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Saturday, December 31, 2011

To new beginnings

Ah, New Year's Eve. It might just be my favorite holiday, seeing the birth of a new year and all the possibilities that come with it. The new beginnings we can permit ourselves.

Maybe that's why I love reading romance. That new spark, the powerful attraction. Then watching that heady infatuation deepen into more lasting bonds as the hero and heroine grow and change and earn that happily ever after.

And if anyone deserves a new beginning, it's Dr. Delano Bowen, in my book The Merzetti Effect. After a traumatic event, Delano has denied himself the touch of a woman for many decades. So when he draws Ainsley Crawford - the last remaining descendant of the fabled Merzetti's - into his life to exploit the genetic gift in her blood, he's more than a little vulnerable. But it's not only his heart on the line. Ainsley is a walking bio-hazard for any vampire, and she might just be the death of him.


In this excerpt, after a particularly terrifying event, Ainsley can't escape into sleep. Every time she closes her eyes, the event replays itself. So she has crawled into Delano's bed, setting her phone to vibrate so she can slip away long before he awakens. The sound of his slow day-sleep breathing lulls her to sleep at last. But she doesn't know is that vampire sleep is very different. Where humans cycle in and out of REM sleep - and dreams - all night long, vampires sleep dreamlessly ... until the last few hours before dusk. Those last sleep are filled with almost non-stop REM activity, known to vampires as twilight dreaming. When Delano finds her in his bed, he naturally thinks he's dreaming.

The dream had him again.

He loved this time, the interval between the deep, restoring sleep that claimed him each morning and the full wakefulness that came with sundown. He loved it, and he loathed it, too. For in that short space of time, he slept almost like he used to sleep. Like other men slept. That’s when the dreams came. Yes, and the nightmares, too, sometimes. And as often as not, the dreams tortured him worse than the nightmares ever could.

This was one of those dreams, the kind he would pay for with a deep, persistent ache that would be with him for days. But God help him, he didn’t care. He just wanted to hang onto it as long as he could.

This time, he lay on his back, with Ainsley’s body curved sweetly against him, one silky-smooth leg twined with his. And her skin! The parts that touched him blazed like a furnace against his own skin, and her scent, a potent mix of sandalwood and sleepy woman, filled his nostrils. Beneath the soft sound of her breathing, he heard the strong, steady lub-dub of her heart and the fainter but even more thrilling surge and whisper of her blood.

He lifted a hand to palm her unbound breast through the thin t-shirt she wore, and felt the tip harden.



Effortlessly, he rolled her beneath him.

Oh, Lord! She felt so solid, so real, so warm. And soft in all the right places.

“Del! Wait! You can’t … I mean, we can’t—”

“Oh, but we can.” Here in this twilight place, they most definitely could. They could do anything.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Alternate History and Entanglements, by P.R. Mason

Like many people no doubt, my life has been touched by a moment in time I would give anything to change. For me an ordinary day could have continued in its infinite ordinariness if not for the convergence of some relatively innocuous happenings that conspired to create a tragedy. As a result I've been fascinated by the idea of alternate worlds or universes and alternate history. What might have been if but one thread in the tapestry of time had been different? A yellow thread rather than a blue one. A coffee break not taken. A stop sign repaired rather than fallen. So many little things that could have changed what happened.

So when I read about the quantum physics theory of Entanglements, I was fascinated. Scientists had discovered that a particle could be tweaked miles away from another and still cause the second particle to react even though there was no discernable connection between them. They theorized that the two were "entangled" in an alternate dimension or universe of which they believed there are at least seven. Interestingly also, in the world of quantum physics, effect does not always follow cause. Sometimes they are reversed. I began to wonder what would happen if people or beings were entangled in alternate universes? What if a tragic fate could be avoided after it had already happened. And from those ideas, ENTANGLEMENTS was born. I hope you'll check it out.

Entanglements Blurb:

Teen KIZZY TAYLOR is just hoping for an evening of fun when she joins her friends in a spelunking expedition through an under-city tunnel. But fun turns bizarre when Kizzy accidentally opens a vortex and her stepsister is swept through to an evil alternate dimension. The only way to rescue her stepsister is to reopen the vortex and go in after her. But is her new boyfriend, ROM CALIXO, going to help Kizzy or try to stop her? And if she can get past Rom, will she be able to get back home?


June 21st
No one had ever lived after jumping from the Talmadge Bridge. Until now, in my entire fifteen years, I had never been particularly special or unique. So the chances I, Kizzy Taylor, would be the first to survive were probably slimmer than the cheerleading captain at my high school. The nighttime Savannah skyline, with its gold domed city hall, loomed in the distance, serene and beautiful. Leaning over the railing, I peered down to the water far, far below me. The whipping wind slammed my ponytail against my forehead.
In the darkness, the black sheen of the water’s surface had the appearance of asphalt after a rain. It would probably feel like asphalt on impact. At the thought, my knees buckled. Even if I wasn’t particularly afraid of falling, I was suddenly very afraid of heights…Weird.
Straightening my shaking legs with defiance, I dragged my gaze away from the river and deliberately stared at my feet. They weren’t as scary as the height. From the purple polish on my toes to the blister on my right heel, they were the same feet I’d slipped into clear plastic flip-flops this morning. The garishly happy sunflower appliqué of my shoes mocked me.
 “Kizzy.” Adam’s tiny four-year-old fingers tugged at the denim of my pants. He held his favorite plastic pterodactyl toy in his other hand.
Glancing back at him, I pried his fingers away. “Get back,” I ordered, giving a little push behind me. Okay. Maybe my life was over but I was going to save my little brother.
“I want to go home and see Mommy.” Adam's blue eyes were wide and glistening with fear.
“I know, baby. We will. But get back now.” I tried to keep my tone firm but loving.
A car’s horn blared. Rising as it approached, the tone of the honking then fell as the car left us behind. The lights of the enormous suspension bridge must be illuminating us as if we were on a theater stage. Why didn’t any of these passing cars stop to help?
Adam’s sobs tore at me as I balanced my belly against the icy metal of the railing and climbed over. With barely enough room for my feet, their tips hung over the concrete edge.
“Shhh.” I glanced back over my right shoulder at Adam to try to meet his eyes but they were scrunched tightly shut. “We’re just playing a game. We’ll go home soon. I promise.”
“This isn’t a game.” The baritone voice, so agonizingly familiar, drowned out my brother’s cries. “You have to do it,” the man shouted prodding me in the back with his revolver.
The muzzle jabbed into my skin through the thin fabric of my t-shirt and pushed me forward. I would totally have a bruise tomorrow...if I survived until tomorrow.
“Jump,” the man screamed.
Gripping the rail behind me, I clung. A jagged piece of metal on the rail bit into my flesh and I winced as liquid pooled in my palm. I couldn’t help jerking that hand away to hold it in front of me. Blood dripped off my palm before disappearing into the darkness and becoming part of the Savannah River water.
“Kizzzzzy!” My brother screeched.
“Shut up.” The man started with a jerk. “Do you want to make me shoot?”
The pitch of Adam’s wailing heightened.
Clutching at my necklace as if it were a religious medal, I turned to try to talk to him.
“Can’t you just leave Adam alone? I’ll do what you want.” My pleading had the same effect on the man as it did on the steel of the suspension cable a few feet away.
“This is because of you,” he said. He. My dad.


You can follow me on Twitter @PRMason and my blog http://agirlwithacomputer.blogspot.com
My website is at www.prmason.net

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas is over

Christmas is over, but winter is just getting started, which makes my thoughts turn to  fun in the snow. Set in a small Midwest town, in COUNTERFEIT LOVE the heroine Maggie gets  a taste of that fun in this scene.  

"Maggie, wake up!"  Like an icicle through a snowdrift Alex's excited voice pierced Maggie's head. She  blinked. White winter sunshine streamed into Alex's bedroom. Maggie groaned and tried to  pull the comforter over her head.  
"Get up." Alex dragged the covers away. "We're going sledding.  Hurry."  
Cool air seeped beneath the sweats Maggie wore. She shivered and curled into a ball.  
"Maggie," Alex repeated.  
"Go get ready Alex. I'll get Maggie up."  
Jared's husky voice roused Maggie quicker than a bucket of ice water. Eyes open, she  bolted up to face him.  Arms crossed over his broad chest he leaned against the doorjamb and stared at her. The  look in his eyes, part anger, part amusement, part something she couldn't name, left her  unsettled.  "I can't go sledding with you."  
"Why not?"  
"Because of everything that's happened. It wouldn't feel right."  
He straightened, his arms fell to his sides and his eyes darkened. "Alex has her  heart set on your going sledding with us. I won't let you disappoint her."  
Guilt made it difficult for her to hold his gaze. "I don't have anything to  wear."
"Look in my sister's closet. Since she moved to Florida she keeps her winter stuff  here. There should be a snowmobile suit and some boots you can wear. Be downstairs in  fifteen minutes or I'm coming up to get you."  
Stubborn pride kept her motionless for a few minutes. She never responded well to  ultimatums. Then a surge of hope had her scrambling to get ready. The more time she spent  with Jared the more opportunity she'd have to earn his forgiveness.  She paused as she tugged on one tight boot. Did she want Jared's forgiveness? And if she  got it what would she do then? Jared's life was here in Council Falls, teaching. She had  her life planned out in L.A., owning her own security firm. Maybe it was better if he  continued to hate her.  The sound of Jared's footsteps on the stairs made her shelve her thoughts. Holding one  boot she limped out into the hall as he came to the top of the stairs.  "Good. You're ready. Let's go."  His cool tone made her question her decision to go along. Then she glanced at his eyes  and wondered if she had a choice.  As she got into his SUV, she noted the plowed drive and her car, a snow-covered stain of  red, now parked in front of the house. "Looks like your morning's been put to good  use."  "Aside from a few scrapes and dents, it doesn't seem like there's any damage to your  car. But you should have it checked out by your mechanic."  "Thanks. Jared?" She touched his arm. Pain stabbed her when he jerked away.  "What?"  "Truce? For today? For Alex? In spite of everything I want you to know I care about  her. No matter what, I'd never deliberately hurt her." She held his hard, searching  gaze, hiding nothing of the confused feelings inside her until he gave a brief nod.  "Truce."  Aside from Alex's excited chatter the rest of the trip passed in a comfortable silence.  Colorful dots against pristine white, people crowded the sled hill on the outskirts of  town. Maggie breathed in the aromas of hot chocolate, coffee and hot dogs filling the  crisp, clean air. The cold stung her nose and cheeks, and not even the snow mobile suit  and fur lined boots kept her from shivering . Over her initial protests, the three of them climbed aboard the Blake's toboggan. Once  sandwiched between Jared and Alex Maggie forgot to be cold. Of course, she told herself,  being properly dressed for the weather accounted for the warmth flooding her body, not  the heat radiating from where his strong chest braced her back, or where his arms wrapped  around her waist resting just below her breasts, or the burning were his spread thighs  cradled her buttocks.  Then he used his feet to propel them down the hill and she forgot everything in the  sudden thrill of flying. The world rushed by in a blur of white.  Her cries of delight joined with Alex's screams and Jared's shouts. Again and again they  flew down the steep hill until they were all breathless from laughter and trudging back  up.  In the fun, she forgot the tension between them.  Afterwards she washed down sweet, sticky donuts with the hot coffee Jared presented to  her in a large thermos, while he shared another thermos of hot chocolate with Alex. His  remembering her preference for a strong brew warmed the chill in Maggie's heart.  Throughout the day, despite her doubts and fears, Jared treated her as he always had,  with consideration and respect. If his attitude was a bit more reserved, who was she to  complain?  The day passed in a blur of snow and laughter, ending too soon. Despite the cold still  biting at her nose and toes and the ache in her muscles, Maggie knew she'd miss this, the  warm contentment of a day spent with the people you loved.  The thought startled and depressed her. What good did it do her to love Jared and Alex?  In one way or another everyone she'd ever loved had abandoned her. Halfway home it started to snow again. Alex slept in the backseat as Jared pulled his SUV  in front of Maggie's house.  "Thank you for a wonderful day. I never knew freezing my butt off could be so much  fun." Aside from a few simple comments they hadn't spoken to each other all day.  "I did it for Alex. I don't want her to know what's going on. When this is over, as  far as she's concerned you and your family just moved away.  "She won't understand if I just disappear. She'll expect to hear from me."  "I'm sure you'll think of a good excuse. You're a master at telling lies."  Maggie couldn't control the cold shaft of pain his words caused or the hot anger that  bubbled to the surface. "There's lying and then there's lying to yourself," she  shot back. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011



When my daughter was in college in Milledgeville, Georgia, we bought a house for her. She would rent some of the bedrooms and cover the house payments. As we were signing the papers for the sale of that house, which was at least 150 years old, the daughter of the woman selling the old house mentioned ghosts.

I was hooked, even though I didn't have time to get more than the names of the ghosts. For the two-hour drive home, the ghosts took over my imagination and the story of Haunting Refrain unfolded. I hope you enjoy it.


When music teacher Sarah Overby finds ghosts in her attic, she hesitates to tell her best friend, William McKeown. She doesn't think he’ll understand. He has looked after her for as long as she can remember. Telling him he lived a previous life as her husband will make him think she is crazy.

William has adored Sarah forever, he just doesn’t realize this isn’t the first time he has loved her. His feelings for his best friend are changing, but he doesn’t believe in ghosts, reincarnation, or lasting romantic relationships. He is a psychologist and he believes in things he can prove.

Sarah’s guardian ghosts are facilitators who renew their relationships with their charge.

William awoke slowly, as though he’d been drugged. The clock read 5:45. Remnants of his dream hung on the edges of his consciousness. Sarah in boy’s clothes. Sarah, but not Sarah. He punched his pillow and tried to go back to sleep for the hour and a half ‘til his alarm would go off. Sleep would not come. The dream and its meaning haunted him. The man in his dream had wanted the woman so badly he hurt.

Rolling out of bed he made his way to his back porch. At times like this he wished he smoked. He stayed for the sunrise.

How in God’s name do we act now? How could he take the chance of ruining his friendship with Sarah by giving in to his libido? Seven years difference in their ages was too much for a romantic relationship. Besides, he’d never seen himself as a marrying man. His Sarah deserved a man who would give her a home and children, not just an affair. Some protector he was!

Christmas' Best Bet, Humble Pie. Get a FREE download!

This novella has loads of southern flavor.
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/114302 FREE HERE until January 15, 2012

Mary Marvella Barfield on Facebook and Mary Marvella, Author on Facebook

Monday, December 26, 2011

Right Name, Wrong Man

The chateau where my story takes place
What do the words France, Paris, Eiffel Tower, Loire Valley, evoke for you?
 Do you think romantic settings? Visualize historical chateaux? Imagine a kiss at the top of the Eiffel Tower? Prepare your camera to snap pictures of the amazing architecture? Get ideas from the fashion capital? Prepare yourself to taste and enjoy the French Merlot, Cabernet sauvignon, Beaujolais Nouveau, Bordeau… Are you feeling fuzzy, maybe a little drunk?
After many visits to France—I stopped counting years ago— I can still rhapsodize about Paris and its thousand attractions. The Loire Valley, known as “the Garden of France”, was the favorite residence of the Kings of France during the Renaissance period. They made this peaceful countryside the setting of their dreams, and surrounded themselves with the greatest artists and architects of this era.
When my husband treated me to a special thirtieth anniversary with a trip to the Vallée de la Loire and a two-day stay in an authentic chateau, I fell in love with the area and have never forgotten it.

RIGHT NAME, WRONG MAN, my new contemporary  romance is set in this chateau. The count who owns the chateau is a handsome doctor adored by patients and nurses. Only one woman can’t seem to stand him because…

A romantic comedy novel set in France, for $0.99,  http://tinyurl.com/85o4wg7

Short Synopsis:
What’s a girl to do when she whispers another man’s name in her fiancé’s arms?
When forbidden dreams about the sexy French Dr. Yves Malroux assail her at every turn, Mary-Beth puts her wedding plans on hold.  She signs up for a summer training program in surgery with Yves, and flies to France to confront her past and the man who broke her heart years ago.
But she never expected the French doctor–who’s also a count– to insist on his trainees staying at his historical chateau. Sleeping under his roof, next door to his bedroom, is more temptation than Mary-Beth anticipated. Desire for Yves burns as hot as ever, especially when he focuses all his charm on Mary-Beth to convince her she needs passion in her life. While too many questions still swirled in her mind, her jealous fiancé summons her back home.
Will Mary-Beth let her heart decide who’s her right man? Will Yves break his no-strings-attached rule to offer love and commitment?
 Excerpt from Chapter Two
“Welcome to France, Dr. Drake.” Stepping back to allow her entrance to his office, Dr. Malroux treated her to the mind-boggling smile he’d probably bestowed on countless beauties he’d escorted.
Rooted in the doorway, Mary-Beth stared at the man she had snatched from her heart a year ago. A day’s worth of stubble shadowed his jaws and a lock of dark hair wandered over his forehead. Damn, he was even more handsome than in her nightmares.
“Good afternoon.” She couldn’t mutter another word as her eyes fell on the surgical top stretched over his muscular chest. Heat bloomed throughout her body. She clenched the straps of her purse and willed her stupid heart to slow down, certain that the thumping could be heard in the silence.
With effort, she recalled the assertiveness she’d painfully acquired over the previous year and extended her arm for a handshake. “I’m here for the summer residency program organized by Dr. Steve Galt fromMassachusetts GeneralHospital.”
 Standing too close, he shook her hand and held it an extra second. His sandalwood cologne enveloped her. The familiar scent from her days at Harvard Library sent her pulse into overdrive.
“Yes, I know. I received your impressive curriculum vitae,” he said with the delightful French accent that had resonated in her ears months after he’d leftBoston. “Please, have a seat,” he added, indicating the brown velvet chair in front of his desk.
She hastened to sit and put her oversized purse on the carpet. Her back straight, she clasped her hands together in her lap and crossed her ankles to prevent the anxious tapping of her feet.

He sat behind his desk and leaned back in an imposing leather chair that enhanced his confident stature. His gaze ambled, paused and assessed. “Dr. Drake, I am delighted you will be working with us at the Hôpital de la Santé.
He doesn’t recognize me.
Maybe it was a good thing he didn’t recognize her as the heavy frump from the past. Pleased that she had a chance to start her training without painful reminiscences, she suppressed a smile of relief and bore the weight of his  scrutiny without flinching.

His forehead pleated in a thoughtful frown as he opened the folder on his desk and perused her application. “You mention you decided to train with us to improve your skills in General Surgery. Anything else?”
“I also would like to train in Pediatric and Cardiac surgery.” And prove that I’m immune to your charm and marry Steve without reservations. Her voice firmed up as she rubbed her ringless finger. 

I changed the picture of the book cover twice, and I’m still not sure which one would suit the story better. Help me choose? Or should I change to a new one?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Thinking about year's end.

The presents have been bought, wrapped, and now the scattered remains lay strewn across your living room floor. With your family content, your thoughts turn toward reading. If you were among the lucky ones to have been presented with your first e reader, you are no doubt anxious to load up and read.
Once charged, head out to your local Amazon website and check out the free books, which are easy to download under your account. You will be amazed at the genres and well known names that you see. Please note, there are many that you may not recognize. These writers are putting in long hours developing their craft and have not yet gotten the nod from traditional New York publishers. Their stories are well crafted and need that word of mouth that starts the ball rolling.
If you are reading this, then you are lucky enough to have found a treasured group of authors you will fall in love with. Check the names on the sides and click their links, you'll be glad you did. Find your favorite new author, download their story for the low price of 99 cents, then grab your cup of hot coco and curl up with a great book. 
I'll leave you today with a snippet of my $0.99 book, A Cordial Christmas out at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords...
Somewhere in the middle of the night, they heard a door shut and the sound of feet padding down the hallway. She stilled. Dobson must have felt her muscles tighten.
He raised his head and sleepily asked, "What's Lucy doing up?" 
"Probably going to check on Santa's progress," Holly remarked.
Pushing back the covers, she grabbed her robe as Dobson pulled his trousers up and buckled his belt.
"A fine how do you do on a wedding night," he grinned. "Of course, it gives me an excuse to say a fine good night to my lovely wife again."
Holly felt her lips pull into a smile and shook her head. "I have a feeling our marriage will always be quite unusual."
Together, they went down the hallway and paused at the last step. Chow Ming lay asleep on the settee, his meat clever by his side. Dobson tipped toed over and handed Holly his weapon before putting a gentle hand on his  cook's shoulder.
"Chow Ming, Chow Ming."
The older man's eyes opened. He looked about wildly.
"What you doing here?" he asked.
"He come? Fat man in red suit. He come?"
Dobson shook his head. "No, Santa won't come while you are awake. It has to be done in secret."
"Chow Ming want to see wagon that fly. Chow Ming think this man in red suit want to steal things."
"No, no," Dobson shook his head. "He's a good guy. But you must go to sleep or he won't come."
     "Humph, then Chow Ming go to bed. Nearly midnight anyway." Grumbling, he rose and moved to Holly taking the meat clever from her hands.
"Chow Ming, did you see Lucy?" Holly asked.
"No, Chow Ming fall asleep. Wait for man in red suit, wagon pulled by antelope."
"Reindeer," Dobson corrected him.
"Whatever, no see cowgirl in training."
Holly hid her giggles behind her hand.
     Suddenly, Dobson knew. "I think I know where she is. Grab your coat."
Pulling their coats from the pegs by the door, Dobson and Holly slipped into the cold night.  They crossed the yard, to the barn, and found the door opened from the outside. "She's inside," he told Holly. "Joe told her a story about the animal's Christmas. I bet she's waiting to see."
Stepping inside, they stood in the quiet and waited. A few moments later, a sound came from the hayloft as a few bits of straw floated down.
"Come on," he said, leading her over to the ladder.
Carefully, they climbed up the steps to the loft.
"Lucy," Holly hissed.
"Sh, I'm over here." A tiny hand waved.
They moved to where the little girl sat curled in the hay watching the animals below.
"Lucy," Holly scolded. "It's almost midnight."
 She held her fingers to her lips for the adults to be quiet. "I know." Lucy grinned, her face full of excitement. "I want to see the animals pray. Joe told me the story about the animals kneeling on the stroke of midnight to thank God for letting them be the first to see Jesus."
Both adults looked at each other. "Lucy, that's an old wives tale," Holly explained to her.
"No. No, it's not. Sit and listen," she urged them.
Holly sighed and sat down. Dobson moved behind her so his body would protect them both from the cold. Reaching into the pocket of his trousers, he pulled out a gold pocket watch and handed it to Lucy.
"It will chime when it strikes midnight."
She took it and nodded.
The barn grew still. Lucy held her breath. Dobson's watch seemed to tick louder as the remaining seconds to Christmas drifted away. Then a soft chime rang out and they all held her breath.
"See, nothing is happen-" Before Holly could finish, they heard the animals shifting. Peering over into the cows stall, they watched in amazement as the two calves dropped to their front knees. Then Star did the same. A horse neighed, and then the other animals answered one by one. Holly's arms prinked with goose bumps. She looked around to Dobson, whose eyes were as wide as hers.
Both adults looked down to Lucy who grinned broadly. "Oh, Holly, you were right, there is no Christmas like a Cordial Christmas." Her arms wide, she flung them around both of their necks and held on tight.
Dobson put an arm around her and pulled his family close. "Merry Christmas, Mrs. Winters," he said again.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Two Wrongs by Morgan Mandel

Two Wrongs by Morgan Mandel

Two Wrongs was my first book published, in 2006, and I'm happy to re-release it now on Kindle and Smashwords at 99 cents, a more reasonable price for today's economy.

Two Wrongs has mystery, romance, and more. It's set in Chicago where I grew up, in the days when Marshall Field's was still Field's, and Chicago basketball was king.

Included are Field's references, such as the Big Tree at Christmastime and ice cream snowmen in the Walnut Room, as well as Frango mints. 

You'll find DePaul University, Chase Park, St. Vincent DePaul Church, and other Chicago landmarks also sprinkled in. 

What it's about:

Mix a Charles Bronson two-sided revenge theme, John Grisham courtroom scene, Danielle Steel 2nd chance at love and ADD Chicago and Marshall Field's at Christmastime - you'll get some idea about this book.

An innocent girl is slain. Her brother knows who did it - or does he?

Kevin loses his cool when Mary Alice turns him down for the prom. Her brother, Danny, hears them argue. Later that night Mary Alice lies dead in the alley. Danny is determined to make Kevin pay, but did he do it? Prison can turn the most innocent human being into a killer.

Excerpt - Chapter 29
“Danny, can you hear me?”

She bent so close he could smell her perfume—a scent which had driven him over the edge.

This was not Cathy. He lay helpless, again in her power. What would she do to him?

Footsteps approached.

“I’ve found him,” her voice called out to the new arrival.

Someone tried to move him.

“Answer me, Danny boy. Can you hear me?” Tony’s voice floated up. “Hey, man, just nod if you understand. That’s all I ask.”

Okay, he could do that. Cautiously, Danny moved his head, but a gong clanged inside.

“Okay, he’s still with us. Dora, stay here. I’ll get the car.”

Dora sat beside Danny, holding his head in her lap, brushing her soft fingers through his hair. He sighed at the soothing feeling. He’d missed the touch of a woman, especially this one. He shouldn’t allow her to do this, but it felt wonderful. He’d been so alone. Each soft stroke dulled the roaring pain.

Then he was lifted up and carried. He found himself resting in the back seat of a car, with his aching head cuddled in Dora’s lap. He wanted to stay there forever. Dora was strong. He needed her.

There had always been a link between them. Out of respect for Cathy, he’d denied it. Now he hadn’t the strength to fight it.

Thanks for letting me share.
Morgan Mandel

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Divorce, Interrupted by Jill James

Do I like controversy? Um, not really. Not really, a lot. When I set out to write Divorce, Interrupted I just wanted to write a story a little outside the box. A story that might not be looked at by my small e-publisher, but only because they don't do married couples with problems or divorced spouses working on their problems.

I was unprepared for the emails commenting on how I took a very tough subject like infidelity and made it work. How I was sensitive to the delicate subject I was writing about. Wow! I hadn't planned that at all. For the record, my husband knows if he ever cheated he wouldn't be able to run far enough, fast enough, to escape my wrath. But I felt with Todd and Lisa like they did still love each other and there might just be hope for a new happily-ever-after for them. We write fiction because then, anything is possible.

Excerpt: Lisa is cleaning up the wedding cake topper she threw against the wall and shattered.

Lisa walked to the trash bin and dumped the contents of the dustpan. Todd winced as the tinkle of pieces of the cake topper hit the bottom. Kind of like their marriage; in pieces and thrown away in the garbage.

“We could hike to the highway, catch a ride.” He sat up and turned toward his ex. “It’s only about seven miles, give or take.”

Lisa smiled at him. “We could do that.”

As if to shatter their hopes of escape as she had shattered the figurine, lightning flashed blindingly through the bay window, followed instantly by the roar of thunder marking the storm as overhead. Rain began to pelt the roof. Todd turned to view a waterfall coming from the roof onto the ground in front of the porch.


“My sentiments exactly,” Lisa added. “Now what do we do?”

Todd walked to the window. “We wait. How long can it rain?

His ex gasped and rushed to the dining-room table. She strode toward him with a piece of newspaper crumpled in her tightened fists.

He pried her hands off the paper. Their fingers touched and Todd jumped back as the old spark flared between them. He turned his back on her and smoothed out the page.

Possibility of Flooding in Lake County Certain glared at him from the headline.

“Shit,” he whispered.

“Exactly,” Lisa added, over his shoulder.

Her sweet breath tickled his neck. His face heated up as he moved away from Lisa. He couldn’t do this. A whole weekend trapped in this cabin with the only woman he loved as much as he hated her. They said love and hate were two sides of the same coin, and he believed it.

Todd slapped the paper, the sound lost in the cacophony outside and on the roof. He needed to move. Cabin fever was already setting in and he had only been here moments. All the times before, they had the outdoors for an escape. Boating, fishing, catching butterflies with Michelle or tadpoles with Michael. His mind played a family movie of good times together.

His gaze skittered over Lisa, her hands wrapped tight around her body. Just like the marriage ended, the happy family time movie ended in his thoughts. How could he be so mad, angry and hurt over her affair and see her for a few minutes and want her so badly?

He was screwed. He still loved the woman who betrayed him

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Feast For the Senses

THE FEAST OF BEAUTY will appeal to anyone who has read my Magic Knot Fairy series or who loves Celtic mythology. In the first book in my series, The Magic Knot, King Esras is mentioned. When I was asked to contribute a novella to The Mammoth Book of Irish Romance, I decided to give him his own story. A combination of Celtic fairytale and paranormal romance, the book is based on Irish mythology about the sea god Lir and his rainbow people.


Kate’s grandmother’s dying wish is that she should return her pearl pendant to Knocknapog, the tiny fishing village in Ireland where she was born. As production assistant at a television company, Kate is able to book a shoot at the village’s mysterious Midsummer Feast of Beauty. She and her colleagues stay with the wealthy local landowner Esras Mac Lir, who organizes the midsummer celebration. But he is not what she expects. With his unearthly silver hair and emerald eyes, there is something magical about him, something compelling and seductive that mesmerizes her and invades her dreams. And when he claims to have been waiting for her all his life, she doesn't know whether he's a romantic, or living in a fantasy world—until he proves that they share a magical heritage and that she truly is his Feast of Beauty Queen.

(Originally published in The Mammoth Book of Irish Romance.)



County Cork, Ireland

Chapter One

Surprisingly, wrap-around sunglasses looked rather good with a top hat, but Kate wasn't sure about bare feet and board shorts with a tailcoat. The combination made the man look only half dressed. But he was so mouth-wateringly gorgeous she decided the fewer clothes he wore the better.

He stood on the front steps of Knock House and raised his arms to attract attention. The gesture was unnecessary. Every woman in the vicinity was already staring at him, along with most of the men.

"Welcome to my domain, my friends. I'm Esras Mac Lir, descendant of the sea god Lir, and Fairy King of County Cork and the Celtic Sea."

Incredulous silence fell over the crowd, broken only by the birds twittering in the roses covering the front of the Georgian mansion, and the distant rumble of waves breaking against the rocky headland on which the house stood.

"I'm delighted to welcome the London based Barthurst Production Company into my domain. They're going to film an episode of their award-winning travel show Claudia's Magic Carpet at my Midsummer Feast of Beauty. I can assure you that tomorrow's feast will be a magical experience for everyone."

Peter Hurst, the producer and Kate's boss, leaned closer to Kate and whispered, "You sure this guy isn't a retired rock star? He's got that touch of megalomania that usually goes with too much money and a lifetime of sex, booze, and drugs."

"As far as I know he's just a wealthy eccentric with an interest in Irish mythology. He sounded fairly normal on the phone when I set up the shoot," she replied. Although she'd have booked to film at the Feast of Beauty no matter how weird he'd sounded. She had her own reasons for wanting to visit this part of Ireland.

"If the Barthurst TV people would like to come forward, my right-hand man Faelan will show you to your rooms." Esras then doffed his dove-gray top hat and bowed with an elegant sweep of his arm. He sported just-got-out-of-bed hair, as though a woman had been clutching it in the throes of passion. The spiky strands were light brown, but as he moved, his hair gleamed with unusual silver highlights.

Peter started forward while Kate hung back, checking her clipboard for the long list of jobs that she as production assistant had to complete before the shoot the following morning. She had at least two hours of typing to do, what with Claudia's script changes and the shot cards. And it was vital she found time this evening to go down to the little village of Knocknapog half-a-mile away.

Her grandmother had been born in the village and had lived there until she'd married and moved to England. Kate cradled the teardrop pearl pendant her grandmother had left her, rubbing her thumb over the smooth pink surface. Grandma's last wish had been that Kate should bring the pearl back here. The trouble was, Kate had no idea what she was supposed to do with it now she had arrived.


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