Tuesday, July 18, 2017

New Release! Escape to Africa!!

Escape to Africa: A Dangerous Liaison


In late 1942, Casablanca, an undercover French operative is given information vital to the alliance, and it’s now up to her to get the microfilm to someone who can see it gets into the hands of the Allies. Isabeau Renault has kept her cover in place for over a year in Casablanca, and probably saved countless lives because of her activities, but with the resistance being choked by the Nazi stranglehold, will she be able to get the most important intelligence she’s ever held safely out of Casablanca, or will she die trying? It all hinges now on the owner of a popular café, an American named Cade Maddox, a man few know anything about, but who appears to have a friendly relationship with the Prefect of Police, and several German officers.

Excerpt:

“Cassi, I need to talk to you.”

Cade Maddox’s voice dug into her brain.

“I will join you at the bar, Monsieur,” she repeated. “In five minutes!”

The rapid, muted voices that followed her assured her the maid, Diata, was living up to her fierce name, the lion. She sat at her dressing table and took quick inventory of her hair and makeup. Dark, curling tendrils escaped the elaborate style and she twisted them back into place and tucked pins into the coils. She picked up a brush and dusted darkly tinted powder across her cheeks, peering closely at her reflection. She barely recognized herself these days, but it kept her alive and unnoticed among the citizens of Casablanca.

Gathering her wits, she took a deep breath and stood. Eluding Maddox was more draining than it should be, but something about the man got under her skin and made her jittery. The man was impressive, six feet plus in height, dark eyes, tanned skin, he looked at home in Casablanca, though she knew he was American by birth. Braced for the on-going deception, she stepped into the narrow hallway and walked to the main area of the café, her casual manner wholly feigned. Inside she was shaking in her sandals as she prepared to dodge Cade Maddox and his too shrewd eyes.

“What brings you here, Monsieur? You’re usually holding court at the Stardust this time of the evening.” She sat at the small corner table he’d chosen, the strategic position not escaping her notice. From here the entire main room could be watched, while the wall at his back assured no one could approach him unnoticed.

Maddox smiled. He looked like a wolf who’d just scented prey.

“I was planning to lure your dancer away to work for me,” he said. “Jolene keeps running them off just when the Germans get used to them.”

“How unfortunate for you.” She shook her head when the bartender began to approach the table with a drink for her. He shrugged and headed back for customers who did want to drink.

“Why don’t you drop in this evening,” Cade suggested. “I’m expecting company that might interest you.”

“And why do you think your company would interest me?”

She hadn’t made eye contact with him since sitting down, and he clearly hadn’t missed the ruse. He’d told her on more than one occasion that she intrigued him, and because of it, he was determined to discover what she was hiding. For his sake, she prayed he never did!

For a moment silence hung between them. A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth, and he nodded. “Drop by this evening, you might enjoy yourself.”

“I’m busy this evening,” she told him, “if things get boring here I’ll consider your offer.” The scrape of the chair moving indicated he’d left his seat. A slight displacement of air seconds later and he was gone, footsteps so careful they were soundless. Maddox was an enigma she had no time to figure out, he could be dangerous to her. Before she could think too much about it the bartender shouted her name and it was time to get back to business.

As the evening wore on, Isabeau wondered if Cade could be trusted. The question plagued her as she went about her business, serving drinks, flashing a false smile, and presenting yourself as the perfect hostess. This was a job she could do in her sleep, she’d been in Casablanca for several months, even the false face she wore had become much too familiar. And much too comfortable. Her intuition had often saved her so she rarely disregarded it, and against all good sense she knew Cade Maddox was someone she was going to need if she expected to escape with her life.






Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Looking ahead to a new release! #RB5U #MFRWauthor #RomFantasy

Entering a whole new area of the "writing career" at last... Most of you who follow me know that I've pretty much been retired for the past few years. Between life and illness, it's been a difficult journey. But, I am hoping to be moving forward at last. To that end, the first new release in a long time is pending. From the World Romance Writers, a new anthology with stories set in Africa. It's a romantic suspense collection to some degree, and my contribution is set in Casablanca of 1942. So, have a peek at what's ahead because I'm sure it doesn't end with this tale...


Escape to Africa

Coming in June 2017

A Dangerous Liaison

In late 1942, Casablanca, an undercover French operative is given information vital to the alliance, and it’s now up to her to get the microfilm to someone who can see it gets into the hands of the Allies. Isabeau Renault has kept her cover in place for over a year in Casablanca, and probably saved countless lives because of her activities, but with the resistance being choked by the Nazi stranglehold, will she be able to get the most important intelligence she’s ever held safely out of Casablanca, or will she die trying? It all hinges now on the owner of a popular café, an American named Cade Maddox, a man few know anything about, but who appears to have a friendly relationship with the Prefect of Police, and several German officers.


Excerpt:

“Cassi, I need to talk to you.”

Cade Maddox’s voice dug into her brain.

“I will join you at the bar, Monsieur,” she repeated. “In five minutes!”

The rapid, muted voices that followed her assured her the maid, Diata, was living up to her fierce name, the lion. She sat at her dressing table and took quick inventory of her hair and makeup. Dark, curling tendrils escaped the elaborate style and she twisted them back into place and tucked pins into the coils. She picked up a brush and dusted darkly tinted powder across her cheeks, peering closely at her reflection. She barely recognized herself these days, but it kept her alive and unnoticed among the citizens of Casablanca.

Gathering her wits, she took a deep breath and stood. Eluding Maddox was more draining than it should be, but something about the man got under her skin and made her jittery. The man was impressive, six feet plus in height, dark eyes, tanned skin, he looked at home in Casablanca, though she knew he was American by birth. Braced for the on-going deception, she stepped into the narrow hallway and walked to the main area of the café, her casual manner wholly feigned. Inside she was shaking in her sandals as she prepared to dodge Cade Maddox and his too shrewd eyes.

“What brings you here, Monsieur? You’re usually holding court at the Stardust this time of the evening.” She sat at the small corner table he’d chosen, the strategic position not escaping her notice. From here the entire main room could be watched, while the wall at his back assured no one could approach him unnoticed.

Maddox smiled. He looked like a wolf who’d just scented prey.

“I was planning to lure your dancer away to work for me,” he said. “Jolene keeps running them off just when the Germans get used to them.”

“How unfortunate for you.” She shook her head when the bartender began to approach the table with a drink for her. He shrugged and headed back for customers who did want to drink.

“Why don’t you drop in this evening,” Cade suggested. “I’m expecting company that might interest you.”

“And why do you think your company would interest me?”

She hadn’t made eye contact with him since sitting down, and he clearly hadn’t missed the ruse. He’d told her on more than one occasion that she intrigued him, and because of it, he was determined to discover what she was hiding. For his sake, she prayed he never did!

For a moment silence hung between them. A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth, and he nodded. “Drop by this evening, you might enjoy yourself.”

“I’m busy this evening,” she told him, “if things get boring here I’ll consider your offer.” The scrape of the chair moving indicated he’d left his seat. A slight displacement of air seconds later and he was gone, footsteps so careful they were soundless. Maddox was an enigma she had no time to figure out, he could be dangerous to her. Before she could think too much about it the bartender shouted her name and it was time to get back to business.

As the evening wore on, Isabeau wondered if Cade could be trusted. The question plagued her as she went about her business, serving drinks, flashing a false smile, and presenting yourself as the perfect hostess. This was a job she could do in her sleep, she’d been in Casablanca for several months, even the false face she wore had become much too familiar. And much too comfortable. Her intuition had often saved her so she rarely disregarded it, and against all good sense she knew Cade Maddox was someone she was going to need if she expected to escape with her life.  




Monday, April 24, 2017

SpringTastic Tour 2017! Grand Prize!! #RB4U #RomFantasy #MFRWauthor


A few facts about Spring Equinox…

…which began in the Northern Hemisphere 2017 was at 7:28 AM on Monday, March 20! And it will end on Wednesday, June 21.

The spring (vernal) equinox in the Northern Hemisphere is also known as the March equinox. It's called the "autumnal (fall) equinox" in the Southern Hemisphere.

Why is it called the spring 'equinox'? Since night and day are nearly exactly the same length–12 hours–all over the world the event is called the equinox, which in Latin, literally means 'equal night' (equi–equal, and nox–night). In reality though, equinoxes do not have exactly 12 hours of daylight. Solstices and equinoxes mark key stages in the astronomical cycle of the earth. In a year there are two equinoxes (spring and autumn) and two solstices (summer and winter).

The dates of the equinoxes and solstices aren't fixed due to the Earth's elliptical orbit of the sun. The Earth's orbit around the sun means that in early January, the sun is closest (known as perihelion) and in early July it is most distant (aphelion).

We use the equinox to mark the change of seasons, as the balance of light shifts to make for longer days or nights. It usually means that it's time to hunker down for colder seasons, or time to rise and shine for warmer ones.

You may also notice that on the equinox, the sun rises directly in the east and sets directly in the west, whereas at other times in the year, it appears off-centre if you're facing those directions.

What happens on an equinox?

The Earth's axis always tilts at an angle of about 23.5° in relation to the ecliptic, i.e the imaginary plane created by the Earth's orbit around the Sun. On any other day of the year, either the Northern Hemisphere or the Southern Hemisphere tilts a little towards the Sun but on the two equinoxes, the tilt of the Earth's axis is perpendicular to the Sun's rays.

The equinox happens at exactly the same time around the world, at the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator–the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s Equator–from south to north. At this moment, the Earth's axis is neither tilted away from nor towards the Sun. In 2017, this happens at 10.20am UTC (GMT).

Do you mark the arrival of Spring in any special way?

Leave a comment on where you discovered the Easter EGGS on the blog, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of my romantic short novella, Bella Signorina.

BELLA SIGNORINA
In its original format for the first time!
Sweetly sensual contemporary romance


Set in Rome, Bella Signorina is a sweet, romantic story of two people who meet in a trendy caffè, and through the magic of dance and music discover they have many things in common. Bianca comes to Caffè Rosati every week, and for many weeks she's been watching a special man, a handsome, charming stranger who dances, flirts, and leaves alone each week. Bianca is a woman who enjoys her freedom, and has been hurt before, so she's not anxious to fall in love again. Something about the enigmatic Stefano has captivated her heart, though, and she is drawn to him in spite of herself. When she finally gathers her courage to approach him, and ask him to dance, little does she know that her entire world is about to change.

Stefano Esposito is a man who's past relationships have not left him much in the way of ideals about women. Many have claimed to love him, none have understood him. Stefano is a rare breed in today's world of fast-paced life and love. He is a gentleman, a man who many consider a little out of step with the times. For Stefano, falling in love is the completion of a soul, not the consummation of a sexual itch. He wants the woman in his life to respect, understand, and adore him, as he will her. When he meets Bianca, he wonders if he's finally found the one he's waited a lifetime for? She understands his internal conflicts, his desires, and his dreams, after only hours together.

When their attraction to each other flares too quickly and too intently, Stefano pulls back. Confused and uncertain, Bianca flees his beautiful home and business, and goes back to her busy life. But, once the dance has begun, is there a way to go back to what you knew before, or is it just a matter of time before the music lures you back to your dreams and, perhaps, makes them reality?




Also, don’t forget to go back to the TransCanada Romance Writers blog (HERE) and continue the EGG HUNT for more changes to win the Grand Prize Package!! Every time you leave a comment, you have another entry for the prize package!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Victorian London.... Jack the Ripper... and more! #RB4U #MFRWauthor

A number of years ago, I began what I intended/hoped would be a series. The central character was a tormented but brilliant police inspector, a man scarred by his involvement with the notorious Jack the Ripper investigation, and a penchant for opium. The two books that introduce the series, a long novella and a short sequel never grew into a series for whatever reason - maybe no one else found Michael Devane as fascinating as I did! At any rate, I like to occasionally remind people of these stories because I do love them and consider them some of my best work. I have the desire to write a new tale, as well, so who knows - maybe he will be back again. At any rate, I hope you enjoy this exclusive excerpt and peek into Michael's world...


The Devane Files: Book One - OUT OF HELL 
Available from: Liquid Silver Books


Several nights after Goodwin had found him in Whitechapel, Devane was once again walking the streets, contemplating a trip to his usual haunt to meet with the dragon. Somehow, for the first time in years, it wasn’t overly appealing to his senses. The mist and fog that had been the genius behind his work for so long had begun again as a balm to his tortured soul after the death of his only child, a daughter, and his wife’s desertion. He knew he was an addict, yet was able to function in spite of it, perhaps because of it. Still, it was disturbing to the sensibilities he’d been brought up with, and he had pause to wonder for the first time in a long while if it was time to begin the painful process of withdrawal. He’d done it once, he knew he was more than capable of enduring it a second time.

Another typical London night, he noted in an abstract part of his mind as he pulled his coat closer and fought down a shiver. The fog wasn’t as thickly cloying as it often was, and he walked more by habit than actual interest along the familiar streets. Dutfield’s Yard loomed ahead of him before long and he did stop to look at the buildings in the area that had been the subject of so much police scrutiny when the body of the Ripper’s third victim, a pretty prostitute called Elizabeth Stride, had been found in the yard by Louis Diemschültz. Devane had been raised in the Whitechapel district in his earliest years, his parents had eventually escaped the poverty and hopelessness that prevailed in the East End, and it was during the years of his youth that he had often returned to the area. He’d met Liz Stride many times, and she was a beautiful woman who had charmed him in her easy-going manner. There were many people who questioned whether she was, in fact, a Ripper victim, but it no longer mattered to anyone, really. Elizabeth Stride had often reminded Devane of his beautiful wife during their meetings to exchange information for Abberline.

Against his better judgment, he allowed the old memory to surface and taunt him. Liz’s lush, dark curling hair, her beautiful dark eyes, and sensuous curves had been the stuff of his heart’s dreams for a long time. He’d always been fond of Stride, who was his senior by roughly fifteen years, but honesty forced him to admit that he’d fallen more than a little bit in love with the pretty prostitute, and had remained attached to her throughout his life. For the first time in a long time, the ache of her absence, and Evelyn’s, wasn’t quite as acute, and the dulled edges were more bearable. Time was healing his soul of these wounds, too, he realized.

He turned away, and was sincerely surprised to see a closed carriage moving toward him. Not a Hansom, but a carriage of wealth and quality. Seconds later, as the horses drew closer then came to a halt, he recognized the young man on the high seat holding the reins. It was Percival Vaughan, one of the footmen from Bradshaw Manor.

“Something I can do for you, Mr. Vaughan?” Devane asked sharply. The young man had been truculent and sulky from the instant he’d spoken to him, but before the footman could answer him, the door to the carriage opened a small bit and to Devane’s utter surprise, Bethany Bradshaw looked out at him and smiled.

“Sergeant Goodwin said you might be found here, Inspector Devane,” she told him once he’d walked up to the carriage and stood at the door. “Please,” she held out her hand to him, “do come inside, Inspector,” she requested. “If there is someplace you wish to go while we are talking, Percy can take you.”

“Actually, Mrs. Bradshaw,” he smiled and settled across from her. “I was planning to go home.” It was almost the truth, and he left it at that.

“Then we will be happy to take you to your home, Inspector,” she assured him.

“Where to, ma’am?” Percival asked from the driver’s seat above them.

“Inspector?”

Devane gave him the address, then leaned back in his seat, half hidden in shadows as he studied her for a few moments. She was dressed in layers of black velvet and satin, with demure ribbons the only adornment on the severe dress. Her hat and mourning veil sat on the seat next to her, he noted with curiosity.

“Why did you want to see me, Mrs. Bradshaw?” he finally asked. Her appearance late at night, alone in a carriage in the Whitechapel district was not only startling, it was potentially dangerous.

“I thought it would be easier to speak freely away from my home,” she explained softly. “My father has moved in again and he tends to enjoy interfering in anything that concerns me. I thought you might have questions that would be better asked without his presence.”

A candid and surprisingly astute reply, he thought, revising his initial assessment of her strength of character. She was not typical of most women, to be certain, and he knew there was a great deal more anger inside her than grief. The reasons for her rancor were less apparent.

“Sergeant Goodwin shouldn’t have sent you into Whitechapel to look for me, ma’am,” he said firmly. “It’s hardly an appropriate place for someone like you.”

“I would have thought the same about you, Inspector,” she remarked with a slightly raised eyebrow and a discernible note of challenge in her clear voice.

He nodded, his smile deepening.

“Inspector Devane,” she hesitated, then visibly gathered her thoughts and went on, “you are one of the officers who were assigned to the murders committed here, were you not?”

“I was,” he affirmed in a low voice.

She looked directly into his eyes, measured the lack of emotion in his response, then bowed her head briefly. “My apologies, Inspector, I can’t even imagine how horrible that memory is for you.” She glanced again at him, adding, “I thought your name familiar when we were introduced a few days ago, but it wasn’t until my maid said something about Jack The Ripper that I recalled where I had read it. The more sensationalist papers are creating tales about Robert’s murder being linked to those atrocities.” She met his eyes fully again, and held their dark depths without flinching, “That is absurd, is it not, Inspector?”

“Yes, ma’am,” he agreed. “But, from what I’ve learned about your husband, he had enemies, Lady...”

She shook her head impatiently, the action a reflex, and not really an admonishment.

“Inspector, may I ask a favor of you, sir?”

“Anything,” he replied instantly, inwardly startled by how sincerely he meant it.

“Please, call me Bethany,” she said with real weariness. “I could scream I am so tired of polite correctness and formality. It drains the spirit of any joy.”

“How well did you know your husband, Bethany?” Devane asked, using the name smoothly, turning it unconsciously into a verbal caress.

She stared at him for a moment, her cheeks flushed, even in the flickering gaslights that lined the streets and cast momentary illumination into the carriage as they passed them. The reaction to his voice shocked her, and she shivered suddenly.

“Ma’am?”

“Yes, Inspector De...”

“Michael,” he inserted softly, with a slight smile. “If you are to permit me to use your first name, then you must do the same.”

“Michael?” She nodded, savoring the texture and sound of his name as though it were a fine wine she tasted. He inclined his head, and she smiled at him, not a fleeting glimpse, but a radiant, bright expression that warmed Devane’s heart. She was a lovely woman, he thought, and a quietly strong person, too, he guessed. Her manners, while impeccable, showed a frustration with constraints of class and propriety. She did not think herself better than others who lacked her wealth and advantages, which was a refreshing change. He liked her, and in that instant learned also that he respected her intelligence and sensitivity.

“I have no illusions about my husband, Michael,” she assured him. “He was often away for weeks at a time, despite being less than an hour from home. I know the kind of women he frequently associated with, as well.”

“Did you love your husband, Bethany?”

The information was irrelevant to the case, but somehow vital to him in spite of that.

As before, she met his eyes candidly, calmly.

“No,” she responded softly. “I did not even like him over much,” she told him. “My father arranged the marriage, though I have wondered many times why he was in favor of the match. Perhaps Robert blackmailed him. I wouldn’t have judged it a thing of which he was incapable.”

He was taken aback by the bluntness of her words and she caught the expression before he could conceal it.

“You’re shocked, Michael,” she mused. “I could shock you a great deal more if I chose to,” she confided. She turned away, suddenly ill-at-ease in the close confines of the carriage. Pain touched her heart, and moved like a spearing dart into her brain. Red hazed her vision, then dissipated; in its wake, cold sweat beaded her brow and she felt herself falling, fading into a peaceful abyss... Devane’s beautiful voice trailed after her, and she tried, vainly, to hold onto it as she fell, but it, too, drifted out of reach...

Devane caught her in his arms as she began to slip from her seat. They were a block or two from his flat and, as he held her, he ordered the driver to get them to their destination more quickly.




The Devane Files: Book One - OUT OF HELL
Available from: Liquid Silver Books


The Devane Files: Book Two - AN UNSPOKEN BETRAYAL
Available from: Liquid Silver Books