Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Elizabeth Keysian | Five Scandals and Scoundrels that influenced me
Author Guest / December 13, 2017

I’ve always been attracted by the image of the heroic highwayman, even though the myth puts a golden gloss on reality. So I squeezed a highwayman into the plot of A PERILOUS PASSION—well, two, actually, although neither steals anything more valuable than a pocketful of eggs. My imagination was fuelled by the stories of Claude Duval, and James Maclaine. Duval was a Frenchman who took to highway robbery on English roads after the Restoration of Charles II. A great one for the ladies, Duval robbed them with courtesy and flattery, flouting his handsome looks. When he was executed, aged only 27, it is said a number of disguised but obviously wealthy female mourners came to pay their last respects. James Maclaine, “The Gentleman Highwayman”, worked in partnership with a bankrupt apothecary called William Plunkett. The elegantly-dressed Maclaine pursued the ladies, in search of an heiress or someone with a substantial dowry, but never quite made it to the altar. His clothing and lifestyle were paid for by highway robbery, although he tended to lurk in the background while Plunkett conducted the actual hold-ups. Maclaine, having accidentally grazed writer Horace Walpole with a pistol shot, then wrote him a letter of…

Tis the Season to Get Cozy
Cozy Corner / December 13, 2017

The rat race has begun! For many, the menorah is lit. Or the tree is decorated. The lights are hung. The list is complete. (Until they add to it again.) The shopping has started—on and off-line. The weather is cooperating. Sorta. And the parties are out of control! But all you want to do is relax. So here’s a few cozies to help you do just that. Enjoy! HARK THE HERALD ANGELS SLAY by Vicki Delany A Year-Round Christmas Mystery #3 The town of Rudolph, New York, is gearing up to celebrate Christmas in July. Merry Wilkinson, owner of Mrs. Claus’s Treasures, is looking forward to a busy weekend starting with the arrival of Santa by boat to begin his summer vacation at the lake. But Merry is caught off guard when her ex-fiancé, Max Folger, unexpectedly arrives with a team from a lifestyle magazine wanting to do a feature on the July festivities. It’s clear that Max’s visit has less to do with business and more to do with winning back Merry’s heart. Between the magazine feature and the Christmas events, Merry has too much on her plate to deal with an old flame. But when Max is found…

Cat Sebastian | Comfort Food and Comfort Reading
Author Guest , Holiday Recipes / December 13, 2017

My characters are always sharing food with one another. Food and love are tied up in my brain in ways they probably shouldn’t be, but that knot is never going to get untangled, so my characters love one another and love their food. Sometimes they show they care by making sure their love interest has enough to eat; sometimes they give gifts of pastry and pie. In IT TAKES TWO TO TUMBLE, a secondary character starts to fall in love with someone based on their cooking skills. It’s a summer book, with lots of picnics and fruit pies, but now it’s almost the holidays, which is prime food-sharing season for many of us. My family has quite a few food sensitivities, so when I figure out a recipe for a favorite food that we all can eat, I’m pretty pleased with myself. These cookies have never yet sent any of my family members running for the epi-pen, they’re easy enough for my kids to make on their own, and they taste exactly the way sugar cookies ought to. Roll Out Sugar Cookies (gluten, dairy, and nut free) Ingredients: 1 cup white sugar 1 cup butter substitute (I use earth balance…

My Favorite Duke: 8 authors share the Dukes that inspire them!
Author Guest / December 13, 2017

Want to learn a little something about the writers of THE DESIRES OF DUKE Historical Romance Collection? Here are their own favorite fictional dukes. Erica Monroe: Favorite Duke: Roderick Gideon Tremayne, Duke of Wentworth Title of book: FOREVER AND A DAY Author: Delilah Marvelle Why he’s my favorite duke: Roderick and Georgia’s love is truly a story of love defying society’s conventions, and they have to fight hard for their happily ever after. Roderick’s devotion to Georgia made me love him even more. Favorite Duke: Simon Pearson, Duke of Leighton Title of Book: ELEVEN SCANDALS TO START TO WIN A DUKE’S HEART Author: Sarah MacLean Why he’s my favorite duke: This book is probably the reason I have a thing for the rule-following, restrained hero who refuses to admit that passion could ever change his life. I absolutely adored the chemistry between “opposites attract” Simon and Juliana, and this was one of the first books I read where I really got caught up in the story and found myself breathlessly reading the next page. I loved Simon’s dedication to his family, and his struggle between following his logic, or his heart. Shana Galen: Favorite Duke: The Duke of Avendale Title…

Excerpt / December 12, 2017

Chapter One I walked into the museum with a half demon holding my hand and a gargoyle waiting for me back at our car. As a history major, I’d often dreamed about going museum hopping throughout Europe, but not once had I pictured doing it like this. “We’re here for the four p.m. tour,” Adrian, my new husband and the aforementioned half demon, told the museum attendant. “The four p.m. tour group is over there,” she said, pointing toward a small cluster of people about a dozen feet away. As we walked off, Adrian traced the braided rope tattoo on my right hand. My sleeve hid the rest of it, just like my high-necked blouse and long pants hid the remains of the other hallowed weapon that had supernaturally merged with my flesh. If the hallowed weapon we were looking for was here, I’d no doubt end up with a third supernatural tattoo. Of course, that tattoo might one day end up decorating my cold dead corpse. “Feel anything, Ivy?” Adrian asked in a low voice. I directed my senses outward and felt the distinct vibes that meant this was hallowed ground, as well as extra brushes of power from…

Jen Gilroy | My favorite fireside reads for the holidays
Author Guest / December 12, 2017

For me, winter—and the holidays in particular—is the coziest time of year. During these cold months, I return to comfort reads—the books that no matter what else is going on in my life—or the wider world—give me escape, hope, inspiration, and encouragement. So, as the winter nights draw in, and I curl up by the fire with a mug of hot chocolate, my dog snuggled at my side, and fuzzy socks on my feet, here are my favorite seasonal reads, especially for Fresh Fiction. LITTLE WOMEN, Louisa May Alcott Alcott’s classic (first published in 1868) has been one of my favorite books since my early teens, and Little Women is still the story I return to each year at Christmas. I inherited my copy from my grandmother and knowing she treasured it makes the book even more special to me. From the first line of the first chapter, “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” this American Civil War era story about the four March sisters reminds me of the true meaning of the season, the blessing of family, and qualities—kindness, patience, courage and forgiveness—that are as important today as when Alcott was writing. WINTER GARDEN, Kristin Hannah I first…

Gayle Leeson | For the Love of Boxes
Author Guest / December 11, 2017

Do you love subscription boxes? I do. I think it stems in part from the joy and excitement of receiving mail when I was growing up. You know how it is—when you’re a child, all mail is addressed to your parents. And then the day comes when you—yes, you—get a card addressed to you. Or maybe it’s a magazine or a letter. Whatever it was, it was good. You weren’t old enough to get scary mail—bills, IRS letters, family reunion invitations—yet. [Although I did get unhappy mail from the Humane Society once. My friend Buffy and I lamented the fact that we had no money to send and no way—other than prayer—to help that poor monkey with the hand over her eye. I’ve never forgotten that monkey. Where were you, Sarah McLachlan, when that monkey needed you? Sorry for the digression…] Fast forward to adulthood when mail becomes mundane. Now when you get something “good” in the mail, it’s usually something you’ve ordered. It’s seldom a surprise…unless, like me, an item sometimes takes so long to arrive, you forget you ordered it. That’s where subscription boxes come in. I get the quarterly box Fab Fit Fun, the monthly Sephora Play,…

Excerpt / December 8, 2017

As soon as Jace left, Emily couldn’t get the idea out of her mind to visit the site of the two men’s drowning. She often went out in the field for things related to work. But this time it was personal. She considered asking for a day or two off work, but they were swamped. And seriously so. Now was not a good time. It was never a good time for a death in the family, though they were no longer family. She’d had no contact with them since she broke off the relationships with each of the three men. Although she hurt for the family, those weren’t close deaths as far as the company was concerned. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t well within the scope of her job to take a look at the accident site. She burrowed deeper into the files. The more work she got done the better. She could leave early if she got something more accomplished. By the time she lifted her head, it was late already. She groaned and looked outside. Being summertime, the sun was still above the trees. It’d probably take close to an hour to get to the river location….

Excerpt from HARD LINE by Erin McCarthy
Excerpt / December 8, 2017

Excerpt Candy was starting to figure out Jared was a whole lot of masculine bluster. Beneath the cool stare and the cutting words he sometimes tossed off, he had feelings. Twenty minutes later when she walked into his condo, she realized those feelings included being really doggone romantic. He had recreated her idea of a perfect evening, right down to his own addition of a fire popping warmly in the fireplace. Oh, Lord. If she hadn’t been on the edge before—taking in the table set for two, the chilling wine, and the scented candles burning did her in for sure. It felt almost like she was falling for Jared. Which was insane, since she was supposed to be using him just for the purpose of having some romping good sex. But the stupid man had gone and actually listened to what she had said when she’d been talking. She wasn’t sure any man besides her stepfather had ever actually heard a single word she’d said outside of work related topics. Her ex-husband sure in the heck never had. “Oh, Jared, you didn’t have to go to so much trouble.” But she was sure glad he had. “It wasn’t any trouble.”…

Erica Cameron | The Top 5 Reasons MOGAI Characters Are Needed in YA
Author Guest / December 8, 2017

More and more, stories centering on MOGAI characters have been appearing in young adult fiction, something I am exceedingly happy about. Solid, respectful, and accurate MOGAI—which stands for Marginalized Orientations, Gender Alignments, and Intersex—representation is incredibly important, and here are five reasons why. Fiction should be a reflection of the world both as it is and as it could be. It’s not yet a universal facet of literature, though. Readers have been subconsciously trained by books and society to apply a “default” description to characters, so much so that unless an author takes special care to describe and define each person’s characteristics—whether that’s race, orientation, religion, ethnicity, or other—we assume they’re a white, heterosexual, Christian, able-bodied individual. Contemporary and historical novels can so easily incorporate the truth about the existence of people of color or those on the MOGAI spectrum. Fantasy and science-fiction worlds are capable of showing us what humanity could look like if it released its prejudices fell away. If books began to reflect the truly beautiful diversity of the world we live in, this “default” would begin to break down. Or we can hope it would help this happen over time, at least. Many teenagers are searching…