2014-12-30

New Year's Blog Hop



Happy New Year everyone! I'm deep in edits at the moment, but I wanted to wish everyone a bright, blessed and bountiful new year. Happy 2015. 

My year is getting off to a good start with three new releases--in February, March and April (read more HERE). Later this year I'll be hoping to self-publish the Inked in O-Town trilogy, featuring hot tattoo artists in Oakland, CA. This is a spin-off series to last year's Inked Memories, which is set in New Orleans, and was originally released as part of the Midnight Ink anthology. Sadly, the anthology is going away at the end of the month, but the individual stories will still be around. Right now, Inked Memories is only available at Amazon. However, look for it's re-release in late February--just in time for Mardi Gras! 

In the meantime, here's a short excerpt.

Sophie started as a passerby stumbling along the banquette suddenly lost his footing and slammed into her table. She grabbed for her coffee to keep it from spilling when the wrought iron table tilted precariously under the man’s unsteady weight.
“Watch out!” Glancing up, she found herself staring into the bleary blue eyes of a drunken, storefront Santa. Well, that was life in the Quarter for you, she supposed as her heart continued its attempts to beat itself right out of her chest. The smell of whisky and peppermint schnapps wafting off the man was so strong it made her head spin. She pressed her free hand to her chest, willing her heart to slow the fuck down.
Santa blinked back at her, still resting his weight on the tabletop, a crumpled piece of paper clutched in one fist. A slow smile curved his lips. Eyes twinkling, he leaned in closer and leered.
“Well, hey there, boo.Where y’at? You bein’ naughty or nice?”
Before Sophie could even fashion a reply, Rousseau appeared in the doorway. He scowled menacingly at the man. “Get out of here. Quit harassing my customer.”
Santa straightened up, his expression one of affronted dignity as he glared at Rousseau. “Ain’t harassin’ no one. She tripped me.” 
 “I did no such thing,” Sophie spluttered. She flashed the man an indignant look, then watched in relief as he lurched stiffly away. A flicker of motion from her tabletop caught her eye. The badly creased paper Santa had left behind fluttered weakly in the slight breeze. “Hey, wait!” she said as she snatched it up, intending to return it. Then she took a closer look.
 Midnight Ink. New Beginnings Special. Discounted rates for survivor and memorial ink. Are you ready for a new beginning? Say it in ink. Call, or visit us online for more information…
It’s a sign, that same soft voice insisted.
Oh, it was a sign all right. Sophie bit back a sigh. Hearing voices was a definite sign that she was losing her mind. Still, she couldn’t help but appreciate the irony. It wasn’t as if New Orleans was hurting for tattoo shops, so what were the odds she’d be handed a flyer for the very shop where she’d gone for her own tattoos?  Come to think of it, maybe it was a sign after all.
 “What you got there?” Rousseau asked as he ambled closer. He tilted his head to read the flyer. “Are you thinking of getting another tattoo?”
Was she? She already had several, but she hadn’t added anything to her “collection” in several years. “Oh, I don’t know.” But even as she said it, an image flashed through her mind of a picture she’d recently seen online. It had shown a woman’s heavily tattooed torso, flowers and elaborate scrollwork covering over the scars from her mastectomies.
That tattoo hadn’t really been Sophie’s style, but the idea of once again being able to celebrate her body, of enjoying it, flaws and all, of showing it off rather than always feeling the need to hide it away beneath layers of clothing, that had appealed to her. A lot. She wasn’t even sure if it was possible for her to feel that way about herself ever again, but if it was, if there was any chance at all…
Sophie felt a thrill of excitement as the idea took hold. A new beginning, huh? Well, why the fuck not? “You know what?” Smiling, she unzipped her jacket pocket to get to her phone. “I think maybe I am.”
Sophie dialed the number quickly before she could chicken out and change her mind. It was before noon, so she wasn’t even sure the shop would be open yet, but the phone was picked up on the second ring.
“Midnight Ink.” The lilting voice on the phone was female; she sounded young and perky, carefree—everything Sophie wasn’t. Sophie’s heart lurched. Shit was about to get real.
“Hi. I’m, uh…I’m calling about your new beginnings special.” Sophie fingered the flyer in her hand. “I…I had surgery a couple of years ago for breast cancer, and I’m interested in getting a chest piece done. You know, to cover the scars? Would that qualify for your special rates?”
“Yes, of course,” the voice replied, no longer quite so perky. “Um…let me see where I can fit you in, okay? Did you have a particular artist in mind? Or a particular time frame that was better for you?”
“No. Not really. I mean, I just saw your flyer and…I haven’t actually had time to think about it all that much.” Sign or no sign, Sophie suddenly found herself wondering if getting a new tattoo was such a stellar idea after all. Memories of the last time she’d gotten inked flashed through her mind bringing heat and longing and even more uncertainty.
Declan’s voice teasing her through the worst of it; his hands, firm yet gentle on her flesh, reassuring; the expression on his face, focused, patient, intent
Sometimes a tattoo was not just a tattoo; it was personal, almost too personal to trust to a stranger.  At the moment, it seemed that her exhibitionist streak had gone the way of her breasts. Could she really go through with this? Did she really want to bare her chest to a stranger when she could hardly stand to look in the mirror at herself? Maybe she could ask about a female artist? Maybe that would help. Or maybe she should just forget the whole idea. “Maybe I should think about it some more.”
“Hmm. Okay, well, actually, it looks like all our regular artists are pretty booked up right now,” the voice on the phone told her.
Sophie exhaled. Her shoulders sagged—relief, mixed with just a trace of disappointment. “Oh. All right. Well, thanks anyway for checking. I guess it’s not meant to be. Maybe another time then.”
“Whoa, hold on there. Not so fast. I wasn’t done yet. I’m sure we can squeeze you in somewhere. You know, we’re also making appointments for our guest artist, Declan Ross. He’ll be tattooing here for a few weeks. Is there any chance you’d be interested in working with him?”
“Declan’s back?”  Talk about signs! This one was billboard-sized and covered in day-glo neon. “Isn’t he…I mean, I guess I thought he was still out on the West Coast.”
“Oh, yeah. Well, I mean, he’s not here yet. Like I said, he’s coming in primarily for the fundraiser at the end of the month. So…I take it you’re interested then?”
Having Declan here—that was a game changer. If he was the one tattooing her, it would be just like old times. And the chance to see him again… That alone could make it all worthwhile. Maybe she could do this after all. “Yes. Yes, I think I am.”
“Well, good! Why don’t you go ahead and give me your information, and we’ll get you signed up.”
“Yeah, okay. Sure,” Sophie answered, barely aware of what she was saying. Declan was coming back. It was the last thing she’d been expecting. And, now, in just a few weeks she’d be seeing him again.
Now, that one you can have, cher. This time, Sophie would swear the voice laughed out loud. That one’s all yours. He’s got your name written all over him.  


Every memory leaves its mark. 

All Sophie wants is a tattoo to commemorate her battle with cancer. What she gets is celebrity tattoo artist Declan Ross, the same sexy bad-boy who, once-upon-a-time, used to rock her world. 

With his hit television show on hiatus, Declan is back in the Big Easy. A New Year's Eve charity event at Midnight Ink, the shop where he got his start, seems like the perfect opportunity to use his celebrity status to publicize a good cause…and just maybe improve his own image in the process. The last thing he’s expecting, or thinks he needs, is a chance meeting with the girl he left behind. 

Last time they were together, Declan was the one who was damaged. This time, they’ve both got scars; and those you can’t see are the hardest to cover. 


Check out my free read, The Start of Something Wonderful, which was originally written several years ago for the Romancing the New Year blog hop. 



2014-12-21

Winter Solstice!

As it happens, I've set a lot of stories around the Winter Solstice--including a new one, The Oak King, which releases in March. So today I thought I'd celebrate with a few excerpts.


The first one is from The Spirit of the Place (Oberon, book 6) which is also included in the second Oberon box set, Return to Oberon.

In this excerpt, Marsha explains some of her Winter Solstice traditions to her fiance, Sam.


Marsha stood at her living room window and stared out at the blackness.  It had been a long, long, tiring day, even if it was, technically, the year’s shortest.  The last of her guests had finally departed, and still, the longest night of the year was only half over.
“You look tired, angel,” Sam murmured, coming up behind her to massage her shoulders and plant a soft kiss on her cheek.  “Why don’t we go to bed now, and leave the rest of the clean up for morning?”
“I am tired,” Marsha agreed, as she relaxed against him, breathing a happy sigh.  She turned her head to smile at him over her shoulder.  “You can go ahead, if you want to, Sam.  I’m gonna stay up—or at least, try to.  It’s kind of traditional to keep vigil at the solstice, and stay awake until sunrise.”
“Really?”  Sam looked surprised.  “And what exactly do you do during this vigil?”
 Marsha shrugged.  “Well, it depends.  It’s a change of cycle, you see, from dark to light, so I’ve always liked to spend it thinking about the past and making plans for the future.  But, that’s just me.  A lot of people pass the time baking cookies, or bread, or whatever else they plan to eat for breakfast the next morning.  Making wishes for the new year.  Celeste always made rice pudding with crystallized ginger and dried fruit.  I don’t know if there was any particular significance to it, it was just...”  It was just something she always did.  Spiced with cinnamon and cardamom and eaten cold, it always seemed  to Marsha that the dish evoked a feeling of bright sunshine on even the darkest winter’s day.
“You really miss her, don’t you?” Sam’s voice was soft with sympathy.
Marsha nodded, too overcome to speak.  It was too cold at the window, the night too dark, and she felt…vulnerable, exposed.  As though hostile forces might crash through the insubstantial glass and steal away her happiness.  She turned away, and went to sit on the couch, where the fire’s heat could warm her, where the fire’s light could keep her safe. 
Even now, after a year and a half, it still seemed so impossible that Celeste could be gone.  It was like a bad dream, one that would surely be over soon?
“I’m sorry we never actually met,” Sam said, as he sat beside her, and took hold of her hand.  “I imagine I would have liked her.”
Marsha smiled at him.  “I think she would have liked you, too.”  She had a feeling Celeste would have enjoyed matching wits with Sam, although it was possible there would have been a little jealousy there, as well.  As there had been with Alex. 
     Marsha had loved Celeste as a friend, and always would, but she was never in love with her.  Not the way Celeste wished she could be.  It was something her friend had  seemed to accept, but still, there was always a doubt in the back of Marsha’s mind.  How much of Celeste’s dislike of Alex was actually due to envy?
     That doubt was the main reason she hadn’t confided in Celeste when her marriage began to crumble.  And it was why she never mentioned the spells she’d taken to casting on Alex, until it was too late.  How different would her life have turned out if she’d had the sense to listen to her friend, all those years ago?
     Sam gave her hand a little squeeze. “So, all this thinking and planning, is it something you need to be alone to do?  Or can someone keep you company?”
     Someone?  She smiled at him once more.  “Well, that depends.  Is the someone you, Sam?  Because, you know the answer to that is always yes.”
     They stared into each other’s eyes for a long moment, and then he leaned in and kissed her, soft and sweet. 
     A wave of peace washed through her.  I am so lucky, she thought, as he gathered her into his arms.  I am so blessed to have this chance, to have this man in my life, to know even this much happiness, for however long it lasts.  She felt his love surround her, bringing light into her darkness, and she closed her eyes, and gave herself over to the feeling of being loved, unconditionally.             
     The room around her wavered.  Worries and concerns that had plagued her ceased to matter.  Their love was a sacrament, as real and as holy as any prayer she could offer, any ritual she could perform.  And, like all things sacred, it existed outside of ordinary reality, in a place where space and time could bend and change and melt together.  Where dreams of the past and memories of the future could coexist in an endless present. 
     Where love, changeless and evergreen, reigned supreme.

Read more about this title here:  http://www.oberoncalifornia.us/Return.htm


Next up is Iron. This is the scene where Gavin comes face to face with one of Winter's princes: 


Stray sunbeams piercing the gloomy gray sky lit up the landscape like visions of heaven. They did nothing to lighten [Gavin's] mood, however. Neither did the sight of the horseman stopped in the middle of the road just where it crested the hill overlooking the forge. The stranger’s aristocratic features were set in a sneer as he gazed down at Gavin’s demesne, causing an upwelling of territorial pride and anger in the smith’s heart.

“Can I help ye then?” Gavin asked as he came to a swaggering stop several feet from the stranger. If truth be told, between the drink and the bitterness besetting his spirits, he was spoiling for a fight; and the idea of wiping the boreen with this arrogant-looking young prick seemed all too appealing.

The horseman turned to him, a look of cold surprise on his face. Gavin was surprised, as well, and none too pleased. Bless my soul, if it’s not another bloody, damned Fae’Tis a fekkin’ plague of t’em, is what it is. This one had the look of a hunter, though, and coming so close on Aislinn’s heels it didn’t take a genius to figure out it must be he from whom she was running.

Not my kind, Aislinn had said of the fae that was in pursuit of her, and now that he’d had a look at him Gavin was much inclined to agree; the two were as different as day and night. As he took in the wintry expression in the stranger’s eyes, the cruel curl of his mouth, he felt the hackles rise on his neck. His temper flared hotter, burning off the effects of the alcohol, leaving him clear-headed, alert and murderously calm. How now, you cheeky devil? he thought angrily. You think you can just ride up to my door, bold as you please, and take her away from me, is that it? Well, think again.

Even without the promise she’d wrung from him and despite the anger he still harbored toward her; without knowing anything beyond what his senses had already told him about either fae, or anything at all about the argument between them, Gavin knew he’d not be handing Aislinn over to this brigand. Not without a fight.

But what weapons did he have with which to fight against one such as this? Despite the somewhat effete cast to the fae’s features, Gavin could sense the power that lay coiled inside him, as cold and deadly as any serpent.

“I’m looking for someone,” the stranger drawled at last. He had a voice like dry leaves scuttling across bare rock.

His mind racing as he searched for a solution, Gavin let his face relax into a drunken leer in an attempt to buy himself some time. “Lookin’, is it? Well, sure and I’d say you’dfound someone. Or amn’t I someone then?”

The stranger shook his head impatiently. “I’m seeking a particular someone. A woman. A young lady, in fact. Tall, with long, blonde hair, quite fair to look upon, she’s to be my bride. I thought to meet up with her hereabouts, but she seems to have ... gone astray.”

“Yerra,” Gavin shook his head sorrowfully. “’Tis a turrible t’ing that, young ladies goin’ astray. Have ye searched down in Cork for her? That’s usually where they end up, you see, on the streets o’ Cork City.”

“’Tis not what I meant,” the fae replied, staring down his nose at the smith. “I believe she passed through here quite recently. Perhaps you might have seen her?”

“What’s that?” Gavin feigned horror. “Me? Keeping company with some harlot outta Cork? Are ye daft, man? Who’s been telling such lies? You’ll have the missus down on me poor head if you go about spreading such stories as that!”

“Enough of your nonsense,” the stranger uttered in frosty tones. “Silence!”

Gavin fell dumb as the interdiction hit him. Like a cold hand it wrapped around his neck stealing his speech, almost stealing his air entirely. His heart labored as he struggled to breathe. Meanwhile, the stranger’s horse tossed its head and stamped impatiently, teeth snapping as it extended his neck in Gavin’s direction.

“Now, tell me,” the fae demanded, attempting to fix Gavin with his steely gaze, as he urged his restless mount forward. “Have ye or have ye not seen, or heard tell of, the woman I seek?”

It took all the willpower Gavin possessed to keep from answering; or to keep his eyes from meeting that fell gaze, but he knew he was as good as lost if he did. So he focused his attention on the stranger’s horse, instead. With an Irishman’s appreciation for horseflesh, he couldn’t help but be impressed, even despite the danger he was in. It was a beautiful creature, with eyes of coal, a dappled gray coat that shone with the same dull gleam as pewter, deadly white teeth, and those hooves--black as iron and probably just as heavy--ripe to cut a man down with a single kick, he didn’t doubt. Suddenly, Auld John’s words came back to him: “Nary a fae can abide the black metal--and their steeds be just the same.” And Gavin knew he had just one chance to save himself.

“I see how ’tis now,” he muttered, nodding like a simpleton, though it was a battle to say anything that was not in answer to the fae’s question. He dropped his packages carefully on the dried grass at the side of the road, hands fumbling slightly as the dug into his jacket pockets. But as they closed around his all-but-forgotten tools, he felt the pressure from the fae’s spell ease. “Sure and your beastie must have a stone stuck in his hoof, to put him in so foul a mood. But, ‘tis your lucky day, for I’ve just the thing for it.” And, so saying, he held up the implements of his trade--hoof parers and cleaning knife. The gray reared in alarm. Eyes flashing, whinnying fearfully, it stamped and twisted as it tried to back away from the smith.

“Put those away, you fool!” the fae ordered, savagely working the reins while his horse continued to pivot and buck in its efforts to distance itself from the iron.

“Now, now,” Gavin soothed, keeping an eye out for those hooves as he moved closer to the frightened animal. “It must be hurting him turrible to put him in such a state. But ’twill be all right. Just hold him still, can’t you?” Reaching out, he quickly swiped the tip of the parers along the horse’s flank, as though he were striking a match. The response was every bit as immediate and inflammatory.

The horse let out a scream of pain, as though it had been burnt; its hind legs shot out in a vicious kick that had Gavin jumping back to stay out of range, and that nearly unseated its rider. Then it bolted down the road, while the fae, howling furiously, tried in vain to halt its flight.

“Yerra,” Gavin jeered after them. “Off with ye then.” Laughing softly, he watched the pair disappeared from view. “And a good riddance to ye both.” Then he pocketed his tools, collected his parcels and resumed his journey.


Finally, an unedited excerpt from The Oak King...


December, 1895. At the time of the Winter Solstice…
“You’re thinking about him again, aren’t you?”
At the sound of her husband’s voice so close behind her, Aine’s thoughts scattered like a flock of wild birds flushed out of hiding. She paused in the act of lighting the solstice candles in her parlor window and turned round to face him. The look on Fionn’s face, so brooding and unhappy, caused an ache in Aine’s heart. For all that he’d wronged her by tricking her into this marriage, keeping the truth of his nature a secret until after they’d wed, Aine still loved him.  For an instant, she even considered denying the charge, but what good would that do? If the guilty blush heating her cheeks hadn’t already given her away, there was still naught that would be solved by lying. Nor would she insult them both by asking Fionn who he meant. He could only be referring to Kieran, Fionn’s other half, his opposite number and Aine’s…
Ah, well, that was the question, now wasn’t it? What was Kieran to her?
He wasn’t family. Though he and Fionn were as intimately connected as twins, their lives forever entwined, the two men were definitely not brothers. He wasn’t her lover yet either, no matter how much she might desire him, or how much Fionn might fear that was already the case. In fact, now that she’d thought on it, she did know what Kieran was to her. He was a geis—a curse. He was a burden she’d taken on, all unknowing, when she’d married Fionn, one she must now live with for six months out of every year.
Very soon, Kieran would be by her side once again with those eyes that seemed to gaze straight into her soul—and which also gave away far more of his own feelings than he ever intended—with a smile that could tempt even the most virtuous of angels into sinning and a voice that…well, even thinking about it now caused her heart to race and her chest to ache with longing.
Strong but wounded, charming yet aloof, handsome, tormented, and just the slightest bit wicked—had there ever been a more enticing combination in a man? Just like last year, he’d soon be sleeping under her roof, sharing the meals she cooked, keeping her company throughout the long winter nights and soft spring days whilst Fionn was away…
In truth, the prospect excited her far more than it should.
Aine shook her head. She could hardly tell her husband that! “The solstice is nigh upon us, my love,” she said instead.. “’Twould be wondrous strange were I not to be thinking of him at such a time. Would it not?”
“Aye,” Fionn replied in grudging tones. “I suppose it would at that.”
Aine felt her gaze soften as she looked upon her husband. He was so handsome, so serious, so concerned—and he looked so completely out of place in her little parlor, which she supposed he was. He appeared larger than life somehow, also not a great surprise. 
Even in the depths of winter, Fionn’s skin retained the same rosy flush she’d observed when first they’d met, as though he spent every day standing outside in the hot sun. He radiated warmth, vitality and strength—the very picture of every lush, summer day that had ever been, all rolled into one. All hers to enjoy. The thought sent a delicious thrill rushing through her, as it did each time she remembered it. Tonight, however, it also brought a renewed sense of urgency. For with Kieran’s arrival, Fionn would once again be forced to leave her.
Six long months would pass before they would see each other again and all she’d have to carry her through them was the memory of these days together. She ached to once more feel his body on hers—now, while she still had the chance. She yearned for those strong arms to wrap around her and hold her close, for those sure, masterful hands to caress her skin and bring her to ecstasy over and over again. The time left to them grew so short.
“’Tis you I married,” she said at last, for that was so much more important than the rest. “I bid you remember that, Fionn. ’Tis you who are my husband.”

“Aye. That I am.” A satisfied smile curved Fionn’s lips. His eyes lit up with a fierce, possessive gleam. Holding out his hand, he beckoned to her. “Now come here to me, wife, and let me remind you of that fact.” 
Read more here: http://www.pgforte.com/OakKingExcerpt.htm 

Check out my free holiday reads This Winter Night and Counting On Christmas here: 

2014-12-17

Return to Oberon, now on sale pretty much everywhere...


Well, it's been a very long two weeks for me, waiting until all the vendors got on board with my new release, but I'm pleased to announce that--so far as I can tell--the second Oberon boxed, Return to Oberon, set is finally available at e-tailers everywhere.

Available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble , All Romance eBooks, Smashwords, Kobo, and SynergEbooks.

AND...even better...it's on sale for only .99. That price should be good until the end of the month, but why wait?

Welcome back to bewitching Oberon, California! This small, coastal town is an enchanting place. Anything can happen here—and all too often it does! Clinging to corrugated cliffs above a windswept beach, and isolated amid a tangled network of canyons and creeks, Oberon can be a hard place to get to.  But, as all too many visitors have learned over the years, it can be an even harder place to leave behind.

In Return to Oberon the series continues with books four through six. Once again, these are full-length novels. Although many of the same characters appear in each one, all the books in this collection can be read as stand-alone stories.

Book Four: A Taste of Honey

As far as Lucy Greco Cavanaugh is concerned, her life is a dream come true.  She has it all, the perfect family, the perfect husband, the perfect marriage.  What more could she wish for—other than the chance to do it all again, to experience once more the agony and ecstasy of falling in love with the man of her dreams, to recapture the joy and uncertainty that comes with starting over.

For her husband, Shakespeare-quoting Dan Cavanaugh, however, that dream has just become a nightmare.  His storybook marriage is on the line thanks in part to Deirdre Shelton-Cooper, the runaway daughter of a former girlfriend. Deirdre’s intent on proving Dan is her father. When she accidentally hooks up with Dan and Lucy’s son, Seth, the Cavanaughs are left to wonder: how did their fairy-tale romance turn into a classic Greek tragedy?

It’s going to take an entire band of angels to bring the Cavanaughs’ story to a sweet conclusion. Lucky for them, that’s exactly what’s coming to town.

Book Five: Touch of a Vanished Hand

Sinead Quinn has always been something of a drifter.   But now, with her ex-husband trying to blackmail her, and her ex-boyfriend's widow trying to put her in jail, she has no choice but to go to ground.  What better place to hide than with your family?   After all, what are sisters for—especially when you're a twin?  But the first rule of hiding out, is to keep a low profile.  That does not mean kissing your sister's boyfriend (even if he can't tell the two of you apart); rescuing a troubled teen; or taking a highly visible job as hostess of Oberon's most celebrated new inn.

 Adam Sasso has always dreamed big.  But big dreams beget big complications.  First, his goal to turn the vineyard he inherited from his grandfather into a world-class winery is threatened by a mysterious saboteur.  Next, his plan to run the finest bed & breakfast Oberon has ever seen, is broadsided by a hostess who seems to want to run him instead!  Finally, his fondest wish, that of finding love-everlasting with the soul mate of his dreams, is about to go up in smoke when he can't convince the lady in question that they're destined to be together.

Things are really heating up in Oberon this summer—and it’s not just the arson! It's going to take all the wizardry the town can summon up in order to craft a happy ending for the drifter and the dreamer.

Book Six:  The Spirit of the Place

It’s a week before Christmas and Marsha Quinn has a lot on her mind, like the fact that her entire family is about to arrive—including her daughter, Jasmine, who’s far from happy about Marsha’s upcoming wedding. In fact, there’s only one thing about her future stepfather that Jasmine can't help but admire, and that’s the graduate student he’s recently hired as an intern.

 Brandon Ablemarle was already having a hard time finding the holiday spirit, and that was before the fiery redhead he can’t manage to keep his hands off hit town. If his new boss’s radical book is published, it could sink both their careers.  Can he and Jasmine ignore the attraction between them long enough to stop the wedding and the book, or will the psychic energy they unwittingly raise put a stop to them, instead?
With so much chaos going on, is it any wonder Marsha finds herself wishing on a star? But it’s not just any star she chooses; it’s Venus, the Star of Love. Now Marsha’s about to be visited by three very special ghosts.

If you haven't already, join me on Tsu: https://www.tsu.co/pgforte

2014-12-10

It's beginning to look a lot like...

It's Day Two of the Smutketeers' annual Twelve Days of Xmas event. I'm one of the authors featured today and I'll be GIVING AWAY a copy of the first two Oberon Boxed Sets, so hurry over and leave a comment! 

http://www.smutketeers.com/

And don't forget, in order to be eligible for the big, grand prize, you'll need to comment on each of the twelve posts.

In the meantime, here's a Christmas-themed excerpt from The Spirit of the Place.


“So...what are you doing tomorrow?” [Jasmine] asked as they pulled up in front of her house. 
Brandon cut the engine and turned off the lights.  “Tomorrow?  Not too much, why?” 
“Well, because it’s Christmas, that’s why.”
“Yeah?  So?”  Christmas.  Right.  And wasn’t that special?  Come to think of it, that probably went a long way toward explaining his lousy mood tonight, didn’t it?  He walked around to her side, intending to simply hand her the keys and leave, and then decided to walk her to the door.  After all, there was no place he had to be and, with no one expecting him, he was in no hurry to get there.
“Don’t you have any plans at all?” she persisted, as they headed toward the house.  “What about dinner?”
“I haven’t really thought about it.  Your aunt’s going out somewhere, so I guess I’ll be on my own.  Maybe I’ll go into town for dinner, or something.”  Or maybe he wouldn’t even bother.  How long could one day be, after all?
“You could always come to dinner with us,” she offered climbing the steps to the front porch.  “We’re going to my Aunt Lucy’s house, but I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if you joined us.”
Another aunt?  Not on your life, sugar.  “Thanks,” he said, trying hard to hide his lack of enthusiasm.  “But I’m kind of looking forward to the time alone.”
Jasmine bit her lip.  “You can’t want to be alone, Brandon.  It’s Christmas.”
Once again, Brandon found himself staring at her mouth.  She was right.  He didn’t want to be alone, he wanted to be with her.  No, he wanted to be inside her.  He felt the beast’s claws rake his insides again and all but snarled at her.  “I told you.  It’s not a big deal.  Besides, if I don’t want to spend Christmas with my family, what makes you think I’d want to spend it with yours?”
The words registered in his brain several seconds after they’d come out of his mouth.  Oh, shit.  He hadn’t meant it to come out that way, but the sight of her teeth worrying her lip made him crazy as always.
“I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean it like that,” he said, sighing a little at the hurt she tried to hide.   He put his hands on her shoulders and stared into her eyes, hoping to look and sound sincere.  “Really, I didn’t.”
She shrugged, still looking like she didn’t believe him.  “I just thought...it might be nice for you not to be alone,” she said, quietly.  “That’s all.”
Nice?  He couldn’t keep from smiling.  “You really want to help me have a nice Christmas, Jasmine?”
She nodded, looking surprised and slightly confused.  Brandon knew another brief moment of guilt, remembering Paco’s words.  Could she really be as innocent as she looked right now? 
Oh, impossible.  She has to know exactly where this conversation is heading
“Then why don’t you give me something nice to think about, while I’m all alone tomorrow,” he murmured as he crowded her against the wall of the house and lifted her chin.
He thought, at first, she was going to resist, but, apparently she was sincere about wanting him to have a nice Christmas.  She raised her face willingly.  Her lips opened under his and, when he felt her arms slip hesitantly around his neck, he moved his hands to her waist.  They closed around bare skin and he was all at once wrestling with himself to maintain control.  He wasn’t going to make the mistake of rushing her again, but it was definitely time to take this thing to the next level.
He deepened the kiss deliberately.  Taking his time.  Gauging her mood.  Waiting for the moment when he could finally begin sliding his hands slowly up her sides, under her sweater.  Ahh, yes... 
She was breathing hard by the time his hands came to a stop just beneath her breasts.  He shifted his hands slightly, felt her shudder as his thumbs brushed across her nipples.  He did it again.  And again.  And then...he shifted his hands once more to cup her breasts in his palms.  She moaned deep in her throat as she pressed herself against him.
Oh, yeah, that’s what I call nice, all right, he thought, all but growling in satisfaction.  But still he wanted more.  He pulled back a bit and, as he’d hoped, she followed after him, pushing herself even closer.  He slid his arms around her.  His hands skimmed down her back to her butt.  He held her against him and let one hand move lower still, lifting her leg and wrapping it around him, and then trailing his hand back up along her bare thigh.
She was clinging to him now, trembling slightly, almost whimpering, barely seeming to breathe.  And then— with a muffled shriek she pushed away from him.  He stared at her in surprise.
“Something bit me,” she exclaimed, looking down at the floor.
He followed her gaze.  Her mother’s cat sat at her feet, ears laid back, an angry look on its furry little face.  He moved his gaze to Jasmine’s ankle and, sure enough, blood was oozing from several small wounds. 
“Why would she do such a thing?”
Oh, who the fuck knows?  Brandon sighed, tiredly.  The whole world seemed joined in a conspiracy to interrupt them every time things got even slightly interesting.  But, just like always, it was probably for the best.  “You’d better get inside,” he said.
She turned startled eyes to him again.  “What?”
“It’s late,” he told her.  “It’s probably already Christmas by now.  And you’ve got a big dinner to go to, remember?”
“Brandon,” she paused, frowning uncertainly.  “Please come with us?”
He smiled and shook his head.  “No.  But, thanks for asking.”  He leaned in to brush one last kiss against her lips.  “Have a merry Christmas, Jasmine.  I’ll see you in a couple of days.”

*  *  *

Jasmine watched as he walked away.  She hadn’t meant to let things go so far tonight, but Brandon had a way of getting to her.  A way of short circuiting her intelligence, derailing her good intentions, screwing up her judgment and making her act all crazy.  He was bad news.  No doubt about it.
She leaned against the door frame as she stared into the night; gazing down the empty road long after his car had disappeared from sight.  Shadow meowed plaintively and rubbed against her ankles, her earlier hostility obviously forgotten.  Finally, Jasmine stirred, opened the door and let them both inside. 
The house was dark and quiet.  Obviously her mother was already asleep.  Jasmine didn’t know whether to feel relieved or disappointed about that.  Could she talk to her mother about something like this?  She needed to talk to someone—but who?   The dog stood motionless in the shadows like a sentinel, but for once Jasmine felt a stray surge of sympathy for the mutt.  It must be hard, after having been raised in one environment, trained for a certain purpose, to find yourself thrust suddenly into another life altogether. The poor dog must feel as out of her element here as Jasmine knew herself to be.
And she couldn’t even be certain anymore that it was all Sam’s fault she felt this way.  What if she succeeded in making him leave, only to find that her problems remained?  What then?
She fed the cat and headed for bed, although she doubted she’d get much sleep tonight.  Her body hummed with an unfamiliar energy.   Her head was spinning.  And if Brandon were to show up again, unexpectedly, if he were to throw rocks at her window, like they always did in movies, would she sneak out to meet him?

She didn’t even have to think about that one.  She’d go in a heartbeat.  It was foolish, and she was no doubt dooming herself to heartbreak by even thinking like that, but for the chance to explore more of this feeling, she’d take the risk.


Welcome back to bewitching Oberon, California! This small, coastal town is an enchanting place. Anything can happen here—and all too often it does! Clinging to corrugated cliffs above a windswept beach, and isolated amid a tangled network of canyons and creeks, Oberon can be a hard place to get to.  But, as all too many visitors have learned over the years, it can be an even harder place to leave behind.

In Return to Oberon the series continues with books four through six. Once again, these are full-length novels. Although many of the same characters appear in each one, all the books in this collection can be read as stand-alone stories.

Book Four: A Taste of Honey

As far as Lucy Greco Cavanaugh is concerned, her life is a dream come true.  She has it all, the perfect family, the perfect husband, the perfect marriage.  What more could she wish for—other than the chance to do it all again, to experience once more the agony and ecstasy of falling in love with the man of her dreams, to recapture the joy and uncertainty that comes with starting over.

For her husband, Shakespeare-quoting Dan Cavanaugh, however, that dream has just become a nightmare.  His storybook marriage is on the line thanks in part to Deirdre Shelton-Cooper, the runaway daughter of a former girlfriend. Deirdre’s intent on proving Dan is her father. When she accidentally hooks up with Dan and Lucy’s son, Seth, the Cavanaughs are left to wonder: how did their fairy-tale romance turn into a classic Greek tragedy?

It’s going to take an entire band of angels to bring the Cavanaughs’ story to a sweet conclusion. Lucky for them, that’s exactly what’s coming to town.

Book Five: Touch of a Vanished Hand

Sinead Quinn has always been something of a drifter.   But now, with her ex-husband trying to blackmail her, and her ex-boyfriend's widow trying to put her in jail, she has no choice but to go to ground.  What better place to hide than with your family?   After all, what are sisters for—especially when you're a twin?  But the first rule of hiding out, is to keep a low profile.  That does not mean kissing your sister's boyfriend (even if he can't tell the two of you apart); rescuing a troubled teen; or taking a highly visible job as hostess of Oberon's most celebrated new inn.

 Adam Sasso has always dreamed big.  But big dreams beget big complications.  First, his goal to turn the vineyard he inherited from his grandfather into a world-class winery is threatened by a mysterious saboteur.  Next, his plan to run the finest bed & breakfast Oberon has ever seen, is broadsided by a hostess who seems to want to run him instead!  Finally, his fondest wish, that of finding love-everlasting with the soul mate of his dreams, is about to go up in smoke when he can't convince the lady in question that they're destined to be together.

Things are really heating up in Oberon this summer—and it’s not just the arson! It's going to take all 
the wizardry the town can summon up in order to craft a happy ending for the drifter and the dreamer.

Book Six:  The Spirit of the Place

It’s a week before Christmas and Marsha Quinn has a lot on her mind, like the fact that her entire family is about to arrive—including her daughter, Jasmine, who’s far from happy about Marsha’s upcoming wedding. In fact, there’s only one thing about her future stepfather that Jasmine can't help but admire, and that’s the graduate student he’s recently hired as an intern.

 Brandon Ablemarle was already having a hard time finding the holiday spirit, and that was before the fiery redhead he can’t manage to keep his hands off hit town. If his new boss’s radical book is published, it could sink both their careers.  Can he and Jasmine ignore the attraction between them long enough to stop the wedding and the book, or will the psychic energy they unwittingly raise put a stop to them, instead?

With so much chaos going on, is it any wonder Marsha finds herself wishing on a star? But it’s not just any star she chooses; it’s Venus, the Star of Love. Now Marsha’s about to be visited by three very special ghosts.

2014-11-18

Dads Behaving Badly

Three of my very favorite authors have new releases out now that share something surprising in common--no, not the suberb writing, that was a given, as were the hot heroes, hot sex and heated exchanges. Nope, this is something else entirely. All three books featured less than exemplary fathers. Let's explore this phenomenon...

Stacy Gail's new release, Where There's a Will has not one but two nasty dads, and oh, the issues they have caused for the hero and heroine! All the lovely, lovely angst! If you like a bad-boy hero to die for and characters who come with a heaping helping of baggage, this is the book for you! 

This is installment number four in the Bitterthorn, Texas series, and it just might be the angstiest one yet--no mean feat when you consider that the series kicked off with last year's Starting from Scratch, and OMG, I knew that one was going to be a three-hankie read from the moment Stacy first told me the story line! Yummy...and I don't just mean the cookies. Both books are also reunion stories--and that is probably my all time favorite trope. Come to think of it, book two in the series, Ugly Ducklings Finish First was also a reunion story. No wonder I love this series so much! 

Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Kobo 

Next up is Kelly Jamieson's new menage Three of Hearts, which is set in Nashville, TN. I was privileged to have spent time with Kelly in Nashville last year while she researched locations and wrote the song that is at the heart of this story. Yes. She wrote a whole, entire, frickin' country song. In like...half an hour. The woman's ridiculously talented. This book has only the one disappointing dad--he belongs to the heroine, who is also saddled with a cheating, hockey player boyfriend, by the way (because even Kelly's throwaway characters are delish). But before you get to feeling too sorry for our poor heroine, you should know the girl gets two smokin' hot heroes in exchange for those losers. And they're both swoon-worthy musicians, don't you know. Yeah, I'm thinking that's sooooo much better and sooooo worth it.

Three of Hearts is set at Christmas time. Is there anything better than a Christmas menage? No, I didn't think so. This is a sparkly Christmas present of a book. Sadly, it's not part of a series--yet. I do have hopes of changing that, however. Oh, Kelly, we need to talk...

Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Kobo

Last, but certainly not least, is Jenny Schwartz's Kiss it Better. Don't you just love that title?  This is a tale of two dads.  Okay, not really. It's a delightful steamy romance set in my new favorite Australian coastal town, Jardin Bay. The hero of Kiss it Better is a doctor and a CEO with a taste for motorcycles and classic cars. Mmmm. I'd call that a triple threat! There are two dads, however--along with an assortment of other relatives, both good and bad. One dad I loved. He's totally deserving of his own HEA. Are you listening, Jenny? The other dad, I wanted to strangle! Grrr. It's called parenting, people! Let's get it right!


So there you have it. Bad news fathers and, sadly, all of them seemed pretty true to life. But are they part of a trend? A new trope? A sign of things to come? Or is it all no more than coincidence? Why not pick them all three books up and decide for yourself? Any way you look at it, these books make for some great reading. 

2014-08-30

Oberon Box Set #1 ~ Now Available for Pre-Order
























The first of THREE box sets is now available for pre-order on Amazon, for only .99 (for a limited time only). Welcome to Oberon contains three full-length novels: Scent of the Roses, A Sight to Dream Of and Sound of a Voice That is Still.  Buy now for a savings of almost $14! http://www.amazon.com/Oberon-Boxed-Set-Books-Welcome-ebook/dp/B00N5AOKSA/

Such Fleeting Pleasures, the Oberon prequel, is also available for only .99. And with a snazzy new cover, too!  http://www.amazon.com/Such-Fleeting-Pleasures-Oberon-Novella-ebook/



2014-05-09

RT!

I'm leaving home early, early tomorrow to attend the 2014 RT Booklovers Convention in New Orleans! If you're going, I hope I see you! You can click on the calendar tab at the top of this page to get an idea of my schedule. I might have books and treats and all sorts of goodies to give away.

I'll also be running a drawing for one of two Oberon mini-baskets.


Baskets contain: A "Scent of the Roses" rose petal sachet, a Crone's Nest coffee mug (and complimentary tea bags), decorative seashell-shaped soap, a jar of locally-sourced lavender honey, a wine-scented candle (it's sparkling peach chardonnay, to be exact--a little detail that readers of Touch of a Vanished Hand might appreciate), a rose-quartz beaded book thong, a sage smudge stick, some yummy Scharffen Berger chocolate (Lauren's favorite) and a packet of flower seeds--California poppies, of course!

If you're going to be at RT, stop by the Nine Naughty Novelists' table in Promotion Alley...or Lane...or whatever they call it, and drop your name and email addy in the box. That will add you to my mailing list and enter you to win the basket.

If you're NOT going to RT (or if you are and you want to enter twice--fine by me) you can still enter--because I have two of these bad boys! Just head on over to Facebook and join my Crone's Nest group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheCronesNest/

Already a member? Shoot me an email at: pgforte@pgforte.com or comment below and I'll figure something out. :)

2014-04-03

Fools for Love



Hi there, blog-hoppers! Welcome to another fabulous blog hop brought to you by Just Romance Me! As always, if you fall off somewhere along the line, just go to http://justromance.me to jump back on.

I love the theme of this blog hop! As soon as I heard it, I knew just which of my characters I'd be talking about today: Conrad and Damian from my vampire family saga, the Children of Night series. Conrad Quintano is a vampire, but not just any vampire. He's one of a special breed of vampires, the super-powerful Lamia Invitus. He's also the leader of Clan Quintano, the largest and most powerful vampire family in the San Francisco Bay area. When he's faced with the unexpected, in the form of newborn vampire twins Marc and Julie, he knows he needs help, so he reaches out to the one person he trusts more than anyone else, former lover Damian Ysidro Esposito-Montoya (the former Vizconde de Castille).

Conrad and Damian have been separated for a little over a hundred years when fate thrusts them back together. Working as a team to co-parent the twins, they eventually craft an uneasy truce between them.

When I first started writing In the Dark, the first book in the series, I had assumed that the two would remain exes for the rest of their days. After all that time apart, all the other lovers in their lives, all the bad-blood, so to speak, between them...sorry, bad vampire pun...they must be over each other by now, right?

Well, apparently not. As the first book came together, it quickly became obvious that they both still had very strong feelings for each other. And they both wanted nothing more than to reunite. In the end, I couldn't say no. I had to devote most of book two (Old Sins, Long Shadows) to telling their story. And that still wasn't enough for them! I'm working on book five at the moment, and by now I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that they've taken over the series.**

Luckily, readers seem to love these guys as much as I do.

**Not to worry, however. The twins will be stealing center stage away from their parents very soon. But, shhhh. Don't let the boys know that yet!

Here's part of the flashback scene from when they're first reunited. And if you'd like to catch a glimpse of their very first encounter with each other, way back in fifteenth century Sevilla, click on the Free Reads tab at the top of this page and check out Spanish Love Song. Enjoy!

When you live forever, you’re bound to make a few mistakes.

Children of Night, Book 1

1969 San Francisco. World-weary Conrad Quintano should have known better than to fall in love with a human—much less Suzanne Fischer, the barely legal, adventure-seeking hippie beauty known as Desert Rose. And the very last thing he should have agreed to do was to raise her babies and protect them with his life. But even twelve-hundred-year-old master vampires can find it hard to reject a deathbed request—especially when issues of love, guilt and blood are involved.

Present day. Raised in virtual isolation, twins Marc and Julie Fischer have always known they are vampires. But they never knew their parentage—or their unique status in the vampire world—until their “uncle” Damian comes to fetch them home. 

The family reunion, however, isn’t what they expect. They’re thrust into a world for which they’re totally unprepared. And the father they expected to see, Conrad, is missing.
How to find him…and whom to trust? Solving the mystery of betrayal and vampire family values will prove the Beatles had it right. All you need is love…and an occasional side of blood.

San Francisco, CA
Monday, November, 3, 1969
Damian stood on the sidewalk outside the gate of the Italianate Victorian mansion, staring irresolutely at the building before him, trying hard to quell the queasy nervousness he was feeling. So it had been a hundred and thirteen years since he’d last seen Conrad, was that any reason for him to be trembling inside like a virginal debutante hoping she’d be asked to dance? It wasn’t likely the man had changed. No doubt Conrad was still the same tyrant he’d always been. Short-tempered. Overbearing. Domineering. Ruthless…
“So then why are you here, you fool?” he asked himself. Good question. Why had he dropped everything and rushed to Conrad’s side the minute the selfish bastard snapped his fingers? “You’re acting just like the good little lap dog he always wanted you to be.”
But, the answer to that was obvious. He was here because it was Conrad who’d asked him to come. Conrad, who never forgot and never forgave and never took anyone back, who couldn’t possibly be reaching out to Damian now in hopes of reconciling with him…but who could hardly have had any other reason for contacting him, either.
“Idiot,” Damian chastised himself, as he leaned on the doorbell. After all this time, he should know better than to get his hopes up too high. He should have ignored the summons, pretended he’d never gotten the entirely too cryptic message and stayed at home.
Ah, but that was the problem, wasn’t it? Because, however much he might wish it were otherwise, home was still exactly the same place it had always been for him. Wherever Conrad was.
Chi รจ esso?” Conrad’s rich baritone sounded exactly the same, as well—even despite the distortion caused by the intercom. “Who is it?”
Damian’s heart contracted. He bit back a shaky sigh. “Es-es yo,” he replied, his voice faltering just a little. “Damian.”
The intercom shut off with a snap and a buzzer sounded as the gate was unlocked—for all of an instant. Damian grabbed for it just in time and headed toward the house muttering beneath his breath—roundly cursing himself and Conrad and whatever unlucky stars had happened to have been in alignment on the day they’d first met. “I should have never have allowed myself to become involved with such a…with such a peasant.” That had been his first mistake.
The front door was ajar. Damian froze with his hand extended toward the doorknob and his pulse racing with the thought that it could be a trap he was walking into. For just an instant he considered retreating. But, what the hell? He’d come this far, what was a little more lunacy?
Still, as he pushed through the door and stepped into the darkened entrance hall the sound of his own heartbeat was so loud in his ears it drowned out any other sound. “Lucy, I’m a-home,” he called in his best Ricky Ricardo impersonation, almost jumping out of his skin when Conrad growled softly, “Quiet.”
Damian spun around to face him. For a very long moment he just stared, unable to do anything but drink Conrad in, as though his eyes had been starved for the sight of him. Finally, inexcusably late in the day, his self-preservation instincts kicked in. Fear had him drawing back, straightening his spine—even as his insides continued twisting themselves into knots. There was a faint frown on Conrad’s stern face, a wary gleam in his glittering, ametrine eyes. Damian’s own eyes widened in uneasy surprise when the squirming bundles in his old friend’s arms finally registered.
He waved one hand at the babies in a seemingly careless gesture as he joked, “Why, what are these, mi querido? Appetizers? But, they’re so small! You cannot possibly be planning on our making a meal of them?”
Conrad’s eyes blazed with a look that was just this side of insanity. He laid back his lips and snarled savagely, “They’re not food, you imbecile.” Then he turned on his heel and stalked away. “Shut the door,” he hurled over his shoulder as he disappeared down the hallway.
Shaking his head, once again, at his own stupidity—for not leaving while he still had the chance—Damian did as he’d been told and then followed Conrad into the large room that had been intended as the mansion’s formal dining room. Flames leaped and crackled in the ornate marble fireplace. Another unwelcome surprise. Even though today was the first decently overcast day the city had seen in weeks, it was certainly not cool enough to warrant a fire.
Perhaps Conrad had another purpose in mind for the blaze? Fire could serve as a weapon, could it not? Or as a devastatingly efficient means of destruction. But who, or what, might he be intending to burn in its flames tonight?
“Conrad, what the hell is going on?” All kidding aside now, Damian studied his friend with mounting concern. Conrad, his face drawn, sat slumped in an armchair uncomfortably near the hearth, and within arm’s reach of the crib into which he’d placed the two infants. “You look terrible.”
Conrad ignored the question and waved Damian toward a second armchair, on the other side of the fireplace. “Sit down.”
Damian crossed to the chair, but he cast a worried glance at the hungry flames as he did. His nerves were shrieking warnings. What was it that most alarmed him, he wondered; the doubtlessly deadly blaze, or his potentially murderous companion? He’d never seen Conrad in such a mood as this and he didn’t trust it. Standing in front of the chair, he hesitated. “Conrad,” he murmured pleadingly. “What is this? Why am I here?”
Conrad roused himself. Eyes flashing darkly, he fisted one hand on the arm of his chair, leaned forward and fixed Damian with a menacing glare. “It’s a long story. If you want to hear it, sit down!” Their eyes met. As his gaze focused on Damian’s face, it seemed as though a little of the madness left Conrad’s expression. His face relaxed. A small smile appeared and graced his lips. “Please?”
Too surprised to reply, Damian plopped into the chair behind him—quickly, before his legs could give out. It was the shock of being addressed so cordially, he told himself, refusing to even consider the awful possibility that it could have been Conrad’s smile that had once again made him go weak in the knees. No. I can’t. Never again.

For another long moment the two men stared wordlessly at each other. Finally, seemingly satisfied with whatever he’d seen in Damian’s face, Conrad dropped his gaze. He slumped back in his chair and sighed. “It’s good to see you, caro.” And then, again without giving Damian any chance to recover from this latest shock, he launched into his tale. “There was this girl…”

Living forever is hard, but loving forever? That’s damn near impossible.



Children of Night, Book 2



1856, New York City. Moments after Conrad Quintano drives his life-mate away, heartache and guilt descend around his heart like a pall. Convinced that Damian’s hatred is as permanent as the scars Conrad has inflicted on him, Conrad steels himself for an eternity of emotional torture.



Present day, San Francisco. For the sake of vampire twins Marc and Julie Fischer, Conrad and Damian present a united parental front. In reality, their truce is a sham. Conrad, weakened by his recent ordeal, struggles against the urge to bring his mate back to his bed. And Damian misinterprets Conrad’s explosive temper as proof their relationship is irreparably broken.



When an old enemy’s quest to create a dangerous new breed of vampire threatens the twins’ lives—and the precarious state of vampire peace—it’s imperative the estranged lovers put the past behind them. Or the shadows of the past will tear apart everything they hold dear.