Official blog of Romance Author Leigh Ellwood

Leigh writes adult books! Erotic romance, M/M erotic romance, and F/F erotica. SEE LEIGH'S FULL BOOK LIST.
E-Mail kspatwriter (at) yahoo (dot) com ~ Follow Twitter @LeighEllwood


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cover Reveal: All's Fair by Brenna Lyons

Coming in August from Phaze Books, All's Fair by Brenna Lyons!

Five millennia ago, Davon -- Horseman of War, son of Ares -- insulted Eros, God of Love and Lust. Young and headstrong, Eros decided to teach Davon a lesson about his own nature. Until the young horseman can embrace the god of love with affection, he will be impotent. Such a loss for his lovers.





While Davon cannot stomach the idea of embracing Eros with anything but his hands around the other man’s scrawny throat, Love will eventually find a mate and produce heirs that Davon might have a chance of liking, despite their parentage. After all, it is Love's nature to do so.

When two strange men who don't show up on film save Khrystal from a mugger, her life takes a turn toward the strange. Considering the fact that her mother is a psychic who is completely besotted with her husband, a man that left them two decades earlier, saying Khrystal's life has become weirder is saying a lot.

~

Brenna Lyons wears many hats, sometimes all on the same day: former president of EPIC, author of more than 85 published works, columnist, special needs teacher, wife, mother...and member in good standing of more than 60 writing advocacy groups.

In her first seven years published in novel-length, she's won 2 EPIC e-Book Awards (out of 11 finalists) and finaled for 3 PEARLS (including one Honorable Mention, second to NY Times Bestseller Angela Knight), 2 CAPAS, and a Dream Realm Award. She's also taken Spinetingler's Book of the Year for 2007.

Brenna writes milieu-heavy dark fiction, mainly science fiction, fantasy and horror, straight genre, romance and erotic crosses, poetry, articles and essays. She teaches everything from marketing to choosing an indie publisher, and she's been called "one of the most deviant erotic minds in publishing today" by Fallen Angels.

Find out more about Brenna at Youtube [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b61pN_MzszI]!

Website: http://www.brennalyons.com

Blog: http://brennalyonsden.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Brenna-Lyons/54873194834

Friday, July 18, 2014

Guest Author Kate Hill: What Makes Him Sexy?

Please welcome Kate Hill!

Romance novels are all about fantasy, but mixed in somewhere is a bit of reality. While often in novels characters and situations are exciting, they're not necessarily what we'd want in real life. Still there are some basic characteristics that make a man not just appealing, but the kind of guy you'd want to share your happily ever after.

These are the top three qualities that I find sexy, in books and in real life.

1) A sense of humor. He doesn't have to joke constantly or always be funny and witty, but he can't take himself seriously all the time either. Being able to laugh at himself once in while is hugely appealing.

2) Being responsible. I love a guy with a wild side, but that doesn't mean using people, especially the ones he's supposed to care about. When he finds a forever partner, he should be willing to share the responsibilities that make a relationship work. Taking care of his loved ones, especially his partner and kids, makes a hero in real life and in books.

3) Showing respect. He needs to genuinely care about what his partner feels. If a decision comes up that affects their relationship, he needs to be honest about it and include his partner. It's easy to take someone for granted, but there's nothing sexier than a man who recognizes what his partner does for him and lets her know from the heart that he appreciates her.

What qualities are on your list?

Storm Stallion
by Kate Hill
Book 8 in the Horsemen Series

Blurb:

From the moment Ivan rescued Bala from the inferno that wiped out her village, he has been in love with her. Knowing the young widow's heart belongs to her husband who died from the Horseman Plague, he struggles to keep his passion for her a secret.

Bala is burdened by guilt over the lustful fantasies she's been having about the handsome Fighting Carrier. When he surprises them both by asking her to marry him, she accepts. With Ivan she enjoys a sexual freedom she has never experienced before. Despite their love for each other, their marriage is threatened by the shadow of her first husband.

Ivan and Bala realize they're meant to be together, but first they have to find their way back to each other.

Purchase Link:

The following excerpt from Storm Stallion is for readers 18 and over.

Closing her eyes, Bala surrendered to him completely. Soon the rhythm of his galloping legs and pounding wings seemed to lock onto her clit and pussy. Her heartbeat quickened and she throbbed with lust. She rocked on top of him, trying to keep time with him. Her sensitive flesh rubbed against him and she gripped him tightly with her knees, rising a bit higher on his back.

Ivan groaned when her pelvis thrust against his Turning Point, that extra-sensitive area on a Horseman's lower back where shape changing originated. Having it stroked was as arousing as having his cock stroked.

"Keep that up and we might crash," he panted.

"I'm sorry," she breathed. "It's just so hard to... I'm so aroused, Ivan."

"Perhaps we should take this to the ground?"

"Yes. Good idea." Her heart pounded and her loincloth, damp with her juices, rubbed against her aching clit.

Ivan landed in a secluded field a short distance from the lake. He walked toward a weeping willow tree.

Closing her eyes for a moment, Bala hugged his man-torso tighter. Her cheek rested against his shoulder. His warmth felt so good against her and with every breath she inhaled his arousing scent.

Pausing near the tree, he waited for her to dismount. Bala slowly slid off his back. She led the way under the tree and spread out the blanket. The bowed, leafy branches created a natural curtain and the grass a soft cushion. It was a more beautiful wedding night bed than any richly furnished palace could offer.

The ground trembled as Ivan shifted shape. He stood for a few seconds, allowing the brief weakness that followed shapeshifting to pass then he stepped beneath the branches and smiled at her.

By the gods, he was such a handsome Horseman. His compact body was perfectly proportioned, from his broad shoulders to his powerfully muscled legs. His thick cock rose from its nest of dark, wiry hair. It was already hard, but it hadn't yet reached its full potential.

From where she knelt on the blanket, she beckoned him with a finger.

A faint smile on his lips, he stepped toward her, his heavy balls swinging slightly with every step. When he stood in front of her, she rose higher on her knees to cup his bottom and kiss his chiseled belly. The muscles clenched and released as she continued kissing and licking his stomach.

Ivan unbound her hair. His fingers gently combed through it and massaged her scalp. His buttocks tightened in her grip. She sat back on her heels and clasped his cock in both hands. She stroked it, loving how the foreskin moved, an added caress that by the look on his face, he enjoyed greatly.

About Kate Hill

Always a fan of romance and the paranormal, Kate Hill started writing over twenty years ago for pleasure. Her first story, a short erotic vampire tale, was accepted for publication in 1996. Since then she has sold over one hundred short stories, novellas and novels.

When she's not working on her books, Kate enjoys reading, working out and spending time with her family and pets.

Kate also writes under the pen name Saloni Quinby. She enjoys hearing from readers and she can be contacted at katehill@sprintmail.com. You can find Kate online at http://www.kate-hill.com, http://www.twitter.com/katehillromance and https://www.facebook.com/katehillsaloniquinby.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Leigh's #SummerReadsHop - Blog + Giveaway

TWO Prize Widgets to enter below!

Right now I have Olaf the Snowman in my head shouting, "Let's bring back SUMMMER!!!!!" I would be more enthused if it weren't six thousand degrees outside, and the patio furniture looks as if Salvador Dali designed it. The good thing is, I can stay indoors and read, which is about all I have the energy for these days. That's why I'm doing the Summer Reads Hop so I can share my summer list and recommend some books - one of two of my own.

First off, I have a few recent releases to pimp:
All make for great summer reads. As for what I'm reading, I love historical fiction and family sagas. If you read the blog, you know I'm trying to plow through a few reading list. Here's what I'm enjoying so far this summer:
  • Cubed by Brenna Lyons - sexy SFF romance with excellent worldbuilding
  • Fall to Pieces by Paisley Smith - very hot lesbian romance with BDSM and rockabilly chicks
  • The Gate by KT Grant - BDSM with a BBW heroine. That's a lot of letters!
  • Tropical Paradise by Evelise Archer - a sweet and sexy M/M 1Night Stand story
So there's something for everybody here. Whatever you read, I hope you enjoy it. If you leave a comment on the blog in addition to entering, let me know what you're reading. I love Tudor-era fiction, early 20th century, and romantic thrillers.

~

GIVEAWAY

Enter below to win. Open to US/International readers. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


~





~

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer of Love: Rollin'

See: The Original List.
The first progress report.
The second progress report.

I'm seeing more red than white on my bucket list, but I still have a ways to go to get everything done. Two of the last four items will require some travel, and I have a feeling both will wait until early September before the official First Day of Autumn. Camping I could do locally, either at the KOA or my backyard, but more than likely we'll head up north before school starts. The crochet I plan on starting once I've finished looming all the coffee cozies I'm making for Authors After Dark. I have about 45 left to go for my promo packs. Next time I agree to a big sponsorship I'll take care of the knitting well in advance. Ouch!

Anyway, I have this pair of roller skates that I got a few years ago for my birthday. I was inspired to take up skating after many years, and a friend gave me these derby skates. Well, they went under the bed and didn't come out until this weekend. I figured I'd slip them on and go rolling down the boardwalk like Olivia Newton-John in Xanadu. Didn't quite work out that way. For one, I had to choose the hottest damn day of the week - 94 degrees in the shade and sweat down my crack. Also, derby skates aren't like the kind you rent at the rink. These are heavy and the wheels are thick. And my feet hurt with them on.

It's not because they're too tight. I guess it's because I'm not a teenager anymore and therefore bring more weight down on my feet, which are trying to balance atop the wheels. I pushed forward and my feet are bracing so I don't fall on my ass or skin my knees. Nonetheless, I was determined to get some skating done.

On the boardwalk, I got about three blocks in, mostly wobbling from seat bench to light pole to seat bench, before I finally gave in and put my sandals back on. Had to walk all the way home toting the skates, but three blocks is better than doing nothing, so to me it counts. I bought a Groupon for a skating session at a regular rink, so I think I'll use their skates to get back into the groove before trying these on again.

This Sunday I took my trip to the Eastern Shore. As I mentioned in my first post, the Eastern Shore is basically the route I take to get somewhere else. I never stop when I have a trip to Philly or NYC planned, because I just want to get the 6-8 hour drive done. Well, having the day to myself I drove up to Cape Charles and Eastville to have a look around. If you don't kayak, sail, or enjoy sitting on a beach for hours on end, you can see both pretty much in about an hour combined. I liked Cape Charles, though. There are some nice looking shops and restaurants and a great view of the Bay.

While I was in Cape Charles I found a letterbox near the beach to add to my growing collection. I don't plan to hunt without the little on in tow, but as I don't know when I'm heading back I figure might as well get the stamp. It's a $20 round-trip toll to the Eastern Shore, so that was my biggest expense. There are many beautiful homes for sale in the area - big porches and windows facing the sea.

Before heading back I looked up a nature trail near the coast and took a quick hike. I found some wild blackberry bushes along the way. Of course the best ones were too far to reach, unless I wanted to come out spotted with thorn marks. Still, it was a nice diversion and I got to mark off one more item on the to do list.

Now, too, is a good time to call the Doctor Who Binge. There's no way I'll get to see every episode this summer, but I'm about fifty half-hour shows in so far, and that's a good enough number for a binge. I'm still on the First Doctor eps, and truthfully I'll miss this crew when they're gone. The props and production values seem primitive compared to recent shows, but the stories are solid.

Next up: Need to find a campground, either near the horses or an AT trail.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Tara Quan’s Operation Owl Tour of the Capital – Dinner in the District


I owe Leigh a huge thank you for hosting me today. I’m trying something new, which is to chat up my book prior to getting a firm release date. Because of my impending move to Rome, I may soon experience a prolonged Internet blackout and have prescheduled my stops. To the best of my knowledge, my latest multicultural romance from Decadent Publishing comes out some time in July 2014 (so, depending on when you stumble upon this blog, it might be available now).
For updates as well as a chance to win a $25 gift card, drop by my website: TaraQuan.com/Owl
In honor of the place I consider home (what the government terms the National Capital Area), I’m dedicating the posts on this tour to Washington, D.C. and its surrounding suburbs. The romantic comedy I’m very blatantly promoting is set entirely in the US capital. A Beyond Fairytales adaptation of The Owl by Brothers Grimm, Operation Owl features a geeky hacker hero and his bookish best friend. They team up to expose a cyber conspiracy at the heart of the US government and end up indulging in some other equally exciting activities.
Waypoint: Dinner in the District
Since Leigh makes it clear up top that she “wants food and wine,” I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about dinner in the district (she’ll have to fend for herself when it comes to sex and Rush tickets). One thing I discovered when I first moved to Arlington was that the restaurant to people ratio in the capital area is a tad lopsided (and it’s gotten worse over the years). I’ve experienced 2-hour wait times at Cheesecake Factory, called up Le Diplomate only to be offered a table at 9PM three days hence, and watched insanely long lines form on weekday evenings in front of mediocre sports bars.
Being both procrastinators and cheapskates, my husband and I have long since embraced home-cooked meals. Luckily, some of our friends are foodies, and they’ve managed to lure us into the culinary wilds of the D.C.-area upon occasion. If you’re looking for a nice place to do dinner, here’s my advice:
1. Happy Hour is a big deal here. Be prepared for crowds between 5:30-7:30 on weekdays wherever beer is served. Join the fun, or avoid this window—it’s up to you.
2. Consider getting a reservation for fancier places. Because there aren’t a huge number of them, decent restaurants in D.C. fill up quick. Which brings me to…
3. OpenTable.com can simplify your dining-out experience. It allows you to search for restaurants by area, look up their availability (or lack of availability, as the case may be), check their hours, peruse their menu, and get an estimated per-head price. For higher-end places, I’ve found the reviews to be more representative than Yelp. More importantly, this nifty website lets you put in your reservation with a few clicks in lieu of placing a phone call. There’s also a handy dandy app for your smartphone.
And thus concludes my Capital Area tip for the day. Follow along at TaraQuan.com/Owl as I continue my tour at the blogs of some awesome romance authors.

~
Operation Owl

Five years ago, Maya Jain kissed her best friend only to have him run out of her dorm room and leave the state. When he shows up in Washington, D.C., a wanted fugitive sought after by every branch of the US government, she can’t bring herself to ignore his plight. As their physical relationship picks up where it left off, she decides it’s time to make him see her as more than the bespectacled, bookish girl he once called “Owl.”
After being accused of espionage and treason, Zack Strong needs a forensic accountant to help clear his name. Not knowing who he can trust, this white-hat hacker has no choice but to ask his former best friend and math tutor for help. Together they unravel a cyber conspiracy at the Barn, an NSA facility tasked to intercept electronic communications. But as they traverse the nation’s capital to avoid capture, Maya insists on letting their simmering sexual tension take its natural course. Even though he’s never been able to shake the memory of their one kiss, he refuses to let her give up her life for a man with no future.
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Comedy, Multicultural


Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | AllRomance | Decadent | GoodReads

a Rafflecopter giveaway



About Tara Quan
Globetrotter, lover of languages, and romance author, Tara Quan has an addiction for crafting tales with a pinch of spice and a smidgen of kink. Inspired by her travels, Tara enjoys tossing her kick-ass heroines and alpha males into exotic contemporary locales, fantasy worlds, and post-apocalyptic futures. Armed with magical powers or conventional weapons, her characters are guaranteed a suspenseful and sensual ride, as well as their own happily ever after. Learn more at www.taraquan.com


Excerpt

Hesitating at the threshold of stalker-like activity, the logical part of his brain made one last-ditch attempt to stall his fingers. This wasn’t acceptable behavior, not by any stretch of the imagination. He should wait and see what happened. If push came to shove, he could always abandon his post and knock on her door.
But he’d been sitting there for ages, an abnormal amount of time for anyone to spend in the bathroom. She could have passed out in there, and then where would they be? His brain’s paranoid frontal lobe ended up winning the battle. He needed a quick peek, a brief glance to confirm her location. If the trick gave him a glimpse of her in the shower, the curtain would obscure his view. If he saw even a hint of skin, he’d shut the damn feed off. No harm could come of this.
He accessed her webcam and turned it on. As luck would have it, the computer was angled at the open bathroom door, the only part of her apartment he couldn’t see into from the street. With the wall-to-wall mirror completely visible on screen, it wouldn’t be hard to ascertain her presence. A few keystrokes allowed him to enhance the high definition feed and zoom in. A light coating of condensation blurred the reflection by a fraction, but the open doors allowed most of it to dissipate. The reflected image was clear enough to make out shapes and colors.
The footage presented a profile view of Maya lying in a bathtub. Since he could only make out her face, neck, and left arm, he didn’t see an immediate need to cease and desist. Her head rested against the tub’s lip, cushioned by her long, dark hair. With her eyes closed and lips parted, he couldn’t tell if she was conscious. What if she had slipped in the shower and hit her head?
He cranked up the microphone’s sensitivity. The great thing about modern-day computers was their much-improved capability to process audio and video. As soon as she made a sound or moved, he’d stop watching.
A soft, throaty moan crackled over the speakers. Her left hand lifted in the air before clenching over the side of the tub. Her back and neck arched.
“Shit.”
Slapping down his laptop screen, Zack leaned back against the leather headrest and massaged his temples. Struggling not to draw any conclusions, he muttered, “Don’t go there, man. Just don’t go there.”



Saturday, July 12, 2014

Cover Reveal: #SciSpanks Anthology



I am thrilled to show off the cover for the upcoming SciSpanks anthology! I am one of many authors contributing to this work, which will be available next week at all the usual retail channels for a great price. If you enjoy a bit of kink, hope you'll pick it up.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Summer of Love 2014: Progress II

Slowly but surely, I'm getting the list done. You can read the first installment of progress (I may have to add blueberry picking to the list; the season is here) while I ponder how to get the rest of the bucket items done. The traveling is the challenge, mainly because I have a reunion coming up that requires a long-ass drive down the coast, unfortunately not in the direction that would get me to horses or up 13 North.

 As for camping, it's been so damn hot I don't want to think about lying in a tent with no breeze. I may have to plan a third trip up north to satisfy that - I have a few places in mind. Appalachian Trail hiking is specific, you hike where the trail is. My challenge: the trail isn't at my backdoor. More than likely I'll combine the hiking and the camping, it only makes sense. Then again, I can camp in Currituck and the Eastern Shore. We'll see how the weather holds up in the next month, because these are looking like August activities.

The Doctor Who binge is still in progress. I am now up to the second season of First Doctor episodes. I'm eager to get that moving, but with holiday travel, people at home, and work I struggle to find thirty minutes a day where I'm not about to drop from exhaustion. At this writing, "Lands of the Giants" is on deck. Here's what I did get done, though:

Make Sangria: Search sangria recipes and you'll find a thousand, none of which are the same. We have gallons of wine we may never drink, and one night we a took a bottle of table white, mixed in a cup of super sweet peach wine, stirred in a peach and assorted berries, and came up with this:

*hic*

It was cold, tasted good, and did the trick. Don't ask how I made it - just mix a bunch of wine and fruit.

Bird Watching: That's easy to do at the in-laws', where we spend summer holidays. Their backyard is Bird Paradise, with the seed socks and nectar and birdie hotels. This past week I've seen cardinals, blue jays, humming birds, tiny brown birds, and these cute little buggers:


Wild turkeys! Over spring break there were about seven females between a few toms. Now there are nineteen little ones that toddle up to the yard for feed, and no tom in sight. Already we're seeing one of the juniors puff up like an alpha in training.

Letterboxing: Letterboxing is like geocaching. You follow clues to find a packet that contains a rubber stamp and sometimes a small guestbook. You sign and stamp the book, then put the found stamp in your journal. See Atlasquest.com for how it's done. I dabbled a bit in letterboxing when the girl was younger, but we fell out of it. It's something I enjoyed doing, though, and she was eager to try again. Over the last week we made three attempts to find stamps in Virginia Beach but came up empty. It happens - sometimes boxes go missing due to weather or theft or neglect. So in WV I researched recent boxes hoping we'd have better luck, and we did.


We found the first one near the State Capitol building, the second at a travel plaza. I'm researching boxes near home and elsewhere.

Next up, I need to strap on those skates.





Saturday, July 5, 2014

Cover Reveal: Barbara Donlon Bradley's Stolen Desire

Coming late July to Phaze Books, Stolen Desire by Barbara Donlon Bradley! Stolen Desire is Book 7 of Bradley's Vespian Way series.

When Heather is confronted with her time traveling self, she fears the worst. The woman came to warn them of a terrible accident, but something isn’t right. The visitors her future self says are there to help only want to kidnap her and kill her mate. Using her mind, she tries to protect her friends and family. Yet she wakes up as a prisoner after seeing the ship Storm is in blow up. She is now alone, and trapped. Somehow she has to figure out a way home and hopefully reverse all the horrible things that have taken her family from her.




~
Writing for Barbara Donlon Bradley started innocently enough. Like most she kept diaries, journals, and wrote an occasional letter, but she also had a vivid imagination and wrote scenes and short stories, adding characters to her favorite shows and comic books. As time went on she found the passion for writing to be a strong drive for her. Humor is also very strong in her life. No matter how hard she tries to write something deep and dark, it will never happen. That humor bleeds into her writing. Since she can’t beat it, she has learned to use it to her advantage. Now she lives in Tidewater Virginia with two cats, one mother in law – she’s 86 now - her husband and teenage son.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

My #AAD2014 Stuff

I am currently in chicken-head-cut-off phase getting ready for Authors After Dark. I am a Featured Author this year and co-sponsoring a lunch. So this means I put in some extra work to make sure there's enough to go around for attendees. I thought you might like to see the prizes I'm offering this year. I'll have on an AAD Author t-shirt so feel free to poke me while you're there. I'm thinking, too, I might just give it all away rather than sell books at the signing, because generosity and drinking. We'll see.

Welcome Basket - I have a bag of print ARCs as received by my reviewer self and a bottle of wine. Should make somebody happy. I never know what to do with ARCs after I get them, besides read. I don't like donating them to charity, b/c they end up on sale, and my local friends don't read the genres available. AAD looks like the perfect place for a giveaway.

Raffle Basket - To celebrate my alter ego's upcoming book with Ellora's Cave, the geek hero novella Busted!, I'm doing a Doctor Who basket. This one is special because the Tom Baker scarf was knitted by yours truly:


It is long. It will cover David Tennant and part of Matt Smith. I also have a pack of Jelly Babies, a mystery Doctor Who shirt I bought from a TeeFury sale sized XL (I haven't opened the package, so if you win let me know what it is), four hand-drawn trading cards from Korok Studios, and a sample swatch of Doctor Who fabric from Implexity Designs at Spoonflower. It's small, but you can still do stuff with it. Make bookmarks, a very small wallet, whatev.


Lunch Goodies - I have to prepare 400 pieces of premium swag. This year, since I'm feeling masochistic, I decided to hand make those, too:



On the right is a bag of what I've done so far. Each baggie has some goodies plus my knitted coffee cup sleeve. You can enjoy your drink and help the environment. No more cardboard throw-aways! Just have to make sure everybody gets one for the lunch. See you there!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Guest Author Amie Denman



Please welcome Amie Denman to my blog to promote THE GULL MOTEL!

In my new contemporary romance The Gull Motel, Savvy Thorpe arrives on the Gulf Coast of Florida with the intention of vacationing at her aunt and uncle’s slightly shabby beach motel. Instead, she ends up in charge of the colorful motel when her relatives are called away for an unexpected trip. She’s a savvy gal with a fresh degree in hotel/hospitality, but she has no job experience and no idea that The Gull Motel and the other businesses in Barefoot Key are in hot water. Lucky for her, she has loyal—although quirky—employees to help her out. And the former maintenance man, a walking temptation named Skip McComber, happens to be right next door breathing new life into a pirate bar and shivering Savvy’s timbers.

Have you ever taken a vacation that didn’t turn out exactly as you planned? Uh…I’m not the only one, right? Here’s a story taken right from my own honeymoon in Key West. And I swear it’s all true.

When we got married, my new husband was a physically adventurous kind of guy. Motorcyles. Jetskis. Scuba diving. Roller coasters. As a new wife, I was determined to play right along. So we planned a semi-adventurous trip to Key West, Florida. I’m pretty sure any trip to Key West is an adventure, but we planned to add moped riding and scuba diving. Keep in mind, I had never been on a motorcycle or moped of any kind in my life. Bicycle, yes. I thought that qualified me to ride a moped.

It did not.

Did you know you have to pass a “Moped Test” in order to rent one in Key West? I was under the impression there were NO RULES there. I was wrong. The teenager in charge of rentals set up a little course with orange cones in the parking lot, gave me fifteen seconds of instruction on operating the machine and wished me good luck. After two false starts and two crushed cones, the test was over. I failed. Failed! The teenager (who did not look sad or apologetic at all) said, “Lady, I can’t rent you a moped.”

My new husband, whom I had hoped to impress, watched from the sidelines. He consoled me by suggesting I could ride on the back of his moped after he sailed right through the obstacle course like a pro. Seeing Key West on the back of a moped with a confident and somewhat reckless driver was not as much fun as you might think.

The next day, we were signed up for a scuba diving course. My new husband was already a certified diver. I knew how to swim and hold my breath, so I thought this qualified me to sail right through the scuba course at the hotel.

It did not.

After a day of pool instruction in which I didn’t embarrass myself much, our crew of divers went out on a boat. Into the OCEAN. The ocean is very large, salty, and wavy. There were nine-foot waves that day. NINE FEET!! This is too tall. I know this now. Before our boat got out to the reef where we planned to dive, I had already barfed over the side of the boat thrice. I was not alone. Still, I was determined to gut it out and prove to myself and my new man that I was an adventurous gal.

We got in the water with the assurance from the dive instructor that it would be less wavy underneath. Our seasickness would abate.
It did not.
Did you know that you can puke under water? Did you also know that if you puke under water, pretty colorful fish will swim over and eat it?

I tell this story not to impress you with my glamour and talent, but instead to make a point. When I write about flawed and goofy heroines who end up in situations they never would have expected, I know what I’m talking about.

They say you should write what you know. I do.

~

The Gull Motel


A Sweet Contemporary Romance

by Amie Denman

Savvy Thorpe needs a vacation. Finally finished with college, she heads to her favorite shabby motel on Florida’s Gulf Coast where her aunt and uncle always save her room twenty-four. She quickly finds out, though, that The Gull Motel is not just her home away from home. It’s hers to manage while her aunt and uncle take an extended trip.

Skip McComber, The Gull’s former maintenance man, has been working on Savvy’s nuts and bolts for years. Now the new owner of the bar next door, his mission is to renovate a pirate bar while being a walking temptation for the girl he can’t get off his mind.
For Savvy, keeping her cool running a motel in Florida heat is one thing, but navigating the steamy waters of a former fling takes a whole other kind of savvy. In addition to the motel and the man next door, Savvy stumbles on a plot to swindle land from the residents of Barefoot Key. Devalued properties tumble like dominoes until Savvy musters her colorful crew from The Gull Motel to make the pillagers walk the plank.

Buy Links:



First chapter:
Chapter One
Vacation. Despite my brainy reputation, this was one of the smartest things I’d done in a long time. When my middle school math teacher shortened my name from Savannah to Savvy, I took on a persona that drove me all the way through college at the top of my class. But now, I planned to put my brain on ice and my butt in the hot sand at my aunt and uncle’s lovably shabby beachside Florida motel. It was the most savvy thing I could do while I played an endless waiting game with the job market.
It was a hot September morning when I rolled into the steaming lot at the Gull Motel. Everything about it said Old Florida. A miniature palm tree grew in a concrete planter in front of the Office sign. The few cars nosed up to numbered doors looked hot enough to combust. It wasn’t a hotel, it didn’t have the cachet. But it looked like a four-diamond resort to me as my burly Uncle Mike swung open the frosted glass office door and grinned at me like Santa had just landed on his roof.
“Your aunt’s got the margarita machine going already,” he said, crushing me in a massive hug. The musty smell of hotel air conditioning permeated his aqua blue polo shirt. The whole range of my vision was aqua—the signature color of The Gull Motel. Its roof had aqua trim, the windows were edged in the same paint, and the sign squatting on top of a twenty foot pole in the parking lot boasted a white seagull outlined against an aqua sky.
“Before lunch?” I questioned, the vacationer in me at war with my responsible side.
Uncle Mike opened the back hatch and manhandled my suitcase. He nodded toward his beloved motel. “You’re a special occasion,” he said. “Vacation is important. Trust me. I’ve built a business on it.”
For the long drive from Michigan—where autumn had started to show its colors—I wore old comfortable knee-length shorts and a t-shirt, but I was overdressed now. The clientele here was more short-shorts and spaghetti straps than college dorm casual. I could adjust. This was not my first trip to the Gulf Coast.
I followed Uncle Mike through the office—dingy but familiar—and paused as he deposited my suitcase behind the desk. Rita, the receptionist, had a phone hooked between her ear and shoulder as she simultaneously checked in a guest. Somehow she managed to wave to me and give me a raised eyebrow smile. An experienced multi-tasker, Rita could probably smoke a cigarette, do her nails, and handle three guest complaints at the same time. She pointed toward the patio.
Movement—blurred by condensation—grabbed my attention. When my uncle slid the door open, a blonde tornado hit me. I’d been coming to The Gull several times a year all my life. One fact I could still count on was that Aunt Carol got smaller with age but her hair got bigger. Compensation comes in many forms.
She pulled me into a tight hug. “You need a nice cold drink.”
Carol hauled me over to a concrete table surrounded by old metal chairs. The patio was large enough for several tables and chairs, all shaded by aqua umbrellas. The cracked concrete floor surrounded by a knee-high concrete wall didn’t necessarily invite guests to linger, but the view did.
The wide white Florida beach ending in a sparkling blue Gulf of Mexico said resort even if the stacked two story building with parking right outside the rooms said 1950s beach motel.
Carol raised the pitcher—also filled with aqua liquid continuing the theme of The Gull—and started to fill three glasses. She didn’t get to the third before Rita shoved the glass door open and leaned out with the cordless phone.
“Better take this one, Carol,” she said, holding out the phone.
Mike parked himself across from me while his wife went inside. “Your aunt’s all excited to have you down here for a few weeks. I think she wants to pick your brain about making a few updates around here, figuring you got some great ideas with your degree.”
Fresh from college and an internship to polish off my hotel and hospitality management degree, I wouldn’t be bragging to say I had some ideas. But telling my aunt and uncle they’d have to spiff up The Gull for a new generation that didn’t remember the moon landing was going to be a tough sell. They loved the old place just as it was. Truth is, so did I. I also loved my ancient slippers, but I wouldn’t wear them on a date.
“I think she wants someone to go shopping with, too,” he said, his broad smile highlighting deep wrinkles around his eyes and stretching out his age spots.
“I could shop,” I agreed. “My college clothes won’t work if I can land a spot in the management trainee program I applied to.”
“The Grand Chicago. Heck of a fancy place,” Uncle Mike said, raising his glass and clinking mine. “I’ll drink to that.”
Thinking about the gleaming floors, modern luxury, and five-star everything at the place where I hoped to start in January gave me a little feeling of disloyalty. I would always love The Gull. So what that it was a used Chevy and the Grand Chicago was a Rolls Royce? I’d put in a lot of miles in a Chevrolet.
Carol left the sliding door gaping behind her, striding quickly to our sunny table on the patio.
“My mother got arrested again,” she said, picking up one of the margarita glasses and slamming half of it.
Mike pulled Carol onto his lap and shook his head sympathetically. “What was it this time?”
“Trespassing again. One of her card buddies bailed her out, but the police chief thinks she needs a babysitter. That was him on the phone.”
“He’s a nice enough guy. But we’re starting to know him better than we should,” Mike said. “Does this mean someone’s headed for Michigan?”
Carol’s mother, Aunt Gwen to me, was pushing eighty and still did water aerobics, played cards, and hosted wine-making classes at her lakeside cabin. Located next to a vineyard, the owners used to look the other way when Aunt Gwen gathered grapes near her property line for her little hobby. I’d heard she sent them a bottle every Christmas as a neighborly gesture. However, the vineyard changed hands a few years ago and the new owners see her actions as more theft than eccentricity.
“Maybe just for a week until we can talk some sense into her or build a big enough fence,” Carol said. “Too bad she refuses to move down here. Says Florida is for old people.”
“Sounds like you’ll need reinforcements this time.” Uncle Mike blew out a long breath. “We haven’t had a vacation in a long time, and Michigan’s nice in the fall. Guess we’ll figure out someone to watch over the place while we’re gone.”
They exchanged a glance and turned a laser-beam look on me, making me feel like the one guy who knew the combination in a bank that was being robbed. They glanced away quickly like a search light moving on to its next target.
The loyal niece in me wanted to say sure, coach, send me in. I have a degree in hotel management, am nice to children and animals, and always flush the toilet.
The vacationer in me wanted to say…uh…I’m on vacation.
Carol sucked both lips into her mouth and watched a seagull fly over. Mike scratched the short whiskers on his chin and toed a chip in the concrete.
I tried drinking for distraction and effect. Not that I could sustain that tactic for long. I can’t hold my booze and I tend to crack under pressure faster than chapped lips in a Michigan winter.
“Maybe I could—”
Yelling and barking exploded next door and a half-naked man chased a huge yellow dog out of Harvey’s Pirate Emporium and toward The Gull.
I jumped up. “Tulip!” Tulip was a three-year-old yellow Lab who did not know she wasn’t a puppy anymore. She stole things, slept in inappropriate locations, ate stray cigarette butts, and was probably going to come home with a tattoo one of these days.
“Not again,” Carol said.
Tulip skidded to a stop, dropped something shapeless and slobbery on the patio at my feet, and put her front paws on my shoulders. I sat down hard in my metal chair, off balance and getting licked like a tootsie pop. I was afraid she’d actually find out how many licks it took to get to my center.
The man sweating and breathing hard as he finished the race behind the dog already knew how many licks it took to get to my center. Skip McComber had circled me for years, a bonus temptation every time I visited my aunt and uncle’s motel where he’d been the maintenance man since we were both sixteen. Last spring, the circle tightened considerably, aided by a reckless spring break attitude and fueled by tequila.
I stood up and tried to compose myself discretely. He looked as tempting as always. Tall, shirtless, eyes and hair the color of caramel splashed with sunshine. In contrast, I looked like a refugee from a pajama party. Shorts twisted, t-shirt violated, ponytail askew. Given the heat burning my cheeks, it was safe to assume I was flushed like an eighty-year-old jogger.
“This must be yours,” I said, picking up the leather toolbelt Tulip had dropped at my feet. Covered in dog slime and violated with teethmarks in several places, it was the dog’s latest indiscretion. I could sympathize. Skip was my most recent fling, too.
He took the toolbelt and made a slow show of slinging it around his hips. He kept eye contact with me the whole time, like he was daring me to watch his seductive buckling up. I only let my eyes slide south once. I was on vacation. And he looked that good.
“Sorry about that,” my aunt said. “Tulip thinks it’s a chew toy. At least your tools are still in it this time and not scattered all over the sand. Most of them anyway.”
He broke his focus on me and smiled at my aunt. “It’s my fault for encouraging her to visit me.” He dug a treat out of his pocket and flipped it to the dog. She caught it in midair and tossed him a look of slutty affection.
“Savvy just rolled in a few minutes ago,” Carol said.
“I can see that,” Skip said.
“She was supposed to be enjoying a vacation after all her hard work in college,” Mike added, “but something has come up back home in Michigan with Carol’s mother.”
“Hope Aunt Gwen’s okay,” Skip said. “She’s a hoot.”
Carol rolled her eyes. “She’s a crazy old lady. Arrested again for liberating grapes from the neighboring vineyard.”
“Probably only stole what she was going to eat.”
“Or make into wine,” Mike said. “We were just talking to Savvy here about taking care of The Gull for us while we make a quick trip North.”
Mike, Carol, Skip, and even Tulip stood in a line, looking at me like I had a stash of free tickets to Disney World. Except Tulip maybe. She probably hoped I had bacon in my pockets.
“I believe I was just about to say yes,” I said with as much cheerful enthusiasm as possible. Of course I wanted to help my aunt and uncle. Hospitality is my business. And how hard could it be to manage a twenty-four room beach motel with an established clientele and a dedicated staff?
“Forgot to tell you we lost our maintenance man last month,” Mike said, nodding at Skip. “He bought the bar next door and he’s fixing it up.”
“Harvey’s Pirate Emporium?” I asked.
“Yep,” Skip said. “But I got rid of Harvey already.”
Harvey was a larger-than-life pirate statue who stood, shading his eyes like a tobacco store Indian, outside the bar entrance. After a few drinks, he looked either friendlier or more sinister, depending on the drunk.
“Gave me the willies,” Skip said, shrugging one shoulder. “Got him in cold storage in an old walk-in freezer.”
“Won’t be the same without him,” I said. What I was really thinking was that The Gull wouldn’t be the same without Skip and his extraordinary ability with his hands. “Who’s our new maintenance man?”
“Don’t have one. Muddling through for now, calling Skip over for emergencies,” Uncle Mike said.
“I can change light bulbs, but I draw the line at using a plunger.”
“That’ll work,” Carol said.
“Any other surprises I should know about?” I asked.
I thought a trace of tension transmitted from Carol to Mike to Skip, but Tulip didn’t seem to notice and I thought I was just seeing mirages in the heat.
“Gotta go,” Skip said. He ruffled Tulip’s ears, flicked me a look, and strode across the ten yards of sand separating his bar from my—temporary—motel. I had extension cords longer than the space between our buildings, and it was going to be one tough job keeping my focus on The Gull while my aunt and uncle were away.
********
Amie Denman: Where Falling in Love is Fun!
Amie is the author of six contemporary romance novels:
The Gull Motel,  Blue Bottle Beach,  Her Lucky Catch
Her Lucky Prize,  Will Work for Love,  He’s on Her Trail
Please visit her at www.amiedenman.com
On Twitter @amiedenman
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