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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Gabrielle's Cauldron--Paranormal Romance

A Magical Ride with a Delicious Alpha Shifter
Buy Link @ Liquid Silver Books
Buy Line @ Amazon
Blurb:Gabrielle McCallaghan just lost her job. Seeing the writing on the wall, she quit to spare her uncle the embarrassment of having to fire her. With her bond fairy on her shoulder, she strides through a crowded neighborhood contemplating her options. Out of nowhere, a gorgeous, full blood magic wielder appears and makes a beeline right for her. Gabby knows her hybrid witch magic is no match for his, so she tries to evade him. The fairy does her best to help, but the contest is laughable. Even in his human form, the wolf-man is still stronger than she ever dreamed of being. It doesn’t take long before Gabby is drawn into a deadly game of intrigue that started over a thousand years before. The stakes are high and the timing abysmal, but she finds herself falling in love in spite of herself. Can she and her full blood lover make a life for themselves? Or will the long-running battle between full bloods and hybrids pound the fragile bond between them to dust?


Gabrielle shook her head. She was shocked at how eager she was to be free of Brad and this office. Now that the possibility of independence sat there, beckoning to her, she couldn’t resist. “Thanks, Uncle Brad. You’ve been more than kind to me.”

He cleared his throat. “Well,” he said, voice surprisingly gentle, “keep in touch. If you stop by tomorrow, I’ll have your check for this last week.”

Gabrielle knew how little she’d done. “That’s okay. I’ll just grab my things and be out of your hair. I—” but she didn’t know what else to say. Suddenly uncomfortable, she turned away from her uncle and went to clear her few possessions out of her desk. After inadvertently slamming her long, dark hair in a desk drawer, she pulled it into an untidy pony tail. Ten minutes later, she let herself out the swinging glass door adorned with BRAD MCCALLAGHAN, CPA, in faded, dark blue letters.

“That wasn’t very smart,” she muttered to the pixie sitting on her shoulder. “What am I going to do now?”

Doesn’t matter, I’m free.

“No, we’re free,” Amalia corrected. The pixie was clearly in mind-reading mode. "It hasn’t been any fun at all being your bond fairy ever since you took that job. All you’ve done is grump around, hating life.”

Gabrielle stared balefully at the pixie. “You need to keep your opinions to yourself.”

“Why?” Amalia crossed one leg over the other. The foot that dangled beat a tattoo against Gabby’s breast.

“Never mind.” Knowing it would be wasted breath to try to get the pixie to do anything but what she wanted, Gabrielle sucked in crisp autumn air and walked toward the bus stop. It felt good to be outside. Not living a lie anymore was a big relief. She’d struggled with guilt for months about her antipathy for Microsoft Excel, Turbo Tax and Tax Cut. At least that part was over.

Strangers swirled around her. Seattle’s Capitol Hill was always full of people. Gabrielle looked longingly at a Starbuck’s sign, but three dollar coffees weren’t part of her new austerity plan. Actually, neither was the bus. What she needed to do was walk home. She had the time. And lower Queen Anne Hill wasn’t all that far away. She could be home in an hour.

What a joke. I have nothing but time now. Maybe if I walked more, I could get rid of some of this blubber. She tugged at the too-tight waistband of her too-short dark green skirt. Sitting eight hours a day hadn’t improved her figure at all. Gabrielle knew her height masked extra pounds; she also knew she’d gained a good ten since she started working for her uncle.

“Don’t stare,” Amalia hissed, sea-blue eyes wide with apprehension, “but that looks like trouble.” The pixie always reverted to mind speech when she felt threatened. Good thing too. Her constant dialogue had gotten Gabrielle into trouble more than once when someone had assumed she was the source of some smartass comment or other. Not all humans could hear pixies. It depended how much magic they had. The problem was when a person had no idea they had magic, but had been blessed—or cursed—with just enough to hear fairy chatter. Those folk were the ones who’d ended up in asylums a hundred years ago. Now doctors just crammed them full of mind-numbing drugs.

Gabrielle’s head snapped up. A hunk of a man who radiated power—wore it like an aura that screamed how much clout he had—strode down the opposite side of the street as if he owned the world. Coppery hair fell nearly to his waist. Well past six feet, he was dressed like a pirate in a cream-colored shirt with full, old-fashioned sleeves, a dark brown leather vest, and tight-fitting, black leather pants that left very little to the imagination. Knee-high boots of buff-colored suede fit over the pants. Apparently feeling her gaze on him, he slowed, head turning from side to side. Gabrielle could have sworn he was scenting the air like a dog.

“What is he?” Gabby sent. “I know he’s a full blood, but what kind?” Because pixies were entirely magical just like the full bloods, they were often quicker on the uptake. Gabby was a hybrid and her human blood often got in the way.

“Warg. He can see me, Gabby. Do something.” Amalia’s nails dug into her shoulder.

The pixie’s words had barely registered when a wolfish amber gaze settled on Gabrielle, boring into her. Heart racing, she ducked into the first shop she saw.

“Are you all right, miss?” A shopkeeper hurried over. Dyed red hair spiked in curls that fell past her shoulders. Sharp, green eyes took in Gabby and her off-the-rack J.C. Penney’s clothes.

Gabrielle looked around and saw she’d entered a lingerie store, and a pricey one at that judging from the tags hanging off flimsy bits of silk. She tried to quiet her breathing. “Yes. Just thought I’d, uh, look around a bit. I have a friend who’s, ah, getting married.” She offered up what she hoped was a convincing smile, reinforced by the tiniest leave me alone spell. The last thing she needed was for the salesclerk to boot her out of the store.

“There you are, darling.” A cultured baritone rang from the doorway. The voice had a definite German accent. “Nice of you to shop for something to entertain me.” The warg moved to her side and slid a hand under her elbow. A blast of sexual energy set Gabby’s nerves on fire. Her nipples pebbled instantly and her skin tingled with promise. Mostly so she wouldn’t throw herself into his arms, she took a step away and tried to settle her heart back into a normal rhythm. But the warg’s heat—and a delicious musky scent—followed her.

The shop girl’s eyes grew huge. She was practically salivating. Gabby could tell she was struggling to keep her gaze above the warg’s waist. “Welcome to my shop, sir,” she cooed. “We have things for men too.”

He raised a well-formed eyebrow. “Yes, dear. Your whole shop is actually for men.”



Monday, December 3, 2012

Give Me Some of That Old Time Romance--And Toss in a Shifter for Good Measure

I didn’t start out writing romance. Nope. I started out writing science fiction and fantasy. Hence the whimsical photo to the left. But you know what? After a while I noticed no matter where my story was set: modern world, high fantasy world, or a twisted science fiction dystopia, romantic elements always crept in. It was a natural progression to have the romance be the story, so I’ve written a bunch of pure romances now, too. All of them have paranormal elements, but they have happy ever after endings, too.  I still write quite a bit outside the romance genre, but I think my foray into romance has added depth to the rest of my writing.

Who would have guessed how satisfying it would be to write “happily ever after” or even “happy for now” endings? I think they’re even more fun to write than they are to read. For one thing, the characters are content. Any writer will tell you satisfied characters are way more malleable than unhappy ones. Characters in romance books get what they want: the love of their life. No one is worried how they’ll get along with one another six months or a year down the road.

That’s probably a good segue to my other—and much longer—career as a psychologist. I saw lots of couples in my office over the years. Did I ever save any marriages? Not exactly. I did, occasionally, help a couple reconnect with one another. But mostly, couples who come for marriage counseling show up when there’s been so much bad water under the bridge, it would take more than a dash of suspension of disbelief to resurrect the love that drew them together in the first place.

I think that’s one of the appeals of romance in fiction. It lets us step outside the problems and issues in our own relationships and follow a fictional hero (or heroine) through theirs. The difference is no matter how many bad things happen to our fictional couple, their love for one another conquers all. And they ride off into the sunset at the end, or fall into one another’s arms. The men are all gorgeous alphas. The women strong and sexy. They’re who we secretly see ourselves as when we strip away the obnoxious reality of husbands who leave their clothes scattered all over the floor, scratch their privates, and fart in front of the television. Or wives who text endlessly with their girlfriends.

I was part of an author online chat the other day. Some of the other (female) writers characterized their husbands as “knuckle draggers.” Ahem, don’t see too many of those in romance novels. (In case any of you are curious, I’ve always seen my husband as a renaissance man. Maybe that’s why we’ve been married so long.)

While we’re talking about the nexus where reality meets fiction, let’s not forget the kids who thumb their noses at us when we have the temerity to suggest they clean up their rooms. It’s not accidental that children are few and far between in romance novels. If they do show up, they’re usually infants. Too young to be anything other than cute.

Reading is an escape. Really good books draw us into a world that transcends our waking reality. Sometimes they even give us ideas for how to make that reality work better for us.

What was the last story you just couldn’t put down? Did you immediately hunt for something else by that author? Who are your favorite romance heroes or heroines? I certainly have a few. Tell you what. You show me yours and I’ll share mine.