Monday, July 29, 2013

This is Not Your Nana's Historical Romance (Sexy Excerpt of SPEAK EASY)

WARNING: This post contains adult content. (Pretty much all sins are covered.)

Hello darlings,

So the craziest thing happened last week.

Speak Easy came out. People read it (wheee!) and loved it (I want to hug you!) and reviewed it (thank you!). I got to hear readers' thoughts for the first time ever--readers who are not my family/friends/bartender.

And I discovered something. Well, a few things.

1) New Adult readers are reluctant to pick up up a non-contemporary romantic story.

2) Historical is a dusty word.

3) Once people DID pick up Speak Easy, they were surprised at how sexy and modern it felt, even though it was set during the 20s.

What's a girl to do?

Since Speak Easy is my first book, I turned to bestselling authors who have more experience and asked advice--and because this community is so awesome, I got it. Here's what they said...

Change your cover and your description. Make it clear it's not your grandmother's historical novel. It's a hot smexy read and readers of contemporary New Adult will eat it up when they realize the historical setting only adds to the sexy feel. 

So guess what I did?

And while I loved my pretty cover (and if you order the print version, you will still get that one), my sexy one makes me giddy like a Bombay Sapphire martini (extra dry, two olives, thanks).

Want to see it?

OK, just for you.

Because I'm all about giving in to temptation. ;)

And here's the new description...

**Warning** This is not your grandmother’s historical romance. If you’re looking for blushing maidens or proper gentlemen who ask permission to kiss the girl, this is not the book for you.

But if you like strong female heroines who take what they want and sexy dangerous men who can’t be trusted, look no further. If sizzling sexual tension and fast-paced action against a backdrop of Prohibition-era ambience sounds like your kind of cocktail—enter here. But beware…

Temptation is everywhere. And anything goes.

By day twenty-year-old Tiny O’Mara works for her father’s smalltime bootlegging operation, and by night she craves the roll-your-stockings-down lifestyle of a flapper—until her father is kidnapped by a mobster in Detroit's exploding organized crime scene, and it’s Tiny who has to come up with the ten-thousand-dollar ransom…in one week.

Suddenly she’s thrust into an intoxicating underworld of greed, lust, lies, and betrayal.

Enzo DiFiore is the son of the mobster holding her father hostage, but his screen idol looks and dangerous charm leave her breathless. When the forbidden spark between them refuses to burn out, she tries to use their powerful chemistry to buy more time. And irritatingly handsome childhood pal Joey Lupo has the street smarts Tiny needs to make a quick ten grand, but he’s got his own agenda where gang rivalries are concerned.

Deciding whom to trust isn’t easy in a world where everyone wants something—be it booze, money, power, or sex—and no one cares what it takes to get it.

Now, are you ready for a little Monday morning sizzle?


Here's an excerpt--an early scene between Tiny, the feisty heroine, and Enzo, her dangerous bad boy.

“Satisfied?” He set the phone down and raised his eyebrows at me.

“I guess.” At least I knew Daddy was still alive, and conscious enough to speak on the phone. My job now was to get the money. But even if I sold the twelve cases I’d pick up tomorrow night, I’d need to sell seventeen more to come up with five grand by Tuesday. It couldn’t be done—I needed more time. But what leverage did I have to bargain with? I looked at Enzo, my mind and heart racing.

No. You can’t.

“We should go. I promised to return you within twenty minutes.” Enzo gave me that slow smile, which made my belly go hollow. “And I do rather value those body parts your friend threatened.”

“Right.” I licked my lips as I walked to the door, and Enzo waited until I reached it before turning off the lamp. His silhouette came closer in the darkness, and my insides tightened.

Oh yes, I can.

“If you’ll move, I’ll unlock the door,” he said.

Fear and some other untamable feeling buzzed through me. “No.”


“We still have five minutes.” I rushed forward and threw my arms around his neck, crushing my lips to his. 

For a moment he was stunned; I heard his keys hit the floor. Then strong arms locked around my back, and his mouth opened wide over mine, his tongue lashing inside with deep, demanding strokes. My body ignited in a way I hadn’t anticipated. Keep your senses. This is just a ploy. You’re angry with him. Our mouths battled each other with such ferocity I couldn’t breathe, and I imagined the fire between us consuming all the oxygen in the room. He tasted like temptation—whisky and smoke.

Pressing my forearms against his shoulders, I jumped up and wrapped my legs around his waist. Enzo pushed my back up against the door, his hands slipping beneath my dress to the undersides of my legs, his fingers gripping the bare skin above my stockings. Gasping, I squeezed his torso between my thighs as his mouth traveled across my face and down my neck. His fingers edged inside the lace of my step-in, teasing the soft pink folds at my center while his tongue lingered in the hollow at the base of my throat. Something deep and powerful surged within me. Threading my fingers through his dark hair, I pulled his head back and we stared hard at each other before our mouths slammed together once more. He shifted my weight under one arm and found the side fasteners of my dress with the other. 

Somehow, he undid seven hooks and eyes with one hand. 

His fingers slipped inside my dress and pressed against the bare skin on my lower back. Then he swung me away from the door and moved to the desk, setting me on its edge with my dress bunched up around my hips. Standing between my knees, he ran his hands up my pale white thighs, which glowed in the dark above my stockings. My chest heaved with ragged breaths as he shrugged off his coat and loosened his tie. My hands itched to touch him, to travel under starched cotton and over hot skin, to reach low and feel exactly how he wanted me. To know for certain what he could to do to me, if I let him. For a moment, I forgot every circumstance that brought me here and nearly reached for the buttons on his trousers.

But just for a moment.

“Enzo,” I whispered instead, gripping the edge of the desk. “We can’t.”

He put his hands on my buttocks and pulled me flush against him. “You said we had five minutes.” He pressed the hard length of his cock between my legs.

Oh God, that feels so good. I struggled for control. “It’s been five minutes. And neither of us wants to get caught here.”

He paused. “You’re right. Besides, what I’d like to do to you takes more than five minutes.” 

OK, I'd better stop them there...but I promise you they get more than five minutes alone eventually. They get a whole lot more than that. 

Want to know what they do with it?


Friday, July 26, 2013

Speak Easy Release Tour Giveaway!

Hello, darlings!

This week has been very exciting--I love reading the reviews of Speak Easy and hearing things like "It's Boardwalk Empire: Detroit" or "I couldn't put it down!"

Before I decided to publish independently, I had NO IDEA how much reviews help authors. Thank you to everyone who's reading and reviewing. You're the best!

And I truly love hearing all the declarations for Team Enzo and Team Joey, or that the steamy scenes were smokin' hot. My goal was 1) to entertain you and 2) to turn you on. ;)

Goodreads winners, your books are shipping out today--they're going to Australia, the UK, and all over the US. Hope you enjoy! The NAmazing Adventure Quest 3 winner will also get their package shortly too.

If you didn't win one of those books, enter the giveaway below for fabulous flapper swag (see last week's Flapper Friday post) and a signed paperback copy. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 19, 2013

Flapper Friday -- Speak Easy Swag & Release Tour Schedule

Happy Friday!

Those of you on the NAmazing Adventure, please click the banner on the right to be directed to my NAA post, and good luck!

Those of you here for a bit of modern flapper swag, allow me.

In honor of SPEAK EASY's *official* release week, which kicks off (*officially*) on Monday with a blog tour (schedule below), I'm giving away a grand prize swag pack!

(Psssst. Over here. Yeah, you. *Official* release is Monday. You want it early? Come around the corner. I've got what you want, and here's the password.)

The Speak Easy Modern Flapper Grand Prize Swag Pack contains...

1) Women's baby doll tee and chrome flask from Valentine Vodka--made in Detroit!

2) Agatha bracelet from JewelNinjas--totally art deco in style!

3) Red lipstick by MAC (perfect for making those bee-stung lips...lesson coming soon)

4) Great Gatsby Soundtrack (or $10 iTunes gift card...winner's choice)

Some explicit content. Just like the book. ;)

5) Gatsby Style Flapper Headband--for your Daisy Buchanan moments...

6) Signed Copy of Speak Easy

7) $25 Amazon or Barns & Noble Gift Card

Tempted? Good. :)

Stop by one of these blogs next week and enter for your chance to win!

Speak Easy Release Tour Schedule

Monday, July 22, 2013:
Donnie Darko Girl
Mel & Erin Read A Lot
Paperback Princess
Seeking Book Boyfriends
The Life & Times of a Book Addict
The NAturals
Wine, Books & Fringe

Tuesday, July 23, 2013:
Peace, Love, Books
Reading Books Like a Boss
Wine relaxation and my kindle
Breathe In Books

Wednesday, July 24, 2013:
Romantic Book Affairs
A Tale of Many Reviews

Thursday, July 25, 2013:
Falling for YA
What Danielle Did Next
Total Book Nerds
Beauty but a Funny Girl

Friday, July 26, 2013:
All In One Place

Saturday, July 27, 2013:

I'll also post more fun Speak Easy stuff and the giveaway link here next week as well! Thank you, and good luck!


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tempt Me Tuesday...Speak Easy's Chapter One

Hello darlings!

First, if you're looking for my NAmazing Adventure post, CLICK HERE.

For Speak Easy's first chapter, just read on...I hope it tempts you to want more. :)

Chapter One

Friday, July 13th, 1923

The woman approached me at the counter, keeping her eyes low. “A quart of maple syrup,” she said, her voice hushed.

I didn’t recognize her. “What kind?”

“Canadian.”  Clutching her purse to her stomach, she peeked at me from beneath the brim of her hat.

“What are you making?”


I nodded. If she’d answered waffles, or even pancakes, I’d have directed her to the east wall of the store, where tin cans of actual maple syrup were stacked three high on a shelf. But since she knew the password, I named our price and took down the order and her address. She’d get her whisky in a day or so.

Bootlegging was that simple for a small operation like ours. The customers were loyal, the neighborhood grocery store was a legitimate cover, and thanks to the narrow waterway separating Detroit from Canada and its distilleries, our whisky supply seemed endless. Timely payoffs assured us of little trouble from city officials, and the local cops were some of our best customers. So when the bell over Jefferson Market’s front door jangled again that afternoon, I greeted the customer with a smile. But as the well-dressed man removed his light gray fedora and walked toward me at the back of the store, the air took on a strange charge, and gooseflesh rippled across my skin.

It was him. The sheik.

He’d been in twice in the last week. Each time, he’d said practically nothing, bought one pack of Fatima cigarettes, and paid with a fifty-dollar bill. I thought of him as the sheik because he reminded me of a movie star: dark, silent, and handsome in that delighted-villain sort of way, as if he’d just tied a girl to the train tracks and now it was time for a cocktail and a smoke.

 “Good afternoon.” His voice was deep and smooth, just how I imagined a screen idol’s should be.
“Are you Miss O’Mara?”

I blinked. He knows my name. “Yes. Can I help you?”

“Give this to your father.” He pulled an envelope from his coat and laid it on the counter, next to the cash register. When I reached for it, he placed his hand over mine, pinning it to the cool marble. A buzz swept up my arm as our eyes met. His were so dark they appeared black, and a small scar rested at the top of one cheekbone. “Tell him to answer by tonight.”

It took me a moment to find my voice. “All right.”

Replacing his hat on top of his slick dark hair, he walked out without looking back. The bell jangled once more, and I released the breath I’d been holding, leaning on the counter for support. I jumped when I heard a voice behind me.

“Tiny?” My older sister Bridget poked her head in from the stockroom, her long brown hair coming loose from its knot at her nape. “Daddy’s ready for you to make deliveries.”

Quickly I swiped the envelope into the front pocket of my middy blouse. “Should I go now?”

“Just let me put the bread in the oven,” Bridget said, disappearing into the stockroom again. She and her children lived in the apartment over the store. At almost twenty-one, I was more than ready to move out of our father’s house and get my own apartment, but it would have to wait. There were two more daughters after me who needed tending, and with our mother gone and Bridget widowed with three young boys, I wasn’t going anywhere soon.

While I waited, I fingered the envelope in my pocket. The sheik said Daddy had to answer by tonight, but what was the question? Was he a bootlegger too? He looked a little older than me, but still in his twenties, and wealthy, if his clothing was any indication. He wore exquisite three-piece suits. First black, then blue, and today, gray. I looked at the back of my hand, where he’d touched me, then brought it to my lips.

“What are you doing?” Bridget’s voice startled me again, and she laughed.

Cheeks burning, I tucked my hand into my pocket. “Nothing. Can I go?”

She nodded. “I’ll bring the grocery sacks out to you in the alley.”

I exited through the stock room into the wet heat of a Michigan summer afternoon. In the alley, I pulled the envelope from my pocket and looked at it. Jack O’Mara was written on its ivory face in black ink, the cursive letters small and lean. The seal was tight. No way to tell what its contents were, no clue as to who the sheik might be or whom he worked for.

Not that I much cared about his occupation.

 If he comes in again, I’ll say hello first, I thought, recalling those dark eyes that smoldered like Valentino’s. “Hi, there,” I said, practicing. No, too girlish. I cleared my throat and tried again, imagining how a sultry screen vamp like Theda Bara would greet a man like the sheik. “Hello.” Yes, that was better. Deeper, more mature.

Next, I tried to even out my walk so that I could slink into a room, cigarette holder in one hand, highball in the other. But slinking was a bit difficult for me because one of my legs is shorter than the other, not that either of them is what you’d call long. My mother was so small she had difficult births, and my hip broke as I was being born. It hadn’t healed right, resulting in a one-inch difference, and I have to concentrate if I don’t want to limp, especially if I’m tired. But if I smoothed out my gait, kept my weight back and my chin down, bent my knees a little…

Damn. Slinking was harder than it looked.

Giving up, I jogged the rest of the way down the alley and pushed open the door to the garage. Once my eyes adjusted to the dim light, I saw Daddy taking apart the back end of a Cadillac hearse.
Officially, he was an auto repairman, but his real talent was rebuilding cars—creating hidden compartments, phony gas tanks, false floorboards. It was amazing how many bottles of booze could be stashed in the unseen lining of an automobile. Hearses were especially popular with bootleggers because they had wide back ends, but I stuck with my Model T. Those hearses were creepy.

“I’m here!” I called over the banging of his hammer.

The noise stopped and he straightened halfway, bracing his hands on the hearse’s frame and tilting his chin toward me over one shoulder. His profile revealed the crooked line of his nose, which had been broken several times. “It’s over there. Can you load it?” He jerked his head toward two large boxes labeled Royal Baking Powder sitting on the cement floor near the door.


“That’s my girl. Fifteen per bottle, and don’t take less.”

“I won’t. This came for you.” I moved closer to him and held out the envelope. “The man who brought it said you should answer by tonight.”

He took it from me, barely glancing at it before shoving it into the front pocket of his work overalls. “To hell with that. I don’t answer to him or anybody else.”

“What’s this about?”

“It’s nothing. Now go on, I’ll meet you at the boathouse at six sharp. I want to get the whole place cleared out, bring it all here.”

I nodded.  That could take a while. We had a lot of booze stashed in that boathouse, probably enough to—

“What the hell do you want, a police escort?” He waved his hammer toward the door. “Get moving!”

“OK, OK. Jeez,” I muttered, hurrying over to the boxes loaded with whisky bottles. Daddy had a quick temper, but he wasn’t usually so short with me. Either it was something about the letter, or he owed money to his bookie. His business ventures made enough to house, clothe, and feed us, but every extra dime fed his ravenous betting habit. Every man has his temptations, I supposed, slipping my fingers underneath a box. And every woman too. I could still hear the sheik’s low, velvety voice in my head. My stomach tightened as I imagined getting him out of that buttoned-up three-piece suit, removing that crisp white collar, slipping the crimson tie from around his neck. A sweat broke out on my back.
I lugged the boxes just outside the door, then left them sitting there while I retrieved the car. Daddy and I shared a 1921 Model T Sedan he’d rigged with hidden compartments and a trunk with a false floor. Jefferson Market was painted on the side in cheerful white letters, and I always had bags of groceries in the back seat, just in case I got stopped. After pulling alongside the garage door, I turned off the motor and jumped out. I was leaning into the back lifting up the bench seat when I heard a deep voice behind me.

“Excuse me.”

My head snapped up, my heart hammering as I backed out. Please don’t be a fed. I turned around and sucked in my breath.

The sheik was leaning against the brown brick wall, barely three feet from me.

“What are you doing back here?” Definitely not the sultry greeting I’d rehearsed.

“Looking for you.” He lit one of his Fatimas and held it between long fingers, the smoke curling above his head.


“I’m wondering if you can help me out. I need some whisky.”

A trickle of sweat made its way down my chest. “What makes you think I can help you?”

He put the Fatima to his mouth, inhaling and exhaling in no particular hurry. I stared at his lips as they closed and opened around the cigarette. “I listen carefully in a crowd.”

I looked him over, trying to read his eyes, which were shadowed by the brim of his hat. “How much?”

“Maybe ten cases. That too much for you?”

I lifted my chin. “No.”

“How much do you charge?”

“Two hundred a case,” I said, quickly raising my price.

“And how soon can I get it?”

“As soon as you want it.”

He lifted his brow. “Impressive. You bring it over in the car?”

“Leave the details to me. You’ll get what you want.”

One side of his mouth hooked up. “I always do.” He came off the wall, and I backed into the Ford to steady myself. I wished I hadn’t chosen my shabbiest blouse this morning. It used to be red but had faded to a mealy-tomato color. When his feet reached mine, he swayed forward, placing his hands on the car’s roof, one on either side of me. The air hummed between us, and every inch of my skin tingled with awareness of him. I let my lips fall open.

His smile deepened. “I’ll be in touch, Miss O’Mara.” He straightened up, and with a tip of his hat, walked away.

“Just a moment!” Think of something—quick! “May I have a cigarette?”

Retracing his steps, he took a gold case from his coat pocket, opened it, and offered me a Fatima. I put it to my mouth. His fingers have touched this. His eyes held mine captive as he pulled out a lighter, and I jumped when the flame burst from its tip. Once the cigarette was lit, I took what I hoped looked like a deep and sultry drag.

With a nod, he walked away again, and I could think of nothing to make him come back. Nothing smart and sophisticated, anyway.

“Wait!” I called, shading my eyes from the sun. “What’s your name?”

He looked at me over his shoulder, but only smiled with closed lips before disappearing around the corner.

“Shit,” I said, kicking the tire of my car. I’d admitted too much for nothing in return. And he knows my name. What the hell? For all I knew he was going to sell my information to a prohi around the corner. I stared at the cigarette he’d given me, dragged on it, and swore again. “Shit, shit, shit.”

“She smokes and she curses,” said a voice behind me. “Should I bring you a spittoon too?”

I whipped around and saw Joey Lupo standing there with two grocery sacks in his arms and an irritating grin on his face. Joey was my age, some kind of cousin of Bridget’s late husband, Vince, and one of those guys whose big mouth is always trying to make up for his short stature. He once stole a pair of underwear from my dresser and charged the neighborhood boys a penny for a peek. Five years had passed, but I still hadn’t forgiven him.

“What are you doing here?” I demanded. “I thought you went to Chicago.”

“I’m back. You miss me?”

I sucked on my cigarette and blew the smoke at him.

His grin widened. “Still sugar-sweet. Some things never change.” He set the grocery sacks down and reached for a box. “Come on, Little Tomato, I’ll help you load.”

“Don’t call me that.” I was just about to tell him I didn’t need his help when Daddy came out the garage door. Throwing the cigarette to the ground, I tried to fan away the smoke but wasn’t quick enough. Daddy let me work for his bootlegging operation but he was strangely old-fashioned about lipstick and smoking, and I didn’t want a lecture in front of Joey.

“Frances Kathleen O’Mara, I told you no smoking and I meant it,” Daddy growled. “Your mother is turning in her grave, God rest her soul.” He crossed himself and looked skyward. “You see what these girls do to me, Mary?”

I rolled my eyes, ignoring Joey’s infuriating chuckle. “I’m twenty years old, Daddy, not ten.”

He glared at me. “You live under my roof, you follow my rules.”

How badly I wanted to say to hell with your roof and your rules—I’m done with them! But I couldn’t. I chewed my bottom lip instead, my fists tight with frustration.

“And Christ almighty, get going already. Here’s the orders.” Daddy dug a folded piece of paper from his pocket and shoved it at me before stalking back into the garage.

“Still living at home, huh?” Joey didn’t even try to hide his amusement.

“Shut up. If you came here to help, then get to it.” I picked up the second box, and we put the booze into the compartment beneath the rear seat, placing the grocery sacks on top. I started the car and looked at the list.

“Where you headed?” Joey asked.

“Smith, side door. Hix, back alley. Then Koehler. Last is Henshaw, and the housekeeper wants the delivery by four.” I wrinkled my nose and shoved the list back in my pocket. “The housekeeper. There goes my tip.”

Joey laughed, dug in one pocket of his grubby black pants, and tossed me a candy bar. “Here—here’s a tip for you. EAT. You haven’t grown an inch in three years—in any direction!”

Grimacing, I put the car in gear and moved forward, hoping I might run over his foot. Who the hell was Joey to talk? Maybe he’d filled out some since the last time I’d seen him, but he wasn’t that much taller than me. Four inches, tops. And that mop of mangy brown hair on his head made him look bigger than he was.

As I turned out of the alley and headed north on Jefferson into Grosse Pointe, my unease about the conversation with the sheik returned. It was the same creepy-crawly feeling I get when I enter a room and just know there’s a spider in it somewhere, watching me. But I sold whisky almost every day of the year. Why should it be any different just because the customer was a little mysterious and a lot gorgeous? Still, I found myself glancing over both shoulders more than usual as I unloaded and collected payment.

At the Smith and Hix houses I made a few dollars in tips, but Mrs. Koehler was five dollars short on her standing order. “Just bring it to the store as soon as you can, Mrs. Koehler,” I told her. She was a good customer, and we hated to lose anyone’s business. Some other bootlegger could come along tomorrow and try to undercut us.

By four o’clock I was headed for the Henshaw estate, and the twitchy feeling was still with me, like an itch that refuses to go away even once it’s been scratched. But when you’re breaking the law on a daily basis, perhaps a bit of anxiety should come with the territory. Daddy always says good instincts are more important than good friends in our business.

Rather than the stingy housekeeper, it was Mrs. Schmidt, the cook, who answered my knock at the kitchen door of the Henshaws’ lakefront mansion. When I greeted her, she welcomed me with a hug. Mrs. Schmidt had been close to my mother, who’d been a housemaid for the Henshaws before marrying my father. For a year after our mother died in childbirth with Mary Grace, Mrs. Schmidt brought meals to our house and spent her days off teaching Bridget and me to cook. As my sisters will attest, Bridget was the superior student.

“How are you today, Mrs. Schmidt?”

“Oh, I don’t like to complain,” she said, releasing me and rubbing the considerable width of her lower back. “But since you asked…”

I hid a smile as she ran through a list of ailments, nodding and clucking my tongue in sympathy. Finally she paused to draw breath, and I put the grocery bags on the butcher block and carried in the last of the whisky, setting the box on the black and white tiled floor.

“Thanks, love.” She brushed my hair off my face when I straightened. “Such a gorgeous color, this hair. Like sunlight through garnet. Why did you ever cut it off?”

“Just easier this way. Less fuss.” 

“Your mother never minded the fuss of long hair.” Mrs. Schmidt crossed her arms. “And I don’t mind saying she wouldn’t have liked you cutting yours off.”

“Yes, you’ve mentioned that.” About a million times. I nodded my head of improperly bobbed hair toward the whisky. “Shall I move it to the cellar for you?”

“Leave it be, I’ll have the boy do it.” She paid me for the groceries, but Mr. Henshaw got his booze for free in exchange for allowing Daddy to use an old dock and boathouse at the edge of his property.

“And before you go…” From a canister on a pantry shelf she took a bill and tucked it into my palm. “Mr. Henshaw said to give this to you.”

When I saw it was a fifty, I gasped. “He did? Why?”

“I may have let it slip about your paying your way through nursing school.”

“Oh, Mrs. Schmidt, thank you!” I threw my arms around her globe-shaped middle and practically squeezed the life from her.

“You’re welcome, girl. Now scoot, I’ve got the groceries to put away.” Laughing, she shooed me out the back door, and I skipped to my car.

Fifty dollars! That would go a long way toward tuition and books. Classes would begin again in August, and they weren’t cheap. Daddy didn’t mind my going to nursing school as long as I kept the house running and my sisters in line, but he couldn’t be counted on to pay for anything. He claimed there was no money for it, but I suspected he didn’t offer much because the sooner I had my degree, the sooner he’d be on his own with the house and the girls. It took every ounce of restraint I had not to ask him about all the cash that ended up lining Ralph the Bookie’s pocket.

Sitting behind the wheel, I looked at the crisp fifty in triumph before tucking it into my pocket along with the wrinkly dollars and spare change the other customers had given me. But as I drove back to the store, I began thinking of all the things I could buy with that much money—a smart new dress, something with beading or fringe. A darling little cloche or headband. A pair of satin shoes for dancing.

And how many months’ rent would fifty bucks pay? I clenched my teeth. I didn’t need much—just a studio apartment with a little bath. My own space, in which I would do as I pleased, with no rules. I thought about the sheik, and the way he paid for his cigarettes with fifty-dollar bills. My pulse raced when I recalled how he’d leaned close to me, near enough for me to smell the smoke on his breath.

After parking in the alley behind the store, I peeked into the front but saw Joey at the register, so I headed up the steps to Bridget’s apartment. The smell of fresh-baked bread hit me in the stairwell and my stomach growled when I saw the two loaves on the kitchen counter. “Bread’s done, help yourself,” Bridget called from the front room, where the radio played “I’m Nobody’s Baby.” Humming along, I cut two thick slices and slathered them with butter. Bridget’s cooking and baking skills trumped mine by a mile, and I nearly moaned as I sank my teeth into the doughy white softness. She wandered in a minute later with two-year old Charlie on her hip.

“Oh, it’s you,” she said. “I thought it was Joey.”

“Does that mean I have to put the bread back?” I mumbled, my mouth full.

She smiled, which always changed her face from plain to pretty. “No, you can have some. Do you want some cold meat for a sandwich? Joey brought some ham from Eastern Market.”

I shook my head and polished off the first slice. “I saw him downstairs. I thought he moved to Chicago.”

She set Charlie on the yellow linoleum floor and sliced a piece of bread for him. “He did, but his mother took ill, and he’s worried about her. Wants to stay closer to home for a while. I know he’s not your favorite, but try to be nice. He’s family.”

“He’s not my family.”

“He’s a good guy.”

“He’s a pain in the ass.”

She pursed her lips as she handed Charlie the bread, and I decided to switch topics. “Look at this.” I licked my fingers and pulled the fifty-dollar bill from my pocket.

Bridget wiped her hands on her stained apron and took the bill. “Jaypers cripes! Where’d you get that?”
“From Mr. Henshaw, as a tip.” I picked up my second slice of bread and sank my teeth in. “But don’t tell Daddy.”

Our eyes met, and I knew she understood. Bridget kept my tips for me, stashing them in a big yellow envelope underneath her mattress. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust Daddy, but I felt safer with my tips out of the house. “Want me to put it with the rest?”

I hesitated, the image of myself in a beaded dress and satin shoes vanishing in a puff of smoke. “I guess so.” Slumping into a chair at the round kitchen table, I dropped my forehead to the wood. “But boy, I wish I could be spending some of that money on something else. Like a new dress. Or shoes. Or rent.”

She patted my shoulder before going into her bedroom, which was off the kitchen. “Is Daddy giving you a rough time?” she asked when she returned.

I sat up and shrugged. “I’m twenty years old. I’m just tired of living with my father and having two little sisters underfoot all the time.”

Bridget went to the stove and stirred something in a large copper pot. “You’ve got your own bedroom. That’s more than I had when I lived at home.”

“So what? The only thing I do in it is read and sleep. And I can hardly even do that without one of the girls barging in on me.” I sat up straight and mimicked our sisters’ high-pitched voices. “Tiny, can you mend this blouse? Will you make my lunch? Can I wear your blue sweater? She’s bothering me! She’s following me! She hit me!”

“Well, cheer up.” Bridget clacked the spoon on the edge of the pot and set it aside. “Molly will be done with school in three years, and by then Mary Grace will be old enough to look after herself. You’ll be free to do as you please.” She turned and waggled her brows at me. “Inside your bedroom and out.”

“But that’s years away! I want a little excitement in my life now.” I thumped the table for emphasis.

“Take it from me—a little excitement goes a long way,” said Bridget, gesturing toward the front room, where I could hear her two older boys playing. “You don’t want to do what I did.”

That was true. Bridget had gotten pregnant before her wedding and Daddy had been furious. But still. “For cripes sake, Bridget, when would I have the opportunity? I haven’t even kissed anyone in months!”

“So kiss somebody.” Bridget grinned and dropped into the chair across from me. “Then give me all the saucy details.”

“It’s more than that,” I went on. “In the morning I want to get up and go to work without cleaning up a big mess after breakfast. At night, instead of washing all the dinner dishes and making sure everyone has clean clothes for the next day, I want to go dancing and drink champagne. I want to wear a short dress and red lipstick without my father scolding me. I want to hit the best nightclubs with a dashing swain at my side to light my cigarettes. Like the Arrow Shirt man,” I said wistfully. “Or the sheik.”

Bridget laughed. “The sheik?”

“That guy who comes in for the Fatimas. He was in again today looking for Daddy.” I touched my buttery mouth, picturing the sheik’s lips on his cigarette.

The light in Bridget’s eyes went out. “Oh.”

“Any idea who he is?”

She jumped up, grabbed the broom from the corner and swept the floor with angry strokes, shooing Charlie into the front room. “No. But I don’t like the looks of him.”

“Since when? The other day we were both swooning over him like he was Valentino.”

“Something about the way he keeps showing up gives me a bad feeling.” She swept harder, not meeting my eyes. “He reminds me of those guys who used to come around for Vince.”

My twitchy feeling returned. I knew the kind of men she was talking about. The day Vince was murdered two years ago, he was picking up a mobster named Big Leo Scarfone from the police station. He’d been shot right there on the sidewalk. Twenty-one times.

I swallowed. “You think he’s connected to Vince’s…to what happened to Vince?”

“I don’t know, Tiny. I don’t recognize him. I just suddenly got a bad feeling, that’s all.” Finally, she stopped sweeping and looked at me, tears in her eyes. “You need to be careful. A little excitement is one thing, but I don’t want to be up at night worrying about you. Understand?”

I nodded, deciding not to mention the episode in the alley. She put the broom away and returned to the stove as I recalled getting the news about Vince, delivered by a Detroit police officer at the store. Three other men were killed that day, including Big Leo and Joey’s father. The third guy lived just long enough to break the code of silence and reveal the names of the gunmen, members of a rival crime family. They were arrested and charged with murder, but Bridget said they’d never go to jail, and she was right. It took the jury less than fifty minutes to find them innocent.

I was hoping her instincts about the sheik were off. Because I wanted to see him again.

I wanted to do more than that.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The NAmazing Adventure!

Welcome to my stop on the NAmazing Adventure, a blog hop featuring over 60 New Adult authors, and prize packs that include ARCs, signed books, gift cards, swag, and more!

If you're not sure what the NAmazing Adventure is, please click here  to start from the beginning and read the complete rules on the NA Alley website. Now let's get this journey on the road!

Book Description...

Temptation is everywhere.

It's July, 1923. By day twenty-year-old Tiny O’Mara works for her father’s smalltime bootlegging operation. By night she craves the roll-your-stockings-down lifestyle of a flapper, but with her mother gone, she’s usually stuck at home with two younger sisters—until her father is kidnapped by a mobster in Detroit's exploding organized crime scene, and it’s Tiny who has to come up with the ten-thousand-dollar ransom.

In one week.

Enzo DiFiore’s screen-idol looks and dangerous charm leave her breathless, even though he’s the son of the mobster holding her father hostage. But when the forbidden spark between them refuses to burn out, she tries to use their powerful attraction to buy more time.

And then there’s Joey Lupo, the irritatingly handsome pest from her childhood who’s got the street smarts Tiny needs to smuggle enough booze to make a quick ten grand. But he’s got his own agenda where gang rivalries are concerned, and despite his promise to protect her, Tiny isn’t sure she can trust Joey—or stop her growing feelings for him.

To save her father’s life, she’ll have to choose between them. But deciding whom to trust isn’t easy in a world where everyone wants something—be it booze, money, power, or sex—and no one cares what it takes to get it.

Got that memorized? ;)

Actually, just jot down when the story takes place and you'll be all set for the quiz at the end of this quest! And remember, you must complete ALL SIX quizzes to be eligible for a prize pack.

Thanks for stopping by--come back for Tempt Me Tuesday...I'm going to post the first chapter of SPEAK EASY!

Ready to move on?

Click HERE to go to the next stop on your adventure! Good luck!


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tempt Me Tuesday...With Waffles

Mmmmmm, today's tempt is brought to you by waffles.

My lovely friend Sophia Bleu's NA romance CATCHING LIAM released this week at just 99 cents--grab it at that price while you can. (Oh, you have a Nook? Here you go, sweet pea.)


One of the many scenes I can't get out of my head from this book is when Jillian wakes up to the scent of vanilla wafting through her apartment and a hot boy with a Scottish accent making waffles in her kitchen.

I loves my evening cocktails, but damn if Sophia didn't make breakfast sexy too! And what's better than a boy who cooks? I have one in SPEAK EASY too...more on that later. :)

Sophia even shared Liam's case you want to catch somebody!

Liam’s “Caught You” Waffles 

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons white sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups warm milk

1/3 cup butter, melted

Secret ingredient #1: 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Secret ingredient #2: 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon


This recipe will make about 10-12 waffles. The perfect amount to impress any roommates that straggle in, or to feast on if you’ve pulled an all-nighter.

1. Preheat waffle iron to desired temperature. I like it really hot. I know, I know. That’s what she said. Now would be a good time to make sure you push the iron far enough back on the counter to avoid any burns through accidental contact of your hands...or other areas.

2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder and sugar, and I do mean sift. Don’t just throw it all in the bowl. You have to give it a little attention. Mix it up a little. Don’t just set it aside.

3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Here’s my trick. If your girl’s still sleeping, separate the eggs first. Whip the egg whites like they’ve been naughty until soft peaks form. Stir in the milk, yolks, butter and vanilla. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture. Mix together until combined, but don’t overdo it. Too much attention and they’ll come out tough instead of crisp and slightly chewy.

4. Ladle the batter into a preheated waffle iron. Don’t get burned. Cook the waffles until golden. Refrain from getting distracted with extra-culinary activities.

5. Serve before she or the waffles get cold.


Monday, July 8, 2013

I'm Stalky and I Know It

Back in my YA querying days, I used to stalk agents on Twitter. I bet you did too.

(Or you still are.)

Sure, it was obsessive and mildly creepy, but I came to the conclusion that every aspiring writer did it and if I wasn't lurking about on Twitter, I might miss something, like the chance to overanalyze that befuddling tweet.

Was that MY query that got a yes? Were those MY sample pages he adored? Could that be MY ms that so delighted her she forgot to get off the train?

But mostly it was worse... WHY is he on Twitter when he should be reading my submission? WHY is she complaining about boredom when she's had my partial for 3 months? WHY did that person hear back when I can tell from Querytracker that I queried first!?

What a relief it was to leave that behind when I made the decision to write for adults and publish it myself.

However, I still have a stalking problem. Only now I stalk myself.

It's a lot less creepy but no less obsessive. Why didn't anyone warn me about this?

I started by stalking my number of Twitter followers, Facebook friends, and author page Facebook likes. Harmless, right?

Then I added my book on Goodreads. And started a giveaway. My stalking tendencies have returned full-force, my excitement climbing every time those TBR adds and contest entries go up, and my book isn't even available yet! NOTHING guarantees those people will actually buy/read the book!

And yet this is what I do when I see them rising.

Friends of mine who released books already this summer have warned me about the stalking I will do on Amazon, and I'm afraid. I'm very afraid.

But at least I know I'm not alone. And maybe someday I will lose interest in this kind of stalking; perhaps it's just a novelty right now because it's my first book coming out.

And it's kind of a relief not to have mildly violent thoughts about perfectly nice Agent People who just want to go about their day taking trains and eating sandwiches and drinking coffee and reading words that are not mine.

For now, anyway. :)

Happy Stalking this week, everyone!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

5 Sexy Questions for Emma Hart

Lucky me--as part of the New Adult Authors Unite Sensational Summer Blog Tour, I got to interview New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Emma Hart!

Talented, successful, and cute.
I'd hate her if she weren't so dang sweet.

Emma's latest release is the second book in The Game series, PLAYING FOR KEEPS. It is sweet and spicy--a perfect summer read! And this week, it's on sale for just 99 cents! Get it now, and thank me later. :)

Yes, it is that sexy.

PLAYING FOR KEEPS is so darn hot that, naturally, when Emma agreed to be interviewed for this post I immediately harassed her with 5 Sexy Questions.

She's so delightful, she not only answered them but offered some swag to give away to one lucky commenter on today's post!

So without further ado...

MH: I know it's hard to choose, but which sexy scene was your favorite to write from Playing for Keeps and why? (I think mine was the back seat!)

EH: Rain kiss on the hood and the back seat... Could it be anything else? ;) 

MH: Um, yes...the whole book is HOT! So now that we're warmed up, what is your favorite sexual position and why?

EH: Who says you need a favourite? ;)

MH: Ha! Well said. What sexy books are you most looking forward to reading this summer?

EH: Hmm, this is tough, mostly because this summer will be hectic for me, but I'm gonna say yours ;) and I have a couple of beta reads coming up! But they're secret, so yeah. ;)

MH: Speak Easy it is, then! I hope 1920s American gangsters turn a modern British girl on. :) Now, who is your favorite piece of mancandy?

EH: Right now? This guy. He's also my current muse.

MH: Oh, hell yes. Right this moment that guy's doing it for me too...I can hardly focus. He looks like Jonathan Rhys Meyers!

Speaking of JRMmmmmmm, what five sexy people are on your Hollywood Exceptions list (free pass from your hubs if ever the opportunity arises)? Can be men or women!

EH: Haa... Umm... Channing Tatum (obvs), Matthew Lewis, (he played Neville in Harry Potter. Have you SEEN him lately? Holy smokes.) Taylor Lautner. Ryan Reynolds. And Ian Somerhalder. WHY CAN I ONLY CHOOSE FIVE?! I'm sorry. *puts hormones back in their box* 

MH: I'm sorry too! How about I say it can be a rotating cast? These days I'm quite partial to Steven Strait, who plays Stevie Evans on Magic City.

Why yes, I will take a ride with you.
Now sexy readers, it's your turn: comment below with your Hollywood crush (this week) and one of you darlings will win The Game series swag from Emma! Contest will stay open until midnight EST on July 11th, when the NAUU Sensational Blog Tour ends.

Thanks, Emma!

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