COVER REVEAL: THE RUBY KEY

Posted October 7th, 2014 by Victoria

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1. What is the name of your character? Zack Lindstrom

2. Is she fictional or a historic person? Fictional

3. When and where is the story set? In the fictional town of Littleton, Pennsylvania, a small town in the middle of nowhere, about two hours outside of Philadelphia, with some very interesting residents. It is a contemporary time period.

4. What should we know about him? Zack is former military who now works for a private security company. After the death of his brother and partner, he takes some time to figure out what he needs to do with his life. He likes fast cars, fast women, and no roots. Oh, and he has powers, though he denies them because the “other” world is what got his brother killed.

5. What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life? He heads to Littleton to look up an old friend and try to get his head back in place, but when he arrives, he meets Phoebe (by running into her, literally, with his bike) and the rest of the Keepers and Protectors. He is informed that he is a Protector – but he wants nothing to do with this bunk. Magic? Yeah. Right. Except that he can see things in the fires Phoebe raises. And knows how to wield a sword like he was born to it. Plus his brother and grandmother convince him this is his destiny – even though they’re both dead. He doesn’t want roots. He doesn’t want responsibility. That just leads to people he loves being killed. But he can’t turn away from friends who need his help.

6. What is the personal goal of the character? His goal is to atone for his brother’s death, even though it wasn’t his fault, and learn to be comfortable with his life as it is now. He needs people who care about him, and to be needed.

7. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it? The book is called “The Ruby Key” and is the second in the Crystal Keys series.

8. When can we expect the book to be published or when was it published? The book will be available in the beginning of November from Liquid Silver Press.

Guest Post: Kerry Adrienne

Posted August 26th, 2014 by Victoria

Sculptor's Desire_HiRes (1)

Kerry Adrienne is back with another novel that’ll keep you up way past your bedtime.

Rocco Lazzaro meets the a new age, yoga instructor Devin in SCULPTOR’S DESIRE, the second novel Kerry Adrienne’s sizzling Gallant Gentlemen’s Guild series, out on August 27th. 2014 from Ellora’s Cave.

Purchase here: Ellora’s Cave
About SCULPTOR’S DESIRE:

Rocco Lazzaro is on a mission to find the perfect male body to sculpt. His inability to find “the one” has affected his creativity and he’s frustrated by his failure. With a Guild charity auction coming up, he’s expected to provide high quality sculptures, but the pieces he creates feel soulless.
When Devin, a yoga instructor, approaches him and offers to help, Rocco can’t quit thinking about the red-hot ginger. Devin’s New Age beliefs push Rocco away—he can’t deal with reality, much less mysticism. No auras and rainbows for Rocco—just stone and chisel and hammer.
But Devin is persistent. He knows he’s supposed to help Rocco find his muse—and he’ll stop at nothing to show him that the line between art and skin is very thin and a true muse can provide inspiration in many ways.

 Goodreads | Amazon| Barnes and Noble

Also in the Gallant Gentlemen’s Guild series: ARTIST’S TOUCH by Kerry Adrienne! On sale for just .99 cents from August 25th – August 31st, 2014.

Vail-smallAbout Kerry Adrienne:

Kerry loves history and spends large amounts of time wondering about people who lived and walked on Earth in the past. She’s a mom to three daughters, six cats, and various small animals, including a panther chameleon.

In addition to writing, she’s a college instructor, artist, costumer, and editor. Her new love is her Mini Cooper Convertible, Sheldon, and they have already gone on many adventures.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

STEAMINESS

Rocco clutched the purple fliers and stared out at the busy park from his seat. He’d posted enough of the papers for the day, not that it mattered. He’d never had luck distributing them before—the responses had never lived up to his expectations. He set his backpack on the ground and leaned back against the wooden bench. Why bother? Not like the perfect man was going to walk up, pick up the flier and actually respond. Not in this lifetime.

He lowered the sunglasses over his eyes. The late afternoon sunlight didn’t thread through the full-summer trees in this part of Central Park, but his shades allowed him to “bulge watch” as the throngs of tourists and New Yorkers paid homage at the mosaic shrine to John Lennon. The circular black and white medallion with “Imagine” scripted across its center was a place of reverence. Disciples had outlined the medallion with a peace sign made of fresh-cut flowers, and tourists took turns posing and taking pictures in front of the makeshift altar.

Rocco scanned the visitors. The place was a people-watcher’s dream, and for a Monday, the crowd was huge. Summer in the city always brought the tourists in droves of asinine clothing and hats and noise. Still, he had hope he’d find the one he was looking for.

The man who’d make his dreams come true.

He set the fliers on the bench beside him, then picked up one purple sheet and folded it into a fan, carefully creasing each fold. He tried to breathe out the hot air, but no doubt about it, the June day was steaming. New York was a sweltering change from the Adirondack cabin where he’d spent most of his time in the last month. Still, he was happy to be back in the city—his second home. The cabin was great as a quiet place to work, even though it was small, but its remoteness made it impossible to people-watch and gain inspiration.

Rocco crimped the last crease. His apartment in one of the Guild’s brownstones felt like home away from home. The Guild’s large studio provided the best space he’d ever had to work—tons of light and plenty of quiet. And his guildmates were like brothers, always ready to support each other through any artistic struggle, though he supposed they too were growing tired of his search for a perfect man. No one had actually voiced it, but he felt a distinct difference in the tone of the conversation when he brought the search up in conversation. With the upcoming charity auction in October, most of the artists would be working overtime and even less inclined to listen to his plight.

He fanned himself with the folded flier. Nothing to see at the moment. Not a single possibility in the groups of people gathered in the small courtyard. He scanned the area. The top edge of the Dakota Apartments peeked over the trees and Rocco glanced over the rows of tightly curtained windows. He’d never been inside the lavish building, though he knew several Guild members had been to private parties there. Rocco had been invited many times but had always declined. Wealth and showmanship weren’t his thing. He preferred the simple life where nature set the style, not John Varvatos and Marc Jacobs.

Strawberry Fields was a prime tourist spot. Too bad today’s mob held few specimens worthy of a glance, much less a stare. I’d think the simple math odds would warrant at least a couple prospects. Add in summer shorts, and there should be at least a good bulge or two…

He glanced at the stack of fliers—about fifty of them left. He’d put up as many papers as he could around the park over the last hour. Who was he kidding? After years of searching, he might as well give up on finding the ideal male. He set the fan on the bench and shoved the stack of fliers into the front pocket of his backpack and zipped it up.

He’d held several open calls with no luck. Something inside him pushed him to keep looking, keep trying, no matter how many times he failed. The same something kept him awake at night and tore apart his thoughts during the day. He’d find what he was looking for and he wouldn’t stop until he did, no matter what it took. It didn’t matter if it cost him his friends, his guildmates, his sanity. That was art, wasn’t it?

“May I sit here?”

The soft, lilting voice wove through Rocco’s thoughts and he paused. He looked up and his breath caught in his throat when he saw where the voice originated. Broad shoulders and a flat abdomen encased in a perfectly tight white T-shirt. Tall, but not overly so. Blue jean shorts, snug. Red cropped hair that glistened gold at the tips and fell over in a lock of bangs. Rocco gazed from top to bottom and licked his dry lips.

Red, white, blue, and all American.

“May I?” the man repeated.

“Sure.” Rocco fumbled with his pack and slid over to make room on the wooden park bench, pushing his folded fan behind him and out of the way so the stranger could sit down.

“Thanks,” the man said, dropping onto the bench.

No, thank you. But not so close. The vibrations of the man sitting raced through the wood of the bench into wood between Rocco’s legs. He swallowed hard, pushing back the anxiety. “No problem,” he said, half-whispering. He peeked then gazed down again. Finally, someone worth looking at. Only the man was so freaking near, Rocco felt as if he could feel the heat emanating from the man’s hotness.

Too close. No comfort.

The man scooted back on the bench and stretched out his legs. “Long day. I’m exhausted. Didn’t expect there to still be such a crowd here this time of day.” He blew out a long breath and closed his eyes.

Despite the heat, a shiver raced through Rocco and he eyed the fluid line of the man’s form. If he’d had a sketchpad, he’d do a quick gesture drawing of the long stroke of torso and limbs.

Not knowing what to say, Rocco turned away. A group of noisy teens descended on the mosaic like a swarm of bees, laughing and shouting and taking photos of themselves in stupid poses. Rocco blinked away the distraction and looked back to the man sitting beside him.

Not bad. “Yeah.” Hell, not bad at all. “It’s crowded.” He squeezed his thighs together to control his body’s reaction. Why couldn’t the man have chosen to sit on the other side of the path where Rocco could observe without having to talk?

“Such a loud crowd, at that.” The man opened his eyes and peered at the teen spectacle then shook his head. “They need to relax. Chill. You’d think they’d never been outside before.”

Rocco nodded and followed his gaze. A teen had picked up one of the flowers from the medallion and was tossing it into the air and catching it. “Tourists. New York can’t live with them, or without them.”

“Tourist?” The man asked. “Aren’t you? I can’t place that accent, so I assumed you were. Where are you from?”

“Italy.” Rocco sat up straight, trying to not be obvious in staring at the man’s muscular legs. He must be some kind of athlete. Was this man a candidate or had the hour of staring at subpar specimens clouded Rocco’s judgment? “Well, born in Italy, but I’ve lived in the city for several years. Many, actually. I consider myself a New Yorker now.”

“Ah, so Italian with some city dialect. Not a tourist. What’s your name?”

Rocco flipped his sunglasses up onto his head. “Rocco Lazzaro. Not a tourist.” He forced a smile. Meeting new people in person wasn’t something he was used to doing.

“But very Italian, I see. Nice to meet you, Rocco.” The man held his hand out. “I’m Devin Johansson. Also not a tourist. I live on the East Side.”

Rocco took Devin’s hand in his own and shook it firmly, aware that his own hand was clammy with anxiety. “Good to meet you too, Devin.”

Devin clamped down on Rocco’s fingers and held on. “Oh. You have working hands,” he whispered. He pulled Rocco’s hand closer and rubbed Rocco’s palm with long, soft fingers. “And your aura shows great creativity.” He looked up. “What is it you do?”

The teens moved on down the park path, giggling and talking loudly as they went. Rocco glanced over at them, trying to still the shudder that played along his arm as Devin rubbed his hand. A calm, warm feeling flowed up through his arm and into his chest. Even in the summer heat, the warmth felt good. Too good. Wait, what did he say? What the hell?

“My what? My aura?” Rocco yanked his hand away, immediately aware of the loss of warmth. Great. The first good-looking guy he’d met this week was a fruit loop New-Ager. The city grew all types, but this was one type Rocco tried to avoid. These dopes talked too much and thought too much about weird things instead of reality.

Devin leaned back and clasped his hands behind his head. He stared up into the trees, smiling. “Yeah, I can tell you are creative by your aura. So, what is it you do?”

Rocco scowled. “I’m a sculptor.” He wasn’t sure why he was telling Devin, or why he was even talking to the man in the first place. Am I that desperate? Do I look like a pity case? He straightened his sunglasses on top of his head and smoothed back his hair.

“I knew it.” Devin looked at Rocco, his eyes sparkling. “You work with your hands, I can tell. Your hands hold lots of kindness and feeling and warmth. I knew you were an artist of some kind.”

Rocco made eye contact. He nearly sighed aloud at the deep green in Devin’s gaze. A perfect offset to his red-gold hair and pale skin, which, oddly enough, seemed devoid of the freckles that redheads often sported. If Rocco were a painter, Devin would be a divine palette to experiment with.

“Good g-guess.” Rocco looked away. Something about intense men always caused him to lose his confidence, like maybe the men were peering into the innermost part of him and not running away. Like the fruit loop cast a spell.

“No, it’s really obvious.” Devin chuckled. “If you’re sensitive to reading people, you’re rarely wrong. It happens, but not often.” A look of doubt crossed his face and was gone in an instant.

A warm breeze pushed through the park, sweeping a few dry leaves across the trail in a crackle and rustling Rocco’s hair. He smoothed it down and settled the glasses back on his head.

How am I supposed to respond to that? Rocco fidgeted. Is he trying to get me to ask him something? “Well, okay. It’s obvious I’m an artist.” He had to get the conversation away from himself. Now. Not only was it uncomfortable, but Devin was in his personal space. “So what do you do, Devin? Besides tell people about their auras?” Magician? Fortuneteller? Horse Whisperer? He hoped Devin would notice the skepticism in his tone and lay off the hoodoo talk. Seeing colors around people? He’d heard of it before, sure. It was about as stupid as believing ancient aliens built the pyramids.

If Devin felt made fun of, he didn’t show it. “I’m a yoga instructor and meditation coach,” he said. “I meet clients here in the park and we embrace the movement of the sun and the moon and the seasons of nature. Here’s my card.” He pulled a neat stack of cards out of his shorts pocket and slid one off the top.

Rocco took the dark blue card. Embossed in gold lettering:

Devin Johansson, owner of City Dreams. Yoga, meditation, and spiritual healing—on my schedule or yours.

And quack. Rocco scooted forward on the bench. “Meditation, huh? Like being still for a really long time and breathing and not thinking?” He raised his eyebrows. This was going to be interesting.

“Yeah, I do group meditation classes on the Great Lawn on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings at seven. Free. You should join us. We had a great crowd today. Summer sessions are always well attended.”

“Thank you, but I don’t meditate. I sleep. That’s being still enough for me.” Rocco rubbed his palms on his jeans. “I do try and breathe every day though.” He held back a smirk. Something about being uncomfortable made him sarcastic, a smartass. He knew it but just couldn’t help himself. He looked out over the park. Why was he even embarrassed?

A noisy group of tourists wearing matching lime green T-shirts circled the medallion. Their guide spoke loudly about John Lennon and the crowd ooohed and ahhed. One woman sobbed.

Maybe Strawberry Fields wasn’t the best choice today. Too many weirdoes congregating. He should’ve checked the planetary alignment or star charts before he came because something was amiss. He smiled at his own cleverness.

“Well, maybe you should consider trying meditation. Your aura looks pretty blocked.” Devin scooted closer and lowered his voice. “Maybe I can help you find what you’re looking for. If you’ll let me.”

Rocco cleared his throat and stared at the woman crying, unable to look Devin in the eye. Was the fruit loop coming on to him? Rocco certainly wasn’t looking for a quick fuck, though there were plenty of opportunities in Central Park. So he’d heard, anyway. But if he wanted a quickie, the last place he’d pick was a dirty bathroom or out in public behind a butterfly bush just off the path. Being stung in the ass wasn’t worth it.

“Well, think about it,” Devin pushed. “I’d love to help you out. It’s what I do. I don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, but maybe I can help you. Us meeting here today wasn’t by chance.”

The hell it wasn’t. “Thanks. I’ll check out your website later.” When I have nothing else to do.

“Great. Please do.” Devin slid even closer until his leg brushed Rocco’s. “I don’t bite, Rocco. I help people.”

Rocco’s heart thudded and he yanked his leg away. How one man had gotten to him so quickly then left him scattered just as quickly was frightening. He had to get out of the park and back to the safety of what he knew. His work. His privacy. His studio.

The Guild auction was only a few months away and Rocco hadn’t even begun to sculpt his main piece. At this rate, he’d have to work in clay only. He shoved the card into the small front part of his backpack and zipped the pocket closed. “I gotta get back to work. Nice chatting with you, Devin.”

“Maybe I’ll see you around another time.” Devin closed his eyes. “I’m in the park most days for one thing or another. Just call me. I’ll meet you here any time you want. One-on-one assistance, if you prefer.”

Space Dreamin’

Posted July 20th, 2014 by Victoria

Forty-five years ago this weekend, man landed on the moon. I was on a camping trip with my family, staying in a small cabin at the Jersey shore. We had had rain the entire time we were there. It was cold, wet, and miserable. But the night they landed, the rain stopped. The manager of the campground brought a tiny black and white portable television out to a picnic table in the middle of the “yard” area (along with multiple extension cords) and all of us there gathered around and watched history being made. It was an amazing time.

The next day, it started raining again, flooding the campground and my folks packed us up and we headed home a few days early.

I don’t remember much else about that trip other than the rain and watching the little TV in the dark.

But what a memory.

I have always been curious about space. What’s out there. Are there others? Are they like us?

So you can understand why I write what I do. Science fiction has always drawn me and adding a little romance to it? What could be wrong with that. :)

Those first men who stepped onto another world lived the dream thousands of us do.  I will never make it to space, but I can not only get there in my writing, but go beyond the worlds we know. Whatever I can dream, I can make happen. And that’s always a good thing.

Never quit dreaming. It is our dreams that make things happen.

Vicky

Cover Reveal: FINDER’S KEEPERS

Posted March 20th, 2014 by Victoria

Whee!! Just got my new cover for my book FINDER’S KEEPERS, a short, sweet, contemporary paranormal coming April 5th from Liquid Silver Books – finderskeepers
Plagued by dreams about a cinnamon-haired beauty, Dean White is certain his spacy grandmother has something to do with it. As a P.I., Dean specializes in exposing frauds, especially those who claim supernatural powers. When his grandmother gives him Maggie Daniels’ card claiming she can find lost things, he knows he has to prove to his grandmother that this woman is nothing more than a charlatan. What he doesn’t expect is Maggie is the woman in his dreams—and she’s a real witch.
Maggie Daniels runs an occult shop in a small town. She has all the outer trappings of being a witch, but she keeps the reality off the radar. After all, advertising that little fact doesn’t exactly make friends. When the man she’s been seeing in her visions
shows up on her doorstep, she isn’t quite sure what the fates have in store for her.
Dean, head of White Knight Investigations, has something he needs found. In talking with him, Maggie realizes Dean is so
immersed in reality he’s forgotten he has abilities of his own. That fact hasn’t escaped the notice of another witch—one who’s got intentions of her own. It’s up to Maggie to stop the other one’s dark plans and convince Dean that there’s more to life than just five senses.
* * *

And don’t forget to look for WHO’S YOUR ALPHA? coming March 31st from Liquid Silver Books – available now for preorder!
Sunny isn’t the shy little shifter she was when she left town. Now back for her high school reunion, her classmates are in for a surprise. There’s a new alpha in town and the claws are out to see who will be top dog. WHO’S YOUR ALPHA is a new short, paranormal contemporary romance about letting go of the past and finding your future.Who's Your Alpha-600x800

Writing Process Tour

Posted March 10th, 2014 by Victoria

I was invited by Natalie Damschroder to do a Writing Process blog tour. It’s an international hop to showcase different authors and what they do. Natalie blogged about her process last week. I’m doing the tour this week with two of my friends – Misty Simon and Victoria Smith. Next week will be the ones I list below.

Here are my answers to the tour questions:
1. What am I working on? Right now, I’m working on the sequel to The Emerald Key. It will be called The Ruby Key and is the second book in the series. Though each book can be read alone, reading them all gives you the complete overall arc.

I’m also working on the next story in my futuristic series coming this summer from Ellora’s Cave Blush. Don’t let the EC label scare you off. I write for their Blush line which is the non-erotic side of the house.

2. How does my work differ from others of the genre? I have been told that I am an amazing world builder. I build my worlds first, then I add characters instead of the other way around. That way, there is a solid background for them to work in. Whether it’s today’s world (with paranormal elements) or a distant universe, there is depth that many futuristic and paranormal romances lack.

3. Why do I write what I do? Because I love the endless possibilities that are available in fantasy, science fiction and paranormal writing. I’ve always been fascinated by these types of tales and there’s no limit to what can be imagined.

4. How does your writing process work? For me, it starts with a “what if” question. I ask the questions – for instance, for my Crystal Keys series – what if Atlantis and Lemuria really existed and their people had magic? What if they didn’t like what they were seeing in the world and “shifted” their lands to other planes of existence? What if there were doorways to those lands – who would control the passages?

And so on. I ask the questions, then I do the “research” and find the answers. Since I worked on a paper for a while, I often “interview” my characters and ask them what happened. Yeah, I know, it sounds silly, but the answers I come up with get me started on the story and get it moving.

Unfortunately, because of the day job, I don’t get to write as much as I’d like, but I jot and make notes when I can and, eventually, it all works out.

Be sure to check out these authors next week:
Charity Parkerson is an award winning and multi-published author with Ellora’s Cave, Midnight Books and Punk & Sissy Publications. Born with no filter from her brain to her mouth, she decided to take this odd quirk and insert it into her characters. You can find her at her website: http://www.charityparkerson.com or her blog: http://charity-thesinners.blogspot.com

D.R. Grady  loves gadgets, books, plants, shoes and writing stories that resonate with others. You can generally find her in her “office”, a chair in the living room, hopefully writing, but sometimes playing Angry Birds or reading. You can find her at: http://drgrady.wordpress.com

Ups and Downs

Posted March 2nd, 2014 by Victoria

Last weekend, I spent the weekend with two friends at a little cabin where we concentrated on writing. We worked, we brainstormed, we talked, we ate, we laughed, and we wrote – a lot. It was an amazing weekend. I got my next book in the Crystal Keys series mapped out as well as the overall story arc for the series so I know what’s happening in all four books. I got a lot accomplished last weekend.

Then the week hit. And the flu hit. Fever, aches, headache, coughing, sinus… all the nasty stuff that goes with feeling yucky. And the writing stopped. I was barely keeping up with my editing work. My output tanked. All the impetus I had from the previous week and the weekend died.

But, as happens, I am slowly on the mend. Still achy. Still coughing and fighting massive sinus headaches. Still tired. But I’m getting there. And I’ve been looking at the stuff I did last weekend. And I still like what I did so that must be good. Maybe this bug was Mother Nature’s way of telling me I needed a break. I’ve been pushing pretty hard. Whatever the reason, I’m ready to get back down to it this week. Though I have a couple of work deadlines I need to meet, I’m also going to tackle the Ruby Key (the next book in the series). A little at a time. And sometimes, that’s all we can do – just keep plugging away a little at a time and, eventually, it will all come together.

In the meantime – take a look at my new cover art! My next book, WHO’S YOUR ALPHA, comes out on March 31st from Liquid Silver Books. The new cover art is for my futuristic story coming out from Ellora’s Cave Blush this summer.

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Guest Author: Kerry Adrienne

Posted February 27th, 2014 by Victoria

My guest today is Kerry Adrienne. I have to tell you, if you haven’t read her books, you are missing some amazing stories!

1. What made you decide to become a writer?
I don’t ever remember not writing. Deciding to publish came much later—I think a lifetime of reading cultivates a desire to write for publication.

2. What advice would you give an aspiring author?
It really is true that persistence and hard work are key elements to being successful. You can’t be an author if you don’t write. Not every editor will like your work, and that is okay—the world would be a boring place if everyone liked the same thing. Keep writing what YOU love, not what is selling or what everyone else is writing. Trends are just that, trends. They come and they go. If you aren’t enjoying what you are writing, readers aren’t going to enjoy reading what you wrote. It will show.

3. What (or who) inspires or influences your writing?
I’m inspired by people who take risks for their art, but never step on other people to get ahead. I’m inspired by people who stand up for what they believe in. I love romance because I believe in good and that love is worth celebrating.

4. Do you do an outline or just start writing?
The first book I wrote, I did a scene-by-scene outline. The book stunk. I’ve learned to lightly outline, draft the overall arc and maybe fill in scenes as they come to me—but I don’t think I’ll ever fully outline again.

5. What do you do for fun when you are not writing?
I costume (mostly anime costumes and historical), paint, draw, play guitar, and do just about any craft (except cake decorating, which I loathe) you can think of. I love working with my hands.

6. Do you have any appearances/book signings scheduled this year?
I’ll be at the Fated Desires Retreat in Chicago in April, RT Booklovers in NOLA in May, Book Expo America in NYC in May, Authors After Dark in Charlotte in August, and Romanticon in Ohio in October.

7. Please list website or blog site if you have them.
www.kerryadrienne.com

8. Can you share an interesting behind the scenes tidbit about your latest story?
Yes, I actually did model the looks of one of the characters (Kenon) on Adam Lambert.

9. So, what is your new book about? (New Book Release Blurb, etc.):
Artist’s Touchartiststouch_msr
The Guild, book one (Sculptor’s Desire and Guitarist’s Wish coming soon!)
By Kerry Adrienne

Blurb:

Every starlet wants master painter Kenon Alavi to do her portrait…and more. But Kenon prefers firm to soft and sates his desires with the boyfriends of the women he paints, enjoying the diversity of many lovers but shunning any attachments.

Wallace Harte’s English degree isn’t helping him find a job and working at a bar is the closest he’s gotten to being the Second Coming of Faulkner. Something’s gotta give soon or he’ll be out on the street.

Kenon zeroes in on the bartender at an art exhibition, intending to add him to his long list of conquests, but Wally bolts, initiating a heated game of cat and mouse. Kenon delights in the game until he discovers what Wally is writing. Feeling betrayed, Kenon swears off all entanglements until he reads Wally’s story and discovers true love is sometimes between the pages and not the sheets.

Inside Scoop: This book contains hot, sexy scenes of M/M interaction of an artistic nature. Who knew having your portrait painted could be so hot?

EXCERPT:
Another day, another drink for those who had dollars. Wally slipped the candied cherry into the Manhattan and handed the glass to the tall brunette leaning against the bar. With barely a nod, the woman slinked away as if on skates, joining one of the clusters of patrons waiting on Kenon Alavi’s arrival. The artist, notorious for being late, probably wouldn’t arrive for another ten minutes at least. Light jazz floated through the air from the ensemble set up in the far corner and spots of colored lights beamed up the walls to the tall ceilings that arched over the studio space. This would make a great setting for a novel, Wally mused. Too bad he didn’t have the plot to go along with it. His creativity had hit an impasse as cliché as the proverbial brick wall.

“Martini. Wet and stirred, no olive, no twist.” The man put his hand on the bar and looked over his shoulder toward the gallery door. “I’m tired of waiting. Don’t care how special Alavi thinks he is, my time’s important too.” He tapped his fingers on the bar. “Annoying bastard. Wouldn’t be here if my wife wasn’t so keen on having him paint her.”
Wally pulled out the glass for the martini, not speaking to the customer. He’d been hired to make drinks, not socialize. The man was just complaining anyway. He wasn’t really expecting a conversation, especially from the bartender. Plus, tonight Wally had to remember all the different highbrow cocktails. He rarely served anything but beer and frozen drinks back at the Cellar Bar. He poured the vermouth into the sloped glass, then stirred the concoction. As long as Mr. Alavi paid his wage, who cared when he actually showed up? His gala, his schedule.
“Told her we could get a portrait done for a lot less but she insists on this guy.” The finger tapping grew more vigorous. “He’s refused her calls for two months now. Arrogant bastard.”

Wally nodded and set the drink in front of the man. Mr. Alavi sounded like a typical snobby artist. Big surprise. “Here you go, sir. Wet and stirred. No olive, no twist.”

“Top shelf?” the man asked, raising an eyebrow. He toyed with the rim of the glass, running his finger around it as if he was checking for chips.

“It’s all we serve,” Wally mumbled, wiping up a few drops of condensation from the top of the bar. Alavi’s guests were snobby too. “Only the best.” Bottles of fine alcohol that could pay off his student loans with cash left over for a few months of rent. He looked out over the room of people. Wealth and privilege as far as he could see, well, except for the musicians in the corner. He smiled. At least they were making a living off their art. One day he would too—if he could ever shed his writer’s block.

The man shrugged and tipped up the glass, finishing off the cocktail in one gulp. He held the glass to the light and examined it, then set it on the bar. “Good thing Alavi has an open bar at this reception. Otherwise, I’d leave right now, no matter what my wife said. I’ll take another, please. The same.” He resumed his tapping.

Wally took out a new glass and prepared the man’s drink. The jazz music was making him sleepy. He’d much prefer something a little more lively. Having spent the previous night out on the town dancing to a club beat didn’t help. But he couldn’t refuse the extra money this bartending gig would put in his pocket. He pushed the glass over to the man and tried not to yawn.

Silence hit the entire room at once, echoing off the vaulted ceiling in thick waves. Someone gasped, then the patrons broke into applause. Mr. Alavi had arrived. The large front doors banged closed and the music softened.

Drink forgotten, the man strode off to join the mass of bodies that now moved as one as they pushed toward the door where Mr. Alavi waited to be greeted. Wally squinted to see what the excitement was but the crowd blocked his sightline. He’d heard the artist put on quite the spectacle and with the number of people and amount of money spent on the reception tonight, he didn’t doubt it for a second.

The crowd parted like the Red Sea in front of Moses and a man walked toward the grand doors that led to the open studio in the back of the room.

Wally stared.

Mr. Alavi’s stopped to shake hands with a tall gentleman and then moved on through the crowd. Light glinted like a beacon off the silver brooch at his throat. Murmurs filled the room—whispers, really. Like a creature of the night, Mr. Alavi was dressed in black from head to toe with a few flashes of silver sparkle sprinkled here and there. God, why did all the handsome men have to be rich and unattainable? Alavi was probably straight too. Life was definitely not fair.

Wally reached for the two martini glasses and bumped one over. He caught the stem of the second one just as the glass bowl shattered against the bar. His heart pounded and blood rushed to his ears. When he looked up, Mr. Alavi was staring at him, looking him right in the eye with a piercing gaze and unreadable expression. Everyone in the room watched. Wally’s face flooded with heat and sweat trickled down the back of his tuxedo shirt.

“Sorry,” he stammered to no one in particular.

Before anyone could respond, Mr. Alavi moved in his direction and Wally’s throat tightened. Would he fire him on the spot? He began picking up pieces of glass and dropping them into the bar wastebasket, avoiding Mr. Alavi’s approach. Way to go, Wally, blow your chance to earn some extra cash. The one glass probably cost more than the night’s wages.
He bent to drop a large piece of glass into the trashcan, still holding on to the marble bar with his free hand. He squeezed his eyes closed. He’d get through this. Bile rushed into his throat. Why did he always screw things up? He took a deep breath. What was the worst thing that could happen? He’d been fired before and for worse offenses.
A warm hand covered his, sending a wave of fear up his arm. Wally stood, coming face-to-face with Mr. Alavi. Wally wanted to pull his hand away and run but fifty wealthy snobs would stop him before he made it to the front door and onto the New York streets.

He was trapped.

“Everything okay?” Mr. Alavi asked, his voice as smooth and dark as his slick black satin shirt.

Wally met the man’s gaze—green eyes lined in kohl, set in warm skin that shimmered in the bar light. Black spiky hair dusted with glitter.

Mr. Alavi squeezed his hand and Wally shivered.

“I said, is everything okay?”

“Y-y-yes,” Wally stammered. Even from over the bar, he could tell that Mr. Alavi was tall, well over six feet. His shoulders broadened and then tapered to trim hips. Wally’s mouth filled with saliva. The man was hot. Even if he was about to fire him for breaking the barware.

Avoiding eye contact, Wally studied the black leather jacket Mr. Alavi wore. It was no rental but made to slip around his body like water, hugging the right places, with a few silver studs and spikes on one shoulder. Designer-made, no doubt. In place of a tie, he wore a silver serpent brooch pinned at the neck, its eyes made of tiny rubies and its forked tongue licking out.

Wally gulped and his already-warm face burned. The man must think he was an idiot, drooling and fumbling like a fool. The crowd had gone back to chattering and mumbling but a few people still glared toward the bar, probably annoyed that Wally had taken the artist’s attention away. Mr. Alavi lifted his hand and pulled Wally farther down the bar, away from the rest of the broken glass. The artist looked out at the crowd. Wally didn’t see the look he gave them but anyone staring suddenly turned away and ignored the scene at the bar. The man had the power, no question about it. This was his scene and his alone. Wally’s pulse quickened. At least he wouldn’t be totally humiliated by stares when Alavi fired him.

“What’s your name?” Alavi asked, squeezing Wally’s hand.

“W-w-wall…Wallace Harte, sir. I’m sorry I broke the glass.”

He brushed away Wally’s comment with his free hand. “Ah. An unusual name. Wally for short?”

Wally nodded and gulped down the panic in his throat.

“Call me Kenon,” the artist said, stretching out his name in a French-sounding accent. He ran his thumb over Wally’s knuckles in a slow circular motion and Wally closed his eyes.

The scant hairs on his arm stood erect and he hoped Kenon couldn’t feel how damp his palm was beneath his grasp or how his pulse beat a frantic escape rhythm. From the corner, the music started playing again and the low murmur of the crowd drowned the silence in his ears. Deep breath.

“Thank you, sir,” Wally said. He opened his eyes and met Kenon’s gaze. For a moment, he stared into Kenon’s green eyes, pausing to fully examine them. Enhanced with dark eyeliner, the artist’s eyes almost glowed with feral sparkle. Predatory. Waiting. Wally looked down, not daring to move his hand. Mr. Alavi must be quite the lady-killer. Who wouldn’t want to be with him?

“Time to open the show, Mr. Alavi,” a gallery aide said, sidling up to Kenon at the edge of the bar. “Everyone’s getting impatient.” Wally had seen the aides milling around, making sure things stayed perfect. It must cost a fortune to produce an event like this.

“This is my show. Let them wait,” Kenon growled and clamped down on Wally’s hand.

The aide looked at Wally and smirked. “I’m sure the bartender won’t mind talking to you after the show.” He emphasized the word “bartender” as if it were a dirty word.

Kenon snapped his head and turned to the man. “I said I’m busy.” This growl was louder and deeper and the aide’s eyes widened and his shoulders tensed.

“Yes, sir,” he said and backed away, hands up.

Wally began to shake. He tried to tell himself it was from the air-conditioning but he knew it was from a mixture of fear and longing to be near this mysterious man. The artist must always have a rapt audience. Despite his growling, everyone seemed to be taken in by his charm. Kenon milked Wally’s finger in a stroking rhythm and Wally clenched his thighs together, willing his dick to be still. Kenon was too close and it was a good thing the bar was between them or things could get embarrassing.

“Now,” Kenon said. He tugged Wally’s hand close to his chest, tightening his grip once again. “Lean in so I can whisper what I have to tell you. Privacy you know.” He smiled, a tight line of control.

Wally leaned toward Kenon, drawing in a deep breath of what was likely the most expensive cologne he’d ever smell, combined with a fresh scent that could have been makeup or fine-milled soap. Underlying everything was an all-male scent of danger combined with sex and power. The bar was cold against his chest but the man’s breath was hot in his ear. “Yes?” he asked, voice trembling. “I’m sorry I broke the glass.”

“I said I’m not worried about the glass.”

“What, then?” Wally squeaked out.

“Why are you shaking?” Kenon touched his nose to Wally’s earlobe and Wally tensed. “Am I too close?”

“I…I…don’t know,” Wally said, his breath stuttering in his throat. Why was he shaking? He’d not had a boyfriend in ages but had never responded to man’s presence so strongly and so urgently before. Especially a straight man. At least not while he was sober.

Kenon pressed closer and his warmth radiated over Wally’s neck and face. Wally stood statue-still under the assault of heat. “I want to see you after the show,” Kenon whispered. “Will you stay around? To…talk…”

Wally nodded. Was he in trouble?

“Goooood,” Kenon blew. “See you then.” His lips brushed Wally’s ear and then he nipped it gently, holding on to the lobe for a second before releasing it. Wally shuddered as heat jolted straight to his groin. Why was Kenon flirting? Wasn’t he straight? And why was he so close? Wally squirmed as his pants tightened and his dick disobeyed the order to stand down. The ruby eyes of the serpent brooch glinted as Kenon pulled away.

Viper.

Just as quickly as Kenon had latched on to Wally’s hand, he dropped it. Turning, he sauntered off as if he were strolling along a promenade without a care. The crowd, cued into his movement, followed him through the open doors to the main exhibit hall. Wally stared after him, watching the people meander into the larger room where Kenon’s latest paintings would be unveiled.

What had just happened? And why had he agreed to meet Kenon after the show? He knew better than to tempt fate with an employer, especially one he was so attracted to and who was so out of his league. He always screwed things up. He adjusted himself and sighed. What did he have to lose?

About the Author:
Kerry writes about love in its many forms, and enjoys exploring the dynamics of relationships and the quandaries people get themselves into. She lives in suburbia, but is making plans to escape to the ocean and NYC, as both places hold a piece of her heart.

Spring ahead – maybe

Posted February 15th, 2014 by Victoria

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve had enough of winter. Oh, I don’t mind the crisp, cold days. Nor do I mind the first snowfall. In fact, I get as excited as the kids when I see those first flakes in the late fall. But after having almost two feet of snow dumped on us, along with ice and sleet, in the last week, I’ve had enough. Especially since the **** snowblower doesn’t work. And these last two snowfalls were the heavy, wet stuff that is no fun to shovel. And I know the kids are almost as tired of snow days as the adults are. I know some schools are contemplating having classes on Saturdays just so they can get the required days in by the state-mandated deadline.

Don’t get me wrong – it is pretty to look out my window and see all that white. But I think the robins shivering around my birdfeeder are contemplating heading back south. And I’ve got friends who are still without power from a week ago.

And yes, my Minnesota-resident sister is teasing me about this being normal for her. It may be normal for Minnesota, but it’s not for southern Pennsylvania. And I really feel for the people in the southern states who aren’t used to this stuff at all!

So I am looking forward to spring. To flowers blooming and warmer days and being able to go outside without boots and a shovel.

I’m also looking forward to my newest books coming out! WHO’S YOUR ALPHA? is a short shapeshifter (sweet) romance that will be available March 31st from Liquid Silver Books. And FINDERS KEEPERS – a short paranormal (sweet) romance that will be available also from Liquid Silver on April 5th!

So here’s to spring!

Vicky

New Covers, New Books

Posted January 27th, 2014 by Victoria

I’ve got two stories coming out this spring and recently got the cover art for both. I am so excited to share them with you.

The first story, a short contemporary paranormal with shapeshifters – not werewolves. WHO’S YOUR ALPHA is a reprint – but completely Who's Your Alpha-600x800re-edited and with new work. I think you’ll like the new version better. It will be out from Liquid Silver Books on March 31st, 2014. It’s a sweet romance that will leave you panting for more.

 

Sunny always thought she was the only shifter in her hometown. What a surprise when she discovers not only is the majority of the town like her, but so is her childhood crush. Can they overcome the remnants of the past to make a new future?

There’s a new alpha in town and the claws are out to see who will be top dog.

The second storyturnofacard_msr – THE TURN OF A CARD – is a short futuristic romance coming from Ellora’s Cave Blush (the non-erotic side of the house).

When the turn of a card seals your fate, you need to stack the deck.

Jessica Windemere loses her freedom when her father bets her in a poker game. But she isn’t willing to accept her fate without a fight. To have her revenge, she first must survive an unknown world while contracted as some stranger’s wife. She wants nothing more to do with men until a huge, dark god rides into her camp. Can she risk losing her new love on the turn of a card?

Kiernan Randall is on his way home from a trading mission. The group of abandoned women he finds were definitely not expected, especially their feisty, red-haired leader. She is contracted to his enemy, but gives herself to him and firmly entwines his heart. Can he trust her enough to let her wager their future together on her skill with cards?

The Emerald Key

Posted December 17th, 2013 by Victoria

Whoot! I got an early Christmas present. My book, The Emerald Key, is now available for pre-order! If you pre-order, you get a 20% discount. It officially comes out on Dec. 23. You can pre-order, or purchase here:Liquid Silver Books

Bound through time to protect the key to magic, Nic and Cass discover that true power lies in the magic of love. Vicky Burkholder weaves an enticing tale of passion and suspense in The Emerald Key, book one of her exciting new series, Crystal Keys.
TheEmeraldKey_VickyBurkholder_600x800
Excerpt:

“Send me back. I have to save her.” Nicodemus’ boots clicked on the dark tile in the small room.

Three women watched him pace from where they were seated on their stools in front of a large backlit loom. No other light shone in the room. Though his voice did not echo, he could see neither walls nor ceiling, only the three women and their work. He’d been here before and each time, felt both closed in, and open to the universe.

“I must return,” he insisted.

“What you ask is not possible,” the oldest of the three said. “Her spirit has already moved on and the guardianship of the key has passed to another, though still in her line.”

“But you weave the threads. You can send me to her. You can ensure I’ll find her.”

“We weave as we must,” the second sister said. “You have been granted more than any other Protector.”

The third took up the narration. “Twice have you been sent and twice have you failed in your duty.”

His head hung. “I know I ask a lot. Don’t doubt my appreciation. But I didn’t fail in my duty to the key. The key is safe.”

“Which is why you live,” the first said.

Nic paused.

Why I lived?

“The doorway must remain closed,” she said. “The keys will be scattered. Though each contains its own power, together they hold the secret to the realm of magic. A realm that must remain closed to humans. You must always protect the key—even if doing so means sacrificing the Keeper.”

“I can’t protect against an unknown. Who is the shadow following her?”

“We do not know,” the three said together.

His breath caught. “You don’t know? That’s impossible.”

“And yet, true,” the first said. “We know there are more of those who claim membership in the Brotherhood of Ahmit, but not the leader. Even if we put a name to each, it would be from a different time and place, of no use to you. This will be your last chance. If you fail this time, there will be no reprieve. Your thread—and hers—will end.”

“But she is the Keeper of the first key.”

“And when her thread ends, a new Keeper—and a new Protector—will be chosen. The Council of the Immortals has set the boundaries for your return. Your connection to her is too close. You have lost your objectivity. When you return to humanity, you will have no memory of your past lives, nor will she. You will have no help from any of the Immortals. You will live as a human.”

“The boundaries are impossible. I’ll never find her without help.”

The eldest sister pulled a thread from one side of the tapestry and introduced it to the pattern. As she wove, she smiled at Nic.

“Trust, Nicodemus. And love.”

“But…” A blinding flash and deafening thunder tore the words from his throat, and he knew no more.