Interview with fantasy author, Jill Archer!

I’ve got the fabulous Jill Archer on my blog today! She has an AWESOME fantasy series that you all have to check out, SRSLY. Read on to find out more about her latest novel, POCKET FULL OF TINDER, and of course, Jill herself! 

Welcome, Jill! Tell us about your latest release!

In Pocket Full of Tinder, Noon heads north to Rockthorn Gorge, a bustling mountain town where so many demons live, it’s often referred to as a “demonic anthill.” Once there, she’ll have to deal with bunyips, argopelters, and hidebehinds; snallygasters, skunk apes, and splintercats; a giant lizard, rare swan, and Ari, the drakon who broke her heart… not to mention the enigmatic bomber who threatens them all. Noon’s magic continues to evolve in unexpected ways. New characters are introduced and old characters return. It’s a story of love, impermanence, sacrifice, and survival.

Sounds amazing! I’d love to see a demonic anthill. 😉 What was the hardest thing about writing this book? The easiest?

I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say that readers who’ve read Noon’s latest installment know which chapters were the hardest to write. With every book, I try to push things past the point where they were before. But there were some unexpected things that happened in book #4 even for me – the writer!

With each book, I start with a fairly detailed outline, but somewhere around the midpoint, the story gets a mind of its own. I think it’s because I need structure and a plan to start a story, but once I’m in it, I want to embrace unscripted moments so that they feel more organic and natural. Of course, that usually means I’m panicked by the ¾ mark with no idea how to end the story.

As for the easiest? Is there anything easy about writing or publishing?! You know what they say – if it was easy, everyone would do it…

I will say though, having a team of people to help you makes things easier. Editor Betsy Mitchell, cover illustrator/designer Rebecca Frank, publicist Roxanne Rhoads, manuscript formatter Meredith Bond, and Latin tutor Joan Havens were all part of my publishing team for Pocket Full of Tinder.

Looks like you have quite the team! And I feel you about the panic, I’m a total pantser at heart. If you could bring one of your characters (villain or hero) to life, who would you chose? Why?

Tough question! I’d love to see what a real barghest looks like, so maybe Nova. And it would be fun to meet all the main characters: roguish Rafe, alpha Ari, reluctant-yet-headstrong Noon… glamour-loving Fara and her loyal tiger Virtus…

But I’m going to pick Sartabella, a Fairy Godmother-type character… because who wouldn’t want someone like that in their life? 🙂

I know I would, haha! Paramount Pictures wants to make a movie about your latest novel. Who plays the main characters?

Noon Onyx (Maegester-in-Training): I’m torn!

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Amrita Acharia (Irri in Game of Thrones)?

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Isabelle Fuhrman (Clove from Hunger Games)?

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Adelaide Kane (Queen Mary Stuart from Reign)?

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Fara Vanderlin (Noon’s Guardian Angel): Allie Marie Evans

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Ari Carmine/Lord Aristos (Noon’s new employer/ex-boyfriend): Luke Pasqualino??

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Raphael “Rafe” Sinclair (Noon’s ex-Guardian Angel): Douglas Booth

That’s one sexy cast right there! 😉 So tell us a little about yourself.

I love SweeTARTS and coffee. I hate laundry, pesto, and anything smoked. And I can list every linking verb in less than four seconds thanks to my seventh grade English teacher, Miss Savage, who was awesome.

I love SweeTARTS and coffee too, haha! But I also like pesto and smoked foods. 😛 Tell us one thing about yourself your readers may not know about you.

Eight months ago, I started working as a part-time librarian at my local library. I love it! Writing can be lonely and publishing frustrating. The job allows me to reconnect with what drew me to fiction writing in the first place – books! Librarians are the ultimate matchmakers. There’s nothing more satisfying than pairing someone with a book I think they’ll enjoy.

That’s fantastic! As long as you enjoy it, that’s what counts. 😉 So what are you working on now?

Noon Onyx #5. I’m also developing a new series, but that will likely take a while and I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll pitch it to New York or indie publish it once the first novel is complete.

I can totally understand that dilemma. You’ll have to keep us posted! 😀 Thanks so much for stopping by, Jill! It was a pleasure. ❤ Where else can we find you?

www.jillarcher.com

I have a blog where I chat about books, movies, TV shows, interesting places I visit, as well as writing and publishing. Occasionally, I host other writers. It’s fun to see what everyone else is up to and how our writing processes differ.

My quarterly newsletter is a great way for Noon fans to get more info on the series, as well as notification of new releases. And I’m on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Awesome! I do really enjoy your blogs. 😀 Don’t go away yet, Dear Reader! Here’s more about POCKET FULL OF TINDER:

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Amazon | iTunes | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | CreateSpace | Book Depository

Noon Onyx is back! In this long-awaited fourth installment, Jill Archer returns readers to the dangerous world of Halja, where demons, angels, and humans coexist in an uneasy state of détente.

Maegester-in-Training Noon Onyx feels like she’s done it all – mastered fiery magic, become an adept fighter, learned the law, killed countless demons, and survived having her heart broken by both love and an arrow, but now she’ll face her greatest challenge yet…

Far to the north lies an outpost famous for its unrest – Rockthorn Gorge. The town’s patron has specifically requested Noon’s help. Her assignment? Help the neophyte demon lord build his fiefdom and keep what’s his. The problem? Lord Aristos – Noon’s new employer – is her erstwhile lover, Ari Carmine, the aforementioned heartbreaker. And the number one thing he wants is her.

When Rockthorn Gorge’s viaduct is destroyed by Displodo, an enigmatic bomber, killing a dozen settlers and wounding scores more, Noon sets off early to aid in the search and rescue. Ari is listed among the missing and the suspects are legion. But Noon’s search is just the beginning. Her journey forces Noon to confront not only those she loves, but also enemies hell-bent on destroying them.

EXCERPT:

The claw-and-ball had been chewed clean off. It lay on a patch of sunny parquet floor, just to the right of an antique, aubergine wool rug now covered with the splintered remnants of an eleventh century pedestal table and one very large, ghastly looking, somewhat repentant barghest.

Nova’s head rested on her front paws as her gaze shifted warily from me to Miss Bister, Megiddo’s dormater, or house mother.

“Megiddo’s lobby is not a kennel, Miss Onyx. That”—she motioned dismissively toward Nova—“beast can no longer be housed here.”

I opened my mouth to respond, but Miss Bister continued speaking, her tone rising only infinitesimally, her back as stiff as Luck’s lance must have been, and her expression just as hard. She pointed toward the previously priceless, three-footed piece of furniture that was now a worthless, two-footed pile of kindling.

“No amount of money – or magic – can fix that, Nouiomo. It’s beyond repair. I warned you. I made an exception to my ‘no pets’ rule because you never cause trouble. You never forget your key; you promptly pick up your deliveries; you change your own light bulbs; you double bag your trash. You leave nothing behind in the bathroom; you don’t monopolize the washing machines; you are exceedingly polite to the lift operator; you don’t sing in the shower.”

I suppressed a sigh. After a year and a half of painstaking efforts, harrowing experiences, and endless hours of education, my worth had just been measured by the fact that I could change a light bulb. I’d mastered fiery magic, become an adept fighter, learned the law, killed countless demons (one regrettably, the others much less so), freed myriad immortals from an accursed, tortured bondage, and survived having my heart nearly destroyed by both love and an arrow, yet none of that meant bupkis next to the fact that I double bagged my trash. And yet…

I couldn’t really argue with Miss Bister either. Everything she’d said was true. And who was I to tell her what she should deem important? I respected that she valued domestic order and antiques. I did too, if not nearly as much as I valued the thing that now threatened our continued access to such. I glared at Nova, who swept one paw over her eyes as if she could hide from me and the evidence of what she’d done.

Barghests are giant hellhounds. They’re bigger than bears, fiercer than rabid raccoons, and uglier than naked mole rats. Their teeth are the size of railroad spikes, their claws as sharp as a sickle, their breath as foul as sewage gas. But they are also affectionate, brave, and loyal. What barghests lack in magic, they make up for in devotion. And even though I was plenty mad at Nova for chewing up Miss Bister’s table, I also knew it wasn’t Nova’s fault.

It was mine – for thinking the lobby of a demon law school dormitory would be a good place to keep her. 

“Miss Bister, please,” I said. “I’m truly sorry. I know I can’t replace that exact table. But if you would just allow me to—”

“No,” Miss Bister said simply. “Either the beast goes… Or you do.”

I stared at the small, frail, magicless woman in front of me, trying desperately to think of some way to fix this problem. Wasn’t there something I could do, or say, or offer her that would make amends and convince her not to kick us out?

But all I could think of was how useless some of the things our society valued most were. As Miss Bister had pointed out, neither magic nor money would help. If I was going to repair the table, I’d need to find another way. Which would take time. And that meant I’d need to find somewhere else for us to sleep tonight. Because if the beast was going… I was too.

“Yes, Miss Bister,” I said. “I understand.”

She narrowed her eyes, slightly suspicious of my now gracious defeat since I’d just spent the last half-hour trying to persuade her to accept various forms of reparation. But then she nodded, handed me a couple of paper bin bags, and left.

I slid one bag inside the other and stooped down to pick up the slobbery remains of Nova’s mangled chew toy. When I finished, she came over to me and nudged my arm with her head. She let out a woofy whine.

Was she sorry? She darn well better be!  

I gave her a scratch behind the ears.

“Now that you’ve sharpened your teeth on my former dormater’s furniture, are you ready to eat some real food for breakfast?” 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Jill Archer writes dark, genre-bending fantasy from rural Maryland. Her novels include Dark Light of Day, Fiery Edge of Steel, White Heart of Justice, and Pocket Full of Tinder. She loves cats, coffee, books, movies, day tripping, and outdoor adventuring.

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Guest blog with contemporary romance author, Lilliana Rose!

Fellow Soulie and contemporary romance author, Lilliana Rose is stopping by for a guest blog today! She’s talking about her latest release, GRAND PARADE, which looks fab. Read on to learn more about Lilliana and the inspiration behind her story. 😀

As part of growing up on a farm, my family would come down to the Royal Adelaide Show every year to exhibit sheep. This was my introduction to city life (which I’ve now embraced by living in the city).

Recently, when I became inspired to write romance stories, the idea of setting the story at the Royal Adelaide Show came quickly. I could use my experience of country and city life to draw on for inspiration, especially as I had so many memories from the Show. I remember how noisy it was at the show with the rides, the music and there were thousands of people when I was only used to a few. There were the smells of Dagwood Dogs, fairy floss, donuts and hot chips. Fireworks went off every night, which I would go and see with my family. It was such a different world to living on a farm where there was a lot of space, peace and quite, and the smells were only of soil and animals. It made for rich soil to grown my story in and a chance to have fun as I remembered life at the show (which was very PG rated compared to my characters!).

By setting the story at the Royal Adelaide Show I could also explore some of the differences between country and city life and what the characters, Megan and Jackson, might feel as they were introduced to the other’s world (like how do you tell the difference between a bull and a cow, which Megan naively asks country boy Jackson in Grand Parade which leads to a very funny conversation) and how vulnerable they would be, all while slowly falling in love.

Thank you for having me on your blog. I’ve enjoyed sharing about my book Grand Parade.

Thanks for stopping by, Lilliana! Read on to find out more about GRAND PARADE:

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Megan is a young photographer with her first real job at the Royal Adelaide Show, where she has to capture the agricultural event. As a city girl, she is clueless, and when she gets too close to a grumpy bull, she is kicked in the head.

Guilty that his bull hurt someone and aware of the painful side effects of head injuries due to the loss of his sister, Jackson takes care of Megan.

Megan is determined that she will be all right and continues photographing during the day before collapsing. Jackson is there to make sure she is taken to hospital and cared for.

Recovering, Megan finds herself drawn to Jackson, but she’s not sure that she can be anything than a city girl, even for love. Can Jackson, in his quiet, strong, country-boy style, convince her to take life in a new direction, with him?

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2jhUaIc

Amazon US ~ http://amzn.to/2iSNrYA
Amazon UK ~ http://amzn.to/2iSL0Fj
Amazon CA ~ http://amzn.to/2j7mfTr
Amazon AU ~ http://amzn.to/2j7snv8

EXCERPT:

“Look out!”

Megan saw a blur of cream through her lens, and was about to put down the camera when something connected with the side of her skull. She screamed, the only reaction she could manage. An explosion went off in her head. Tiny sparks flashed on the edge of her vision as she fell backward. Her mind filled with something like a night sky, black with tiny lights that crept further into her vision every time she blinked. It fascinated and distracted her from the pain that throbbed in her head.

She thudded on her backside on the concrete. A new wave of pain swept through her body. Air escaped from her lungs and Megan gasped. She managed to piece together that she’d been hit in the head, though by what exactly she wasn’t sure. People rushed towards her.

Embarrassment flooded into her cheeks. The last thing she wanted to be was the center of attention. That’s why she was a photographer. She could hide behind the camera. My camera? She reached for it, and sighed with relief when her fingers wrapped around it. She looked down at her SLR digital Canon camera, and it appeared to be in one piece. It was hard to tell because of the pounding in her head.

More stars flashed. She noticed they twinkled in time with the bursts of pain.

“They don’t have points.” Megan knew she had spoken, but her voice sounded faraway, and not at all like her own.

“Are you okay?” A man knelt beside her. He was one of the men she’d been distracted by. She tried to look at him, but could only see the flashing stars now retreating to the edge of her vision. A fog seeped into her mind and she struggled to think clearly.

“No points,” she said again with disappointment. She’d never had a serious injury before, never broken any bones, nothing like today’s accident. So, this is what it’s like to see stars. The expression used didn’t describe the experience at all. Megan touched the side of her head, to make sure it was still there. She hadn’t blanked out which she figured was a good thing.

“What are you talking about?” The man touched her shoulder.

“The stars I can see,” said Megan, not totally processing what he had said. She looked at him. He was young, mid-twenties, about her age. His broad-rimmed hat hid most of his blond hair, and his blue eyes were crystal sharp. Light stubble edged his broad jawline. He was hot. She was rather impressed she had managed to work that out through the haze flooding her mind.

He rested his hand on her shoulder. “My Bruce hit your head, more like grazed it along the side from the looks of the mark, but still I’m sorry he was such a grump.”

“Bruce?” Megan looked at him, trying to understand. “Is that your name?”

“No. My bull. His hoof struck your head. Lucky it was only a half jump he made, and it wasn’t a full on blow.”

“Oh, so that’s what happened.” She wasn’t sure it was a half kick from the way her head felt. The adrenaline was dissipating and a heavy thudding took hold in her head. Megan tried to smile at the man by her side. This wasn’t the time to flirt, but heck, she couldn’t help it. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Lilliana has grown up on a farm in Australia, and has now swapped her work boots for city heels. Country life remains strong in her heart and this comes out in the characters and stories she creates. Check out more of her work: www.lillianarose.com

Connect with Lilliana at these links: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, Instagram.

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Cover Reveal: SAVING MERCY by Abbie Roads!

Another fab book from dark romantic suspense author, Abbie Roads! The premise sounds AWESOME and the cover is gorgeous! Check it out. 😀

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Saving Mercy by Abbie Roads

Series: Fatal Truth Series
Genre: Dark Romantic Thriller
Publication Date: April 4, 2017

AVAILABLE ON NETGALLEY

PRE-ORDER NOW
Amazon | iBooks | B&N | Google

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He’s found her at last…

Cain Killion knows himself to be a damaged man. His only redeeming quality? The extrasensory connection to blood that he uses to catch killers. His latest case takes a macabre turn when he discovers a familiar and haunting symbol linking the crime to his horrific past—and the one woman who might understand what it means.

Only to lose her to a nightmare

Mercy Ledger is brave, resilient, beautiful—and in terrible danger. The moment Cain finds her the line between good and evil blurs and the only thing clear to them is that they belong together. Love is the antidote for blood—but is their bond strong enough to overcome the madness that stalks them?

Continue reading

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Guest blog: REALM OF THE DRAGON by CiCi Cordelia!

It has finally begun! The first of THE SOUL MATE TREE SERIES has been released into the wild today! My contribution, SWEET SACRIFICE, is slated for release in Sept. 2017 (can’t wait!) but check out the very first paranormal romance of the series, REALM OF THE DRAGON by the fab duo, CiCi Cordelia. Take it away, CiCi! ❤

Thank you for hosting us today to discuss our new release, Realm of the Dragon by CiCi Cordelia, Book One of The Soul Mate Tree Series. CiCi is the pen name BFFs Char Chaffin and Cheryl Yeko. We’re both multi-published authors and Senior Acquiring Editors for Soul Mate Publishing. We share a love of well-written stories infused with our favorite romantic genres: paranormal, suspense, and erotica. We are both fans of Alpha Men and the women they’d lay down their lives for.

The Soul Mate Tree is our flagship series. When we presented the idea to Soul Mate Owner and Senior Editor Debby Gilbert, she fell in love with the premise and gave it her professional blessing. The Legend of the Soul Mate Tree is a multi-author effort, with one book release per month, starting in January 2017 and running through January 2018. If all goes well, Char and I plan to do more fun projects, and have some ideas in mind. We already have authors asking us about our next project. Fun!

Once we set everything in motion amongst our authors and culled interest from a dozen interested writers, the project took on a life of its own. Our cover artist, Wren Taylor, is a miracle worker, and created the most amazing cover art, branding the project wonderfully. Then we needed a hook for our project, and since Char used to write poetry, she collected the physical attributes and magical abilities of the tree, items we had already decided upon, and sketched out a poem.

Together, we polished it up, and ‘The Legend of the Soul Mate Tree’ was born:

I am old, I am ancient, my purpose is clear

To give those who are needy a treasure so dear.

They who come to my roots, touch my bark, stroke my leaves

Find the soul of their lives if they but believe.

When I call and you listen, your prize will be great

If your heart remains open and you don’t hesitate.

Do you yearn? Be you lonely? Is your time yet at hand?

Reach for me and I’ll give to you. I’m yours to command.

For your trust, for your faith, keep my secrets untold

And I’ll gift you forever, to have and to hold.

REALM OF THE DRAGON:

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An ancient legend spanning eras, continents, and worlds. To some, it’s nothing more than a dream. To others, a pretty fairy tale handed down through the generations.

For those in critical need of their own happy ending, a gift.

For sheltered Lily Kiers, it’s all too real. Her escape from danger, straight into the arms of her destiny.

Thrust into a realm made of fantasy and unbridled passion, Lily faces violent resentment and jealousy from extremely powerful enemies. Amidst fierce creatures whose very existence defy all common sense, Lily pieces together a past she could never have imagined.

Claimed by Kord, Prince of Battle Draconian, their love will not be denied, even as malevolent forces plot to rip them apart.

BUY LINK: www.amazon.com/Realm-Dragon-Soul-Mate-Tree-ebook/dp/B01N7GYVBT

I created some fun book trailers for the project, and would love to share them with you.

Book Trailer for The Soul Mate Tree: https://youtu.be/VjxyyD3TVoA

Book Trailer: Realm Of The Dragon: https://youtu.be/YKFSkLDKpP4

EXCERPT:

“I won’t hurt you.” The dragon’s powerful voice held a soothing quality. Then it ruined the moment by leaning down to sniff her. “Mmm. You smell like apples and honey.” To her amazement, that long, forked tongue re-emerged and flicked gently along her neck. Its texture felt incongruously like velvet.

Lily managed to bite back a hysterical shriek even as her lower lip trembled. She clamped it between her teeth to steady it, before venturing, “A-Are you going to eat me?”

Every muscle and bone in her body hurt. Her world had upended itself. Beyond exhausted, she longed for this nightmare to end.

If a dragon could frown, then this dragon was definitely frowning. Its fierce expression sent additional shudders through her, and she fully expected those massive jaws to come for her at any moment.

As hard as she struggled for calm, tears leaked from her eyes when he raised long, sharp claws and reached for her. Too frightened to move, she turned her head away. The thrumming of her heart pounded through her entire body as she waited for the sharp talons to slash into her. Instead, the dragon carefully nudged her cheek until she was forced to raise her face and meet its magnetic stare.

“I said I wouldn’t hurt you.” Then slowly and gently the creature unfurled its tail, the very tip pressing against her lower back as if encouraging her to gain her feet, and held her steady until she was standing securely on the ground.

Before Lily had a chance to run, there was a bright flash of light, then a shimmering of brilliant colors. Her jaw slackened at the sight of a man standing before her.

An extremely handsome, naked man.

Where to find CiCi Cordelia:

CiCi Cordelia, Writing From The Heart:

www.amazon.com/Cici-Cordelia/e/B01AJ5EM90

www.facebook.com/HeartfeltRomance

Cheryl Yeko, Where Love Always Wins:
Website: http://www.cherylyeko.com/
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/qzsks8q
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ProtectingRose
Twitter: https://twitter.com/cherylyeko
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/cyeko/boards/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5406425.Cheryl_Yeko

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLjitsNVe3r5oq5kMKM3zA49z083bjXYi5

 

Char Chaffin, Falling In Love is Only the Beginning:
Website: http://char.chaffin.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/char.chaffin
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/pvscu7w
Twitter: http://twitter.com/char_chaffin
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5337737.Char_Chaffin

 

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Book Spotlight: RETURN TO RUBY’S RANCH by Rhonda Frankhouser

Fellow Soulie and western romance author, Rhonda Frankhouser, is on my blog today! Check out her latest western romance, RETURN TO RUBY’S RANCH. Looks like a great story! ❤

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Ruby Lattrell spends her days caring for her ailing father and younger brother. When they no longer need her, her life lacks purpose. Then she inherits Ruby’s Ranch – the only real home she ever knew – the place where her mother mysteriously vanished.  The smell of fresh cut hay and the most handsome cowboy she’s ever seen, Billy McCallister, greet Ruby when she arrives at the ranch.

Billy always dreamed Ruby would return home. When he finally sees her standing on Granny’s porch, now a mix of that sassy young girl he once knew and the reassured, sensual woman she is today, he knows his heart hasn’t misled him. Before she can fall into the timeless love that Billy offers, they must solve the mysteries that haunt Ruby’s Ranch. Will digging up the past hurt more people than it helps? Will the truth they discover tear Ruby and Billy apart?
 
Snippet:
The old, beat-up Chevy pickup came to an abrupt stop about a foot from the back of Ruby’s prized Jeep. She scowled with disapproval as the driver shoved open the door and dropped to his booted feet before the engine even had a chance to shut off.
“Help you, miss?” he asked, with a slow, deep twang, wiping the dirt from his hands with a handkerchief he’d pulled from his back pocket.
She squinted against the midday sun a little harder now as his voice rang a touch familiar. She watched him for an over-long moment, the mother cat twisting her lithe body around his legs in greeting. Sweat glistened on his tanned, muscular arms as he bent to pick up the kittens that came out to join their mother.
She smiled. There had to be something special about a man who elicited the love of animals. He was at least six foot two, and built like he could lift a hundred pounds straight over his head with no problem at all. A smudge of dried mud followed the line of his strong, stubbled jaw. He could be the most handsome man Ruby had ever seen. Not a sophisticated, city kind of handsome. More a Russell Crowe, gladiator, kind of handsome.
The irritated scowl returned to his face after he put the tiny, tabby kittens down, almost like he’d just remembered he wasn’t pleased about being pulled away from something important. This made him all the more interesting. Part of Ruby was glad she’d been such a bother. The day just became more intriguing.
“They’re adorable. And they seem to like you.” She tried to break the awkward silence.
Curious, soulful green eyes peered out from under his dusty Stetson hat. He gazed first at her well-worn Justin cowboy boots, then slowly up her long legs to the khaki shorts, pausing momentarily at the denim shirt she had tied loosely around her waist, showing just a hint of pale skin. His gaze stopped momentarily at the mess of red-blonde hair she’d pulled away from her face, before he finally met her eyes.
Ruby held her giggle as he finished his perusal, not wanting to make him self-conscious since she’d recognized him. Billy MacCallister. Had to be. My, how he’d grown from the runny-nosed brat who used to follow her around so many years before. He’d been the pain-in-the-butt, kid brother of her best friend.
But, this grown up Billy MacCallister was a whole different creature. Mercy, he’s definitely a full grown man now. Ranch life looks good on him.
“So,” Ruby avoided his eyes to keep him at a disadvantage for just a bit longer. She reached down to pet the dogs again, calming them. “How’s your sister these days, Billy?”
He stopped wiping the dirt from his jeans and searched to get a better look at her face.
“What’s the matter, Billy? Think you’re seeing a ghost?” A smile crossed her lips.
“Ruby?” he asked, quietly at first then louder. “Ruby?” This time with unashamed excitement. Billy took two long-legged strides toward her, tilting his hat to get a better look. “Well, look at that, it is you.”
Before Ruby had a chance to respond, he lifted her off the step and twirled her around, not caring at all that she now wore half the dirt he once had all over him.
The enticing scent of musk shampoo, salty sweat, and horses swirled around her, drawing her in. How could a man smell that good after working in the mud? It took all her strength to keep from leaning in and making a fool of herself. He smelled like home to her and she had to admit, it felt good to be held.
“Billy, good grief, put me down.” She tugged at her shirt to keep it down, embarrassed. The pups jumped up, anxious now to play, as Ruby tried to gain composure. Not an easy task when being twirled around by a handsome cowboy.
“Ruby Lattrell, it’s so good to see you. How the hell are you?” The honest joy in seeing her poured from him. “Oh my God, you look fantastic!” He set her down and brushed the hair away from her face, looking her over now with those same hungry eyes he’d had as a love-struck kid.
She glanced away, self-conscious. When she finally mustered the courage to gaze up at him, she couldn’t help but return his infectious smile. There was no worry there, or pretense. The tiny lines around his joy-filled eyes showed only that he knew how to smile. How to laugh. Something she’d forgotten how to do a long time ago.
“Well, that’s certainly more of a welcome than I expected.” She stepped back to get some space and a better look at him. He had to be coming up on thirty now. Strapping. Still driving his mom crazy with that unruly chestnut hair tucked behind his ears, no doubt. Same innocent, broad smile that held secrets.
He continued talking and following her every move, anxious to know everything all at once. Where had she been? How had she stayed so perfect? Finally, he realized she hadn’t said a word. He stopped then, smiled that secret smile again, his eyes slowly filling with concern. “Ruby, I’m sorry I’m just going on. How are you? Are you all right? Oh Lord, I’m so sorry about your grandmother.”
Ruby flushed when he caught her staring. “Oh, I ah, I’m fine. Thank you, though. I can’t believe she is gone. This place will be really weird without Granny Rube here.” She took a step back toward the door, gathering herself, hoping she’d find the key in the usual hiding place so she could make a graceful exit.
“You don’t act fine.” He caught up with her, supporting her elbow like a real southern gentleman. “Let’s get you inside.”
Ruby didn’t protest. She kind of liked the fuss he made. This was someone she’d known for nearly all her life. It felt good to know he’d missed her.
“Just wait till Claudie finds out you’re home. She’s going to just die.” He reached behind the rusted iron pot for the key and turned it in the lock. “She’s not living out here anymore. She’s got a place in town. Married a nice city guy who moved here from Arizona, Mike Calloway. They bought old Fike’s Market and fixed it up real nice. Doing real well with it. She likes living in town so much better than out here.” He kept talking as he closed the door behind them.
The familiar smells of the house hit Ruby first, distracting her from what Billy was saying. Gingerbread cookies, Pledge furniture polish giving off an ever-present hint of lemon.
Ruby stopped in the entry, closed her eyes, and visualized her mother and Granny Rube laughing in the kitchen, handmade aprons tied around their waists, shoving cookies in that old Wedgewood oven, sharing private giggles.
Ruby stood for a long while as she replayed the memories over in her mind, only vaguely aware Billy had gone silent and held a supportive hand at the small of her back.
“Welcome home, Ruby,” he whispered, his sweet eyes searching hers.
She didn’t know why, but just then she couldn’t keep herself from turning and wiping the dust from his cheek, feeling more true compassion from this one understanding look than she’d ever felt before.
“Thanks, Billy.” She realized suddenly her eyes filled with tears. “Thanks for making me feel so welcome. I’m glad to be home.”
She felt as if she’d stepped back in time. She was just a teenager when she left home almost two decades ago. Nearly everything in the house remained in the same place. The fireplace room still held the same worn velvet couches and mahogany side tables. The faded ivy wallpaper she’d helped Granny hang curled at the corners where moisture and age had gotten to the glue. The heirloom rug passed from her grandfather’s family, now worn and fraying around the edges.
The same photos capturing a more innocent time continued to be displayed on the dusty river-rock mantle. Yellowed images of Granny Rube’s parents looked too small and frail to have endured such a rough pioneer life. Next to that picture, Ruby saw the photo of her Grandpa Mac, taken only days before he was trampled to death by his prized bull, Heathen.
Ruby picked up the tarnished frame and held it close, realizing only now how handsome a man her grandfather had been, tall and lanky, his deep set eyes full of the devil. Reminded her of her mother.
“Granny used to say it served him right to get taken by the one beast on the ranch that was ornerier than him.” Ruby wiped the dust from the frame and replaced it back on the mantle in the exact place it was before. “Momma told me Granny put Heathen down herself with a twelve-gauge shotgun the night he killed Grandpa Mac, but I still don’t know if that’s true. She had such a flair for the dramatic, it was hard to tell fact from fantasy.”
“Your granny was a good woman, Ruby,” Billy finally offered, a measure of respect in his voice. “Always remember that. She helped me out more times than I can count.”
“I’m just sad I missed so many years with her. All I have are old memories of how things used to be. Silly stuff like, I remember when she calmed Jake and me during those hell-raising thunderstorms, and chased us into the pond when we were driving everyone nuts because we were so bored.” Ruby turned away from the photos and took in the room once again. “She always had time for us. I can’t believe I let her die alone.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Rhonda discovered she had a knack for storytelling after she was diagnosed with cancer at a young age. To avoid dwelling on her own mortality, she sat down with pen and paper and got out of the way of her subconscious mind. Words and characters poured out of her from some hidden place inside her soul.  She discovered that writing was not only cathartic and healing but a necessary function for her future sanity.

Her first novel, MY LAST DAY, gained the representation of agent Ben Camardi, at Harold Matson Company in New York. This is a heart wrenching tale of a young woman seeking love and closure on her last day of life.  Her second and third novels, SHADOWING SOULS and RUBY’S RANCH, were quick to follow.  Each story has a contemporary romantic flavor, a solid family dynamic and a paranormal twist. RUBY’S RANCH will soon be available from 
SoulMatePublishing.com, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Rhonda lives in central California with her Kisa, (Knight in Shining Armor), their beautiful and talented daughters, and two mischievous pug puppies, Geddy and Ruby. When she is not writing, she is supporting hospice patients as a volunteer coordinator, playing golf with her husband, or reading the latest masterpiece from one of her favorite authors. She is a member of the RWA – PAN community and the local chapter, Yosemite Romance Writers.

 

Where to find her:     
Twitter: @RJFrankhouser
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Happy Holidays and a giveaway!

Happy Holidays, lovelies!


My furbaby Kaia and I want to wish you a wonderful season of love, warmth, and happiness! ❤

2016 was one heck of a year and I’m looking forward to 2017! Remember to be kind to yourself this season and to spend some quality time with your loved ones. Make it a December to remember. 😉

Facebook Exclusive Giveaway Happening Now!

Hop on over to my Facebook page for an opportunity to win a signed paperback copy of Releasing the Demons! Rules are on the page and contest ends on Christmas Eve. Good luck!

Have you picked up your copy of BLACK BULLET yet? Readers are loving the second novel in my Order of The Senary series!

“This book should come with a warning label…This series is ADDICTIVE!” – Donna, Amazon Reviewer

BUY: $2.99 and free on KU!

(P.S. It makes a great gift too. :D)

 

That’s all for now!

See you next year! ❤ ❤ ❤

 

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Release Day for HUNT THE DAWN by Abbie Roads (and a giveaway)!

The latest from dark romantic suspense author, Abbie Roads! Looks ah-maze-ing! ❤

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Hunt the Dawn by Abbie Roads

Series: Fatal Dreams #2

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Publication Date: December 6, 2016

 

BUY NOW

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Google | Indigo | BAM! | Indie Bound

 

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Out of darkness and danger

You can’t hide your secrets from Lathan Montgomery-he can read your darkest memories. And while his special abilities are invaluable in the FBI’s hunt for a serial killer, he has no way to avoid the pain that brings him. Until he is drawn to courageous, down-on-her-luck Evanee Brown and finds himself able to offer her something he’s never offered another human being: himself.

Dawns a unique and powerful love

Nightmares are nothing new to Evanee Brown. But once she meets Lathan, they plummet into the realm of the macabre. Murder victims are reaching from beyond the grave to give Evanee evidence that could help Lathan bring a terrifying killer to justice. Together, they could forge an indomitable partnership to thwart violence, abuse, and death-if they survive the forces that seek to tear them apart.

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