Okay, so maybe I should have opened with a big Texas “Howdy” since I’m blogging about the Fortunes today, but I can’t seem to wrap my head around horses, ranches and bluebonnets when this is my temporary office view.
Since I never leave home without my laptop, I had this same view for a week while I was writing Wed By Fortune. And now that the book is finally on the shelf, I’m back at Kaanapali Beach on Maui, my favorite vacation spot. It’s a perfect place to rest and play, as well as read.
So how ‘bout them Fortunes? I love this series—not just taking part in the creation process, but by reading each of the books as they become available. But then again, who doesn’t love reading about the trials and romantic escapades of the Fortune and Mendoza families? It’s also fun to catch up on the lives of the characters we met in the past.
As a romance author, I have the best job in the world. But I must admit, it can be lonely at times, especially when I’m holed up in my office… Well, not the one with a view of the Pacific, as well as Lanai and Molokai. I’m talking about the one at home, which isn’t a bad place to work—unless I’m trying to finish a manuscript by the deadline. But there’s something special about working with five other authors and our editors to create a series of books.
While working on the 2016 Fortunes of Texas, Karen Rose Smith and I emailed back and forth to get certain details, descriptions and characterizations right. Karen’s book, Fortune’s Secret Husband, introduced rancher, Chase Parker, who runs a horse rescue organization. In my book, Wed by Fortune, Graham Fortune Robinson took some of Chase’s horses to Peter’s Place, a home for troubled teens. There, the boys learned how to work with the horses, how to gentle them and care for them. In the process, they began to change their own lives.
Following her divorce, Sasha-Marie Smith returns to her uncle’s ranch and is surprised to reconnect with Graham, who’d been an older teen she’d once known—and crushed on!
Even though that spark of attraction still exists, Sasha knows there isn’t a chance of anything romantic happening between them, especially since
Graham is cowboy sexy, single and unattached. On the other hand, Sasha has come back to Texas with a four year old daughter—and a good size baby bump! But little does Sasha know, Graham is going to struggle with all kinds of warm, fuzzy feelings—and plenty of romantic thoughts.
I hope you enjoy reading Wed by Fortune as much as I enjoyed writing it. And now, if you don’t mind, I’m going back to my temporary office. 🙂 The white sand and tropical breezes are calling me!
Nancy chiming in here: Thanks for joining us today, Judy! And for offering such a generous prize! Readers, please tell us where your dream office would be located. One person who comments will win a couple of Judy’s books and a $10 Amazon gift card.
Since 2002, USA Today bestselling author Judy Duarte has written more than fifty books for Harlequin Special Edition and Kensington Publishing, earned two Rita® finals, won two Maggies and received a National Reader’s Choice Award. When she’s not cooped up in her writing cave, she enjoys traveling with her husband and spending quality time with her grandchildren. You can learn more about Judy and her books at her website: https://www.JudyDuarte.com Or on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/JudyDuarteNovelist
Christi Caldwell is here again with a an excerpt from her latest release, The Lure of a Rake. Don’t you love this cover?
Another breeze filtered the air between them. It rustled Cedric’s too-long, thick golden tresses, sending one tumbling over his brow, softening him, making him real—approachable, and not the sculpted model of masculine perfection able to command with a single look. He motioned to the wrought iron bench. “May I?”
Genevieve curled her fingers tight, hating this desire to run her hands through his tresses to explore their texture. “If I said no, would you leave?”
“Yes,” he said automatically. “But I’d attempt to convince you otherwise.”
Perhaps her soul was as wicked and wanton as she’d been accused, for she wanted to know what that convincing would entail. He stared at her pointedly and with a hesitant nod, she slid over onto the corner of the bench.
The marquess settled his tall, heavily muscled frame beside her, shrinking the space between them so that their legs touched. His cloak gaped slightly open. She swallowed hard. Unbidden, she stole a sideways look at the muscles of his thighs straining the fawn fabric of his front-flap breeches. Cheeks afire, she swiftly lifted her gaze, praying he’d not noted her scrutiny, and promptly stilled.
Head tipped back, with his eyes closed, the morning’s rays bathed Cedric’s face in sunlight. “Who was he?” he asked, unmoving from his repose so much that she blinked several times believing she’d imagined his question.
“My lord?” she asked tentatively.
“The gentleman to account for your wariness.”
She drew her book closer. “It would hardly be appropriate to speak of such intimate matters.”
“Bah, mine is hardly an intimate question.” Opening his eyes, the marquess picked his head up and favored her with a slow, seductive grin. “Were I to ask you the scent of oil you place in your bathwater or the fragrance you dab behind your ears, now that, I would allow would be intimate…for some.”
Despite a suitable wariness where this man was concerned, a smile pulled at her lips. With his charm, he was a rogue who could coax the queen out of her chemise. “Tell me, my lord, do you work at shocking a lady?”
“Hardly.” He winked. “I assure you, it comes quite naturally.”
Do you have a favorite rake in fiction?
I’m so pleased to welcome my pal Kris Kennedy to the Jaunty Quills. Kris writes amazing books – I mean, amazing. In fact, she’s one of my favorite historical romance writers. Her stories are sweeping, adventurous, and grounded in extraordinary historical events. If you love smart and sexy historical romance, these are the books for you.
Take it away, Kris!
Going Bigger, Hotter, Historical-er
Many thanks to my buddy Vanessa Kelly for asking me over to help spread the news about my newest book, CLAIMING HER.
I haven’t had an historical release for a few years, not since DECEPTION, which won RT’s K.I.S.S. Award for Best Historical Romance Hero of the Year in 2013. (And will be re-releasing next year.) But I think my NY publishing house had a hard time selling medievals, and I had a hard time making zero dollars, so I took a detour into contemporaries.
But I kept getting drawn back to historicals. They’re my first love, my heartbreak, my siren song. So, I came back.
My latest release, CLAIMING HER is set in Ireland, during the Elizabethan era, with an Irish warlord hero, and it’s really hot. Like, really hot.
I’ve been on the hunt for big, meaty, super-hot historicals. And I want medievals, or medieval-ish. I love Victorians & Regencies, but I want me some knights and warriors, too. I don’t necessarily want an erotic historical romance (well, wait, sure, sometimes I do…) But what I really want are stories of historical adventure, sweeping stories, immersive stories, steeped in history and character, but with the kind of no-holds-barred sensual heat you find in many contemporaries coming out today.
Ergo, my new collection, RENEGADES & OUTLAWS.
These are super-hot historicals with big bad alpha heroes and smart, capable heroines. Not erotic romance, but the sensual relationship is absolutely central to the characters’ arc, and the stories may push a few boundaries here and there (although I may have done that before (:eyes The Irish Warrior:))
The first in this collection is my novella THE KING’S OUTLAW, currently part of the USA Today® bestselling Captured by a Celtic Warrior anthology.
Which brings us to CLAIMING HER. It’s set in Ireland, 1589, with a dangerously handsome and ambitious Irish warrior hero, come home to claim the barony the Queen of England would not give him.
The heroine, he will discover, is not of a mind to be conquered.
Want a little excerpt??
Aodh Mac Con (pronounced like you would the beginning of “Aidan’) has just taken over the lady’s castle, and they’re, um, discussing it.
…“I am Rardove, sir,” she said boldly, quietly, and foolishly. “And I hold for England.”
He tipped closer. “That has just become a matter for negotiation, my lady. From here on, let us say England shall have to earn Rardove’s loyalty.”
She stepped back, her lips parting. He’d shocked her. The realization caused a small, strange tinge of disappointment in him, that a woman who’d held an English castle beyond the Pale with only ten men would be shocked by such a thing. It seemed somehow…diminishing. But then, Aodh had a taste for rebellion today, and nothing but more of the same would serve.
A movement at the far end of the hall caught his attention. One of his captains, Cormac, poked his head through a door, caught his eye and nodded, then ducked back out. Good. They’d made it to the north side, which meant they’d secured the entire castle. Rardove was his.
And so where was the hot satisfaction of conquest? The rush of triumph? Where was…everything?
Lying at the bottom of the same cold pit that had marked his life for too many years to count, no doubt. Intrigues, battle, courtly maneuvers, it was all the same: naught.
Apparently even coups of castles did not rise to the level of interest anymore.
He turned his attention back to Katarina. “My lady, if you will—”
All he saw was a blur of green silk, then her small, bunched fist smashed into his face.
The impact, hard and square, landed directly on his jaw.
Caught utterly unaware—as he’d never been before, never, not even when his father had had his head cut off—Aodh reeled sideways. The retreat gave enough room for her to launch herself forward and slam her shoulder directly into his ribs so hard and fast, he grunted and stumbled backward and hit the ground, her on top, twisting like a hellcat.
She jammed a knee into his bollocks, and he doubled over protectively, at which point she grabbed one of his fingers and twisted it back almost to breaking, while her other hand—so sinuous and slender it was all but ungrippable—snaked between their writhing bodies and tugged his accursed dagger out of its sheath.
With a roar, he lunged up off the ground, lifting her with him, and backed her to the wall. Predictably—dimly, he noted he was already predicting things about her—she wrestled like a firebrand. Whirling hair, arms, legs. Kicking, biting, punching, swiping with the knife.
First things first.
He caught hold of the feminine fist snaked around the hilt of his blade and slammed it to the wall above her head, gripping her wrist so hard she cried out, but she did not, of note, stop fighting. He finally had to pin her to the wall with his entire body, her toes dangling half a foot in the air, their faces pressed together, cheek to cheek, until he stilled everything that was writhing and flailing and kicking on her curving, rampant, berserker body.
Fire burned in his veins, urging him to smash and destroy. He reached over with his other hand and wrenched the blade out of her grip, then tossed it onto the ground behind him.
He inhaled slowly, forcing himself to calm. They stood like this for a moment, her body pinned between Aodh and the wall. He supposed she could still kick his shins, but she’d impact against his greaves, and it would hurt her far more than him.
She seemed to agree. At least, she didn’t move.
He pulled back a few inches, let her feet drop to the ground, and peered down at her. Breathing fast, she flung her head, spraying hair across her face. It was pale and beautiful, with slim, dark brows arcing over what appeared to be intelligent brown eyes. A shocking discovery.
“If you were a man, I would kill you right now,” he said in a low voice.
He waited for her response—everything now was a test, every moment a potential tipping point. Would she recoil? Be wise and retreat, apologize, surrender, run scared?
Would she be like everyone else?
She shifted the only thing he didn’t have restrained, her left hand, and laid what turned out to be the cold edge of a blade against the side of his throat.
“If I were a man, sir,” she whispered back, “you would already be dead.”
So, come on, ladies, give me some recommendations: what was the last big, sexy historical you read and loved?? One commentor wins a copy of the Captured by a Celtic Warrior anthology, which includes my story, THE KING’S OUTLAW!
And if you like big, sexy historicals like I do, sign up for my newsletter to be alerted whenever there’s a new release!
Nancy Robards Thompson: Today is an exciting day for Jaunty sisters Kathleen, Katherine/Kathy and me. It’s launch day for the SCANDALOUS BILLIONAIRES. The three of us joined forces with our friends Mimi Wells and Eve Gaddy and each wrote a story in the SCANDALOUS BILLIONAIRES collection. I’m so excited to have Eve Gaddy as my special guest today to share with you a little about our collaboration and the sexy heroes of our stories. Please give a warm Jaunty welcome to Eve!
Eve Gaddy: Thanks, Nancy! It’s great to be here.
I want to tell you about a very special project I’m proud to be part of. Scandalous Billionaires is a sizzling set of stories set on the Amalfi Coast. Four of my friends and I–Katherine Garbera, Mimi Wells, Nancy Robards Thompson, Kathleen O’Brien and Eve Gaddy– wanted to set our stories on a fictional island off the fabled Amalfi Coast. We decided that all our heroes were billionaires because, well, billionaires are hot. Ours certainly are.:) The setting is the fabulous Isola Del Sole at the Hotel dei Fiori and we gave our billionaires strong, feisty women to fall for. There’s a little bit of everything in the Scandalous Billionaires box set. Intrigue, deception, mistaken identities, and a lot of long, steamy nights!
The Billionaire’s Temptation by Katherine Garbera
Rocco De Luca lives and loves in the fast lane. A past Formula 1 champ, he has been jetting around the world arranging celebrity charity races and partying with the world’s elite. Coming home to Isola del Fiori and filling in for his older brother for a few weeks sounds…well, boring. Until he meets Steffi Harlan.
Steffi Harlan is sophisticated, elegant, and way too smart to fall for a tanned chest and a bad-boy smile, or so she thinks, until she’s put in charge of keeping the jet-set playboy out of trouble while he’s gone. Sure, no problem. Except Steffi isn’t immune to Rocco’s charms.
They burn up the nights they spend together, and the last thing Steffi wants is to crash out and end up with a broken heart… Can they both survive love in the fast lane?
The Billionaire’s Deception by Mimi Wells
After quitting her first “real” job, Janine Pike takes off for Europe, saving an excursion to the famed Isola del Sole for last. But when her travel-mates sail off with her backpack, phone, and passport after a night of partying, she’s left only with the euros in her pocket and the faint hope that her estranged half-sister, who works at the renowned Hotel Dei Fiori Isola del Sole, might help her.
Shel Myerson, amateur racecar driver and wildly successful TV mogul, oozes wealth and prestige. What he doesn’t have much of is privacy, thanks to a recent and ugly public breakup. What he doesn’t expect is to be mistaken as an employee by a very pretty—and very broke—Janine, the one person in Europe who also doesn’t have any idea who he is.
Shel and Janine discover their chemistry is combustible—but will their budding relationship survive the heat once the press catches on?
The Billionaire’s Betrayal by Nancy Robards Thompson
As heir of Dei Fiori Enterprises, Matteo De Luca‘s single focus after his father’s untimely death is rebuilding his family legacy and hotel empire. After two years, he’s close to achieving his goal, but there’s one person standing in his way… A sexy distraction he’d never anticipated.
Two years after her beloved husband’s death, Helena Von Lienz knows it’s finally time to let go. With her share of a hotel business, Helena heads to the Amalfi Coast in search of closure, and a portrait created for her by her late husband. What she doesn’t anticipate to discover during those hot Amalfi nights are some unexpected truths about her late hubby, and a strong sensual shared desire with Matteo, the sexy and ambitious CEO of Dei Fiori…
Will mixing business with pleasure be the end, or just the beginning, for Matteo and Helena?
The Billionaire’s Secret by Kathleen O’Brien
High School art teacher Sophie Smith is usually the most honest of women. But when her dearest friend and mentor asks her to be her stand-in on a two-week vacation at an Amalfi Coast luxury resort, she won’t let her down… even if it means posing as a rich, pampered socialite.
As it turns out, Sophie could get used to this, especially handsome, enigmatic gardener Declan Muldoon who’s strangely more thrilling than any of the billionaires buzzing around. She ends up falling for him—hard.
Then Sophie discovers she’s not the only one pretending. Declan’s gardener gig is temporary. He’s actually the black sheep of a very wealthy, powerful family, a man who appears to be in need of an heiress.
An heiress exactly like Sophie is pretending to be…
The Billionaire’s Charade by Eve Gaddy
Summer St. Croix hates weddings. But when she meets hot-as-sin Luke Vanetti at her oldest friend’s ceremony, he promises to give her a reason to like them.
It’s all sexy fun and games until Summer realizes that Luke is none other than her new boss. Summer refuses to continue to have a fling with her superior, even though the passion between them still runs wildfire hot. But the billionaire private investigator doesn’t see the problem, especially since he knows that one night with Summer won’t be enough.
When Luke’s cousin sends an SOS asking for help in stopping a ring of jewel thieves from robbing his luxury hotel on the Amalfi Coast, Luke agrees. And Summer’s first assignment will be posing as his very sexy, rich, and bejeweled fiancée at the Hotel dei Fiori Isola del Sole.
Playing the happy couple is hard enough during the day, but the nights… will those romantic Amalfi nights turn the charade into more than just a job for both Summer and Luke… for good?
To find out how you can win a gourmet Italian basket, please check out the SCANDALOUS BILLIONAIRES Facebook page
Before you do, what is your dream vacation and with whom would you spend it?
Escape to Italy’s fabled Amalfi Coast with five USA Today Bestselling and award-winning authors for a limited time at a special price! Order the Scandalous Billionaires box set now, for only $0.99! Get your FREE copy of Nona’s Cookbook when you preorder the box set. Just send a screenshot of your preorder page to firstname.lastname@example.org . Copies will be sent out starting next week.
Eve Gaddy is the award winning, nationally bestselling author of twenty-five novels and novellas. Eve’s books have won and been nominated for awards from Romantic Times, Golden Quill, Bookseller’s Best, Holt Medallion, Texas Gold, Daphne Du Maurier and more. She was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Innovative Series romance as well as winning the 2008 Romantic Times Career Achievement award for Series Storyteller of the year. Eve’s books have sold well over a million copies worldwide and been published in many foreign countries. Eve’s writing career began when she was in search of the perfect job and a friend challenged her to write a novel. Naturally, she thought of romance, since that is one of her favorite things to read. Once she began it was love at first type and she’s been writing ever since. Eve loves her family, spring and fall in east Texas, the Colorado mountains, dogs, chocolate, books, and electronics. She enjoys cooking except when she is in the throes of creating, and has been known to tell her husband that is what peanut butter and jelly was created for. Eve also loves a happy ending. That’s why she writes romance.
I’m so pleased to welcome one of my favorite people in the world to the Jaunty Quills. She’s Manda Collins and she writes smart, sexy historical romance with a strong dash of suspense – pretty much all of my fave writing things wrapped up in one great package. Manda has a new book out, and she’s here to tell us all about it:
Hello, Jaunties! I’m so pleased to be celebrating the release of GOOD DUKES WEAR BLACK, Book 3 of the Lords of Anarchy trilogy, with ya’all! My thanks to the lovely and talented Vanessa Kelly for inviting me!
As a special treat, I’m sharing an exclusive snippet from Trent and Ophelia’s story with you here today. This hasn’t been posted anywhere else, and I hope you’ll enjoy it! But first, the description:
A writer for the Ladies Gazette, Miss Ophelia Dauntry’s passion is her pen. So when she sees a fellow writer kidnapped before her eyes—and the trail of evidence leads to the Lords of Anarchy—Ophelia vows to find her friend and take down the notorious London driving club in her column. But before she can argue her case, she needs the inside scoop from its newest leader: Piers Hamilton, the Duke of Trent.
Headstrong, handsome Trent joined the Lords of Anarchy after a decade in the British Army. He’s made it his business to tame the misbehavior within the driving club—and the infuriatingly attractive Ophelia is only getting in his way. The deeper she digs into the case, the more she puts her own life at risk. Can Trent convince Ophelia to trust him to seek justice…and find protection, and passion, in his arms?
Now, for the excerpt. In this scene, Miss Ophelia Dauntry and the Duke of Trent are, in the company of their friends the Earl and Countess of Mainwaring and the Lisles, discussing her plans to attend a ball later that evening.
“Don’t tell me you mean to attend a ball after the drama of the past couple of days,” Trent said with a frown. “You suffered quite a serious blow to the head yesterday.”
Ophelia frowned at his high handed tone. Just because they were working together did not mean he had the right to make decisions for her.
“And now I am feeling much better,” she said coolly. “Besides which, my sister is betrothed to the Marquess of Kinston so my mother is expecting me to attend whether I feel up to it or not. And I most certainly do feel up to it.”
He looked as if he would like to say more, but perhaps seeing the mulish set of her jaw, kept silent.
“I can promise to look after her,” Leonora exchanging a sly look with her husband, who winked. “Unless, of course, you mean to attend too, Trent.”
“He must attend,” Freddy said guilelessly. “For I mean to keep you busy dancing, my dear. You will have no time to watch over Ophelia.”
“I’m sitting right here, you know,” Ophelia said rolling her eyes. “And I have no need of a keeper. At least not the last time I checked.”
Trent muttered something under his breath, but when she scowled at him, he shrugged as if to say “Who, me?”
Annoyed with all of them, she stood. “I believe I’ll walk home. It is a fair enough afternoon and my house is only a few streets away.”
“Of course I’ll take you,” Trent said looking offended. “As I said, you’ve had an eventful couple of days. And as I am going in that direction anyway it will be no inconvenience.”
It would serve him right if she refused, Ophelia thought stubbornly. But it was true that she was tired. And if she were going to attend a ball that evening she’d do better to conserve her energy. “Very well,” she said.
“We’ll see you there tonight,” Hermione said as she and Leonora ushered their friend into the hallway and toward the front entrance.
Trent made to follow Ophelia, but was stayed by Freddy’s hand on his arm.
“What’s going on here?” his friend asked with a speaking look in the direction of the departing ladies. “I was unaware that you and Ophelia were more than speaking acquaintances.”
“Certainly not close enough to ride about town together in your curricle for two days in a row,” Mainwaring added his eye bright with mischief.
“Don’t be daft,” Trent said with a frown. “We are only working together to find the her friend because George Grayson is a member of the Lords of Anarchy. Nothing more than that.”
“But it would be easy enough for you look for Maggie Grayson on your own, surely?” Freddy asked, pinning him with his blue gaze. “Especially considering that you don’t know what’s in store when you find her. Shouldn’t you leave Ophelia to her own devices for safety’s sake if nothing else?”
At the suggestion he was endangering Ophelia in some way, Trent stiffened. “Now see here, Lisle,” he said with a voice that sounded threatening even to his own ears. “I am doing my utmost to see that she remains safe. If I were to leave her to her own devices as you so helpfully suggest, then she would be god knows where poking her nose into the devil knows that. That lady is as stubborn as a mule and the only reason she is still safe is because I’ve ensured that she doesn’t take the sort of risks she’d doubtless undertake if she were allowed to go about unchecked.”
There was an eerie silence in the hallway for a moment as Trent realized his mistake.
Damn. Double damn.
“That was some speech, old fellow,” Mainwaring said diffidently picking a bit of link from his sleeve. “I believe you’ve made our point.”
“You are both asses,” Trent said turning his back on his oldest friends and stalking down the stairs toward the entry hall.
“You don’t suppose I was too hard on him?” he heard Freddy said from above. “I sometimes can go a bit too far.”
“Not a bit of it,” Mainwaring replied. “How else were we learn the truth of things. It’s not as if he’ll tell us he’s head over ears on his own.”
Grateful that Ophelia and her married friends were already outside, Trent collected his hat and coat and stomped out the door.
PS. That’s Toast, Manda’s furry buddy, enjoying his copy of GOOD DUKES WEAR BLACK.
Manda also has a special giveaway today – a GOOD DUKES WEAR BLACK tee shirt and a copy of the book. Zounds! For a chance to win, just tell us what you like your heroes to wear. Do riding boots and breeches on a manly man make you swoon, or are you more of a low-slung jeans and a tight tee shirt kind of gal? One reader who comments will win Manda’s prize! And for more info about Manda and her books, please visit her website.