Mistletoe Madness Blog Hop – The Joys of a Victorian Christmas

Holiday Giveaway 2013-2

Trimming the Christmas tree is a favorite tradition in my family. Every year, I relish the chance to reflect on cherished memories triggered by ornaments that have a sentimental place in my heart and add to my ornament collection with new and beautiful acquisitions that will someday become treasured favorites. I can’t imagine Christmas without a beautiful tree. Without the influence of the Victorians, decorated Christmas trees as well as many other holiday favorites  might never have become beloved traditions.

Victorian Christmas traditions were centered around the family. Of these enduring celebrations, perhaps the most beloved is the Christmas tree. Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert,  brought the custom of a decorated Christmas tree from his German homeland. Not long after his marriage to Victoria, Prince Albert had the first Christmas tree displayed in Windsor Castle in 1841. Several years later, the Illustrated London News published a drawing of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their children celebrating the holiday with a Christmas tree, and soon thereafter, families throughout England boasted a decorated tree during the Christmas season.

Many other popular Christmas traditions became popular during Victoria’s reign. Some of these include:

* Christmas Cards ~ the combination of the halfpenny postage rate, which allowed a letter or card to be mailed throughout England inexpensively, and the advances in affordable color printing technology brought Christmas cards to popularity. By 1880, more than eleven million cards were produced each year.

* Exchanging Christmas Presents ~ The giving of small gifts at New Year’s shifted to become a central part of the Victorian holiday tradition. Gifts were given and placed under the tree in anticipation of the holiday.

* Christmas Carols ~ Yet another Victorian tradition, the singing of favorite holiday songs (which were at the time new and popular hits) to mark the holiday season emerged during this era, as did the custom of traveling in groups from house to house to joyously sing Christmas carols.

* Christmas Vacation ~ During the Victorian era, middle class families began the tradition of taking time off from work to spend with their families.

* Mistletoe ~ Who can resist a kiss beneath the mistletoe? This girl certainly can’t! What a lovely holiday tradition!

Secrets, Spies & Sweet Little LiesThese are just a few of the more popular Victorian holiday traditions that continue to endure today. In the spirit of gift giving, I’ll be giving away a Kindle copy of Secrets, Spies & Sweet Little Lies to one commenter each day. Simply leave a comment about your favorite holiday traditions for a chance to win. I’ll announce a winner for each day, December 13 – 20.

Make sure you stop by the Mistletoe Madness contest page to enter to win the Grand Prize, including a Best Buy gift certificate. Follow the link to enter:


Be sure to check out the fabulous authors participating in this blog hop:

Visit the Mistletoe Madness Blog hop 2013 main page to enter to win the Grand Prize! Click Here

PJ Schnyder – steamy Laura Kaye – steamy Christi Barth – steamy Katee Robert – steamy Monica Burns – steamy
Christina Wolfer – steamy Cat Johnson – steamy Delphine Dryden – steamy Vivi Dumas – steamy Gabriella Edwards – steamy
Dana Marie Bell – steamy Christine dAbo – steamy Stephanie Flash Burke – steamy Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences – all ages Romance with Flavor – steamy
Simply Ali – steamy Joyfully Reviewed – steamy Books Make Me Happy – steamy Literary Escapism – steamy Sinfully Tasty Reads – steamy
Romancing Rakes For The Love of Romance – steamy Thats What Im Talking About – steamy Read-Love-Blog – steamy The Book Tart – steamy Trinity Blacio – steamy
Eliza Knight – steamy Misa Buckley – all ages Leah Braemel – steamy Jodi Redford – steamy Amy Joy Lutchen – all ages
Whos Reviews – all ages AllisonGamblin.com – all ages Books Make Me Happy – all ages C. Margery Kempe – steamy Tiffany Allee – all ages
Anna Daye – steamy Val Griswold-Ford – all ages Heather Long, Author – all ages Nicole Zoltack – all ages Robyn Neeley – all ages
Sarah Grimm – steamy Ambrielle Kirk – steamy Tonya Burrows – all ages Selena Laurence – all ages Rachel Rawlings – all ages
TrulySimplyPink – all ages Kary Rader – all ages In The Pages of a Good Book – steamy Kait Ballenger – all ages Zany PNR Addict – steamy
Tara Kingston – steamy Mina Vaughn, Author – steamy Hilary Storm, Author – steamy Andrea Michelle – steamy Kiss And Tell Reviews – steamy
the passionate reader – all ages Emma Shortt – steamy

Merry Christmas! May you have a wonderful holiday season!


Drumroll Please: Cover Reveal – Pistols, Parasols & Passionate Little Lies

The second book in the Secrets & Spies series will be making its debut next week…I’m impatient, so I couldn’t wait that long to share the gorgeous cover. I just love it! Pistols, Parasols & Passionate Little LIes

So beautiful! Share your thoughts about the cover, and you might win the first book in the Secrets & Spies series, Secrets, Spies & Sweet Little Lies. One lucky commenter will win a Kindle copy of the book. Already have Secrets, Spies & Sweet Little Lies? No problem – if your name is chosen, you’ll be one of the very first to receive a digital copy of Pistols, Parasols & Passionate Little Lies when it takes its bow in the very near future.

Here’s a little about Pistols, Parasols & Passionate Little Lies:

Sometimes, even a spy needs a hero.

Like any good secret agent, Amanda Emerson knows how to get what she wants—in this case, a man with guts and a gun—a man heroic enough to break a notorious double agent out of a Confederate prison. But first, she’ll have to save her hero’s own neck.

Caught with Rebel plans and set for a hanging, Union spy Steve Dunham’s luck has run out—until a cunning beauty shows up at the jail and engineers his escape. Of course, she’s there for a reason besides preventing him from dangling at the end of a noose—he’s the key to her daring scheme.

Steve may be trading one execution for another, but the tempting—and off limits—operative draws him into the perilous mission. Falling for Amanda is a complication he can’t afford, but Steve’s never been one to play it safe. The spoils of victory will be Amanda’s surrender. And the terms of surrender promise to be sultry and sweet.

Pistols, Parasols & Passionate Little Lies will be available soon! Look for details later this week.

Cover Reveal – Tracey Devlyn’s Latymer

I’m thrilled to share Tracey Devlyn’s cover for her upcoming romantic thriller, Latymer. Tracey will be giving away an Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card (winner’s choice) for $15 during her Cover Reveal Splash.  For a chance to win, enter the Rafflecopter below.

And now, the cover you’ve been waiting for:

Latymer Cover

Here’s a look at the story:

Traitor or savior…or something far more devastating?

William Townsend, Lord Latymer, lost the woman he loved because of his greed and his ultimate deception of two powerful countries. Now, he must protect his nine-year-old son from the same fate. Latymer has only one chance to escape his enemies—board a ship that would carry them both to America and a new life. But first he must find his missing son, elude a vengeful grieving brother, and kill a beautiful French assassin. Time is slipping through his fingers and Latymer has twelve hours before his ship and his future sail away.

And a terrific excerpt:

Releasing a breath, Latymer moved from room to room, floor to floor, sifting through the evening shadows with painstaking precision. White linens draped every piece of furniture, making the once-happy atmosphere feel more like that of a dreary mausoleum.

He saved Lydia’s bedchamber for last. Had he been stronger, he would have gone there first, knowing if Giles had managed to find his way home, he would’ve sought the comfort of his mother’s chamber. An instinctual response for any child, especially one who’d suffered so much.

But Latymer’s courage began to flag the moment he placed his boot on the first stair. Although he could ignore the grief, he hadn’t been able to control the longing. After the French had kidnapped Giles and forced Lydia to spy on Somerton for them, he’d come here often. This house, their possessions, her bedchamber—the only links he had left to his lover and his son. Once he’d learned of her death, he’d stopped coming.

He stared at Lydia’s bedchamber door now, praying Giles was within. If he lost his son to the French, as he’d lost the woman he loved, not even Bonaparte would be safe from his vengeance.

Turning the handle, he eased the door open and slipped inside. Low, flickering light caught his eye. “Giles?”

“No, darling, not Giles.”

Collette. His heart sank like a bag of tarnished coins into his gut.

How had she known to come here? Had she followed Giles? His gaze slashed around the chamber, searching for his son.

Nothing, nothing, nothing.

The lamplight grew stronger. “Looking for someone?” Collette’s bloodred lips tipped up into a taunting smile.

“Where is he?”

Sitting at Lydia’s dressing room table, Collette reached for a silver comb that lay next to a small pistol. She slid the hairpiece into her mass of dark locks, twisting her head one way, then the other, inspecting her handiwork. He’d given the comb to Lydia on her birthday five years ago. Seeing the special piece in his enemy’s possession sent fire streaking through his veins.

She met his gaze in the looking glass. “He?”

“Don’t play games with me, Collette. What have you done with my son?”

“We will get to him later.” She rose and turned to face him. “First, let us discuss the unfinished business you have yet to attend to.”

“There is no later. If you know where my son is, tell me now.” The steel in his voice drew forth two new bodyguards—one from the corridor and one from the dressing room—both as large as the last two he’d dispatched. “It appears you purchase your brawn in bulk.”

Her eyes twinkled. “So much more convenient that way. Now, about that unfinished business . . .”

“Oh, for God’s sake.” He threw up his hands. “The damned list does not exist. When will your superiors listen?”

She reached for the pistol. “We’re no longer interested in the piece of paper.”

“Then what?”

“Give it some thought, darling. I’m sure that brilliant mind of yours will come up with the answer.”

Latymer considered the last few weeks and the various attempts the French had made to raze the Nexus organization. They had been unsuccessful thus far, but that would not stop them. There could be only one individual they wanted more than a list of agents. “Somerton.”

She sent him an appreciative smile. “Very good, my lord. Bring him to me.”

He and Somerton had a long history of working together at the Alien Office—until Somerton realized Latymer was aiding the French. Even though Somerton was now his enemy, he was the one person Latymer trusted. To betray Somerton once again would be difficult, though not impossible. To save Giles, he would do whatever it took. But first, he had to uncover what Collette knew about his son’s whereabouts—if anything. “Show me my son first.”

“That’s not how this works, Latymer, and you know it,” Collette purred, clearly enjoying having the upper hand.

When he’d met Collette many years ago in London, fresh out of the schoolroom, she’d exuded a raw, untamed sensuality. Four days after meeting her, Latymer had taken her to bed and had spent several hours tutoring her in the carnal arts. She had been a quick and enthusiastic pupil.

Although extraordinary, her beauty had not been the reason for his interest. No, he had enticed Collette into his bed to coax from her information about her new husband and his associates within the French government. Two months into their affair, she discovered his duplicity. Undeterred, she’d asked questions . . . a lot of questions. And then she’d disappeared. Their paths crossed a few more times over the years, and every time he saw her he had been fascinated by her transformation—from innocent to victim, to predator, to killer.

“You expect me to bring one of the most dangerous men in Britain to you without any assurance that my son is even alive?”

Nodding, she lifted the pistol in his direction. “Yes, that is exactly what I’m saying.” She began to move toward him, one provocative step at a time. “You have a perfect understanding of the situation.”

“If I do what you want, I’m free of further harassment from your emperor?”

“Harassment? I do not recall you being so harsh last time we worked together.” Her gaze roamed down his frame leisurely, thoroughly, seductively.

Despite the seriousness of the situation, Latymer’s body took notice. One sultry look. That’s all it had taken to awaken memories of their brief affair. She knew how to pleasure a man and how to take a man’s pleasure. How to make him feel like a king.

“Last time we met you weren’t after my son.”

“You’re becoming quite soft on me, Latymer. So much emotional bother over a bastard.”

“Careful, Collette,” he said in a quiet, dangerous voice.

“A man with your aspirations should know better than to become attached to anyone or anything.”

“Let’s stop wasting time. Do we have an understanding or not?”

She approached him with a confident stride, though caution rode beside her like a battalion of loyal guards. Her pistol never wavered. She continued forward until the end of the barrel rested against his temple. He dared not move. If nothing else, he understood one thing about her—she would not hesitate to pull the trigger if he made any attempt to overcome her. This woman never hesitated, nor did she waste her time and energy on regrets.

Her familiar exotic scent reached his nostrils, and he could not stop his slow intake of breath—nor the hardening of his body. Whether his physical reaction was due to the threat, or to the temptation, she presented, he couldn’t be sure. Given his peccadilloes, it could be both.

A flush of pink highlighted her sculpted cheeks, and a sheen of perspiration peppered the delicate hollow of her throat. Her gaze never left his.

“Still enjoy the thrill of danger, Collette?” He dropped his voice, careful to keep himself motionless. “Is that the thunder of your heart beating? Does your womb weep for me?”

She caressed the steel barrel against his temple. “Feel free to indulge in your curiosity.”

“Is your trigger finger steady?”

Something close to a genuine smile appeared. “You’re good, darling,” she responded. “But not that deliciously good.”

“We’ll see.” All he needed was a split second of inattention. Enough time for him to wrench her weapon away and force her to reveal what she knew about Giles. “Send your dogs away.”

Her erotic gaze roamed his face, finally resting on his mouth. “I think not.” She smiled. “Etienne and Philippe won’t mind.”

Latymer clenched his jaw. Having her two guards in the room complicated things.

“Do not move your head without my permission,” she said, “or it won’t go well for you.”

“Then you’re going to have to come closer.”

“You wouldn’t be foolish enough to underestimate me, would you?”

He lowered his lids and expanded his chest. “Do I look foolish?”

She pressed the pistol against his flesh and moved close enough for the tip of her boots to touch his.

Accepting her challenge, he caressed the backs of his fingers over her silken cheek and down her long, slender neck. Her breasts rose to meet his touch, and the soft, exposed skin above her neckline invited him to linger. He did.


Wow, that was delicious! I can’t wait to get my hands on Latymer…

Have a Kindle and want to be notified when LATYMER releases? Go to Tracey’s Amazon Author Page and click on the “Email me when there are new releases by Tracey Devlyn” link under the Stay Up To Date section. Amazon will send you an email reminder on January 7, 2014!

Now, for the Rafflecopter entry. Latymer Giveaway Banner

Click the link to enter: a Rafflecopter giveaway

A little about Tracey:

Tracey Devlyn is an award-winning author who writes historical romantic thrillers (translation: a slightly more grievous journey toward the heroine’s happy ending). She’s a co-founder of Romance University, a group blog dedicated to readers and writers of romance, and Lady Jane’s Salon-Naperville, Chicagoland’s exciting new reading salon devoted to romantic fiction.

An Illinois native, Tracey spends her evenings harassing her once-in-a-lifetime husband and her weekends torturing her characters. For more information on Tracey, including her Internet haunts, contest updates, and details on her upcoming novels, please visit her website.

Site: http://traceydevlyn.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TraceyDevlyn

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4099565.Tracey_Devlyn


Welcome Author Averil Reisman

To Cuba With LoveIt’s my great pleasure today to welcome author Averil Reisman. Averil writes American-set historical romance with an adventurous edge, set in the Gilded Age years of the 1890s. Averil’s new release, To Cuba With Love, is a thrilling tale of danger and passion set during the years before the Spanish American War. Averil’s here today to tell us about her inspiration for To Cuba With Love.

Welcome, Averil!

Tara, have you ever asked the question, “what if . . . ?” What if this had happened, what if that had happened? The idea for To Cuba With Love came from one of those “what if” questions.

While I was researching another storyline at the Amelia Island Historical Museum in Fernandina, Florida, I came across a newspaper article stating that Fernandina’s natural deep water port had been the capital of gunrunning ventures to Cuba during that country’s long fight for independence from Spain. I thought there had to be a romance story in there somewhere.

Shifting gears, I started researching the topic, and found a white paper titled, The Fernandina Filibuster Fiasco in a museum folder of the island’s history during the 1890s.

The document told of the failure of a gunrunning venture to Cuba financed by Cuban immigrants living in the United States. Three ships had been illegally chartered to send men and war material to Cuba in opposition to the U.S. Neutrality Act of 1794. The venture was discovered and the cargo confiscated before the ships left American waters.

Bingo! This was it. What if . . . the cargo had been divided into quarters instead of thirds, and the fourth portion hidden for another stab at delivery? To Cuba With Love grew from that germ of an idea.

Bold, dramatic, and dangerous, my illegal mission required the strength of character and the courage of a hero and heroine who were up to the task. So . . . I created Sean Nolan, an honorable, very wealthy, alpha male sea captain facing sure financial ruin, and Samantha Ethridge, a brazen, quick-thinking society news reporter, stymied by the role of women in her time—the Gilded Age.

Drawn together at first by their passion, they learn to work together, to understand each other’s personal priorities, and to let go of the lies they’ve told themselves about what they really want out of life.

Check it out at http://www.amazon.com/db/b00fpvcf2k

Thanks, Averil, for that historical nugget that inspired your story. Having read the book, I can tell you the research is meticulous. You certainly know your history! 

Welcome Author Lane McFarland

Cameron coverIt’s my pleasure to welcome my friend, author Lane McFarland. Lane’s steamy Scottish historical romances debuted earlier this month on Amazon…readers are gobbling up these touching and passionate stories. Lane’s here with a character interview of the heroines of her romances, Cameron and Heather. Welcome, Lane. Please tell us a little about your stories.

Thank you for having me, Tara. I’m excited to tell you about the first two books of my series, The Daughters of Alastair MacDougall. Before I published Cameron and Heather’s stories, I took one last opportunity to interview the sisters. I’d like to share my visit to MacDougall Castle in Kilmarnock, Scotland.

It was late at night when I arrived. Large torches blazed bright into the darkening sky. Solid battlements, secured behind grey stone, ran across the outer gates surrounding the fortress. Guards patrolled the ramparts, ready to drop the portcullis and defend the castle at a moment’s notice.

The carriage rattled across the wooden bridge, through a large worn gate and past guardhouses on either side. We pulled to a stop in the bailey before the stone steps leading to the keep. I tugged my wrap around my shoulders, climbed the steep stairs and knocked on the heavy oak door.

A gust of brisk air swirled in the front hall as Fergus greeted me. “Welcome to MacDougall Castle, Mistress McFarland.”Heather cover

“Thank you, Fergus. It’s nice to be back.”

“Please come in, and I’ll show ye to the solar.”

I stepped into the dimly-lit hall. He lifted the cloak from my back and escorted me down the corridor. More torches secured in brackets lined the damp passage, their flames flickering in a cold draft.

He opened the solar’s worn door and swept his arm in the direction of the chairs positioned before the hearth. “Make yerself comfortable by the fire. I’ll let Mistresses Cameron and Heather know ye’ve arrived.”

I scooted into one of the massive wooden chairs, holding my hands out to the warmth radiating from the golden flames. Nerves strung tight, I couldn’t help but wonder what the MacDougall women thought of the stories I had just written about them. While rummaging through my briefcase for my notebook, the sound of footsteps and feminine laughter drifted from down the hall.

“Mistress McFarland,” Cameron said as she slipped into the room with Heather close behind. “What a pleasure to see ye again.”

I stood and smoothed shaking fingers down my skirt as Cameron extended her hand in greeting. Once again, I was struck by the women’s beauty. Cameron’s long dark hair and green eyes were in stark contrast to her sister’s blonde tresses and deep blue eyes. Friendly smiles lit their faces.

“Please call me Lane. I thank you for seeing me on short notice and at such a late hour.”

“Gracious, ye’re always welcome,” Heather said, grasping my hand. “Please have a seat.”

Rena, the cook, entered carrying a tray of warm spiced cider and her sweet cakes. She smiled and handed me a mug.

“Thank you.”

The woman nodded and shuffled from the room.

“What can we do for ye?” Cameron asked, sipping the drink.

“I hope you’ve had a chance to review the books I wrote about you and your families.”

Heather leaned back in her chair. “Aye, we appreciated yer just account.”

Relief poured over me and I relaxed. “May I ask a few follow up questions? I want to ensure I have correctly depicted your stories.”

“Certainly. Heather and I will try to answer whatever questions ye have.”

I flipped open my notebook and addressed Cameron. “When I first visited, you were experiencing difficulties. Would you describe that hard time in your life once more?”

She stiffened slightly.

Heather reached over and squeezed her sister’s forearm.

Cameron smiled sadly. “It was indeed a difficult time. Mum had been so ill. I couldn’t find a cure for her wasting sickness. When she passed, I felt like a failure.” She shook her head. “It took a long time before I wanted to continue learning the healing arts.”

“But you did,” I added.

Her eyes gazed at me, the light from the flames in the hearth flickering in the green depths. “Aye, I could not stop my passion to heal the sick and injured.”

“What of the feud with the Grahams? Did it play a role in your decision to continue?”

She scoffed. “There was always some kind of skirmish or prank they played on each other. Inevitably, someone was injured. Poor Fergus still has limited use of his arm.”

“That was about the time Laird Graham kidnapped you, wasn’t it?”

“The very time. As a matter of fact, I was collecting medicinal herbs for Fergus when Robert snatched me. He was bent on revenge. Ye see, he found his younger brother and his elderly captain with my da’s arrows jutting from their backs.” She exhaled through her nose. “Who could blame him for his actions? He had just sealed a truce with my da and was hurting over the brutal attack and outright betrayal.”

“You struggled with escaping or staying with the Grahams. Did you make the right decision?”

The corners of her mouth tugged up. “I did.”

“What, if anything, would you like to change about your life?”

“If there was anything I’d like to change, it would be the continued conflict with the English. We’re on constant alert, forever fearful of attack. I pray someday we will live in peace.”

“Thank you, Cameron.” She smiled, and I turned to Heather. “I would ask the same of you. When I first met you, you were in a bit of a dilemma.”

“Aye, before Mum passed, I promised her I would help Da run the castle and protect the clan. It was a time of unrest. I couldn’t trust our neighboring Scots. Too many scoundrels lurked, waiting to pounce on us at the slightest opportunity. I had to keep them at bay.”

“Ye led your father’s warriors into battle.”

Her blue eyes narrowed. “I had no choice. I had to keep the clan intact while holding off those who plotted to overtake our land.”

“What about Alec—I mean Laird Campbell? Could you not trust him?

She sat straighter, her shoulders squared. “I no longer knew him. It had been many years since we last met. I couldn’t take the chance he would betray Da’s confidence.”

“What do you mean?”

“Da suffers an affliction of the mind. If other clans got word of it, they would storm in and overtake our clan. I had to protect his secret.”

“Alec had secrets of his own, didn’t he?”

Heather’s fingers fidgeted in her lap. “There were rumors he had failed his aging father and clan.”

“But you were attracted to him. That must have been difficult for you.”

Her eyes blinked and her gaze dropped to the floor. “It was indeed a hard time. My heart screamed to turn to him. It would have been so easy.” She smiled. “He was handsome and strong, leading his men into battle and caring for his people.”

“How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?”

“I echo my sister’s sentiments on the rebellion, and understand all too well what it entails to protect the castle and the clan. We will forever be on constant alert.”

A log rolled in the fireplace and red sparks flitted up the chimney. “I wish things were different for you. That is a difficult way to live.”

Cameron nodded. “Aye, but we make do.”

I hated to leave, but the hour grew late. “I thank you for your time tonight. I won’t keep you any longer.”

After shutting my notebook and tucking it away in my satchel, I stood. Cameron and Heather escorted me down the corridor to the great hall.

Fergus ambled toward us. “Ye are leaving already, Mistress McFarland?”

“Aye, it’s time for me to be on my way. I have two books to publish.”

After our visit, I released the first two books about Alastair MacDougall’s daughters, Cameron and Heather. They are available on Amazon in eBook, with printed format offered soon. I plan to publish Lindsey’s story late spring 2014, with Elsbeth’s book to soon follow.

Author Bio:

Lane McFarland is a southern girl living on top of a mountain in North Georgia, and is most happy when surrounded by family and friends. When not writing, you can find her hiking with her husband, or fiddling around in her flower and vegetable gardens, feeding the birds and watching black bears and deer. Lane is blessed to have a wonderful son—her pride and joy, her buddy who, along with her husband, have made her life complete.

Lane’s debut novels, CAMERON and HEATHER, are the first in The Daughters of Alastair MacDougall books. Set in late thirteenth century Scotland, this series tells the stories of Laird Alastair MacDougall’s four independent and oftentimes, headstrong daughters coming of age in a country fraught with war and feuds amongst rival clans. Follow his daughters as their lives become intertwined with four fierce, rebel highland warriors bent on eradicating the English soldiers from their homeland.

Cameron is available at Amazon, Smashwords, Bookstorewithoutborders

Heather is available at Amazon, Smashwords, Bookstorewithoutborders

My November “Book Baby”

I’m a November baby, so it seems only fitting that my historical romance, Secrets, Spies & Sweet Little Lies has a November book birthday as well. Here’s a little about the story:

Secrets, Spies & Sweet Little LiesSecrets, Spies & Sweet Little Lies

A heart’s destiny cannot be denied when a daring Union spy abducts a beautiful runaway bride he suspects of being a traitor.

Emma Davenport was a model senator’s daughter: prim, proper, but hell-bent on escaping the dreaded fate of spinsterhood that awaited her under wartime Washington’s all-too watchful eye. She was going to be a bride, and no one was going to stop her. Not even the daring renegade who steals her from a train transporting her to a forbidden marriage. Her heart tells her this mysterious captor is a dangerous man, but the undeniable attraction he wields is a more potent threat than any weapon.

Major Cole Travis is a highly trained secret agent, as skilled with deception as he is with a gun. Keeping a beautiful traitor from her rendezvous with a treacherous scoundrel shouldn’t be a challenge for the battle-seasoned spy—but he’s not the only one after his tempting prisoner. Emma Davenport must be kept out of enemy hands at all costs. Drawn to this woman whose innocent allure may be just another weapon in her arsenal, Cole risks his neck to shield her. Soon, however, protecting her from his own heart’s desire becomes another story entirely.

You can find Secrets, Spies & Sweet Little Lies on Kindle. Prefer a paperback? The story will be out in paperback soon.

Author Mary Behre – A “Spirited” Look at Things that Go Bump in the Night

Mary BehreI’m thrilled to welcome my friend, author Mary Behre, to the blog on one of my favorite holidays, Halloween! Mary writes stories with humor, suspense, and a psychic love-connection. Her debut novel, Spirited, will take its bow in the spring. She’s here today discussing one of my favorite things that go bump in the night – ghosts. She’s also going to give away a wonderful “treat” to one lucky commenter – a prize pack and an advanced reader copy of Spirited. Be sure to enter the giveaway below. The winner will be announced on Monday, November 4.

Welcome, Mary.

Happy Halloween! Tara, thank you for having me as a guest today. In honor of the spookiest day of the year, I thought I’d talk a little bit about ghosts.

Ghosts are souls of people who’ve died, right?  Yeah, everyone seems to agree on that. But not everyone agrees on what ghosts can or cannot do. Since my debut novel features a ghost, I thought I’d share a little bit of knowledge here today about the different types of ghosts out there.

Spirited CoverFirst up…Wraiths.

These are ghosts who, for all intent and purposes, hang around a place or an item. They haunt houses, old factories, certain streets late at night, and even old chairs.

These specters are little more than an echo effect of what happened long ago. It’s the echoes the living report seeing  when the spirit of a grandmother sits in old rocker, or a Civil War soldier walks across a specific path in a field, or even a child holds a yellow balloon.

Wraiths don’t interact with the living. They simply repeat what they’ve done before they died. In some ways, it’s like watching a movie on replay. Many ghost tours throughout the states feature wraiths.

But wraiths aren’t the only game in town.

Next up…Visitants.

Ghosts who cannot move on after they’ve died because they still have work to do are on a mission. These missions often have ghosts reaching out to whoever can hear them. Most often, psychics or mediums. The ghosts want to tell Little Barbara where Uncle Milton left his real will or Little Jamie where to find Aunt Maisey’s missing ring.

Visitants are the type of ghosts who want to accomplish something then move on. Once the mission is completed—the real will is read or the missing ring is located—the spirit departs.

Finally, we have…Poltergeists.

Thanks to the 80’s flick of the same name and numerous horror movies since, everyone knows the word Poltergeist. But most people equate the name with malevolence. That’s not necessarily true. The word Poltergeist broken down actually means “to knock” (poltern) and “spirit” (geist). Poltergeists can be mischievous and hide keys, open and close doors, and rattle pipes. Still, they aren’t typically evil. Mostly, they just make noise.

I know in lots of horror movies people get injured by ghosts but really, most ghostly encounters end with the living walking away unscathed. And when they are injured, it’s usually due to their own clumsiness.

Now it’s your turn.  Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever seen one? Share your ghost story here.

One lucky commenter will win a prize pack and Advanced Reader Copy of my debut novel, SPIRITED.

Author Bio:

Mary Behre could never decide story she liked more, paranormal, mystery or romance. So it only made sense that she combined all three in her books. Her debut novel, SPIRITED, is the first in the Tidewater Series. Stories with humor, suspense and a psychic love-connection. When not writing, she can be found hanging out with the most important men in her life, her family.

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A little about SPIRITED:

She’s running from who she is…

All Jules Scott wants is to live a normal, quiet life–preferably one that doesn’t include ghosts. Jules’s ability for communicating with the dead has brought her nothing but trouble. Despite her best efforts, needy spirits always find her and draw her into their otherworldly drama. When one implicates her in a series of deadly crimes, she may need to entrust her secrets to the person least likely to believe her…

He’ll do whatever it takes to catch her.

Detective Seth English can’t get distracted from the big case he’s working on, not even by his alluring new neighbor. He doesn’t believe that Jules had anything to do with the string of robberies-turned-murders that he’s investigating, but when she keeps showing up in all the wrong places, his gut tells him she knows more than she’s letting on. To solve his case, he’ll need to expose what the sexy redhead is hiding–no matter how impossible the truth may be…

What an intriguing story – can’t wait to read this! Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win an advanced reader copy of Spirited as well as a prize pack.

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Inspiration for Sexy Heroes: Guest Author Eliza Knight’s Highlanders

Oh, the life of a romance author, surrounded by sexy men, all just waiting for her to tear their clothes off… Okay, so maybe those men are all in my head, but boy, is it fun to imagine!

When I’m getting ready to write a book, I really like to find pictures of what I think the hero might look like—and not only naked. I like to think of the way he moves, the way he looks when he’s angry, sad, passionate, laughing. I love to study him. One of the most fun parts of the book process is the cover. When the hero comes to life! I typically get the cover while I’m writing.

Now, don’t think me too shallow. I do love to look at a hot, brawny, masculine body, but often there is also something else that draws me in—eyes, intensity, all those things that make a man sexy. On to the eye candy!

The Highlander's RewardSexy Hero #1: Magnus – Look at those arms… Arms can work magic! They can fight off enemies and hold a woman in their tender embrace.









The Highlander's ConquestSexy Hero #2: Blane – Gulp… Look at those abs!! I just want to stroke my fingers over the ridges…










The Highlander's Lady  Sexy Hero #3: Daniel – Um, why yes, I do love men in kilts. Especially men with six-packs, swords and an ultra-alpha confidence that makes me drool. Plus, look at that landscape? It’s snowing and I love winter when I can curl up with a hero…hehehe…








The Highlander's Warrior BrideSexy Hero #4: Ronan – His back. A strong, determined back. He’s fiercely loyal and carries so many burdens. I need to rub his shoulders…. I just know he’s powerful and protective and I want to sink into his embrace.








The Highlander's TriumphSexy Hero #5: Brandon – Kilts…  Can’t get enough of those! Love the intensity in his gaze—even though its facing down. He has a lot on his mind, a lot of demons to battle, and I want to help him out! A nice, crisp sprinkling of chest hair, too!








The Highlander's SinSexy Hero #6: Duncan – Oh, those abs, arms, sword, kilt, face… I love his face. I love that he too looks troubled. I want to leap into his strong arms and soothe away the pain of his past. I could stare at him all day…

A little about my newest release – The Highlander’s Sin. Then a fun excerpt…

Book Title: The Highlander’s Sin

He stole her away… But she set him free…

They called him The Priest. Maybe because of his billowing black robes and the steel crucifix that hung around his neck. Or perhaps it was because those who met him were compelled to pray. But Duncan Mackay was anything but a saint. He was a sinner—a paid mercenary. Until he met her, and she made him want to change his ways.

Lady Heather Sutherland has never been compelled to follow rules. And this time, she’s gone too far. Following in the footsteps of her brothers and cousins, she chooses to join the fight for Scottish freedom—and gets herself abducted by a handsome, rogue warrior whose touch is sweet sin.

Duncan’s duty was clear—steal Heather away from Dunrobin Castle. What he didn’t expect, was to be charmed by her spirit and rocked by her fiery kiss. Now, he doesn’t want deliver her to those who hired him, instead he wants to keep her all to himself.

“Who’s there?” Her voice echoed through the chapel.

A shadowy figure lurked just beyond the benches in the corner where their chaplain’s chamber was. Looked like a hulk of black. If she’d been more superstitious, she might have thought the devil was coming to pay her a visit like Aunt Fiona always threatened.

“Father Hurley?” She swiped a drip of sweat from her eyes. “Is that ye? Come away from the shadows.”

A shiver of fear skittered over her spine, settling like a solid stone in her belly.

The figure didn’t move.

Heather swallowed her fear and stood up, straightening her shoulders as much as she could, squaring her jaw. “Come into the light at once,” she ordered.

The shadow moved along the wall toward the front of the chapel. Heather followed him with her eyes. ’Twas not the devil but a man. Most definitely not Father Hurley. He was taller by at least a foot—and wide by about the same. His black robes billowed around his form, swishing around his ankles with each step, and sending whispers of fear with every move. The silver chain around his neck swung the large crucifix it held like a pendulum. Back and forth.

A man of the cloth? Her hair prickled. He looked like death come to take her.

Heather stared at the cross, at the man in robes, hypnotized by his stealthy, calculated movements, her eyes wide and immobilized. She finally blinked when they stung with dryness.

“Are ye new to Dunrobin?” she asked, refusing to believe he might be the reaper and wondering why no one had told her there was a new priest.

He stopped a few feet away, just outside the line of light from the candles.

“Nay.” His voice was deep, dark, and slid over her body shamefully, in a way that made her want to hear him speak again.
Lord, help her impetuous nature.

Heather made a sign of the cross. “I’ve not seen ye before now.” The slight quiver in her tone made her angry.
He didn’t answer. A long pause of silence ensued, making her uncomfortable. Her skin prickled.

“Where is Father Hurley? What are ye doing in here?” The questions tumbled from her tongue.

The man pointed toward the chaplain’s chamber. “He is there. Sleeping.”

Again that voice. Why did she like it so much? “And ye? What are ye doing out here? I’m…I’m praying. I want privacy.” She lifted her chin another notch, hoping the odd priest would leave her be, that he hadn’t noticed the slight stutter of her words. When she saw her brother Magnus, she was going to tell him about this odd priest and how uncomfortable he made her. Zounds! She wouldn’t get the chance before she left… The dawn of her new life would begin today. A note then. She would tell Magnus in a note.

“I’m afraid ye won’t be getting any privacy, my lady.” Confidence dripped from his words and slid over her skin in a way that felt wicked.

“Ye are not to talk to me in such a manner.” No matter how hard she tried, she sounded petulant rather than in control.

“And ye need to hold your tongue, ye saucy wench.”

Heather gasped, blanched. Pressed a hand to her chest and took a step back in shock. “What?”

“Ye heard me.” An underlying tone of amusement captured his voice.

Indeed she had, but no one had ever, ever, talked to her like that before.

“How dare ye?” She seethed, gripped her fingers around her dagger, though what she’d do with it, she had no clue. Killing a man of the cloth was a sin she’d never be able to pay her way out of.

“Enough bluster, my lady. I need ye to come with me.”

“Come with ye? I’ll be doing no such thing.” She shook her head vehemently and took another step back. Only about a dozen more, and she could bolt for the door.

Perhaps today was not a day to run away. Outside dangers had never been a consideration before now. She’d just assumed she’d be able to reach Wallace’s camp unharmed. With her dagger, a bow and arrows, she could protect herself. Keep hidden in the bushes and not get caught.

But that was before being confronted by this man who made her feel…scared and hot all over. Now she just wanted the safety and tranquility of her bedchamber. How naïve she’d been to think her plan was solid.

“My lady,” he said in his calm, smooth voice. “Ye must. There is no choice in this matter.”

“Or what?”

Slowly, he opened one side of his robe, and she squeezed her eyes shut, not wanting to see what he revealed.

“Open your eyes,” he demanded.

She shook her head, bit her lip. But when she heard the click of his boot heels on the floor, her eyes flew open. He stopped moving, maybe a dozen paces away and removed the hood from his head. Beneath his robe, he was cloaked in a white leine, leather jerkin and tightly pleated plaid of dark colors. But what she couldn’t take her gaze off of, was the cruel-looking battle ax strapped to his chest with a leather belt of sorts. The ax glittered where it caught the light. Silver carved on its handle. It wasn’t a regular ax blade either, but elongated, curved and hooked where it should have been flat and triangular.

Heather raised her eyes to his. He’d stepped far enough forward that the candles lit what parts of his face weren’t hidden by the hood of his cloak. Strong chin and nose. And his eyes, they flashed out at her like blue lightning, ready to snuff out her life with one blink. His hair was pulled back in a queue, but shaved along the sides, making him resemble a savage.
Her hand involuntary rose to her chest as she pressed against her quickly beating heart. Realizing what she’d done, Heather forced her hand back to her side, not wanting the stranger to know how much he was affecting her.

He touched a strong-looking hand to the handle of the ax. “Dinna make me use it, lass. I’d hate to mar your pretty face.”
He thought her pretty? She almost cocked her head and gave him a coy smile, until reality struck and she again realized who he was. A stranger who was attempting to abduct her. A savage-looking warrior priest who threatened to cut her with that horrid-looking blade.

THE HIGHLANDER’S SIN is the sixth book in the Stolen Bride series, but it can stand alone.

Check out the other books in the series!

The Highlander’s Reward
The Highlander’s Conquest
The Highlander’s Lady
The Highlander’s Warrior Bride
The Highlander’s Triumph

And releasing early 2014 — The Highlander’s Temptation

Read it! Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Smashwords

Author Bio:

Eliza Knight is the multi-published, award-winning, Amazon best-selling author of sizzling historical romance and erotic romance. While not reading, writing or researching for her latest book, she chases after her three children. In her spare time (if there is such a thing…) she likes daydreaming, wine-tasting, traveling, hiking, staring at the stars, watching movies, shopping and visiting with family and friends. She lives atop a small mountain, and enjoys cold winter nights when she can curl up in front of a roaring fire with her own knight in shining armor.

Website: www.elizaknight.com

Blog: www.historyundressed.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/elizaknightauthor

Twitter: @ElizaKnight