary reaction to the man who had starred in her erotic dreams since—well, since she’d been old enough to have erotic dreams.

“Nick. I thought you were in Hong Kong.” She stood, feet planted, afraid if she got any nearer to him she’d dissolve into a pool of fiery, lust-ridden goo.

“Been keeping up with me?” He dropped his hand when she didn’t move to take it, slipping it casually into the front pocket of his jeans. “I’m flattered.”

“It’s hard not to. You’re everywhere.”

“Ethan didn’t tell you?” Ted stepped in, smile lines further crinkling his already wrinkled face, and clapped the director on the shoulder. Ethan gave him a warning glare, but the older man, either truly oblivious or deliberately ignorant, ran a hand through his salt-and-pepper hair and continued, “He insisted we see Nick for this role, that he’d be perfect as our modern-day Stanley Kowalski. Even convinced us to put off casting until he finished shooting.”

“Perfect,” Holly echoed, her blood closely approaching the boiling point.

A bead of sweat trickled down Ethan’s forehead and his Adam’s apple did a nervous dance in his throat. “Surprise.”

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Cover Art Copyright @by Harlequin Enterprises Limited. Cover art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. BLAZE, HARLEQUIN and the JOEY design are trademarks of Harlequin Enterprises Limited, used with permission.
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