Sunday 22 March 2015

Sunday Surprise: Cobblestone Press @cpbooks @NikkaMichaels @AudraCarusso @AnnaLeighKeaton @MandyyPorto @Monica_Corwin

It's another Sunday and I'm starting to scrounge a bit, using Google to find new publishers, so please, if you have a publisher I have not featured, let me know! Today our favourite search engine turned up Cobblestone Press, an electronic only publisher of romance and erotica.

Two of their recent releases fall into their Blue line. This is an imprint for established authors in the house to showcase shorter but no less steamy work. Nikka Michaels has released Mile High Service, a prequel to Lip Service. Seth Coleman is a talented surgeon who has the career he’s worked toward his whole life but is still missing something. As he’s standing in an airport store contemplating buying a tie, he meets handsome stranger, Carson Randall. After sparks fly, they both realize they want the same thing.
The second in the Blue line is Thomas Briar's Haute Couture Romance. Bethany, in spite of being beautiful and successful, doesn’t date seriously because she knows there can never be a happily ever after for her, but on the day Brian walks into her life, she tells herself the date will only be for thrills and that nothing serious will ever come of it. So just imagine Bethany's surprise when Brian shows her what true love really means.

Audra Carusso has released the first Men of Marshall County book, Tempting Levi. Levi Dawson works hard on the farm for Clay Thatcher, doing his best he can to make an honest living. But when the farmer's daughter moves back home unexpectedly, his world is rocked in more ways than one. Long gone is the little girl of the past, and in her place, is a woman who tests every limit of his control. Emma Thatcher has given up the city life to move back home to help her father run the family business. Reluctant at first, her situation becomes much more enticing after seeing one farmhand in particular. The reunion catches her off guard, rekindling old feelings for the man who was once off limits. When her father lands in financial trouble, a battle with the bank complicates life for all of them, but is it all what it seems? What happens when the past is never really left, in the past?

The third book in Anna Leigh Keaton's A Dirty Little Affair series is The Masquerade. Frustrated with their undefined long-distance relationship between herself and Bobby, Scarlett calls the whole thing off and tells him she was better off—had less heartache—being alone. Bobby has to do something to hold on to her. He’s falling in love and can’t let her run now. He sends her a gift and invitation she can’t resist and at the masquerade ball, Cinderella starts to realize she just might have found her Prince Charming…even if they do live a couple of thousand miles apart.

The Rekindling of a Dying Flame is a new release from J.D. Perry. Five years ago Assistant State's Attorney Emily Burton and her husband, Douglas, lost a baby girl. Since the death she'd wrapped herself in her work, distancing herself from her husband. Will the death of her childhood sweetheart's mother unlock the door to her emotional cell?

J.R. White has released a new shifter novel Fox Hunt. Living a nomadic lifestyle, Dilly is accustomed to being on the move, but the Federal Witch Hunters are after more than broken wands. Now they’re hunting for wolf pelts, and Dilly and her family are in their sights. Leader of his werewolf bloodline, Mike travels across the country in search of a family traveling through the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Finding his mate in the headstrong Dilly, Mike is faced with the possibility of war with not only the burners but his own mate.

Bound to Love is the latest release from Mia Petrova in the Tryst line.
REGRETTING…Elena Dawson used to neutralize those with extraordinary abilities, but she decides to take a step back and walk away.
…RUNNING…Now she’s on the run, compelling people by doing what she wants. Everything changes when Elena comes across a man that makes her feel impossible things.
…LOVING. Logan Stark was about to get himself killed when the criminal does exactly what he was told, put the weapon down. Logan wants to know everything about the woman. They discover they have more in common than they realize.

The last release I have to share with you is Lady Knight by Mnicoa Corwin. I'm a fantasy kind of girl, so this title really appeals to me. Lady Morigan lives her life by a knight's code. As a Chevelresse for the Order of the Hatchet she maintains the right to her own lands and riches. Alexander, a knight from across the sea, meets his first female opponent and loses. Can he get over the sting of the loss long enough to accept an invitation to her bed? With love, lust, and marriage all up for grabs who will come out the winner?

And here is an excerpt!

Swords flashed in the sunlight. The crowd was caught in the action, on its feet, staring enrapt as the foreign knights fought, helm against helm, armor reflecting the sun in broad bright beams. One of the fighters bore a red ribbon on the hilt of a long sharp sword. The crimson silk fluttered in the wind, a direct juxtaposition of serenity with carnage. The knight with the token swirled around smoothly, trapped the other knight’s weapon, and pushed him to the ground, ending the fight with no bloodshed. A bloodthirsty groan of disappointment from the crowd echoed through the arena as the loser stood. He raised his returned sword in salute to the winner before turning toward the hosts of the event.

The queen stood and addressed the winner. “Bien hecho, Cavallera.” Well done.

The winner presented the hilt of the sword so the lady might remove her token while the loser watched. Narrowing his eyes at his opposition, he noticed how small the fighter was and how very clean the knight’s armor appeared. No knight who saw battle often boasted such immaculate armor, and then there was the way the queen looked at the knight, not in awe or with intimacy, but as a friend.

 The loser ripped off his helm and stared at the winner. The knight was a hand span shorter than he but still…dainty.

“I would see the face of the knight who bested me,” he said, addressing the winner.

The winning knight turned to the loser and lifted off the gleaming helm. A mass of red hair fell down her back in a long plait, stark against the shine of her armor.

The losing knight stared at the victor. A woman.

Now disregarding her presence he turned toward the reigning monarch.

“My king, why was a woman allowed to enter the lists?”

“Sir Alexander, check yourself. Lady Morisa is a cavallera of the Order of the Hatchet,” the king answered, leaning over the balcony, intent in his ire.

“How does that matter, my king?

Morisa addressed Alexander. “Sir, it means I fought for my title, and I intend to keep it.”

“But you are a woman,” he said, disdain dripping from his lips.

“Indeed, sir, yet, I’ve killed men, fought in battle, born a son, and buried a husband. I also bear the title of Cavallera, and I own the title to my land and my wealth. As I just showed, I can hold on to both.” The lady put the tip of the long sword against the dirt, waiting to see if he would challenge her again. He would have liked to if it weren’t for the fact she’d beat him a second time. Losing to a woman once was bad enough.

Alexander curled his lip and stalked from the arena. He committed a taboo against the king and queen by leaving them before dismissal, but he didn’t need to cause more problems raging around with his anger unchecked.

There were many men who fell to his blade and during games he’d been beaten as often as he won but never had he been so dishonored as to be assigned a woman for an opponent. What sort of place could allow women to enter the lists? His men back home in England would never believe it, not that he would tell them. He had no wish for them to know he’d lost to a woman.

He travelled to this land to find a wife to take home, bear him sons, and keep his house. To be beaten by a woman would only make him a mockery in front of the court’s ladies.

* * * * *

Morisa straightened the bodice of her dress behind an expanse of banner hanging on the wall before slipping out into the crowd making merry across the castle’s inner bailey. Dressing as a lady never appealed to her. The only time she did so was when she attended court functions. She caught sight of a deep blue tunic worn by the knight she’d beaten earlier in the day. All evening she’d waited for him to make an appearance. She wanted to try to smooth some of his anger at his loss to a lady. Not many men took it well. Her blood still pumped through her body faster than normal, and she needed a drink or a man to curb the edge. A combination she’d found to cure anything that ailed her.

Sir Alexander moved away from the pillar he braced himself against, and she trailed him with her eyes across the expanse of the courtyard until he stopped to grab a new cup of mead. His brown hair was brushed away from his face, but it still hung down to his chin in soft ringlets. Somehow it shone as if he’d added oil to make it appear so. She remembered his gray eyes, vibrant with fire and anger, and instantly she knew an arousal unlike many she’d felt before. His body matched hers in strength. Like a honed weapon, he would make for perfect bed sport. She would have approached him about joining her bed tonight if he hadn’t clearly shown how much he abhorred the thought of a woman fighting or, worse, besting him.

He shouldn’t be ashamed; she’d bested many men, not that he would understand. A servant passed bearing a tray with more mead, and she swiped a cup while watching Alexander. He seemed forlorn; if she couldn’t get him to her bed she might at least try and cheer him about his loss.

She approached him from the front so she wouldn’t startle him. His eyes locked on hers the moment he noticed her approach, and the zing of that gaze passed through her body all the way to her toes, like lightning brightening up the dark and dormant corners of an old and dusty room.

Morisa curtsied before addressing him. “Sir knight.”

He inclined his head. “Cavallera.”

Moving in closer so they could hear each other over the din of people was the first part of her plan. He maintained an appropriate space between them, and she almost wished she could drag him closer by his tunic

“Are you ashamed for losing to me, sir?” she asked and then took a sip of her mead. Its thick flavor wasn’t as good as the ale, but it would do.

His forehead wrinkled as he stared into his own cup.

“My lady, in my homeland, woman do not fight. They keep the house and the hearth. I was just…surprised. You fought with admirable skill. I think the better fighter won.” He let out a sigh as if it pained him to admit such things.

Morisa smiled. At least he could accept that fact. He didn’t seem the type to forgive so easily.

“Sir, would you escort me for some air?”

“It would be my pleasure.” He executed a courtly bow, and she set her hand upon his before they strode together out of the inner courtyard. Once outside she let herself revel in the heat of his hand under hers. His skin was hot, like holding the base of a candle lit for a length of time.

“Why did you join the games, lady?” The path others had worn before them crunched underneath their feet, but Morisa focused on the seductive timbre of his voice.

She thought for a moment too long and then shook herself into answering.

“I just wanted to get out of my home for a while. My son is on a crusade, and I needed to get out from under the bustle of the women.”

He let out a bark of laughter, and she found herself chuckling with him. His whole presence seemed infectious.

“You do know that you are a woman?”

“Indeed, sir, I do.”

He smiled again, and they stopped near a wall to breathe in the cool night air. The summer brought blistering heat during the day but cool, calm evenings. A companionable silence followed as they eyed the other revelers wandering the outer courtyard but covertly glanced at each other under the moonlight.

“My lady, why is it you never remarried after your husband died?”

She looked at the passing group for a moment, his question catching her off guard.

“I inherited his land and wealth along with my own bequeathed to me by the crown. I just didn’t feel the need, and there aren’t many suitors for a woman who can best a man with her sword.”

He grinned. “Indeed.”

“I’ll be honest, sir. I get quite lonely at times.”

If that wasn’t an invitation she didn’t know what was. She would also know one way or another if the attraction was mutual. She swallowed as he moved closer. The scent of clean sweat and sage surrounded her, entering her senses, drawing her into him like a rabbit in a trap.

“My lady, was that an invitation?” That voice, it turned her insides into liquid and made her crave things she hadn’t wanted in a long time.

She grinned, met his eyes, and leaned in so her lips brushed his, softly, barely a whisper of a touch. Just as quickly as she moved into him, she turned and strode up the path away. How long would he wait before he came to her rooms?