Monday, August 15, 2016

Musings on aging, maturity, and milestones - and A Birthday Giveaway

Today, I'm turning forty-six.  I'm still trying to adjust to the idea of being in my forties, and somehow they're already slipping away. Forty-two years old  meant I was one with the answer to "god, the universe, and everything."  (Yep, Hitchiker's guide to the galaxy reference, I did it for a whole year.) Forty-five was fun. I was only at the mid-point. Plenty of time left. But forty-six means I've left the last milestone behind and it's nothing but downhill between here and fifty. No more milestones. No more middle. Like a comet caught in a black hole's orbit, I'm heading toward the event horizon and picking up speed.

Time is the only thing that seems to be speeding up, though. My body sure isn't moving as fast as it used to. Getting up in the morning used to be something I could do without thinking about it. Up. Out. Go. Now? It takes a few minutes for muscles to stretch, joints to limber up, and the fog of sleep lasts a little longer than it used to. (Sometimes it lasts until lunchtime...) Coffee is no longer an optional item in the mornings, it's required to ensure I can function. My mind doesn't work as fast as it used to, either. The wheels still turn, but I'm pretty sure the hamster is on the same fitness program I am. (Walking to the fridge counts, right?)

I had great hopes that by this age, I'd be wise. Mature. Full of life experience and a zen-like approach to the world. The life experience is certainly there, but the maturity seems to be a little slow arriving. Surely it was supposed to arrive before the hot flashes started? My hair has plenty of silver, so where's my sage wisdom?

I thought that by this age I'd be celebrating double-digit wedding anniversaries and burning my mortgage while working the same job I'd had since my early twenties. Instead, I'm single, on Tinder, still mortgaged to the elbows, and I've switched career paths several times. My life doesn't  remotely resemble what I envisioned it would be a decade ago, and I wouldn't change anything about it. (Well, except maybe that lack of a fitness program.) I'm blessed to have a loving family, supportive friends who are as crazy as I am, a day job I enjoy and a writing career I love.

To celebrate my birthday, I asked a few friends to come together and help me put together a bunch of presents for all of you.


Fourteen authors. Twenty prizes
Here's what's available to be won!
(with special thanks to the amazing, generous authors who donated prizes.)

S.E. Smith - River's Run (Lords of Kassis 1)

River Knight was looking forward to a peaceful vacation in the mountains with her two best friends, Jo and Star, sisters of the heart. When she travels up into the mountains of North Carolina to the cabin Star has rented for them, she is shocked when she finds the two sisters being abducted. Following them, she discovers their abductors are anything but human.

Sneaking aboard the shuttle in an attempt to rescue them, she finds herself on an unplanned vacation to the stars. In a desperate attempt to save Jo and Star, River makes a deal with a group of other aliens who had also been captured – she’ll release them if they promise to return the three girls to their home.

Torak Ja Kel Coradon, Leader of the House of Kassis and the next ruler of the Kassis Galaxy, has other plans when he sees the blue-eyed warrior woman. He plans on claiming her for himself and the only home he has plans on her returning to is his.

The three women are believed to be the prophesied warriors sent to join forces to bring peace to the House of Kassis. Worlds collide when the male dominated world meets three circus performers who use their talents to fight for those they love.

When an assassin threatens Torak’s life, River has to show him even a circus performer can be a warrior when challenged. The biggest challenge is to Torak’s mind as he discovers women from other galaxies are more than they seem.

Can their love overcome the chasm of a few million light years or will an assassin end it all?

* * * *

Rosanna Leo - Predator's Kiss (Gemini Island Shifters 1)

Bear shifter Ryland Snow just wants peace. The peace and quiet afforded him at his woodsy retreat, the Ursa Fishing Lodge. As owner of the lodge, Ryland enjoys the tranquil life he’s created among his fellow shifters. He lives to maintain a safe haven for them, away from meddlesome human eyes.

When his rock star brother arrives, bringing trouble in the form of a possible hit man, Ryland is incensed. He’s been cleaning up Soren’s messes as long as he can remember, and is tired of his brother’s lecherous exploits.

Things go from bad to worse when Lia Goodblood stumbles upon Ryland and his lodge. Yes, the reclusive erotica author is easy on the eyes, but the human woman is more trouble than she’s worth. To say nothing of her bizarre fear of furry creatures.

Ryland determines to rid himself of her presence. But when he learns she’s on the run from a crazed fan, Ryland’s protective bear instincts flare. And the bear won’t be denied.

* * * *

Elle Rush - Pursuit (River City Heroes 1)

A year ago, Sergeant Eric Parker gave up his fiancée because of his job as a homicide detective, and he’s regretted it ever since. When an old case throws them back together, he’ll use every trick short of handcuffing her to his bed to win her back.

Bree Collingswood has moved on. Her career is on the upswing, and she’s over the unexpected implosion of her engagement. She insists Eric isn’t on her hot-guy radar any more, even if nobody else believes they are over for good.

When a string of murders in Winnipeg is linked to a single killer, tensions in the city sky-rocket. And when Bree catches the Calendar Killer’s attention, Eric knows the best way to keep her safe is not to send her away again, but keep her closer than ever.

* * * *

Donna McDonald - Kingston 691 (Cyborgs: Mankind Redefined, 2)

They took away King's wife and his memories. He wants them both back.

Kingston West put his military service behind him much easier than most of the men he served with during the final war. As far as he was concerned, the cyborg who was Kingston 691 no longer existed. And the Cyber Husband program? He viewed it like he viewed having been a prisoner of war. Both were just service related memories he didn’t plan on recalling. The future was all he needed.

At least he felt that way until he discovered one wife’s file had been totally erased from his Cyber Husband records. Only her name remained in data storage, though her family swore they’d had a loving relationship. To put the past completely behind him, King has to first find the now missing Seetha Harrington. Before he can enjoy his new beginning, he needs to find out why Norton took those seven years together away from both of them.

**You can read Peyton 313, book one in this series, for free!  

* * * *

Nikki Haverstock - Lights, Camera, Murder (Reality TV Cozy Mysteries 1)

Anything can happen on a reality show, though finding a body on set—and live on air—is new.

Melissa McBallister is young, rich, and beautiful but frustrated. She wants nothing more than to be a famous author like her mother. When the opportunity to be on a new reality TV show comes her way, she grabs the chance, hoping to find some inspiration. When a castmate is murdered during a live broadcast and her blood is literally on Melissa’s hands, the young writer gets more than she bargained for—reality TV is much stranger than fiction. Can Melissa prove that she’s innocent?

Ryan Sethi prefers to produce TV commercials. They’re boring and safe. But he can’t pass up the opportunity to produce a show about socialites in Fishcreek Falls, an exclusive ski town high in the Rocky Mountains. But can he keep the show, cast, crew, and especially Melissa safe while a killer is on the loose? Or will a reality TV show gone bad ruin both of their lives?

* * * *

Sadie Haller - Dominant Cord Trio (Books 1-3)

Finn Taylor is an asshole. So why does he keep showing up in Mac's late-night fantasies as the Dom of her dreams? She can't even ignore him, because she's stuck working with the fellow musician for the Christmas concert season.

Mac Wallis is a mess, and Finn can't fall for a submissive who's so damaged she needs medication just to get through a performance. But he's drawn to the beautiful oboist, even as he keeps pissing her off. He can't resist trying to take care of her--in every way.


She didn’t do relationships. She didn’t even do all night.

After years of avoiding her teenage crush, Hildy Klein is shocked to come face to face with Wilson Kennedy.

Her uncle’s wake isn’t the place to unravel all the ways that Wilson could leave her emotionally vulnerable and exposed, yet his gentle persistence is impossible to ignore.

But Wilson is no longer that boy in her fantasies, and now Hildy must decide if she will give up control and commit to the protective, kinky Dom he’s become.


A decade ago, a bad play-date turned composer Ella Hudson off BDSM.
Now she’s been offered a performance opportunity too good to pass up, but it means working closely with Jackson and Griffin–world class musicians, lovers, and Doms intent on adding her to their relationship.

While Ella struggles to deny her true desires, maintaining her vanilla facade becomes increasingly difficult as the men re-introduce her to a world she’d written off.

* * * *

Kayleigh Malcolm - Pursuing Their Fantasies (1Night Stand)

When Amadora wins a trip to a Mexican resort through her work, she takes the opportunity to live out a one-time fantasy and contacts 1NS. 

Undercover DEA agents Jason and Angus have been playing it fast and loose with their relationship. Jason’s first wife was killed because of his job and he refuses to weigh his heart down with any more guilt. Angus hasn’t told Jason how much he cares for fear of being pushed away.

Meeting Amadora forces them both to reevaluate their lifestyle and consider more than one night together. When her life is threatened, can the three of them accept the risk to their hearts and take a chance on the love they all crave?

* * * *

Ainsley Booth & Sadie Haller - Prime Minister (Frisky Beavers 1)

Ellie Montague is smart, sensitive, and so gorgeous it hurts to look at her. She’s also an intern in my office. The office of the Prime Minister of Canada.*
That’s me. The PM.
She calls me that because when she calls me Sir, I get hard and she gets flustered, and as long as she’s my intern, I can’t twist my hands in her strawberry-blonde hair and show her what else I’d like her to do with that pretty pink mouth.**

How much I like the PM varies on a daily basis. He’s intense, controlling, and a perfectionist in every way—and he demands the same of his staff.
How much I want him never wavers.
There’s something about him that tugs at me deep inside, and makes me wish that just once he’d cross the line in a late night work session. I’d take that secret to the grave if it meant I got a taste of the barely restrained beast inside him.***

* This is a fictional erotic romance. No prime ministers or interns were harmed in the making of this book.
** Except it’s a BDSM romance, so they were hurt a little.
*** Spoiler alert: she gets more than a taste. And she likes it.

* * * *

Michelle Howard - Torkel's Chosen (A world Beyond - Book 1)
(3 Copies available to be won)

What would you do if Earth didn’t have enough men?
Would you take a chance and leave the only world you knew behind?

This is the decision Faith Reid faces. Placing all her hope in a new government program,
she seizes the opportunity that offers a chance for the women of Earth to find love among
the stars, on a world beyond the one they know.

How many times can one man risk rejection?
Would you give up on your dreams?

Torkel Alonson has had enough of being ignored and looked over by females on his
adopted home world of Enotia. His pride has suffered and he must accept the painful
truth. Females will never choose a male with his evil lineage despite his honorable
service to his government’s military.

Can two people looking for the same thing find not just what they want but what
they need in one another?

* * * *

Kele Moon - the Queen's Consorts

The Queen's Consorts. Just laying eyes on one is a death sentence. So when Sari, who spent most of her life on the streets, ends up entangled in a steamy relationship with the two most forbidden men on the planet she knows it can’t end well.

After a brutal attack, Sari’s taken to the Sacred City, exposing her to the secret lives of the Rayians who rule in the long lost queen’s absence. It’s in this darkly sexual world where she first meets the legendary consorts.

Too handsome and talented for their own good, Calder and Taryen have learned to trust only each other in order to survive. Bred to be feared warriors and exclusive companions to a queen, instead they’re slaves to other Rayian’s desires for them.

Their brutal lives make the two consorts hesitant to care for Sari when she’s unexpectedly dumped in their laps, but they soon discover she’s different from the cruel women they’re used to serving. Drawn to Sari on a soul deep level, Calder and Taryen can’t seem to stop themselves from going back for one more taste of the beautiful outsider… even when it puts the fate of the entire world in jeopardy.

* * * *

Michele Callahan - Crash and Burn (Love you like a Song - Book 1)
(3 Copies available to be won)

Erin Michaelson’s life is a train wreck. Her baby brother parties too much, she’s holding her band together by a thread, and teaching guitar to middle school band geeks is barely paying the bills. She needs a break, a big break, a record label kind of break, not a sexy as hell young attorney chasing after her onstage alter ego, Eva James. Eva James is sexy, exciting and full of fire, but Erin isn’t truly any of those things. Not really. She’s a bit shy, and she’s been through hell. She might act like a wild vixen up on that stage, but deep inside, her heart is small and cracked. She can’t afford to give any more pieces of it away.

Unfortunately for her, Chance Walker is so freaking hot, so damn sexy, and so very persistent that she finds herself tempted to break every rule she’s got. One kiss. That’s all it’s going to take. One kiss will change everything…

“Do you ever read a story and then want to tell all your book friends to stop whatever they are doing immediately and read this book? Yeah? Well, that was me after finishing this book.” – Amazon Review

*Crash and Burn is a scorching hot, contemporary, new adult romance

* * * *

Carol Van Natta - In Graves Below (A Magic, New Mexico, Kindle World story)

Can a disabled veteran and a magical dancer learn the secret of dreamwalk, or will demons turn Denver into an all-you-can-eat buffet?

Riya Sanobal, a mostly-human rarity in her magical family, hides her heritage and magical talent for doors in favor of her dance career. A rich arts patron likes her work, and a visiting star likes her, but she’s distracted by vivid dreams of a sexy, Native American warrior who defeats cheating demons and kisses like, well, a dream.

Time is running out for disabled veteran Idrián Odair, the last dreamwalk warrior of his hidden tribe, to protect his ancestral lands and find his partner. He met her once in the space between the demon worlds and Earth, and now his meddlesome grandfather’s ghost insists he must find her in real life before it’s too late.

Unless Riya and Idrián can find a way to trust each other and learn the secrets of dreamwalk, Denver will become an all-you-can-eat buffet for a ravenous demon horde. No pressure!

If you believe that heart and character matter, that anyone can learn to dance, and that death is just another door, you’ll love In Graves Below.

* * * *

Lacey Thorn - Waking the Beast  (Awakening Pride 1)

The legend of the Paka Watu...

Ever since she was a young girl, Abby Lane can’t resist the allure of a cat shifter tribe forced to repress their beasts. On a trip to Africa, she discovers a coveted piece of information—the name the pride leader assumed when he left his home—and she traces his lineage to his descendant.

The sleeping lion...

Utah Pearce can't keep his gaze off the woman who slips into the bar every night. Though not his usual type, she brings out the possessive instinct in him, making him battle with himself as he tries to stay away.

Abby’s research never prepared her for the reality in front of her. The beast is waking, and Utah is 
changing in ways both exciting and terrifying. He is possessive and dominant, and when he finally claims her, neither of them will ever be the same.

Lacey Thorn - Cuffed for Pleasure

The Greyson sisters have always craved pleasure. One by one, they find it with men they never knew
they needed.

Mandy was hoping for a new start far away from the rumors circulated by her ex-boyfriend. She would be smart this time. Reserved. She would curb her wild side and be the professional she should be. But one look at Mitch and Tanner and those goals fly out the window. And that’s before she even knows about Dylan.

From the first glimpse, Tanner is smitten. It’s easy to see Mitch shares the feeling. And neither has any doubt Dylan will feel the same. There’s just something about Mandy. Now if they can only persuade her to give them a chance.

One woman with three men satisfying all her needs. Let the pleasure begin.

* * * *

Susan Hayes - Double Down (The Drift, Book 1)
(2 Copies available to be won)

When it comes to love, sometimes the best bet is to double down.

Kit and Luke Armas are cyborgs created for one purpose, battle. Now that the war is over, they must fight to carve out a place for themselves in a universe they were intended to die for but never be a part of.

Cargo pilot Zura Watson came to the edge of civilized space to start over. The Drift is a haven for the hunted, the lost, and those seeking second chances.  It was also the last place in the cosmos Zura expected to find love.

When the shadows of the past threaten to eclipse this trio’s future, they’ll have to fight for their chance at love and the life they’ve always dreamed of.

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