Wednesday, October 30, 2013

All Hallow's Eve Indies Blog Tour: Jennifer James, author

When I first saw the title of the paranormal romance I’d agreed to promo on the All Hallow’s Eve Indie Tour, I shot the author, Jennifer James, an email saying, “ROCK HARD & WETt? Wow. Quite the title.” Her reply: “It's Rock Hard cause the hero is a gargoyle, and Wet cause the heroine is an Oceanid.”

(Oceanids, for those who’ve forgotten their Homer, were the 3,000 daughters of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys. Each was the patroness of a particular spring, river, sea, lake, pond, or other body of water.)

The “wet” heroine is Callianira, a curvy, vivacious BBW water nymph. Once the life of every oceanic orgy, she’s fallen into a depression of late no amount of hot sex can shake. The “rock hard” hero is Theo, a smoking-hot gargoyle shifter who’s just been released from prison. Theo has his hands full looking out for his brother and the people of Brooklyn while trying to get back in with his peeps in the gargoyle elite.

They’re completely wrong for each other. Callie’s magic is tied to the ocean; Theo can’t swim.
Callie is carefree, sweet, and finds joy in bending the rules; Theo toes the line and is ever vigilant. He’ll sink to the bottom of the ocean; she’ll fly above it to claim their happily ever after.

Here’s an excerpt from the erotic paranormal romance (18 years and older, por favor):

This had to stop. Right now. And there was only one way he could think of to get her to shut up. It was time to accept his loses and turn the tide of the battle to minimize the damage on his side.

“Callie.” He threaded his hand into her hair just behind one ear and clenched the back of her skull with enough pressure to let her know he had control.
She glanced up at him, and the acceleration of her heartbeat filled his ears, drowning out everything around him but her.

Theo lowered his head and kissed her, the first woman he’d held in his arms in five hundred years. Her taste on his tongue when she opened to him exploded and overwhelmed his control. He ground his mouth on hers, desperate to get closer, to crawl inside her and soak up her carefree joy. She tasted like sunshine and water, the dew in a meadow on a summer morning, sweet honey, and the scent of tiny wild roses.

The kiss did its job. It shut her up, got her to stop commentating on the very public sex not twenty-five feet away, but it came with a price. His d*ck sprung so hard in his pants he had to grit his teeth against the surge of pain.

He gripped her by the a** and picked her up off the ground. Her strong fingers dug into his hair, tugging on the long strands trailing onto his collar. She mewled in frustration, long legs twining around his waist. Callie undulated her hips on him, and he almost burst.

Jennifer James
Now, without further ado, here’s my awesome interview with author Jennifer James:

NM: What drew you to the genre?
JJ: Probably my early reading experiences. I loved the Sweet Valley High and Babysitter’s Club books, but found THE CELERY STALKS, AT MIDNIGHT, and BUNNICULA around the same time. It wasn’t long before I was pilfering my father’s horror and dark fantasy novels. I read all the original Pern books, the Anita Blake series…. It’s probably not surprising that I love scary movies as well.

NM: How would you describe your style/voice as a writer?
JJ: Geeky with a side of cheek. ;) I love inside jokes, dropping (and messing with!) pop culture references, and throwing together people who don’t make any sense on the surface, but when you dig a little deeper, you find all that wonderful grit and loam that glues them together.

NM: Which character is your favorite? Tell us about him or her.
JJ: Arghhhh! No! I don’t have one! ;)  That’s like asking for my favorite child. Like, in this book, I love love love Callie’s free spirit and sense of fun. But she’s also sweet, caring, and artistic. Theo is this grump. A real stick in the mud. But he’s drawn to Callie’s light and warmth…while simultaneously pushing her away. And then there’s Callie’s BFF Petra, who is  smart as hell, and a backroom manipulator setting all her friends up for their HEA’s while totally screwing up her own. And Theo’s twin, Logan, who portrays himself as a total fun-loving, party-time goof. But under that? A whole big well of hurt.

NM: What other authors inspired you to write?
JJ: Laurell K. Hamilton. Steven King. Kelley Armstrong. Patricia Briggs. Gosh, I could go on and on . . .

NM: Who else do you read in your genre?
JJ: Well, see above! LOL Also Kevin Hearne, Kim Harrison, some JR Ward. Karen Marie Moning.  Also, lots of e-book first writers. Mina Carter. Milly Taiden. I’m in love with Cherise Sinclair right now (her Shadowlands series is so awesome.) ßNot PNR. LOL. But SO amazing.

NM: Who’s your favorite author and why?
JJ: Ergh . . . um . . . IDK if I could pick only one. I think Patricia Briggs is a master at conflict and compelling characters who are so damn multi-dimensional that they seem like real, live people. Kevin Hearne’s sense of humor kills me. I adore him. Karen Chance, who writes the Cassie Palmer series? WOW. I’m in a FB group for one of the male characters from that series. That’s the ONLY one of those I’m in. If you don’t know who John Pritkin is? Go find out about him. Cause, damn. Plus, Chance is a history buff, and all that geeky goodness is peppered all over the books, and I read them and am floating in nerd heaven.

NM: What other writing projects are in the works?
JJ: WET FOR THE TITAN is a novella length book, that is a prequel to ROCK HARD & WET, but both can be read as stand alones. Just waiting on cover art. RIDING WITH THE HUNT is a fae motorcyclist/ Wild Hunt novella. Love that one. It’s about to go to the editor. PANTS ON FIRE is a NA contemporary stand-alone that’s already at the 40K mark, and I have no idea where that juggernaut is going to stop! Also working on a sports romance with circle track drivers called EXHAUST. It’s at 10K, and I think it might be a full-length also. I’m also working on a second book in my werewolf series, it’s called DISCIPLINED.

NM: What are your marketing strategies?
JJ: You know, I’m terrible at marketing. I’m the last person to ask. I’m reading lots of books to try and teach myself what the heck I’m supposed to be doing. Mostly I try to hang out with people, chat, be my goofy self. I haven’t found blog tours and huge giveaways to be very effective for me, so I’m sticking with smaller stuff now. Plus, no money for giveaways. Unemployed, student loans, two kids, and not much in royalties. So, even though I want to do giveaways, and I love my readers to pieces, I just can’t even afford to mail stuff right now. Sorry readers. LOL.

NM: How many years have you been writing? How did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
JJ: I’ve been writing and reading since I was a child. I knew I wanted to be a writer for real, when I was in elementary school, but was too afraid to try until I was an adult.

NM: How do you come up with your story ideas?
JJ: I think from things that I read. History and random links online. National Geographic magazine and Discovery and Time and Entertainment Weekly and ….well, if something catches my eye and I read it, it’s probably going to get stored in my subconscious and come out later in narrative.

NM: What is the most important thing you want people to know about you and your work?
JJ: That when I put it out there, it was the best I could do. And that if I have the chance, I might go back and try to make it even better in the future. That I love writing, and genuinely want people to have fun reading my work. That I can’t help my geeky references, and I do, in fact, giggle like a fool sometimes when writing.

NM: Please tell me where you live, what your family’s like (including pets), and what you do for a living if you work outside of writing.
JJ: I live outside Cleveland with my high school sweetheart, our two Tiny Divas, a rescue cat we call Mr. Beau, The Wonder Cat! (Cause he’s so awesome he needs a title) and our thirteen year old black lab Joey. (Or Jo-jo bean. Or Beans. Or Jo-jo. Or Josephine! When she’s been bad.)

I’m currently looking for a job because writing isn’t cutting it…so if anyone needs a dental assistant, I did that for twelve years. I’m good at it. Or if you need some kind of word-smithing giggly but focused sort of person, contact me! I need to get some income going. Man, it’s really hard to find a job right now.

NM: Anything else you want to tell people about yourself or your work?
JJ: Chocolate. Zombies. Nerd. Dr. Who. Greek mythology. Sexy. Funny. Love.

Jennifer James loves bad jokes, zombies, Joss Whedon, shifter romance, erotica, urban fantasy, grasshoppers, and the opportunity to publish independently or traditionally. She insists on her jokes being dirty, drinks spiked, and tattoos placed in intriguing, muscular places you can only find when the clothes come off. ROCK HARD & WET is published by Unbuttoned Press. Other books by Jennifer are available through Decadent Publishing and Etopia Press.


Visit Jennifer's author site at

Keep up with Jennifer at:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Coming Soon: All Hallows Eve Indies Blog Tour

Join me tomorrow for the All Hallow's Eve Indies Blog Tour spotlight on Jennifer James, author of ROCK HARD & WET, an erotic BBW paranormal romance featuring a smoking hot gargoyle hero (the "rock hard" part) and a voluptuous water nymph (the "wet" part). Not that there isn't plenty of the other kind of "rock hard and wet" in this sexy twist on Greek mythology. Yowza.

Early tomorrow, I'll be posting an interview with Jennifer along with a spicy excerpt and more. So, be there (here?) or be square!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Aaron Sorkin meets Dan Brown

Just got some encouraging news. One of the editors who's been reading my thriller (yes, I wrote a thriller a couple of years ago) just wrote to let me know she's liking it and wants to move it forward to their preliminary readers. Yay! It's about two investigative journalists who get embroiled in a worldwide scheme to take over the media and brainwash the public--all based on current events, my friends (well, with a little dramatization, of course).

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Once Bitten, Forever Smitten

I've got a theory about why the paranormal romance market is soft right now. As a writer of vampire romance novels, I've heard this time and again at conferences and have seen it in the swift (automatic?) rejections by agents and mainstream romance publishers. Just yesterday, in fact, I received this response to a personal query to a romance imprint editor: "Sorry, but we're not actively seeking paranormal romances at this time."

I have a theory about what's happened. In response to the runaway popularity of the Twilight saga, authors and publishers rushed to fill the market with vampire novels, most of them total contrived crap. Weary of reading drivel, readers turned to other paranormals: shifters, faeries, fallen angels, etc. Publishers, meanwhile, chased novelty to the point of ridiculousness. Make it fresh, make it different, make it stand out from the other books on the market!

The HBO series True Blood is a case in point. It was good in the beginning (better than the books, IMHO), then it tried too hard and got weirder and weirder until . . . viewers lost interest and HBO decided the next season will be its last.

This is just my opinion based on observation and little more. But can we please just get back to the kind of paranormal romance I enjoy reading and writing: sexy, heartfelt love stories about a relateable heroine and a sexy vampire hero? Is that too much to ask for? Perhaps I'm totally off base. Thoughts?

Monday, October 21, 2013

2013 Blog Hop

Thanks for joining me for the 2013 Blog Hop. After reading the following interview with me, please hop on to meet the other authors on the tour, whose links you will find at the end of this post.

Tell us about your current release.

NM: THE KNIGHT OF WANDS, my debut novel, will be released in Spring 2014 by Soul Mate Publishing. It will be the first in a series called THE KNIGHTS OF AVALON about four  Scottish nobles enslaved by a faery queen after falling in battle.

To give you the flavor of the book, here’s what I’ve composed for the back cover:

Vanessa Bentley awakens in a Scottish inn with a hangover and a hunk in her room—Callum Lyon, the sexy Leo she came to John o’Groats the night before to seduce. So why is she still dressed and he on the couch? Did she pick a good guy for a change?

Callum has the good looks typical of his sign, but also the leonine possessiveness—the last thing the free-spirited Aquarian wants. Vanessa soon learns they are opposites in other ways, too: she’s a social butterfly, he’s a recluse; she’s an out-front activist, he stays behind the scenes; she’s vegetarian, he drinks blood; she’s mortal, he’s a Knight of Avalon, a shape-shifting dark faery who was once court astrologer to King James IV.

Callum, ready to take a mate after centuries of solitude, calls Vanessa mo dearbadan-de—my butterfly in Gaelic—because she flies away before any man can catch her. Vanessa claims it’s because she values liberty over romance, but deep down is afraid anyone who sees her flaws will cut and run.

To win her heart and her trust, Callum must fight his desire to pin her down—even when she flies away and lands in trouble that could expose his dark secret and ruin his life.

How did you begin your writing career? I’ve written since I was a kid and tried my hand at writing a romance thirty years ago, but it didn’t go anywhere. Five years ago, I decided to apply myself more seriously to fiction writing. THE KNIGHT OF WANDS is my first published novel, but not the first I’ve written.

Where did you get the inspiration for this book?

NM: I set out to write the story of two astrologers who were zodiacal opposites. One needed to be a Scottish nobleman turned blood-drinking faery. The rest flowed from there. I did, however, incorporate a chunk from an earlier unpublished novel, but had to turn a good guy into a bad guy in order to make it work in this story.

How long did it take you to write your current novel?

NM: The first draft of The Knight of Wands took about two months to complete.

What else are you working on?
This week, I’ll be sending out to publishers another paranormal romance/urban fantasy titled THE QUEEN OF SWORDS. It is something like the 12th rewrite of my first paranormal novel and is not part of the KNIGHTS series. I’m also a few chapters into the second book in the KNIGHTS series. As soon as I get QUEEN sent off, I’ll get back to THE KNIGHT OF CUPS.

Readers love following their favorite authors, which social networking sites can fans find you? 
Twitter: @GemdeLovely

Who reads the drafts of your novels? At first I tried to have family read them, but they weren’t the right audience and everyone was too busy. I’ve since recruited a few beta writers, several of whom really liked QUEEN OF SWORDS, so I’m optimistic about selling it.

Share a pet peeve of yours (related to writing or otherwise).

NM: Pet peeves? Where do I start? The misuse of myriad and comprise. Too-stupid-to-live heroines. Controlling heroes who can’t fathom their own hearts. My heroes are strong, but also sensitive and romantic. They know when they’re in love and when they’re not. They’re the kind of men I’d fall in love with—and do as I’m creating them.

Do characters invade your head the moment you stumble on a new writing idea? 

NM: I wish they would! My characters generally start to speak several chapters in—after I’ve figured out who they are. They might turn out to be different from how I first envisioned them, but they don’t usually come through right away. Callum and Vanessa did, which is why I was able to write the novel in half the time it usually takes. Leith and Anna, the H/H in THE KNIGHT OF CUPS are more elusive. But I also keep putting their story on hold to work on older manuscripts. Hoping they come through loud and clear when I can give them my full attention.

Thanks for stopping by. Here are links to the other participants. You can also click on the covers of their current releases in the left-hand column to visit their blogs.

Terry Cato   

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Book Review: Bound to the Highlander by Kate Robbins

They say indifference, not hate, is the opposite of love. And there’s not a trace of indifference in BOUND TO THE HIGHLANDER, the debut novel by Kate Robbins. The book won this year’s TARA Award for best historical romance, and it’s easy to see why. The settings, clothing, and politics of Medieval Scotland are impeccably described.

Aileanna Chattan learns upon the death of her beloved uncle and guardian that she’s been betrothed in a secret pact to James MacIntosh, the chief of Clan MacIntosh, who, though drop-dead gorgeous, also is a reputed womanizer. Tensions run high between these two would-be spouses from the moment they set eyes on one another—and not just the sexual variety (though, thankfully, there’s plenty of that!).

Aileanna is bewildered by her betrothed’s behavior—and justifiably so. One minute, he’s cold and distant; the next, he’s got his tongue down her throat. James is deeply conflicted and a bit clueless about his feelings, mainly because he suspects Aileanna is a conniving vixen—not the virtuous innocent she pretends to be. He determines, therefore, to bed her to satisfy his rapacious lust, but to break the betrothal—something only the King has the power to do. Calum MacIntosh, James’ brother, intervenes on his clueless sibling’s behalf—aware James has genuine yet unrealized feelings for the lass. At one point, Calum tells Aileanna the reason James is so distrustful: a past rejection wounded him deeply.

Meanwhile, the cousin Aileanna was supposed to marry all along turns out to be a scheming snake who makes a prodigious amount of trouble for her and James, some of which caught me by surprise (a good thing). The plot twist near the end so shocked me I gasped and cried out: “No! That did not just happen!”

All in all, I found BOUND TO THE HIGHLANDER a deliciously edifying read with compelling characters and a well-crafted plot set against a convincing and fascinating historic background. I especially loved the heat between the hero and heroine and the scenes at the royal palaces. My one complaint: too many typographical errors distracted from the flow and the author’s skillful prose. I hope book two in her Highland Chief series will be better proofread. Still, typos aside, I highly recommend this book to lovers of Scottish historical romance--as well as those yet to fall in love with this wonderful genre.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Gearing Up for 2013 Blog Hop Monday

On Monday, Oct. 21, this site will be part of the 2013 Blog Hop--a chance to get to know a great group of authors, myself included. The left-hand column displays the covers of the current releases by the participants. Don't miss it!

Interesting Insights About Reader Preferences

An insightful "Infographic" from Goodreads about why readers abandon a novel. As for me, I loved the Fifty Shades trilogy. I thought E. L. James did an excellent job of titillating while making me care deeply about the characters. And yes, I'm a bit of a lit snob, too. I also find James Joyce brilliant, but hard-going. I used to finish everything, like some of those polled, but now find there are too many books and too little time to waste on something that doesn't keep my interest.

Crafting the Dreaded Query . . .

THE QUEEN OF SWORDS is almost ready to send out to publishers, so it's time to write the dreaded "blurb"--something I also need to do very soon for THE KNIGHT OF WANDS (for the back cover, not as a "query"). Below is what I've come up with so far to describe TQOS. Would love feedback. Anybody? Does it draw you in and make you want to read the book?

 Her love for him has the power to reach beyond the grave . . .

When Graham Logan, a Scottish nobleman turned immortal blood-drinker, draws the Queen of Swords, he knows he’s about to meet the love of his life—for the third time. But surrendering his heart will mean risking her life or making her like him, two things his beliefs won’t allow him to do. Graham, who walks a tightrope of regret and sacrifice, rages at God: Why give her back only to take her again?

Cat Fingal, the second re-incarnation of Graham’s soulmate, won’t let him slip away so easily. A white witch, she casts a spell to summon him—for answers and to deflower her—making his refusal impossible.

Graham is sure she’s come back to punish him for abandoning her and his unborn heir on the eve of their wedding back in 1815. Cat believes she’s returned to free his soul by forcing him to reevaluate everything he believes about love, forgiveness, and the afterlife.

Before he can defeat his darkest demons, both internal and external, Graham must awaken to the truth and put his faith in the power of love.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Riding Across the Desert on a Sorrel Steed

Callum Lyon, hero of
The Knight of Wands
In other words, the KNIGHT OF WANDS. What's happening with the book? Well, I'm glad you asked. I've finished the final spit and polish and submitted the formatted manuscript and cover-art worksheet to my publisher (Soul Mate Publishing--a rising star on the e-publishing horizon).

Oh, my. I do like the sound of that. My publisher. Sigh.

Now, I will let Callum and Vanessa enjoy a wee kip (or another roll in the heather, just as they please) while I refocus my energy on Graham and Cat, the H/H in THE QUEEN OF SWORDS. Did a bit of rewriting yesterday based on some Beta Reader feedback. Now, I've got to decide if I want to keep her pregnant or not. At this point, the baby she's carrying is a cambion (because Graham is a Celtic incubus of sorts), but I'm starting to think the pregnancy complicates matters with no pay off.

Once I've made up my mind, finished the final revisions, and given the ms a right good buffing, I'll be sending her out to the same list of publishers who read KNIGHT OF WANDS. Three offered contracts--one as it is and two with specific revisions (most of which I've made, btw)--so that ain't bad, right? Tells me I must be doing something right.

Meanwhile, watch the "Doing" column at left for upcoming Blog Tours and Hops on this site. The All Hollow's Eve Indie Tour is next!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

BLOG TOUR STOP: Kate Robbins, author of Bound to the Highlander

Kate Robbins lives in St. John's,
New Foundland, Canada with her
husband and two boys.

Joining me on ye olde blog today is Kate Robbins, whose award-winning debut novel, BOUND TO THE HIGHLANDER, was released last week by Tirgearr Publishing. The novel won this year's TARA award for best historical romance and the rave reviews are already pouring in. Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win a free download! I'm more than halfway through and finding it both suspenseful and sexy. Here's what Heart of Fiction had to say:

BOUND TO THE HIGHLANDER harkens back to classic Scottish romances written by the greats--Judith McNaught, Julie Garwood, Iris Johansen, Elizabeth Stuart, Bertrice Small . . . the list goes on. This story delves deeply into Scottish history but is equally played out against a love story so emotive you may find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat. Kate expertly weaves strong characters, rich culture, and a twisting plot that drives the reader forward through the story until the final page comes too quickly. For those who say Scottish romance has been played out in the industry needs to think again. This book is a fresh and welcome addition to decades long Scottish romance storytelling.

Nina Mason: Tell me about BOUND TO THE HIGHLANDER.
Kate Robbins: This is the first in my Highland Chiefs series set during the reign of James Stewart, first of his name. The early 15th century in Scotland was a fascinating time with clan conflicts and plots to usurp the king. The high middle ages on the cusp of the renaissance saw the emergence of iconic writer Christine de Pizan and teenage warrior Joan of Arc. Women were testing the waters. And they were making quite an impact. I’ve explored that a little in BOUND TO THE HIGHLANDER.

NM: Tell me about your hero and heroine.
KR: Raised by her uncle, Aileana’s the daughter of a nobleman who was sent to England as surety for the king’s ransom. He died there when she was little and so he despises the king and anyone who would support him. My hero, James MacIntosh, is a Stewart supporter who was talked into signing a betrothal contract binding him to Aileana by his father and her uncle. The story opens when her uncle dies.

NM: What compelled you to write Scottish historical romances?
KR: I love history and I love romance. Combining the two is as natural as breathing for me.

NM: Who’s your favorite author in the genre?
KR: Oh my. The list is long for Scottish historicals. Johanna Lindsay, Julie Garwood, Julianne MacLean, Nancy Jardine, Cathie Dunn, Deborah Hale. Wow, I could go on for days.

NM: What other authors have inspired you?
KR: Stephen King I would say is a huge inspiration. I love his attitude and I love his writing. He’s so vivid that no matter what he’s writing about, I’m convinced of it.

NM: What kind of research was involved?
KR: A lot!! Writing historicals is challenging because you want the reader to be immersed into the story and as such, into the setting as much as possible. Word choice is critical and the Merriam-Webster app on my phone has become my best friend when determining when a word was first used. No sense saying her heroine thinks the Laird is cool. That wouldn’t fly. I’ve also done a lot of research into the political climate of 1430 and of the social climate as well for the nobles of Scotland. I’ve scoured the internet and have purchased many, many history books in search of sometimes large pieces of information, sometimes teeny. I’ve visited Scotland twice now and have picked up all sorts of interesting impressions that I’ve since added to BOUND TO THE HIGHLANDER and am now adding to the second book in the series.

NM: How much real history did you include?
KR: A lot in the background. Much of what happened with the king was true; I’ve just set fictional characters around the political backdrop. The clan conflicts and alliances are based on historical assumption and so I’ve tried to weave that into the story as well. For example, the Chattan and MacIntosh clans really did merge by marriage, it was just earlier than the time BOUND TO THE HIGHLANDER is set. So I stay true when necessary and massage sometimes.

NM: What gave you the idea for the book and series?
KR: I was listening to two friends talk about a romantic scene in PS I Love You about when the hero and heroine meet on an old country road. From there, I just started writing.

NM: What projects are you working on now?
KR: Working on book two in the Highland Chiefs series, PROMISED TO THE HIGHLANDER. This one delves more into individual clan conflict and more of the reason behind the big plot to usurp the king that began in BOUND TO THE HIGHLANDER.

NM: How many years have you been writing? How did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
KR: I started writing about 13 years ago when I did a screenplay-writing workshop. I thought, ahhh, I’ll try it. I went on to film the short script I wrote that weekend and it was later screened at a local film festival. Later still, I tried my hand at stage plays for youth. I’d begun a youth drama group and every now and again when I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted to direct with the kids, so I wrote them instead. I wrote two 45-minute one-act plays that I also directed as dinner theatres. I’ve been writing novels for about five years.

NM: If you had one wish for your books what would it be?
KR: I just hope readers of Scottish historical romances like it. Readers of specific sub-genres expect a certain level of accuracy with original voice, theme, etc. I hope I can live up to the expectation.

NM: Any other thoughts or comments?
KR: Writing BOUND TO THE HIGHLANDER has been a wonderful experience for me and I really hope readers enjoy it. Thanks for having me here Nina!! I love your blog and think you have a wonderful site here. Keep up the good work!

Same to you, Kate. Thanks for stopping by today and good luck with your book and writing.

Friday, October 11, 2013

BOUND TO THE HIGHLANDER Global Blog Tour contines . . .

Today, BOUND TO THE HIGHLANDER, the award-winning debut novel by Canadian author Kate Robbins, stops in bonny Scotland--for an interview with James MacIntosh, the story's smoking-hot swashbuckling hero. Today's host is Nancy Jardine, author of THE BELTANE CHOICE and TOPAZ EYES and blogger about history, mystery, and daily life.

BOUND TO THE HIGHLANDER, winner of this year's TARA Award for best historic romance, is now available in e-book format from

You can follow Kate and her tour online at:
Into the Highland Mist, on Facebook, and Twitter.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

BOUND TO THE HIGHLANDER now available on Amazon!

BOUND TO THE HIGHLANDER, the award-winning debut novel by Kate Robbins, is out and available for purchase through Buy it, read it, love it, and write a review so other lovers of Scottish historicals will know what a wonderful book my friend Kate has written.

Kate's blog tour, which starts today at Heart of Fiction, will stop here on October 21, so be sure to come back to read my interview with this talented new author.

Kate, the pen name of Debbie Robbins of St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, writes historical romance novels out of pure escapism and a love for all things Scottish, not to mention a life-long enjoyment of reading romance. Her journey into storytelling began with a short screenplay she wrote, directed, and produced which was screened at the 2003 Nickel Film Festival in St. John’s, Newfoundland. She has also written and directed several stage plays for youth.

Kate loves the research process and delving into secondary sources in order to give readers the most authentic historical romance possible. She has traveled to Scotland and has visited the sites described in her Highland Chiefs series.

BOUND TO THE HIGHLANDER will be the first of three books set during the early fifteenth century during the reign of James Stewart, first of his name.

Teasers from the book follow:

Aileana Chattan suffers a devastating loss, then discovers she is to wed neighboring chief and baron, James MacIntosh--a man she despises and whose loyalty deprived her of the father she loved. Despite him and his traitorous clan, Aileana will do her duty, but she doesn't have to like it--or him. But when the MacIntosh awakens something inside her so absolute and consuming, she is forced to question everything.

James MacIntosh is a nobleman torn between tradition and progress. He must make a sacrifice if he is to help Scotland move forward as a unified country. Forced to sign a marriage contract years earlier binding Lady Aileana to him, James must find a way to break it, or risk losing all -- including his heart.

From the wild and rugged Highlands near Inverness to the dungeons of Edinburgh Castle, James and Aileana’s preconceptions of honor, duty and love are challenged at every adventurous turn.

Near Inverness, Scotland, April 1430

A horse’s scream pierced the air sending a chill down her spine. Brèagha. Aileana Chattan quit pacing and dashed to the window. Thank God, they were home at last.

She strained toward the eerie quiet below just as the procession crested the hill beyond the gatehouse. She was right, it was her uncle’s horse Brèagha, but the poor beast hobbled as three men grasped his leather reins and struggled to keep the distressed animal in check. Bile rose in her throat when she spied the body face down across its back.

She tore through the hallway, down the winding stairs and raced out into the courtyard. Cold mud soaked her feet and her heart pummeled as the somber hunters approached. She looked to Andrews, her steward, to confirm her fear.

“I’m sorry, lass.” He shifted his weight, but did not look up.

Her gaze returned to the body. Fiery red hair hung in tangles and pale, limp hands were red streaked. Shivers coursed through her as she beheld his unmoving form.

Her uncle, their chief, was dead.

A soundless ‘No’ faltered on her lips. Men and horses spun around her, threatening her balance. She reached out to cling to something. Anything. Air slipped through her fingers as she stumbled forward. Andrews caught her the moment her knees buckled.

“I’ve got you, Lady Aileana. Come, we must get him inside.”

He placed one strong arm around her shoulder and kept her moving forward, her feet skimming the ground.

No one spoke as they entered the large stone and wooden stable. The huntsmen pulled her uncle’s body from the horse’s back and laid him at her feet. She dropped to the ground beside him. The foul stench of manure filled her nostrils and she fought the urge to retch.

“Why did you bring him in here?” The stable was no place for their chief.

“He ordered us. We had no other way to get the laird’s body home and he wanted us to save Brèagha for you,” Andrews said.
Her gaze shifted between her uncle’s body and the horse’s wild eyes. She swallowed the thick knot which had lodged in her throat.

“What happened?”

“We were tracking deer when something spooked him.” Andrews’s voice was low and grim. “Your uncle’s sword was drawn. They were both injured when they fell.”

The horse snorted and bobbed his head up and down. Aileana stood to view his injuries better. A deep gash oozed jagged crimson lines down his flank, pooling at his hoof. She moved to Brèagha’s side and buried her fingers in his mane. His coat was covered with a sheen of sweat.

“Dear God, you won’t see week’s end.” She must save him. “Andrews?”

“Get Argyle’s surgeon,” Andrews said. The stable hand took off to do his bidding.

There wasn’t much she could do for the faithful beast, but she had to try. Uncle Iain had wanted it. Aileana returned to kneel by her uncle’s side and brushed a lock of red, matted hair from his brow. She gathered his limp hand into hers and searched for any remaining hint of life, but there was none. Aileana closed her eyes, spilling tears onto her cheeks.

She pictured the two of them walking through the glen with the heather splashed mountains all around. She had loved his tales of legends and victories and could feel warm air caressing her skin and fluttering her skirts. He smiled, giving her all the comfort she needed.

Brèagha’s grunt brought her back to the present and her eyes flew open. In this story, there was no victory. Her velvet gown was no protection from the cold, uncaring earth beneath her, and the image of Uncle Iain and the colorful mountains faded to gray.

The men, her men, encircled her. They waited for her signal to move the body to his room for cleansing. Blood pounded in her ears as she struggled to do what she must, though she hated to release his hands. She cried out when she tried to fold them across his breast, but they slipped to the ground.

“Let me help, m’lady.” Andrews’ strong, weathered fingers covered hers and together they laid her uncle’s hands across his chest. Andrews pulled her up and held her close. His strong arms tightened around her, reassuring her as she tried to contain her grief.

“Move him,” Andrews said. “Now.”

Thank God for Andrews. He didn’t want his chief laying in filth any more than she did. The men nodded and encircled him.

“What’s this?” The familiar voice boomed from the doorway. “What’s happened?”

Gawain Chattan scanned the stable until his gaze landed on the body. His tall, thin frame was a silhouette against the gray sky and his expression was masked, even as he lifted his eyes to meet hers.

“The laird is dead,” Andrews said.

His words pierced her. This was really happening.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Unwrapping Romance: Unwrapping: Review of THE GHOSTS OF RUE DUMAINE by...

Unwrapping Romance: Unwrapping: Review of THE GHOSTS OF RUE DUMAINE by...: I do love a good ghost story, but make it a ghostly romance and I’m in 7 th Heaven! That’s exactly what you get with THE GHOSTS OF RUE ...

The Big Day Approaches

Tomorrow is the big day! The launch of Kate Robbins's award-winning debut novel, BOUND TO THE HIGHLANDER. To celebrate, Kate will embark on an international blog tour that will take her from Ireland to Scotland to the U.S. to Canada. Kate lives in New Foundland (which my teenage daughter keeps telling me is pronounced New Finland!). I'll post an interview with Kate here on October 15th, so be sure to pop back. And do be sure to buy her wonderful e-book first thing tomorrow at tuned for more. But right now, I must get back to reading her scintillating story of duty and desire. I'm totally hooked!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

What about Chris Hemsworth?

On second thought, I think this guy is Callum Lyon. Oh, yeah. Definitely.

Chris Hemsworth

Callum and Vanessa

Back from Moonlight & Magnolias (more about that later) and working on filling out the form from Soul Mate Publishing for the cover art for my book, THE KNIGHT OF WANDS. The form asks for detailed descriptions of the hero and heroine (among other things to help the cover artists come up with something spectacular to showcase my debut novel). I went back and pulled the character descriptions, then went  surfing on the net for people matching the picture in my head. Here's what I came up with:

Callum looks like Brad Koenig--only with longer hair, no beard, and golden eyes. Here's how I describe him in the book, from Vanessa's POV: 

Callum Lyon was a Leo--with the leonine good looks characteristic of the sign: thick mane, slanted golden eyes, and a mouth that curled up at the corners like a cat’s. She hadn’t told him she’d come to Caithness with the express goal of hooking up. She had read his books on political astrology and, like many women, lusted after the handsome face on their jackets. And what luck that she happened to be passing through this part of Scotland on the night he was making a rare public appearance. As it turned out, the picture didn’t do him justice, but how could it? No two-dimensional image could possibly capture the feral carnality he exuded or the graceful power with which he moved. No wonder women threw themselves at him.

Later, when he's standing before her in only his trousers, she observes:

He had a beautiful upper body--powerful shoulders; bulging biceps; a cut, muscular chest dusted with the perfect amount of golden hair; and rippling, six-pack abs. 

Vanessa is tall and willowy with blue eyes and a confident elegance. I didn't plan it to start (I swear), but, it turns out I picture her looking just like Kate Middleton.

Don't they make a lovely couple? He's a Scottish lion. She's an English butterfly--a free-spirited socialite who flies away before any man can pin her down.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Moonlight & Magnolias

The Georgia Romance Writers annual conference starts this afternoon. I'll post a chronicle of my experiences here over the next couple of days, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Eight More Days . . .

Did you know there are eight yards of fabric in a good kilt?

Did you know there are no kilts in Kate Robbins' award-winning debut novel BOUND TO THE HIGHLANDER? (Because it's set in Medieval Scotland and they didn't wear kilts back then, of course.)

Did you further know that Kate's book will be out in just eight more days?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Guess who's getting published?

Hear, ye. Hear, ye.

Nina just signed a deal with Soul Mate Publishing for THE KNIGHT OF WANDS, book one in her four-part smexy paranormal series, The Knights of Avalon.

After five years of slaving over an overheated keyboard and yellowing thesaurus, she's finally got a publisher.

How about a hearty huzzah!

Speaking of nines and Scottish history . . .

How many days until the release of Kate Robbins' award-winning debut novel, BOUND TO THE HIGHLANDER?

Here's a hint:

Follow Kate on Facebook as she counts down to her book's October 10th release.

Why is the Nine of Diamonds called The Curse of Scotland?

There are many theories as to how this seemingly innocuous playing card came to be known as a curse to the Scots, but I like the one offered in the following passage from my paranormal WIP, THE QUEEN OF SWORDS. In the scene, Graham Logan, the hero, is recalling a long-ago conversation with his grandfather about the Battle of Culloden, which the old man witnessed as a wounded officer of Bonnie Prince Charlie's. At this point, he's just told Graham how the MacDonalds refused to charge with the rest of the Highlanders because of a perceived slight:

"Well . . . the MacDonalds let their pride go to their heads that day. And God swiftly smote them down . . . taking the rest of us down with 'em. Our brave lads fell in writhing heaps--the forerunners skewered, slashed, and gutted by English bayonets." He shook his head. "Poor devils! May God rest 'em. But they met their end as brave men should: fighting for what they believed in, toe-to-toe with the enemy." His granda paused then, released a heavy sigh, and bit his lip, overcome. After a moment, he began again with a strained voice. "We lost twelve hundred good strong lads that day . . . "
          Graham gulped at the number of dead. "D'ye think ye would have won if no' for the MacDonalds?"
          "No, lad. For the deck was stacked against us long before we took the field, I'm sorry to tell ye--starting with the card upon which the Butcher scribbled 'no quarter' at a gaming table the night before the battle." He turned to his grandson with sorrowful eyes. "D'ye ken what it means to give such an order?"
          Young Graham's heart was heavy with the answer. "It means that none can be taken prisoner . . . that all survivors must be kilt."
          "Aye." The old man shifted his gaze to the dying fire. "And the barbarity that followed is too gruesome for me to burden ye with at yer tender age. For now, let me just say that there's good reason the Nine of Diamonds will forever be known as the Curse of Scotland." He sat in silence for a moment before adding, "Now off to bed with ye. And be quick about it."

. . .

For more theories about how the Nine of Diamonds earned its ominous name, check out this article from The Scotsman.