When I write I search for a model who captures what I think my hero and heroine look like. I try to capture them in the process of struggle, since the arcs of the story and scenes are so important. In this novel, Cinnamon & Sugar, published by The Wild Rose Press, the two models above are exactly how I pictured them. In the story, Alicia, is compared favorably to any number of young starlets. Humphrey when first seen disturbs Alicia s resistance, but she’ll struggle on.
BLURB: Humphrey Bertrand’s genius-level IQ can’t help him find his moral compass. His family is filled with racial conflicts and he struggles to find his own way. But he cannot let anyone drown, regardless of their skin color. Alicia Bloom, a gifted valedictorian and poet runs away from an abusive situation. While she is thankful to Humphrey for saving her life, she doesn’t want to be tied to anyone. When an attempt on her life forces them to hit the road together to stay one step ahead of a murderous maniac they wonder if their dreams of a future will be put on hold permanently.
A NOTE regarding recent events. People have told me I stole the story from the violence in D.C. I can’t write that fast. If ever you send a manuscript to a publisher you can expect a year to go by before it’s out. My story is about how love knows no boundaries.
When I was caretaking my daughter, I read to her from my draft manuscript that I have since dedicated to her. I read to keep her mind off her pain and that she might have to leave soon. I never imagined her reaction. She cried, yes, of course, it’s a tear jerker, but it was more than that. It was how she loved, lived, and taught. She, being who she was, instructed a professional writer (me), on changes she wanted (demanded). Since it was on a subject (racial hatred and brother and sisterhood) that caused her to march just like her old man did with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., she made me promise I get a ‘real’ publisher, “and, Dad can you help my boys?” I said, “yes, honey, all the royalties will go to them.” So, Lani became my third muse and first angel. The story is rated PG.
I adore smart, dashing gentlemen who aren’t afraid to live on the edge. They can be a bad boy, a billionaire, a prince, or a secret agent. That hint of danger just hooks me! However, I they have to be paired with strong, independent women who aren’t afraid to fight for what they want, even love.
Q. Why did you write “The Last Christmas?”
My father is 94-years-old and as you might expect, has had a number of serious medical, age-related events. Each time, we were told to prepare for his death. Each time, he survived. The fact was, my Dad wasn’t ready to die. And his children and his grandchildren weren’t ready to let him go either. So I started thinking about terminal diagnoses and how they are really a best guess, not a guarantee. That, of course, led to thoughts how a terminal diagnosis often causes people to give up and prematurely mourn the death of the person who is ill. I wondered how that impacted the outcome. And because I was preparing to write a holiday book, I also started thinking about the power of family, and how, time after time, families are capable of creating miracles.
That led me to “The Last Christmas.” Christmas truly is a time for miracles, and thought it important that everyone be able to experience one through the tale of the Wright Family.
When the doctors say there’s no hope, Santa begs to differ. After all, he claims, miracles are love combined with action to get the desired result. And at Christmas time, everyone deserves a miracle!
David Wright is dying from cancer. He is not expected to see another Christmas. At least that’s what the medical professionals say. Fortunately, Santa begs to differ. After all, modern medicine is nothing more than a best guess. Santa believes anything is possible until you give up. When Santa tells David’s wife, Joan, that heaven is full and she has to keep her husband alive, she is beside herself. She has no medical skills. How can she save anyone’s life? Set your skepticism aside as Santa embraces a family already mourning their father’s terminal diagnosis and teaches them that a Christmas miracle doesn’t always require heavenly intervention. Sometimes, all it takes is a family with enough love to create their own. As Santa says, a true miracle is when love combines with action to get the desired results. And only humans are capable of that. Will Santa’s words fall on deaf ears? Or will Team Wright find a way to save their father’s life?
“It’s not about you, it’s about him, Joan,” a grumbly voice said. “You’re looking at this all wrong.”
Joan turned so fast she almost lost her balance. She glared at the old man who had spoken. He was around seventy, with ruddy cheeks and twinkling blue eyes. And thick white hair. Lots of white hair. Flowing over his shoulders, winding up in a very lush beard. On top of his head was perched a brightly colored red knit hat. She frowned. “Wait a minute. You’re Santa Claus. Without the red suit, but clearly, you’re him. I’d know you anywhere.”
The man bowed and with a smile, said, “At your service.” He gestured toward a park across the street. “Let’s take a walk.”
“Oh, no. I’m not going anywhere with you.” Joan shook her head. “I didn’t mean you actually were Santa Claus. Everyone knows he doesn’t exist. I just meant you looked like him. You’re just a man who looks like him. I don’t know you. Why would I…” She glared at him. “You’re not even wearing a red suit. And since when has Santa taken up armchair psychiatry?” She ran a hand through her blonde hair. “I must be hallucinating.” Despite her objections, she followed him across the street.
Santa laughed. “My dear, I have been dispensing advice since I was old enough to talk and make people listen. God chose my role a long time ago and I have gotten very good at it.” He looked toward the heavens. “Sorry, old boy. Still working on that humility!” He chuckled. “Man never stops reminding me.” He smiled at Joan. “Do you sense any ill-intentions from me? Of course not. I’m Santa. All I want to do is talk.”
Joan reached out and touched his shoulder.
He laughed again. A laugh that came directly from his belly. “Yes, I’m real. Well, as real as a centuries-old spirit gets. I even eat all those cookies children leave me each year. And let me tell you, that’s a heavenly feat.” Again, he looked skyward. “Yes, sir, I am well aware that borders on gluttony. A sin. You know darn well it has nothing to do with gluttony and everything to do with the magic of Christmas, an affirmation that Santa is real. I do it for the children.” He smiled at Joan. “Sometimes, He gets a little overbearing with his angels.”
He smirked. “Even God has his faults. He is by no means perfect.” A strong wind swirled through the plaza, nearly catching his knitted cap. He clapped his hand on his head to hold it down. He whispered, “And he doesn’t take criticism too well, either.”
Joan stared at the man. Surely, she was losing it. Santa a spirit, an angel? He and God didn’t even travel in the same circles. She shook her head, trying to make the hallucination go away.
Santa sighed. “I know, I know. You’ve been taught that I’m not real. That I’m a myth. That’s a rumor started by Satan himself, the old devil. He can’t stand the fact that people embrace the goodness in the world. And that I spread good cheer. He would much rather unleash a plague and make people miserable. He hates Christmas. He hates that the birth of Christ is celebrated, and his birth, well, is not. He really can’t stand the fact that love binds people so tightly during the holidays.” Santa shook his fist toward the ground. “The fool pouts all through the holidays.” He then sat up straight and gazed at Joan. “Christmas is really about love, you know. All kinds of love. The type of love he’ll never have. Love of family, love of children, love of—”
“What the heck do you want?” Joan blurted. “People are starting to stare.”
When not spinning her kinky tales, Ms. Kay ghostwrites nonfiction for lawyers and other professionals. She resides in a bucolic exurb outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she shares a home with her son and enjoys opera, gourmet cooking, organic gardening, and an occasional bottle of red wine.
Ms. Kay is an MS warrior and ruthlessly battles the disease on a daily basis. Her message to those diagnosed with MS: Never give up. You define MS, it does not define you!
Reuniting with the man who broke her heart has never felt so right.
Divorced dad Birley Haynes is too busy raising his children and running his family’s music academy to start a relationship. Then Harmony Holdich, his high school sweetheart, returns home to Willow Springs, Vermont for Christmas and falls into his bed. She brings light and fun back into his life, but he can’t brush aside the threatening incidents around his workplace.
Harmony hadn’t expected a complication like Birley, especially so soon after the death of her unfaithful husband. With her life a mess, she plans to move across the country and start over. All she can offer him is a fling, but her heart yearns for more.
When the threats rise, how will Birley keep his children safe and convince Harmony to give love another chance?
Dear God. His heart slammed harder. He’d died and gone to Heaven.
Harmony stretched her arms above her head and danced in the middle of the living room. Her hips pulsated with the beat of the music. Twisty locks of her hair bounced around her shoulders. She winked, then glided her hands across her breasts and stomach, daring his gaze to follow.
Birley licked his lips. The organ pressing against his zipper throbbed. Sweat slicked his nape. He dropped his scarf beside her purse, jacket, and beanie on the coffee table.
“Dance with me?”
Her husky entreaty ricocheted through him like a ping-pong ball. How could he deny her? He gripped her waist. She slid her arms around him. They swayed, their bodies a scant inch apart. She nuzzled his neck, her breath fanning his skin. His hair prickled. The air crackled around them. He shuddered and held her tighter.
“I’ve missed this.”
His chest heaved. He struggled to fill his lungs with air. “Dancing?”
“Dancing with you.” Harmony stroked his clean-shaven jaw. “I’m sorry things didn’t work out with you and Susannah, but I wouldn’t trade this moment for anything.”
Oh, God. He kissed her and swept his tongue past her parting lips. Delicious. The taste of chocolate and wine clung to her breath. He nibbled and licked the smooth slope of her neck.
“Birley, yes.” She ducked her head and claimed his mouth with hers. Then she feathered kisses across his face. “I need your hands, your mouth, your scent all over me. Take me, Birley. Hard, soft, I don’t care.”
Fuck. Her breathy plea wrapped around his heart and shot blood to his groin. She eased back, drawing him with her. The wall halted her retreat, and he trapped her between it and his body. Their tongues dueled and teeth clanked. Heat sizzled through his veins and pulsed through every organ. Her body writhed against his. Was she trying to drive him mad? He snapped open the fasteners of her pants and slid his finger beneath the waistband of her insulated leggings. Silk brushed his skin, then he slipped into her warmth.
Amber Daulton is the author of the romantic-suspense series Arresting Onyx and several standalone novellas. Her books are published through The Wild Rose Press, Books to Go Now, and Daulton Publishing, and are available in ebook, print on demand, audio, and foreign language formats.
She lives in North Carolina with her husband and demanding cats.
After a run of bad relationships, Lily Pearl Evans has finally become an independent woman. In the New Mexico desert town of Chaparral, she works for herself, sets her own rules, and is determined no man will hold her back again. Gene Nicholas worked for more than a decade to achieve his dream to be a doctor. Wanting to share his gifts with those less fortunate, he leaves south Florida to volunteer for Doctors Without Borders in Mexico. When Gene provokes a showdown with the local Mexican drug cartel, he becomes a man with a price on his head. On the run, he ends up on Lily’s doorstep–a mystery man forced to conceal his past to protect them both. With the cartel’s dangerous web drawing tight around them, can Lily and Gene survive a drug lord’s revenge?
A giant cloud spread across the horizon, reaching a quarter-mile into the sky. The ocher color of the desert sand, the cloud billowed forth in all directions, heading right for the pair of them. He’d never seen a sight so terrifying.
“What is that?!”
“What?” she asked, as she turned. Her face paled when she saw what he was looking at. She started off at a run for the truck.
Unsure what to do, he hesitated. The oncoming cloud swelled and swirled, billowing outward toward them like parachute material filling with forced air, constantly moving, growing. Mesmerized at the monster’s progress, he stood, slack-jawed, until the first pecks of sand stung his bare cheeks, the pain bringing him back to very present danger.
The air darkened around him as a hissing filled his ears. His hands came up automatically to cover his face, and he backed into his car door, inadvertently slamming it shut.
Lily stood on the truck’s running board, yelling over the door. “Hurry!” The wind swallowed her voice, stole the words away, but her expression needed no explanation. He moved.
He stumbled in the sand, three or four steps in before he got traction enough to run. The cloud came closer, enveloped him. Blinded, he held his arm across his face, fighting his way toward the place he believed the truck to be, where it used to be before the world shifted into chaos.
He’d been working in Miami when Hurricane Andrew devastated the southern suburbs, and that was his only experience that even approached this in terms of terror. The wind roared around him, the sand continuing to assault his skin, even worse than the onslaught of wind and rain Andrew had been.
Just when he was sure he was lost, the lights of the truck flashed inches from his outstretched hand. He tucked his chin down into his jacket, grabbed the fender of the truck and pulled himself along till his fingers located the handle to the door. Counting to three, he blocked the door with his body the best he could, then jumped inside the cab of the truck and yanked the door closed in a cloud of dust.
Coughing, he laid his head back against the rest.
“Are you okay, honey?” she asked, brow furrowed with concern. She handed him a small bottle of water from a six-pack stashed under the seat.
“I think so.” He coughed some more, trying to catch his breath. The swirl of nothingness outside the glass drew his frightened eyes. “Is that a sandstorm?” he gasped.
“It is.” She leaned forward to close the air vents as the tapping of sand against the window became a full-fledged, constant bombardment.
The truck rocked in the vicious wind, but they were safe inside. Overhead, the sky became dark as night as the shifting sand obscured the faint rays of the winter sun.
His heart raced. What if this had happened the night of his border crossing? He imagined being lost in such an event, the sand scraping away exposed skin, filling airways with dust, slowly choking a person to death…
Alana Lorens has been a published writer for more than forty years. Currently a resident of Asheville, North Carolina, she loves her time in the smoky blue mountains. One of her novellas, THAT GIRL’S THE ONE I LOVE, is set in the city of Asheville during the old Bele Chere festival. She lives with her daughter, who is the youngest of her seven children, two crotchety old cats, and five kittens of various ages.
When her big trial goes bad, corporate attorney Brianna Ward can’t wait to get out of Pittsburgh. The Big Easy seems like the perfect place to rest, relax, and forget about the legal business. Too bad an obnoxious–but handsome–lawyer from a rival firm is checking into the same bed and breakfast.
Attorney Evan Farrell has Mardi Gras vacation plans too. When he encounters fiery and attractive Brianna, however, he puts the Bourbon Street party on hold. He’d much rather devote himself to her–especially when a mysterious riddle appears in her bag, seeming to threaten danger.
Strangely compelled to follow the riddle’s clues, Brianna is pulled deeper into the twisted schemes of a voodoo priest bent on revenge. To escape his poisonous web, she must work with Evan to solve the curse. But is the growing love they feel for each other real? Or just a voodoo dream?
In the swamp, the fire illuminated the multi-tiered altar and some of those who gathered around it. Painted with tribal markings in black and white, the three drummers’ faces
stood out like bare skulls against the reflected flames.
The people in the back row were silhouettes only, dark outlines swaying to the rhythm of the drums.
On the altar, Brianna identified a Damballah cross on the top level, surrounded by a number of unlit candles, and some small statues. On the next level sat a bottle of liquor. A large bowl and some cups on a tray were laid out before it, and what looked like a loaf of bread next to a large machete, blade gleaming in the firelight. Bright, tropical flowers decorated all the levels.
Finally, on the ground to the left of the table was a large box with a screen on the front, that appeared to be a carrying case for an animal, something alive. A snake.
It was one thing to see these items laid out in a cold array at a museum; quite another when an actual voodoo ritual was taking place before her eyes.
Avoiding the thrill of fright blazing through her, she focused on the table, searching for clues to why she and Evan had been summoned.
As the drums continued their spellbinding beat, a dark figure eased into the light before the altar, a tall, slender person dressed in black. Moving gracefully to the rhythm, the priest approached, bearing a tall black candle, which he used to light the other candles.
Eyes closed, chanting words Brianna could not understand, the priest turned slowly around to face the others. Those seated before him on rough wooden benches rocked from side to side.
She gasped when she recognized the man as Copper, dressed as she’d seen him in her mind’s eye when she’d touched that first note, a red turban on his head and, on his face, jagged red paint slashes like bloody lightning.
Instinctively, she pulled back, hoping they couldn’t be seen in the shadows.
He turned to the altar and lit two long sticks of incense, which soon filled the clearing with an exotic smoky scent. Walking in lock-step with the beat of the drum, he reached for a cup and one of the bottles. He poured red liquid into the cup, then held it up.
The drums stopped.
He spoke loudly in English, gesturing with the cup to the four corners of the clearing.
“By the power of St. Anthony of Padua, Legba Atibon, guardian of the crossroads, Legba, guardian of the bush, Legba, guardian of the house, Ago, ago si, Ago la!”
After the words passed, the drummers played again, even louder. Copper took a drink of the liquid, pouring some also into the fire where it hissed into smoke. He handed the closest drummer the bottle, and he drank from it, then passed it to the man on his left.
He drank as well, and did the same. Whatever was in the bottle seemed to inspire them. Their drums reverberated with sound until Brianna could hardly breathe.
Copper leaned down before the altar, shaking something onto the ground. Brianna couldn’t see what he was doing, so she inched up until she stood behind the thick tree trunk next to her. He held some sort of painted tin, and from it, he dropped a white substance on the dirt in a distinct design.
“What’s that?” Evan whispered.
“That would be the veve,” Brianna whispered back. “It’s the sign for a particular deity or spirit. First, there should be the drummer’s veve, then there will be others, depending on which spirit they are calling forward.”
Her heart pounded so hard, she couldn’t believe Copper didn’t hear it.
Copper drew a second figure on the ground. The drums’ rhythm changed. Several people in flowing robes rose from the first row and began a seductive, erotic dance. The dancers thrust their hips forward and sideways in a frenzied manner, moving around the fire
kettles oblivious to each other until the drums stopped again. They froze.
“Gator Guede, le bon ton roulette, ye, ye, ye.”
He raised the cup to the sky, then took a long drink before dumping some in the fire, causing it to flare up.
He poured the remaining contents of the bottle into the large bowl, then added a red liquid Brianna hoped was wine, swirling the bowl in a large gesture before his chest.
The drums beat a new rhythm, so compelling Brianna could hardly keep still. The lead dancer took the bowl from Copper and passed it among the participants.
When all had drunk, the dancers returned to the area before the fire and danced again, the drummers changing rhythm to something more primal. The silhouettes moved between Brianna, Evan and the fire, rotating their shoulders and bouncing up and down.
They left a respectful space between themselves and Copper, who continued to create more designs on the ground, evenly spaced and spreading out toward the edges of the clearing.
He began to chant again, this time echoed by a chorus from those seated on the ground. Brianna felt herself drawn into the give-and-take, her head and thoughts growing fuzzy.
“Do you know what they’re saying?” Evan asked.
Brianna pulled herself back with difficulty. She shook her head, a little dazed.
Here, hold my hand,” she whispered. “I feel so strange. If I look like I’m getting—” She stopped, unsure how to explain what she was experiencing.
She didn’t believe in this stuff. Not at all. Then why do I feel like there’s spiders crawling around inside me?
Welcome, Madison Michael, with the latest in the Beguiling Bachelor series!
The Beguiling Bachelors Series are all available in Paperback now!
Madison’s blog tour for her latest release comes with an amazing giveaway–
Madison is celebrating the paperback release of Besotted with one incredible giveaway. She is offering 16 books–that’s right! Sixteen paperback books to 16 lucky readers! (Readers out of the US will receive an ebook.)
Enter with the Rafflecopter below. You have a chance to enter everyday so be sure to follow along with us on the tour. You may find all the tour locations here http://bit.ly/2OSlZcl
About the book:
He Promised Forever, then Walked Away. Now he wants her back.
Tyler’s Winthrop, rich, handsome, elusive sees his moment to win Regan Howe slipping through his fingers. He has remained on the outskirts of Regan’s life since high school, reluctant to reveal his true past and expose her to danger. Despite their obvious attraction, Tyler has remained her friend and protector, keeping Regan at arm’s length for her own safety,
Regan Howe, won her coveted CEO position through hard work and a willingness to buck family tradition. Now, Brandon Hockney, a handsome US Senator with his eye on the White House, wants her to give it up, along with her home, friends and family for a move to DC and marriage to him.
Regan wants a family but is she prepared to leave all she loves, including the alluring Tyler Winthrop. Regan has waited twenty years for Tyler to commit. He once promised her forever, then he destroyed her trust and her hopes for a future together. Still, she cannot break the ties between them.
When Regan tests the waters with Brandon, Tyler is tapped as acting CEO, throwing the pair together, and forcing both to make a choice. Is this the end or their one last chance at love? Battling overwhelming odds and a racing clock, will Tyler be forced to release his one true love to find happiness with another man? How can he when he’s besotted?
As the danger mounts for Tyler, can he wrestle free of his past and lure Regan away from her Senator? Join our handsome hero as he attempts to win back his love in this exciting and steamy page turner, the fourth of the sexy, contemporary Beguiling Bachelor romance series.
Regan was just too damn alluring in that dress for him to accept that he couldn’t have her if he wanted her.
He was an idiot. He should have told her years ago. He should have told everyone. Despite the tongue- lashing he was silently giving himself, Tyler was certainly no fool. “The professor” to his friends, he was generally serious and professional. He had the smarts necessary to obtain both an MBA and a law degree, and he was now CEO of LHRE and on hiatus from one of the fastest growing tech companies in the country. He kept his cool in general, but again and again he behaved like an idiot around Regan.
Since that damn frog almost thirty years ago, he had loved no one but Regan. Sometimes they made it work together, like in high school, but most times not. His feelings were unchanged, but something always stopped him from declaring his love and asking her to do the same. This time it was something insurmountable.
And yet Tyler couldn’t stay away. He was the proverbial moth to the flame, flirting with disaster every time he flirted with her. He had promised to stay away, to keep her safe,but the attraction was undeniable. Yep, prize idiot.
Returning to the ballroom after the latest threats, Tyler briefly considered sharing the conversation, coming clean with Regan and perhaps moving their relationship forward. He was at a fork in the road but remained silent, Tyler knew he was on the wrong path but couldn’t summon the will to fix it. Not only were his problems unsolvable, but she was involved with Brandon. Tyler felt hopeless.
He was preoccupied just as Regan accused, but Tyler tried to give Regan the attention she deserved. He failed miserably until Regan suggested they just leave. That got his attention. Who knew when he would hold her in his arms again.
“Come dance with me again. It would be a crime to waste that dress.”
Encircling Regan in his arms, his body responded to her nearness, even as his mind worried over the earlier texts. He was unaware of his hand stroking her back, fingers lightly skimming over her bare skin. He wasn’t thinking clearly when he pulled her close or when he dropped kisses on her hair. He wasn’t paying attention, just acting on instinct, Regan was responding, her breath growing uneven, her hands clinging to his shoulders.
ABOUT MADISON MICHAEL:
Madison Michael is an indie publisher, blogger and the author of the Beguiling Bachelor Series as well as the novella Desire & Dessert, from her sizzling B&B Billionaire Bachelor series.
A Chicago native and hopeless romantic, Maddy was raised on Chicago culture, fairy tales, great literature and swashbuckling movies. Maddy employs that history, writing steamy contemporary romance novels set against the sumptuous backdrop of Chicago’s elite society.
After receiving a BA in Journalism from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Loyola University of Chicago, Madison abandoned her writing to find her way in the corporate business world. Daughter of a librarian, it was inevitable that she would return to the world of books.
Maddy writes from high above Chicago where she can stare at its gorgeous skyline or the shores of Lake Michigan surrounded by feline assistants. When she is not writing,, Maddy can be found lost in a book, fighting for the rights of the mentally iil or dining on Chicago’s famous cuisine. Hot dogs and pizza, anyone?