At the moment I am putting the final touches on my first Blaze book, A Dangerously Sexy Christmas. It might seem strange to be working on a Christmas story while the air conditioning is cranked up (I was not prepared for Toronto’s humidity!!) and Christmas is filed under ‘future things to worry about’ in my brain. But I’m used to a hot holiday season, being from the southern hemisphere and all. Which is a good thing for my characters, because I’ve put some snow-melting scenes into this book!

In related news, I got my blurb! Here it is (just try to read it while picturing Timothy Olyphant in the role of Max *wink*)9781460386248-1

Assignment: A Hot Holiday Affair!

Aspiring jewelry designer Rose Lawson doesn’t want a bodyguard. Especially the hot, muscle-y one her father hires after a break-in at the jewelry shop where she works. It’s only when her home is also ransacked that Rose realizes the sexy (but infuriating) bodyguard might come in handy…especially on a cold winter’s night.

Max Ridgeway is a former Aussie cop who’s got something to prove in New York. He’s convinced that someone dangerous is behind the robberies and that Rose needs protection. His protection. But what’s even more dangerous is the sexy tension between them—because a hot little fling could compromise their lives…and his heart.

The inspiration behind this story…

I’ve always wanted to write a police-type hero. Why? I spent a year working for the Victoria Police back when I lived in Australia. My job was very unexciting (I trained people on how to use payroll and HR systems…not exactly thrilling work) but I spent a lot of time around the officers in a work capacity…and I also spent a bit of time checking them out while I waited for my coffee at the café downstairs. Sue me, I’m a sucker for a man in uniform!

There’s something intrinsically heroic about a person (man or woman!) who embarks on a career like that. It’s tough work, sometimes dangerous and often thankless. I have a deep respect the police after spending that year working with them and I definitely poured my ideas of the loyalty and tenacity required for the job into my hero, Max Ridgeway.

Though he’s no longer on the force (as much as he wants to be) he still holds all those values close to his heart. He’s hard-working, committed and holds himself to an impossibly high standard. But he’s not perfect, he kinda sucks when it comes to talking about his feelings. Luckily Rose is there to help him out with that!

I’m curious, do you like police/protector heroes? What is it about them that draws you in?

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from a random drawing the winners are:
ALINA D.
MARY PRESTON
NANEE
Could y’all email me with your snail mail address and tell me which book you want please? my email is julietburns@gmail.com.
HUGS everyone!

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My newest Blaze will be on shelves June 1st, fevered nights cover2
and I’m super excited because FEVERED NIGHTS is about Neil the SEAL. Some of you may remember Neil from NIGHT MANEUVERS
In Night Maneuvers, Neil DOESN’T get the girl. And if you haven’t read Night Maneuvers, or even if it’s just been a while, I thought I might post the last time we saw Neil.
Below is the scene where he gets rejected by Air Force Captain Alexandria Hughes because she’s in love with Captain Mitch McCabe. Poor Neil. But Alex wasn’t right for him. He will meet the woman he needs to love and who needs HIS love in Fevered Nights. But before that, THIS happened…

NMcover

The doorbell rang and Alex jumped, her heart racing. Taking a deep breath, she smoothed her hands down her jeans and went to get the door.
As soon as she swung it open, Neil’s classy cologne hit her senses. But as expensive as she knew it was, it didn’t do a thing for her. “Hey.” She smiled and offered her cheek as he bent down to hug her and kissed the corner of her mouth.
“Hi.” He wore his service dress uniform, shiny shoes, and ribbons covering his suit coat pocket. “Housewarming gift.” Bowing slightly from the waist, he presented her with an expensive bottle of wine, mimicking a maître d’ at an expensive restaurant.
“Oh, you didn’t have to do that.” She took the wine and stepped back, gesturing him inside. “I thought I’d make tuna salad. You want a sandwich?”
“Whatever you make is great.” He followed her into the kitchen and stood at the counter while she pulled out a can of tuna.
He was taller than Mitch, broader. At five feet, three inches, she felt like a dwarf next to him. He made her nervous just standing there watching her. Did he notice the awkwardness between them like she did?
“Your house is nice,” he finally said.
“Thanks. It’s just an old fixer-upper, but I like the classic fifties details, like the built-in shelf in the hallway for the phone.”
“Oh?”
“Yeah, and the original wood trim along the front gable? They don’t make ‘em like that anymore.” Oh, god, she was rambling. She glanced over at him and smiled.
He returned it. “Hey, can I help with anything?”
“Oh, nah. Not much to do.” She pulled mayo from the fridge. “You like celery or pickles in your tuna salad?” She wouldn’t have had to ask Mitch that. She knew already. To be fair, she’d known him longer. But she’d dated Neil almost two years. She’d slept with the man, for chrissakes. She should know how he liked his tuna.
“Either is fine.” He just stood there and watched her.
“Have a seat and tell me how the hell—how are you? You’re shipping out, huh?” She knew not to ask him where. He probably couldn’t say.
As she chopped an onion, boiled a couple of eggs, and mixed everything in a bowl, he sat, crossed his legs in that upper-class elegant way of his, and talked.
He kept the conversation light, filling her in on all of their mutual friends in D.C. He talked of his father and mother, and their works, and told her of a lady, a young lobbyist, he’d been dating a few months.
Alex made the sandwiches, set his on a plate before him with some sliced apples, and pulled out a bag of potato chips.
“This looks wonderful.” He smiled down at the food and then back up at her. “I think that’s what I’ve always liked about you. You’re so down to earth.” He picked up the sandwich and took a man-sized bite.
She blinked. Down to earth? Was that code for unsophisticated? Uncouth? “Gee, you really know how to flatter a girl, Neil.”
His eyes widened and he stopped chewing. Swallowing quickly, he shook his head. “No, I— That came out wrong. I meant it as a compliment. Truly.”
Feeling bad for the poor guy, she smiled. “I know. Don’t worry about it.”
He cleared his throat, scooted back in the chair, and stood. “Restroom?”
“Uh…” She scrambled up from her seat and motioned him out of the kitchen and to the right. Oh, crud, had she straightened up the bathroom? “The door on the right.”
She busied herself searching the pantry for anything she could offer for dessert besides a half-eaten bag of Oreos. As she heard the water running, she poured them both a glass of iced tea, and then paced the kitchen. Why the hell was he really here? Maybe he was marrying that lobbyist and wanted to let Alex know personally. But she’d made it clear when she left D.C. that she was breaking up with him. Maybe—
She spun on her heel as he appeared in the kitchen. “Want some tea?” She held out the glass to him.
“No, thanks.” He shoved his hands in his slacks pockets and gazed out the window above her sink to the back yard. “Is that a pool?”
“Yes!” She seized on the topic for conversation. “It’s small but it comes in handy in this desert heat.”
He was still gazing out the window. “It’s nice out today. Not too hot, not too cold.”
No way he came here just to talk about the weather. “Would you like to sit outside?”
“Yes.” His smile looked relieved as he swung his gaze back to her.
She stepped around the table, opened the back door and led him out to the patio.
“It’s beautiful out here,” Neil said from behind her. “You’ve done a great job on the landscaping.”
“Well, I had help.” Sipping her tea, she surveyed the flowerbeds and remembered the day Mitch had helped her plant them all. What a great time they’d had that day.
“Alexandria.” He caught her gaze. “I didn’t come here just to catch up on old times.”
Oh no. She wanted to run back in the house, but she made herself stay put. “You didn’t?”
He shook his head. “No.”
She opened her mouth, but he stopped her. “Look. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you. The truth is, I still have feelings for you, and I came here to see if there was any way, before I shipped out, that you’d want to give us another try.”
As much as she should’ve seen this coming, she was still stunned into silence. To camouflage her surprise, she turned and set her tea down on the table, then forced herself to face him. “Did you know I snore so loud it rivals an F-16 buzzing the house?”
Neil frowned. “You never snored when we were together.”
“That’s because I never let myself fall asleep after…” She waved a hand. “You know.”
“You didn’t?”
“No, and I never let you see my apartment unless I’d cleaned it first. I’m a horrible slob.”
He shrugged. “Well, nobody’s perfect.”
“And did you know I’ve assaulted two fellow officers in the past month? I have a wicked temper. When I get really mad, I don’t care about the consequences.”
Neil frowned. “You’re deliberately trying to scare me off. Why?”
“Not scare you off. Just show you the real me. I made the mistake of not doing that with you, Neil. You’re such a great guy. And I wanted things to work out between us so badly. I…needed to be in a normal relationship.” She stuck her hands in her back pockets and studied her unpainted toenails. “I thought I was being honest with you when we met. Telling you I’d requested the transfer to get away from a guy who didn’t return my love. I thought with sheer will I could make myself love someone else and be happy.”
Looking back up, she stared into his serious, dark brown eyes. “I didn’t realize I was only fooling myself. You’ve heard the saying, ‘The heart wants what the heart wants.’?” She gave a one-shouldered shrug.
“So,” he stepped close, brought his hand up and ran a thumb over her cheek. “Did things work out with this guy? Are you happy now?”
She made herself smile and covered his hand with hers. “After everything I told you, you’re worried about me?”
He returned her smile. “I love you, Alexandria. I want you to be happy.”
“Oh, Neil.” She slid her arms around his waist and hugged him, her cheek flattened against his chest. “Why couldn’t I have loved you?” she mumbled to herself.
Neil squeezed her to him a moment then pulled away and held her shoulders. “So, the idiot came to his senses?”
She couldn’t meet his gaze. “I don’t know.”
He crooked a finger under her chin and lifted her face to him. “If he doesn’t, and you change your mind…” He slowly bent down and touched his lips to hers. His kiss was achingly sweet, and then he raised his head. “Contact me through my dad. Okay?”
She nodded. He was such a nice g—
The front door slammed shut and she jerked her gaze to the back door. Neil hadn’t closed it behind him. Anyone standing in the shadow of the kitchen would’ve seen Neil kiss her.
She heard the familiar roar of Mitch’s Jeep’s engine firing up and cursed long and loudly. As tires screeched in her driveway, she ran for the front door and out into the front yard just in time to see Mitch’s Jeep careen around the corner in a spray of gravel.
Suddenly she remembered Lily’s warning about sea animals. A seal was a sea animal.
If the whole thing weren’t so disastrous, she’d have chuckled.

And after that, Neil is never seen again in this story.
So, if you read Night Maneuvers, did you worry about Neil? Did you hope he eventually found his own Happy Ever After?
I’ll draw three names from all the commenters to win a copy of FEVERED NIGHTS or anything from my backlist.

Comments 11 Comments »

Hello, Dear Readers!

I have a book on the stands and of course in all the usual places. It’s a book I like a great deal about an ex-policewoman who faced a life-changing betrayal and a doctor at a crossroads. The heat between them is very obvious, and frankly, they don’t try too hard resist the pull. But when it comes time to trust again?

It’s all fun and games until someone’s heart is on the line.

 The book is called INTRIGUE ME, and to my surprise, it is my 60th book for Harlequin.

May 844 Jo

 I’m still wondering how that happened. It doesn’t feel as if I could have written 60 novels, but yup, I did.

My editors and the whole Blaze team sent me a beautiful arrangement of flowers – roses and chrysanthemums in a gorgeous vase. The mums are still on my desk, looking so cheerful it makes me smile every time I look at it.

I can’t help thinking that I’m one of the luckiest people around. I’ve had the great joy of doing what I love for a lot of years, and I still get to play in the sandbox! There are so many stories yet to tell. I can’t wait ’till you see the new Boston trilogy, with it’s very Smart Apartment, and after that, I’ll be visiting Little Italy in New York, where three eligible bachelors run a home remodeling company. With the help of every busybody neighbor, acquaintance and of course their parents, it’s something of a miracle when the very hot guys meet their matches.

So thank you, to all who’ve kept me writing, who’ve left reviews (the most heartwarming thing that can happen in a writer’s day–or month) who’ve bought my books and shared them with others. It’s a great life. As I told my editor, I’m very proud of my books – and unabashedly thrilled to have been writing books where the women are a lot more than sidekicks.

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I’m so excited to share this new cover with you that I’m about to launch into orbit! I have the cover for A COWBOY RETURNS, the first book in my Wild Western Heat series, and it’s definitely h-o-t! I love the way the hero, Eli, has his head turned to the side and is looks just a little bit fierce. :)  Without further ado, here’s the new cover!

9780373798629

I have to admit that the belt, buckle, the distressed jeans and…(gulps)…the gloves all do something for me. But the jaw on this model? Oh. YUM.

Eli’s book is scheduled for release on August 1, but Amazon lists the print release as July 21. (Digital is still August 1.) And let me just tell you–if you enjoy reading his story even half as  much as I enjoyed writing it? You’re going to be very, very happy. :)

Until next time,

Kelli

 

 

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Did you enter to win a set of May Blaze books? Here are our lucky winners!

  • Elaine G
  • Laney4
  • Maureen

Stay tuned in early June for another chance to win books with Kathleen’s next blog post!

But have you ever wondered how our books get to our readers?

HDC welcome diamonds

Yesterday, a group of Harlequin Toronto staff went on a road trip to Buffalo, NY, to visit a part of the business we often interact with but don’t often see. It was really cool, so I thought I’d share some of the trip with you!

HDC panoramic

As you can see, the HDC is big. Really, really big. 40,000 square feet big. Housing 16 million books at any given moment big. A lot happens in this building, and it’s all taken care of by over 200 employees. It was so great to meet and chat with some of our colleagues south of the border. Everyone seemed excited to share their day with us.

HDC red stacks  HDC Heidi 1

Read the rest of this entry »

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I love makeovers. I am such a total girly girl that the idea of being pampered fills me with joy. It doesn’t even have to be the ultra pampering –you know, the laying in a dark, scented room with soft music playing (hmmm, this scenario could play out a number of ways, but I’ll stick with the makeover theme) while someone pampers the skin and massages away all the stress. I’ll take the mini-pampering in the form of sitting on a hard stool in a loud mall while some dude in false eyelashes swipes the newest shade of lipstick over my mouth and declares it ‘ravishing’.    lipstick

Suffice it to say, if someone waves a makeup brush my way, I’ll sit down and say “go for it.” Which is always a fun little adventure. Except when it’s not. You know those times. The makeovers gone bad. (cue the sound of doom music here).

There was the time I agreed to let a friend do my wedding makeup. She started with black. I kid you not. Black eye shadow. Victorian wedding dress. No match.  bad makeup

Then there was the ‘sick of my hair’ makeover. I ended up half bald. Only the back half though, so at least I didn’t have to see it. Or the hair show I volunteered for, where I went from shoulder length curls to looking like a spiked bowling ball. It might have worked better if I wasn’t a huge whopping 8 months pregnant and looking like a whale already. A whale with a bowling ball head. Not a good look.

One of my favorite makeovers gone bad was the gal doing the makeup for a wedding I was in. She made me look like a drag queen on a bad day. It really wasn’t a good look for me.sexyseals

I’m working on my next Blaze, A SEAL’s Touch, and in it the heroine will be going through a makeover of her own. As I’m writing, I’m thinking about all of those bad makeovers and having fun bringing elements into the story. As I do, I ask myself how the heroine feels about not only the makeover, but about how she feels when she sees those changes in the mirror. And how about the hero? I’m not at the part of the story where he sees the makeover, but I’m having fun imagining his reaction!

How about you? Do you like makeover stories?  Are you a makeover fan? Ever had one go wrong? A bad haircut, horrible eye shadow encounter, poodle perm?

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I want to wish all the mom’s, step mom’s, step-in mom’s a wonderful day. I’m so lucky to have the best mom ever. She sacrificed so much to help me find my dreams. And she and my dad are my biggest fans. I love them so much. And I’m lucky to have such wonderful boys. My oldest married this year and brought instant grandkids into the family. That might be the greatest gift he’s ever given me. These kids are amazing. I’m blessed.

Being a good mom is a tough job. I think perhaps even tougher these days with everything out there that can harm kids. Most moms go unappreciated for the many hours they spend chauffeuring, cleaning, cooking, soothing, taking care of… But I think most of us don’t really expect appreciation. Sometimes it might be nice for someone to remember what we do. And though I think every day should be Mother’s Day, it’s nice to have one day where folks around you step back and say, “you really do a LOT.” :)

My husband is out of town visiting his mom this weekend. She had a serious surgery two weeks ago, and we felt like it was more important for him to be there, than here. (Considering what she’s gone through, she’s doing well.) He left me a beautiful card. On the front it said: “It’s no wonder we have a beautiful family. They’re a reflection of their mother.” My husband buys most of the cards for family functions. He can spend an hour finding just the right card. Seriously. So when I read those words, I know they are heartfelt. And I think that’s all any mom want’s today. Perhaps a tiny bit of recognition that they work really, really hard to make sure they have a healthy, happy family.

I’d love to hear about your mom. What’s some of the best advice she’s given you? My best piece of advice from my mom, was really more a statement and she’s said it my whole life: “You can do anything you put your mind to. Go after your dreams.” I take that advice quite seriously.

So tell me about your mom!

 

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Hi everyone!

As part of my introduction post I’d offered up a copy of one of my current titles. Selected in a random draw, the winner is…Laurie G! Congratulations.

Please send me your selection via this link and I’ll get it out to you as soon as possible. 

A huge thanks to everyone who stopped by to leave a comment and for all the warm welcome messages. I’m looking forward to bringing the hotnesss when A Dangerously Sexy Christmas comes out in November.

Happy reading!

Stef

Comments 2 Comments »

 

Hi there!

My name’i_heart_dinosaur_by_notgabs-d4h3v4ms Taryn Leigh Taylor, current book hoarder and future Blaze author. (KISS AND MAKEUP is an October 2015 release, if you’re big on specifics.) I’m into impractical shoes, random acts of kindness, and rapier wit. I also heart dinosaurs.

 I’ve been dreaming about having my name on a book since the second grade, when our librarian read us Gordon Korman’s This Can’t Be Happening at MacDonald Hall. (I had a total crush on Boots…he’s the one on the right, obviously.)

I fell in this-cant-be-happening4love with books then and there—the hilarious dialogue I could quote verbatim (I still can, but will refrain from doing so here in deference to copyright infringement laws), the excitement of learning new words (both “icthyologist” and “entomologist” have been ingrained in my brain ever since), and of course, the chance to ship both Bruno AND Boots with their one-true-loves at the all-girls’ school across the road (even back then I was a sucker for romance).

When I found out Mr. Korman wrote this book as a seventh grade English project, I was sold. Authordom was definitely for me. Heck, I had five whole years before I hit grade seven. Plenty of time to write something amazing.

So maybe my story didn’t quite pan out the way my seven-year-old self dreamed it. No prodigy-style publishing contract released me from the shackles of junior high. In fact, I ended up with decades to imagine the big moment, and I still managed to mess up “The Call,” (you can read about it here). But it finally happend.

On January 15, 2015, my big dream came true. Since then, life has been a blur of very high highs (Contract signing! First paycheque! My name as a dot-com!) and very low lows (My characters hate me! Deadlines are the worst! Can you sprain your forearms by typing for too long?)

The entire process has been very enlightening and I’ve learned a lot about myself: I’m a procrastinator. I write better in the dead of night. I believe energy drinks are the devil. And I am lucky enough to have a lot of people in my life who love and support me.

But the biggest lesson I learned was the following: Never, ever give up on your dreams.613qsfiCw0L._SL1272_

I can’t wait until Fall 2015 when I can properly introduce you to Ben and Chloe. He’s an uptight corporate hottie with a penchant for puns and abs of steel, she’s an independent YouTube makeup guru with a soft spot for sarcasm and kick-ass hair, and when they get stuck in a hotel room together, the banter is witty and the sex is steamy. Just the way things should be in a romance novel.

Until then, check out tarynleightaylor.com for my social media links and to sign up for my newsletter. The full site will officially launch on June 15.

And be sure to leave me a comment below and tell me which book turned you into the voracious reader you are today for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card! (Or equivalent, if either dollars or Amazon doesn’t work where you reside.) The winner will be announced on Monday, May 11, 2015.*

Keep on dreaming out loud,

TLT

*Seriously? My first time using a random number generator and it picks #1…who’da thought? Congratulations to GIVEAWAY WINNER Maureen! I shall email you posthaste.random

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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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