The Mushy Stuff

Ahhh, Valentine’s Day. A day to celebrate love and romance. Nowglass hearts I know not everyone reads romance novels. But, come on. Who doesn’t like a little romance? Whether it’s a certain look, a private joke, a simple touch or more, doesn’t everyone want some romance in their life? A little something to make your heart go pitter-patter every once in a while?

I’ve selected a few short scenes from my novels that just might make you sigh, smile or say awwww – it’s the mushy stuff:

 

Something Good

Lane stood in the drive. On the curb, Mandi was eye level with him. He gazed into her face, and almost blurted out the words. Fought to keep them inside. He couldn’t unload that on her. He had to let her go. He clenched his jaw. It was a risk, but one he had to take. He couldn’t tell her that he loved her. Wouldn’t be fair to say those words knowing she was leaving. What if it made her second-guess her decision? He wouldn’t be responsible for that.

With his hands on her shoulders, Lane leaned in then planted a kiss on her cheek. That’s all he intended to do, but it was out of his control. As if some magnetic force surrounded them, they were propelled toward each other. He couldn’t pull away. And neither did she. Another second and his lips found hers. Her hands gripped his arms, and he deepened the kiss, his lips moving over hers with need and urgency, oblivious to everything around them.

When she let out a soft whimper, he broke off the kiss and pulled her against his chest, burying his face in her hair. Again, he fought the urge to say those words. “Have a good trip,” he whispered. “Say hello to California for me.”

Nodding, she backed up, grabbed her bag, and without another word turned for the entrance, her long hair swinging around her.

Lane let her take about two steps before his hand locked around her arm and swung her back around. He tipped her chin. “Hey, just so you know. This isn’t good-bye, babe. This is see you later.”

 

Meetings of Chance

Tom gently removed both the bottle of wine and glass from her hands. Her eyes fluttered shut as his lips met hers. Light kisses teased her. Just when she thought she’d scream with wanting, the kiss deepened, and steel bands circled her. Breathing was not an option.

When he finally pulled back, Tom cupped her face and looked into her eyes until the sensation that she was drowning nearly buckled her knees.

“Stay with me,” he whispered.

More than a request or an invitation, it was a promise, and liquid heat shot through Megan’s veins. Unable to speak, she tightened her grip on his arms, and nodded.

His lips moved on hers again, but with a new hunger. He pressed her against him, his hands firm and warm on her back. When he buried his head against her neck and whispered her name, she clutched her fists in his hair. Her breaths came in shorts gasps as his fingers found the clasp of her bra and released it. She shivered, moaning softly while his calloused hands began their exploration, and claimed their territory.

His territory. Even in her foggy state, Megan understood she was giving more than a night’s pleasure. She was giving herself – her heart – to this man. She was more than ready. In his arms, she felt safe and selfless. He gave her confidence and filled her with new energy.

When they tumbled onto Tom’s bed, Megan couldn’t think how she’d gotten there. She must’ve floated, was floating still as deep blue eyes locked onto hers, and a rush of heat enveloped her.

She wound her arms around his neck and sensation took over as she lost herself in a passion deeper than anything she’d experienced before.

 

Her Greatest Risk

“Jen,” Michael said, bending to look into her eyes. “I love you.”

She caught her breath and folded her hand into one of his. “Michael, I—” she stopped herself, and studied his face, his words echoing in her head. And in her heart. Impulsively she traced his jaw-line with her hand. He turned into it and kissed her palm, holding her hand against his cheek.

A thousand memories flashed through her brain – the way he made her laugh, the way he made her feel, the little ways he used to pamper and please her. She’d given them up for a bunch of what-ifs. Her mind reeled as the truth sank in. No matter how much she worried or fought it, her heart belonged to Michael Reynolds. And it had since that very first warm summer day on a tennis court when his handshake had sent her pulse skyrocketing. Tears filled her eyes, and she flung herself against him. “I love you, too,” she said softly. Pulling back, she looked into his eyes again. With her hands on her cheeks, she shook her head as a little laugh escaped. “Oh, my God,” she said breathlessly. “I do. I still love you.”

He closed his eyes, and his arms went around her, almost suffocating her. But it was exactly what she needed. She could breathe later. Now all she wanted was to soak up his warmth. She pressed into his shoulder.

Your turn to share. What is your favorite romantic read?

Release Day! Read All About It!

5x8TemplateWoo-hoo! It’s finally here — release day for my new contemporary romance, Her Greatest Risk! That means there’s a lot going on today! First, the book is now available in digital and paperback versions at Amazon.

Second, to celebrate, I’ve put all my other romance novels on sale this weekend only for 99 cents. Makes it a great time to stock up! 🙂
Over on my Facebook Author Page I’ll be discussing the book throughout the day and giving away a few digital copies of Her Greatest Risk. Follow the page, share or comment on the post there, and you’re entered for a chance to win!
You can also visit Goodreads and register for my paperback giveaway there. Good luck, and happy reading to all!

What it’s all about . . .

Clashing over the fate of a historic building, Jennifer Aukland and Michael Reynolds are on course to become adversaries. She’s an architect devoted to green building and restoration. He’s a developer hell-bent on ripping down the old hotel she’s racing to save to make way for a new casino.

Chemistry leads to compromise, and for a time, they’re on the same team. Jennifer adds Michael – and marriage – to her safe and steady plan for the future. But when Michael throws caution aside and lands in a life-threatening situation, Jennifer’s world comes crashing down. In her family, she’s learned that recklessness leads to tragedy. She must decide if she can commit her life to someone who takes unnecessary risks with his. Will she take control of her own destiny, even if it means leaving Michael behind? Or will she risk everything for love?

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Drum roll, please . . .

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Today’s the day! Here’s the first glimpse of my soon-to-be-released contemporary romance Her Greatest Risk! I love the colors and the large, striking image. Creating the cover for a novel comes with soooo many decisions . . . . colors, mood, font, images, title, etc. I can’t even tell you how many different titles I considered or how many images I looked at before settling on these. Many thanks to Marisa Shor of Cover Me Darling design studio for pulling my concept together!

I know many romance books feature couples on the cover — images that convey the author’s idea of what the characters look like. For some reason, I prefer other images. For one thing, it’s really difficult to find stock images or models that exactly fit. Also, as a reader, I like to create the image of the characters in my mind. Every reader may see something a little differently, and I think that’s part of the fun of stepping into a work of fiction.

Anyway, here it is! The book will be available in print and digital formats at Amazon beginning Friday, Sept. 11. Stay tuned for more on release deals and giveaways. Happy reading to all!

Darlene

Hello, friends! OcWedding Bands 99 cents adcasionally, I like to have guests on my blog to share their work, an interesting story, travel tips or experiences you might enjoy.

Today, I’m excited to host a fellow RONE Award finalist, Ev Bishop. Like me, Ev writes romance and women’s fiction, and she’ll be meeting and greeting readers at the InD’Scribe convention in Palm Springs next month. Dozens of authors will be attending. If you live in southern California, or just want a trip to a warm and sunny destination, come join us!

Ev’s romance novel “Wedding Bands” is currently on sale. Here’s a peek:
Wedding Bands by Ev Bishop, River’s Sigh B & B, Book 1

Ditched by her high school sweetheart, Callum Archer, on the night they’re supposed to elope, Jo Kendall casts out on her own, brokenhearted.

Over the years, Jo reels in a life she loves, centered on the outdoors, fishing (favoring a lucky wedding band lure), and her fine dining restaurant—a life that crashes away when her husband and business partner cheats her, leaving her bankrupt and alone.

Then her uncle dies, bequeathing Jo and her sister, Samantha, his rural property. Jo returns to Greenridge, determined to build a new business and permanent home—without the help of a man. Unfortunately Samantha wants her inheritance in cold, hard cash and hires a lawyer to get it for her, a lawyer who turns out to be none other than Jo’s long-lost love, Callum.

Jo’s fledgling plans—and her heart—are at risk once more.

If Jo can fight her insecurities, she might end up with a wedding band that doesn’t come with a sharp hook. But should she risk everything she’s worked for, yet again? Before she can decide, she needs to know: can a lost love truly be reclaimed?

Get your copy for 99 cents!

A Sneak Peek

Cover Reveal SoonThis is always an exciting yet anxious time. I’m getting ready to release a new book –  my sixth published novel! The title, which took forever to decide on, is Her Greatest Risk, and it’s a contemporary romance. Some of my books are more general fiction with romantic elements and have additional story lines. This one is pretty much straight romance with low to medium heat level.

Planning the cover reveal on Sept. 1 and the release on Sept. 11. Hope you’ll check back for both of those, and join in the celebration. I’ll be doing a giveaway or two, including a Goodreads Giveaway of paperback copies. Fun times ahead! 🙂

Here are a couple of short excerpts. Get your copy soon to read more!

  • Fascinated and shocked at the same time, Michael watched as a woman pushed against the window, shouting fiercely, her face so distorted that it reminded Michael of one of those wavy mirrors at an arcade. Will simply nodded his head as he inched the car forward. People yelled and pounded on the car. Signs blanketed the front of the windshield.

 

  • He brushed a thumb across her lips, and another thought slammed in. That call. That damned phone call from him. She said she’d call him back later. Would she yet tonight? And what would she say? Michael swallowed hard. It wasn’t something he could ask. All he could do was . . . wait.
     

A rainbow of roses

sb2015_198I don’t consciously try to put something about myself in my books, but in my upcoming contemporary romance release, Her Greatest Risk, the heroine does share my taste in roses – yellow is our fave.

Yellow happens to be my favorite color, so I suppose that I like yellow roses is no surprise. To me, they are the cheeriest of roses – and flowers in general. Summer is my favorite season. I love bright, sunny days. And yellow is the color of sunshine! (Yeah, I think there’s a pattern.)

When I decided that Jennifer should prefer yellow roses also, it got me to thinking about the official “meaning” of various rose colors, so I did a little research. Compiled from a number of online sources, the general consensus seems to be:

Red: love, romance
Yellow: friendship, delight
Light pink: grace, warmth, appreciation
Bright pink: gratitude, admiration
Peach: cheer, modesty
Lavender: enchantment, splendor, love at first sight
White: purity, honor, everlasting love, sympathy
Orange: passion, pride, enthusiasm

Peach comes in a close second in my line-up, but I have to say, I wouldn’t object to receiving roses in any of these lovely colors! 🙂

Something Good makes the cut!

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So excited! Got word today that Something Good is a finalist for a RONE Award in the contemporary romance category. The RONEs are given in conjunction with InD’Tale Magazine to recognize outstanding work by independent authors and small press publishers. I am thrilled to be in this group.

Many, many thanks to all of you who supported me in the open voting round that made me a finalist.

Happy weekend, and happy reading to all!

Darlene

Meant to be, or . . . not?

Since tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share a little snippet from my most recent contemporary romance novel, Something Good. This scene takes place near the end of the book. It’s full of romantic tension  – will they or won’t they. Love me? Love me not?

CoverOnly.SG.lowresOf course you’ll have to read the whole book to find out what happens next! Enjoy, and Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

That evening, Mandi picked up on the second ring.
“Hey,” she said.
“Hey, there. Out with the gang last night, huh?”
“Yeah. It’s a fun group.”
“That’s great. Anyone in particular?”
Mandi laughed. “Well, my boss is kind of a funny guy. He tells a good story.”
Lane’s heart lurched. He couldn’t remember what else she’d said about her boss. How old was he? Was he married? He couldn’t let it go. He had to know. “Mandi, are you seeing someone?” His question hung between them for a long moment.
“You mean like dating?”
“Yeah.”
“No.”
She spoke only one word, but Lane had a feeling there was more to it. Her voice was quiet, strained.
“You okay?”
“Why did you ask me that?”
More silence. How to answer that? “I just needed to know. Guess my imagination got wound up when I couldn’t reach you last night.”
“Well, I have made some friends, Lane.”
“But no one– No one you want to go out with.”
“No. How could I?” she asked, her voice barely a whisper.
His heart thumped. “What do you mean?”
“You’re not here.”
Her response stole his breath, and he had to pace a minute before he could hear anything other than the blood pounding in his ears. “Say that again.”
Silence.
“Mandi.”
“No.”
Okay. He couldn’t pressure her for more. God, he wanted to head straight to the airport and book the next flight out. He took a deep breath. “How would you feel about some company before school starts?” Or sooner.
Silence met his question. Again. He wished he could see her face. “I miss you,” he said. Now he really wanted to see her face.

Mandi clenched her eyes shut.  How to respond to that? She couldn’t tell him that her entire body ached for him, that she thought about him pretty much twenty-four seven. How could they really have a relation-ship? Long distance for at least three years? That was too difficult. Too stressful. Too expensive. She wouldn’t lie to him, but did she have to tell the whole truth?
“Do you like the beach?” she asked instead.
“I do like the beach. I like you and me sitting on the beach watching the sunset, having a beer or a glass of wine.”
She gave a choked laugh. “You do?”
“Yeah. Does that mean I can come visit?”
The visual played in Mandi’s head, and lodged in her chest. She and Lane walking along the beach at dusk . . . holding hands. Oh, yeah. She’d avoided the beach since that one time she’d ventured out by herself. Rather than being soothing, it’d been lonely. Something about the vast expanse of water had made her feel small and vulnerable. Alone. She loved being in California, loved her new job, and was excited about going to school. But somewhere along the way, being alone had become lonely.
Most nights, she worked. And talked to Lane. That kept her mind occupied. But then every night she went to bed, and the darkness reminded her that she’d left more than a chunk of her heart in Texas. She wouldn’t be going back to retrieve it, so where did that leave her? What was she supposed to do? Live without it?
At last she answered him, “Yeah. You can come visit.”

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