Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Serafina and the Silent Vampire Release Day Blitz



SERAFINA AND THE SILENT VAMPIRE
Serafina’s Book One
By Marie Treanor

Coming 28th August

Silence has never been so sinful…

Welcome to Edinburgh's unique psychic investigation agency, Serafina's.
Serafina MacBride is psychic - but not strictly honest. While staging a hilarious vampire attack at a client's party, Sera is stunned to encounter a real vampire - annoying, gorgeous and inaudible to everyone but her. When her client's son is found dead with puncture wounds in his neck, she tracks the silent vampire to his lair.

But the amoral and seductive  Blair is also on a mission - to find and kill a nest of young vampires who've invaded his territory. Soon Sera is drawn into the bizarre world of the undead, where danger lurks in the shadows along with forbidden sensual delights - and a murderous conspiracy to flood the world with financially astute vampires who talk.

Supported and hindered by Blair's eccentric, undead friends, and by her own motley crew from Serafina's, Sera and Blair uncover surprising truths about each other and about the mysterious Founder from whom all vampires are descended.
In the end, Sera draws on powers she never knew she had in a frantic fight to defeat the forces of evil and preserve the strange, complicated being  she's trying so hard not to love.


Vampires and Kilts by Marie Treanor

Hello, everyone, and thank you, Dana, for having me on your blog today!

Dana has asked me to talk about what fascinates me about vampires and kilts - which I seem to have combined in my latest book SERAFINA AND THE SILENT VAMPIRE (released today – Champagne!).

 Well, I’m not alone! As you know, vampires and in particular vampire romance have been popular for ages, in books, films  and television. And of course Scottish romances, featuring brawny Highlanders in kilts and no shirts (brrr!) have a large and devoted following. As regards my own fascinations…where do I start???

Vampires have enthralled me since childhood when I used to get to stay up late on a Friday night to watch “horror” films with my Dad – this introduced me to classics like Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, and Christopher Lee’s Hammer Horror version, and inspired me to read Bram Stoker’s novel. I was hooked. A little later I read Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire and was blown away all over again. Why? Because there’s something utterly mesmerizing about a figure so powerful, who’ll live forever and yet is damned and evil – or at least is believed to be. You long to see more of him, find any vulnerability or still-human emotion. This combination of bad-boy might and eternal tragedy is a sexy one and as I began to write seriously, it was one I couldn’t resist.

All very well. But why is my vampire in a kilt on the cover of SERAFINA? Because he’s Scottish, and he’s crashed a formal party where he’s trying to blend in, and at such parties in Scotland, formal wear for men can often be a kilt. Plus, I thought readers would like it. I’ve been around the romance world long enough to have picked up the universal obsession of non-Scots for the kilt J.
As an actual Scot myself, I confess I don’t fully understand this obsession! I’ve grown up with boys complaining that they’ve been forced to wear kilts to Sunday school, weddings, whatever, and watched football fans celebrate (or more often commiserate) in crazily long kilts and tartan tammies which are fun caricatures of the national dress. Which is, of course, what kilts are anyway. The writer Sir Walter Scott is generally attributed with inventing today’s Highland dress, adopted by Scots in a resurgence of national pride in the nineteenth century. But the really funny (and interesting) thing is, that the kilt is an idealized version of the rough costume worn by the poorest Highland peasants, and yet it became adopted by all Scots including great noblemen and wealthy Lowlanders, who would once have despised it! The kilt became a universal symbol of “Scottishness”, of patriotism.

So, it has a long and interesting history, but to be honest, much of its attraction for me stems from its fascination for others! Of course, some men can look extraordinarily handsome in a kilt – like my vampire hero, Blair – so I’m all for it some of the time. But Blair wears jeans at other times and looks sexy then too.

Still, I did enjoy writing the kilted scene at the beginning of SERAFINA. For me it was an irresistible combination of biting vampire and swinging kilt over muscular, bare legs J. Hope you think so too! 




Excerpt:

Although the scary glow didn’t vanish from his eyes, they seemed to soften. His body didn’t. It still pinned her helplessly to the wall. He lifted his hand and touched her cheek, trailing his fingertips down her jaw to her throat. She gasped.
“Serafina,” he murmured in her head. “Some things are just stronger than you. They don’t necessarily hurt you, and they won’t necessarily defeat you.”
Distracting her from his surprising words, the bulge in his jeans was hardening, both alarming and exciting her. After all, he had the kind of face and body to die for. Sera had no intention of dying.
“Okay, celebrate!” she spat. “You’re stronger than me.”
His lips twitched. “I was thinking of Nicholas Smith. But now you mention it, yes, I am.” His fingers lingered over her vein, stroking. She shivered, trying not to feel the spurt of physical pleasure that was in danger of drowning out her alarm, especially when he swayed his hips in a slow, sensual caress. His erection rubbed against her tummy, and she had an insane urge to stand on tiptoe to feel it grind between her legs. “And, you know, I like that too.”
“Why?” she got out, reaching wildly for the smart comment that somehow eluded her.
His fingers slid upward to her face once more, and he traced the outline of her lips. “Because I can kiss you without you feeling the need to stop me.”
She narrowed her eyes threateningly, although her heart seemed to plunge right through her stomach to her womb. “It won’t be the need that’s lacking,” she managed.
“But you like the way I look,” he pointed out, pressing gently on her lower lip to part it from the upper. “I’ve read it in your mind.”
“Doesn’t mean I want you slobbering all over me!” Oh Jesus, what would it feel like?
“I won’t slobber,” he promised and bent his head.
She couldn’t have avoided it. She refused to dent her dignity further by trying. So she glared into his face, daring him, while her heart thundered in treacherous anticipation. His lips hovered over hers for an instant, just long enough for her to panic that perhaps he was changing his mind and wouldn’t do it, after all. She felt an urge to close the distance herself—only to break the tension, of course. And then he did it, sliding his fingers away from her lips to cup her face and sinking his mouth into hers with blatant, wonderful, terrifying sensuality.
There was none of the buildup she was used to, the gentle brushing of lips, the soft, quick kisses that grew deeper and longer. It was an outright assault on her senses, and it was devastating. His lips were cool and firm as they moved on hers, savoring, almost as if he were drinking from her. Oh shit, don’t think drinking here! He opened her mouth wider for his tongue, which swept around her teeth and curled around her own, drawing it into his mouth. She tried to speak, but the attempt got lost in the shock of his long, sharp teeth under her tongue. Blood drummed in her head, a tattoo of fear all mixed up with wonder and sheer, unadulterated lust.
A weird sound came from her mouth, and he deepened the kiss, almost grinding his mouth into hers, demanding the response she found it impossible not to give. There had never been a kiss like this one, fierce and overwhelmingly sexual, driving all thought from her head but the gratification of desire. She melted into it, opening wide for him, winding her tongue around his, sucking and biting his lips, drawing him deeper in.
At some point, he’d begun to grind his hips too, rubbing himself against her, and she found herself moving with him, standing on tiptoe and pressing back to try to assuage the aching need between her thighs.
When she almost ran out of breath, he broke the kiss and smiled. “Oh yes,” he whispered in her mind. “All night with you. All night and day, and all night again…” His words drove her to fever pitch, eliciting a helpless mewl of desire as she reached for his mouth once more.
He gave it with enthusiasm. His hands were on her hips, stroking down to her thighs and dragging upward inside her jacket and over the sides of her breasts. She moaned into his mouth, felt his thumbs caress her desperate nipples over and over. She wanted them on her naked breasts. She wanted no clothes at all between them. She wanted him buried deep inside her, pounding her to the greatest, sweetest orgasm of her life. More than that, she yearned to blast his control to hell, to make him lose himself in the pleasure she could give him. She was sure no one had ever wanted her this much before.
She squirmed against him, dragging her arms free at last to loop them around his neck and comb her fingers through his soft hair. His hands cupped both her breasts, making her gasp, and swept downward to the fastening of her jeans.
She tore her mouth free to gasp, half laughing, “Oh stop! We can’t! This is a respectable street! People are bound to pass.”
“I don’t care. I want you now. Just for starters. I want to make you scream as you come the first time, see your face in the open air as you fall apart around me. Oh yes.”
She caught his head as he plunged back for her mouth, his fingers determinedly unfastening the buttons of her jeans. “Blair, no!”
He paused and raised his head, his eyes black and clouded with lust. “Admit it. You want me to fuck you.”
She caught the golden flash in his dark eyes, glimpsed the pointed fangs between his parted lips, and swallowed hard. “Does it come with blood drinking?”
“Oh yes…”


What I Liked:

This book hooked me from page one. The voice of it, in particular was a real treat. Sassy and full of kick butt attitude and action. Serafina is a blast. Reading the opening scene in the book, I felt like I was at the party, hobnobbing with the snooty and pretentious guests and secretly laughing about it all with Sera. The psychic investigator job was perfect and in your face with all the anti vampire trappings around the party. Excellent scene development. 

Blair was an interesting character. The silent vampire was a heart throb on wheels and I couldn't get enough of him. The interplay between he and Sera was dynamic and felt very real. Excellent!

What I Didn't:

Not a thing. Just wanted it to never end. Sigh...

Overall:

I have a new author that is in my must read list! Marie Treanor has a voice that had me giggling in the break room at work and sneaking reading moments while I was supposed to be cooking dinner. Some books it takes you a few pages to figure out if you like it or not. It took one sentence and the sarcastic bite had me turning the pages like the caffeine addicted bookaholic that I am. 

Sera is a hilarious and very biting character that made me love her right away. Add in a fake vamp attack, a real fangified murder, some pretty cool friends on both sides and the hunky Blair (aka silent kilted vampire extraordinaire) and you have a story that just won't quit. I loved it. Taking my iPad to bed and reading until my eyes won't stay open anymore, loved it. 

5/5






Author Bio:


Marie Treanor lives in Scotland with her eccentric husband and three much-too-smart children. Having grown bored with city life, she resides these days in a picturesque village by the sea where she is lucky enough to enjoy herself avoiding housework and writing sensual stories of paranormal romance and fantasy.

Marie Treanor has published more than twenty ebooks with small presses, (Samhain Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, Changeling Press and The Wild Rose Press), including a former Kindle bestseller, Killing JoeBlood on Silk: an Awakened by Blood novel, was her New York debut with NAL.


Website: www.MarieTreanor.com  



Blog: Marie Treanor's Romantic Theme Party: 


Enter to win a tour wide giveaway of a $25 Amazon gift card.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Alchemical Detective Blog Tour: Guest Post and Tour Wide Giveaway



Book Description

A psychic has been murdered in an occult ceremony and the police pay a visit to Riga Hayworth, metaphysical detective.  But this time, she’s not a consultant on the case, she’s a suspect.
There’s a storm on the horizon.  Riga’s lost her magic, and has come to Lake Tahoe to recover and spend quality time with her new love.  But life for Riga is never that simple.  A psychic’s been murdered, and the police believe Riga has a connection to the crime.  They’re right.  And if that’s not enough, Riga is drafted as the host of a reality TV show about the local lake monster, and her niece is rejecting her metaphysical abilities.  Juggling demons, daimons, and angry tarot card readers, Riga must catch a killer before she becomes the next target.
The Alchemical Detective is a paranormal mystery that explores a world of alchemy and the imagination.

e-book




Short Excerpt:

The egg quivered, then rolled, seemingly of its own accord, to the edge of the counter. 

Riga stared at it, her violet-colored eyes narrowed in concentration.  Magic, she reminded herself, was a matter of will and she had that in spades.  However, it was also a matter of focus and in this area, she was lacking.

The egg trembled, then slowly rose into the air; one inch, two inches, five.

“Yes,” Brigitte said encouragingly, her voice a French-accented Lauren Bacall.  Her stone claws tensed, gouging tracks in the linoleum countertop.

The egg exploded, splattering the gargoyle with shell and yolk. 
Brigitte shrieked, the sound of rocks scraping against each together.  “Faugh!  Water!  Bring ze water!” 

Riga hurried to the sink and turned on the tap, frustration wrinkling her brow.  She grabbed a dishtowel and soaked it in warm water.  Her hands trembled and Riga swore under her breath.  Two months ago, this would have been easy. 

At first she’d thought her magic was gone.  Now Riga knew it had gone haywire and her rehab attempts weren’t working.  If anything, her magic had become more unpredictable, more dangerous.  She only dared practice with Brigitte because the centuries-old gargoyle was made of stone.  But even Brigitte wasn’t indestructible. 

Someone beat upon the front door and Riga whipped around, startled.  She should have sensed whoever was coming up the steps.  Another small failure.  More pounding; the cheap wooden door vibrated beneath the blows.

“Police!  Open the door!”

Gargoyle and woman looked at each other.  Woman acted first.  Riga tossed the towel in the sink.  “Don’t move,” she said to Brigitte.

“But ze egg.  It dries like cement,” Brigitte wailed.

“Later.”  Riga hurried to the door and flung it open.  A chilly blast of pine-scented air swept inside, tossing Riga’s auburn hair and stinging her skin. 

Two sheriffs stood before her in wide brimmed hats and heavy dark brown parkas.  Riga might have taken them for rangers had it not been for their belts, strapped with weapons, slung low on their hips.  The older one had his fist raised for another round of door pummeling.  He lowered it with what looked like regret.  He was bulky, bearlike, with steel blue eyes, and she imagined he enjoyed making the door shiver beneath his fist.  The tag under his badge read: Sheriff John King.  The badge itself: El Dorado County.

“I heard a woman scream,” King said. 

“I banged my shin on the coffee table,” Riga said. 

“Are you alone?”  He peered over Riga’s shoulder.  It wasn’t hard – Riga was five foot six, and he stood well over six feet tall, imposing in every direction. 

“Yes.  Can I help you?”  Riga didn’t budge, unwilling to let them in.  It wasn’t that Riga didn’t like cops; she was friends with plenty of them, when they were out of uniform. 

“It was quite a scream,” he said.

She quirked her lips.  “Now you’re just embarrassing me.” 

The Sheriff looked at her.  She returned his gaze.  The silence stretched between them. 

The Deputy coughed.  “Are you Ms. Hayworth?” he asked.  Riga figured him for his early thirties, which meant she had a decade on him.   He was well built, and between the startling pale blue of his eyes and the chiseled planes of his face, would have looked at home on a magazine cover.  But Riga’s gaze was drawn to the Sheriff.  The Deputy had youth, the Sheriff had presence.

“I’m Riga Hayworth.”

“My name is Night, Deputy Night.  May we come in?  Please?”  He smiled ruefully, exposing dimples and gleaming white teeth.  “It’s kind of cold out here.”

Riga hesitated.  But she wasn’t wearing a coat and was freezing in the doorway.  She could feel the heat from the cabin oozing past her, out the door.  “Okay.”  Reluctantly, she stepped back, and allowed them past her.

Hands resting on the butts of their guns, they prowled the room as if they owned the place.  They could have it, for all Riga cared.   It was one of the lower-end tourist cabins, crammed with a mis-matched jumble of seventies era furniture.  A giant picture window looked out upon a forest scene:  pines, and patches of snow wetting the ground.  The afternoon sun slanted low in the sky, sending beams of light glittering through damp tree branches. 

 Brigitte, still covered in egg, had shifted to face the cabin’s small living room.  The deputy stared at the gargoyle, walked to Brigitte, and ran his hands across her stony feathers as if in a caress.  Brigitte would love that, Riga thought. 

“Cool harpy,” he said.  “Where’d you find it?”

“Garage sale.”

Night tucked his hat under one arm, and ruffled his blond hair with his free hand.  “Do you know it’s got egg on it?”

“Forget the statue,” the Sheriff barked.  Turning, he stumbled over a cheap American-Indian themed rug.  “Miss Hayworth, may we sit down?”

She indicated the lumpy sofa, a cruel gesture given the state of its springs, but she didn’t want them to linger.  





What I Liked:

This story was a fun and original mystery with a witchy twist. I loved Riga's character and the play on the movie star angle. The gargoyle in the opening scene was great. A witch having her powers going awry is a great plot and when you combine that with a murder investigation and characters like Riga, you are in for a treat!!

What I Didn't:

Not a thing.

Overall:

This story reminds me of cozy mysteries that I love, with the witchy twist that makes a story irresistible. Brigitte, the gargoyle was a nice touch, and having a witch with wonky magic makes things pretty unpredictable and I like that. The magical elements, romance, family drama and a dash of murder thrown in make this a book that really grabbed my attention. I did not feel lost that I read this one first, even though it is the second in the series. *( The first book was great too) Kirsten Weiss does a great job recapping just enough so you can latch onto the story without making it too obvious. The plot moves, dialogue is believable, action well done and in all an enjoyable read. I will be reading this whole series and can't wait to get the third one!!



The Secret of the Philosopher’s Stone

Kirsten Weiss

"In speaking of the Philosopher's Stone, receive this stone which is not a stone, a precious thing that has no value, a thing of many shapes that has no shape, this unknown which is known by all."
--Zosimos, Ancient Greek Alchemist

So here’s the thing about alchemy: it makes no sense.  None.  The instructions are written in riddles and metaphors, by Renaissance magicians who’s English is as clear as a Shakespearean sonnet (i.e not at all).  Still, I think it’s fascinating, maybe because it is so damned mysterious.  It allowed me to be equally mysterious when I wove the philosophy into The Alchemical Detective.  My friends, however, wouldn’t put up with that.  They wanted actual answers, not riddles.  How does alchemy work?

Here’s the best I can come up with:

Eckert Tolle tells a story about the darkest point in his life.  He was suicidal, and thought, “I can’t live with myself anymore.”  And then he wondered who the “I” was who couldn’t live with himself.
This, in a nutshell, is the Philosopher’s Stone of alchemy. 

Go back to the Renaissance, to alchemists struggling to understand the nature of the universe and of themselves.  The alchemical process begins and ends with the Philosopher’s Stone, a mysterious element that can turn lead to gold.  According to the riddles, it’s everywhere, but almost no one sees it.  In most “histories” of alchemy, the alchemist only discovers it after a long search, and then laughs at the seeming commonness of the material.

According to the texts, the alchemist worked with the stone and his other raw materials – mercury, salt and sulfur – purifying them through a series of heating and cooling to create… the Philosopher’s Stone. 
???

Why bother to create the Philosopher’s Stone, if you’ve already got it?  Because it’s a heck of a lot of work, taking years, or even decades to achieve.  The answer lies in those obscure riddles and metaphors.

Think about it.  How could a Renaissance philosopher, in the days before the concept of ego and unconscious, describe such things?  And if the Philosopher’s Stone is the “I”, the true self behind our egoic personalities, then its discovery is only the beginning of the process.  Just because you’ve recognized that there is something eternal in you beyond the ego, doesn’t mean you can live from that space.  There’s usually a long, hard journey involved. 

So is alchemy paranormal or psychological?  I think the answer is: both.

A commonly held belief in magic today is that to create magical change in the world, you have to transform yourself.  When you change, the way you see and affect the world changes.  It sounds simple, but as metaphysical detective, Riga Hayworth, discovers in The Alchemical Detective, change is never easy and often painful – particularly when the process is interrupted by a serial killer and a reality TV show about a local lake monster.  





Author Bio:
Kirsten Weiss is the author of two paranormal mysteries available on the Kindle: the urban fantasy, The Metaphysical Detective, and The Alchemical Detective.  She is hard at work on the sequel, The Shamanic Detective. 
Kirsten worked overseas for nearly fourteen years, in the fringes of the former USSR and deep in the Afghan war zone.  Her experiences abroad not only gave her glimpses into the darker side of human nature, but also sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives.
Now based in San Mateo, CA, she writes paranormal mysteries, blending her experiences and imagination to create a vivid world of magic and mayhem.
Kirsten has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching True Blood and drinking good wine. 
Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/RigaHayworthview her world boards on Pinterest http://pinterest.com/kirstenweiss/or check out her blog at http://kirstenweiss.com

Author site/blog:  http://kirstenweiss.com








Want to win one of two e-book copies on a tour wide giveaway? Leave a comment about what you enjoy most about novels with a touch of magic. Is it the myth? The alchemy? Witches that kick butt? 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ashes and Wine Blog Tour: An Interview with Taryn Elliott



Before Tessa met Royal Andreas, her bookstore was on the verge of sinking. And before Tessa met Royal Andreas, she didn’t mind being single. But Royal brings in business with monthly wine tastings featuring his family’s signature vintages–and brings Tessa’s heart to a standstill with intense gray eyes that look on her with nothing but cool indifference.


Yet one searing kiss between the stacks gives Tessa a glimpse of the passion smoldering beneath–and a secret pain further revealed when Royal fills in as the musician at a tasting event. Every note of Spanish guitar tells a story of family tragedy, loss, and ongoing suffering that’s made Royal afraid to lean on anyone…even if he needs Tessa’s sweet flavor more than the richest wine. Only her strength can save him when his world crumbles to ashes. But has Royal learned trust too late to claim Tessa as his own?








1. Wine and books...what could be a better combination. Where did the story idea for Ashes and Wine originate from?


It started with the bookstore actually. One of the longest jobs I've ever had was working for Barnes and Noble. I love book stores, but sometimes the overwhelming corporate side gets in the way of that intimate one on one customer interaction. I visited SoHo with some friends and really fell in love with the eclectic feel of the shops and BAM! That's all it takes. I love the sibling dynamics and always wanted to write about a winery. Seemed like a good combo.


2. Spanish guitar music is very beautiful and really smolders with passion. Are there any songs in particular that spoke to you as you wrote the book? 


Yes. I'm a music junkie. Every one of my stories (published and otherwise) has a playlist. Most of them can be found on my Spotify account which you can access off my website. They allow a play feature which I've embedded into the Ashes and Wine page.


But this song is what got me obsessed with the Spanish Guitar. Some might recognize the name. Richie Sambora's been the lead guitarist with Bon Jovi for almost thirty years, but he's also done some solo stuff. He wrote Ava's Eyes for his daughter and it just BLEW me away.


Ava's Eyes - Richie Sambora






And this slow, achingly heartfelt song by Matt Nathanson also got to me. He can rip your guts out with a song. I highly recommend him if you want sexy songs with unparalleled passion.


Kiss Quick - Matt Nathanson




And Pete Yorn, Will Hoge, Christian Kane. There are so many pieces of songs that move me, and 80% of them include guitars in one way or another.




3. What are some of your favorite wines?


I like the fruity wines like Tessa does. Moscato and a small winery that I tripped over at a wine tasting party, Tanglerose. It's a sweet American Rose from Phoenix Vintners. They're part of The Traveling Vineyard. It helps small wineries get more business. And I'm utterly in love with the wine. I drank an entire bottle myself. And I'm so not a drinker like that. Well, not since college.


4. Red wine vs. White?


I like the sweet whites and rosés.


5. Cheese vs. fruit?


Don't they go hand in hand? LOL But I'm a cheese lover if I have to choose.


6. What one thing would you tell someone who was interested in becoming a writer?


Be prepared to work. It's the most rewarding thing I've ever done, but it's also the hardest. Dig deep and find a story that makes you lie awake at night. That won't let your mind shut off. Those are the stories that will resonate.


7. What are some of your favorite authors that have inspired your work?


I'm a Nora Roberts junkie. She's the author that actually got me writing. I've always loved to read, but the first time I picked up one of her books I was bowled over. The family dynamic, the tension between characters, the page-turning style--all of it sucked me in. I used to get the Intimate Moments in the mail from Silhouette/Harlequin and I got her book in the mail. Night Shift--about a Radio DJ who was getting stalked and the cop that had to come in and protect her. Oh...I even still remember the characters names. Boyd and Cilla. *sigh* Man, I was SO hooked. I've re-read that book a couple dozen times.


Currently, Victoria Dahl, is on my auto-buy list. I've been slurping up every one of her books that is out there. My fave trilogy of hers was Talk Me Down, Start Me Up, and Lead Me On. I'm salivating for her new one at the end of August. Talk about funny and snarky heroines. My FAVE.


And Cari Quinn. As far as I'm concerned, that girl can do no wrong. She can twist you up, spit you out and make you fall in love with men you'd never think could be redeemed. One name--Spencer. *sigh* It will always be Spencer. (Provoke Me is the book. LOL)


8. What are you currently working on?


I just finished a submission for a Christmas novella for Entangled. *crossing fingers* That it will get picked up. And I'm working on a new trilogy set in The Hamptons. My girl is a roller derby dress maker named December and her rich playboy, Heath. She's going to take him down in the best way possible. ;) The boy won't know what hit him.


9. How hard was it to write your first romantic scene?


The first one ever? Oh it was easy. I love that push and pull of emotions and the skin on skin interaction. It's utterly cringe worthy though. LOL Holy purple prose, Batman! Waves crashing and sighs, with a side of falling off a cliff. LOL Now? They're damn hard. But I'll never be a closed bedroom door writer.


10. How much does music influence you when you write?


HUGELY. It's the heart of the emotions of my stories. I choose songs for their lyrics or for the mood they put me in when I'm listening to it. Sometimes the playlist changes halfway through a book. Because I'm a seat-of-my-pants kind of writer, the tone of a book might change in the middle. Or because I find a new artist. It's a tool for me, and an invaluable one.


Thanks so much for joining me today on the blog!!







Taryn Elliott can be found at:



WEBSITE: http://www.tarynelliott.com
TWITTER: tarynelliottfic
FB-Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/TarynElliottAuthor
my regular FB: https://www.facebook.com/TarynElliottFic




Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ashes and Wine Blog Tour: The Review and Excerpt




Before Tessa met Royal Andreas, her bookstore was on the verge of sinking. And before Tessa met Royal Andreas, she didn’t mind being single. But Royal brings in business with monthly wine tastings featuring his family’s signature vintages–and brings Tessa’s heart to a standstill with intense gray eyes that look on her with nothing but cool indifference.
Yet one searing kiss between the stacks gives Tessa a glimpse of the passion smoldering beneath–and a secret pain further revealed when Royal fills in as the musician at a tasting event. Every note of Spanish guitar tells a story of family tragedy, loss, and ongoing suffering that’s made Royal afraid to lean on anyone…even if he needs Tessa’s sweet flavor more than the richest wine. Only her strength can save him when his world crumbles to ashes. But has Royal learned trust too late to claim Tessa as his own?






Excerpt:



Chapter One

Tessa Winter buried her head in her arms. The smooth stretch of her checkout counter was blessedly cool against her forehead. Her store, As You Wish, was finally quiet after another successful wine-tasting event. She still had reports to run, vendor paperwork to finalize, and a cart full of books to re-shelve. But right now, she had a screaming backache and no energy to find her stash of Advil.
“Tess?”
She snapped upright so fast she had to steady herself against the cubbyhole case behind the register. That voice, his voice, could drag her out of a damned coma.
Royal Andreas stepped into a halo of lamplight. For a moment the sharp angles of his cheekbones came into stark relief. “Are you okay?” he asked.
 “I’m fine. It’s just been a long night.” She blew her bangs out of her eyes and willed the fine hairs on her arms to settle down. Royal always seemed so put together, while she was ready to fly out of her skin after a minute alone with him. Utterly unfair.
He rolled the winery order forms into a loose tube and tapped her counter. “I think our numbers will make up for it.”
“Yeah?” She turned on a small lamp next to the register, chasing away the last of the shadows. “Let’s see what we’ve got.”
He laid the papers on the counter and tugged the tie from his hair. The thick, shoulder-length mass swung forward. Tessa had to remind herself it was just hair, but all she could think about was getting her fingers into those dark waves.
“The last hour put us at an all-time high for sales.”
She leaned on the counter, taking the pressure off the balls of her sore feet. “And what was the big seller?”
His smile was a little tired, but the crinkles around his eyes warmed his far too serious face. “You know what it was.”
“The Tocai, by any chance?”
He gathered his hair back and retied the leather strap. One stubborn lock slid free, curving along his jaw. “Of course.”
His dry tone made her smile. “It’s all your fault I’m addicted to it.”
“I remember.” He broke eye contact, and a small tick tightened his jaw. Her belly flipped. Did he remember that summer day at the vineyard as she did? Or just the kind of wine they drank? Or—much more Royal’s style—he wanted to forget everything about their first meeting without making her feel like a jerk.
The clang of glassware and distant male laughter jerked her from those dangerous memories. Her brother, Blake, and the extra wait staff were out in the courtyard, loading the leftover wine and vineyard supplies back into Royal’s truck.
She cleared her throat. “How’d you get your brother to crack open one of those barrels? I thought you told me it needed another three months in the cellars.”
“This is from my private stock.”
She reached out and covered his hand. “You didn’t need to do that. The Ramato and Sauvignons sell great.”
“I know, but it was a gamble I was willing to take. And it paid off for both of us.” He stroked the side of her hand before withdrawing.
A fireball of confusion and want stirred in the pit of her stomach. The man usually went out of his way to avoid touching her. She gathered the receipts and hoped he didn’t notice how badly her fingers trembled. “Let’s see just how well we did.” It took a little more concentration than it should have, but the mental tally finally sunk in. “Did you sell all the Tocai?”
He nodded. “I had to do quite a few special orders.”
“That’s great.” Incredible, actually. She’d only managed a sip of the crisp, tangy wine. She stuffed down her disappointment. Every bottle sold was good for sales, but she was tired of missing out on everything for the good of her store.
“Tessa, are you sure everything’s okay?”
She smiled automatically. “Of course.”
“You seem distracted tonight.”
“I was just thinking about what I could do with the extra money.”
He tapped the heavy brass cuff on her wrist. “Something for yourself?”
She looked down at the tinted metal with its scrawling script. It was a passage from Pride and Prejudice. “Everything on me is for sale actually.” Royal’s eyebrow quirked, and she blushed. “The jewelry, I mean.” She slid off the cuff and handed it to him.
He had such amazing hands, elegant yet rough. He smoothed his thumb over the engraved letters. The echo of his touch burned where he’d stroked her hand.
“It’s lovely,” he said. “Jane Austen?” He tucked the lock of hair behind his ear with a rueful grin and handed the cuff back to her.
Her brows shot up. She took it, careful not to touch him. “Yes.”
He shrugged. “High school English.”
Most guys bought the Cliffs Notes and faked their way through Austen. Heck, that’s what she did, but these lines…they were special. She twisted the bracelet and read the passage aloud. “You have bewitched me body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you. And wish from this day forth never to be parted from you.”
His gaze met hers. “Romantic. You seem more the sensible type.”
She jerked back and dropped her gaze. Sensible. Of course he’d think that. She slid the cuff back onto her wrist. “I know what sells. A local artist makes these. They’re just unique enough that Mercy can sell them at a ridiculous price, and that makes me a tidy little profit.”
He rested his hip against the counter and folded his arms. His tailored navy dress shirt pulled tight over his shoulders. That thin veneer of sophistication and polish always seemed a little out of place on his rough-hewn body.
“So, what do you spend your hard won sales on, Tessa?”
She lifted her gaze to his again. “Everything goes back into the store.”
He frowned, his gray eyes direct and unflinching. “You don’t treat yourself to anything?”
“Coffee.”
The slam of the back door and scrape of the bolt lock saved her from any other questions.
Blake’s lanky form filled the doorway. A stained white dress shirt and rumpled slacks gave testament to their busy night. She met honey-gold eyes that matched her own. Both of them bore the Scottish stamp of light skin and red hair, inherited from their father, but Blake’s hair had darkened to a deep rust once he’d hit twenty. “Hey, sis. I put Marissa in her car and sent her home.”
“Good. She was dead on her feet.”
Blake snorted. “Yeah, and so are you.”
She opened her mouth to answer, but Royal chimed in. “You haven’t sat down once since I got here.”
“It was a busy night. It’s a good thing.”
Blake slung an arm around her shoulders. “I just wish you’d relax and enjoy yourself sometimes.”
“I do.” Well…maybe it had felt a little too much like work lately. That was just part of owning a business.
Blake sighed. “I keep trying to get her to have a life.”
She laid her cheek against his chest for a moment, then slipped away. “You and Marissa have enough of one for all of us.”
Blake gave her a saucy grin. At least someone was enjoying a social life. “I cleaned up the kitchen, so all you have to do is lock up. Then we get to do it all over again tomorrow night. Yay.”
“Yay.” She rolled her eyes, and they both laughed. She loved these event weekends—and they were a big help in monthly sales—but there was a reason she only did them once a month. It reminded her why she never wanted to turn her place into a cafĂ©. The kitchen had been a selling point when she bought the store, but she rarely used it except on tasting nights. “Oh, speaking of which…” She turned to Royal. “Did you leave the—”
“There’s two cases each of Research Cab and Pinot Grigio. There are ballots in there for the Cab. The more feedback the better.”
She relaxed. “My customers love to try the new hybrids.”
“Most people appreciate free wine,” he said wryly.
Blake rubbed his hands together. “I know I do. Thanks for leaving that extra bottle.”
Royal shrugged. “It’s the least I can do for all your help.”
“Looks like you’re taking care of everyone tonight,” Tessa said.
Royal’s gray eyes went serious for a moment before a shadow of a smile pulled at the corners of his mouth. “I don’t mind.”
Blake shook Royal’s hand. “Pleasure as always, buddy.” He turned to Tessa. “I’m heading out, and I’m taking that bottle with me.”
Her shoulders relaxed. One step closer to a blissful fall into bed. “You deserve it. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Will do. Night, guys.”
Royal frowned at Blake’s retreating back. “He leaves you here alone?”
“Well, it’s not like I’m going to leave. I live upstairs.”
“Right.” His frown lines deepened.
She popped the register open and stacked checks and cash. “You’re usually gone before we close up.”
“After four hours, I’m done with people.”
Obviously he was done with her, as well. She wasn’t sure why Royal came to every tasting. He was polite and knowledgeable when it came to customers, but when they were alone there was always a wall between them. It usually came down a little during paperwork, but tonight everything was just…off. “I totally understand. These wine tastings are after hours for me too.”
“Why don’t I stay with you while you lock up?”
Her hand froze inside the night drop bag. “I—”
“It’ll make me feel better.”
“S-sure.”
“Can I do anything to help?”
“No, it’s okay. I just have to do a few things before morning.” She tucked the dailies into the small safe hidden in the floorboards and flipped the heavy cork mat back into place. She could feel his eyes on her as she pushed mismatched chairs into groupings at the end of every other aisle. Her usual routine felt stilted and awkward. Closings were usually her time to decompress and get things back in order.
She tried to block him out by arranging a few books on the little table at the end of one of her favorite bookcases. Each one was a different size and style, to give As You Wish an intimate and eclectic feel.
She’d searched through estate sales and antique stores to find the perfect furniture and fixtures for the store over the years—but she’d had to cut down on her shopping lately. The way people shopped was changing. People didn’t buy books in bookstores anymore, and As You Wish was feeling the effects.
SoHo survived because people still loved to come in from all over to browse, but tight budgets had reduced local buying. More than once she caught people leafing through a book, then buying it on their phones or e-readers. How was she supposed to compete with Amazon and the other online giants?
“I love this place,” Royal said.
She smiled over her shoulder. “I was just thinking the same thing.”
He’d followed her lead and pushed a trio of club chairs next to the French doors. It would be great with the morning sun.
“Nice.”
“Yeah?” He straightened. His pleased grin distracted her enough that her chair thunked into a bookcase.
Good thing it was too dark for him to see just how many shades of red she could turn. She dragged the squat green chair back where it belonged and dropped into it. “That’s it for me.”
“Ready to close up?” He was closer now, kicking her heart rate into overdrive.
“Definitely.” She pushed herself to her feet and hobbled to the counter to turn off the lamps. Wow. Sitting had been a mistake. She grabbed her purse and swore at the bright green text message light glowing in the dark. “Dammit.”
“What?”
She swiped her phone awake to read the full message. Her heart sank. “I was set up for a musician tomorrow night and he just canceled. Food poisoning.”
He grunted. “That sucks.”
“Crap, crap, crap. I’ve got reservations lined up and an empty stage. Not to mention the wine we’re testing for you guys.” She scrolled through her contacts. Who the hell could she call at nearly eleven on a Friday night? Most of the musicians she used were scheduled well in advance.
“What kind of music?”
“Coffee house music. Will Hoge, Pete Yorn, Matt Nathanson, that kind of thing. My customers will be so disappointed.”
The light pop of knuckles was his only answer.
She looked up at him. “You don’t know anyone, do you?”
More silence.
“I know your family hosts musicians at the winery sometimes. You have that gorgeous courtyard, with great acoustics.”
“Perfect acoustics,” he corrected, crossing his arms.
“You do know someone.” She dropped her phone back into her bag and stepped closer. His arms fell to his sides. “C’mon, Royal. The last time I was there, I heard the most beautiful Spanish guitar.”
“We use a guy,” he said evasively.
“Is it a secret?” Darkness and desperation made her bold. She took his hand, cupping it in both of hers. “You’re killing me here.” His low groan surprised her, but she didn’t have time to think about that. She drop kicked her pride out the French doors. “Please, Royal.”
“I’ll have him here tomorrow,” he said, voice husky.
“Just like that?”
He nodded. “What time?”
She rose onto her toes and threw her arms around his neck. “You’re a life saver.” She dropped back onto her heels and looked up at him, leaving her hands on his shoulders. “Two sessions, seven and nine thirty, plus whatever warm-up and setup time he needs.”
She’d have to shift the schedule to add a few more servers, just in case. Impulsively, she hugged him again—then realized he was still as stone against her. Crap. She’d obviously tucked her professionalism in with her closing receipts. What was going on with her tonight?
She was about to step back when his hand slid along her back, holding her in place. The earthy scent of grape leaves pushed away her plans, and her thoughts with them. He was so solid, warm and muscled under the fine linen. Breast to chest and thigh to thigh, they fit together like the pages of a book.
God, how long had it been since she’d been held? Months? Over a year? His wide palm slid up then back down her spine in a slow stroke. Her skin came alive under his hand. A delicious heat replaced her exhaustion and unfurled in her belly. She couldn’t think, not when his thumb kept tracing little circles at the small of her back. She took half a step back. The courtyard lights highlighted his cheekbone and the tiny silver hoop he wore in his left ear, but left his eyes deep in shadow. She couldn’t tell a damn thing about what he was thinking.
He cursed under his breath, then leaned in. His whiskers teased her cheek, and her breath stalled in her lungs. His mouth was so soft in comparison, almost hesitant, as he brushed his lips to hers and then covered her mouth completely. He dragged her closer until there was no mistaking what he wanted. His shirt bunched under her hand as she held on.
When he pressed her for a deeper kiss she opened willingly. The slow, sure slide of his tongue along hers went from tentative to flashpoint within half a breath.
She dragged the slip of leather out of his hair. The heavy layers wrapped around her wrist, anchoring her. She lost herself in the taste of him, in the surprisingly smooth curls that coiled around her fingers. Any fantasy she’d had paled in comparison to this. Her mouth sealed to his, and she leaned into him until, together, they stumbled into a book case. The quake of trinkets and books falling over was a distant nuisance.
The tip of his tongue flicked along the roof of her mouth before sliding along hers possessively. The chain reaction of shivers, followed by a bone-deep burn, only made her want more. She pushed him against the wall. His grunt almost stopped her, but the hardness digging into her belly gave her courage.
He broke away for a breath and cupped her face before diving back in for more. He kissed her like he’d never get enough of her. Deeper, darker, and with an overwhelming intimacy that left her trembling. The hard crush of his chest trapped her hands between them. Her fingertips dug into whatever she could reach, but it wasn’t enough. She wanted to explore the crinkle of hair beneath his shirt, wanted to feel his skin under the pads of her fingers. She wanted everything.
His moan echoed hers. She tore her mouth away, chest heaving. It was too dark to read his eyes.
“Royal,” she gasped. “I—”
His grip moved to the nape of her neck. He dragged her head back, baring her throat to his searing kiss—the sensitive skin behind her ear, the column of her throat, the pulse that seemed to roar in her head.
“God, you taste amazing,” he growled. “I knew you would.” He trailed a path up and over her chin to find her mouth again.
He’d thought about this before, but hadn’t touched her? Her questions slipped away under the deluge of pleasure. She took advantage of the tiny space between them and worked two of his buttons free. His coarse chest hair teased her palm, but before she could explore, he swung them around so her shoulder blades pressed into the wall.
Frustrated, she pushed at him. Her skirt limited movement and she needed—no, had to get closer. “I can’t—stupid frigging—”
His fingertips coasted down her thigh, found the slit in her skirt, and pulled it up. He hooked her knee over his hip. She rolled her hips against him, but that still wasn’t enough.
She covered his hand and guided him under the skirt, to her thigh. The heat of his fingertips was a brand on her skin. His guttural moan echoed hers. Then his mouth was gone and his forehead thunked against the wall beside her. His glorious hair slipped around her neck and shoulder. He took several deep breaths.
She froze. “Why are you stopping?” she gasped.
“Just give me a second.”
“Oh, God. You—” He wasn’t single. Of course he wasn’t single. That’s why he was stopping. Stupid, Tessa. Stupid.
Royal Andreas was far too delicious to be single, and she’d never been brave enough to ask. She dropped her leg, but he still had her pinned. He felt amazing against her—and she needed to push him away.
This sucked.
“You have a girlfriend, don’t you?”
“What?” He jerked back. “God, no. I just need a minute to calm down. I don’t take women against a wall, for Christ’s sake. Especially not you.”
“You don’t?”
“No, I don’t.” Was that regret she heard in his voice? “I just need a second.”
He brushed his lips against her temple and stepped back. She closed her eyes, letting her hands slide away from his chest.
“Tessa.”
Her heart pounded in her ears. She couldn’t think around the chaos of tingling skin and burning need. She curled her trembling fingers into her palms as if she could hold onto the warmth and rightness of Royal’s touch.
When he didn’t say anything else, she edged past him.
The past was repeating itself. This time she’d tasted more than wine, and that made it worse. She’d first met Royal during a regional wine tour. The guide had been explaining the fermenting process, but the moment she and Royal had seen each other, that was it. Just before the group had moved on to the vineyard, Royal had set a bottle of Tocai on one of the oak barrel tables, a teasing dare in his eyes.
She’d missed the rest of the tour, and the bus to the next winery. In fact, she’d spent the entire day with him. She’d thought it was the first step toward something with him, yet he hadn’t made a move on her since.
There had to be a reason, right?
“I have to go,” he said.
“Right. Of course. You have a long drive ahead of you.” He was going to walk away. Dammit, how did this man keep getting to her? She shook her hair back and blinked away the quick prickle of tears. She grabbed her purse, determined not to break down in the middle of her own store.
“Tessa.” He caught her wrist. “It’s not you. It’s…complicated.”
Crap. Not even a good excuse. “Just a moment of weakness, right? All these late nights were just begging us to do something crazy.” The lump in her throat ruined her breezy tone.
Do not break down, dammit. Not here, not now, and not in front of this man.
“If I could do something crazy,” Royal said, “it would be with you.”
Before she could respond, he turned and strode out to the courtyard.
“Dammit,” she muttered, and followed him out. Pride wanted to let him go, but she had her store to worry about.
She stumbled to a halt, gasping for breath. “Wait! I can still count on your musician friend tomorrow night, right?”
He stopped at the bumper of the truck, indecision plain in the set of his shoulders. He wouldn’t look at her, but finally he ground a single word through his teeth. “Yes.”
Then he climbed into the truck and, before she could ask him the musician’s name, drove away.



What I Liked: 

This book brings you into a bookstore that is facing the very real challenge that a brick and mortar store has to deal with in this age of digital books and on line shopping. Tessa is struggling to keep her store afloat and combines books with wine and music to draw in the customers. Royal is her saving grace and also one of her biggest temptations. I love the interplay between the two characters and the family drama that added even more substance to the book.

What I Didn't:

Not a thing.

Overall:

This book was a great story that anyone who loves books and bookstores will immediately respond to. Being a book nut since I sounded out my first Dr. Seuss a million years ago (lol), books are where I find my center and being in a bookstore is akin to Heaven. Working in one is a challenge some days, but it is a job you come to love. In this story, Tessa is trying to save her business and craves a relationship with Royal, but he is torn by desire and family obligations that get in the way. This book has real drama that fans of Jodi Picoult will enjoy. Great characters, realistic dialogue, steamy sexual tension and a page turning plot.

4.5/5




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