Wednesday, December 23, 2015

RETURN TO ME: A New Western Historical Romance!

Just in time for the holidays, I have published a new western historical romance set in Colorado. Mail-order brides have always appealed to me - maybe it's the idea of heading off into the unknown to face a future filled with possible romance and excitement that makes the subject so appealing. I was inspired to write RETURN TO ME when I visited Boulder last December and saw the Flat Iron mountains in all their cold, wintry glory. How did pioneers, especially women, face the hardships of this rugged land, so far from their families and homes? It's difficult to imagine life in the old west, but I hope my novella will get you thinking of women who make the hard decision to set off to a new land.

As a special bonus, I have attached a smaller novella, AN UNEXPECTED BRIDE, at the end of Return to Me. BRIDE is an extended version of a short mini-read I wrote a few years ago, and remarkably, the reviews I received said the readers wanted a longer story! So I made it longer and threw in a sweet kiss for good measure. I hope my readers enjoy these new stories, published on Amazon for the very first time.

What do you think of shorter reads in e-books?  Like 'em or prefer to have a longer book? Or does it depend on the author, theme, or genre? Please share what you like to spend your money on and we can have a great discussion.

I wish everyone a happy, healthy, and safe holiday time regardless of the festivities you celebrate. This is the season for closing up the old year and preparing for the new, and I hope to contribute to your stolen moments when you lose your heart in a book!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

In The Arms of An Earl second chance!

I am excited to announce that my first Regency historical romance, In The Arms of An Earl, is an Amazon "Encore" release!  They picked 100 romance novels out of 1,000s of The Wild Rose Press's catalog. It is being offered for free to Kindle Select readers for a set time frame. As of this writing, the Amazon ranking went from the high 700ks to about 39k! Thank you to everyone who read my book the first time it came out, and for those of you willing to give it a try now.

I got the idea for this story from my longtime favorite character, Mary Bennet of Pride and Prejudice. Specifically, from the actress, Talulah Riley (pictured on the right), who played Mary in the Focus Features film a decade ago. I was thinking of writing a spin-off P&P series of the younger Bennet sisters, Kitty and Mary. I couldn't think of how to make Mary a romantic heroine until I saw a photo of the actress who played Mary in the film. Seeing how lovely Talulah is in real life made me think that this is what our plain little Mary would look like if she were in love and cared for by a wonderful man.

Enter composer and hand amputee, Frederick Blakeney. This hero is probably the closest to my ideal man whom I've ever written. Tall, dark and handsome, with a musical genius cut short by a wound suffered in the war, Frederick is considerate, passionate, and ready and willing to sweep our plain little spinster off her feet and into the glittering world of London. Mary can hardly believe that her idol loves her as much as she loves him, and because of her own insecurities and being overshadowed by two newly married beautiful sisters, the plot of the book came quite easily.

But my heroine is named Jane, you may argue. What's all this about Mary? The original title of In the Arms of An Earl was MISS BENNET IN LOVE. I couldn't find a publisher willing to take on a story about Mary, so the new title and certain elements of P&P remain.

So, if you're like me, and always wanted to see Mary Bennet in her own happily ever after, please feel free to indulge yourself and imagine my heroine, Jane Brooke, is the hapless, hopeless, Mary Bennet. Perhaps you'll be cheering for her and Frederick by the time you reach The End.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

NY Times Best-Selling Author Lexi Post Is Here!

I am happy to have Lexi Post with us today! She is a NY Times and USA Today best-selling author of erotic romance based on classic works. Join us and learn what Lexi is up to, and even try for a chance to win one of her e-books! So, sit back, kick your boots off and pour a cup or glass of whatever suits your fancy, and let's talk books!

ANNA: Hi, Lexi! Thank you for stopping by today. Your new series sounds intriguing. Tell us about it!

LEXI POST: Hi, Anna, thank you for having me for a visit. I'm very excited to be included in a new boxed set coming out Thursday. It's called HOT WESTERN NIGHTS, and it includes my book, Cowboys Never Fold, which is the first in the Poker Flat series. In fact, all the stories in this boxed set are the first in a series! It's available now for pre-order on Amazon. This set is full of cowboys and one Native American, along with a little mystery and paranormal thrown in for good measure. Some stories are HOT while others are sweeter.

ANNA:  So there's something for every reader! Cowboys always make a good read. But is there a different genre you would like to try someday?

LEXI: Right now, I'm writing erotic romance inspired by the classics and I'm loving it. Classic literature just makes my mind take off in all kinds of directions.

ANNA: I know what you mean. I am inspired by so many different things, and a lot of them come from other books or movies. Are all your books erotic romance?

LEXI: I have three completed manuscripts that are the first in their series, and they are simply romance without the "erotic." So I hope to be writing and selling those some day as well.

ANNA: It's fun to try new story lines and genres. I find that switching back and forth between westerns, Regency era, and contemporary romances keeps me from getting bored. How would you characterize your writing style?

LEXI:  According to my agent, I write "erotic romance with a whole lotta story!" Because I'm inspired by classic literature, the background of my characters is already deep, which gives me so much to work with when it comes to story. For example, in COWBOYS NEVER FOLD, I used Bret Harte's 1869 short story called "The Outcasts of Poker Flat." In that story, Harte threw together a gambler, a prostitute, a madam, a drunk, and two innocents. As one of my reviewers said, it sounds like the beginning of a joke! I switched the original story up with Kendra, my heroine, as the former professional gambler who hires a cowboy, Wade (the innocent), to set up and manage the new stables of her soon-to-open nudist resort. I filled the resort with the other characters from the original story, added a hacker, and - TA DA! I had so much to work with I had to make it a series!

ANNA: That sounds like a great adaptation! I especially like that the "bad boy" character is actually your heroine. Taking a fresh twist on a classic is exciting and new. Many authors take favorite themes from their favorite authors. Speaking of which, who are your favorites?

LEXI: From my childhood, it would be Louisa May Alcott. From my days as a romance reader, it would be Johanna Lindsey and Julie Garwood. Now, as a writer, I read Jennifer Ashley and all my other writer friends that I can.

ANNA: Louisa May Alcott was one of my first favorites. I even turned a corner of our freezing cold garage into a "writing garrett" like Jo March had! I wonder, how many romance authors were inspired by Alcott's chaste love scenes, when Laurie kissed Jo and Mr. Brooke proposed to Meg? What should new readers know about you, Lexi?

LEXI: I love hearing from readers! Chatting about the characters in the stories is so much fun, and no one understands that except for my readers. I had a chance to have dinner with some of them at Romantic Times convention this year and that was so fun!

ANNA: That would be exciting for you to meet with your readers, as well as for them to meet you! It sounds like you take care of your readers.

LEXI: I send monthly Lexi Post Updates to keep my readers abreast of what's next. I also offer prizes, cover reveals, and sneak peeks as well as other opportunities just for them. To receive my update coming out on Sept. 2,  join here.

ANNA: Thank you again for stopping by, Lexi, and for the wonderful excerpt. We wish you luck in your writing career and with the new POKER FLAT series!

LEXI: Thank you so much for having me, Anna. It's been so great to chat with you.

ANNA: Readers, please enjoy the PG-rated excerpt below! And remember to leave a comment to be entered to win a fabulous, free e-book!


  Striding toward the front desk, she noticed Wade and Lacey getting into a golf cart. Now why did Lacey have to show him where the stables were? Couldn’t he see them for himself?
  Irritation had her taking another swallow. Pushing open one of the tall tinted doors that welcomed visitors to the resort, she stepped out into the heat.
  Lacey was explaining. “Don’t worry, it’s actually a rule that we keep our clothes on during our shift. Just be forewarned, Adriana does like men, so you may want to be on your guard with her.”
  Wade smiled. “Good to know.”
  Kendra gritted her teeth. The cowboy didn’t need a personal escort to the stables. Her bookkeeper/receptionist had a lot of work to do. “Lacey, did you show Wade his casita?”
  The pretty girl started as if she’d been caught doing something she shouldn’t. “Oh, I didn’t know you were here. Yes, I did. I was going to explain the stables to Wade, but I need to reconcile the bedding shipment with what we received.”
  Kendra’s muscles relaxed. “Go ahead and do the shipment. I’ll point out the way. We’re shorthanded as it is and your abilities are critical to Poker Flat.”
  Lacey blushed. “Okay. Thanks.”
   As Lacey walked into the building, Kendra studied the cowboy. He considered her with equal interest, but it wasn’t admiration. He appeared puzzled and that gave her a certain amount of satisfaction. She never revealed her hand.
  Strolling over to the cart, she took one more swallow of her shake. “Have you ever driven a golf cart?”
  The brim of his hat shaded his face, but his expression was easily read. “Yes, actually. I helped my little sister with a few of her golf tournament fundraisers.”
   Oh boy, this cowboy was far too good for the likes of Poker Flat. One more reason for her to stay away. “Good. Then take the path marked with the horse’s head. We made all the signs easy for guests to follow.”
  He looked at the sign, putting his face in profile again. Shit, he was as handsome from the side as from the front. She had the unusual urge to nip at his jawline.
   “That’s smart. I wish all vacation spots did that.”
  His compliment surprised her, and she shifted her weight to her right leg, jutting out her hip. “I had to do that because our employee base isn’t large and I didn’t want to waste staff positions on golf cart drivers.”
  He turned back to her and smiled. “Another smart idea.”
   Completely uncomfortable with his praise and inviting smile, she ignored his comment. “In your office you should find enough to get started. Make a list of anything there you need as well as anything else for marking trails and suggestions for horses. I plan on having guests chauffeured from the garage to the resort in a wagon and I want to offer trail rides for those who are more adventurous. Remember, all guests will be nude, so if there are any special supplies we need in order to make sitting a horse comfortable, write them down too.”
  His smile disappeared. “Wait, you want people to ride horses while naked?”
  “Of course. This is a nudist resort.”
  “I’m sorry, but you can’t do that.”
   She opened her mouth to tell him she could do whatever she wanted, but he kept talking.
   “If a person rides naked, they will have burns not only on their legs where they brush the saddle, but also in other areas that I guarantee you they will not be happy about.”
  She pondered that for a moment. Maybe that was why no other resort offered nude horseback riding, why Buddy and Ginger had longed for that experience so much. So if she could figure it out, it would make her place even more unique than it was. “I’m sure we can come up with a way around that. We’ll go over it tonight.”
  He frowned and her stomach tensed. “Dinner is at six. Don’t be late. You don’t want to miss Selma’s cooking and you don’t want to make her mad at you either.”
  “Why Ms. Lowe?”
  “Trust me. I was late one night and I found my quesadilla riddled with hot pepper sauce so fiery it burned my mouth for two days. You’re better off not showing up at all.”
  He grinned and her stomach relaxed. “Okay, I’ll be on time.”
  “Good, and Wade…”
  “I’m not high society and I’m not married anymore, so as I said before, we can drop the Ms. Lowe.”
He bowed his head and she could have sworn he was hiding a smile, but when he looked at her, he was dead serious. “I’ll remember that, Kendra.”
  Her throat closed as he spoke her name, a strong rush of heat invading her body. Nodding once, she turned around and strode back to the building, throwing her empty shake can in the trash outside before stepping into the coolness of the resort.
   Damn, she liked the sound of her name on his lips. Staying away from that cowboy was going to be very, very hard.
Lexi Post is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of erotic romance. She spent years in higher education taking and teaching courses about the classical literature she loved. From Edgar Allan Poe's short story “The Masque of the Red Death” to Tolstoy’s War and Peace, she's read, studied, and taught wonderful classics.

But Lexi's first love is romance novels. In an effort to marry her two first loves, she started writing erotic romance inspired by the classics and found she loved it. Lexi believes there is no end to the romantic inspiration she can find in great literature. Her books are known as "erotic romance with a whole lot of story."

Lexi is living her own happily ever after with her husband and her cat in Florida. She makes her own ice cream every weekend, loves bright colors, and you will never see her without a hat.

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Marriage - Arranged and Otherwise

One of the romance novel’s best-loved themes is a marriage of convenience. Of course, in a romance novel, the marriage plays a part in bringing an unlikely couple together and the reader can be assured of the happily ever after. I have played with this theme twice now, in my western historical, TAME THE WILD WIND (currently out of print but soon-to-be-re-released!) and my Regency historical, HOW TO MARRY A ROGUE. In both stories, the heroine needs the marriage to save her from a sticky situation, and the obliging hero is always a confirmed bachelor who doesn’t think it’s a good idea.

MARRIED AT FIRST SIGHT, the new FYI channel’s show, just finished its second season with three couples who met at the altar. I was fascinated with the premise of this show, and watched every episode of season one, delighting when Jamie fell in love with Doug and cheering when Jason and Courtney realized they were meant to be. In the second season, two out of the three couples barely seemed to make it past their six weeks’ “experiment.” The third couple was doomed from the start.
While MAFS deals with not marriages of convenience but arranged ones, I realize the reason I love this show is because we get to watch the couples get to know each other, for better or for worse, and watch a relationship grow from strangers to (hopefully) a couple who truly loves each other. I like this particular trope because, just like the TV couples, the fictional hero and heroine also have to find a common ground and decide to stay together or not. Of course, being a romance novel, the answer is always to seek that happy ending.

There’s something about a wedding that makes two individuals grow into one unit. I was surprised on my own wedding day how much I felt that my husband and I were now a “real” family, even though we lived together for two years, owned a house, made a big move across the country, and shared finances already. Before our wedding, it felt like there was nothing “holding” us together. The wedding seemed to do that.

So, here’s to more weddings, marriages of convenience or not. And marriage, especially, for any couple who wants it. Weddings make individuals into families, and that should be the happily ever after for everyone.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Spring Is In the Air!

Well, here in Florida it is! I can't wait for the winter doldrums to be over, although I do find it easier to write on gloomy, dark winter days than in the hot spring and summer when outdoor activities call to me!

I have been busy getting back into the writing thing I do - I just submitted a short romance novella, a western historical, to the national romance writers organization for a new anthology that will come out next year. At 20 pages, it took me a quick two weeks to write, edit, seek corrections/advice from two fellow author friends, and submit it. If it isn't accepted (I will find out in May), I plan to extend it by another 20 pages and put it out there to you, my readers.

Mixing genres seems all the rage lately, and I've been thinking of combining a foreign character into a Regency historical romance. A good friend of mine is Indian, and she laments the lack of strong Indian heroines in traditional romances. An idea has been forming in my adventurous brain and I see a wealthy girl hoping to escape an arranged marriage and seeking the help of a confirmed bachelor who is an English sea captain working for her fiance.Some of my first attempts at romance novels involved international locations and non-English characters, and I'd like to revisit that. Maybe readers are over the tortured duke and kilt-challenged Highlander!

I hope your winter is almost over for you, and you are looking forward to new books and travels in the spring. Please enjoy the following excerpt from my new novella, RETURN TO ME, set in the American west:

“I’d heard you were back.” The lump of tears swelling in the back of her throat threatened to spill over. She inhaled a sharp breath and tasted the dust of the street. “Good for you, Garrett Kincaid. You finally made something of yourself. Goodbye.” She led Johnny by the hand and walked past him.
“Laurel, wait.” His boots scuffed the ground behind her.
“I have nothing to say to you.”
A small crowd had gathered outside the dry goods store and saloon across the street to stare at the living proof of a man who’d struck it rich in gold country. She continued toward the boarding house without looking back. Her behavior would cause speculation, but she was beyond caring.
“I have plenty to say to you, Laurel.” He strode beside her and kept pace as she broke into a slightly panicked jog.
She stopped in her tracks to confront him, not caring if she made a scene. “Get away from me, Garrett! I never want to speak to you again. What you did….”
She shivered as if she stood in the shade and the blazing sun wasn’t searing the tops of her shoulders.
“I wasn’t the only one down by the river, as I recall.” He pulled off his hat and held it to his chest. Everything around her faded. All she could see were his sharp eyes gazing steadily into hers. “We may have made a mistake back then, Laurel, but you and I both know it came out of something.”
“Came from what? Love?” She closed her eyes against the image of his face, which had been etched into her brain. “Don’t talk to me about love, Garrett. I hope that’s not why you came back here, to try and….”
“I came to make my peace with Emmett,” he interrupted. He shoved his hat upon his head again. “I’ll accept whatever punishment he wants to give me. Hell, if he wants to shoot my knees out, he can. God knows, I deserve it.” His frown deepened. “I’m not that kid I used to be, Laurel. I want to prove it to him. And to you.”
“You can’t. Prove it to him, at any rate.”
“Why not?” He glanced around the busy street–at the saloon on the corner and all the way down the dusty road to the church at the end, as if he expected Emmett to walk out of either building; two places his brother had never been. “I went to the ranch first, when I got in this morning. Some fella I never met told me Emmett had let the place. Where is he, anyway?”
“In Texas. Or Kansas.” She allowed a bitter smile to reach her lips, wallowing in the burden of misery she was about to thrust upon his broad shoulders. He could take it. He’d always been strong. Strong enough to break her heart and destroy his brother.
“When’s he coming back?”
“He’s not. Not in this life, anyway.”
“What are you saying?” His bronzed cheeks paled. The narrow creases at the corners of his eyes–brought on from years of hunting for gold–deepened. He no longer looked like the rowdy cowboy who’d stolen her heart right from under his brother. Something in his eyes changed, and, for the first time in his life, he looked strikingly like Emmett.
“He died. I don’t know how.” The words blurted from her in a torrent. “I received a letter from a doctor. I can’t recall now where he was. He’s buried there, in whatever little town he ran off to.”
His Adam’s apple bobbed and he blinked rapidly before clearing his throat. “What happened?”
She shrugged. The memories flooded her in all their familiar violence, hurling her back to the cool spring morning when she’d awakened to find every trace of Emmett gone. His horse, clothes…even his Sunday suit were missing. He’d even taken their wagon but left her with the orneriest mule that ever kicked out the back wall out of a barn. A rancher and his cowboys showed up a few days later with a lease written in Emmett’s hand, hastily scribbled on a scrap of paper, granting them permission to work the land. The rancher gave Laurel enough money to put her and Johnny up at the boarding house in town. She had enough to get her back to Boston, but she had nothing there anymore. Numb, she’d found a job as the schoolmistress when old Mrs. Henley up and died that winter.
“He left us. I don’t know if it was to find his fortune elsewhere…” Her voice dwindled off. Emmett had abandoned her just as Garrett had done. Except Emmett caught a fever in some little town somewhere and was buried in a town whose name she couldn’t remember.
Garrett shook his head slowly. “I can hardly believe it, Laurel. That doesn’t sound like Emmett.” His gaze pierced hers. “Leaving his wife and child like that. I thought if I left, he would…you’d both….” His face flushed.
“You didn’t know him the past few years, Garrett. He changed.” She bit her lip. Changed was too mild a word. In Garrett’s absence, Emmett’s pleasant moods had vanished overnight. He took to a whiskey bottle and spent less time on the ranch and more time riding the range, arriving home late at night when he thought she was asleep.
“I should have been there.” His eyes glistened. “I should never have gone.”
“No one stopped you from leaving.”
He broke her stare by focusing his attention on the shiny toes of his new rattlesnake skin boots.
“We both know why I had to go. I wasn’t doing anybody any favors sticking around.”
She straightened her shoulders and tried to remember how brave she’d been the last few years, when all she wanted to do was crawl into a hole somewhere and forget the world. But she had Johnny to care for. Sometimes, she wondered what might have happened to her had it not been for her little boy’s trusting smile. Johnny fidgeted, anxious to get out of the sun.
She nodded toward the boarding house across the street. “I can’t stay out here talking to you like this. I’m taking Johnny to our rooms. I’m glad you survived the gold fields.”
Garrett remained immobile, but his jaw clenched and unclenched a few times. He glanced down at Johnny, as if noticing the child for the first time. He dropped to one knee and held out his hand.
“Hey, there, Johnny. I’m your…your Uncle Garrett.”
Johnny stuck out his hand before Laurel could stop him. “Pleased to meet you, sir.” His little baby voice quavered.
“I want to take you and your mama to have dinner with me.” Garrett spoke solemnly to Johnny. He ignored Laurel’s shake of her head and mouthed no.
“Can we have candy, too?” Johnny bounced on his heels.
“Sure, son, we can have all the candy you want.” His face went scarlet.
Son. Although any other man could have used the term innocently enough, Garrett’s use of it jarred her. She would have held onto her stomach if she’d had a free hand. She suddenly feared she would lose her breakfast all over the street.
Garrett straightened to his full height.
“That is, if you’re willing, Laurel. I’d like to go over the situation at the ranch with you. I want to buy that rancher out of his lease.” He stuck his hands into his pockets, ruining the line of his expensively tailored coat. “I’ll take over the place. Make it the kind of ranch Emmett always wanted.”
The women by the store huddled in a group, darting disapproving glances at their usually proper schoolmarm who was now chatting away in the middle of the street with her dead husband’s handsome brother.
“Fine. You can fetch us at six. Johnny goes to bed at eight.”
He tipped his hat and gave Johnny a brief salute. He smiled at last when the little boy saluted back.
“Six it is.” He held his hat in both of his hands as they walked away.
She steeled herself not to turn and take a final look at him. Her heart thudded like a hammer in her chest, but she busied herself with balancing her packages in one arm and holding tightly to her son’s hand in the other, all the while telling herself it was good that Garrett Kincaid was ready to take on responsibilities. He might become an upstanding citizen. Maybe run for mayor, should the town fathers ever agree on the sort of governing body they wanted.
She stepped onto the shaded porch of the boarding house and steered Johnny past the men smoking their pipes and crowding the entrance.
Garrett was welcome to start all over in Broken Junction. She would just have to find a way to avoid him for the rest of her natural life.