SOMEONE NEW: WRITER BRI VOLINZ STEPS BOLDLY FORWARD

This post is not about me, but I cannot help but share a vital fact: I tried to write many times, many years ago, and could not. I chalked it up to youth and a lack of complaint-worthy and celebratory experiences to deconstruct. There was no use to it. Whatever it was that drove the youthful writer, I did not have it.

Which is why it’s a joy to meet someone in the ‘before thirty category’ laying down thoughts, scenes and stories with an ease I didn’t find until much, much later.

IMG_20151111_143637.jpgBri Volinz and I met by chance through a cat. That’s right, a cat. He appeared one day about three years ago at my back door looking suave and charming with appealing eyes that quickly won me over. My children, of course, wanted to keep him, but I knew he belonged to another. (The bell he wore around his neck was the clue.)

He visited us most days over the summer, and in that time, we named him Carlos (‘Clara’ was first, until we picked him up and turned him over and then — well. lol)

It took more than a few weeks to put together that “Carlos” was actually “Kobe” and that he belonged to Brianna, who lived six doors up from us. Since the day she and I met, we committed to co-parenting this very special cat, while fostering a mutual appreciation of all things writerly.  Not only did our cat tease a new novel out of me (#3), but he ignited — I believe —  a spark in my writer friend that only a true muse can facilitate.

But I’ll let the writer speak for herself.

She is a member of the Writer’s Community of Durham Region and speaks volumes through her keyboard. Though her tastes seem to lean toward shock horror, I believe she is capable of just about anything.

Meet a new writer with a fresh perspective. Hello, Bri!

 

1.

You’re a writer…

bri6Am I? Thank you for the reminder ha ha. I suppose I am a writer, or playing at being one at least. It’s the only passion I’ve ever pursued, and writing really is a labour of love for me, emphasis on the labour. It’s exhausting! It’s like going to the gym: pushing yourself to go is the hardest part, but the payoff from the workout is always worth it. And with writing, I can drink a beer and don’t have to wear pants while I work, which I can’t do at the gym. Trust me.

Ed. — I forgot to mention that she’s a comic too. lol

 

2.

I love that story you wrote about the dating game. What draws you to shock horror?

I actually wrote that one with shock value in mind because I thought it would help me win a contest. (It didn’t). I prefer subtle horror, stuff that’s quiet and lingers. I like horror that lives with you in the back of your mind long after the initial scare.

 

3.

Any sleepless nights because of it?

Unfortunately, no. Nothing I’ve come up with scares me enough, which is too badKobe 1 because I love nightmares. The only thing that keeps me awake at night is my anxiety, which is something I want to explore more in my writing. I’ve got a couple fetus stories (not stories about a fetus, but stories in the early development stages, just to clarify) about my fears blown up, but nothing concrete.

 

4.

Tell the readers how we met.

Through a mutual cat. When Kobe moved in with my parents he expanded his territory and had little care for peoples’ personal property. I remember you saying how one day he came to your door and marched himself up to your bedroom where he slept for hours like he owned the place. Over the years, Kobe’s constant back and forth between our houses brought us together; we’ve been co-parenting ever since.

 

5.

The arrangement with Kobe is, in my view, very modern and insightful. Do you think he knew all along that we’d make him a star?

Absolutely. I think he sought us out. Cats have much better sight than us humans and I think that goes for their foresight too. I bet he pissed off the neighbours on purpose so that letter from the city would reach you and inspire Shell Game.

Ed. — We were ready to pack him off to author Rachael Stapleton’s country abode. That’s how worried we were about losing him to THE MAN. :O

 

6.

Which brings me to that fab FOREWARD you wrote for the book. It’s beautiful. Have you ever tried literary fiction?

No, but I want to go there. I recently finished Karen Russell’s collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove and realized that’s the kind of writing I want to be making. Where the stories are strange, but each word is deliberately chosen and every other sentence makes you stop and say “Wow!” I don’t want to lose the horror element, because it’s what interests me, and I think there’s quite a bit of movement within the genre. But careful crafting is just as important. I want to coexist in both worlds.

Ed. — Then you just have to meet horror poet A. F. Stewart. She boggles!

 

7.

May I reprint the foreward here? (Dying to share!)

Please! I’ll take all the free exposure I can get!

 

Foreword by Bri Volinz

 

I’ve always been a “cat person.” Their aloof, self-sufficient nature matches my own, and I enjoy a good meow. As a child, I would spend hours spooning the family cat in some quiet corner of the house, whispering secrets and insecurities into his twitching ear, as if he were a best friend or a diary. Skin to fur, heart to heart. We had other pets, but it was the cat I sought out for this ritual: something in his jewel eyes told me he was really listening.

My mother once told me that on Christmas Eve the cats could speak. Though I never witnessed these conversations, I did not doubt their reality; the cats were capable of magic because they were cats. It seemed silly not to believe.

My belief was strengthened when I met Kobe. Even as I wrote these words he appeared11125391_496245340522473_5644758440502187682_o (1).jpg at the kitchen door, as if summoned by my thoughts of him. We started as roommates in a windowless basement apartment, where Kobe focused his energy on squeezing into holes in the drywall or escaping out the side door between the legs of the pizza man. Without a word, he was sending me a message: Let me go.

We moved Kobe into the suburbs, to my family home. There, his territory grew like the muscles beneath his fur, and he transformed from house cat to panther, watching over the sleeping streets and feasting on the season’s rabbits. The neighbours quickly got to know him, and he needed no collar to bare his identity (mostly because there wasn’t a collar he couldn’t slip). A graceful, savvy creature with a mind as sharp as his claws and a love for human attention made him the talk of the neighbourhood. Our own local celebrity, if you will.

Kobe 5Kobe met A.B. before I did, though her home is closer than our mailbox. A writer who, at the time, did not consider herself a cat lover, she fell hard for the feline (tall, dark, and handsome works for cats too). Kobe changed both of our lives, inspiring Funkhauser’s writing, and gifting me a mentor and dear friend.

 

Kobe haunts our neighbourhood like a friendly ghost, lingering long enough to be11057719_545573888922951_730878223886852973_o missed. He shows up when he is least expected, but most needed, providing comfort in the touch of his fur and a silence that says: Lay it all on me. At times Kobe is stingy with his affection, but he is just guarding his truth, keeping we humans guessing. We must remember that a cat’s trust has to be earned, like a blue ribbon to be pinned on the wall.

Shell Game was born because of a cat. The muscular, onyx beast who is undeniably something more. He will keep you waiting longer than the guy who hasn’t called, but love you for all of his nine lives. Kobe, or “Carlos the Wonder Cat ,” as you’ll come to know him, is as unique and complex as any human character you’ll read. He is the magic. He is our friend.

 

Bri Volinz

June 27, 2017

Pickering, Ontario

Canada

 

Ed. — Wow! TYSM. 😀

 

8.

What are you working on right now?

I have a few projects on the go, which is my downfall. I jump off so many different ideasbri1 and rarely have the focus to finish anything. One story I’m playing with revolves around two sisters, autism, guilt, and a closet monster. I’m also working out the logistics for a small webcomic about a slime princess and her wannabe Prince Charming, all done in MS Paint. I’m eager to see if either project reaches an ending.

 

9.

Have I forgotten anything?

Hmmm let’s see. I’ve got an online portfolio in the works, but until it’s up, I’m most active on Instagram @brivolinz. It’s the only social media platform I can competently use.

 

Also I have to thank you A.B. (and Kobe) for letting me tag along on this fantastic adventure. I couldn’t ask for better mentors or friends.

My pleasure, Bri. One thing I’ve learned from the writing journey is that writerly folk are generous. We talk, promote and share our stuff. Good things come from this.

Write on, darlin’ !

 

10.

Bri brought along a sample from one of her WIPs. As usual, it is mysterious, clothed with that creepy foreboding she’s so good at.

 

Excerpt from an unnamed wip

 

When the third child within ten miles of town disappeared, your mother insisted the summer be spent indoors. Not behind her doors, maybe, but someone’s.

“Mrs. Atwater is old, she’ll appreciate the help.”

“You mean Mrs. Gnatwater,” you mumble heading down the walk; everybody knows her place is crawling.

You rake your hand across the chipped tawny siding of Number 18, and when you depress the doorbell your finger is CheeZee orange and leaves a neon fingerprint. At your feet, a slop of coffee grounds shimmers, only to be scalped by the metal door frame as it swings open. A slime trail the colour of blackberries smiles up at you from the bungalow’s porch.

“Watch the ants,” says Mrs. Atwater’s voice.

Inside the place is swollen with piles, like a mouth full of sores.

Mounds of clothing stalagmite the floorboards. An overgrown mass of dish towels has split open, and from its core slinks a mildewey stench. Smudgy limbs of naked baby dolls climb up from behind a couch, just segments of body parts visible, like those pictures of aborted foetuses they make everyone look at in Science B.

“Where do I start?” Dust tints your face grey. A gob of chewed gum grows like fungus from the under lip of the kitchen counter, some of the fleshy wads still slick with spit.

Mrs. Atwater cricks her shoulders into a shrug and disappears behind a mountain range of bedding.

Alone, you let the sacred Eenie Meenie Miney Mo guide you to a cluster of shoes near the pantry, where you spend the next hour picking through crusted laces and light-up heels.

You pretend not to recognize the names from the milk cartons scrawled in faded marker on three of the soles.

Ed. – Yikes!

 

Thanks for stopping by, Bri, and good luck in all your writing endeavors. Keep us up-to-date!

–ABF

 

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MARINA BLACK: BIKERS, BADASSES & A LITTLE ROMANCE

It’s my great pleasure to welcome #GuessWrite winner for March 2017 Marina Black. Marina is a practicing registered nurse and multi-published romance author with a taste for bikers and happy endings. Now seeking representation, she is currently pitching her work on today’s #pitmad pitch party on Twitter. Join me in wishing her luck!

 

1.

Welcome, Marina. Your work designation suggests medical thrillers, yet you write badass bikers. Tell us how you got there.

Thanks for having me! I often get this question and the answer is two-fold. When I’m not 51pogTvnjZL._UY250_at work, I like to keep my thoughts separate from my occupation. On a daily basis I deal with the critically ill, distraught, and dying. Coming home, I write romance to escape and as a coping mechanism. It’s a really great way to unwind! The second reason I prefer not to focus my writing on medicine is: as a nurse, if you didn’t chart it, it didn’t happen. I find myself compelled to write in gritty detail of each and every assessment my patient—character—might encounter. I have a very lovely beta reader who reads everything and tells me when I’ve gone too far into detail. Trust me, it’s quite often!

Ed. – The temptation to share specialty knowledge is huge. I get where you’re coming from. 😀

 

2.

So you write romantic thrillers?

51z-VpfYWxL._UY250_I write contemporary romances. It just so happens that I also enjoy the suspense elements sprinkled in with my romance; it gives my novels some extra pizazz! My Badass Bikers series and upcoming novel Bargaining for Blood have a mystery, dramatic storyline that runs parallel to the romance. For Unintentionally Yours, there is no mystery or suspense involved—unless you’re wondering if they will or won’t live happily ever after!

 

 

3.

I noted recently that a lot of modern ‘romances’ end badly. What, in your opinion, accounts for tragic endings? Is this a trend in romance writing?

Tragedy in romance is all well and good, however this is not something you’ll find in my 51uS9RwPAJL._UY250_work. I see enough heartbreak, violence and bloodshed in my day-to-day life—I’m not looking for that when I’m reading or writing! Certainly ‘happily ever after’ eventually will come to an end for one reason or another, but you won’t find it in my work. I’m a big fan of the ‘happily ever after’.

Ed. – It’s nice when things work out!

 

4.

Your current protagonist (from the new novel BARGAINING FOR BLOOD) Adeline is charged with rescuing the one she loves, yet she makes an interesting compact that reminds me of 1,001 Nights. Do you like to blend the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ in your characters, or do you prefer to keep them behind their own lines?

I love to strike the balance between good and evil in all of my characters for sure. Each and every one of us has a ‘line’ and I like my characters to flirt with it on the regular! Adeline in particular learns a lot about herself in BARGAINING FOR BLOOD and, as the story progresses, begins to see that things are not always black and white.

 

5.

What feeds a series? As the writer, do you find this exhausting, exhilarating or just plain psychotic? (last part said tongue-in-cheek! lol)

Characters are the drivers for me. In DEALING WITH THE DEVIL, I introduced four distinct 51PCLDICpLL._UY250_Motorcycle Clubs and a set of characters. After the book came out and people were reading I kept getting readers asking me about Cecelia and Danny and if their story was next. So, as an author I started thinking about them and that’s when SINNING WITH LOS SANTOS came into play.

 

6.

What are you watching on T.V. right now?

I’m a huge DC junkie so the entire Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow lineup is my jam. The 100 is absolutely fantastic—and my drug of choice. I’ve also been greatly enjoying Superstore—my guilty pleasure show!

 

7.

Have I forgotten anything?

BARGAINING FOR BLOOD is coming soon! I’m also seeking representation, and that’s very exciting. Here’s an excerpt from CHAPTER ONE:

 

Bargaining for Blood COMING SOON

 

“Ms. McGinnis?” Malcolm Savage lurked in the shadows like a panther stalking his prey. Adeline straightened her spine, coppery hair spilling from its bun and framing her cherubic face. Her steely eyes were wet and her cheeks were flushed; she stormed past him like a vengeful angel and his palms itched with the need to touch her. “Adeline,” he growled, more sharply this time, and she stilled.

“How did you get in here?” she demanded. “Mr. Savage—”

Malcolm,” he corrected, narrowing inky black eyes at her. Their gazes caught and held, the electricity palpable in the air as he grasped her arm. “You and I are well enough acquainted by now, wouldn’t you say?”

Her body seemed to contract and she wrenched away from him like a caged animal, snarling and sneering. “Get away from me!”

If he was perturbed by her outburst, it didn’t show on his face. “I’m not here to hurt you, if that’s your fear. Frankly, I’m not even angry. Color me impressed.” She was wound tight enough to snap and he didn’t blame her. Adeline had always clung to her moral values; turning down the lucrative lifestyle he offered took guts. He may not have understood it on a fundamental level but he certainly respected the hell out of her gumption. For her to go and do something like this…it was out of character and out of desperation.

“We need to talk. We can do it quietly amongst ourselves…or we can do it at the police station. What would you prefer?”

 

Other Books by Marina Black

41GtbqG7cLL._UY250_Losing Charlotte left a deep chasm within Bellamy Blake. It was the kind of hole that could only be filled by Clarke Griffin. This story chronicles the soul-binding love of two people who are destined to be lovers and leaders, despite the odds.

 

 

 

 

51pogTvnjZL._UY250_Lucy was born to ride. Three generations of Harding men have pledged their loyalties—and their lives—to the Devil’s Own Motorcycle Club. The club is her legacy, its blood runs in her veins, and she’ll be damned if she lets them exclude her. Lucy Harding will stop at nothing to take her place among the Devils and prove her worth once and for all.

 

 

 

51PCLDICpLL._UY250_Cecelia Santos was born for greater things. As a brilliant electrical engineer and a member of Los Santos Motorcycle Club, she’s always been regarded as a force to be reckoned with…but that doesn’t mean she’s had it easy in life. Cece has always been a fighter and now that she’s home after being kidnapped by a rival gang, she’s harder and tougher than ever. When a new threat rears its ugly head in her hometown of La Verdad, she vows to crush it all by herself. She doesn’t need help…especially not from the redheaded menace she’s trying to deny her feelings for.

Daniel Harding knows all too well how difficult Cecelia can be. He’s not only seen her as a warrior on the battlefield but as a woman warm in his bed. Although she’s made it clear he doesn’t stand a chance, he can’t back down. Los Santos are outclassed, outmanned, and outgunned; if they fall prey to Los Lobos, it won’t just be Cece’s family that’s in danger. For the good of everyone he loves, he has to make sacrifices…even if it means stepping on a few toes.

Tensions run high, blood runs hot, and the stakes get higher…will they be able to protect La Verdad or will they be damned for good?

 

41QDCieq24L._UY250_The battle for control rages deep within the heart of New Orleans. While Hayley seeks to comprehend what it finally means to have a family, Niklaus must fight a thousand years of darkness to find a shred of humanity. The bond of blood runs deep…family, love, loyalty. All will be tested as two unlikely lovers come together. Will they find happiness or destroy one another?

 

 

 

51z-VpfYWxL._UY250_When Mona Gallo finds herself accidentally pregnant, the life she worked so hard to build begins crumbling around her. Although she’s determined to raise the baby on her own, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to her sexy boss despite his rakish ways. Maybe it’s just hormones but Mona can’t seem to help herself when it comes to Reno. She should know better, of course. She’s been a stripper for half her life and seen first hand how letting down her guard only leads to heartache.

Vincent “Reno” O’Keefe’s life is falling apart. He lives three thousand miles away from his family, dates all the wrong women, is a terrible Catholic, and his fortieth birthday is around the corner. Now, his little sister has announced her engagement and he can’t bear to go to the wedding alone. Asking Mona seems like the perfect solution. She’s newly single, gorgeous, and in desperate need of a vacation.

Mona is eager to see Boston and enjoy one last trip before the baby comes. She can hide a pregnancy for a week, right?

Besides, what’s the worst that could happen…?

 

518KHIkIpKL._UY250_The treatise between the Grounders and the Sky People is a tenuous one. Danger lurks around every corner and war is imminent. Against all odds, Murphy befriends a young orphan and catches the eye of the Commander. For the good of their people, sacrifices must be made…the choice was almost too easy.

 

 

 

 

51uS9RwPAJL._UY250_Harper’s life hangs in the balance as she rests in the depths of Mount Weather. Past, present, and future collide as Harper fights against the experiments the Mountain Men are doing on her. The only thing she’s sure of is that there’s only one sick, broken man who can save her…Harper has no choice but to put her faith in Cage Wallace.

 

 

 

51K+piwqNNL._UY250_The road to perdition is fraught with violence, anger and heartache. The way back to redemption is twice as bad. John Murphy lost his way in the world long ago. He vowed to numb the pain with bloody revenge. But she was the only one who wasn’t there to watch him hang for a crime he didn’t commit. Hurting her was never an option…

 

 

 

All Titles Available Through the Author’s Amazon Page

https://www.amazon.com/Marina-Black/e/B00W4C05E8

About the Author

Marina BlackMarina Black was born in the state of Connecticut. She is a busy registered nurse who works at a bustling inner city hospital. By night (and the occasional weekend), she is a prolific writer who has penned many short stories and works of fiction over the years. Dealing with the Devil (August 2015) was her debut original novel and Book 1 of the Badass Bikers series. Unintentionally Yours (November 2015) is a fan favorite! Sinning with Los Santos: Book 2 of the Badass Bikers series is on sale now! For author updates, follow Ms. Marina Black on Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter!

 

Amazon.com: Marina Black: Books, Biography, Blog

Twitter: @MarinaBlack99

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorMarinaBlack/

 

OUTSIDE THE LINES: MARIE LAVENDER

 

Marie LavenderPlease welcome back to the blog, crowd-pleaser Marie Lavender. With a shiny new release out, Marie takes a pause to answer some questions about multi-genre writing and staying outside the box. Oh! And she has a WIP on the go too. Hey, Marie.

 

1.

With so many sub-genres to choose from, romance fans are truly fortunate. How do you define your work? Are you a traditional romance writer?

 

UYL promo - AI actually prefer to define myself as a multi-genre author because I’m truly all over the place when it comes to the type of books I write. After releasing a children’s fantasy in 2015, I took a hard look at my works-in-progress, and then realized I needed to make a change instead of just calling myself a romance author. Some of the stories I have planned are dystopian or have time travel themes. I’ve even tried my hand at horror. Compared to some of the romance stories I’ve written, it was just easier to term my work as multi-genre.

As for what types of romance I write, I never like to box myself in. If I can cross different genres, it’s all for the better. Case in point, book two of the Blood at First Sight Series, Blood Instincts, which I’m currently editing, is more detailed than the first book in the trilogy. It’s a paranormal romance/urban fantasy with a futuristic angle. Also, the book I just sent off to beta readers, titled Directions of the Heart, is a modern romantic drama collection. Don’t get me wrong; I’ll always have a soft spot for romance. But I see no reason not to break the mold with genres now and then. Even Upon Your Love is a family saga as well as a historical romance.

Ed. – I love mixing it up too. There are more surprises for the reader and the writer, I think.

 

2.

The challenges the protagonists face in UPON YOUR LOVE are not time sensitive: work vs. family; personal goals vs. self-sacrifice. When thinking about the near past, how do these challenges differ in a contemporary setting?

 

I think they are universal themes. Even today, parents struggle to raise their children UYL promo - C - Adrienne and Christian1while balancing careers. And who hasn’t accepted a not so great job just to make ends meet? Obviously, some of the challenges Adrienne faces as a woman in Victorian New Orleans aren’t quite as relevant, but I think readers will quickly see she is a formidable character, and will appreciate that she knows what she wants. Shouldn’t we all be so self-aware? Besides, she quickly became a female quite out of her time as I grew to understand her during the writing process. I believe the audience can easily picture the heroine in the present day, making her own mark on the world.

 

3.

What would Scarlett O’Hara think?

 

Are you kidding? Scarlett would be appalled at Adrienne’s behavior, like most of her contemporaries. Perhaps Ms. O’Hara could even take a page from Adrienne’s book. She’s rather admirable.

Ed. – Well, fiddle-dee-dee. lol.

 

4.

What are the greatest villains in romance: persons, places or things? How do you co-opt these in your own work?

 

UYL promo - C - Adrienne and Christian6I always gauge these things based on the character’s strengths and fears, things deep in his or her background which can influence what happens. The plot forms from there. For one, I believe society usually interferes with the HEA (or, Happily Ever After) in romance. That especially occurs with historical romance. Modern settings are a different animal entirely. Secondly, events or yes, villains often prevent the characters from finding their happiness. To me, every story is different. Every character is different too, so it all depends upon the subtle nuances you discover as the tale progresses.

 

5.

Strong female leads always rule. Which of your three characters in UPON YOUR LOVE are the strongest? Weakest? Is this deliberate, or did they emerge that way as you wrote?

 

Am I biased if I say I believe they’re all strong, at least in their own ways? Of course,UYL promo - C - Adrienne and Christian8 conflict Adrienne is the one rated most likely to be stubborn and act as unladylike as possible, to forge her own path, in a sense. But I do not think any of them are weak. If a reader reads the series from the beginning to the end of the trilogy, he or she will notice how these characters grow as capable women in a time when females don’t have much power at all. I even admire the ones that aren’t mentioned in the blurb; Claudette Giroux has a quiet kind of strength, which, of course, appeals to Eric Caron.

Ed. – Not biased at all, more like a true believer, which is essential to reader belief, yes?

 

6.

Romance is alive and well, yet so many stories end tragically. Categorically, this may not be romance in a true sense (no happily ever after). Where do you think the demand for tragedy comes from?

 

Ah, you thought you’d catch me in a spoiler, didn’t you? Did I say there was no HEA in this book? Well, I would never categorize it as a historical romance without one. As for tragedy, I think personal tragedies hit us all at some point in our lives. My stories tend to have some drama here and there. And my loyal fans know I enjoy torturing my characters for a while before they can have what they want.

 

7.

What can readers take away from UPON YOUR LOVE after the last page is turned?

 

I think a key lesson is that we’re all human, capable of flaws and strengths, and you’ll often see that nowhere else but close to home, within your own families. One takeaway here is how important family is, and how strong they can make us once they band together.

 

8.

Last words?

 

Check out the book! Upon Your Love will be a pleasant surprise, I promise. Emotion-filled, yes, but entirely worth it. You can find out more about me and my work via my website, as well as my monthly author newsletter. Follow me on Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for other updates. Also, I host three blogs if you’re interested; Writing in the Modern Age, the MLB blog and the I Love Romance Blog.

As always, happy reading! Thanks for hanging out with me for a bit! 🙂

And thank you so much, A.B. You’re a great friend and such a talented author!

 

Why, thank you! It’s always a pleasure dreaming up new questions to tease out your authorly insights. Congrats, again, on the release!

UPON YOUR LOVE released February 26th, and is available through most booksellers online.

 

Read This

 

Upon your love-final coverThe Hill family saga concludes as loyalties are questioned, faiths will be tested and undying love may come at a terrible cost…

Fara Hill, mother and faithful wife, is torn between her family at home and her urge to be at sea. Soon, she learns some disturbing truths. Was the past a fairy tale instead of reality?

Chloe Hill, loving wife and young mother, questions her faith when her husband sets an ultimatum she cannot meet. Will she be able to keep her marriage from falling apart?

Adrienne Bellamont Hill, born of a valiant captain and a fiery redhead, is untamed to her core and will bow to no man. Then Christian du Plessis enters her life with an offer she can’t refuse. Discovering the man behind the polished gentleman, she is drawn to him in many ways. Holding out for love is a family tradition, but can she resist the temptation of passion?

Christian finds this young woman to be a fascinating challenge, and is torn between keeping his distance from her and succumbing to her charms. A fierce battle of wills ensues as he sees she is much more than he ever imagined.

But danger lurks, threatening to destroy everything…

Can these two strong-willed individuals unite in the cause before time runs out?

 

See the Trailer

Marie Youtube art.png

 

Excerpt

The neigh of a horse brought her out of her reverie and she looked over, but her mare stood quietly beside the stream. Adrienne’s instincts nagged at her and she stood up, her ears on alert. The clomp of hoof beats came to her on the swift afternoon breeze. Was the rider coming from the estate or perhaps it was simply a stranger? In any case, a sense of unease grew in the pit of her stomach and she reached down to unearth a small dagger Gabriel had gifted to her two summers ago. She kept it in a sheath around her thigh. Gabe had always said that if she didn’t have a sword on hand, it was best to have something. And she couldn’t agree more.

She clucked her tongue to alert Persephone and led her quickly by the reins under the cover of the trees. The rider was closer now and her mare shifted uneasily, blowing a breath out of her nose. She must have heard the approaching horse as well. “Shh. It’s all right,” Adrienne whispered, stroking her neck. She tied the reins to a tree and waited.

When the rider appeared from the forest, she couldn’t see him clearly. It was a man—that much she was certain—but the lapels of his dark coat and the thicket of limbs brushing her face kept her from placing his identity. He had dark hair and was tall, his body lean and muscled. She watched as he got down from a fine, black stallion and led it to the stream for a rest. The man took a drink from his cupped hands. He wiped the remnants of the water from his chin, and then seemed to search the area nearby. She shivered. Was it possible the man had been tracking her? If that was the case, her dagger would certainly come in handy. Adrienne crouched on alert, spying through her vantage point in the trees. From behind, she observed as the tension eased from his shoulders and he sighed.

A frisson of unease ran through her again. Taking it as a sign, she confirmed he was still faced away before she quietly eased out of her haven. Stepping up behind him, she lifted her dagger to his throat. A smile of grim determination danced over her lips as he stiffened.

“Who are you? Why are you here? Are you following me?”

“What if I was?”

Fine shivers moved along the surface of her skin, caused by the deep timbre of his voice.

“I would have to ask for your reasons, Monsieur.”

“I haven’t come to kidnap you, if that’s what you’re worried about,” he sighed. “I didn’t expect you’d be prepared. I commend the effort, of course.”

She frowned. The compliment threw her for a moment, but she then brushed it off. Surely, he ridiculed her, and thought he could overtake her somehow. She shook her head. He would be gravely disappointed.

“You will state your reasons for your presence and your identity, sir.”

“And if I don’t?”

“You will regret it, of course.”

“Indeed? Do you intend to harm an unarmed man?”

She scoffed. “Unarmed? No, I doubt that. With the way you appeared to be tracking me, I am sure you’re quite armed.”

“Right again. What will you do about it?”

She shrugged. “This is Bellamont land. You’ve clearly trespassed. If I must, I will drag you straight back to the house. You know, I believe the foreman has a Winchester sporting rifle. He can be quite formidable when he puts his mind to the task.”

“I’m sure,” he murmured.

“What say you then?”

“I say, Mademoiselle, that you have no idea who you’re dealing with.”

Before she could open her mouth to take him to task, she felt a blow to her arm and the numbing pain caused her to drop the knife. Everything else happened in a blur. As he turned, he caught her leg, which caused her to collapse. But, before she landed, he grasped her up in his arms. He was too close, she thought. Panic threatened inside of her, but she fought it by degrees. She was a fighter, not some idiot who would succumb to a man’s power. Gabriel had taught her many tricks, as had her father. She forced herself to go limp so that he’d pull her closer. She let her eyes drift closed and pretended to have swooned.

Mon Dieu,” he whispered.

Then she unmanned him with a swift rise of her knee. He coughed out a grunted response, releasing her.

She retreated from him, intent on finding her dagger, but did not see it. The leaves in the grass crunched beneath her hands and knees as she struggled to her feet. She would have to rely on the resources of the forest to save her if he pursued further. Somehow, she doubted he’d be able to. She turned and her mouth dropped open as she looked at her attacker.

His dark hair had fallen over one eye and he was hardly doubled over in pain. No, he scowled at her now and he seemed quite well. She’d missed her target, she realized. His identity shocked her further. She felt quite stupid for not recognizing him, even from behind. But, why had Christian tried to attack her?

 “How…,” she whispered.

“You are not as fast as I, Mademoiselle.” Then he laughed, but there was no mirth in his expression. His eyes seemed darker suddenly. “You little brat,” he bit out. “You almost had me.”

She sucked in a breath and, when she saw him advance, she backed away. But, it UYL promo - C - Adrienne and Christian3.jpgeffectively put her back right up against a nearby tree. She cursed. Christian closed in, blocking her in with his arms as he braced his hands on the tree trunk. Her breaths came out in harsh pants and her stomach had fallen somewhere at her feet. Dear God, what would he do? She jerked her arms out to break his hold, but his muscles were like the ratlines between the shrouds of a mast in a ship’s rigging. Solid. Struggling with his obvious intimidation of her, she managed, “Why are you trying to kidnap me?”

Some of the arrogance left his face. “I’m not. I thought we already established that.”

“Then why… this?” she asked, weakly. And why couldn’t she breathe? His clean, male scent caused her to feel lightheaded. No, she thought. That just had to be terror.

“I wanted to get you alone so that we could continue our plans. I didn’t mean for you to see me as a threat. I certainly didn’t expect a dagger at my throat.” He reached out and cupped her face, stroking the line of her jaw gently with his thumb.

Adrienne gazed into his nearly black eyes. She thought she saw a hint of admiration and something more, perhaps desire, in his gaze.

“P… plans?” she stammered, annoyed with the hypnotic effect he had on her. And what was that strange, but wonderful scent coming off him? She detected cologne which contained a hint of fresh pine. But then, she’d smelled it before, both in her room and at the Broussard’s engagement party. Even though the fragrance was pleasant, she tried to ignore it.

“Our matchmaking endeavor, chére.”

“Oh. That.”

“Yes, that. Did you forget?”

She cleared her throat. “No, of course not.” Her resolve returned in full force then. She slapped his hand aside and sidestepped him. Stalking away to locate Persephone, she unearthed her mare from the brush in no time. When she returned, he still stood there, watching her. She shivered again.

Mon Dieu, she thought. Why was this happening to her? Why did the man tie her in knots?

 

About the Author

Bestselling multi-genre author of UPON YOUR RETURN and 21 other books. March 2016 Empress of the Universe title – winner of the “Broken Heart” themed contest and the “I Love You” themed contest on Poetry Universe. SECOND CHANCE HEART and A LITTLE MAGICK placed in the TOP 10 on the 2015 P&E Readers’ Poll. Nominated in the TRR Readers’ Choice Awards for Winter 2015. Poetry winner of the 2015 PnPAuthors Contest. The Versatile Blogger Award for 2015. Honorable Mention in the 2014 BTS Red Carpet Book Awards. Finalist and Runner-up in the 2014 MARSocial’s Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader’s Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013 and 2014. Top 10 Authors on AuthorsDB.com. Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.

Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for a little over twenty-five years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 22 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, dramatic fiction, literary fiction and poetry. She has also contributed to several multi-author anthologies. Her current series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Magick Series, The Blood at First Sight Series and The Code of Endhivar Series.

 

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