Spotlight: Heating Up Hawaii by Carmen Falcone

I have a special treat for you! Carmen Falcone has a smokin’ new romance hitting store shelves, and she wanted to share an excerpt with you!  If you enjoy this taste of Heating Up Hawaii, please use the purchase link below to grab a copy!

Heating Up Hawaii by Carmen Falcone

After a long separation, will Penny and Luc’s sizzling attraction be enough to surpass their startling secrets?

There is just one person standing between Penny Ashbrook’s dream of opening her own PR business or being stuck at her job: the formidable Luc Leoni – her first lover, and the man who lets nothing and no-one get in his way. Seeing him after so long brings all the hidden emotions after a life altering break-up to surface. Pain, denial…and lust.

Luc has made many sacrifices for his career, including Penny Ashbrook, the woman who set his aspirations back a year. But now she has returned and is more alluring than ever. After all these years, he thought a self-made billionaire like himself could master everything, but to resist the strong pull toward the one woman he can’t have is an impossible task.

When this unlikely pair is reunited they will have to face the many challenges set in their way, especially an attraction that has only heightened with time and a deadline quickly approaching. Can their new bond surpass old—and new—fears?

Publisher: Breathless Press

ISBN: 978-1-77101-962-0

By Carmen Falcone

Heat Rating: 3

Word Count: 38240

Release Date: May 3, 2013

Bio:

Carmen Falcone learned at an early age that fantasizing about fictional characters and places beat doing Math homework any day. She traveled the world, achieved a B.A. in Tourism in her hometown in Brazil and was soon invited to work in the USA, where she met her Swiss husband. She’d always dreamed of becoming a published writer, and after her daughter was born, she revisited that dream of writing – this time, unwilling to give it up. She lives in Austin and enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with her family and three high energy pugs.

Author Website ? Goodreads ? Twitter ? Facebook Blog

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Only a few more months. Penny Ashbrook pressed her folded arms on the metal rail of the rooftop bar. She looked at the pallet of orange, yellow, and pink colors dipping into the background as the sun set behind the Dallas skyline. A few more months, and she’d be debt free–and not just monetarily.

Although each day would stretch into the length of a decade, she knew she could handle it. Hell, hadn’t she done just that for the past six months? She’d kept her head high and chin up even though her boss’s passive aggressiveness often drove her crazy. She’d pretended not to listen when small-minded coworkers whispered behind her back. At thirty, wasn’t she too old to be the talk of the office?

With a sigh, she stood straight and squared her shoulders. The much-awaited networking happy hour was not the place for a therapy session. She glanced around her. A sea of people occupied the large outdoor area. Elegantly attired men and women sought new contacts and hot leads while munching on caviar hors d’oeuvres and overpriced liquor.

She decided to stare at the blinding sun one more time, in hopes of extracting enough energy to walk around and get moving. After all, her client list wouldn’t just materialize in front of her, would it? She’d had to fight hard and strong to get where she wanted to be.

"Penny, I’ve just run into an old friend of yours," her boss, Charles Dawn, told her while his fingers lightly touched her elbow. He prompted her to turn toward him and the tall, broad-shouldered man standing next to him.

Penny flashed her signature smile and squinted to get a sharper view of the man in front of her. An oversized palm tree shadowed him.

She guessed he was at least six feet two, which put her at a disadvantage at only five feet six. His dark gray designer suit looked tailor-made to fit the planes of his large chest, and good God, legs that went on and on.

Old friend? She couldn’t remember having friends that looked this intimidating—old, or current. If she was honest with herself, the few friends she had, all vanished like dust after she’d called off her wedding.

But this man… He took a step in her direction, the setting sun illuminating his face as he moved out of the shade. She glanced at him like her eyes were old-fashioned camera lenses, capturing his features in slow motion and adjusting to his figure. His lips, sensual and rich like his clothes, twitched. As soon as her gaze collided with his, her heart skipped a beat for a few seconds only to resume and pound its way out of her beige linen dress.

Luc Leoni.

It couldn’t be, could it? To see him again after all these years.

Oh, but it was…

Penny stared into his two-colored eyes—one lighter than a clear blue sky, and the other reminiscent of murky seas. Yes, even they were ambiguous.

"Luc." She cleared her throat, and noticed a couple of fine lines around his mismatched pair.

"Penelope." Luc’s velvety voice was like a warm caress. His French accent alone lured women to drop their underwear by his bedside. His deep pronunciation of her name hadn’t changed… Pen-ay-looh-paay.

Penny stiffened her back, offered him a professional handshake under Charles Dawn’s ambitious grin. Although she wished she could kick Luc Leoni where he deserved, she had to swallow her resentment and go along with it.

Luc took her hand in his larger one, and heat coiled low in her stomach. But instead of a professional handshake, he pulled her closer with a swift movement and leaned down. He kissed her on one cheek, his warm lips brushing gently on her skin. The whisper of a touch between his stubbled chin and her other cheek belted a wire of electricity into her system.

Penny smelled his earthy masculine cologne, where rich woodsy notes blended with a light citrus. Luc Leoni was a fantastic gift wrapping for an unworthy product.

He stepped back.

This can’t be my imagination… The hot breeze ruffled a few lustrous black strands of his hair, warning her that it was all too real.

"What a small world," Charles said. "I did fail to ask where you two know each other from."

Purchase Links

Review: Femme Fatale by Cindy Dees

 

Title:  Femme Fatale

Author:  Cindy Dees

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Former teen star Olivia Harper has a problem. If she can’t shake her girl-next-door image and become the femme fatale her latest role requires, her career will flop. But with her squeaky-clean image, Liv’s hardly been kissed, let alone had her world rocked between the sheets. There’s no way she’ll ask her playboy co-star for pointers, so she turns to the sexy new military consultant for some discreet…guidance.

Major Blake Ramsey is stuck hiding out babysitting actors who can’t even lace their combat boots, until his boss can deal with the fallout from his last mission. When Liv propositions him, he can’t decide whether she’s the naïve girl she claims to be or a bombshell looking for another conquest.

But as the lessons heat up, Blake and Olivia catch the eye of the papparazzi and jeopardize both their lives..


Review:

Femme Fatale didn’t work for me, and it left me extremely disappointed and irritated.  When it started out , I thought it was going to be just my cup of tea.  Olivia is a former teen star, and she’s trying to make that difficult move from adolescent entertainer to a big box office draw.  She’s put her fate into the hands of a savvy agent and a hot director, so she’s confident that her star will rise yet again.  The only problem? She has to leave behind her clean girl next door image and become a femme fatale.  She needs to learn how to make men stop in their tracks and drool with desire, while convincingly blasting herself out of one death defying adventure after another.  When she sees Major Blake Ramsey, the demolitions expert for the movie, she makes up her mind; he’s going to teach her how to break free of her squeaky clean image.

The set up was fun, and I was enjoying the book until a few pet peeves raised their heads. The first, and I’m sure this will rock your reading world differently than mine, is the lack of condom usage.  Olivia has just met Blake.  She’s known him for all of a few days, and when they are about to fall into the sack together, she stops him for using a condom.  WHAT?  She is trying to break into the big time, here, not get pregnant or some STD.  I don’t care whether or not they both claim to be “clean;” a smart, intelligent woman like Olivia doesn’t take any chances with her health.  Period.  This is something that will, and did, ruin a read for me.  There is nothing wrong with taking control of your sexual health, and the fact that Olivia choose not to was an epic failure for me.

The story started rocking on again after a few chapters, when too many plot devices where tossed into the mix and left me shaking my head.  Spies?  Yes, Blake is hiding from Russian spies, and he’s supposed to be keeping a low profile after a sex scandal with a Russian spy got him into quite a bit of trouble.  So what’s his idea of keeping a low profile?  He starts dating a movie star.  His picture is every where.  On blogs, in the paper – everywhere!  Like the lack of condom use, Blake cavalierly disregarded his safety and showed a sad lack of spy skills by allowing himself to get caught up in Olivia’s off-screen drama.  Add in the fact that Olivia was running around the movie set trying to save him from Russian spies by letting everyone know that he was a spy and – it didn’t make much sense to me.  I won’t even start on about the attempted sexual assault by her co-star, while they were filming, because it just illustrated how clueless all of her co-workers were. Sigh. 

While Femme Fatale didn’t work for me, I did enjoy the book when it was just about Olivia and Blake, so I’m curious to give the next book in the series a try.

Grade:  C/C-

Review copy provided by publisher

Guest Post: Bec McMaster, Author of Heart of Iron and Giveaway!

Please give Bec McMaster a warm welcome to the virtual offices! Bec has taken over the dashboard with a guest post and a giveaway! Check out what she has to say!!

Guest Post by Bec McMaster, Author of Heart of Iron

In the dark world of my steampunk London, the blue bloods of the Echelon rule the city with an iron grip, forcing their strict blood taxes on the nation and holding power with their army of metal automatons. Only a select group of humans – calling themselves Humanists – dare to defy them.

In Heart of Iron, the second book in my London Steampunk series, flirtatious debutante Lena Todd is just starting to realise that the glittering ballrooms she dreamed of as a youth are not as safe as the reality. Desperate to make some sort of difference in her world, she finds herself lured into the heart of a dangerous plot against the aristocracy.

Only one man can help her. Will Carver, the notorious Beast of Whitechapel, a verwulfen warrior who guards her brother-in-law, Blade, in the rookeries. He’s the only man she can’t twist around her little finger, and the one man she wants above all others.

One of my favourite scenes is the moment when Will realises that Lena is involved in the Humanist movement threatening London’s vicious blue blood elite. No matter how much he’s afraid to be near her, he can’t deny the protective instinct of a verwulfen male when something he cares for is threatened:

“You dropped somewhat.”

Lena froze in the doorway. Her hand went immediately to her sleeve and then she spun around, her eyes widening. “Give it to me!”

Will stood, breaking the seal and unrolling the small furl of paper. He caught just a glimpse of thick black letters before Lena tried to tug it out of his grip.

“A love letter, I’ll bet.” He turned around and pretended to read it.

A whoosh of scent enveloped him, her skirts swishing against his legs. She clutched at his shoulder, trying to drag his arm lower, her breasts crushed against the broad expanse of his back. Any attempt at reading went straight out of his head.

“What would you know of love letters?” She climbed on the stool and reached for the piece of paper. The step put her on eye level with him. Dangerously intimate. “The type of woman as would have you isn’t the type to be writing poems.”

“Don’t be so sure,” he shot back. “You’d be surprised at the type of poems they whisper in me ear.”

“Urgh. You’re despicable.”

The stool teetered and their gazes clashed. Lena shrieked and clutched at him as she fell. Will found himself with an armful of soft velvet and warm flesh, and the sound of two racing hearts.

The world slowed down. Became nothing more than the feel of her in his arms. Will stared into her eyes, then his gaze dropped, unbidden, to her lips.

Lena’s eyes widened and she made a choking noise. “Put me down.”

He could barely breathe. The hunger inside him was suddenly choking him, desperate to get out and rule his body. He knew the burning amber of his gaze was intensifying; he could almost feel the molten heat of it run through his irises as the colour changed.

Will,” she whispered. “Your eyes.”

Her breath was warm on his lips. She’d been chewing something with apple and cinnamon in it. He could scent it on her breath and suddenly he wanted to taste it.

Don’t.

Shoving her away, he turned, the paper crumpling in his fist. Had to get out of here. Away from the scent of her. Away from the temptation to do something she’d never forgive him for.

Maybe Blade and Honoria were right. Maybe he couldn’t be trusted?

“Will,” she whispered. “You’re shaking.”

He looked down at his hands. The tremble started there, swept all the way through him. “You were right,” he said hoarsely. “Maybe I did exert meself.”

“Perhaps I’d best go?”

It seemed some sense of self-preservation had come over her.

He nodded, struggling to hold onto himself. What the hell was wrong with him? What did it matter if she’d found… someone? Instantly the anger was back, thick and choking, a red haze threatening his vision.

You shouldn’t have come. This ain’t your world now.” The words were harsh and he’d meant them to be.

Silence. “I know. I thought you wouldn’t be here. You’re never here at midday.”

Which was why she only visited at those times.

Then why don’t you go?”

“My letter?”

Soft footsteps shuffled behind him. Her skirts brushed against his legs and then her hand slid down his arm, closing over the letter in his grip. A letter she was so desperate to regain.

There was only one reason she wouldn’t want him to see it.

Suddenly he couldn’t stop himself. He had to know, even if the answer was one he wouldn’t particularly like. Lena cried out, fighting him for it.

It tore in half and both of them staggered apart, left with a piece each. Will unrolled it, his gaze darting over the piece of paper. Not letters. Not writing. His gaze sharpened. He’d seen this before. The same bloody cipher he’d found on the men who’d fired the draining factories.

His stomach dropped. “What the hell are you doin’ with this?” he whispered, his voice filled with a cold, inexplicable dread.

Lena gave a strangled cry and darted for the door. Will grabbed her skirts almost as an aside, shock running its icy fingers down his spine. “Don’t think you’re goin’ anywhere. Not until you tell me where the bloody hell you found this!”

“I picked it up,” she lied, the bitter smell of it all over her.

Will grabbed her by the shoulder and spun her towards the stool she’d almost toppled. “Sit,” he growled, shoving her into the seat. “And explain. And if I were you, I wouldn’t dare tell me another lie.”

© Bec McMaster, 2013

For a sneak peek at the London Steampunk world, I’m offering an e-novella called Tarnished Knight (set after Kiss of Steel and before Heart of Iron) for free download for the month of May. See here for details.

GIVEAWAY TIME!!

Ready for a chance to win the first book in Bec McMaster’s London Steampunk series? Just fill out the widget below for your chance to win Kiss of Steel! US addresses only, please.

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HEART OF IRON BY BEC MCMASTER – IN STORES MAY 2013

In the mist-shrouded streets of London’s dreaded Whitechapel district, werewolves, vampires and a clockwork army are one step away from battle…

NO ONE TO TRUST…

Lena Todd is the perfect spy. Nobody suspects the flirtatious debutante could be a rebel against London’s vicious elite—not even the ruthless Will Carver, the one man she can’t twist around her little finger.

Will Carver, is more than man, he’s a verwulfen and he wants nothing to do with the dangerous beauty who drives him to the very edge of control. But when he finds Lena in possession of a coded letter, he realizes she’s in a world of trouble. To protect her, he’ll have to seduce the truth from her before it’s too late.

Deftly blends elements of steampunk and vampire romance with brilliantly successful results…darkly atmospheric and delectably sexy.”

Booklist, starred review for KISS OF STEEL

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Award-winning author Bec McMaster lives in a small town in Australia and grew up with her nose in a book. A member of RWA, she writes sexy, dark paranormals and steampunk romance. When not writing, reading, or poring over travel brochures, she loves spending time with her very own hero or daydreaming about new worlds. The third book in the London Steampunk series, My Lady Quicksilver will be in stores in October 2013. Read more about her at www.becmcmaster.com or follow her on Twitter @BecMcMaster.

To purchase Heart of Iron:

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Chapters/Indigo

Discover a New Love

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