Rhonda Lee Carver - Dreaming Ivy

A Handmade Christmas

The family and I recently moved into our new home. The change was wonderful, until I went to the basement to gather our Christmas decorations. They were missing. Apparently the movers had left several of my boxes at the old house. The decorations had been stored in the rafters of the garage and were completely overlooked. Now they are gone. I’m a sentimental type and that one box of ornaments and decorations contained years of history and memories. Handmade ornaments my kids had made. Stockings we’d had since they were babies. Treasures lost. As many times as I’d told myself that they were only material items, my heart still ached at losing pieces of history.
The tree was up. It appeared sad without embellishments of shiny ornaments, tinsel and topper. It stood bare for a while. I just couldn’t seem to find the motivation to start all over again with decorations. One afternoon the girls and I made handmade handprints. Mixing up a batch of flour, salt and water we then pressed handprints and baked the creations. They turned out exceptionally well. So nice that we hung them on the tree. It was a moment for me. Let’s just say, I decided it was time to let go of what I didn’t have control over and enjoy what I have in front of me.
Over the next week the girls and I put our crafty hats on and made a variety of handmade ornaments. From gingerbread people to snowflakes to snowmen, we soon found that our bare tree was now full of “new” memories. And those same memories now filled our hearts.
I won’t lie, I still wish I had my box of family ornaments, but when life throws us lemons then make new memories. It’s what we have in our lives at the moment that means the most.

Rhonda Lee Carver bio:

Rhonda Lee Carver is a hopeless romantic. Whether you like sweet romance or erotica, she has written a story for you. Rhonda read her first novel at thirteen and that was the open window into her destiny. She began writing ghost stories as a teen, and as years passed, her stories bloomed into steamy, passionate tales. She likes creating intelligent, saucy heroines who can challenge a bad-ass hero. She believes in love, and everyone has a soulmate.  She dares her readers to allow fantasy to whisk them away for a moment of time…

Can a past love become their future?

The Thorntons’ mansion is full of timeless secrets waiting to be unraveled. When small-town journalist Ivy and ghost hunter Max are stuck in the forgotten, dilapidated house, they find more than just a haunting. Ivy finds herself dreaming of the former owners, Marcus Thornton and his lovely wife, Elizabeth. Their profound love was once the talk of the town, and the cause their mysterious, untimely deaths never found. When Ivy’s dreams begin to become reality, the mystery starts to unravel and sheds truth on more than just the past.
WARNING: Graphic language, naughty ghosts, a non-committal male, and a love that endures beyond time and death.

 Copyright 2012, Rhonda Lee Carver
All rights reserved, Lyrical Press, Inc.

 Ivy stepped into the corridor. She stopped and listened. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a shadow sweep across the wall. She turned as it disappeared. “Hello?” No answer. She stomped down the hall and burst into the room. “Hello–”
The room was empty.Ivy swallowed the taste of fright. A shiver raced across her skin. She had seen someone, or had she? She rubbed her eyes. Maybe the shadows were playing tricks on her.
A loud crack in the floor behind her sent Ivy twisting. The sun from the window blinded her. She acted on impulse. She drew her fist back and punched–landing on something solid. The force behind her connection with skin and bone sent her off balance, flailing backward. A hand on her wrist pulled her hard against a steely frame.
She met a dark stare, just as she felt wobbling. The impact of her body had sent him a step back. He lost his balance. Together they fell. The air whooshed from his chest as Ivy landed on top of the stranger.
She closed her eyes and remained still. She wanted nothing more than for the floor to swallow her. Several long seconds floated by. Neither of them said a word. She finally opened her eyes.
Embarrassed and confused, Ivy laid her palms against his shoulders, pushing herself up. She looked directly into his not-so-pleased expression and gulped. Enchanting green eyes, prominent cheekbones, midnight hair…and a pissed-off set to his jaw. She’d made a mistake–a huge one. “Max Shepard.” It wasn’t a question.
He narrowed his eyes. “Ivy Kennedy, journalist and amateur boxer?”
The deep, rich tone of his voice did funny things to the pit of her stomach. His voice wasn’t the only toned part of him. Pressed together gave her an up close and personal testimonial of his physical assets. Broad chest, tight abs to long legs, she could feel tight muscles and a curious bulge. She scooted her hip around the swelling in his jeans. Heat and realization spread through her body.
One corner of his mouth lifted. “It’s my cell.” Could he see straight through her?
He reached into his pocket and held up his phone. Ivy was certain her skin changed into the perfect color of mortification. She wondered just how bad this could get. Pasting a smile on her face, she said, “Nice to meet you.” The temperature rose between them into the triple digits. Their bodies seemed to melt together. He didn’t look like the pictures she’d seen on the internet. He looked more distinguished in person. “You’re older than I thought,” she blurted.
“Older, in a good way.” She licked her bottom lip and nervously pushed her hair behind her ear. “My mother said I have a bad habit of saying the most awkward things and rambling–” She swallowed. “–like I am now.” She moved slightly.
His zipper started to swell again. Was that another cell phone in his pocket, or… Before her mind could complete the thought, he wrapped his large hands around her waist and lifted her off him. He set her on her feet as he came to stand in front of her. “That’s better,” he said as he backed up. “Damn.” He kicked rug that must have been the reason behind their fall.
He stood there, silent. This was a complete disaster. She’d managed to give him a black eye to match the dark scowl on his face. She needed to start searching for a new job. Marshall would have her head for this.
WARNING: Light BDSM, kink, explicit sex.
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Dreaming Ivy by Rhonda Lee Carver Available for Sale
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Vicki Essex ~ Back to the Good Fortune Diner

How Cultural Differences Inspired a Book

Readers of romance know love knows no boundaries, and that in some of the best romance stories, the characters face the biggest challenges before they get to a satisfying happy ever after.

Are these challenges any different for a mixed race couple? No, not necessarily. But cultural differences do sometimes add new dimensions to romantic conflicts.

Speaking from personal experience, I have never been more aware of my cultural identity than when I started dating my husband, John, who is white. I knew it would be a bit of a challenge for both of us. We recognized differences in each other that would take time to adapt to, not just in terms of traditions and food and culture, but also in our mind sets.

We had to deal with external challenges, too. My husband especially had to deal with a lot of scrutiny. When my friends first met him, they interrogated him about whether he’d ever dated an Asian girl before--a presumption persists that white males dating Asian women fetishize the relationship. He encountered people who called me his “mail order bride,” and others who accused him of “stealing their women” away from them. We got a lot of dirty looks, mostly from older folks, when we were holding hands in public. And while I’ve never received direct criticism about my relationship—my family has been wonderfully accepting—our obvious differences continue to be remarked upon. 

I’ve learned to take most of it in stride—I haven’t been entirely untouched by racism, after all, even living in a big metropolitan city like Toronto—but it got me thinking about how I viewed myself in the context of my family, my community and the rest of the world. All that got me to thinking about how someone like me would grow up in a small town.

I still remember stopping at a gas station while traveling through cottage country in northeastern Ontario with my family when I was about thirteen. I went into the shop to buy some candy and on my way out, encountered a couple of kids a year or two younger than me. Their eyes widened and they whispered loud enough for me to hear, “It’s a Chinese person!”

It wasn’t until later that I realized they’d never seen Asian people before, or had encountered so few that we were novelties to them. We weren’t even that far from Toronto—maybe a two-hour drive away. That moment crystallized for me how isolated a kid can feel in a small town.
In my latest book, Back to the Good Fortune Diner, Tiffany Cheung’s family is the only Chinese family in small town of Everville, New York. She’d always felt out of place, not just in town, but in her own home, as well. Being different made her an easy target for ridicule, but even when she was older, she isolated herself from the other kids at school. Her feelings of alienation were only exacerbated by her parents’ strict traditional upbringing, high expectations and emphasis on personal achievement.

How does Tiffany, a girl who doesn’t think of herself as part of any community, find love with Chris, a man who is all about family and being a part of the world? That was the challenge I faced writing this book. And while Chris and Tiffany have their own personal issues, they’ll have some cultural differences to reconcile, as well.
Vicki’s giving away a copy of her latest book, Back to the Good Fortune Diner. Leave a comment below and she’ll randomly draw a winner of a hard copy or ebook version of her book.

Vicki Essex is an author for Harlequin Superromance. Back to the Good Fortune Diner is her second book. For more information, visit www.vickiessex.com. You can also find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/vickiessexauthor and on Twitter @vickiessex.

Six Sentence Sunday - Dec 9

How about another visit with my paranormal WIP, Dark Desires? The set up: Cian, after entering Tessa's dream, made passionate love to her. This scene is how, without warning, Tessa awakens and doesn't know why she's so aroused.
'The dream had been so vivid. Nothing like this happened to her before. Her lips tingled, her breasts tingled, her... she slowly lowered her hand and touched herself. Tiny aftershocks rippled through her. Oh, yes. Even that tingled.'

Valerie Haight ~ Happenstance

Thank you so much, Madison, for the awesome honor of guest blogging here today!
I’ve set the paper bag aside and am breathing normally now after a cartwheeling explosion over this ---->S I X  D A Y S  until Happenstance releases!!! *\o/* !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Okay, maybe I need another second…

*Deep Breath*
Happenstance, my debut novella will be available from Turquoise Morning Press on December 13, 2012! I wrote this story using a corporate setting based loosely on some relationship conflict I witness as an administrative assistant. I take note of the Peyton Place happenings and scheme them one (or three) steps further. I have loads of great ideas for future novels but today, let’s talk Happenstance!
Taryn Ballard is happily married and a newly appointed analyst for a prestigious shipping company.  Her career upsurges in record time but she’s about to discover the real price of corporate life.
While on yet another business trip, Taryn suffers a brutal attack by a carjacker. Her husband isn’t there, but her co-worker Devin is.  The accidental bond Taryn and Devin share pitches them into dangerous and confusing territory. Taryn struggles to discern both her feelings for her sexy protector and Wade's reaction to it all. Unfamiliar emotions blur the rules of the game and Wade's ready to quit.
Taryn must rise above disaster to save her marriage. But is she ready to let go of the man who saved her life? In a single moment, Happenstance changes everything.
I learned to really put my main character through the wringer and Taryn was no exception. She was so much fun to write because I really played havoc on both Devin and Wade while running her through the mill at the same time! Yes, I’m awful. J My favorite genres are suspense and romance so I couldn’t resist merging them into this story. Here’s a snippet to give you the feel of the book.

“Devin, it’s Taryn. You were right. The execs want me to meet them for dinner and I feel really foolish because I have a GPS and a connect-the-dot map from the concierge and I’m still lost.”
Devin laughed. “Not a problem. Where are you?”
Taryn took a second to locate the green street sign. “At the corner of First and Third at a tiny, ancient-looking convenience store.”
“Oh, I know the one. You’re right next to us. I could probably see you from the tower window. Okay, which restaurant are you looking for?”
Taryn grabbed the hand-drawn map. “Caminas.”
“I know where it is. Actually, it might be faster by freeway.”
“Of course it would. I just came from—”
An unexpected rush of damp, hot air hit her and Taryn turned, confused to see her door open wide. She sucked in a quick breath and saw too late the arm reaching for her. Terror gripped her as she zeroed in on the gun in her face.

I had so much fun with this story. I hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! Happenstance can be purchased here on December 13th!
Tweet with me @Valeriebrbr, follow me on Facebook or find out the latest on my Author Page about my upcoming short story Magnolia Brides in a TMP wedding anthology out in June! Thanks again, Madison, for saving a spot for me on your rockin’ blog!

Renee Vincent ~ Temperate Warrior

The Temperate Warrior
He was her champion. She was his weakness. Together, they loved with wild abandon.
Gustaf Ræliksen lives by the blade of his sword. After avenging his father’s murder and reuniting with his family, he wants nothing more than to settle down and have sons of his own. Only one woman will do—a fiery redhead he saved from the spoils of war.

No longer forced to warm the beds of the men who've taken everything from her, Æsa has nothing to offer the noble warrior but her heart.

When someone with a deep score to settle seeks revenge upon her, Gustaf's world is torn asunder. He has but one vow—saving the woman he loves from the ignorant fool who dared to best the temperate warrior.


Gustaf had only one thing on his mind—well, many enticing thoughts, truth be told—but they all involved getting his hands on Æsa.

By the time he caught up with her, she was standing at edge of the water, the roaring sound of the waterfall competing with the thrum of his racing pulse. She had unraveled her braid and was making quick work of the two cloaks around her shoulders. Her wavy locks hung down her back, almost reaching the captivating curve of her hips.

When she turned to hang her cloaks over a nearby tree limb, she froze and locked eyes with him. Her breath could be seen on the brisk morning air as well as the tautness of her nipples through the thin fabric of her tight-fitting kirtle. He swallowed hard, imagining the taste of her favors, eager to lave the hard peak with his tongue and suckle as much of the soft globe as he could fit in his mouth.

Unable to stand there any longer, he strode toward her, his eyes drinking in her sumptuous curves. His hands automatically reached for her narrow waist and jerked her body into his before he crushed her against the tree. She whimpered under his assault and braced her hands on his chest, her meager attempt to hold him back inciting him that much more.

The voice in his head interrupted the rush of blood coursing through his veins. You are losing control again. Get a hold of yourself.

It took everything he had to release her. His legs shook beneath him as if they were mere saplings trembling under the brunt of a forceful wind. Stepping back, he stood before her disoriented and flushed beyond all reckoning. “’Twas wrong of me to follow you.”

“Why? Because your excessive desire for me outweighs your commitment to getting your men home in a timely manner?”

Gustaf took a deep breath. “There is that. But ’tis not the only reason.”

She approached him in the most seductive way, eyeing the expanse of his shoulders as she unlatched the brooch at his right. She removed his wolf-skin cloak, the chill of the invigorating air doing little to douse the raging fire in his loins. He left his arms dangling at his sides, fighting the urge to touch her, to grab her with both hands and press her curvaceous warmth to his rigid body.

She draped his cloak over the limb beside her and returned her attention to divesting him of the other adornments strapped to his body. Her eyes gazed at the bulge rupturing his breeches as she unbuckled his belt. Leaning his scabbard against the trunk, she licked her lips and cupped his bollocks in her palm. “What is it you fear, my lord? You can tell me.”

Her whispered words, falling from the alluring pout of her luscious lips, stroked him as soundly as if she’d dragged her fingertips over his bare flesh. “I want you. More than I wanted you yesterday. And with each passing day, my hunger for you grows in fiendish proportions. I want to ravish you, Æsa. I want to feast on you and feel you quiver beneath my tongue. I want to spread you wide and thrust deep within you as you call my name. I want to hold you down and for once,” he said, clenching his teeth, “just try to sate my appetite for you, though I know better.”

Perhaps he’d disclosed the list of his objectives in an effort to make her think twice about provoking the feral beast within him. The corner of her lip, marked with mischievous intent, hitched upward and he knew he’d failed to discourage her. In fact, he realized he may have provoked his own bewitching beast in the form of sweet femininity.

“Does time allow us to partake in such wanton acts,” she taunted, stroking his erection through his breeches.

“Time is not what concerns me, Æsa. ’Tis what will happen next once I get my hands on you.”

“Then touch me not.”

He stood helpless as she touched him. She slipped her hands beneath his tunic and splayed her long fingers across his abdomen. She skimmed over every ripple of muscle in his stomach and climbed each rung of ribs in his torso in the most deliberate fashion, making it that much harder for him.

When her fingertips grazed his chest, she sought through the thin layer of his curls and found that his nipples were just as taut as her own. Unmercifully, she stroked her thumbs back and forth, pressing her pelvis into his groin.

He refused to give in and reach out for her, turning his head to the side in hopes that averting his eyes would aid his torment. If anything, it made matters worse. His vivid imagination kicked in and ran wild with the notion of her roaming hands meandering south. Before he could stop it, he envisioned her dropping to her knees, fisting his girth and taking him all the way in to the back of her throat. He staggered backward, his blood hammering. The transient fantasy accosted him so fiercely he thought he’d spilled himself in his breeches.

Æsa gazed at him as he clutched the tree limb for stability and tried to gather his wits. “It seems you have just as much difficulty being touched as you have touching me with your own hands. Perhaps ’tis best if you watch.”

He stared at her as she inched her kirtle higher and higher. First her shapely calf took form, then her knees, then the outward curve of her creamy thighs. Gustaf’s throat felt dry and constricted. He could barely breathe. “Æsa, please.”

“Please what?” she cooed. “Show you more?”

Any subtlety she utilized before now perished as she lifted the fabric over her head and discarded it on the ground. His eyes swept over her naked body. The mesmerizing sight of her full breasts and rose-colored nipples drew most of his attention.

She walked backward toward the stream and allowed him all the time he wanted to stare shamelessly at her private parts. With each slow step, she tortured him, luring him to follow lest he be out of arm’s reach of the tempting favors she offered.

He knew why she was doing this. She wanted the man who could not hold back. She wanted to prove she was woman enough for all of him, that no matter how unruly his primal urges became, she would suffer the wicked pleasure of his total abandonment and reap every blessing she hoped to gain from it.

Foolish woman. Did she not understand how difficult this was for him? Did she not truly comprehend how crazy passionate he could be when thrown into a wolves’ den? He recalled her reference to punishment and pleasure. For him, the fine line was drawn between love and rage. Just as he’d gone berserk over the men who’d killed his father, he knew the compulsion for losing control in the heat of rapture was not far behind—especially where Æsa was concerned.

He’d never loved a woman as much as he loved her, and the feelings bubbling up inside him when he was on the brink of release was nigh the same as the fury he encountered in past battles. He was a dangerous man in either of those combustible situations, and Æsa was perilously playing with fire.

Unbeknownst to him, his foot lifted and stepped forward. He tried to stand firm, to keep his other boot planted, but he was drawn by forces more compelling than his own might. More definitive than his own fears. The need to have Æsa close, the need to feel her smooth skin and buxom body in his grasp, preyed on his mind until he had no choice but to close the distance between them.

If she wanted the man who was not so temperate, then she was about to have him. There was no turning back if he set this animal free. With his concern of going too far in the forefront of his mind, he kicked off his boots and ripped his tunic over his head. Inwardly, he’d made a deal with himself: he’d surrender to Æsa’s desires and forsake his reluctant tendencies as long as he brought her pleasure. If he thought at any moment she was second-guessing her plan of unfettering the temperate warrior, then he’d pull away.

He only hoped he could.

As he unlaced his breeches and stepped out of them, his heart pounded against his ribs and he felt as if his chest was expanding to the point of hyperventilation with each ragged breath he took. He snatched the pile of draped fur cloaks from the limb, slung one of them across his shoulders, and raced to the water’s edge to meet Æsa. He skidded to a halt in front of her, his body inches from hers.

She stood stock-still in all her naked glory. Goose bumps flourished across her porcelain flesh and her lower lip quivered from the cold. He gazed at her one last time before swathing her in her own cloak and pulling her close. The cool flesh of her lovely breasts smashed against the warmth of his, her glinting eyes heavy-lidded with lust. She tipped her head back, holding his gaze as she snaked her dainty, chilled arms around his back.

As automatic as breathing, he reached up and brushed his thumb across her shivering lower lip. “When I am finished with you, you will be trembling for a whole different reason.”

“Swear it, m’lord.”

His smile returned, though it portrayed anything but amusement. She and all her frisky aggressiveness was the very reason he wished to ravish her. He adored her feisty nature and her exceptional confidence. Those uncommon traits in a female, along with her stately beauty, made her the most erotic woman on this earth. And she was his.

He wound his arms around her middle and cupped both hands firmly on her backside, hoisting her higher so her delicate womanhood would feel every throbbing inch of him. “I swear on Thor’s hammer that no one will love you more than I. Or as fiercely.”

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Renee Vincent
(Historical & Contemporary Adult Romance)
From the daunting, charismatic Vikings, to the charming, brazen Alpha male heroes of modern day, you'll be whisked away to a world filled with fast-paced adventure, unforgettable romance, and undying love.

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