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Antagonists – A Necessary Component To All Good Romance

It’s still Mad May on my blog, and today, I welcome Anneka Ever, a fantastic contemporary romance author, who explains why antagonists are so vital to any good story. Thank you, Anneka, for this enriching addition to Mad May!

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Antagonists. They are the anti-heroes. They entertain us because they bring conflict, a vital component of most good stories.

Think about the books, television shows, and movies you consume. Now think about them without the antagonists. Game of Thrones would be pretty boring if Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen had no one opposing their goals. The Avengers face external conflict due to antagonists like Loki and Ultron, but they also deal with internal conflict due to the clashing personalities of all the superheroes. In the quieter moments of the movies, the protagonists become antagonists. That little trick maintains conflict and enriches the plot.

That’s something that happens in romance stories. We want the couple to get together, but not right away. Those little bits of conflict between them suck us into the story. Add external conflict to it with an interesting antagonist and you’ve got a good tale.

How do you make the antagonist interesting?

Writers use difference devices. I start with the physical aspects of the person. In my novel Riverswept, I rely on the traditional symbolism of light versus dark. While hero Finnley Moran is blond, full of light and warmth, antagonist Bart Martin is dark and cold, from his clothes to his attitude.

When Molly Duncan thinks of Finn, she pictures him as Helios. “Warmth radiated from him. She remembered the first time they had made love, when she had pictured him a sun god.” Bart is the opposite of Finn. The first time she meets him, he’s dressed in dark clothes: “He wore a black blazer of Italian leather, black pants, grey shirt, and expensive-looking loafers.” He gazes at her “with a dark and serious expression.”

Even the way the men move illustrates their differences. “Why would she ever crawl into bed with Bart Martin? Sure, he was handsome in his own way, but rather starchy in his bearing. Finn, on the other hand, was so laidback that he reminded Molly of a T-shirt that had been washed too often. Tattered, but comfortable.”

Near the end of the book, Bart’s wicked personality begins to manifest itself outwardly. “Behind Finn, a dark shape emerged from the water. Covered in mud, Bart looked like a monster rising up from the depths of the Burns River. He wrapped his arms around Finn’s knees and pulled. Molly tried to hold him, but she wasn’t strong enough. His hand slipped from hers and he fell backward into the river with Bart.”

The origin of the word “antagonist” includes the concept of contending for a prize. In romance the prize may be a person or, in the case of Riverswept, the prize may be the HEA (happily ever after). Whatever the case may be, the antagonist enhances the story.

Riverswept

Riverswept Buy Link: http://www.lsbooks.com/riverswept-p1013.php

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Anneka Ever is a romance author. Her contemporary love stories are set in the mountains and small towns of Virginia. Her strong heroes and independent heroines explore their passion against the beautiful backdrop of rivers, meadows, and forests.

An award-winning poet and short story writer, Anneka brings a fresh perspective to stories of dating and relationships.

She lives in far Southwestern Virginia with her husband and three dogs.

Anneka’s website is www.AnnekaEver.com

Social media links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnekaEver

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnekaEver

Google+: https://www.google.com/+AuthorAnnekaEver

Tumblr: http://anneka4ever.tumblr.com/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/annekaeverroman/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/AnnekaEver

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Howling Good Hop – Why Write Shifters?

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Welcome to the Howling Good Hop! Be sure to enter our Rafflecopter for a chance to win one of $200 in prizes (all the way at the bottom – so keep reading!).

This is the Lightbearer stop on the Howling Good Hop. Three books in the Lightbearer Series are currently available for your reading pleasure – and Book 1 – Into the Light – is on sale for 99 cents beginning Monday, May 11!

How would you like Book 2 – FREE? Read on, check out my theories and opinions on shifters, and then in the comments, let me know: What do you love to read in a shifter book? That’s it. Give me your opinion (who knows – it could show up in a future book!), and I’ll randomly select FIVE winners on Friday, May 15. Five people will receive a FREE copy of Dawning of Light, Book 2 in the Lightbearer Series. Sound good? Read on!

Oh yeah, and there’s a bunch more free stuff. It’s a blog hop, after all. That means there are all kinds of authors, featuring all kinds of shifter books, and giving away all kinds of stuff. The participating authors are listed at the bottom of this blog, or you can skip ahead here: http://www.thesnarkology.com/howling-good-hop-2015/ 

Now – let’s talk shifters. Here’s the question: why do I write shifters? If I decided to create an entirely new magical being (Lightbearers), why did I throw shifters into the mix? The answer is simple: shifters are one of my favorite genres to read. So not coincidentally, I also happen to enjoy writing about them. They are sexy, strong, powerful, hot, did I mention sexy? They can be obsessive and overprotective, but usually those potential character flaws tend to ultimately be good for whomever they are obsessing over or protecting (just ask Carley in Light Beyond the Darkness). In my reasonably extensive research, I have learned a few things about these seductive alpha beings.

I’ve learned they all have one thing in common. All shape shifters have the ability to change from human form into…something else. And that, as far as I have been able to determine, is the single aspect that defines every single shifter in every book I’ve ever read or written. Beyond that, well, every author interprets them a little differently. Which is the way it should be, right? We’re talking magic, and magic is defined by the imagination of the person writing it.

Some shifters can only change into the form of one animal. These are typically referred to as were-animals (werewolves, were-bearers, were- you get the picture). Others are able to shift into pretty much any animal, or, as I like to explain in my books, the form of any warm-blooded being. The shifters in the Lightbearer Series can even shift into birds, if they are so inclined. This comes in handy when one wants to escape rapidly and he’s on the second floor or at the top of a cliff (both situations occur in Into the Light).

Many shifters’ clothing cannot shift with them. The clothing is either shed before the shift or, if the shift must occur with little notice, the clothing is torn to shreds when the body changes and alters, and the shifter must figure out another means of covering his naughty bits when he returns to human form.

The shifters in my books can shift while wearing clothing, and when they return to human form, their clothing returns to their body exactly as it was before the shift. I admit, I made this decision out of convenience. I considering the no-clothing route because, let’s be honest, that makes more sense, from a non-magical standpoint. But I struggled with writing the whole, “Hold on, I have to strip and hide my clothing for later” aspect into the various scenes and plots and sub-plots of the series. So I decided that if magic can make a person change from human to animal, then magic can make that person’s clothes reappear when they return to human form.

Some shifters have the ability to speak to each other telepathically. Some are able to harness other forms of magic, too. Some have glowing eyes. In my Lightbearer Series, the shifters’ eyes glow when they are feeling strong emotions. Anger, frustration, sadness, passion. Even if the shifter is trying to act stoic and passive, the object of his desire, if she is smart enough, can figure out pretty easily that he feels something, if his eyes are glowing. It’s practically a declaration of love.

Or lust.

Some shifters eat only red meat. Actually, the desire to eat red meat might possibly qualify as the second thing all shifters have in common, now that I think about it. Or maybe not. A vegetarian shifter could make for an intriguing storyline.

Many shifters have obsessive, jealous personalities. Like a dog, protecting his bone. Or his house. Or his mate. My shifters have this trait. In fact, it plays heavily into the next couple of books in the series.

I’m sure I’ve missed a few common traits. What other traits do you notice in your favorite books about shifters or weres? Which traits are your favorite? (Remember – there’s a free read at stake!)

And if you’re a fan, but haven’t read the Lightbearer Series, I encourage you to give it a try. I believe you won’t be disappointed!

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Into the LightLightbearers #1 –Into the Light 99 cents on Amazon or LSBooks or All Romance – May 11-15!

Lightbearers #2 – Dawning of Light on Amazon or LSBooks or All Romancedawningoflight_Cover

Lightbearer #3 – Light Beyond the Darkness on Amazon or LSBooks or All Romance 

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Now, don’t forget to enter the rafflecopter ($200 worth of prize!), and check out the other blogs on this hop, for other cool shifter books AND prizes:

Follow the Howling Good Hop!

1. Ellis Leigh 2. Heather Long Author
3. The Snarkology 4. Anna Lowe Books Blog
5. Brandy Walker Blog 6. Lynne Stevie
7. Lashell Collins 8. Author Crystal Rister
9. Michele Bardsley’s Blog 10. Renee George’s Blah, Blah Blog
11. Kristen Strassel 12. Lissa Matthews Blog
13. Elle Clouse 14. Tabitha Conall
15. Shauna Aura Knight 16. Author K.C. Stewart
17. Beth Caudill – Author Blog 18. Lisa Carlisle
19. Sarah Makela 20. Tami’s Thoughts
21. P.T. Macias  22. Kate Kent
23. Skye Jones Writes 24. Romance Author Amber Ella Monroe
25. Christy Gissendaner 26. The Besitary Parlor
27. Shawntelle Madison 28. Cara Carnes
29. Crystal Dawn Author 30. Bethany Shaw Novels
31. Andrea R. Cooper  32. TF Walsh
33. Lori King 34. Michelle Fox
35. Book Revue 36. Sedona Venez
37. evanleas bookshelf

 

ENTER RAFFLECOPTER CONTEST ($200 worth of prizes!!)

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Who’s the Bad Guy with Victoria Pinder

It’s Mad May, and today I’m featuring a book written by Victoria Pinder. I’ll let you in on a secret: I love, love, love books with a twist. Especially the kind of twist where the reader thinks someone else is the bad guy, when really… Boom! Surprise antagonist. The kind that keeps you reading well past a sane person’s bedtime. Did I mention how much I love books like that?

Borrowing the Doctor is THAT kind of book. First, check out the excerpt. Then, check out the blurb. Then click the buy link. You know you want to. I know I do.

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‘My sister Kate thinks she’s so much better than me. I’m the one Daddy trained to run the fashion empire, not her. I’m the one who found myself a rich guy to marry to ensure we stayed on top, no matter what. All Kate does is patronize me. She’s so stupid. I hate her. She lives in her little condo with her dog and avoids me. I sent her my wedding invitation though, so with luck she’ll come. I need her to get momma’s necklace. It’s in the bank. First I have to get her to the Grand Cayman which I can with this wedding. Second I’ll have to get her to the bank as the security box is in her name. Third I’ll have to get her to give me the necklace. Then I’ll have everything and she’ll have nothing.’

“Stephanie, where are you?”

“Here, my sweet love.”

Eric’s such an idiot. She smiled at him and lifted her shoulders as he came toward her. As he pressed his lips toward her, she sighed. At least he’s good in bed.

“What were you doing?”

“Writing in my diary.”

“Why?”

“Collecting wedding thoughts so I can ensure our day is perfect, my love.”

“My parents can’t come.”

“Why?”

“My sister is missing. My cousins will be there.”

“I sent our invitation to my sister. Part of me wants her to come. Part of me is scared she’ll ruin everything. Eric, please help me find someone who can babysit Kate and keep her out of my hair.”

“I will think of someone, sweetheart.”

He walked out of the room. She rolled her eyes. Eric was a means to an end. She needed his money, for now. She clutched her hands together. Kate Sparrow had to give her what she wanted. Stephanie Sparrow deserved to have it all.

 

 

 

Borrowing_the_Doctor_#3A_copyBorrowing the Doctor by Victoria Pinder

Link: http://amzn.to/1wc1u6X

What’s it about?

Party girl. Art thief. All around bad girl. It’s what all the newspapers call socialite and heiress Kate Sparrow. It’s all untrue. Kate’s been set up and she’s following the orders of the FBI to get the real criminal, her father. She’ll have to put up with her sister, the wedding fiasco, and her own fears that someone is after her, trying to stop her to get what she needs to prove her innocence.

Doctor Daniel Collins joins his brothers on a cruise to the wedding of his young cousin. His cousin begs him to keep a close watch on the bride’s sister, Kate. He’s to keep her from ruining the wedding.

Kate doesn’t trust Daniel’s help in her life, but the man’s interference is blocking a few problems. She lets him. After all, he spent a few years in the military and having a friend like Daniel is nice. But when her fears become true, someone is after her, pretending to be in a relationship with the sexy doctor has its benefits. What she hadn’t planned was opening her heart to trusting him. But if she doesn’t open up, she’s going to lose out on far more than her life, she’d lose out on love.

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/VUcbTGD7UnE

 

 

Victoria’s Bio:

Victoria Pinder grew up in Irish Catholic Boston then moved to Miami. Eventually, found that writing is her passion.

She always wrote stories to entertain herself. Her parents are practical minded people demanding a job, but when she sat down to see what she enjoyed doing, writing became obvious.

The Zoastra Affair, Chaperoning Paris, Borrowing the Doctor, and Electing Love, Mything the Throne and Favorite Coffee, Favorite Crush will be published in 2014.

Now she is represented by Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency.

Also she’s the Vice President for the Florida Romance Writers.

Victoria’s info, if you wanna stalk her:

Website: http://www.victoriapinder.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/victoriapinder1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/victoriapinder

Blog: http://victoriapinder.com/?cat=6

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8120316.Victoria_Pinder

 

Another Excerpt!

Daniel slid into his seat and away from Eric, but his arms remained tense. His brothers wouldn’t like this plan. He didn’t like this plan. “I’m to babysit the spoiled rich princess and keep her away from the cops and the alcohol, this trip.”

He pressed his lips together. He expected his brothers to have an opinion, but silence greeted his ears.

All eyes went back to the door.

His collar grew warmer. Daniel glanced around to stare in the same direction. He assumed Kate Sparrow had stepped into the club.

His eyes scanned the room, and then the crowds parted. He had his first look. Time might have stopped, and he heard his own heartbeat. Brown hair with a bit of a curl, brown eyes, small frame, unusually large breasts for a woman her size, and an energy that took his breath away. He also noted that Kate’s eyes held a gleam, and Daniel’s mouth fell open. Kate Sparrow was the most beautiful woman he’d seen in a long while.

Beauty meant trouble. He turned back to his beer and refused to stare at her.

The pictures in the papers hadn’t done her justice at all. How did they turn that pretty woman into a viper with a camera? His mind raced. Did she have a Jekyll and Hyde personality that came out at night?

*

 Go ahead, pick it up today. You know you want to. And when you’re done reading it, come on back to my blog. All month, I’m featuring antagonists – those characters we love to hate!

 

 

How to Write an Evil Character with Becky Lower

It’s Mad May, ladies and gentlemen, and that means this blog is all about the antagonists. Those evil characters that are often necessary to the plot of our books. Today, I welcome Becky Lower to my blog, and she’s talking about how one comes up with the idea to use unpleasant characters, and then how one formulates the personality that makes such people so truly horrendous.

Welcome, Becky!

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When I got the idea for a novel using The Pony Express as a backdrop, I knew I wanted to have a girl posing as one of the wiry riders on the trail. But in order for her subterfuge to be believable, she had to have a really compelling reason to adopt such an elaborate cover story. The answer, of course, was her evil Uncle Jack.

I’m not used to writing mean characters. I typically write romances, about two characters who meet, fall in love, and live happily ever after. At least, that’s the plan. But sometimes, my characters tell me what to do. In the case of Samantha (aka. Sam), her uncle, with whom she’d lived for two years, along with her aunt, had been abusive to her aunt, and kept leering at Samantha. When her aunt died, Samantha realized her last line of defense against Uncle Jack was gone. Time to escape.

The rest of the story involves Samantha hiding out from Uncle Jack, who is in hot pursuit. He wants her for himself before he sells her to the local bordello. I had no problem writing her fear. That was palpable. What I did struggle with was him and what had happened in his life to make him so vile. I thought of every wicked man I’d ever known and mashed them all together into Uncle Jack. There was no redeeming the man. He was nasty until the very end of the book.

While writing evil characters is not something I do every day, I like stretching my creativity, and hope I’ve created a believable character. Because, unfortunately, evil does lurk around every corner, and I may need to create another similar character in my next book.

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Buy Link:   http://amzn.to/1vZON5F

Becky Lower Author PicAuthor Bio:

Amazon best-selling author Becky Lower has traveled the country looking for great settings for her novels. She loves to write about two people finding each other and falling in love, amid the backdrop of a great setting, be it on a covered wagon headed west or in present day small town America.  Historical and contemporary romances are her specialty. Becky is a PAN member of RWA and is a member of the Historic and Contemporary RWA chapters. She has a degree in English and Journalism from Bowling Green State University, and lives in an eclectic college town in Ohio with her puppy-mill rescue dog, Mary. She loves to hear from her readers at beckylowerauthor@gmail.com. Visit her website at www.beckylowerauthor.com

Social Media Links:

Website: www.beckylowerauthor.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/becky.lower

Twitter: http://twitter.com@BeckyLower1

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/authorbeckyl/

Blog: http://beckylowerauthor.blogspot.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6159227.Becky_Lower

Amazon page: http://amzn.to/1FOy3Sd

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Be sure to check back. All month long, there will be guest authors, each featuring those characters we love to hate!

Welcome to May Madness

My name is Miguel Santiago, and I’m a Lightbearer. I’m in books 2 and 3 of the series Dawning of Light and Light Beyond the Darkness. I guess I wasn’t good enough to warrant a role in the first book, Into the Light. Whatever. Anyway, my claim to fame is that I’m the most faithful and ardent follower of the Chosen One. No one believes in him as much as I do. No one.

And now he’s dead. He’s been dead for months and I still don’t want to believe it.

Into the Light

dawningoflight_Cover LightBeyondDarkness_Cover

Now it’s May. Spring flowers and all that shit. The prelude to summer. Everybody’s all antsy, ready to spend more time outside, after the long, cold winter. Especially Lightbearers. You see, we pull our magic from the sun, and it wears out over time, so our magic needs to be constantly renewed. Why the hell the first king of the Lightbearers chose to settle in a place like western Michigan, I’ll never understand. What the hell’s wrong with the Bahamas? Or Mexico? Plenty of places to hide in Mexico, if you don’t want other beings to find you.

Like shifters. I hate those bastards. I remember during one of the first meetings I ever went to, the Chosen One told us this harrowing tale about how he was attacked by a shifter, right outside the coterie, and barely escaped alive. That’s why he hates them so much, and why he believes Lightbearers should stay inside our coterie, and we should only ever associate with our own kind.

Well, really, his hatred started when his stupid sister was born. Cecilia Druthers and her belief that everybody’s equal, everybody should be treated the same, and if our females want to defile themselves with animals like shifters, well, that’s okay too.

Bullshit.

It’s not okay. We’re Lightbearers. We have way more magic that a stupid shifter. So they can change form at will. So what? I can create a sword out of thin air. Beat that, you animal.

What pisses me off is they don’t give a shit that we have more magic. They’re still taking all our women anyway. First, the damn princess of the Lightbearers. Of all females who should be boinking a goddamned Lightbearer – she’s the one. If she has a male babe, that kid’s automatically marked as the next king. That’s just the way it is. Talk about freaking responsibility to your people.

Instead, she threw away all our customs and traditions and laws, and hooked up with a shifter. Mated with him. And then the king said it was okay. Not only that, but he freaking declared her unborn babe as the heir to the throne.

What the hell?

And then there’s Cecilia. The Chosen One’s baby sister. Her parents couldn’t handle her, so they pawned her off on the king and queen, so naturally she turned out just like her cousin, the princess. Actually, Cecilia’s worse. She was something like fifteen when she got caught sneaking out of the coterie to go hook up with some human. At least until the princess, Olivia, met that bastard shifter, Tanner Lyons, she had planned to do her duty by her people. Cecilia never cared about duty a day in her life.

And I’m mated to another one of her cousins. Carley. She’s a hot little number, I suppose, if you like ‘em bitter and cold. She’s another one that thinks my Chosen One is wrong. That it’s okay to associate with beings outside the coterie. Humans. Shifters.

That it’s okay to screw them.

Well guess what, mate? It’s not okay. And I’m gonna make sure you know it. You and your shifter lover.

Get ready. I’m comin’ for you.

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Note from the author: I would like to humbly apologize for any insults Miguel Santiago may have spewed during this post. While it’s true that I created him, my intention was to keep him within the pages of his books. I certainly did not expect he would figure out a way to take over my blog and terrify everyone with his hatred and evil thoughts. If it helps at all, I have no intention of letting him get his way again.

I hope.

At any rate, welcome to Mad May! All month long on my blog, we’ll feature antagonists or heroes and heroines who definitely need a little redeeming before they can truly experience their happily ever after. Because that’s what it’s about, right? Everybody desires an HEA.

Okay, not everybody.

There are some people – in real life and in books – who most definitely do not deserve a happily ever after. Miguel Santiago, I think you’ll agree, is one such person.

Keep checking back. All month long, it’s nothing but antagonists or heroes and heroines who *definitely* need a little redeeming…

 

Shift Happens

Have you ever had a bad day? Like a really, really bad day?

Ellie, the heroine in Shift Happens, is having the grand pappy of bad days. For one, it’s raining. Frizzy hair? Check. For another, a gorgeous billionaire just visited her nail salon. Sounds good, right? See the aforementioned bad hair day. When said billionaire offers to buy her shop, Ellie’s day goes from bad to worse. Two million dollars sounds like a good deal, but the transaction comes to an abrupt halt when the baddies show up and riddle her shop with bullets.

Poor Ellie. Gal can’t catch a break.

Now she’s on the run with a sexy stranger, unsure when she’ll make it back to Atlanta. But there’s always the flip side. Jackson, her unexpected savior, is gorgeous and intent on making her his. His friends aren’t that bad either. Now if they can just find a way to protect Jackson’s invention and stay alive.

Shift Happens is book one in a brand new series, I Heart Shifters. Each installment will be short, hot, and funny as heck. I’m excited about this project, and I hope everyone gets a kick out of Ellie’s antics.

Thank you to Tami for having me today! I’m always pleased to visit new sites, and I hope you can come visit me soon.

 

Shift Happens 

Shift Happens (I Heart Shifters, Book 1)

Christy Gissendaner

 What’s this book about?

Ellie Reynolds runs a nail salon that caters to shifters of all varieties. The proverbial shift hits the fan when billionaire mogul Jackson Lawrence walks in the door and offers Ellie two million dollars to sell her shop. Ellie has no intention of selling out, especially to someone who plans to bulldoze her shop to the ground and replace it with a fast food joint. Their battle of wit and will is brought to a sudden halt when Jackson’s enemies appear, throwing them into a fight for their lives.

Jackson believed he’d left violence behind when he resigned his position with the Blood Wolves, a secret shifter military group, but someone wants his company’s cyber invention and will stop at nothing to get it. He didn’t mean to drag Ellie into his mess, but he’s willing to do anything to protect her and the firewall his friend created…anything except fight his attraction to the outspoken redhead he’s suddenly responsible for. Jackson soon learns Ellie is hotter than he first gave her credit for…like dragon hot…and life is about to get a whole lot more interesting.

Sometimes shift happens when you least expect it.

 Buy Links:

http://www.etopiapress.com/brands/Christy-Gissendaner.html

http://www.amazon.com/Christy-Gissendaner/e/B002BLS3IC/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_17?qid=1429574475&sr=8-17

 

Check out this tasty excerpt (see – there’s my Appetizing April reference!): 

At exactly eight forty, Jackson returned to the counter. “According to previously stated policy, your eight thirty appointment is canceled. May I speak with you now?”

She glared at him but finally relented. “Fine. But if Mrs. Sussman shows up, you’re out of here.”

He lifted an eyebrow and nodded. “Fair enough. Your animosity is a bit of a mystery, but I think you’ll be happy once you hear what I have to say.”

His assessment was spot-on. What was it about him that pricked her ire, besides the overwhelming libidinal response? Typically she wasn’t a hateful sort of person, but instinctively she knew she had to be careful around him. He threw her off-balance, and she didn’t like the feeling. “I’m sure you’re used to women falling over themselves to talk to you, but I’m not your typical female.”

He smirked. “I can tell.”

A flush burned her from head to toe at the implication. She wasn’t skinny or particularly beautiful, but damn, couldn’t he show a bit of interest? She had big boobs, after all. What man didn’t like big boobs? Unless he was—

She glanced at him. Nope. Definitely not gay.

Wait. What was she doing? Did she want him to show interest?

Oh God, she did.

“Is there a place we can go to talk?”

She plucked a piece of lint from her smock and flicked it away. “Here’s fine. Say your piece. I’m a busy woman.”

Another smile crossed his face, soul-shattering because this time it was directed at her. “I like you, Ellie Reynolds.”

Something was wrong with her knees. Had to be. They kept giving out on her. Was twenty-five too young to have arthritis? Was it even possible for her to have it? Suddenly she wished she’d paid more attention when her mother taught her about her shifter heritage, if only for medical purposes.

In an effort to maintain control of the conversation, she borrowed one of her Nana’s favorite expressions. “Stop blowing smoke up my ass and get on with it.”

The tolerant light in his eyes extinguished. She wouldn’t have believed it if she hadn’t seen it herself, but his entire demeanor transformed, becoming the man she recognized on the cover of business and financial magazines, the man who bought and sold property for a living. “I want to buy Polished.”

Shock held her immobile. “What would a savvy businessman like you need with a small-time salon?”

“I have an investment opportunity, but I need your building to complete the transaction. I can’t go into further details. Contract negotiations, you understand.”

Actually she didn’t. She’d bought Polished, scoring a hell of a deal when the previous owner died and the son agreed to take a low-ball offer. “I see. How much are you offering?”

Not that she would consider it, but it couldn’t hurt to ask.

“Two million dollars.”

She choked on her spit. “Come again?”

Want more? How about another (sexier) excerpt?

Rain kept up a staccato rhythm on the tin roof, and her supersensitive hearing picked out every drop. She’d never be able to sleep like this, not while her mind was racked by thoughts of Jackson. The situation was laughable. She should be more worried about her safety and instead all she could think about was the fine-looking man in the room across the hall, like the perfect dimples in his cheeks when he smiled really big, or the perfect symmetry of his gorgeous face. And that ass. She could bounce a quarter off that ass.

She groaned as the familiar heat filled the place between her thighs. She needed something to take her mind off Jackson.

Milk. That’s what she needed. A nice, cool glass of milk.

Well, what she really needed was her vibrator, but it was at home, tucked safely away in her drawer under a bundle of handmade scarves that she’d bought and never worn.

Ellie slid out of bed and tugged the hem of the too-short nightgown. She’d picked out a size eight when she was more like a twelve, so Jackson wouldn’t know her true clothing dimensions. When he’d gone to pay for the items she’d chosen, he’d merely lifted an eyebrow but wisely chosen not to say anything. Could she help it if she’d been born with a fondness for sweets? Blame Nana’s genes, not her own lack of will.

Speaking of sweets, cookies would be nice too. She wondered if Jackson had any in the cabinets. He seemed to keep the Montevallo home stocked with foodstuffs since they hadn’t had to stop for groceries.

A few minutes later, with chocolate chip cookies clutched in both hands and a mug of milk hooked around her thumbs, she crept back down the hall toward her room. She bent her head to take a bite of a cookie and lost her grip on the drink. She cursed when the mug fell out of her hands. The milk spilled across her toes and the ceramic shattered when it hit the wooden planks.

“Ellie!” Jackson jerked his bedroom door open and appeared in the doorway, disheveled and entirely too yummy. He wore nothing but boxers and oh geez, he had a six-pack. A perfectly lickable six-pack that made her mouth and sex water. She hoped she wouldn’t drool, although it was a distinct possibility.

“I’m sorry for waking you.”

Jackson ran a hand over his shorn hair. “Fuck. I thought they’d found us.”

“Nope, just the cookie monster.” She held up the cookies in her hands and grimaced. How embarrassing. “Want one?”

He came forward until their toes touched. Hers, milky and chilled. His, warm and dry. She wanted to feel her feet wrapped around his beneath the covers. She wanted to feel everything of his beneath the covers, actually.

His thumb brushed the corner of her lips. “Chocolate,” he explained right before he licked his finger.

Damn her knees. Useless joints that they were. “Umm.”

And damn her larynx for not working properly.

His gaze dropped and she suddenly realized she was in the too-short, too-tight nightgown. Her boobs stretched the cotton material and she didn’t need to look down to know she was nipping. If she turned around, he could probably tell she wasn’t wearing panties. She’d never been so self-conscious before, but never had she been in the presence of a hot-ass canine shifter who was practically naked.

Jackson’s expression turned predatory. His cheeks seemed to hollow out, becoming more pronounced, and his nostrils flared as if he’d caught a whiff of something. Perhaps it was her. The quick shower she’d taken had been hours before. Then again, no panties. Perhaps he smelled her scent. She clamped her thighs tight together and prayed he didn’t laugh. The situation was embarrassing enough without suffering unrequited lust.

“Ellie.” He spoke her name again, but it was low-pitched and soft.

Oh God. She wanted to eat the cookies in his bed. But later. Much, much later. “Yeah?”

“I owe you something.” He slid a hand around her waist and cupped the upper swell of her butt. His fingers spread out in a proprietary manner, as if he was sure of his welcome. “I wanted to wait until all this shit was over, but you’re killing me. I can’t hold out any longer.”

Neither could she. She went up on tiptoe and puckered her lips. He stared at her as he traced the seam of her lips with his index fingers. “I think you misunderstand the type of kiss I want from you.”

About the Author:

Christy Gissendaner is a paranormal and contemporary romance author who believes laughter and love should go hand in hand.

 

Christy lives in Alabama with her husband and three sons. She’s always hard at work on her next novel, but in her spare time she loves blackjack, karaoke, and anything resembling a vacation!

 

Christy G Author PicTo find out more, please visit http://christygissendaner.webs.com

http://www.twitter.com/christygis

http://www.facebook.com/christygis

http://www.goodreads.com/christygissendaner

Do you love it? I do! Shift Happens has everything I love in a good book: shifters, sex, and humor. Not to mention the promise of more!

Okay, after you’ve gotten yourself hooked on Christy Gissendaner’s latest book, head on back to my blog, as next month is Mad May, and you don’t want to miss all the antagonists we have for you. Love them or hate them, you know you can’t resist them…

In the meantime, happy reading!

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Magic and Food Featuring New Release Light Beyond the Darkness

It’s here, it’s here! Light Beyond the Darkness, Lightbearer #3, is finally available for purchase! And conveniently for this month’s blog theme, Appetizing April, this book happens to be about a chef. Carley and Reid meet in – of all places – a restaurant, where she inadvertently attracts him with her special steak rub. Below is an excerpt from the beginning of the book. This is when Reid sees Carley for the first time… Let me know what you think!

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LightBeyondDarkness_Cover

Her. 

He stopped and stared. Take away the magical sparks dancing over her skin, and he supposed she wasn’t particularly exceptional-looking. In fact, it appeared she was doing her best to downplay whatever positive attributes she might possess. The hair severely pulled away from her face, the lack of makeup, the oversize chef’s coat, all lay proof to his suspicions. He knew nothing of other magical beings, but he knew enough about females in general to know that they tended to play up what they considered their best features, not tone them down.

Despite this, Reid found himself attracted to her, even from halfway across the room, without so much as a word spoken between them.

He’d never considered that he might be attracted to a specific type of being. Until just a few months ago, he would have assumed his type was simply female shifter. Prior to this foray into the human world, he’d never lain with any females other than shifters. Human women were new to him, so he hadn’t yet determined if he desired a specific type of human female. And never in his wildest fantasies had he imagined he would run into a lightbearer and actually wonder, Is this my type?

She recognized his presence while he was still trying to come to terms with the reality of seeing a lightbearer in the flesh, standing a few feet away. The only other time that had happened was last summer, when Quentin Lyons had captured one, and his son then escaped with her. That had ultimately led to Quentin’s death, his pack being dispersed, and the various members being assigned to new, smaller packs. Reid had left before that occurred. He had no wish to learn the ways and rules of a new pack master. Not after what he’d gone through with the last one.

This experience was far different from Reid’s only other experience with a lightbearer. The last one had been a prisoner and had been sentenced to die, because Quentin believed that whoever killed her would inherit her magic. A shifter with magic above and beyond the ability to change forms at will. It was a heady concept.

This lightbearer was—apparently—the head chef at one of Chicago’s most popular restaurants. Living in the human world. He’d noticed no other trace of magic aside from hers, so he suspected she lived there alone, without the protection of others of her own kind. How had it taken Quentin forty years to find one, if they lived among the humans like this? If her steak was as good as Reid suspected it was, he could not fathom that a shifter or two had not stumbled across this particular restaurant before. Shifters loved their red meat, and considering their typically obsessive personalities, they would go to great lengths to try a delicious steak dinner.

At least Reid would.

In the space of a handful of heartbeats, she was surrounded by humans, both female and male, and none with particularly welcoming expressions on their faces.

“Hey, no civilians back here, buddy,” one human sharply announced. She had blue-black hair, heavy dark makeup, and piercings in every visible orifice. She reminded him a little of some of the female shifters he knew.

He was amused by the way she stood slightly in front of the lightbearer, almost as if she expected an attack. But surely not? All magical beings understood one overriding rule: never tell the humans about the magical side of your nature.

The lightbearer had yet to speak, although he could tell by her widened eyes, rapid breathing, and the stench of fear in the air that she knew precisely what he was.

“I only wanted to compliment the chef,” he said, his gaze fixed on the lightbearer.

She lifted a hand and cupped her narrow, smooth neck, as her eyes widened farther and her breathing escalated a notch or two.

“Usually people do that without actually leaving their seats,” the dark-haired human woman said. “And you need to get out of our kitchen. It’s a health-code violation for you to be back here.”

He could care less about anyone’s health except that lightbearer’s. He had no specific code, not anymore. And if there was to be any violating around here…

He stepped forward, extended his hand, and bowed his head slightly, not an act of submission, but an act of acknowledgment. I know you’re afraid. I don’t intend to hurt you. 

She did not accept his gesture. If anything, she shrank away even more.

“Order—oh.” A server hustled through the swinging doors and then stopped short when she spotted Reid standing there. One of the other chefs extended his arm across the stainless-steel counter and snagged the meal ticket from her hand. Then he turned and shoved it at the lightbearer, clearly trying to pull her attention away from Reid.

“We need to get back to work, Carley,” he said. “The orders are starting to back up.”

Carley. Was that the lightbearer’s name? Reid continued to stand there, continued to watch her. Wisps of silver-blonde hair stuck out from under her chef’s hat, which was a tall, white paper contraption that perched at a jaunty angle on her head. While everyone else in the room looked sweaty and bordering on exhaustion, she looked as fresh as a spring breeze.

Magic. Only magic could keep someone looking so damn unaffected amidst the chaos of a popular restaurant kitchen on a Friday evening.

“I’d like to speak to you,” he said, his gaze never wavering. “Alone.”

She shook her head and accepted the ticket that was thrust into her hands. She looked down, read what was scribbled there, and finally spoke to him.

“That isn’t possible,” she said without looking up from the ticket. And then she apparently decided to act as if he wasn’t there, and began issuing orders to the humans, each one scrambling to do as she commanded.

It was fascinating to watch. Until the spunky human woman with the blue-black hair stepped in front of him and stood on her tiptoes so she could get in his face.

“Look, buddy. If you don’t leave our kitchen, we’re going to call the cops. Great meal or not, you don’t belong back here.” She glared at him, not intimidated in the least.

It was almost refreshing. Nearly everyone was intimidated by him, and he rarely bothered to disabuse people of the notion that he might strike them down at any moment. He rather liked the fact that most people—magical or otherwise—were too frightened or nervous to get close to him. He was not fond of personal contact.

“Carley,” he murmured, repeating the name he’d heard the human male say a moment ago. “Did she make my steak?”

“Yeah,” the woman said with obvious impatience. “She makes all the steaks here. It’s one of her specialties. Now, can you go back to your table?”

“What else does she do?”

She gave him a peculiar look. “What do you mean?”

“What other plates? What are her other specialties?”

“Oh.” The human considered his question for a moment. “She makes a mean beef stew,” she decided. “And duck. Amazing duck. And key lime pie. I know it sounds weird, because it seems like such a simple dish, but her key lime pie is just out of this world.”

Duck. He loved duck. “Key lime pie?” he repeated out loud. He didn’t often eat dessert. There usually wasn’t meat in dessert. “Maybe I’ll give it a try,” he decided, and then he asked, “How often does she work?”

“You’re awfully damned obsessed, you know that?”

“So I’ve been told.”

~~~

 Intrigued? If you haven’t read the first two books in the series, I strongly suggest you read them first, as there are several overarching plots that make a lot more sense when you read them in order. Besides, according to the reviews, you’re bound to become addicted! Here’s the book info, in order:

LightbearerSeries4x6

Lightbearer Series by Tami Lund

Into the LiInto the Lightght

dawningoflight_CoverDawning of Light

LightBeyondDarkness_CoverLight Beyond the Darkness

And if you wanna stalk me on social media, here are the ways:

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ TSU ~ Pinterest (FYI, there’s a Lightbearer inspiration board!) ~ Newsletter Signup  (I only send one per month)

Thanks for reading! Be sure to check back tomorrow, when I feature another author and another yummy recipe on my Appetizing April Blog!

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Shore Feels Like Food with Annette Mardis

Thanks so much, Tami, for hosting me. My contemporary romance series is set in the fictional west-central Florida beach town of Gulf Shore, where you’ll feel sugary white sand between your toes, the warm sun on your shoulders, and a sea breeze ruffling your hair.

You’ll meet swoon-worthy alpha males who aren’t embarrassed to cuddle a rescued baby dolphin in their muscular arms, and accomplished women looking for an equal partner who thinks that smart is sexy.

You’ll get up close and personal with sea life, join the “snipe and gripe” club for girls’ nights out, dine on local seafood specialties, and fall in love with a talking parrot who acts like a little boy in a bird suit.

You’ll go behind-the-scenes at the local aquarium and out to the beach to rescue marine animals in distress. And once you visit Gulf Shore, you just may find yourself wishing you could stay.

The Shore Thing

Like many of us, Danielle “Dani” Davidson, leading lady of The Shore Thing, Gulf Shore Book 1, is tired at the end of her workday at Gulf Shore Aquarium. As an education specialist, she’s on her feet all day, giving tours, interacting with guests, and in general teaching people about marine life. The last thing Dani wants to do when she gets home is cook a big meal. So she relies a lot on her trusty slow-cooker.

One of her favorite sources of easy dinner ideas is the Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook: Feasting with Your Slow Cooker by Dawn J. Ranck and Phyllis Pellman Good. Dani particularly is partial to this pizza rice recipe contributed by Sue Hamilton of Minooka, IL.

 ~~~

Makes six servings

Pizza Rice 

2 cups rice, uncooked

3 cups chunky pizza (or pasta) sauce

2 ½ cups water

7-oz. can mushrooms, undrained

4 oz. pepperoni, sliced

1 cup grated cheese

 

  1. Combine rice, sauce, water, mushrooms, and pepperoni. Stir.
  2. Cover. Cook on low ten hours or on high six hours. Sprinkle with cheese before serving.

 

Dani likes her pizza rice with extra tomato flavor, so she adds a 14.5-ounce can or two of crushed or diced tomatoes. And for a little more oomph, she often supplements the recipe with black or green olives. Pizza rice can be a tasty side dish or a main course. And it’s a great contribution to a potluck meal or a party.

Dani is all for sharing her pizza rice with someone special in her life. But she vows to just say no to workplace romances after her first post-college job is soured by a messy breakup with a manipulative coworker at a fish hatchery. That’s just one reason she doesn’t trust any man with her heart, let alone one who swims with sharks for a living. So why can’t she get cameraman Evan Sanders out of her mind?

Evan is twice shy, too, after an alluring but self-absorbed colleague at the aquarium takes a bite out of his heart. Thought he’s dead set against dating anyone else he works with, he’s intrigued by Dani’s shyness and tempted by her intelligence and low-key sexiness.

Their attraction smolders until an unfortunate encounter with a stingray sends Dani to the emergency room and Evan steps up to help her through her recovery. The two also bond over the rescue of an orphaned baby dolphin. But will Evan’s vindictive ex-lover, his career ambitions, and Dani’s inhibitions tear the young lovers apart?

Marine biologist Monica Sims, the woman who trampled Evan’s heart, decides to mend her mean girl ways after her bad behavior makes her a pariah among her coworkers. She spends months reinventing herself as she seeks redemption.

A history of failed relationships leaves Monica leery of romantic involvement until she meets Cosby Williams, the new co-owner of Nauti-Toys Watercraft Rentals. Their story unfolds in Shore Feels Right, Gulf Shore Book 2.Shore Feels Right

When Monica finds out that Cosby is living on a steady diet of burgers, foot-long subs and pizza, she takes him to task for his unhealthy bachelor cuisine.

“That’s no way to eat,” she scolds.

“Good thing you came along or I might starve,” he teases.

“I’m serious. You need to treat yourself better than that,” she insists. “It doesn’t take much effort to stick a pork loin roast or a couple of chicken breasts into a slow cooker before you leave for work. Or just throw together a salad when you get home.”

“Salad? That’s chick food.” At her indignant look, Cosby grins and winks.

“So buy precooked chicken or beef strips to throw in with the greens if your inner carnivore can’t conceive of an evening meal without meat,” Monica suggests.

She invites Cosby over for dinner and prepares Asian-marinated baked chicken, which she describes as “nothing fancy, but very tasty.”

“You soak the meat overnight in soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and a little brown sugar,” she explains. “Then you bake it for forty minutes. So simple, even a marine biologist can do it.”

As a side dish, Monica serves her favorite veggie, green beans, which just happens to be Cosby’s preference on the rare occasions he eats something green. To spice them up, they drizzle some of the marinade over the beans.

Like most couples, Monica and Cosby get to know each other over a few good meals. They first dine together at the aquarium’s Gulf Breeze Café, where they order Asian chicken salads for lunch. Their first dinner is at a seafood restaurant called Captain Clem’s.

Cosby can’t believe Monica favors the place. The ramshackle exterior resembles an old bait and tackle shop, and the view doesn’t improve when they stroll through the front door. Crab traps, fishing nets, floats, rubber boots, and other work-worn gear cover the walls and hang from the ceiling, and most of the seating is crude picnic-style tables.

It’s not exactly a quiet, romantic interlude, but the food at least makes up for it. Cosby gobbles down a succulent pile of fried shrimp and clams, while Monica opts for broiled grouper.

As things heat up between the pair, Gulf Shore Aquarium responds to the stranding of a group of pilot whales. When a billionaire bachelor lends his private plane to the rescue effort, Monica catches his eye—and an obsession is born.

How will she cope with the unwanted attention? And will her past sins come back to doom her newfound happiness with Cosby?

~~~

 Well, what do you think? You had to know food would be involved in books based on the Gulf, right? I bet that pizza rice recipe would be delicious with shrimp as one of the toppings! Oh, and heads up: get to reading these two books, because I hear rumor number three is releasing this summer! Click HERE to check out Annette’s books on Amazon. And if you want to stalk her, the means are below. Enjoy your reading – and eating!

Connect with Annette

Annette Mardis

Website: www.annettemardis.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorAnnetteMardis

Twitter: @AnnetteMardis48

Amazon: www.amazon.com/Annette-Mardis/e/B00E5UHPMM/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/annettemardis/

Smashwords: www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Shelbypie

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=221177296&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile_pic

Google+ https://plus.google.com/+AnnetteMardis/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nx6WNGA94bQ

~~~

I hope you’ve enjoyed these Appetizing April posts. The next one will be April 27 – and will feature my latest release, Light Beyond the Darkness, Lightbearer #3. The hero and heroine meet in a restaurant, of all places. I’ll post an excerpt, for your reading pleasure. Until then, happy reading!

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